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Initial Review

Tygari

New member
I would like to start off by saying I am an amateur game developer myself.
So I have experience with player's wants and demands and feedback.

When I saw this game it sounded interesting and despite the bad reviews I wished to give it a try.
I haven't played long yet so this is an initial review.
I feel this game is trying to balance short term quick action play with long term strategy / simulation play.
These are opposing game aspects that do not mix well.
The biggest issue here is the player's desire for control and the game's playstyle to simulate influence.
This is what is generally what I got from reading the negative responses.
I am going to break this feedback into bulleted points and try to be as respectful as possible.
Bare in mind this is an initial review from the period of time that is most critical in either capturing or losing a player.
So I have not seen all this game has to offer yet.

***
Let's start with the game's setup.

Game Start

A player makes a diety icon (which was a nice touch) and chooses a starting virtue.
That's it.
Everything else starter is randomized.
This is where I feel the developers could draw more interaction and depth by allowing the player to build their first disciple.
The first one is so critical I found myself just hitting reset if I had a bad start and redoing it over and over till I got a better start.
This is an annoying aspect and can easily be gotten rid of allowing a player to better enjoy the start of the game.

One of two choices can be done here.

A player could choose a stat focus and their first disciple would be guaranteed to get a Talent With that stat Focus in Major.
As well as allow the player to choose the first two skills of their first disciple.
Any time I didn't get these the ways I desired them for my playstyle I simply reset and let it re-randomize.

I started with the Pleasure Virtue. If my Leader didn't have a Talent with a Major Focus in Charisma and two Alluring Body skills I hit reset.

This should be the bare minimum change to the opening.
If the devs choose to add a detriment to this such as a penalty to points for this it will only backfire and put people back into the reset and rerandomize position till they get a start they like. Which will bring players back to the annoying restart cycling and make them unhappy with the game.

The elaborate option is to set up some point buy system for the player to make trade offs with to get a start they would like.

***

Buildings

Buildings need a rotate option. This was the first peeve I found very quickly into the game.

Building placement has not a serious effect on the gameplay but can give some control to the player to help them feel better.

Event reward buildings should be gifted to the player and then the player should be allowed to placement.
When I selected Animism I thought it was cool that a tree building was free built to give +1 happiness.
This would have been nicer if the building had been gifted to the player and then the player chose where to put it.

This would have given two things to the players.
A better sense of a gift instead of a simple random building appearing.
The player would have been able to place it to help make them feel their city is growing aesthetically.
Something some plays really enjoy and others don't care about.
This would give some feeling of control in an influence focus game without impacting the game elements in any way.

A God's ability likely associate with Earth to every so many turns rearrange the city.
This would again have no impact on the game elements but would give players a sense of control.
Especially among those that feel city layout is important.

***

Disciples

I feel the influence System is interestingly done here but the randomness can really mess things up.
When choosing a disciples class I would weigh their talent and their focus with my desired goals for them.
Even then some randomness could seriously fubar a disciple with a very badly chosen skill that didn't match my wishes.
A great talent could be ruined by bad skill selection.

My guess of the randomized selection is each skill has a weight like 1.
Nothing else each skill has a 33% chance to be selected. 33% / 33% / 33%
if focus matches a skill that skill gets a weight of +1 more.
So that skill becomes 50% likely to be chosen and the others 25% likely to be chosen. 50% / 25% / 25%
I suggest adding it so a player may choose a favored skill for a disciple adding +1 more weight to the skill.
If weight and focus match a skill odds would be 60% /20% /20%.
If weight and focus do not match and a weight is present than odds would be 40% / 40% /20%
Course if a focus with no weight would be 50% / 25% / 25%.

I have also noticed some focus have a + beside them making me suspect those give a +2 weight for those skill types.
Focus / No Favored : 60% /20% /20%
Focus + Favored : 66% / 16% /16%
Focus ≠ Favored: 50% / 34% / 16%

As one can see this would give players a bigger sense of control with a marginal impact on the odds.

Buildings or rewards to increase God Favor weight could be added to further augment this.
As one can see each additional point of weight naturally has diminishing returns leaving it up to the player to decide if that smaller chance is worth the increased price.

In a worst case scenario, a way should exist to change a disciples' skill. I feel a faith penalty alongside a dream point cost would do best here.


Another aspect I feel should be considered is I had a disciple become elderly and was retired opening a new slot.
The roll literally gave me 3 horrible disciples to choose from.
So I wished to reroll.
I tried to skip the round hoping to get a better reroll after the next mission.
Forcing players to accept things is rarely a good choice to make.
I have noticed this in many areas of the game but this had to be the worst occurrence of it.
If a player hates their disciple options don't force them to accept something that is so hard to get rid of.
Allow something to reroll for something better and useful.
This majorly impacts the game but forcing players to blatantly accept a disciple they wish to be rid of immediately isn't helpful either.
It is a punishment and that is bad for the game and the fun.
This more than anything pushed me to consider the human sacrifice tradition.
Just so I could keep trying till I got something useful.

***

Random events

For a game so randomized I felt this was severely lacking luster.
They happened so rarely and were quite odd.

Most importantly they had minimal impact on the game.

I feel this could be a major aspect of the game.

By having players make choices and interact with their disciples altering events based on choices and a disciple's stats could make for a more impactful between battle fun.
Like such and such disciple wishes to go on a pilgrimage and will be unavailable for x rounds.
Each round a choice could become available for the player that at the end could have different results.

Disciple returns with an enhanced faith.
Disciple returns with converts.
Disciple returns with a new or upgraded skill.
Disciple returns with an upgraded talent.
Disciple returns with a relic.

Disciple did not return but sent a new better disciple in his place.
Disciple did not return but set up a new shrine in a far off land +x resources per round.

Disciple returns having been converted with two other disciples and need's to be fought.
Disciple did not return.

***

Finally battles.

Generally, I was cool with most of this.

Save that losing two battles in a row generally cost so much in resources the game was over.

And the opponent's power scaled insanely fast.
If I beat stage one too fast I would be too underpowered to beat stage two before the turns timer ran out.

The turns timer on battles plus happiness penalty which in itself was a timer was doubling down on the same thing I feel needlessly.
I felt there was no point in the turns timer.
This is well covered by the happiness penalty.
There is just no need for both of these.
It is just another source of control being taken away from the players for what I feel is no real reason or impact on the game.

***

Overall I feel it isn't a bad game but it is not a good game either.
It feels like it still needs a lot of work and polish.
I hope the developers stick with it as I see potential.

I tried to be polite and to the point expressing my feelings and views on each aspect.
Best of wishes to the developers.

Tygari
 

Maarten

Abbey Games Developer
Developer
Community Member for 5 years Abbey Games Developer Kickstarter Backer
Hello Tygari,

Thanks for your feedback. I won't be discussing your points here, but please feel welcome to talk to us about the game and its development at the discord channel if you feel like it.
 

AbbeyAdriaan

Abbey Games Developer
Developer
Abbey Games Developer
Hey there, thanks for your review!
As a game design student, I think Godhood is a very interesting case. I think there is no game out there that explores the tension between control and influence in games like Godhood, bar some sport managers who benefit from a lot of real-life context. I think you touch some good points, but also face some issues we had as well!

So first, you're right that the game is about acting through influencing. You astutely note that some things have a weird match with it. Notice in your suggestion that there is a mix between more control (like turning buildings, creating your own disciple) and more "character" (more impact from events). The Sacrament is the only place where you seem to think these things are actually in balance, and I must say I mostly agree with you. The Sacrament is the strong point mechanically, allows for enough combos, but still has that "planning & influencing" aspect in it.

But the question is: do we need more character, or more control? Some places ended up really awkward. The city is full of "half-controls", and it's a lot of work to get out of it what you want. And sometimes you place stuff, and sometimes you don't. The game is not clear on what it wants to be there, giving you false sense of control or as you imply, feel arbitrarily limited.

Same can go for characters. They have some randomness (in their talent) but it's actually really little. So you feel like you have a lot of control, but then the part that you don't can jump out as annoying. It's also hard to balance around! Having events have a bigger impact here might give more character, but will further increase this randomness at times you might not expect it. We tried it, but it felt random instead of more characterful.

Godhood started out as a game focused around character, but due to design issues - and frankly, or own misjudgements - we failed on delivering that. For example, the Sacraments are good as they are, but they're too "precise", "predictable" and "calculatable" to truly allow some wacky random stuff to happen. So the character value becomes less, but the control level becomes higher. Slowly, the game gave more and more control, up the point you started to feel you were missing control! Finding that sweetspot to make a game feel full of character while still trying to win turned out to be a paramount challenge. Metaphorically, it's a bit like if I would give you a vehicle with two wheels, you would think it's a bike and feel perfectly fine with it. But if I gave it two extra wheels, you would feel like it's a car, and you would start to miss an engine!

I hope it proved a very interesting case for you. :) I think I learned 50% of all my game develop knowledge because of Godhood!
 

Tygari

New member
Hello Tygari,

Thanks for your feedback. I won't be discussing your points here, but please feel welcome to talk to us about the game and its development at the discord channel if you feel like it.
I would love to discuss the points with you.
Good discussions could lead to both of us growing as developers.
I have already joined the discord.
Feel free to say hello.
 

Tygari

New member
Hey there, thanks for your review!
As a game design student, I think Godhood is a very interesting case. I think there is no game out there that explores the tension between control and influence in games like Godhood, bar some sport managers who benefit from a lot of real-life context. I think you touch some good points, but also face some issues we had as well!
I agree. Godhood is a fascinating example of an influence based game. That was in no small part why I bought it despite the bad reviews. To study the mechanics and choices Abbey Games made for it. Some of the choices made for the game are the same I made for my own game. Seeing these mechanics and studying how people reacted via comments I could try to enhance the better aspects within my game.

So first, you're right that the game is about acting through influencing. You astutely note that some things have a weird match with it. Notice in your suggestion that there is a mix between more control (like turning buildings, creating your own disciple) and more "character" (more impact from events). The Sacrament is the only place where you seem to think these things are actually in balance, and I must say I mostly agree with you. The Sacrament is the strong point mechanically, allows for enough combos, but still has that "planning & influencing" aspect in it.
I must have been unclear and I apologize for that.
I meant to imply only creating the first disciple.
Your randomized system for all disciples after is fine.
Barring a few tweaks.

But the question is: do we need more character, or more control? Some places ended up really awkward. The city is full of "half-controls", and it's a lot of work to get out of it what you want. And sometimes you place stuff, and sometimes you don't. The game is not clear on what it wants to be there, giving you false sense of control or as you imply, feel arbitrarily limited.
I fully understand it is an influence driven game and I was trying to focus on suggestions about giving controls in places that would have little to no impact on that influence driven system.
I have learned in my time as a developer little things like this can really help reduce the impact of a system where the player has little or no control.
I feel there was only one spot where I was strongly opposed to a design choice Abbey Games.
That was the right to leave a disciple slot open to get a new pool later.

Same can go for characters. They have some randomness (in their talent) but it's actually really little. So you feel like you have a lot of control, but then the part that you don't can jump out as annoying. It's also hard to balance around! Having events have a bigger impact here might give more character, but will further increase this randomness at times you might not expect it. We tried it, but it felt random instead of more characterful.
There is nothing wrong with randomness in the disciples.
Removing it would definitely remove a major aspect of the game.
But influence is more than just randomness.
It should be mean to guide that randomness like I suggested with the favor mechanic.
I have since been told skills are learned on a pool system and a disciple will try to learn every skill before relearning ones they have already learned.
The pool system has its place in games.
But as a means to control randomness within a game in this instance, I feel it wasn't the wisest choice.
I would have chosen to simply do a quick generated pool each time and a RNG.


Godhood started out as a game focused around character, but due to design issues - and frankly, or own misjudgements - we failed on delivering that. For example, the Sacraments are good as they are, but they're too "precise", "predictable" and "calculatable" to truly allow some wacky random stuff to happen. So the character value becomes less, but the control level becomes higher. Slowly, the game gave more and more control, up the point you started to feel you were missing control! Finding that sweetspot to make a game feel full of character while still trying to win turned out to be a paramount challenge. Metaphorically, it's a bit like if I would give you a vehicle with two wheels, you would think it's a bike and feel perfectly fine with it. But if I gave it two extra wheels, you would feel like it's a car, and you would start to miss an engine!
I, unfortunately, missed the early days of the game having only just found the game.
Figuring out how much control to give a player and how much to restrain is a difficult choice to make.
Whatever the game once was, I can so now it is very interesting.
It feels like it is a decent game just needing some polishing to be a good game.

I hope it proved a very interesting case for you. :) I think I learned 50% of all my game develop knowledge because of Godhood!
You were polite and respectful and I appreciate that.
I plan to continue to play and enjoy the game.
As well as learn from it to alter my game.
 
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