One of the most unusual games available for Android, Godville is ideal for busy or lazy gamers - because it pretty much plays itself. Confused? It is basically an RPG game where you are not the main character for once but instead the deity he worships. We spoke to the development team to clear a few things up...
DroidGamers: Godville is the world's first ZPG (Zero Player Game) and an unusual concept - can you explain it for us?
Godville Devs: Sure. It’s the game you don't have to play. If you don't want to get sucked into a game that forces you to check up on your farm every hour or so - this your choice. Just create your hero or heroine and check up on them when you have a moment to see what they’ve done. Catch a few good laughs and get back to what you’re up to.
Frankly, like lots of other good things out there, we weren’t really the first ZPG. Several years ago there was a game called Progress Quest which was really popular and no doubt it influenced us a lot. It just happened that we wanted slightly more than Progress Quest had to offer, so we created Godville!
DroidGamers: The events script is very funny and extremely varied - is much of the content is user-submitted or do you have a huge team of gag-writers chained to their keyboards?
Godville Devs: Yeah, you’ve just hit the nail on it head and uncovered what we desperately tried to cover up in our basement. Luckily for us, aside from our extremely happy inmates doing most of the skunk work, we also have a global community of players, submitting hundreds of ideas every day. We then do quite a lot processing on that and the result is what you can see in the app.
DroidGamers: How long has the game been in development?
Godville Devs: It really depends on how you count it. We started working on what later became the "game engine" more than three years ago, hacking the code in our free time, releasing new features every couple weeks or so. No surprise that initial version was very different from what we have now. Last year we launched a private-beta web-version of the game in English, followed with a native iOS App several month later. We spent most of the last year adding “missing features”, and one of those features was an Android app that we've just released.
DroidGamers: Tell us about the Godville Development team...
Godville Devs: For most of the time of Godville's existence, its “local” development team consisted of only two people - Mikhail and Dmitry - dealing with everything directly related to keeping the game running (writing code, content, managing servers, etc). Luckily, last year we managed to get a third person aboard, which to a large extent is the reason that we have an Android app today.
On the other hand, our “global” team now includes thousands of people playing the game, reporting bugs and constantly sending us their nuggets.
DroidGamers: You've developed Godville for iOS and Android - how do the two platforms compare for developing and releasing games?
Godville Devs: Each platform has its strong and weak points. From the “tools” perspective, iOS just shines. Xcode, simulator, performance tools and great documentation - it all helps a lot. However, one has to know Objective-C to program for iOS and in our case it was a rather steep learning curve.
Speaking of Android, it’s nice that you can just grab a PC, cheap Android-phone and start hacking up stuff. It’s nice that your app goes live almost instantly and you can update it whenever you want to, without going through several weeks of a long review process, and the platform itself feels quite solid. It might not be as polished as iOS, and hardware and OS fragmentation are also widely known issues (more than 50% of devices in our Market Stats are under the “Other” category) which makes it challenging to provide same visual experience for everyone. But at least for us it wasn’t a deal breaker - the app is in the Market and available to all our players out there with Android phones and at the end of the day this is what really matters to us.
DroidGamers: Have you had any negative feedback from people who didn't "get it"?
Godville Devs: Sure. We get it all the time. Some people don't get this whole ZPG idea, don't find the jokes funny, etc. On the other hand, there are people who really enjoy it, and those are the people we really care about.
DroidGamers: Godville pokes fun at the repetitive leveling-up found in many RPGs, especially MMOs - is this a fond homage to RPGs or a more serious criticism of dull grinding gameplay?
Godville Devs: Probably both of them. Like in every other RPG, our heroes also have “numbers and stats”, but in Godville they don’t matter that much. They main purpose is to bring joy to the players by observing how these number grow practically by themselves over time. Quite surprisingly for us, it turned out that players who want to grind will always find a way to do that, even in a ZPG.
DroidGamers: What's next for Godville?
Godville Devs: We'll just keep making it even better! We'll be adding even more great content, new features and keep improving our web, iOS and Android apps. Just like we said, there are lots of awesome things we're working on right and we can't wait to see them alive! We usually announce all major changes and game updates in our blog (http://godvillegame.com/blog) and Twitter (@godvillegame).
AndrewH - Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DroidGamers. Having been a hardcore PC and console gamer all his life, this passion is now applied to Android gaming and writing about it. When not playing or writing about Android games, he spends his time with his wife and son.