Godus — Game Critique and Redesign!

Geetha Priya Padmanaban
6 min readDec 29, 2019


The article focuses on exploring the areas of improvement in the game “Godus” and apply concepts of human factors to redesign it! — Reflections on Psychology of HCI

About the game “Godus”!!

Godus is a single-player game where the player plays the role of a “God” and help the followers in the game to find a promising land to live and build the civilization. Unlike other games, this game does not have explicit levels, but they have cards as plots that help them explore the “Homeworld timeline.” Living in the grass, improved housing, farm and civilize, different types of abode materials, stronger followers, living society, etc., are some of the cards that Godus game treats as levels.

Strategy: To explore the promising land and increase the population as well as improving the way of living through the ages.

Godus Game Artifacts

Let’s begin the fun Part!

Game Critique

1. The initial walkthrough about the game was good — narration on what a player should do and what is expected from the player is clear. The game introduces the player that they are the “God” of the game, and they should save the two people who are drowning in the sea. Eventually, they will workship the player and become followers. The instructions were pretty good that the god can drag the land to mold it and make a promising land for their follower’s living.

Comments: Variables: The system variables and operator variables were appropriately explained for a beginner. However, they were not realistic to be self-explanatory. The graphics or visuals used were very weak.

2. When a player commands the follower to build the abode (Shelter), the player should wait until builders complete the construction; also, the player has no flexibility over things that they can manipulate as god of the Godus world. The autonomy towards the player’s decisions was lacking. The player hardly has to make decisions and have nothing to solve other than commanding to build the abode and civilization.

Comments: Lost curiosity and had no fun playing the game.

3. The objects in the game plot were small and hard to see without an extra pair of eyes. I had to zoom to view the players. There was monotonous audio saying “HelpUm,” “BuildUm,” “Completed,” and the background audio was not motivating.

Comments: Lack of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The mechanics of the game were weak, e.g., Creepy sounds for treasures and winds.

4. On this island, there were no interactions between humans. The players were not connected to other players to see the progress of their land, and almost the peer player had to do the same thing. There was no concept of sharing of scores or being on the leader board that keeps a player motivated.

Comments: Lack of relatedness. Deci et al., 2000, in their proposal on Self-determination theory, state that we need to stay connected to the world and belongings to strengthen internalization [1].

5. Building a belief among the followers is just collecting a coin-sized object. While “Trust” is a major factor as part of living, earning them could have been a bit challenging for the god/player of the game.

Comments: Lacks a sense of achievement.

Overall, the game experience was not much fun and did not possess any surprising elements that could keep the player engaged for a long time.

Game Redesign

After reading and analyzing all the aspects of a reliable game from Fullerton’s “Game design workshop” [3] and Schell’s “The art of game design: A deck of lenses” [4], I inferred that adding dramatic elements to the game with below suggestions could drastically improve the players experience in terms of competence, autonomy, relatedness, and instill fun and rewards for the achievements.

Improving the storyline

If the god/player is given an opportunity to go a bit farther than current civilization to look for any other promising land and build multiple communities, it would keep the player engaged. The autonomy of the player can be enhanced in this way which indirectly results in motivation to explore and builds curiosity.

In addition, the storyline has flaws in imperfectly implementing the stone age characters in terms of appearance. The island did not have any birds flying, but there was an audio mimicking the birds screeching. Hunting and other stone-age lifestyle were completely missing, and current the plot was all about building. So, adding these elements to the theme of the story could match the real world.

Enhancing competition and fun

Treasures are now obviously seen from the aerial view of the game plot can have a pleasant feel. Having it cryptic or hidden can spur some excitement, and also infusing the time limit to grab the treasure can boost the player. Also, to infuse fun, in all the cards, there should be some surprise elements like “power of manipulating characters,” and restricting them to use in adversities would make the game exciting and dramatic.

Though this is a single-player game, if we increase collaboration, co-operation between gods/players, and have a leaderboard to share their civilization status, it could drastically increase interest in the game by imparting relatedness among the individual. According to the Self-determination theory [1], social development is one of the factors that can spur the intrinsic motivation of an individual.

Improving object experience

After reading Schell, J’s “A deck of lenses,” I felt the aesthetics and mechanics of the game should be upgraded. Currently, they are very cartoonish and primitive. Adding an avatar to the builder and assigning new names can give a personal plot for the civilization rather than a random name assignment. Increasing holographic design perceptions such as more human-like builders, realistic tides of sea and 3D views of grass, etc. can amplify the experience.

Reward system improvement

The reward system is negligible in this game. Infusing triangularity [4] in the reward system to sacrifice abode and build other meaningful assets of living can be an exciting play that can keep the players occupied and also under constant alert to grab the opportunities.


Above are the areas that I think could be improved while relating to the art of game design: A deck of lenses [4]. Asking the players about their feedback and seeing the game design through the lens of the future can retain and earn new players.


[1]. Ryan, Richard & Deci, Edward. (2000). Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being. The American psychologist. 55. 68–78. 10.1037/0003- 066X.55.1.68.

[3]. Fullerton, T. (2008). Game design workshop: A play centric approach to creating innovative games (2 ed.). CRC Press.

[4]. Schell, J. (2008). The art of game design: A deck of lenses. Pittsburg, PA: Schnell Games.