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Why From Dust can revive the god game

Chahi talks genesis of comeback project.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

It's fair to say that the god game has fallen to earth somewhat since its early-'90s heyday, when the likes of Populous and SimEarth held heavenly sway over the PC charts.

Publishers haven't offered gamers the opportunity to play the divine puppet master since Peter Molyneux's Black & White 2 arrived to muted response back in 2005.

However, Another World creator Eric Chahi is confident that From Dust - his first game in more than a decade - can rekindle interest in the genre.

"I do think that From Dust can give the genre new momentum – for one thing because the gameplay is tense and exciting whereas normally this type of game has a slower rhythm," he told Eurogamer.

"And we also took the simulation aspect as far as we could; the whole world is in a constant state of change, and everything the player does can have important short or medium term repercussions on the world.

"Diverting a river will completely reshape the landscape: for example, endanger a town or put out a fire. As a result, the gameplay comes to the fore, with the player creating challenging situations they have to respond to, caused by the domino effect of their own actions. That’s the beauty of the plasticity of simulation-based gameplay."

Chahi also revealed that the title started out as something very different. His initial plan was to make a more traditional RTS, but he then got side-tracked by the game's level editor.

"As strange as it might seem, originally From Dust wasn't meant to be a god game, but an RTS game featuring a lot of micromanagement," he explained.

"It was the same world, with volcanoes, tsunamis, and so on, and simulation was a key element of the game, but the player didn't interact directly with the environment.

"However, we had a level editor that allowed this interaction in real time, which was really enjoyable to use – there was something tactile and fascinating about interacting with a world where everything is dynamic.

"So we combined the interactive enjoyment of the editor with the original world to create a new entity, the 'Breath'. From Dust became a god game."

More famous for his 2D side-scrollers, Chahi admits that he studied a few genre classics at the start of development to help him on his way; Peter Molyneux's 2001 effort Black & White in particular.

"I'm a big fan of those games. I remember replaying Black & White to see how the camera was handled. We asked ourselves a lot of questions – did we need a totally free-roaming camera like in B&W, or customised points of view like in Pikmin, for example."

The finished product is due out on PC and Xbox Live Arcade on 27th July, with a PlayStation Network release to follow later this year.

For more on what to expect, take a look at Simon Parkin's recent From Dust preview.

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