As a big fan of Sid Meier’s Civilization V, the Kickstarter project for Jon Shafer’s At the Gates caught my eye quicker than Alexander the Great can change his mood. Jon began his game career developing mods for Civilization III, which led him to become a beta-tester for both that game’s expansion and also Civilization IV. Ultimately, he wound up working for Firaxis Games, and understood the series well enough to be appointed Lead Designer for its most recent iteration.
He then went on to work at Stardock and, no doubt thanks to the success of other Kickstarters, decided to break free from a bigger game studio and form his own. Conifer Games was then born, along with its initial title, Jon Shafer’s At the Gates.
So far, the game looks good, which is, as you’ve probably assumed, why I’m writing about it. Like Civilization, it’s a 4X-styled game that promises to differentiate itself from the rest. Weather doesn’t play a role in Civilization, for example, but it does here. You must be aware of your surroundings and how the passage of time will change things in order to best prepare yourself for what’s ahead. Depending on your actions, your army could be well-fed, starve – or better still, you could affect the opposition and cause them to starve. Another tweak is that resources run out over time – so you can’t plan on that iron mine supplying the goods for an eternity.
For its Kickstarter project, Conifer Games has set the goal at $40,000, although stretch goals are likely to be introduced if that’s hit (and in all likeliness, it will be). At the moment, the game’s native platform is Windows, so those stretch goals are likely to involve alternative OSes.
For those interested in exploring more of what the game offers, Jon has created a video to show the earliest part of the game. It’s of course an early build, so not everything is totally refined, but it does a great job in explaining the game mechanics and what makes the game unique.
I personally can’t wait to see this come out, and hope that it does eventually get made for Linux (and Mac).