At the Gates from Civ 5 designer Jon Shafer – Building your barbarian empire.
There is no question that John Shafer’s Kickstarter campaign for At the Gates is inspired by the Civilization series. In fact, much of Shafer’s career has been intertwined with the best-known-empire-builder so much so that he rose from a modder of Civilization 3 to the lead designer for Civilization V. On the Kickstarter listing, Shafer notes that At the Gates aims to expand the genre, however. It is probably explained most succinctly from this quote: “A single playthrough of At the Gates becomes more interesting the deeper in you get, unlike many strategy titles which lose steam when victory becomes assured midway through. Over time, the world’s resources are slowly but inevitably consumed, forcing you to seek out new sources of food and wealth if you hope to survive. The most satisfying victories are those which are hard-earned!” The list of major features is pretty sweeping, going from the evolving landscape to the constant hunt for new resources to power your empire to diplomacy to the choice of whether or not to Romanize your barbarian horde. At the Gates will feature eight different barbarian tribes and will allow you to either play on the real European map or a randomly-generated world. At the Gates is already a decent way into production, with a working prototype featuring working versions of every feature that will eventually be in the game. Shafer says on the Kickstarter page that the money is so that the game can be polished, including improving the AI and polishing-up the artwork. For more information, you can check out Shafer’s blog or the Kickstarter campaign, where a copy of At the Gates is available for a $25 pledge. What I really like about the sound of At the Gates is that it seems to be concentrating on doing ‘barbarians during the Roman Empire’ as well as possible instead of trying to cover the whole gamut of human history. While I have long-loved the Civ games (I had the very first one way back in the day, although Civ 2 was probably the one that really grabbed me), I think that concentrating on one unique bit of history can really create a better ‘story’ within the empire building genre than trying to make your game do everything.