Project & Personal Update
You may have heard, you may not have, but recently I've parted ways from Paradox. In the end it really was creative and cultural differences - I can't go into details and will simply leave it at that. I still love Paradox and its games, but things sadly just didn't work out. I'll still always be rooting for all my friends over there, and wish them the best of luck.
So what's next?
I'll be focusing on At The Gates again. I can honestly say it'll be nice to go back to working on it full-time now that I've had some space and can return with fresh eyes and enthusiasm.
So what's happened with AtG?
I got burned out, to be honest, and ultimately wasn't really sure how to wrap things up in a way I could be proud of. I'm a perfectionist, and at times that trait definitely works against me. It sounds obvious of course, but when you're years deep in a project, have a task list a mile long, and run your own company with one full-time employee it's easy to lose sight of the fact that actually finishing something is more important than making sure it's perfect. Needless to say, it's been a hard lesson. I'll probably always lean a bit too far in that direction, but at least now I'm aware of that and can fight against it.
I made a few attempts at getting back into things but it became truly overwhelming at a certain point, so I stepped away. I'm not proud of that, and I apologise to all of the people I've let down. Making a full-scale 4X game mostly by yourself is an insane undertaking, and not one I would recommend. I thought I could pull it off within the time frame of a normal game's development cycle, but that was an incorrect assumption.
I had hoped my time at Paradox would serve as a source of inspiration, and fortunately I was definitely right about that. I learned a lot even in the short amount of time I was there, and have a clear plan on the design front for how I want to finish up AtG now. I've also recruited new help on the production and AI programming side to assist in shipping this bad boy, so it won't all be on my shoulders any more.
So what's the plan then?
The main places where AtG still needs attention are the mid-game (somewhat) and the late-game (a lot). The first few hours are very solid (aside from bugs and an outdated tutorial), so the goal now is a complete experience from start to finish.
To achieve that we're going to modify the arc of the game from what was originally pitched. I kept banging my head against the same wall over and over again, but the time away has allowed me to explore a new approach I'm confident will be superior. Instead of just migrating around the map for ten hours as resources run out all around you, roughly a third of the way in you'll start to settle down before building a secure kingdom and eventually confronting the Romans directly.
While this might sound ambitious the mechanics actually won't need to change much. 90% of what's in the game now can stay exactly the same, though we will be incorporating permanent structures in order to foster this new approach. I've also brought borders back in a related change (the main challenge right now is how exactly to transition between transient and permanent ownership of map structures), but we have yet to fully playtest the change - I'll keep you guys updated on the results.
Speaking of which, from here on out I'll be posting a project status update on the 1st of every month. I've been bad about this in the past, I know. I basically stepped away from social media last year, but I'll be active again here and on Twitter so if you have any questions (or justified rants) I'll be around to answer them. As for when the game will be done, I can't say for certain until I've built a task list based on our new, final objectives and had a couple other folks double-check things, but the target is mid-2018. Estimates from the last year or so have been based on part-time work, which is incredibly hard to get right with a big project like this, so I'm optimistic that things will turn out better this time. Could the game slip again? Of course, but I'll make sure to let you know if it does along with what progress we're actually making along the way.
Thanks to all the backers and fans who've hung around over the years. I promise there truly is a good game here, we just need to finish it. It's been a long road, both for the game and me myself. But now it's time to finish what we started. Thanks for sticking with us!