December 2017 Update
This monthly project update will be dedicated to talking about the mid-game, as that's currently the largest challenge remaining.
One of the biggest challenges with AtG is figuring out exactly what the arc of the game is. All along we've known it's about "barbarians", moving around the map, depleting resources, the seasons, and so on. But as I alluded to in my last update the vision of having the entire experience be based on migration wasn't something that held up over the course of a multi-hundred-turn game. So it's been time to evaluate what that extra step is, as is often the case in developing a big, complex game. You start with an idea and need to iterate on it in order to reach full potential. Having good, solid, fun mechanics are a nice start, but that only holds up for so long. You need a cohesive "fantasy" to tie it all together, to provide a reason why you're playing in the first place.
So what's that cohesive fantasy in AtG?
First of all, this is a survival strategy game. It's not so much a game about a continuous upward arc throughout history, ala Civ, but about fighting against the world and the odds in order to make it. The fantasy is also tied into the subject matter: in this case, the fall of the Roman Empire, and the place of the Germanic Tribes within this new world order.
So how does that translate into a strategy game?
AtG will now comprise of three "acts". The first will be based on survival and migration, and embody the philosophy which has defined the game thus far. The second act will be settling down and establishing a kingdom, putting your stamp on the world. The third will be defending and reinforcing this new polity, protecting it from those who seek its destruction - the Romans in particular.
In detail, this means two big changes: declaring your kingdom and "Control".
Declaring your kingdom is an important dividing line between the early-game and the mid-game. It will now be an action you declare which causes your Settlement to be permanently fixed in place for the rest of the game. It will also cost a small amount of Resources, but also provide a large bonus to compensate. In a sense, it's an important punctuation mark on transitioning into an important new phase of the game.
Control is, in essence, borders. To prevent players from simply building and capturing Structures anywhere on the map there needs to be some kind of rule dictating what you can own, where. Previously you could only construct things adjacent to your Settlement, but they would remain online after you moved away. This was strategically interesting, but somewhat confusing, and doesn't really work super-well with the new concept of having a glued-in-place Settlement. Control now extends from every Structure you own, giving your kingdom the ability to grow over time, and building certain special Structures will now allow you to plant your flag anywhere on the map, as long as you have the proper Clans and Resources to allow for it.
Together these two changes will reshape what the mid-game looks and plays like. Can't show them off in-game just yet, as they're currently in-progress. On the 15th though I'll be back with another post which articulates what all of this means in detail. 'Til then!