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Lead a barbarian kingdom to glory during the final days of the Roman Empire. An empire builder by Jon Shafer, designer of Civ 5.
Lead a barbarian kingdom to glory during the final days of the Roman Empire. An empire builder by Jon Shafer, designer of Civ 5.
3,009 backers pledged $106,283 to help bring this project to life.

December 2017 Update

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Hey all,

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!

- Jon

Andrew Stewart, Ray Vadnais, and 25 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Jon Shafer Creator on December 7

      I'll be back on the forums with an update and changelog in the next few days. I'm sorry guys, I know it's been a while.

      - Jon

    2. Missing avatar

      Dtolman on December 6

      are you planning on returning to your own forums anytime? Or still too soon to deal with that open wound?

    3. James Sunderland on December 5

      Getting booted from Paradox seems to be the missing link to making this game. Who would have thought?

    4. Missing avatar

      clayffo on December 2

      Ok updates 43 and 44 are not updates. They are one sided discussions that are more suited to the conifer games forum than here. They are also far too broad and conceptual to be considered game design

      the update is that nothing has been done in 2.5 years.

    5. Missing avatar

      Peter on December 2

      The 3 acts idea reminds me of the structure for the new XCOM games. I dig it.

    6. Missing avatar

      Benjamin Vandergrift on December 2

      I like how much detail you go into when it comes to the game design iteration process. :D It lets me learn vicariously from you!

    7. Justin David Kruger on December 1

      I'm haven't played in a while, but I think I got to about round 250 a few times and the game kinda broke at that point. Moving tribes around and trying to keep growing was a huge problem. I figured some of it was skill, and some of it was game design. I soon ran out of time and ideas on how to get around the challenges in the game at about that mark.

      I like the notion of these 3 acts, and the notion of declaring the nation to transition to the 2nd act. This seems like a nice waypoint to accomplish.

      One of the interesting game mechanics I liked but found hard to manage was how you need tribes to develop 2 skills, a winter skill and a summer skill, but it became really, really hard to keep them transitioning back and forth. I think some refinement needs to be had here.

      Additionally, I think small groups have part time military / militia, while more established nations have a dedicated military. I think you could work on this transition, and I think it could be a nice grey area of game play. Standing militaries are expensive, while militia might be effective at moderate defense but are not offensive and you may need to depend on diplomacy.

      I'm excited to see the next update, and now that I'm a parent I'm awaiting the time to play again too.

      Keep up the progress. I've shown this game to friends and they would love to play a more polished version.

      PS. make it play better on mac os.

    8. Missing avatar

      clayffo on December 1

      so you said last update that you were implementing ideas into the game. please provide a change log of what's been accomplished over the last 2 weeks.

    9. James Sunderland on December 1

      That's cute, it's like Jon expects us to believe the game isn't vaporware. How long till the updates fizzle out again? Two weeks? A month? The anticipation is killing me.

    10. Andrew Stewart on December 1

      Great update. I really like the idea of a kind of discrete transition into the next phase of play (or act, as you say).

      Makes me think a little of how some legacy games play out when you shift from one game to the next.