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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.

Mid-December 2017 Update

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Hey all,

From here on out most of the updates will focus on the details of what's been added to the game, though I'll also occasional discuss broader design concepts when appropriate.

To kick things off here is the still-WIP changelog for v23, which will be posted to Steam next Friday, the 22nd (and should be up on Humble shortly thereafter):

.

v23 Change Log (WIP)

MAJOR FEATURES

  • Can now 'Declare Kingdom', which causes the Settlement to become permanently immobilized and costs 25 Parchment, but provides +2 Control range and +10 Fame per turn.
  • "Borders" are now back in the game, and all Structures (including Settlements) now have a default Border radius of 1. Borders are now called "Control" both in code and in-game text.
  • All Structures must now be constructed within a player's Control.
  • Structures can now be "Fortified" by spending an increasing quantity of Weapons, allows their Control Range to be increased to a maximum of 4 tiles.
  • Apprentices can now only be assigned to a Structure after spending Boards in order to add "Apprentice Slots". The Resource cost of adding both an Apprentice Slot to a Structure and assigning a Clan as an Apprentice to a Structure increases by 50% each time (can be modified via XML).
  • Removed all level 3 and 4 Structures. There will now only be two versions of each structure: a basic Timber-based version that depletes the Resources on a tile, and a Stone Block-based upgraded version that lasts forever (WIP: currently only prototyped with Wheat Farms).
  • Added basic conquest victory condition after capturing a Roman Capital.

MINOR FEATURES

  • Brought back the Watchman Profession, which can construct Watchtowers outside of your Control and start with a Control Range of 2.

  • Added support for Resource-harvesting-but-non-depleting Stone Structures.
  • The Woodworks Structure (Logging Camp Mk. II) now requires only Stone Blocks to construct and does not deplete Forests.
  • Started work on converting over all other Structures to the new design approach.

INTERFACE

  • Added rudimentary victory screen.
  • Improved layout of Clans screen.
  • Added tagline ("A Survival Strategy Game") to main menu (mainly to help unwitting Civ players who expect a very different kind of game from what AtG aims to deliver).

MISC

  • "Fortifying" a Unit to give it a defensive bonus is now called "Digging In" (so as to not conflict with the new "Fortify" feature for Structures).
  • New AIPlugin implementation in AI2. Can switch between the new one and the old one by modifying Plugins.xml.
  • Pressing F7 will now quit the game from the Main Menu and World Screen (for debugging purposes).
  • Can now modify the Control Range of a MapObject via the debug console.
  • Expanding Control now makes full use of the localization and rich text formatting system. This will be utilized for all future changes to the Selection Panel (and elsewhere in the UI).
  • Added color override support to RichString.Append_RawTextToFormat().
  • When using the quickloading debug option while the quicksave is out-of-date the game will now show a popup informing you such, instead of simply aborting the game launch with no feedback.
  • Added help info to the new "CONTROL" debug console command.
  • Added new CompositeString constructor which takes a raw string. Not super-useful in the long-run, but helpful while the text system is in transition from an older raw text-based format to the fancy new system.

BUGS

  • Fixed bug where missing pillaged Watchtower texture would cause the game to crash when constructed.
  • Fixed bug where the Resource cost check when allocating Apprentices would only be applied for a single Resource rather than the full list due to the check being static.

.

What's New

As noted in the previous update the focus lately has been on the midgame, some of the changes for which I'll go into a bit more detail on.

The biggest change in this new build is the ability to "Declare a Kingdom", the main effect of which is to fix the player's Settlement in-place for the remainder of the game in exchange for a couple nice bonuses. The main goal is to provide additional structure to the game, splitting it into three discrete parts of an overall arc towards overcoming the Romans (in a future update I'll be talking about how the final third of the game will play out).

The Fame bonus you receive for Declaring a Kingdom is the real prize, as it's rather significant and allows you to attract a large number of new Clans fairly cheaply right when their arrival really starts to slow down should you not have prioritized investing in it. The other of the two bonuses is directly designed to help mitigate the price of setting down: making it harder to reach new Resource Deposits. The additional Control Range (borders) gives you a relatively cheap way of dramatically expanding what you can reach, although you obviously have to plan ahead and make sure you actually get something out of it.

Speaking of which, the other big change in the game is bringing back "borders", or as we call it in AtG, Control. The previous system dropped borders from the game and required you to move your Settlement around to and fro in order to set up new Resource-harvesting Structures, after which they would remain online and you could move somewhere else. It was kind of a nifty system mechanically, but not super-intuitive and absolutely non-viable after making it possible to permanently glue your Settlement somewhere.

You now start with a small radius of Control surrounding your Settlement and each Structure you build, and this radius can be expanded by spending an ever-increasing amount of Weapons in order to "Fortify" them. I like this design not only because it allows the flexibility of growing one big giant blob or a bunch of smaller satellites, but it provides a distinctly economic role for a traditionally military-exclusive Resource. Instead of deciding between spending your Weapons on this type of soldier or that you can now pump them into something completely different. And of course Weapons themselves come from Iron, which itself can also be turned into Tools. So we now have multiple layers overlapping in a relatively straightforward way. This be how good strategy games get made!

There are, of course, some smaller changes we've made in this upcoming build as well, but pretty much everything is related to these two big features and the midgame generally. I won't go into any more detail here, as I have a tendency to go overboard as it is and we still have a game to finish up!

.

What's Next

Next on the agenda is wrapping up the design changes to the game's Structures, a big update to the tutorial, followed by some playtesting, bugfixing, and polishing. The goal is to post a new version of the game reflective of the design changes discussed above and get feedback on what it is we need to focus on as we're wrapping up the game in 2018 (and if the pacing is completely off or the game is super-buggy that's definitely going to be an obstacle).

I have a pretty good idea of what's left (more diplomacy, AI stuff, victory conditions), but how we distribute time to each of these features will depend on what players find most compelling and deficient. If we find that diplomacy is something everyone really feels is weak then it makes sense to spend more time on that than, say, additional iteration on the tutorial or improving the balance of the game's Professions and Structures. As a creator you always need to have a strong core vision for what your project will eventually look like, but without getting feedback it's possible to go down completely wrong roads without even knowing it. Your vision needs to be both strong but flexible. A bit of a contradiction at times, but that's why art is, well, art!

When the next build goes up we'll be including a link to a survey where players will be able to provide feedback in a structured format that will be easy for us to process and digest. I'll let you guys know what the results from that are in January.

Anyways, that's it for now. We'll be back with another update soon. 'Til then!

- Jon

Jon Newcombe, Corey Simmons, and 27 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      clayffo on December 26

      Jon I sent you a pm regarding my key last week. Did you receive it?

    2. Jon Shafer Creator on December 22

      Here are the full patch notes for v23:

      MAJOR FEATURES

      - Can now 'Declare Kingdom', which causes the Settlement to become permanently immobilized and costs 25 Parchment, but provides +2 Control range and +10 Fame per turn.

      - "Borders" are now back in the game, and all Structures (including Settlements) now have a default Border radius of 1. Borders are now called "Control" both in code and in-game text.

      - All Structures must now be constructed within a player's Control.

      - Structures can now be "Fortified" by spending an increasing quantity of Weapons, allows their Control Range to be increased to a maximum of 4 tiles.

      - Apprentices can now only be assigned to a Structure after spending Boards in order to add "Apprentice Slots". The Resource cost of adding both an Apprentice Slot to a Structure and assigning a Clan as an Apprentice to a Structure increases by 50% each time (can be modified via XML).

      - Removed all level 3 and 4 Structures. There will now only be two versions of each structure: a basic Timber-based version that depletes the Resources on a tile, and a Stone Block-based upgraded version that lasts forever (WIP: currently only prototyped with Wheat Farms).

      - Finished updating design implementation for all Structures (one Timber-based version that exhausts its Resource Deposit, plus a more advanced Stone Blocks-based version which does not).

      - Added basic conquest victory condition after capturing a Roman Capital.

      - Tutorial fully updated.

      - Added new 'Game Help' Screen. Can be opened by pressing '?' or by using the new button in the upper-left corner of the screen.

      MINOR FEATURES

      - Brought back the Watchman Profession, which can construct Watch Towers outside of your Control.

      - Added support for Resource-harvesting-but-non-depleting Stone Structures.

      - The Woodworks Structure (Logging Camp Mk. II) now requires only Stone Blocks to construct and does not deplete Forests.

      - Reduced number of Resource Deposits near starting locations, as it just felt like there were way too many.

      INTERFACE

      - Added rudimentary victory screen.

      - Improved layout of Clans screen.

      - Added tagline to main menu (mainly to help unwitting Civ players who expect a different kind of game from what AtG intends to deliver).

      - Added new Structure Tooltip section which describes the benefits and costs of adding Apprentices to a Structure.

      - Increased Help Guide Tip popup text size and width.

      MISC

      - "Fortifying" a Unit to give it a defensive bonus is now called "Digging In" (so as to not conflict with the new "Fortify" feature for Structures).

      - New AIPlugin implementation in AI2. Can switch between the new one and the old one by modifying Plugins.xml.

      - Pressing F7 will now quit the game from the Main Menu and World Screen (for debugging purposes).

      - Can now modify the Control Range of a MapObject via the debug console.

      - Expanding Control now makes full use of the localization and rich text formatting system. This will be utilized for all future changes to the Selection Panel (and elsewhere in the UI).

      - Added color override support to RichString.Append_RawTextToFormat().

      - When using the quickloading debug option while the quicksave is out-of-date the game will now show a popup informing you such, instead of simply aborting the game launch with no feedback.

      - Added help info to the new "CONTROL" debug console command.

      - Added new CompositeString constructor which takes a raw string. Not super-useful in the long-run, but helpful while the text system is in transition from an older raw text-based format to the fancy new system.

      - Updated several Concept help text entries.

      - Help Guide Tip popups now have the ability to link to other tips. These show up as buttons on the final popup.

      - Added code which allows all the popups in a PopupSequence to have the same POPUP background height (previously this only worked for the popup MESSAGE background height, which doesn't really work once you start adding other stuff to the popup, e.g. follow-up buttons).

      - Clicking on a Help Tip follow-up button now activates the linked tip.

      - Message Popups now accept RichStrings instead of raw strings.

      - Added RichString constructor which accepts a StringBuilder (instead of just a raw string).

      - Every Help Tip's PopupSequence object is now instantiated in HelpGuide, instead of each individual Tip.

      - Help Screen now shows Tips in two columns so that they all fit on the screen.

      BUGS

      - Fixed bug where missing pillaged Watch Tower texture would cause the game to crash when constructed.

      - Fixed bug where the Resource cost check when allocating Apprentices would only be applied for a single Resource rather than the full list due to the check being static.

    3. Jon Shafer Creator on December 22

      v23 is now up on Steam! It's almost certainly pretty buggy because I didn't have as much time to playtest as I would like, but I'll be focusing on stability fleshing out what's in the game already for the next several weeks.

      @ clayffo:

      I'm afraid it's actually not possible for me to send anyone a PM on here unless they've sent one to me (i.e. the project) first.

      - Jon

    4. James Sunderland on December 20

      It's nice that Jon is posting finally, but I still don't trust a damn word he says. If there's a good lesson here, it's not to pledge based on a name, as obivously that doesn't equal a finished product.

    5. Missing avatar

      clayffo on December 20

      Let's skip the pm thing. Send me a key

    6. Jon Shafer Creator on December 19

      @ Adam Martin:

      I'm very sorry to hear that, especially now that we've started to make some good progress on the game again, but I understand your decision. I've sent you a PM.

      @ Wafalumps:

      I'll be here making the game and available from now on, so no worries on that front. :)

      @ clayffo:

      That's the plan. I've considered opening things up to everyone who's contributed but in the end I decided against it. People ultimately only get one first impression for a game and while a certain number of folks will come back later I want the first impression players receive of AtG to be a good, fun, and finished game. They didn't sign up for something that barely made it out the door, they signed up for a great game. And that's what we're going to deliver. In my mind the worst outcome at this point is to start playing an unfinished, unfun game now and never come back to play a good game later.

      That said, anyone who's contributed who request a key to play the game will be granted one. I'm not in this to make money at this point, only to make a great game. Anyone who contributed years ago and has still stuck with us to this point is clearly someone who also wants to see this become a great game, and I welcome their help (PM me if you've contributed at the $25 or $30 level and are interested).

      @ James Cobb:

      As mentioned above, anyone who's contributed the Kickstarter campaign at the $25 level or above can PM me and get a Steam key.

      @ Alexander Schilpp:

      New build will be posted on Friday!

    7. Adam Martin (Everyone Can Program) on December 15

      My comment from a month ago, suggesting you share builds with the backers (given how very very far behind normal standards you are on this project - both in terms of time and - more importnatly - in terms of updates, transparency, respect, etc) ... got ignored.

      So ... I'm now going to petition you + KickStarter for a refund. This is ridiculous. The evidence is that you are probably never going to deliver this - or at least: won't do so on any timeline remotely related to what you promised.

      i.e. it's more likely you'll start again from scratch and write a whole game, slap the name on it, and say "Done!" than that you'll finish what you started.

      (original comment here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jonshafer/jon-shafers-at-the-gates/posts/2049993)

    8. Arthur Cormode
      Superbacker
      on December 15

      Thanks for the update. :)

    9. Missing avatar

      Alexander Schilpp on December 15

      Great update! Please give us a build to test.

    10. Daniel Sobral on December 15

      It's such a joy getting regular updates again for AtG!

    11. Missing avatar

      James Cobb on December 15

      How do we get it on Steam or Humble?

    12. Missing avatar

      clayffo on December 15

      So are you going to open up play testing to more people? This will improve bug reporting and feedback for how the games play

    13. Missing avatar

      Wafalumps on December 15

      Thanks for the update Jon. These are some good first steps in rebuilding trust with your community. The update sounds interesting and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

      My hope is that you are able to continue with your communication commitments and that you are honest with us. I understand that development isn't a linear path so if there are any obstacles and/or delays tell us about them - don't hide them.