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An indie strategy game from Jon Shafer, designer of Civ 5. You are a dark age lord trying to replace the crumbling Roman Empire. Manage your clans, explore the landscape around you, harvest its resources, and build a mighty economic and military machine.
An indie strategy game from Jon Shafer, designer of Civ 5. You are a dark age lord trying to replace the crumbling Roman Empire. Manage your clans, explore the landscape around you, harvest its resources, and build a mighty economic and military machine.
3,009 backers pledged $106,283 to help bring this project to life.

January 2018 Update

Posted by Jon Shafer (Creator)

Happy New Year everyone!

This will be a short post since I've taken the last week off for the holidays and the mid-December update covers the meat of what's been going on with the project lately.

At the bottom of this post is the full changelog for v23, which went up on Steam about a week ago. I'll be officially "back in the office" tomorrow, and from there I'll be focusing on getting a new build up on Humble, playtesting, and collecting feedback for the next few weeks. All of the midgame features I've discussed in previous updates are now in the game, so the immediate priority is making sure all of them are both functioning and fun.

To give you guys an idea of my thinking behind the midgame I've made the design brainstorming doc publicly available, so feel free to check it out. It's definitely rough and more "how should X and Y work" rather than strict game design, but it might still be a fun read.

The next big feature we'll be checking off the list is diplomacy, as it's the final piece of the puzzle for wrapping up the midgame. I'll have more details on the final design for this in the February update, but the basic idea is to make things fairly explicit (5 or so discrete relationship levels, every choice you make clearly explains what will happen if you make choice X or Y). I don't think simulating humans or focusing on trade have proven themselves to be particularly successful or compelling approaches in other 4X/grand strategy games, so we're going to try something else this time around.

That's about it for now. Now that I'm back from vacation tomorrow I'll be around here and on Twitter in case anyone has any questions. Starting in February I'll get back to posting more media (screenshots, video, etc.) again, so if you're more interested in seeing the game in action stay tuned for that.

Hope everyone has a great 2018!

- Jon



v23 Change Log




- 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.



- 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.



- 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.



- "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.



- 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.

Linda Shafer, David Sullivan, and 13 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      clayffo on

      I do want to say that the alpha is great fun to play. It's just really frustrating with all the crashes so be warned

    2. Draco Whitefire on

      Thanks, I must have missed that post. Sending a PM for a key. :)

    3. Rade Martinović on

      I do understand that process of building a good game is much more difficult than anticipated, especially when working in a very small team.

      Keep up with the good effort and may At The Gates be at it's own "gates of release" :)

    4. Missing avatar

      Peter on

      It's really, really great to see you sticking with this. Dare I say I even feel optimistic about the game's progress. Keep it up man, looking forward to seeing the game's progress in 2018.

    5. Jon Shafer Creator on

      @Draco Whitefire:

      The game is still apha. The 80/20 rule everyone talks about has been one of the hardest lessons I've learned during AtG. As clayffo said anyone who would like to play the game and backed it at the $25+ level and PMs me will be given a key, so let me if you're interested. I do truly appreciate everyone who's stuck with AtG over all this time, and I want to make everyone who's generously backed us is treated right, whether they want access to the game or a refund.

      @ stephane.p:

      Coming. Hit a snag in the update process that I've emailed them about and am working through now. Will post here when it's resolved.

      @ Benjamin Vandergrift:

      Thank you sir! Diplo has been one of the biggest challenges I've been thinking about over the years. AtG probably won't pull things off perfectly, but I have a pretty good idea of what I think will work!

      @ Xathos:

      Thanks for the report - will look into it and make sure it's fixed in the next build.

      @ clayffo:

      Sent you a PM.

      @ John Rohde

      I agree it's sad. I feel badly about it every day. But this game will be done, and done right. I promise you that.

    6. Missing avatar

      clayffo on

      Draco he has offered a key to everyone that asks. You have to message him directly

    7. Draco Whitefire on

      It's encouraging to see a few updates after each other again. Perhaps even regular updates, though that might be too early to tell. It does make me want to play what's been built so far.
      I'm curious... Would you still describe the state of the game as Alpha? The last mention I've seen of the term was somewhere in 2014, describing Alpha II. Or have we reached Beta yet?
      The Conifer site doesn't mention the terms at all anymore, talking about 'Early Access'. Then again, that site also claims the full game will release in Q1 2017.
      So yeah, I would really like to play what's available. Even though I only backed at the €25,- level... Have you considered providing every original backer with keys, on account of having waited for years?
      Regardless, I'm glad you're working and updating again. Keep up the good work.

    8. stephane.p ~ BigEyes Games on

      Can you update the version? Thx

    9. Missing avatar

      Benjamin Vandergrift on

      I hope you had a good holiday! And I agree with you that trying to mimic human behavior for diplomacy ends up not working out super well.

      Thanks for keeping us updated. :)

    10. Missing avatar

      Xathos on

      Thanks for the update. Since I last checked, V23 has a lot of major diplomacy-related bugs, including crashing when moving into any other player / faction's control (caused by null reference in DiploAI.TestForIntrusion). It also crashes when using / interacting with a unit captured from a neutral settlement (something about bugged traits). Should probably fix those; the former completely breaks the game atm. I'm running on a mac (high sierra) via steam.

    11. Missing avatar

      clayffo on

      Jon I still have not received a key despite messaging you last week.

    12. Missing avatar

      John Rohde on

      Estimated delivery...2014. It’s now 2018. This is lik a bad joke at this point, a joke played on over 3000 people who trusted you with their money. It’s pretty sad.