Jon Shafer has a new game brewing called At the Gates and I’m in love.
Let me preface all this by saying that if you’re a gamer, you live in a golden age. I say that because thanks to digital distribution, all kinds of games can now be made that wouldn’t have been economically possibly to develop just 5 years ago. At the Gates is a game designed for people who love history.
It’s not commonly known that when the Roman Empire fell, the world didn’t just fast-forward to black death and knights. There was a period in which “barbarian” kingdoms (who weren’t really that barbaric) vied to fill in the vacuum left behind by the late Western Roman Empire. That is the world that you enter in At the Gates.
At the Gates is currently in alpha. Jon Shafer is best known for his design of Civilization V. Having worked with him a great deal over the past few years, I can tell you that Jon is really one of the few people who have really mastered the art of integrating gameplay into the UI. Being able to present visual information cleanly and intuitively is no small task and Jon has done an amazing job at this.
As an indie, I really appreciate that Jon has been able to create this with a team of 3. Himself, a programmer and an artist (who is also Stardock’s lead artist on a different, unannounced game project). If you’re an indie developer, At the Gates is something you should definitely check out.
The object of the game is to build an empire out of the ashes of the Roman Empire. This early alpha is still just that, an alpha. But it is exciting to see where Jon’s going to take it next.