The latest update for Jon Shafer’s At the Gates is pretty immense, coming in at over 5000 words. And while it covers a great many topics the point that clearly stands out is the revised release date – the originally scheduled date of June 2014 has obviously long since come and gone and it now turns out the finished game won’t be released until the first quarter of 2017.
While it’s reassuring to see this issue has been addressed, it’s impossible not to be concerned at how long development of this, admittedly ambitious, 4X strategy title is taking. Jon Shafer does at least acknowledge and take full responsibility for the delays, in particular for the decision to implement a new feature late in development leading to a major redesign. He also points towards the time taken to polish other crucial gameplay aspects such as AI, diplomacy systems, tooltips and the graphical engine.
Although I remain concerned it seems the 3000 backers of At the Gates who pledged just over $100,000 seem less worried. There are no signs of negative comments after this latest news (although admittedly those who would be unhappy may have given up interacting by now). However those who have commented seem positive and key to this support seems to be Jon’s regular and comprehensive updates. Many have stated that these insightful insights into video game development are worth the pledge amounts alone.
Jon isn’t new to video game development, having being the lead developer on Civilization V. However he had very little professional experience prior to that and since setting up Conifer Games as his own studio has working primarily as a solo developer with support coming from part-time staff and contractors. I can’t help but feel he would benefit from having other full-timers to keep him on-track as otherwise it’s impossible to doubt his commitment – he’s even sold his house, car and retirement fund to keep development going. It does seem likely that we’ll eventually see At the Gates released in 2017 but whether it’s worth the wait remains to be seen.