February 7th, 2013 | By Tom Christiansen
In what looks to be another great success story born of Kickstarter, Conifer Games has raked in $27,000 in a matter of hours for their empire-builder, At the Gates.
At the Gates is set back in history, just before the Dark Ages set in. The Roman Empire is collapsing, tribes of barbarians are “at the gates” (get it?), and everything that was once stable in the Roman-occupied territories is now a teetering disaster waiting to happen. Luckily for players, from the comfort of their 21st-Century homes, they will be able to avoid the pillaging, pestilence, and the general chaos that took over the region by experiencing it through Conifer Games‘ flagship title.
Players will take on the role of a barbarian leader, looking to establish a foothold in the power-struggle that is engulfing the region. At the Gates boasts ever-changing landscapes that react to the seasons, a situational-request system to reinforce alliances, and all the tactical combat one would expect from a game of this type.
At first-glance, At the Gates doesn’t look like the kind of game that would rake in so much money, so quickly. The graphical style looks about the norm for an indie strategy game, and the Kickstarter reward tiers are all pretty average. However, things take an interesting turn once it’s realized that the Jon Shafer associated with the project (who funded Conifer Games out of his own savings) is the same Jon Shafer who was the lead designer for Civilization V, a.k.a. one of the most popular history-focused strategy games, ever. Things are beginning to make sense.
Currently, the Kickstarter campaign is sitting at $28,495, but that figure will surly have climbed by the time I finish writing out this article. Conifer Games is looking to collect $40,000 total, so essentially they have reached the half-way mark, in a little over a day. While a playable prototype is complete, Conifer Games wants to put more effort into solidifying the artificial intelligence in the game as well as polish the game’s visual style further.
“We’re not sitting on a massive pile of cash,” Shafer explains on the Kickstarter page, “we don’t have a publisher and, as of right now, any future expenses will come directly out of the team’s pocket…$40,000 is not a large budget for a game with this kind of scope. But it’s sufficient to finish At the Gates because we’ve already made significant progress, and have a very small development team. Raising more than that would let us add even more features to the game than we’ve talked about here, so we’re certainly hoping to not just meet this threshold but shoot beyond it!”
Conifer Games plans to have At the Gates ready for Alpha testing this July, with a closed Beta available in January of 2014. Access to both the Alpha and the Beta builds are available as Kickstarter funding rewards. Visit the Kickstarter page for At the Gates to keep up with the game’s development, and check out Shafer’s dev blog, which he plans to keep up with in the coming weeks.