Weekly eXchange

WeX #56 – A New Beginning

Join Rob and Nate as they discuss the weekly 4X and Strategy Game News! Have news that we didn’t catch? Be sure to email us at eXplorminate at gmail dot com!

Music by Mangadrive for eXplorminate

Show Notes

Categories: Weekly eXchange

7 replies »

  1. It’s a bit hard for me to take At The Gates deadline and roadmap at face value. 3 or 4 years ago, At The Gates was first approaching game journalists and potential players. Today we are being told that we have yet one more year before the game goes gold.

    To anyone who develops software, this is not news. We can understand the complexity of software development and how hard it is to obey a deadline. But 4 or 5 years in development seems a bit too much for the game that has been showed to us.

    On the other hand, the most important piece of information was left out. When we get this delayed and have deviated so much from our initial plans and intentions, we may as well have a project management issue. A roadmap and a deadline alone won’t solve it. There were roadmaps and deadlines before too, and what did they do for At The Gates? Instead, it’s perhaps an internal problem to the team that needs to be addressed.

    Sorry if I seemingly pretend to know more than Jon Shafer about his own project. That’s not my intention. I’m just evaluating it from the outside and just not so easily buying the idea that this is how things go with game development. They do sometimes go like this, but it becomes obvious to anyone involved that there is a problem and it needs to be addressed.


    • I think one could make a good case that making a game – ANY game – would fit within most software developers’ definition of “project management issue”. ;) At least until someone finally figures out the trick for reliably getting “fun” to fit into a spreadsheet.

      That said, even I can admit the point you raise is very fair. 5 years for a single game is both a really long time and far longer than I ever expected to spend on AtG. I’ll also be the first to admit we dramatically missed on the original target date that was announced back during the Kickstarter campaign – but I definitely learned my lesson from that and since then have made a serious effort to avoid even talking about a potential release date aside from an occasional “Hey guys, the game isn’t coming out for a while so sit tight” every few months. Hell, until just a few weeks ago no official roadmap actually existed at all, even a rough internal one, and rather than hiding that fact from people I instead made sure to point it out on several occasions across various Kickstarter updates from the past 12-18 months.

      Of course communication is about as far from a quantitative science as you can get and I slip up just as often as anyone else, so my apologies if anything I’ve said along the way has accidentally come across as misleading or suggestive. I know how frustrating it can be when a game keeps missing deadlines, and that’s exactly why I’ve tried to never promise anything I don’t know for certain I can follow through on. Ambiguity can often seem no better, but it’s far worse for both the devs and the community if you make bold proclamations when so many unknowns still exist that you’re basically just guessing.

      I don’t know if you’ve read the big roadmap update I posted to Kickstarter a week or two ago, but if not it might be worth checking out. I go into pretty extreme detail describing how we got to this point, particularly regarding why after such a long delay this roadmap is worth trusting in. I also talk about how insane the scope of this project is despite looking a lot like a 2D Civ clone (to summarize: it’s almost at the level of a full-blown Civ title, each of which is now built by a team of 50+).

      I know it’s been a long, hard road to this point. Given how many strategy games and Kickstarter-funded projects have hit the rocks or failed completely I can completely understand why someone might be concerned about AtG, and for that reason I’m always happy to answer any questions folks might have. The 4X community is awesome, AtG fans especially, and in return I try to reciprocate all of that incredible support by always being up-front about everything – and, you know, eventually delivering an awesome game or two!

      – Jon


      • Yes, I have read the update and seen the spreadsheet. This podcast points us to it, so I naturally immediately went there. :)

        My main concern is that eventually you will just tire. You have no way of knowing this, but we talked before. When I was an editor at a tech oriented website you contacted me with the project. We covered it a few days later. Seems like a lot of time ago. And as a fellow developer (although not on the game industry) I can understand when a personal project becomes so taxing that we eventually just burn out and drag it along an unfinished state for eternity.

        But if you say, you are still strongly commited, that’s enough for me. I just hope Kay and Christ feel the same, and if not you can find suitable replacements in due time.

        The thing with AtG is that you present us with a really interesting game. Your ideas and the planned implementation is really promising, in particular your thoughtful approach to the AI and the mid game crisis of many 4X games. The actual delay isn’t so much a problem to someone like me. Having passed my 46th birthday, I’ve just grown patient out of necessity. The concern is instead that the team could eventually burn out and the project die because everyone is just tired of it.

        Best of luck, Jon. There’s no lack of trust on you or your abilities. And your story speaks for itself. Here’s to hoping this roadmap is the needed catalyst to get the project through its most difficult stage.


  2. Mario, I completely understand you. I hope you hang in there a bit more. At the Gates could really be a genre changing and forward thinking game. There is more to this, and you aren’t wrong, but I can’t say much, and I know even less.

    Thanks for the feedback. By the way, did you like the new intro?



  3. and I had to do if only to say, I bought the game today. My 9y old on saw it and said, I want to play that. and I was here from day one, missed the kickstarter time for god know what…saw that Stardock praised you very much, and that was at the time enough…
    Here’s to many, many years to come. Years, of a team helping you build what you dream of.


    • Thanks for your kind words, Mario! It’s especially great to hear that your son is excited to play the game. I’m always amazed and humbled by how broad of an audience this genre has. I didn’t discover the Civ series until I was 17, though that might have been for the best as I probably wouldn’t have gotten much schoolwork done if I’d gotten started at 9!

      – Jon

      Liked by 1 person


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