Jon Shafer's At The Gates


I’ve got about 10-12 hours in it now and it’s got some interesting concepts and systems. For example, the weather system is nifty, i.e. units being forced to encamp during winter to preserve supplies and in some cases are completely immobilized by snowstorms. Also, clans with certain professions (say, Guide) that require they remain “settled” in town but provide a sort of global benefit to clans in related professions out in the field (Foragers and Reapers) sure is neat-o.

But OTOH it’s a super slow burn and keeping track of all of these synergies and skills, traits and clans feels sorta like doing taxes. It’s just not that much fun and I keep thinking “why would I play this over Civ or AoW?” and I can’t think of any compelling reasons.

There may be more to it in mid to later gameplay but based on what I’ve read about lack of combat, weak AI and simple diplomacy, I’m not sure I care.


GB as we watched I think we were thinking the same thing. To Tom’s credit he played it straight and did the best he could. I was thinking “Warhammer 2” the whole time but … that’s just me.


You mean Gladius.


That’s certainly what I was thinking while playing.



Well I bought it anyway in the hopes my contribution will help expand new and original ideas.

I’m happy, and I haven’t even started the game yet.

I was thinking, future testing of games should include the developer literally watching a player start up, mess up, etc, to see what players actually do.


RPS review sounds like he only played 7-8 hours. Then again, it sounds he played only 7-8 hours because some big pace problems.


I’m going to think of this as an Early Access game, based on player reactions and the following from Jon posted in the Steam forum last month:

"Post-Release Update Plan
AtG is almost ready to be released, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be bugs and it certainly won’t be perfect in terms of pacing, balance, AI, etc. So the plan is to release patches over the next several months on a fairly regular schedule:

• 1.01 … 0-2 weeks after release … Stability

• 1.1 … 4-6 weeks after release … Balance

• 1.2 … 8-12 weeks after release … Strategy + Mod Support

• 1.3 … 5-7 months after release … AI + Diplomacy

This doesn’t mean support for the game ends after this, but the above is already set-in-stone and I want you all to be in the loop with regards to the plan. It’s also possible things will change a bit, but if and when this happens I’ll be sure to post here and let you know.

  • Jon"

Think I’ll wait for 1.3. Based on @GuildBoss’ comment I certainly won’t be playing this during tax season ;-)


My feeling as well


By then this will be a distant memory


Not at all (at least for me), I have lots of games I’ve tagged “backlog” just to wait for them to get patches (or in some cases, DLC).


I’ve got a hunch that when AtG finally gets AI and diplomacy patched it, there will be a lot of chatter in this neck of the woods. In the mean time it can sit quietly in my WIshlist.


It’s definitely a huge part of the problem. The early game is slow, uneventful and unrewarding and in many cases just plain aggravating (e.g. your starting clans all having negative traits, cold weather rolling in too fast). I started maybe a dozen games and never got past turn 20 with any of them.

My biggest gripe with the early game is the map and its features don’t offer anything exciting to discover early on. Sure, there’s the occasional ancient battle site with a handful of weapons but you can’t even use them until you do some deeper research into the Honor tree, which is mostly useless early on anyway.

Then you’ve got a few scattered farms and such that are occupied by unaffiliated clans but again, you can’t conquer them until you get warriors/archers which is in the Honor tech tree…and you’ll need weapons to equip the clan.

Beyond that it’s just unidentified rocks and bushes, which, after the 10th time surveying a rock to discover it’s actually Salt, gets a bit old…and salty.

Compare this to Civ or AoW where early exploration is much more exciting, especially if you enjoy combat in your 4x games.

I really wanted to like this game. I know Jon has gone through the ringer with it and I’m happy he’s okay now but I’ll probably shelf this until 1.2 and mod support and see what happens.


Which leaves me puzzled as to why he didn’t label it Early Access?


I think I will purchase it to be supportive and let it marinate.

In the meantime I’m going to spice things up and delve into the Dune Wars mod for Civ 4.


Unfortunately I can’t afford to buy games just so they can sit unplayed for 6 or 7 months.


Frankly, there seems to be a lot of messed up stuff with both the game’s author and the game, and I think it is foolish to think that he could release some grand proclamation and everything is better. I do not think anyone should be surprised if the game is badly messed up right now. I would not be surprised if the game’s author is still badly messed up right now. The only thing we really have is his word that things are going better, in a missive that frankly still to me showed a lot of problems.

While we like to think people go through an arc, solve their demons, and then produce something amazing, the reality is usually much different. There’s a lot of reasons I can think of as to why the game would be released in this state. We tend to want the person with personal demons to recover and then not let us down. The reality may well be very different.

I just sincerely hope the author gets better, and finds peace and contentedness. What he has gone through/is going through sounds utterly miserable, and I really hope things get better for him.


I am really thrilled that Jon has fought what was hitting him, and has come to a project release. I feel I have been there.

That said, it is obvious to me that in the minds of many reviewers/gamers he is being treated as a game development entity and not as a one man show which he has become due to the circumstances. The critiques/reviews I am seeing sound like the struggles of labor that are associated with one man projects.

I think expectations were not properly reset and so he is being reviewed as a larger dev house.


The reviews I’ve seen are in most cases are reviewing it as the game that it is on release.

As a consumer with no real association with the person developing this game, I don’t care if it’s a one-man show or large dev house. I’m interested in the final product. It stands or falls (or somewhere in-between) right there.


This is oh so true. It holds for any product, I think.

In this case, I backed this at the $25 level and so got my Steam key yesterday. Haven’t played it and probably won’t for a while.


This is a good thing, and may be what convinces me to purchase during the launch discount window.