Jon Shafer's At The Gates


That’s fair, but it holds true for pretty much any human interaction. Humans tend to be a lot more empathetic and understanding when you know the person and can “put a face” to them, so to speak.

For instance, due to his interaction here, I don’t have this suspicion that Jon was just scamming for money. I also don’t think he was a naive kid who got in over his head. Because I “know” him to a very small degree, I’m pretty confident he went into At The Gates with the best intentions and that things haven’t quite worked out as planned. Shit happens, especially in software development (and I imagine it’s doubly so for making a good game).

In any case, I still think he’s handled a lot of this very poorly. I have no problems with him getting employment, because everyone needs to eat. But he did a real disservice to his supporters by not communicating over the past year.


I would be precisely as forgiving as I have been. Life’s too short to be that angry. I can see clear evidence that he did faithfully try, but failed to meat his intentions. I see no need or reason to hate him for that failure.

I mean I’ve been plenty disappointed in Bioware, doesn’t mean I got angry and shouty at the people there. But I’ve always been a bit more philosophical about these things than your average dude on the internet.

And I think @KevinC hits pretty close to my ultimate take. I hold no animus towards Jon, but do agree he did handle things poorly. But I do hope he is able to do good things. Jon and Paradox makes me tingly in… places.


It could also be herpes. Just sayin’.


You know, holy crap, gamers are insane. It sounds great to be more communicative, but honestly when people are angry at you and those people are gamers everything you say can and will be used against you.


Well, there’s a reason I would never want to be a game developer. And certainly not one with a public presence. Gamers really are insane.

That being said, a periodic update on his website just to let backers (people who gave him money) know that he was alive and the project wasn’t dead would have gone some way to mitigate the negativity. It would have for me, anyway. Just a “Hey guys, still alive. I don’t have much to share at this time, but work on the project continues” note on his website would have been nice.


As someone that’s had the rug pulled out from under him and found himself scrambling for stable work to provide for his family, I am happy for Jon. It’s easy to criticize from the backseat but unless you’ve been there you have no idea how depressing and paralyzing it can be when you’'re out of work and you’ve got family depending on you. Sometimes you gotta go with the sure thing to take care of yourself and your loved ones, they are the priority after all


I’m not familiar with the other Game Director… Is his side project released? It’s certainly not impossible, especially since the definition of “game director” is pretty fluid. Plus, some people are just work horses! But given where ATG is, and the realities of picking up a new director-level position at a new company… we have to be realistic here.

It seems evident that Jon’s latest Kickstarter announcement was spurred by PR at Paradox. They couldn’t leave ATG unaccounted for, so they had to decide if it’s better to say “It’s on indefinite hiatus!” or “It’s still happening!” in terms of how their fans and Jon’s would react. The latter is definitely the more positive message, and can be strung out for awhile, maybe (we can always hope) long enough for the project to actually be completed.

I’m not trying to be super negative. Sounds like Jon made a good move, and I hope it works out great for him!


He was making a Victorian dating simulator. Not sure if he is still working on it, but it was in a playable state last time he mentioned it.


I definitely agree with all of this.

Going forward, I’d hope and expect that Jon works with Paradox to get the game finished and honors his commitment to his Kickstarter backers

I find highly unlikely that if he has been unable to get the game beyond early Alpha after 3+ years, without a fulltime job that he’ll be able to do it working in his spare time. Especially, cause his day job requires creativity also.

Involving Paradox will require Jon to give up some creative control and a lot of the financial upside.

Jon did great work on Civ IV Beyond the Sword. Civ V had a lot of good things, but it also had 1 UPT, which has pretty much ruined the franchise for me. So creatively, he is sort of a wild card for me, but I don’t have confidence on his scheduling ability, which is I why I really think involving Paradox is the only way to get this done.


I backed Inglenook’s Witchmarsh aaaaages ago and even though they preface every single one of their updates with ‘Hey guys, sorry it’s been months since our last update, we’ll make sure we’re more communicative in the future’ I appreciate the updates still. I’d rather they admit that they’re shite with communication than keep apologising, but there it is.

There’s nothing like meating your intentions.


I’d say that if Paradox felt confident that the game was good and was going to be finished, they would have announced that they were helping to bring it to completion. For PR reasons, if nothing else. Since they didn’t…


I’m not, in fact I said that in my original post.


If I were Jon, I may not want to give up control of my “baby”. They may have offered to help publish it but he turned them down.


Maybe. But if I were a wise, developer-centric publisher like Paradox, I would recognize that much of the value of At The Gates for its audience is Jon’s personal vision, and I wouldn’t dream of making him turn it into something he doesn’t want it to be.


In the news today: writes Shafer told them in an interview at the ParadoxCon that At the Gates is already 80% completed. He will finish the game parallel to his work at Paradox. It only needs finetuning in AI, diplomacy and stability. Release will be end of January 2018.


They should definitely leave it alone until after release when they can list 97 different pieces of DLC for sale. Just imagine all of the portraits, unit packs, and Heavy Metal soundtrack remixes they can crank out.


Kinda rough to tell a magazine that first but not the KS group.

But the whole thing is a little strange. There are definite large chunks in this story that are unclear.


“Fred [Wester] and Johan [Andersson] and some other folks have been trying to get me to come to Paradox since, like, 2011,” Shafer says. "And, like, every six months Fred would send me email like, ‘Hey, how about now? Stockholm is lovely in June!’ I would always tell him ‘Would love to, but now is not the right time.’[/quote]

Some of what Shafer wants to bring to his game with Paradox is what he calls “that roguelike flavor” seen in games like Spelunky, Binding of Issac (another of his favorites), and Don’t Starve.

“And this is something I’m actually going to be pushing hard on probably in all of my future designs,” he says, “regardless if it’s grand strategy or anything else. I think having more asymmetry, having more variety, having cool exciting moments where you find… the thing! You know? In most games you don’t find the thing, but this time you found the thing! And that changes the experience of playing the game in a dramatic way.”[/quote]


Shafer articles incoming! Duck and cover.


Agreed. As a backer, I’ve had a pretty deep reservoir of good will toward Jon’s handling of the delays and often-complete lack of communication. None of it bothered me. Until this.