Civilization V Designer Jon Shafer Reveals His Troubles While Developing At the Gates

Jon Shafer is a name well known to strategy games fans. A 'prodigy developer', he was selected to be Sid Meier's Civilization V Game Director and Designer at the age of 21 after working on the Civilization IV expansions Warlords and Beyond the Sword.

After leaving Firaxis and Stardock (where he did a brief stint), he decided to go solo and crowdfund his next project, the indie strategy game At the Gates, via the then-rising Kickstarter platform.

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Over three thousand backers pledged a total of $106,283 in March 2013. However, the game's development proved to be difficult and yesterday Jon Shafer explained exactly why in a massive blog post published on his personal site.

In short, Shafer had personal issues due to his diagnosed ADHD and the drugs he started taking to cope with it. Eventually, his work/life balance was so out of whack that he barely ate or slept, let alone work on the game.

All is well that ends well, anyway, as Shafer was gradually able to restore himself to a healthy state. Now At the Gates is due to release on January 23th, at long last, and we'll be sure to give it a spin for a review.

At the Gates is a 4X grand strategy game from Jon Shafer, designer of Civilization 5.

You are a Dark Age lord. Your destiny is to build a kingdom in the shadow of the crumbling Roman Empire. Explore the dangerous landscape around you, harvest its resources, and build a mighty economic and military machine. Your clans have their own personalities and desires, so carefully consider how you use them.

It won't be easy. Your path is unsure. Overcome your immensely strong neighbors. Outlast the frigid winters of the far north to discover a source of gold and vast riches.

Are you the leader who will usher in a new era of European history? Or will you be forgotten?

An Evolving Map

Seasons and weather dramatically transform the landscape around you. The river that once served as a barrier in the summer might become a highway in the winter - for both you and your enemies!

Character Management

Each of your clans has unique traits and desires, so choose carefully how you use them.

Survival & Roguelike Elements

Keep your clans fed through the harsh winter. Resources run out so always be hunting for more. Your neighbors can be immensely strong. Every game poses new challenges and opportunities.

Watercolor Art Style

A beautiful watercolor landscape serves as the canvas for your clever economic and military strategies.


AtG features a revolutionary user interface which utilizes "tooltips-in-tooltips" for the very first time, making it far easier to learn without sacrificing any gameplay depth.

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