At the Gates, the turn-based strategy game set in the Roman Empire's final days from Conifer Games and Civilization 5 designer Jon Shafer, would have been made for $40,000. When the crowdfunding drive ended this morning on Kickstarter, 3,009 backers had pledged more than $106,283.
The financial success story will translate to a better game, Shafer told Polygon in a recent email.
"We surpassed our funding target by a large margin, and there's no doubt that help us make a better game," Shafer wrote.
The original $40,000 was earmarked for watercolor paintings, unit animations, licensed music and sound effects. Making well over twice that amount will allow Conifer to expand the scope of At the Gates.
"It was important for us to focus first and foremost on delivering the game we've promised," he wrote. "We'll be adding extra modding functionality, a couple new playable factions and also releasing At the Gates on Mac, Linux and iOS [in addition to Windows]."
"It's almost like entering a different world for a couple months, then jumping back into your old life after it's all over."
Shafer believes that At the Gates' success is due in part to his preparation that began before the Kickstarter campaign.
"I did quite a bit of research into Kickstarter prior to the launch, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect," he wrote. "Even so, I was surprised and humbled by how much attention we received."
At the Gates is scheduled to be released sometime around mid–2014, and now that securing funding is behind him, Shafer is looking forward to getting back to development.
"The conclusion of the campaign will allow me to catch my breath, and then get back to the business of actually working on the game," he wrote. "So my schedule will indeed be very different starting next week."
Shafer detailed some of those differences in a Kickstarter blog update yesterday. He'll transition to working on design, which will include some experimentation with changes suggested as the studio raised funds. These include "movable" resource deposits like livestock and deciding whether torching something will destroy it forever.
Looking back, Shafer is simultaneously happy and exhausted — and willing to do it again.
"As exhausting as it's been, it's been equally amazing, and as long as I live I'll never forget this experience," he wrote. "It's almost like entering a different world for a couple months, then jumping back into your old life after it's all over. I'm sure there will be a point down the road where I look back and say, 'Wow, did that really happen?' But hopefully At the Gates is just the first of several successful Kickstarter projects for us!"
For more on the history of Conifer Games and what to expect to expect from At the Gates, be sure to read our recent feature.