Jon Shafer, the lead designer of Civilization V, started working on At the Gates in 2012 and it almost ruined him. In a long, and very open, blog post, Shafer details the harrowing journey he took in the seven years since he started working on the game. Medical and financial issues mounted until he hit rock-bottom midway through the project. In a November 2015 Kickstarter update, Shafer confessed that things were not on track and that he’d resorted to selling his house and emptying his retirement fund to pay for development.
“And it finally sunk in. It was over. Everything was over. I had destroyed everything. There was nothing left. Of the game. Of my career. Of my life. Anything. It was all gone.”
A pause for reassment, a side trip in 2017 as a Paradox hire, and a “reboot” of his life habits put him back on the right path. Thankfully, Jon Shafer is doing much better now, and with At the Gates almost ready to launch on January 23rd, he’s got something to look forward to.