This Kickstarter is attempting to raise $40,000 for At the Gates, a turn-based strategy game set during the decline of the Roman Empire. This will be developed by Conifer Games, a new studio formed by Jon Shafer, most recently of Stardock and lead designer on Sid Meier's Civilization V when he was at Firaxis.. Shortly after it was announced that Shafer was joining Stardock it was said that he would "bring additional modding expertise to the recently launched Elemental: War of Magic and will take the lead in designing the next as-of-yet unannounced Stardock title." Jon's LinkedIn profile indicates he left Stardock in September 2012 after serving as "project lead for an unannounced title." Back to At the Gates, they offer a trailer with almost 15 minutes of gameplay, and do a much better job than many Kickstarters of summarizing what to expect:
At the Gates is an empire builder similar to Sid Meier's Civilization. Starting with a small tribe, you must explore the world, exploit its scarce resources, and eliminate or outsmart potential enemies. The game starts simple but grows in complexity until you command a mighty economic and military powerhouse.
Over the course of a single game your tribe will migrate to more lush and bountiful lands, conquer and barter with other clans, work alongside the Romans, learn from them, and finally destroy them. Along the way, you'll need to master the art of war and craft cunning plans to strengthen your kingdom - all while enduring the worst mother nature can throw at you!
Re: Jon Shafer's New Studio Announces At the Gates
You're right that 40k isn't much for a project like this. However, I'll actually be the only full-time developer on board, and many of the misc business expenses are already out of the way. We don't have an office or really any overhead costs, so that gives us a large degree of flexibility.
The other two core members of the team both still have full-time jobs and will be working on ATG in the evenings and on weekends (unless we blow way past our goal, and then we'd have other options). None of us are being "paid" to make ATG, and we all live together so rent is not an issue. I actually have another house I used to live in that I'm planning on selling in the next couple months which will also help ensure I'll be able to eat during the course of development!
So finishing the game is very much feasible on this budget - it's really just a question of level-of-comfort for the team and, in particular, myself. The campaign has gone very well so far though and it looks like we'll have more than 40k to work with, so I may be able to get away with munching on something besides ramen over the next year!
At the end of the day though, when you're an indie you have to make sacrifices. I want to have creative control and follow through on my vision. I could work for a larger company with a lot of money, but there are always strings attached. I'd rather sell all of my stuff so that I can make exactly what I want.