Civ V Designer Wants to Champion the PC "Middle Market"

Civ V Designer Wants to Champion the PC "Middle Market"

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Jon Shafer says he left the comparably huge-budget PC developer Firaxis for the smaller independent shop of Stardock to have freedom.

It was big news for such a young designer as Shafer to be named as the lead on a huge sequel with a pedigree as celebrated as Civilization. It's even more notable that the young designer quit his cushy job at Firaxis mere months after shipping Civ V. Jon Shafer said that he left not because he felt stifled or in the shadow of the great designers in house there, but because he sees more opportunities for PC gamemakers to create great games without spending a fortune. Stardock, where Shafer is now employed, is a privately held company under the sole leadership of CEO Brad Wardell, not the subsidiary of a publicly-traded behemoth like Firaxis is to Take Two. Shafer can feel free to experiment in the "middle market" of PC games, creating rich strategy games with the small focused teams of independent games.

"Nowadays, you might see games that cost $50 million to make, whereas somebody's releasing games on Facebook that are effectively PC games that might have required literally one person to make" Shafer told Gamasutra.

"On the other hand, you have companies that are doing things more like Stardock, where they're pursuing what I like to call a middle-market where they focus on an experience that is really big and in-depth, and really borrows a lot from some of the more traditional models of making PC games. But you're not spending humongous amounts of money."

The interesting part of Stardock is that it has a business software division, and only makes strategy games because of the passion that Wardell has for PC gaming. Not that Wardell is a power-hungry wannabe game designer.

"Every company has different strengths and different weaknesses," Shafer told Gamasutra. "As a designer, it's really unique to work for a company like Stardock, where [CEO] Brad [Wardell] is so dedicated to the games. He very much enjoys working on the games, but he doesn't necessarily want to be the one designing everything himself.

"A lot of times, what you'll see with the smaller, private companies, is the person in charge who's involved with a lot of things also wants to be a designer, and make a lot of decisions for everything in the game. But that's not the case with Brad. It makes Stardock very unique in that sense."

Shafer again stressed that he left Firaxis amicably and bears no ill will towards the company that gave him his shot, but that Stardock made him an offer that he couldn't refuse. "I really enjoyed my time at Firaxis. It was a lot of fun. Definitely working on Civ was an absolutely incredible experience. I got to know a lot of good people, but Stardock, with the opportunity I have here, it's something that's incredibly rare, and maybe even once in a lifetime. So I jumped on it when I had that chance."

Source: Gamasutra

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Funny how he says he wanted to work at firaxis since he was a child, and he up and leaves it in a heartbeat. Oh well, its his choice.

Every time someone leaves a company they stress that it was amicable. Every single time. Of course, many times it obviously wasn't... so when I hear this, my first instinct is disbelief. (and from the first post, I'm not the only one)

CitySquirrel:
Every time someone leaves a company they stress that it was amicable. Every single time.

I'm pretty sure IW didn't. :)

... probably got sick of making more DLC packs for Civ V.

In all seriousness I wouldnt be all too suprised to find he didnt see much chance to really design, as much as re make old stuff and try make it seem new.

... plus I doubt re making / making sequels of other designers franchises is really challenging his design skills.

If the guy who worked on Civ 5 is noww working for the company that makes Galactic Civilization...

I can't wait for 3.

Georgie_Leech:
If the guy who worked on Civ 5 is noww working for the company that makes Galactic Civilization...

I can't wait for 3.

except that he's the guy that ruined civ5 and he'll now be trying to "fix" Elemental, which is an even worse broken mess.

GrandmaFunk:

Georgie_Leech:
If the guy who worked on Civ 5 is noww working for the company that makes Galactic Civilization...

I can't wait for 3.

except that he's the guy that ruined civ5 and he'll now be trying to "fix" Elemental, which is an even worse broken mess.

since when was civ5 ruined?

psrdirector:

GrandmaFunk:

Georgie_Leech:
If the guy who worked on Civ 5 is noww working for the company that makes Galactic Civilization...

I can't wait for 3.

except that he's the guy that ruined civ5 and he'll now be trying to "fix" Elemental, which is an even worse broken mess.

since when was civ5 ruined?

Since it was made accessible to people who hadn't played it before, offending every leet hardcore fan ever...

the player dissatisfaction is extremely well documented and can be easily read on every single community forum/site.

multiplayer still doesn't work correctly, there's still tons of critical bugs and design flaws..and this is now months after the original release. a very sloppy release for a once prestigious franchise.

but sure, play the "you're just a leet hardcore fan" card...i'm sure you've both been playing hours of civ5 every day, right?

friedo.obrain:

psrdirector:

GrandmaFunk:

except that he's the guy that ruined civ5 and he'll now be trying to "fix" Elemental, which is an even worse broken mess.

since when was civ5 ruined?

Since it was made accessible to people who hadn't played it before, offending every leet hardcore fan ever...

really? just cause it removed the stacks of doom, yes it changed up the formula, but its called change and experimentation. I enjoy it alot, the diplomacy is much complex and the tech tree is much better in my opinion, and im not some noob to the franchise, ive been playing since 2 and it is my favorite franchise of all time putting hundreds of hours into each game.

GrandmaFunk:
the player dissatisfaction is extremely well documented and can be easily read on every single community forum/site.

multiplayer still doesn't work correctly, there's still tons of critical bugs and design flaws..and this is now months after the original release. a very sloppy release for a once prestigious franchise.

but sure, play the "you're just a leet hardcore fan" card...i'm sure you've both been playing hours of civ5 every day, right?

I cant think of a way to do good multiplayer in a civ game and think it should just be removed, its a single player game and works best as it and shouldnt waste time and resources trying to do online multiplayer. No I dont play civ 5 every day, but ive never played any civ game every day, I play a wide range of games civ just my favorite. I think it changed things up and while I dont like that increasing your cities makes culture slower, I do really like the city states, and think hexs feel more natural.

To those who are dishing shit towards Shafer because of Civ 5:

There are already a good number of both official as well as non-official sources strongly suggesting that Shafer wasn't actually allowed to do all of the stuff he wanted with the game and that the final product did not come into existence as a result of his design decisions alone.

The headline of this very thread even says he left because he wanted more freedom.

There are many reasons for why Civ 5 turned out the way it did, but the people who keep insisting that Shafer single handily destroyed Civ 5 and/or the Civ franchise in general are typically either just a bunch of Civ purists/elitists who denounce every change that was made since Civ 4 in general, or just a bunch of trolls trying to jump on the "Shafer sucks" bandwaggon for some attention.

That doesn't mean you have to agree with Shafer's design decisions or even like him, but please keep the unfounded and poorly thought out accusations to minimum please.

EDIT: By the way, the reason for why Civ 5 was so unfinished at the time of release was probably because it was rushed out the door too early, something which I suspect had little to do with Shafer.

Hardcore_gamer:
To those who are dishing shit towards Shafer because of Civ 5:

There are already a good number of both official as well as non-official sources strongly suggesting that Shafer wasn't actually allowed to do all of the stuff he wanted with the game and that the final product did not come into existence as a result of his design decisions alone.

The headline of this very thread even says he left because he wanted more freedom.

There are many reasons for why Civ 5 turned out the way it did, but the people who keep insisting that Shafer single handily destroyed Civ 5 and/or the Civ franchise in general are typically either just a bunch of Civ purists/elitists who denounce every change that was made since Civ 4 in general, or just a bunch of trolls trying to jump on the "Shafer sucks" bandwaggon for some attention.

That doesn't mean you have to agree with Shafer's design decisions or even like him, but please keep the unfounded and poorly thought out accusations to minimum please.

EDIT: By the way, the reason for why Civ 5 was so unfinished at the time of release was probably because it was rushed out the door too early, something which I suspect had little to do with Shafer.

Most civ fans can make a pretty argument why they think civ 5 is worse than civ 4. And yeah, since he was lead desinger on the game, he naturally gets some credit fo that.

Still broken and dumbed down as civ 5 is, it's not as broken as Elemental or as simplistic as galciv2, so bringing Schafer to Stardock could mean an improvement.

 

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