The lead designer of Civilization V jumped ship and is now working for another PC strategy outfit, Stardock.

Two weeks ago, we reported that Jon Shafer had left Firaxis a scant few months after he shipped his first major product, Civilization V. Shafer could be called a young designer, he got his first job in videogames at Firaxis in 2005 as a programming intern after he cut his chops in the mod community of Civilization III. Shafer said that he amicably split with Firaxis, wishing his former employer success. At the time, I wondered where he would end up and I didn’t have to wait too long to find out. Shafer has reportedly taken a position at Stardock to continue work on the fantasy turn-based strategy game Elemental: War of Magic. There’s no word on his specific title, but he will soon lead his own team on an unrelated game in the near future.

Shafer didn’t exactly spell it out, but he did say that he took the job at Stardock (after fielding offers from a number of companies) because it will allow him to work on the kinds of games that he wants to make. He repeated that he left Firaxis on good terms, but Shafer may have felt stifled by the many sacred cows of the Civilization series. When I spoke to Dennis Shirk, producer at Firaxis, at E3 I got the sense that he thought of Shafer as a brilliant young whipper-snapper that would be a great designer one day, and that attitude might have grated on Shafer enough to have him look for opportunities elsewhere.

For Stardock, makers of the space strategy games Sins of a Solar Empire and Galactic Civilization, the addition of Shafer to the team is a pretty big deal. The company, led by CEO Brad Wardell, shipped Elemental last August to poor reviews and lukewarm reception from fans. Wardell admitted that he botched the release of Elemental, but is committed to getting the game to where it needs to be.

Perhaps the hiring of Shafer to “fix” the game with patches and expansion will offset the failure. Stardock also hired the creator of the popular Civ IV mod Fall From Heaven, Derek Paxton, to serve as senior producer on Elemental so perhaps Shafer and Paxton will be able to right the ship with their Civ-modding chops.

Or maybe Shafer should just get cracking on a new and less-broken game?

Source: Big Download

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