Jon Shafer has said the main reason he left Civilization developer Firaxis and took a job with Stardock was because of the fun and unique approach to creating games the firm’s CEO Brad Wardell harbors.
Speaking with Gamasutra, Shafer said since Wardell is the owner of the company, he has “complete leeway to do whatever he wants”, unlike development firms owned by a corporation, and since Wardell both “enjoys playing games” and “enjoys making games”, it was an “incredibly rare, and maybe even once in a lifetime” opportunity for Sahfer to join the team.
BigDownload revealed earlier this week that Shafer would be designing and implementing mod support for Stardock’s Elemental, as the firm is currently “concentrating its efforts on updating” the strategy game as well as ironing out the release of at least two expansion packs along with the game’s issues.
“Everyone knows that the launch of Elemental was a little bit rough, but because Brad is so committed to the game, making games — making good games — he’s willing to continue development on that and stay dedicated to it, such as with the offer for people who bought the game last year, to give them the expansion for free,” said Shafer on the matter.
“He wants to do right by people; he wants to do games he enjoys. It’s very much in contrast to pretty much any business, where definitely the end goal is always to make money. Stardock wants to make money on these games, but the main thing for him is making things fun, that he enjoys making. So that’s really, really rare in this business. Everyone is here to make games, but the financial reality of this business is such that it’s very rare to have this kind of situation.
“In terms of being a designer, I think it’ll be a lot of fun.”
Shafer feels the game is going to be successful despite such a rocky start, as “Stardock has a very smart plan about what’s coming up in the future”.
“Even though Elemental’s launch was rough, and there were the layoffs, even before the game was out, it had already broken even with pre-orders,” he said. “That’s from the approach that Stardock takes to making games. They don’t have 500 people working on it; they don’t spend nearly as much. So they don’t need to sell 2 million units in order to break even. The big issue with [Elemental] was just projecting future revenue for continued development, and Brad was having a hard time with that, but he’s dedicated to the game and wants to make sure it gets what it deserves.
“The issues with Elemental are very much a momentary blip, and that’s part of the reason Brad wanted to bring myself and Derek Paxton in — to help fill in some of the needs and bring some of the experience that wasn’t there when Stardock was really focused on games as more of a hobby than major projects.
“It’s not something that really concerns me at all. I think we’re going to be very successful. I’m very confident about where things are going.”
Elemental was released back in August.