Civ V Designer To Work On Elemental

BigDownload scooped the news, using their giant info-bagger (which gnaws endlessly at the heart of the ever-growing internet), that Civilization V designer Jon Shafer has been hired by Stardock to work on Elemental, the turn-by-turn strategy game that appeared last year to a chorus of mixed frowns, but is now probably fine after a bunch of patching, we still haven’t had time to check. Apparently awesomeness is planned for Elemental, so that sounds awesome. Go awesome! That’s what I say, like when a guy playing American football says “Go deep” or whatever. I say that to Quinns when he is racing another blog post to the blog line. Anyway, the Stardockians have also used their cash to hire Dave Stern, a novelist and editor, who will apparently be working on Elemental’s lore. There’s life in the old lich yet, it seems.


  1. negativedge says:

    This is going to be one of those games I’ll have a lot of fun with a year from now after I buy it for ten dollars. I mean that in a nice way.

  2. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    This is the funniest thing.

  3. amandachen says:

    I’ve drawn up a list of rules for gamers. Number one is “Thou shalt not buy bad games.” I wonder if Brad fired the guys who were previously working on the game design and lore. Oh oops, that would be Brad and Brad.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      well he is working on the (one?) thing he is actually good at now, the ai. and the fall from heaven guy and to some degree schafer here are directing the actual game.

  4. CMaster says:

    So wait, the lead designer of a poorly received version of a successful strategy franchise is now working on a poorly received original strategy game. Yay?

  5. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Recent disappointing game hires designer of other recent disappointing game. Hmm.

  6. Tei says:

    No, this is more like Trenchyard hiring people from Infinity Ward… I think.
    Everything is a bit of weird now. Sure, all these people that has ben hired are good devs.. but,.. ¿Porque?

    • Mungrul says:

      And yet another Tei-ism embeds itself in my brain. Every time I see Treyarch in the future, I’ll instead see Trenchyard and think of Tei.

  7. Daniel Klein says:

    Well he should already have a good relationship with Derek Paxton, so that’s a good thing.

    Me, I’m still enjoying Civ 5, but it’s the sort of pre-actual game enjoying you do with a demo. I’m a staunch believer in the series, for SOME reason, and one day, when they enable mods in multiplayer and put non-sim turns back in, I’m sure it’ll be my favourite game ever. For now it’s a very nice gap-filler.

    Elemental is, like a gentleman said upstream, something that I’ll eventually have to get, once it’s the price of two pints.

  8. Namos says:

    Not sure how I feel about this. While Civ 5 is solid, it isn’t inspiring – I am not drawn in all that much. I actually like Elemental more, if only because it feels like it has the potential to go somewhere good. Still, by all reports, Schafer is the tactical type (Panzer General fan and all that), which is one place where Elemental can seriously use a boost. Here’s hoping this step will prove to be a positive thing.
    I hope the lore chap’s work is actually reflected in the game. Paraphrasing Troy Goodfellow, this is a fantasy game with a fantastic amount of brown in it.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for the price to go down, fellows. This is Stardock we’re talking about, and they’re looking at Elemental as a game to be supported for a while. I don’t expect the price to go below 30$ after the first year, and 20$ after the second, and that’s not counting expansions.

  9. pakoito says:

    The guy that screwed Civ V got fired and re-hired by CENSORED studio. Yeah, I’m not putting my eggs in that basket.

  10. Navagon says:

    I never understood why publishers throw out a game while it’s still riddled with bugs. Worse still I don’t understand why they would then never support that game with patches after its release to resolve these problems. Not only does it guarantee the game will bomb, but it also furnishes the publisher with a terrible reputation and means people will avoid their products in future.

    But I understand this less. Yes, it’s great after sales support. But what do they hope to gain? Do they think that people will buy it now? It was never going to be the most popular game as it’s such a niche title. Those that cared have seen the review scores. They’ve dug a bit deeper and read of the egos and the pride that damned the game from conception. So what interest is anyone supposed to have left?

    If Stardock aren’t so much concerned about saving the game as they are their reputation then maybe they should have taken that into account with their management of Impulse, their very public hatred of Europe, their other numerous childish tantrums and their abandonment of Demigod while it was still only half the game it should have been.

    • Wolfox says:

      Well said, Navagon, well said.

    • Shakey-Lo says:

      It’s a private company and most of their revenue comes from non-gaming software; I honestly think Brad Wardell just wants to make a game he likes.

    • Archonsod says:

      Demigod was Gas Powered Games, Stardock just published it. Then had to step in to sort it out afterwards.

      There wasn’t actually that many bugs when it launched. The problem was the design rather than any mechanical issue. For example, a spell list which contained about five different spells in total, and just changed the name and colour according to the element you were using, bows being some kind of all powerful weapon from the gods and multiple-figure units simply multiplying the stats.

      They’ve sorted most of it out, it’s largely a case of hanging content onto the frame now.

    • pakoito says:

      I don’t care if it’s Stardock’s or GPGs problem they just didn’t deliver. I was in the beta because I prebought at 50 fucking bucks but I couldn’t play because of bad netcode which I repeatedly reported and talked about with their IT. Then the game came out, my bug was spread through all installations and they couldn’t fix it for another month, then crappy reviews, almost nobody played, imbalance, bug bug bug…

      I got into HoN beta and the game delivered INSTANTLY better than 6 months of Demicrap.

      Also, “long term patches and content will be done, we always deliver yadda yadda yadda” said by Brad Effin Warden itself to me in the forum…two years, two heroes.

    • Wolfox says:

      Brad is getting famous for tons of unfulfilled promises (a la Peter Molyneux). “Sins of a Solar Empire will be MP compatible through all micro-expansions”, “Demigod will have a solid single-player experience”, “Elemental will be a spiritual successor to Master of Magic”… I was fooled 3 times already. Not anymore, though.

    • Jeremy says:

      “I don’t care if it’s Stardock’s or GPGs problem..”

      That’s actually the crux of the issue.

    • Navagon says:

      “Demigod was Gas Powered Games, Stardock just published it.”

      Stardock made a host of promises that I don’t see ever being fulfilled now. I think it’s perfectly right to blame them for that.

    • Martha Stuart says:

      I would just like to point out that EA does this shit all the time and everyone bitches and moans, but still the COD titles rain supreme(and everyone still buys it). so if you dont like it don’t buy it. and in stardocks defense their games are always eventually Top notch. Gal civ, Gal civ II and Sins. so peeeps chill out. the shit on stardock boat left an long time ago. lets just see what they can do about it now shall we?

  11. Om says:

    I thought that this would be about Brian Reynolds. I’d love to see him making proper games again…

  12. Daiv says:

    It’s nice to know that they provide after-sales support like this. They must’ve planned all along to add all the gameplay and story in a separate patch after release.

  13. pipman3000 says:

    hey brad why not a half-decent writer while you’re at it and scrap the entire elemental setting and replace it with that isn’t dull boring honourable kingdoms of white dudes based on europe or something fight the evil dastardly empires who so evil they kick puppies and eat baby chickens and turn everything their touch into mordor because they’re just SO EVIL! (get it they’re evil they even have evil business cards made out of human skin with their evil office’s phone number written in baby’s blood)

  14. Matzerath says:

    Wow, this game sounds like it’ll be really cool! When’s the release date?

  15. Tilla says:

    Next up we’ll get Derek Smart involved and then it’ll be a real party.

  16. Coillscath says:

    I got Elemental for Christmas and I can say that with the 1.1 patch it feels good. Buggy in places but good. With them sticking to their word about making it better, I can only see the game becoming totally awesome in the future.

    It was also bloody decent of them to declare any purchases before November get both expansions free, and any before January get the first one free. That combined with the free updates/patches says that they really care about their customers a great deal, and that’s something I can get behind.

  17. Sarkhan Lol says:

    Save your queen my loards

  18. AdrianWerner says:

    Good news. Civilization 5 was the best entry in the series (yeah,that’s what I think. Sue me! :) )and with future add-ons I’m sure it will get even better. Anyway Stardock seems to be really dedicated to fixing up their screw-up.

  19. pupsikaso says:

    They’re hiring a writer… after the game’s been released?

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      huge changes and at least two expansions still to come

  20. amandachen says:

    So who is going to preorder Gal Civ 3?

  21. Subject 706 says:

    Since there really is no modern alternative to Master Of Magic, I am patiently waiting for Elemental to be improved to an actual good game.

    Bought it, without checking reviews (mistaaaaaaaake) and was horribly burned. Much was promised, little was delivered. I’ve been hearing good things about it since patch 1.1, but am going to hold out at least until the first expansion.

  22. snv says:

    Elemental could have been nice, but in their current respective states i think civ 5 has a better potential to become a decent game.

  23. Tuco says:

    What about a revamp at the artistic side of the game?
    As I pointed out many times in the beta forum, it has the most uninspired and dull aesthetic you can expect from this genre.
    Somehow even dated games like Age of Wonders and Master of Magic keep looking far better (not to mention how they play lightyears better).

  24. Sergey Galyonkin says:

    Why everyone is so upset about Civ V? I’ve played almost 50 hours in first week and while it is not a Civ 2 or 3, it is much better that Civ IV in my opinion.

    • Gaytard Fondue says:


      No, really. As someone who played all civ’s and smac, I like vanilla Civ V more than I did like vanilla Civ IV ( you know, the game designed by god, I mean Soren Johnson, who now works for EA and designs Facebook games…)

    • Severian says:

      I agree – I am deeply enjoying Civ V, especially after the latest patch. Still definitely some work to be done, but a lovely, compelling game. Hopefully, Shafer will bring over some of the elegance of the Civ V UI to Elemental.

  25. Nick says:

    aww, just when I was starting to wonder if they might make Elemental good, there goes the rug.

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  27. Pijama says:

    Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, what a mess.

    My former employer had this to say once – “Whenever possible, you should do what you do best, and not what you enjoy the most. If both coincide, you are fortunate enough.”

    Brad Wardell definitely fits the bill, if he keeps working in the AI. Although you may admire the guy for the effort he puts on lore, he recycles assets like hell and just can’t let it go from Tolkien…

    I give it another year to mature, at best.

  28. Centy says:

    I don’t understand all the Civ5 hate. I, granted am new to the series only having previously played 4, loved it. It was much more fun to have a war simply because the stack of death was gone and the AI is far more realistic this time round. My only bug bears are the crippling lack of multiplayer support and options, modding not being as highly used as was advertised and the system requirements being far too high. Nothing some patches and optimisations wouldn’t solve.

  29. Sigh says:

    The nerd-rage in this thread is impressive.

    I have never seen so many dudes be so angry about a product they didn’t buy. Amusing.

    I am actually looking forward to see how the new creative talent influences the game.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      I wish I had your vivid imagination. Which thread are you talking about again? Are you saying everyone pirated Civ 5 and/or Elemental?

      Oh, right. You only read the first post, and that’s even positive. Good job.

    • Sigh says:

      Luke let the anger and hatred flow through you. You will be a great asset to the dark side.

    • Nick says:

      I bought both and they were the only two things I regretted buying in 2010. So, yeah.

    • Sigh says:

      First of all nowhere did I say “everyone”…just “so many dudes”. I am aware that some will have legitimate concerns since they own it, but Elemental is one of those games that attracts a lot of negative attention from people who don’t own it and never plan to.

      Second, I still stand by my original comment.

    • Tuco says:

      I don’t have just bought Elemental. i preordered it, which makes me feel twice as stupid.

    • Sigh says:

      I am in the same boat Tuco, which is why I am hoping that these recent developments result in something positive.

    • Wilson says:

      @Tuco – But at least you get the first two expansions for free, so it’ll all be ok if the promised improvements to the game materialize. From what they’ve done so far, I’m still quietly optimistic.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      The only thing worse than nerd-rage is pretentious smugness by onlookers that feel themselves superior by not doing what everyone else is doing..and then post about this, and, by that, do exactly what everyone else is doing.

      You’re just as much attention-whoring / internet-tough-guy-ing etc pp as the next guy and not an inkling / inch better except in your own head.

      The only way to win is not to play.

  30. ts061282 says:

    The only thing this doesn’t bode well for is 2k’s support of Civ 5. Clearly Schafer is unsatisfied with the plans or environment at Firaxis regarding his game and has chosen to work with a competitor who is sure to support a very similar game to the nines. Also, maybe 2k called Schafer a poo-poo head.

    • Hematite says:

      We can only hope that Schafer was dismayed by the drastic changes Firaxis have planned for the expansion packs.

      To back up my random sarcasm: I find Civ 5 far too slick and soulless, like a board game scaled up with a computer to manage the spreadsheets for you – strange, since I actually love board games like Catan. Also, the AI is tactically inept. Civ 4 (admittedly with all the expansions) was much more fun as a baroque romp through pseudo-history where my winning strategy was to massively out-economy the AI so their stacks of doom were effectively doom free.

  31. amandachen says:

    Brad Wardell talking about Gal Civ 3 / Elemental / Demigod

    the difficult launch definitely hurt the game. There’s no way around it. Besides upsetting a lot of people anxious for a good multiplayer game, you also have the fact that those early negative reviews are going to linger. 1UP promised to re-review the game when this mess is straightened out and so I’ll be talking to them this week about that. But still, Gamespot (insert poor score) and IGN (insert poor score) are going to linger. That’s the breaks. One could argue we released a game that wasn’t done (we thought it was done) and that’s what you get.

  32. RegisteredUser says:

    So it will look pretty, read pretty, just not run or play well.

    Well. Never had THAT before.