Jon Shafer, the lead designer of Firaxis’s Civilization V and his own strategy game At the Gates, is gone from strategy specialists Paradox only six months after joining. Paradox say neither that he ditched the company nor that they fired him, rather that they have all “decided to part ways due to creative differences.” How enigmatic! We didn’t even know what he was working on.
“Jon is an ambitious person with a lot of drive and passion and he has led some good discussions in our teams over the past few months,” Mattias Lilja, Paradox’s executive vice president of studios, said in today’s announcement.
“However,” he continued (always a however!), “during the course of these discussions, it has become clear that we want different things creatively and we have therefore taken the mutual decision that it is best to part ways. We wish Jon the very best in the next part of his career and would like to thank him for his efforts during his time with us.”
Our Adam talked with Shafer after he joined Paradox in May, gabbing about his time on Civ, why he joined Paradox, and some ideas he was thinking about as possible paths for strategy games to explore. He wouldn’t tell us what specifically he was making at Paradox but it was a new project and he was building a team. Adam thought maybe a hint could come from some of those ideas Shafer was mulling:
“I think one of the big opportunities for strategy games right now is to add more character. Both in the form of characters but also in the form of what I’ve talked about already – the variety in the world, the flavour of encounters. Sometimes things that you find in the world can be great, sometimes they can be disappointing, but they should always be unpredictable.”
Maybe that’ll bubble over into what he does next, or maybe we’ll never know. Some of that spirit seems to be in At the Gates, which is still in development. Adam talked with Shafer about that too, so do have a read.