Firaxis loses Civilization V lead

Principal programmer, designer Jon Shafer parts ways with Take-Two subsidiary after Mac edition hits store shelves.

Well before Sid Meier's Civilization V made its PC debut in September, Take-Two Interactive had begun scaling down Firaxis' payroll, cutting 20 positions in July. Now, with the Mac edition of the game seeing release in November, Firaxis has parted ways with Civilization V's lead designer and principal programmer, Jon Shafer.

Shafer may not have been a Nebuchadnezzar II, but the team he led still created a top-rated game.

According to Shafer's LinkedIn profile, he exited the Take-Two subsidiary earlier this month, ending his current tenure with the stalwart gaming developer just shy of six years. Shafer's profile notes that his responsibilities on the title included "establishing a vision for the product, team/project direction, designing and engineering gameplay systems, research and documentation."

Take-Two additionally confirmed Shafer's departure for GameSpot. "We can confirm that Jon Shafer has left Firaxis Games," a 2K Games representative said. "We thank Jon for his contributions to the Civilization franchise and wish him the best of luck in the future."

Beyond Civilization V, Firaxis has been at work on Civilization Network, an online version of the game designed for Facebook. A multiplayer-centric installment, the Civilization Network sees Facebook friends sharing technology and coordinating strategy in battles. Players' friends will be able to participate in elections and help decide resource management, as well as assist in espionage or the construction of Wonders of the World.

For more on Civilization V, check out GameSpot's review of the game.

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28 comments
RockySquirrel
RockySquirrel

Fraxis should have fired him for allowing a quote from G.W.Bush to be placed in the game (for the Future Tech leaf of the tech tree).

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

Maybe Sid Meier needs to follow suit and form a new company and buy back the Civ rights, and do it right next time.

jcohan
jcohan

To fatFlat: under advanced setup, you can reduce the number of city-states to 0.

fatFlat
fatFlat

Civ V sukks ... Independent states all they do is start wars ... They should of made a options where u dont need to play with states ...

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

overkill_78
overkill_78

@Wwlettsome You're joking, right? Go play Civ V, hell, even do a little bit of research on it and you'll know it's not the same.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

Probably got tired of remaking the same game every couple of years...oops don't tell the Civimaniacs that, it's a secret!

Anicsin
Anicsin

Sad new indeed... I'm excited about how will the game change if they make an expansion... aand good luck to Mr. Shafer!

fzd88
fzd88

Civ V is a lot of fun and I don't regret buying it. However, it feels more like Civ Light. I still play Civ IV when i want a "brain cell burning" game. However, the more I play V, the more I'm enjoying it. There's a casual/relaxed feeling to V, where as IV is more stressful and tense. The biggest fault I find is the AI. They are way too bi-polar. I don't trust a single AI anymore in V. This game encourages you to win by domination only. Even if you try to play nice, the AI will eventually attack you; which really is a shame. Curious to see who they'll hire to work on Civ 6.

alanthreonus
alanthreonus

Good riddance. He was far too inexperienced to be the lead designer for such a complex franchise like Civ, and it really shows in all of Civ V's questionable game mechanics. I don't know what Firaxis was thinking when they appointed him to that position.

Darkreaper_1
Darkreaper_1

@metalkid9 Totally agree. Civ 5 fells very stripped and very basic compared to previous versions. Also Civ 5, for me, is very unstable and after numerous e-mails to the support team asking for help with no reply i'm not overly happy with their customer support either.

Shardz7
Shardz7

They probably got rid of the guy who forgot to code in diplomacy options into the core game. I'm playing Civ 5 for hours on end...and haven't the slightest idea how the other cultures feel about me. And then out of the blue, a warband of 6 high powered units shows up with no warning whatsoever. Bill Clinton I ain't, I need a diplomacy page...like yesterday.

metalkid9
metalkid9

Somehow this game felt stripped from the last one. I wonder if I am the only one feeling this way.

Blade8Aus
Blade8Aus

@hibi-acer He was the lead designer of Civilization 1 and Civilization Revolution and he co-designed Civilization II, but that's it. Each Civilization game has more or less had a different lead designer and I for one, think that that's actually a good thing, as long as it retains quality and a good reputation. I think that they have Sid Meier's name on there for mostly commercial purposes.

ExtremePhobia
ExtremePhobia

@MasterTheHero I think you're mixing up definitions. More so in the past than now, by your definition of "streamlined" the Mac was a streamlined version of a PC. The kind of people that Civ always appealed to were the kind of people who would gladly click through a few more menus if it meant having as much control as possible. And I certainly was one of them. I'm not saying Civ V is worse than IV. I'm just saying that it's making concessions to appeal to a wider audience at the expense of it's established audience. And I'd bet that most people would appreciate it. Me? I'll play, I'll just miss some of the features that were "streamlined."

makryu
makryu

I guess this is good news if he was one of the masterminds behind the changes in Civ V that made it inferior to Civ IV. I mean, there's something wrong when a game totally screws an important aspect of its gameplay (in this case, at least diplomacy) and then the development team has to try to remake it through patches.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@MasterTheHero The Civ games have been those of a thinking man. Complexity in such a case is good. "Streamlining" a game usually means one of two things, either you're just tweaking menus and minor bits like that (of which CiV V did little), or you're streamlining game mechanics. The latter process invariably diminishes gameplay complexity and diversity, and is rarely a good thing. Civ V does indeed suffer from such a thing. Well, OK, it does make the game better for... Lesser intellects.

Flat_Line_____
Flat_Line_____

Well, hopefully now users can get some of the improvements they have been wanting since launch. If this guy had anything to do with them being held back that is...

MrDouglas
MrDouglas

That facebook game actually sounds really fun and somewhat innovative. As far as the dude leaving, it's not so strange. I'm guessing that when you've been with a company for six years and have been heavily involved with a great game like Civ V then you probably don't want to start all over again with Civ 6 :)

MasterTheHero
MasterTheHero

@Prometehus I don't understand the logic behind wanting a game NOT to be streamlined. People like having to click through hundreds of menus just to manage your cities and armies? Sorry but that's just plain tedious micromanagement, and I don't understand how anyone would want go through a million menus just to manage an attacking army.

Prometheus
Prometheus

I don't like the way Civ V was streamlined, so imo this is a good sign for the Civilization franchise.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

Eh. He did a good job, but his style leans in a direction I'm not a huge fan of. His vision of Civ just doesn't feel right, good, but not quite right. He's got quite the reputation now, so I'm not worried for him.

Huskypaw
Huskypaw

Civilization Networks even catches my interest as a Facebook Flash game hater!

Bamul
Bamul

What a shame. :( And a facebook game? What the hell are they thinking?! :x

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

Eh? I would have thought the lead designer of Sid Meier's Civ V would have been Sid Meier. Never heard of Jon Shafer before now, but I wish him luck.

Thralll
Thralll

Reason ? They created a top class game...