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Exclusive: Civilization V's lead designer hired by Stardock

In a major hiring coup for Stardock, the developer of the Galactic Civilizations series and more recently Elemental: War of Magic has revealed exclusively to Big Download that it has hired Jon Shafer to its team. Shafer recently left Firaxis Games where he served as the lead designer behind the studio's most recent game Civilization V. In his new role, Shafer will be helping with the design and increasing mod support for Elemental. At some point in the future he will also be leading his own team at Stardock on an unnanounced new stand alone game for the developer.

Big Download also got to speak briefly with Shafer over the phone earlier today. He told us that he departed Firaxis Games on good terms and while he got a few offers from other studios he told us that he went to Stardock for a number of reasons. One is that he has been an admirer of Stardock's games for some time as a fan. Another is that he wanted to work wth a company that that the freedom to make the kinds of games he wanted to make. Shafer told us he could give out any info on what his stand alone project will be for the company as Stardock is still concentrating its efforts on updating Elemental, including the release of at least two expansion packs.

Shafer will be working with Stardock CEO Brad Wardell who will continue to work as Executive Producer of all of Stardock's game titles. As we reported back in October, Stardock hired Derek Paxton, the lead designer behind the well known Civilization IV mod Fall From Heaven, to serve as Senior Producer of Elemental. Shafer told us that Stardock has "lots of awesome stuff" planned for the future of Elemental.

After its rocky launch last August, Stardock has continued to update Elemental, including a massive free 1.1 patch that was officially released last December. More patches are in the works as two expansion packs to the game. Wardell has stated on the game's official message board that sales of Elemental have continued to rise in the last three months of 2010. In another message board post he gives a general idea of where Stardock plans to improve and expand the game, adding, "I approved the necessary budget in December to fund Elemental for both 2011 and 2011." In addition he states, "Stardock has some other game projects that start up this year as well and the publishing group is working on some new things as well. So it's going to be a pretty exciting year for Stardock gamers."

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