Jon Shafer has left developer Paradox just six months after joining.
Shafer launched a Kickstarter for strategy title At the Gates in March 2013, raising over $100k. However, after the game was delayed well beyond its 2014 release date, the developer joined Paradox in March 2017, vowing to return to At the Gates further down the line.
"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," Paradox’s executive VP of studios Mattias Lilja said.
"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.”
Shafer’s statement revealed little more.
“Recently I've parted ways from Paradox. In the end it really was creative and cultural differences - I can't go into details and will simply leave it at that,” he told his Kickstarter backers. “I still love Paradox and its games, but things sadly just didn't work out. I'll still always be rooting for all my friends over there, and wish them the best of luck.
“So what's next? I'll be focusing on At The Gates again. I can honestly say it'll be nice to go back to working on it full-time now that I've had some space and can return with fresh eyes and enthusiasm.”
As for why his increasingly angry backers are still waiting for their game, Shafer added: “I got burned out, to be honest, and ultimately wasn't really sure how to wrap things up in a way I could be proud of. I'm a perfectionist, and at times that trait definitely works against me.
“It sounds obvious of course, but when you're years deep in a project, have a task list a mile long, and run your own company with one full-time employee it's easy to lose sight of the fact that actually finishing something is more important than making sure it's perfect. Needless to say, it's been a hard lesson.
“I made a few attempts at getting back into things but it became truly overwhelming at a certain point, so I stepped away. I'm not proud of that, and I apologise to all of the people I've let down. Making a full-scale 4X game mostly by yourself is an insane undertaking, and not one I would recommend. I thought I could pull it off within the time frame of a normal game's development cycle, but that was an incorrect assumption.
“I had hoped my time at Paradox would serve as a source of inspiration, and fortunately I was definitely right about that. I learned a lot even in the short amount of time I was there, and have a clear plan on the design front for how I want to finish up AtG now.”
Shafer has also promised project status updates on the first day of every month. So far in 2017 there have been three updates. In 2016 there was only one.
“As for when the game will be done, I can't say for certain until I've built a task list based on our new, final objectives and had a couple other folks double-check things, but the target is mid-2018,” he continued.
“Estimates from the last year or so have been based on part-time work, which is incredibly hard to get right with a big project like this, so I'm optimistic that things will turn out better this time. Could the game slip again? Of course, but I'll make sure to let you know if it does along with what progress we're actually making along the way.
“Thanks to all the backers and fans who've hung around over the years. I promise there truly is a good game here, we just need to finish it. It's been a long road, both for the game and me myself. But now it's time to finish what we started. Thanks for sticking with us.”