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Stardock Hires  Fall From Heaven  Creator After 'Challenging'  Elemental  Launch
Stardock Hires Fall From Heaven Creator After 'Challenging' Elemental Launch
October 12, 2010 | By Kris Graft

October 12, 2010 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

Plymouth, MI-based Stardock today announced the hiring of a new senior producer who was recruited from outside of the games industry for his project management background at infrastructure software company Novell.

But the new producer, Derek "Kael" Paxton, is not entirely new to video game development. He's the creator of the massive fantasy-themed Civilization IV mod series Fall from Heaven. He's also credited for his work on Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword and was a contributor on Civilization V.

"This is the opportunity to marry my professional project manager career with my passion for game design," Paxton said in a statement. He will officially join the Elemental: War of Magic and Galactic Civilizations developer in November.

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell added, "Derek brings to Stardock a unique blend of strategy game design knowledge and a great deal of project management experience from his non-gaming career."

His hiring comes following the rocky development and launch of Stardock's latest internally-developed strategy game, the fantasy-themed PC title Elemental. The title launched in August this year with numerous bugs, garnering criticism from gaming press, leading Wardell to publicly respond to criticisms about the game. The studio released a patch shortly after launch, but not before the negative impressions hit the web.

In a post on the official Stardock forums prior to the Paxton announcement, Wardell explained that the "sheer immensity" of Elemental led him to "get more directly involved" during the beta phase of the game as producer. Normally, he would serve as executive producer and AI developer.

"After careful internal consideration, it was decided that we needed to bring in someone with a great deal of project management experience," said Wardell. "This way, Elemental and our future games would have a dedicated, experienced, full-time producer and I would be able to get back to running Stardock as a whole."

He added, "...In turn, a full-time experienced producer on Elemental will ensure that subsequent updates and expansions get the kind of attention they need and deserve." Wardell said after the next game update, the studio will begin work on an expansion that will be made free to all people that currently own Elemental. The CEO will return to his role as executive producer and AI developer on the title.

Although Elemental had a difficult launch, Stardock has been adamant about supporting the game with further updates to "ensure that the game evolves over time to its full potential." Wardell said in his forum post earlier this week, "Our goal for Elemental to become a worthy successor to classic games like Master of Magic has not changed and we will be continuing to endeavor to make that a reality."

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Armand Kossayan
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I hope this helps. I wish for nothing but the best for Stardock, despite recent trouble's with Elemental. I swear I'll buy it one of these days.

Sarah Johnson-Bliss
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It's already a decent game. Version 1.1 sounds even more promising. They're practically recreating the game for that edition.

mike Solorio
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Elemental needed a bit of work, yes. And its difficult to shine in the shadow of recently released civ5!!

Still i like wardells style. He doesnt BS around and wont drag the game down while pretending its perfect. Stardock owns up to their shortfalls, and i admire that!

Ill continue buying stardock products, as long as they keep a 'no bs' policy.

I just hope to see vast improvements on AI... give the game some personality!