Show Us Your Rig: Civ V designer Jon Shafer

Cory Banks at

Welcome to Show Us Your Rig, a new feature where the PC gaming industry's best and brightest show us the systems they use to work and play. 

Conifer Games' Jon Shafer requires a lot of information. As the lead designer on Civilization V, he's understandably used to having a lot of data to process—his civ's economic details or battle data from the front lines, perhaps. Lately, most of that information is the thousands of lines of code for his newest project, the upcoming 4X At The Gates. Still, we were surprised when Shafer told us that his setup for both programming and gaming requires four separate screens. For most people, that'd be information overload. For Shafer, it's just another work day.

What's in your PC?
My primary machine is a Razer Blade Pro laptop I got through Razer's awesome Indie Program. I also have a MacBook Air I dual-boot into Windows most of the time. I do a fair bit of traveling and like to be able to move my workspace when the weather is nice or when I'm teaming up with someone on a specific task, so it's all laptops, all the time for me. The last tower I bought was all the way back in 2005!

What's the most interesting part of your setup?
Probably the number of screens I have on a single desk! I use Stardock's Multiplicity to link the two machines together, allowing me command everything with a single keyboard and mouse. When I'm programming I need plenty of space for code and info windows, room for whatever design document I'm working from at the time, and I also like to keep an eye on my email and Twitter. At this point having only two screens is painful, so I can't even imagine how people work with only one! I suppose you could also make a case for the sheer number of plants I have on and near my desk. My company name of Conifer is no coincidence!

What's on your desk?
Honestly not much. Aside from what I've already mentioned I keep a couple plants and occasionally my phone and a glass of tea or water. I really try to take a "zen" approach to my workspace, as a clean, uncluttered environment is just innately soothing. Unfortunately, the dark side of this philosophy is that giant big pile of papers and other junk piling up just out of sight...

What are you playing right now?
My current obsession is Fez. I love platformers and started playing it on the 360 about a year ago, but once I heard that a Vita version was coming up I decided to shelve it until then. I'm a huge Vita fanboy, so the opportunity to experience it for the first time on that system was enough motivation to hold off.

I've also been playing TowerFall with some friends. The short matches and simple rules make it a great competitive game, almost like a bite-sized sport. Just wish I were better at it!

What's your favorite game and why?
I think I have to go with Spelunky. I've played at least 2000 games over 500+ hours, and late last year finally managed to beat it "the hard way". In addition to loving platformers, I'm also a huge fan of roguelikes, difficult games and randomized maps. So, yeah, Spelunky is pretty much the perfect game for me.