Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, lead systems designer for World of Warcraft, has announced that he's leaving Blizzard in a week. Street says he's moving on from the company to pursue a new opportunity.
"You know that part at the end of raid night when the final boss is dead and you’re done handing out loot and everyone kind of goes their separate ways? Yeah, this is one of those times," Street said on the World of Warcraft forums.
Street was one of the most well-known members of the development team. This was partly due to his role, which included player classes, game balance and general mechanics. He also made a habit of being extremely visible. He regularly engaged fans to explain design decisions. As the face of the team, he regularly bore the brunt of fan anger for controversial changes. Everyone was convinced that he hated paladins. And hunters. And - well, you get the point.
Being barraged with criticism for five years doesn't seem to have soured Street too much, though. He stayed upbeat in his farewell letter.
"I wanted to thank all of you for being a part of this grand quest. I have said a hundred times that having passionate gamers, including the angry ones, is a far better place to be than having a community that doesn’t care. You all care. Like us, you want the game to be the best that it can be. So I ask you to keep on providing your feedback. I promise (and I rarely promise!) that the developers care very much about what you have to say."
Prior to joining Blizzard in 2008, Street worked at Ensemble Studios. In his decade there, he worked on the design teams for multiple Age of Empires games. He was the lead designer on AoE 3.
Street didn't mention where he's headed next. His lengthy experience with WoW would make him desirable to a number of rival MMO developers. If he's helping build a new game, though, we probably won't find out until the publisher is good and ready to announce the title. Perhaps Street will give us a hint after he's officially left Blizzard.
WoW recently celebrated its ninth birthday. Blizzard is currently developing Warlords of Draenor, the fifth expansion pack for the game. Draenor will allow players to build their own strongholds and journey to an alternate timeline. It could be the first of many annual expansions for the game, as Blizzard tries to retain subscribers for the aging game. Street is confident that Blizzard will be able to pull off the expansion and their other future plans without him.
"The game will be fine," he said on Twitter. "It's a veteran team with years of experience who love their job and WoW."