Riot In The Street: Lead WoW Dev Becomes Lead LoL Dev

By Nathan Grayson on January 15th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

And so it all comes full circle. Blizzard’s games may have been the MOBA genre’s none-too-pretty spawning pit, but League of Legends, DOTA 2, and the like took the torch – whether Blizzard wanted to pass it or not. So it’s not entirely surprising to see people like Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street, former lead systems designer on World of Warcraft, at Riot. Sure, Heroes of the Storm is a thing, but it’s still nascent, larval. For better or worse, LoL is an empire, and now, it seems, a destination. Street enters as lead game designer on LoL, so he will likely be calling quite a few shots as time goes on.

According to a post on Facebook, Street began at Riot in December – shortly after his November departure from Blizzard.

Previously, he spent five years as lead systems designer for World of Warcraft, which meant he had his finger in all sorts of scrumptious (not to mention crucial) pies, from class design and game mechanics to trade skills and interface. Before that, Street worked at Ensemble, where he was a designer on every Age of Empires game and lead designer on Age of Empires III.

Oh, and if you’re worried this means that LoL lead game designer Ryan “Morello” Scott is out, dry the tears running down your three mutant face lanes. He’s still on board in exactly the same role, as he explained in a forum post:

“League’s a huge game and there’s a lot to do. [Ghostcrawler]‘s actually some MUCH-needed help on the leadership side – it’s just too much for any one person to handle and make the progress I’d like to see. We’ll be dividing up some of the effort on leading it, but other than making sure more things have support, the teams are pretty unchanged from who’s doing want (Statikk and friends are still doing Game Health, Meddler still heads champ development, we just have more expertise to draw on now).”

“A lot of the things we want to focus on with game health this year (and preseason is a kick-off to this effort) is primarily around fixing a lot of the old problems. After finishing up support (IE the gold item particulars + Annie problem), we want to focus on adding choice and depth by taking a HARD look at ‘ball of stats’ stuff so we can actually introduce interesting stuff with trade-offs.”

While on WoW, Street was far more openly communicative than many members of the MMO kingpin’s colossal team, which naturally led to him catching all sorts of flak. But a) WoW’s far, far, far more than a one-man effort, and b) it saw countless triumphs and failures throughout Street’s tenure. It’s tough to predict exactly what sort of effect he’ll have on LoL, but Street helped head up one of the most successful, smartly streamlined (yet still relatively complex-ish) games in history. There’s something to be said for that. Quite a bit, actually.

Riot’s far from a perfect company, but here’s hoping this results in good things for LoL’s future. The Riot empire has recently expanded to gobble up a lot of high-profile talent, so I think the least we can ask for is a game that proves its Global Takeover Initiative worthwhile. Or they could just focus all their efforts into taking over the world, but – in this particular case – I’m reaaaaaaally hoping for the videogame thing.

, , , .

40 Comments »

  1. Nevard says:

    If this means more crabs in league of legends it can only be for the best
    I can only think of like, one, right now

  2. hideinlight says:

    Anyone seen Icefrog lately?

    • Merus says:

      Last I heard he was at Valve so I guess he’s doing…. something or other. Probably not making video games, though, Valve gets the community to do that these days.

      • Zankmam says:

        What the hell are you talking about?

        Icefrog is lead (and basically sole) designer of the game. He balances the game in all aspects and adds new content.

        Realization and such via the Source engine are done by some coders and artists, as you would expect.

    • Premium User Badge RedViv says:

      Only Commissioner GabeN ever sees him. To the rest of the ordinary people, he is a myth, something that goes bump in the jungle, whenever the Icefrog-Ward shines its beam at the clouds over Diagonal River.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Mostly he keeps vigil over the deranged souls at Asscam Asylum, twisted fiends who insist on playing in cinematic mode to get a better look at their cosmetics

    • Terragot says:

      You mean IceFRAUD?

      ༼ つ◕◡◕ ༽つ (_̅_̅_̲̅F̲̲̅̅I̲̲̅̅S̲̲̅̅S̲̲̅̅U̲̲̅̅R̲̲̅̅E̲̲̅̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅() Slammin’!

  3. bstard says:

    There was a time when Blizzard invented and other companies tried to imitate them. This particular game somehow feels like a dejavu. Or in other words: wasted time and resources.

    • Tei says:

      Blizzard has not invented DOTA, it was a mod somebody did… mostly derivative work from the turret defense genre with heroes added.

      Is this how the history books are written? will the history books say Blizzard invented dota? because that would be hilarious wrong.

      • Fenix says:

        Dota (and the genre) got invented in Blizzard’s backyard, though.

    • Nevard says:

      What does this even have to do with the article? Ghostcrawler hasn’t had anything to do with any Blizzard project except WoW and LoL is not a Blizzard game at all.

    • Xocrates says:

      Mind you, Blizzard never really invented, they were just really really good at what they did.

      • Shuck says:

        Yeah, the Blizzard guys I know are the first to admit that Blizzard has never invented, it just refines to a high degree of polish.

    • Rollin says:

      The 90s.

  4. lizzardborn says:

    What is the Annie problem?

    • Premium User Badge darkChozo says:

      She got really strong as support with the S4 support changes and is getting nerfed. Also something something crowding out other supports.

    • shaydeeadi says:

      So how come they don’t find out what makes her so much better than other supports, then try to apply that to the less favoured supports. To make them more viable instead of just making her weaker?

      • Nevard says:

        Brining one character down is far less work than bringing 20 characters up

        • Psykhe says:

          And even if we ignore the “work” issue it wouldn’t ..well.. work.

          It would only work in a perfect world where developers are godlike beings which can achieve perfect balance, but in such a world Annie wouldn’t exist in the first place.

          In our world this would happen:

          They would buff pretty much *everyone* – not only support, because if they would buff only support the power relation of support vs the rest would shift, so they have to buff the rest too to bring everyone on the same level.

          In theory at least. Because we wouldn’t arrive with everyone at the same level, but some being less, some being equally and others being powerful than Annie. Which is which won’t be obvious right away.

          Fast forward a month or three and it will be. So now char X is to powerful. Buff everyone to the level of char X? 3 month later char Y is too powerful. Buff everyone to the strength of char Y. And so on…

          “Just buff everyone” leads to an endless circle of buffing which ultimately breaks a game.

      • Philomelle says:

        Applying Annie’s strengths to other supports doesn’t work because she is bad at actually supporting. The idea behind supports is that they add massive piles of utility (crowd control, healing and buffs) to the team, allowing other people to perform beyond the limitations of their champions. What Annie brings to the game is just a shitton of damage and an occasional uber-long stun. Playing her as a support essentially means you want to play a damage mage, but can’t pull off a solo lane convincingly so you want your ranger to carry you past the early game.

        There is only one person who is good at actually playing Annie as a support and it’s the Korean guy who first came up with the idea. About 95% of other “support” Annies suffer from the “support Nidalee” problem, which boils down to a bad selfish player wanting to play a damage mage, so they sneak a champion who can very technically act as both roles while claiming that they’re totally playing support (although don’t actually intend to).

        tl;dr the Annie problem is when a selfish douchebag pretends to play support, then abuses a champion’s natural strengths to improve their KDA (Kill/Death/Assist ratio) without any concern for whether that helps their teammates in any way.

        • shaydeeadi says:

          Ah, a little bit like how alchemist gets ran as a support in DOTA2? I was looking at some stats (yes I have nothing better to do) and for someone with such a high ban rate her win % isn’t that impressive (just sub 50.) Subsequently wondering why there is such a problem, but if people are picking her to run as a support and then just snatching CS and generally not playing support the numbers kind of make sense.

          But how will they balance it? Lower the power of her spells to discourage AP(?) builds and push her into a harder support role? Or replace an ability she has with something more akin to supporting? Then again, if the problem is selfish players picking her for the wrong reasons what will buffing or nerfing her do besides making her less viable in all situations?

          • Premium User Badge darkChozo says:

            I haven’t been following things too too closely, but I think this is mostly aimed at the pro scene. Annie support requires a lot of soft game knowledge and is probably a lot better in coordinated play — she’s an early kill lane due to her stun and nuke potential, and she transitions into a late game initiator with her ult (think Warlock ult in DOTA terms). Pub games tend to not capitalize as well on early kills and lower-skilled players are much worse at knowing when and where to initiate properly.

            They’ve already announced that they’re nerfing her early stun duration, so they’re targeting her early game power a bit.

        • Premium User Badge darkChozo says:

          Annie support is nowhere near as bad as Nidalee support — Nidalee literally doesn’t do anything late game without items. An itemless Annie still has Flash and a long-range AOE stun.

          • Philomelle says:

            I know that. Support Annie does ultimately have some presence, even if it’s often not the presence the team wants.

            I used the “support Nidalee” term because it’s become a meme in the LoL community ever since someone on YouTube listed “support” Nidalees in the top five of most infuriating, obnoxious and worthless teammates to play with, just a bit lower than AFKs but actually higher than intentional feeders. Even breaking the meta completely with things like jungle Ahri and solo top Taric is encouraged more than playing support Nidalee.

      • Xocrates says:

        Annie has a lot of CC due to her passive AND a ton of damage (since she is a burst mage by design). While the cc meant she could easily play support in previous seasons, the gold increase for season 4 made her also hurt a lot.

        Most dedicated supports trade utility for damage, so it’s not even reasonable to give them the same strengths as Annie as that would essentially move them away of their intended purpose and strengths.

  5. Premium User Badge Thirith says:

    Wow… LOL!

    Sorry.

  6. ColonelClaw says:

    On the downside, this time next year you’ll have to run 20 dailies in LoL to remain competetive.

    On the upside, you get to do them on a sparkling pony.

  7. Nevard says:

    Just found a topic on a WoW forum where someone hypothesised that Ghostcrawler has joined LoL as a double agent to sabotage the game in preparation for the release of Heros of the Storm or whatever Blizzard DotA is called now.

    Hahahahahahahahahaha,

  8. Captchist says:

    Why would you? Not that LoL isn’t a great game etc etc, but it’s rather one dimensional from a creative perspective.

    • Xocrates says:

      I don’t follow. Wouldn’t a lack of creativity be one of the best reasons to get new/more creative people?

      It’s not as if the game (or the genre, at least) doesn’t have a lot of venues for creative exploration.

    • mukuste says:

      He’s a “systems designer”, meaning he will work on gameplay mechanics, not on any visual or creative aspects.

    • Asurmen says:

      Speculation: Riot is making another game, possibly MMO.

  9. Rollin says:

    Suddenly, all 100+ characters will have one of three identical sets of skills but with different visual effects and names. Tank, Healer and DPS.