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

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.

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Nathan Grayson

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