Blizzard Senior VP and Story Guru Chris Metzen is Retiring at Age 42

Blizzard Senior VP and Story Guru Chris Metzen is Retiring at Age 42

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Long-time Blizzard creative director Chris Metzen is retiring after more than 20 years at Blizzard.

Chris Metzen has been a part of Blizzard for almost 23 years, and is one of the most recognizable faces at the company. He's the voice of Thrall, and he's been the creative director on every Blizzard game since Warcraft III. But today, Metzen is retiring to spend more time with his family.

Speaking about his time at Blizzard in an open letter posted on the World of Warcraft forums, Metzen wrote,

"I had just turned twenty years old when I started working at Blizzard. Seems like a lifetime ago. Guess it was...For nearly 23 years I've had the very distinct privilege of shaping worlds and building games with the brightest creative minds in entertainment. I've walked with giants (and stood on some giants' shoulders, too). In short, I've had the time of my life."

Metzen joined Blizzard in the early 90s, and worked on Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. He was instrumental in creating the Diablo and Starcraft universes. He also voices a number of Blizzard characters, including Thrall, Vol'jin, Varian Wrynn, and Ragnaros in World of Warcraft. He's also the voice of Bastion in Overwatch, a game that he was creative director for as well.

Lest you think that Metzen is leaving to join another company (maybe former colleague Rob Pardo's new studio, he spoke directly to that in his open letter, saying,

"The reason I use the word 'retire' is because I'm not going to some other company or starting up new projects or anything remotely like that. It's been a long, amazing stretch of years. Now it's time to slow it down. Rest. Lay around on the couch and get fat."

Blizzard certainly won't be the same without Chris Metzen, and it will be weird seeing Blizzcon without him on stage. That said, he is certainly leaving the company in great shape.

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So does this mean they can finally let Jesus "Thrall" Christ die?

Petter Jonsson:
So does this mean they can finally let Jesus "Thrall" Christ die?

Nope

https://twitter.com/ChrisMetzen/status/775564770996912128

Newage:

Petter Jonsson:
So does this mean they can finally let Jesus "Thrall" Christ die?

Nope

https://twitter.com/ChrisMetzen/status/775564770996912128

Oh well, I suppose some things never change.

There's something viscerally offensive and hysterical about the phrase 'Blizzard story guru'. I mean has he ever actually played a Blizzard game?! Story isn't exactly the strong point.
Starcrafts motto has always been "previously on Starcraft...Nothing happened, I'm calling a muligan."
Warcraft? Games workshop? Never heard of it!
Diablo? Hey, what if the protagonist from the previous game went evil! No one has ever thought of that!
World of Warcraft?! Yes, the epic adventure of Pen15, and his guild of likeminded heroes, the LuvsT0Spl00g3 as they save the world from endlessly respawning Fulgrim knockoffs.

What's next, a Capcom editor or Konami PR manager?!

Wait what?! Bastion has a voice actor?

Silentpony:
There's something viscerally offensive and hysterical about the phrase 'Blizzard story guru'. I mean has he ever actually played a Blizzard game?! Story isn't exactly the strong point.
Starcrafts motto has always been "previously on Starcraft...Nothing happened, I'm calling a muligan."
Warcraft? Games workshop? Never heard of it!
Diablo? Hey, what if the protagonist from the previous game went evil! No one has ever thought of that!
World of Warcraft?! Yes, the epic adventure of Pen15, and his guild of likeminded heroes, the LuvsT0Spl00g3 as they save the world from endlessly respawning Fulgrim knockoffs.

What's next, a Capcom editor or Konami PR manager?!

Triggered much? Not sure how much agreement you'll get either considering how vast the lore is for all of Blizzard's games (yes that counts as story too). Hell Overwatch alone has a more interesting backstory than a lot of modern AAA single player campaigns.

Battenberg:
SNIP

Here's the thing. I already got agreement over a year ago when I asked if Blizzard wrote good plots:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.878489-Poll-Does-Blizzard-write-good-plots

I think the results speak for themselves. They weren't good ideas then, and they certainly aren't now even if what's his pickle is leaving.

Silentpony:

Diablo? Hey, what if the protagonist from the previous game went evil! No one has ever thought of that!

I would just like to single this one out because it wasn't so much a plotpoint of the second game as it was the inevitable result of the first game. You don't possess the soul of the devil without having some specific and peculiar side effects, such as red skin, back ridges, and glowing eyes. Unfortunately, no visit to the mayo clinic can clear those up.

Cool. Can I have his job? I love creating worlds and playing around in them. Diablo's lore fascinates me to no end, and all the information the first game was something I treasured. I would sit and listen to the lore videos in the game constantly, hoping to gleam some sort of insight into the world.

Plus, I would love to have a job where I can retire at 42. Extra perk right there.

Silentpony:

Battenberg:
SNIP

Here's the thing. I already got agreement over a year ago when I asked if Blizzard wrote good plots:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.878489-Poll-Does-Blizzard-write-good-plots

I think the results speak for themselves. They weren't good ideas then, and they certainly aren't now even if what's his pickle is leaving.

I mean, it's okay for you to not like the plot for Starcraft (as that seems to be your heaviest emphasis). But you are definitely missing the point of the plot, as you do not seem to understand that the Starcraft universe is a Space Opera about... rednecks in space.

The plot is supposed to be a bit nonsensical. The romances are supposed to be cheesy. In all actuality, what is weird about Starcraft II and its expansions, is that the franchise started taking itself a bit more seriously. Although, with the J/K romance, and characters such as Findlay, the game still never took itself entirely serious.

Playing Starcraft is very similar to watching a spaghetti western. Look too much into it, and the underlying themes are going to go straight over your head.

GarouxBloodline:
I mean, it's okay for you to not like the plot for Starcraft (as that seems to be your heaviest emphasis). But you are definitely missing the point of the plot, as you do not seem to understand that the Starcraft universe is a Space Opera about... rednecks in space.

The plot is supposed to be a bit nonsensical. The romances are supposed to be cheesy. In all actuality, what is weird about Starcraft II and its expansions, is that the franchise started taking itself a bit more seriously. Although, with the J/K romance, and characters such as Findlay, the game still never took itself entirely serious.

Playing Starcraft is very similar to watching a spaghetti western. Look too much into it, and the underlying themes are going to go straight over your head.

Except that it wasn't that at all. Not for the first at least. It was a far more dystopic future, and played with those tropes. You even have the bad guys win in the first games. To go from that to a space-opera with rednecks in the second just shows how bad of a screw-up the later story bits with blizzard games are. The first one was interesting, the second one was complete trash.

Just look at how little SC2 has sold, and how even worse the expansions have done to see how little people care about em.

Xeorm:

Just look at how little SC2 has sold, and how even worse the expansions have done to see how little people care about em.

Wings of Liberty sold over 4.5 million units by the end of 2010 (I think it's sold over 6.5 million units as of the present), but I forget where I read that figure) Heart of the Swarm over 1.1 million in its first two days, and Legacy of the Void over 1 million in its very first day. All this for a PC exclusive game in the RTS genre.

If you don't like SC2, fine, I can't be arsed to get into another argument, but even if SC2 sold poorly by any metric (and the only metric I can think of is when compared to other Blizzard games, in which case it's always been overshadowed by them), there's any number of reasons for that.

Hawki:
Wings of Liberty sold over 4.5 million units by the end of 2010 (I think it's sold over 6.5 million units as of the present), but I forget where I read that figure) Heart of the Swarm over 1.1 million in its first two days, and Legacy of the Void over 1 million in its very first day. All this for a PC exclusive game in the RTS genre.

If you don't like SC2, fine, I can't be arsed to get into another argument, but even if SC2 sold poorly by any metric (and the only metric I can think of is when compared to other Blizzard games, in which case it's always been overshadowed by them), there's any number of reasons for that.

I loved the game personally for the gameplay, and liked the original SC's story. But, the later games don't have the sales numbers that they should have if we want to take the games as well-done. If Blizzard themselves thought the numbers were good, they'd have released them.

Xeorm:

Hawki:
Wings of Liberty sold over 4.5 million units by the end of 2010 (I think it's sold over 6.5 million units as of the present), but I forget where I read that figure) Heart of the Swarm over 1.1 million in its first two days, and Legacy of the Void over 1 million in its very first day. All this for a PC exclusive game in the RTS genre.

If you don't like SC2, fine, I can't be arsed to get into another argument, but even if SC2 sold poorly by any metric (and the only metric I can think of is when compared to other Blizzard games, in which case it's always been overshadowed by them), there's any number of reasons for that.

I loved the game personally for the gameplay, and liked the original SC's story. But, the later games don't have the sales numbers that they should have if we want to take the games as well-done. If Blizzard themselves thought the numbers were good, they'd have released them.

It's a sad day when selling millions of units doesn't count as "well done" (looking at you, Square Enix). Also, SC1 sold over 11 million units over a period of 11 years, where WoL got to 33% of that figure in less than 10% of that time. That seems like a pretty good ratio.

Also, the LotV figure is from Blizz directly (see https://twitter.com/StarCraft/status/665266754189324288/photo/1). Guessing the other ones are as well.

Edit: Twitter link doesn't seem to be working, so see http://au.ign.com/articles/2015/11/13/starcraft-2-legacy-of-the-void-sells-1-million-copies-in-24-hours instead.

Silentpony:

Actually, the stories of the Warcraft games were pretty decent (notably Warcraft 3). It's WoW's expansions Wrath onwards which get a bad rap. Even then, people mainly only criticize the main storylines. A sliver of the story introduced in each expansion.

But even if you think WoW's story is bad. The world of Azeroth is huge, with so many elements written to it, with so much lore, that the sheer quantity is just downright impressive.

You don't like it, fine. But you'd have to be super ignorant to his work to claim he hasn't done a whole darn lot of good work for Blizzard over 23 years.

And no, WoW's world is not ripped from Warhammer. Not even close. Inspired by, yes. But it has strayed so far from Warhammer since its conception.

Xeorm:

I loved the game personally for the gameplay, and liked the original SC's story. But, the later games don't have the sales numbers that they should have if we want to take the games as well-done. If Blizzard themselves thought the numbers were good, they'd have released them.

That's so false.

Considering how the RTS genre is pretty niche, it DEFINITELY didn't sell poorly.

Xeorm:

GarouxBloodline:
I mean, it's okay for you to not like the plot for Starcraft (as that seems to be your heaviest emphasis). But you are definitely missing the point of the plot, as you do not seem to understand that the Starcraft universe is a Space Opera about... rednecks in space.

The plot is supposed to be a bit nonsensical. The romances are supposed to be cheesy. In all actuality, what is weird about Starcraft II and its expansions, is that the franchise started taking itself a bit more seriously. Although, with the J/K romance, and characters such as Findlay, the game still never took itself entirely serious.

Playing Starcraft is very similar to watching a spaghetti western. Look too much into it, and the underlying themes are going to go straight over your head.

Except that it wasn't that at all. Not for the first at least. It was a far more dystopic future, and played with those tropes. You even have the bad guys win in the first games. To go from that to a space-opera with rednecks in the second just shows how bad of a screw-up the later story bits with blizzard games are. The first one was interesting, the second one was complete trash.

Just look at how little SC2 has sold, and how even worse the expansions have done to see how little people care about em.

Did we play the same game? Not only was "...rednecks in space..." a literal quote from the devs for the first game, but the cutscenes themselves are all about alcoholic white trash types with horrible teeth, getting killed by doing something super stupid.

It's cool that you have your own opinion and all, as I respect the fact that out of the millions of gamers out there, we are not all going to like the same things, but you are twisting the facts a bit to suit your own biases.

Hope for his sake he succeeds at whatever he ends up doing next.

Shame this leaves stuff like Warcrafts writing entirely in the hands of Blizzards answer to Games Workshops Matt Ward/CS Goto.

Silentpony:
There's something viscerally offensive and hysterical about the phrase 'Blizzard story guru'. I mean has he ever actually played a Blizzard game?! Story isn't exactly the strong point.

No, but Blizzard has always had very good production values that make you care about the story. In the first two Warcrafts, it was through CGI cutscenes and detail in the manual. In Starcraft and Warcraft III it was through scripted events that kept the story rolling while you were on a mission. So it has definitely been a drawcard for some people.

As for Metzen, he ranges from quite competent to abysmal as a writer. His strength has always been the detail he puts into his work - it makes the world feel properly fleshed out. Details like the Dragoon being a living tomb for a mortally injured warrior, instead of just a big robot. Or the backstory of the Worgen in Silverpine originally being summoned by the Kirin Tor as a defence against the scourge, rather than just random werewolves.

He is good at establishing characters, but if he spends too much time with them he runs out of ideas and does his trademark "turn the good character evil", "turn the evil character good", or when he wants to be really sophisticated "turn the good character evil then turn them good again." This is arguably his worst trait as a writer, because the longer he goes on the less fucking certain you can be about what is supposed to be absolute evil in his universe. In Orcs and Humans it's the bloodthirsty Orcs, then in Reign of Chaos it's the demons who corrupted the Orcs, then in WoW it's Sargeras for corrupting the draneor who became the demons, and then after all that, you guessed it, even Sargeras himself was a good guy once!

But who will voice every Orc in existence now?

Wait.. He voices Vol'jin (dead), Varian Wrynn (dead), Ragnaros (dead), and Thrall? Uh oh!

 

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