If you hadn't heard, Chris Metzen — creative director for several of Blizzard's games, among other prominent roles — recently announced his retirement. The news caught the gaming world by surprise, as Metzen has been a huge part of all things Blizzard since before it was even called "Blizzard."
His retirement announcement has resulted in an outpouring of heartfelt goodbyes from around the industry, and if you ever doubted what sort of developer Metzen was, doubt no longer. The following goodbyes don't encompass everyone who's sent good wishes to Metzen, but they're proof enough of his character and the kind of void that his retirement leaves behind.
Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street (Formerly Blizzard, Currently Riot) Had Several Fond Memories Of Metzen
Shortly after Metzen announced his retirement, Ghostcrawler (whom many know as the guy who ruined WoW and also needs to come back to save it) was asked for his thoughts on Metzen leaving. His response was genuine and heartfelt:
"Chris was a rockstar. That guy you saw on stage at Blizzard? That's 100% legit Metzen. He'd call us brothers and sisters. He'd call us cats. I think once he called me baby. I can't get away with talking like that, but he didn't fake it. That's who he was. He bleeds for his story, his characters, Blizzard, and most importantly, the players.I first met him at a party, a few years before I went to work at Blizzard. He yelled at the top of his voice in a Scottish (dwarvish?) accent the entire time.Sometimes in meetings he would get a far off stare, and you'd know something was bubbling up inside his mind and something great was about to come out.Once at Blizzcon, he hugged me for like a really long time in the middle of a busy men's room. We blocked the doorway and made a lot of people wait in line that much longer.A possibly apocryphal story: when Kaplan was new to Blizzard, Metzen came into his office, crashed on the couch for like an hour nap, woke up, asked "Do you know why they won't let us drink at work any longer?" Got up and left. (P.S. Blizzard let us drink at work all the time, so I'm not sure what that was all about.)And maybe my favorite story. At a Blizzcon party we were all at, there was inexplicably a bowl of powdered donuts with the snacks. Chris took a donut, rubbed it under his nose (so that there's this light dusting of white powder) and then left it there all night as he bearhugged and did the Top Gun high-five to everyone at the party.He's one of the top 5 or so most authentic and yet almost supernatural forces I've ever met. I am lucky to know him."
Chad Nervigg (A.K.A., Celestalon) Of Blizzard Entertainment Shared His Own Story
In a series of tweets, current Technical Game Designer for World of Warcraft, Celestalon, describes his first time ever running into Metzen — which happened to be the same day Celestalon was interviewing for the job at Blizzard.
It's a hilarious story and the entire series of tweets is worth checking out, but it just goes to show you what sort of influence Metzen had. One of the developers, whom many look to now when discussing the game, was awe-stricken the first time he saw Metzen.
Several Other Blizzard Employees Shared Their Farewells
Brian Holinka (Lead PVP Designer for WoW) describes Metzen in quite possibly the most accurate way:
WoW Game Designer Jeremy Feasel shared what it was like when Metzen had an idea light up in his mind:
WoW's In-game Cinematic Project Director Terran Gregory shared a similar sentiment before returning to make cinematics that kill off everyone you love:
Hearthstone's Lead Designer Ben Brode (who ironically is one of the few people whose enthusiasm shines almost as brightly as Metzen's) calls Metzen an "all-time great":
Technical Writer Joshua Ehlers may not have talked to Metzen often, but will still feel his absence all the same:
Lead Game Designer Cory Stockton hits the nail on the head:
But Metzen's Influence Extended Beyond Just Those That Had Worked With Him Directly
Several other big names in the gaming sphere had nothing but kind words to say about Metzen.
Michele Morrow (actress, host, all-around gamer) shared her sentiment when news spread, and congratulated Metzen on the amazing year Blizzard's been having.
Meanwhile, Polygon wrote a lengthy goodbye not only cataloging Metzen's numerous achievements (and occasional flaws) but also thanking the man for his impact on a personal and professional level.
Similarly, Kotaku writer Nathan Grayson reported on the news while adding his own personal touch to the end, stating (among other things), "I doubt I’d be working for Kotaku today if not for the influence of Blizzard games and worlds on my impressionable young mind."
Metzen's Retirement Also Weighs Heavily On The Fans
YouTuber Asmongold took a moment away from his usual shtick to give a surprisingly endearing and earnestly heartfelt goodbye to Metzen. If you're not familiar with Asmongold's usual work, the video will still move you. If you are familiar with his work, prepare to shed some tears.
Similarly, long-time fan-writers, site-runners, and eSports icons weighed in as well. Anne Stickney, Senior Editor for Blizzard Watch and all-around lore extraordinaire, will never forget who the true Warchief is:
Wowhead site director keeps it short and simple but totally true:
Manager for Heroes of the Storm team "Murloc Geniuses" can't help but be sad at his retiring:
And in a series of tweets, Blizzard Watch Editor-in-Chief shared just how influential Metzen has been on him and how its affected his career (be sure to see the entire series of tweets):
I Even Have My Own Memory Of Metzen That I'll Never Forget
As a long-time fan of Blizzard games, Metzen has always been a big name for me, and one that appeared pretty often all over the place. Sadly, I never had the chance to actually meet the man in person before he announced his retiring. That doesn't mean, however, that I don't have a memory of Chris Metzen that sticks out to me.
Last BlizzCon, Metzen sat down on the "Blizz Couch" for an interview about all things Blizzard. Each and every question thrown his way was received with a response so empassioned that they felt like Metzen was geeking out about his games just as much (possibly even more) than the fans were. His excitement alone stood out, but it's not the part that I remember most.
No, the part I remember most — the part that stuck with me from the moment it happened until now — is the moment in that video above (approximately 13:59 in) when Metzen was asked what his favorite moment of BlizzCon 2015 had been.
Turns out, it was a simple question from a 10-ish-year-old boy who wanted to know if we'd ever find out why Winston was so mad that his glasses were crushed by Reaper in the Overwatch cinematic. But hearing that question and reciting it on the Blizz Couch caused Metzen to tear up.
He was so moved that this little boy noticed that detail and thought to ask the question — the answer of which is given in Winston's animated short — that Metzen couldn't help but get teary-eyed. "I wanna do good for that kid," Metzen said, trying not to let his emotions get the best of him.
That's the kind of developer Metzen was. Wherever he went, whenever he spoke, energy radiated from him. He never once stopped having the energy of a fan. He cared about what he was making and how it affected those around him. That passion is what I personally will remember most about Metzen — and it's something I'll remember despite never having met him in person.