Former Riot Games vice president Greg Street was heading up development of the studio’s long-awaited League of Legends MMO when he announced earlier this year that he was leaving the company, saying that “it’s time for something new.” Apparently that “something new” is a new MMO, as he revealed today that he’s launched a new studio with Netease called Fantastic Pixel Castle, and that its first project will be a big-budget MMO.
“MMOs are arguably one of the most challenging genres of games to make, but we have some big advantages,” Street said in the announcement. “We are a fully remote studio, allowing us to hire the best game developers, and we plan to stay small, so that we can iterate on our design quickly. “We also want to show the game early and often to the community and make sure we are on the right track to incorporate constant feedback.”
Street does have considerable experience in the field: Prior to joining Riot in 2013, he served as lead systems designer on Blizzard’s World of Warcraft MMO. Joining him at Fantastic Pixel Castle are veteran developers “with a passion for the MMO genre and decades of experience” on games including World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Guild Wars 2, Fortnite, Overwatch, and Valorant.
As for why he walked away from an MMO at a big-name studio with a lucrative franchise, only to start working on a different MMO with a brand-new team, we’re left to speculate. But I suspect a hint can be found in Street’s comment on Netease, which he described as a company “that understands our vision, and gives us the creative autonomy, resources and support to be successful.” The League of Legends brand has real cachet, but I imagine it’s also very limiting in some ways: It’s tough to be really original when you’re hemmed in by established canon, after all.
Understandably, there is very little detail about Street’s new project at this point. It’s codenamed Ghost, it’s set in “a new fantasy universe,” we’ve got a few bits of concept art, and, well, that’s about it.
That codename brings to mind a spot of videogame history: Way back in the early 2000s, Blizzard was working on StarCraft: Ghost, a third-person action game set in its famed sci-fi universe. In the end, though, StarCraft: Ghost was cancelled.
Is Street, a former Blizzard designer, resurrecting StarCraft: Ghost in a new guise? I’m going to go with “no, obviously not,” but it is an interesting bit of trivia.
Anyway, more answers about what’s in store may be forthcoming soon: Street will be hosting a “live introduction” to the new studio and game, complete with a community Q&A session, in a Twitch livestream set to take place on November 8.
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