After serving Blizzard for 17 years, World of Warcraft design lead and Chief Creative Officer Rob Pardo is leaving the company. Pardo revealed his departure on Thursday in a long post on the Battle.net forums, reporting that the decision was difficult to make but exciting at the same time as he moves into the next chapter of his career.
"Before I even joined Blizzard, I was already a huge fan of the company and its games," Pardo writes. "In particular, I was extremely passionate about the emerging genre of real-time strategy games. It was a dream come true when I was given the opportunity to work on StarCraft, which at the time was being created by a very small team by today's standards. It was tremendously fulfilling to get to know everyone on the team personally and to contribute our energies toward a shared goal in such a creative and engaging environment."
Pardo's creative hand can be seen in a number of Blizzard's games. As Lead Designer, Pardo, 44, worked on StarCraft: Brood War, Warcraft III Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne, World of Warcraft and its first expansion, The Burning Crusade. As a Designer, he was involved with Diablo III, Diablo II, StarCraft, Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition, and the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft, which arrives later this year. He also served as Executive Producer on Diablo III.
"I'm looking forward to new challenges in my career, but I will always cherish the time I spent with you all and the amazing and collaborative teams at Blizzard," he writes. "It was both satisfying and humbling, and it made me a better developer and a better person. I look forward to playing Blizzard games as a player for many years to come. Most important, now I have plenty of time to learn how to build a competitive Hearthstone deck."
So what will Pardo do next career-wise? He has no idea.
"My priorities are to enjoy the summer with my family, play plenty of games, and think about what's next," he writes. "The game industry is such an exciting place right now with PC gaming thriving, the new consoles, mobile games, and virtual reality becoming an actual reality. It's like having an empty quest log and going into a new zone for the first time."
Rob Pardo could be seen as a gaming legend, right up there next to Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, Cliff Bleszinski, Chris Roberts and many others. He was even named as one of TIME's 100 most influential people back in 2006 for his work on World of Warcraft.
"Pardo didn't invent this kind of game (which enthusiasts refer to as "massively multiplayer"); he merely perfected it," TIME reports. "It takes an obsessive mind to make sure there's something interesting going on everywhere in an entire world, all the time, for both newbies and veteran players. If anything, he's almost too good."
To read Pardo's complete goodbye message, head here.