This weekend, Brian Birmingham released nothing less than 25 tweets One after another. The goal of the leader of the WoW Classic was to put the church back in the center of the village. He actually thinks he’s considered the big guru for the MMORPG’s development team.
First, he explains that he is only one of the two most important software engineers on the Classic team. When she was younger, he was alone, and now that the team has grown, there are two of them. He even admits that it would not be bad if they were too many (hello to Mike Ybarra by the way). But even when he was alone, he was assisted by Omar Gonzalez.
He adds that one must keep in mind that the Classic team is part of the World of Warcraft team. The WoW team is responsible for both Dragonflight and Classic: Wrath of the Lich King. Much of the code is now shared and everyone is working on it.
However, Brian remains one of the maintainers of the part that takes care of Classic (including WotLK). He officially reports to his technical director. But who is responsible for the design in this case? Well, it’s teamwork.
At the start of Classic, Blizzard assumed that design decisions would be few enough for engineers to design them based on technical constraints and get direct oversight from the game director. has hired technical designers but continues to check and be monitored.
But why does Brian explain all this? Well, because he seems a little tired of being considered the only one responsible for all the decisions that are made at the game. He will not blame anyone and adds that no one makes all the decisions. Thus, mistakes or controversial choices that have been made (such as the absence of automatic group search) are collegial.
But what does Brian do then? This is the subject of his following tweets, which I offer a translation of:
So what’s my job?
To begin with: I am the human resources manager. I recruit the people associated with me. I evaluate their performance.
The people who work for me know that I am responsible for evaluating their performance. If I impose it on them when they make decisions, it’s not leadership, it’s intimidation.
It is important that I make them understand that they can disagree with me and still do a good job.
Another aspect of my job is to create a positive team culture. This is an area where it makes sense to exercise my “power”. It is my responsibility to hold people accountable if they make their colleagues uncomfortable or unable to work.
Likewise, it is my responsibility to recognize and promote (in both senses of the word) people who contribute to the success of their colleagues. Creating an environment of teamwork and collaboration is probably the most important aspect of this job.
Brian then takes hold that he does not make direct decisions for the development of the game and he delegates. He tries to find the person who will occupy a position as best as possible, then analyzes his work and helps him if necessary. He points to possible problems, but does not seek to do the work of others.
He also talks a lot about how a team is managed at Blizzard:
If delegating important decisions seems crazy to you, you have a lot to learn about leadership. Often, because I’m responsible for so many things, I do not know the details of a problem. Relying on others to do their job well is an essential leadership ability.
That does not mean I do not know anything. When I ask: “Have you thought about …?”. I try to ensure that all options have been fully explored. It would be hubris to assume that I know better than the person performing the work, but it would be irresponsible not to share my concerns.
The last aspect (at least the one I can mention at the moment) is communication. I am responsible for describing my team’s work to other teams, both within the World of Warcraft team and outside of the rest of Blizzard.
A little further, Brian explains that he obviously talks a lot with his superior, the technical director, but also others like the Game Director, the artistic director and the production management. Are they the ones who actually make the decisions? Yes and no, because even though they can tell him what to do, they prefer to steer him in one direction and make sure all paths have been explored.
These are people who have a very global, less detailed vision. They handle everything WoW, Classic and Retail while trying to satisfy as many players as possible. Brian, for his part, focuses specifically on Classic.
Going back to the original comment that I am “BOSS”, it is fair to say that I am at the highest level of the organization chart and think most classically.
But there are people around me who influence all my decisions and who have their own decision-making authority. This underscores the difference between traditional press interviews and Twitter posts.
I can speak to the authority on behalf of the company * in press interviews * because we discussed it and came to a consensus that we are ready to share. On Twitter, I respond * by myself *.
On Twitter, I’m just me: one person, with more authority than others, but still just me, and not the entire Classic team. So I can not always answer your question.
Sometimes I do not know the answer.
Sometimes it’s not me who decides.
Sometimes I delegated it.
That does not mean I do not read them, and pass them on to the team. That does not mean I do not care. (I like you so much, you have no idea). But that means I often tweet about something else.