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Where Are They Now? Episode 4: Jeff Grubb

Updated Mon, Jul 15, 2013 by Dalmarus

Where Are They Now | Jeff Grubb

Welcome to the fourth episode in our "Where Are They Now?" series! Being a gamer since the days of Pong, I thought it was long past the time when someone should take a look at famous game developers from days gone by and find out how (and if) they're still involved in making the games we love to play.

Most of the developers highlighted in this series will certainly have one thing in common beyond video games, and that's the reaction their names evoke within individuals. Today's is no exception… but in a good way for a change!

Claim to Fame

Jeff Grubb Jeff Grubb may not be known to a large number of MMO players, but he should be. He’s a damned genius when it comes to that little RPG thing in MMORPG. While he may not be known to video gamers in general, he’s a legend in the pen and paper role playing world. He also happens to be a bestselling fantasy author of some of my favorite Forgotten Realms books and has tackled such intellectual properties as World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Guild Wars, and Magic: The Gathering. He also helped design the Forgotten Realms campaign, was a founder of the Dragonlance campaign system, wrote the Manual of the Planes, and was the designer of Spelljammers.

Any one of these things would be more than enough to catapult a man into the stratosphere of geek rockdom, but Jeff has done all of this and more. But, unlike the elite group I’ve highlighted previously in our Where Are They Now series, Jeff holds one very big distinction – he’s loved by everybody.

Okay, I’m sure somewhere, there’s some person who doesn’t like Jeff, but not only have I interviewed a number of individuals who have worked with Jeff over the years, I’ve met him myself. Where? Well it’s funny you should mention that....

Where Are They Now and Why the Hell Should I Care?

Some of Jeff's work. Jeff’s extensive storytelling and game design experience has not gone to waste in recent years. After helping ArenaNet with their stories for the later installments of the original Guild Wars franchise, they immediately put Jeff to work on the story continuity and lore design of Guild Wars 2 and that’s where Jeff remains today.

Although I worked remotely during most of my time with ArenaNet, I was flown out to the studio in Seattle on a number of occasions to work locally with the team. The first time I was there and discovered Jeff Grubb was working in the same building I… uh… okay, I geeked the hell out.

“Wait, what did you say? Jeff Grubb? Like the Jeff Grubb? Azure Bonds and Manual of the Planes Jeff Grubb? ARE YOU F*CKING SERIOUS?” I asked, in a slightly more manly voice than a Girl Scout squeal (but not by much). And let’s not even talk about the volume level it burst out of me.

Everyone I’ve known who has ever worked with or met the man has been struck by how genuinely friendly he is. While I was in Seattle on a subsequent visit, I brought a copy of Azure Bonds and, in the break room that morning, asked Jeff if he would mind signing it if I brought it by his office later in the day. He said sure, no problem. Later that afternoon, when I popped my head into his office/cube area, I could see he was working so I turned around to leave when I heard him call my name, telling me to come in. He was clearly busy, but even so, he asked me to sit down, asked who to sign the book to, and then proceeded to sit and chat with me about TSR, Dungeons and Dragons, writing, and video games for nearly 30 minutes.

Jeff worked on the lore design of Guild Wars 2.

So there you go. A little long winded today, I know, but I think it’s important that we take the time to recognize those who make the games we love. It’s time for the industry we love to have some rock stars. What’s even better is when those rock stars are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. And that’s exactly what Jeff Grubb is.

If you have a suggestion for a game designer, art director, creative lead, or any other person intimately involved with a game's completion that you'd like to see highlighted, hit me up on Twitter or send me an email here!

The first time I got to meet Jeff Grubb in person, I think I shouted something ridiculous like "You killed Killeen!" That sparked a long discussion about the first GW2 novel and beyond, but his initial reaction was to give a great big norn-style laugh (I'm still convinced the norn are based on Jeff's personality) and note that Killeen's story arc served the exact purpose it was intended to then, by causing a strong reaction in fans.

I've had numerous conversations with Jeff since, and definitely consider the guy to be a living legend.

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