Jeff Kaplan, one of World of Warcraft's two lead designers and one of the game's most enthusiastic and visible spokesmen, has confirmed that he's leaving the WOW's development team. He'll work on Blizzard's next MMO instead.

Kaplan made the announcement on the WOW forums. "I wanted to take a moment to let the community know that I've switched roles here at Blizzard to work on our upcoming, unannounced MMO," he said, noting that he'd been working on WOW for six and a half years.

"I still plan to be very involved with the future course of WOW, but will leave the day to day operations of WOW to my partners in crime, Tom Chilton and J. Allen Brack," Kaplan said.

The move isn't quite a surprise - Kaplan said he was "definitely involved" in the new game last year. He has hinted that it might have a non-traditional setting, and might be available on consoles. He was also listed in this year's Game Developers Conference programme as an "associate designer".

Although Kaplan was quick to praise the work of his colleagues, he will leave big shoes to fill on the WOW development team. He had particular responsibility for the design of quests, dungeons and world zones, all of which were of exceptional quality in recent expansion Wrath of the Lich King.

Kaplan, known as Tigole on forums and in-game, was famously recruited by Blizzard's design chief Rob Pardo after they met online in Kaplan's EverQuest guild.

"When all is said and done, WOW is still my favorite game. I play it every day. None of that passion is gone. If anything, it fuels the challenge of making our next MMO even better," Kaplan said. "Mostly, I just wanted to say thanks. It has been an absolute honour."

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Oli Welsh

Oli Welsh

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Oli is the editor of Eurogamer.net and likes to take things one word at a time. His friends call him The European, but that's just a coincidence. He's still playing Diablo 3.

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