Ghostcrawler was the Lead System Designer and was in charge of and had final authoritive say on A LOT of the changes ( particularly balance changes) that were made for the game. The " Head Honcho" for systems design. For you to say he did not have the ultimate authority on some game changes (good and bad , I'll give you that much) is just silly.
You have a fundamental misunderstanding of how game design works. Lead Designers are essentially senior coordinators for a project. Their job is to keep the team on track and moving forward. In general, Lead Designer positions are essentially the exact same as other designer positions, but they have additional administrative responsibilities, and they have to be the main liaisons between the design team and the executives funding the project.
Every single balance change ever made to the game was the result of the systems team sitting down and having a discussion about what was working, what wasn't, and possible fixes for that. Every single one
. And I'm sure the department handling market research was producing data that set the tone of those discussions, and I'm also sure that plenty of that data was skewed by the vocal minority. On the other hand, I'm also betting the design team approached most issues with the assumption that the vocal minority could skew things, and therefore tried to look at the issue as objectively as possible.
What I'm absolutely positive of is that, at no time, would GC be sitting in one of those meetings and say "this is what we're doing, I don't care what you have to say."
There are certainly times where it would have been his job to shoot down suggestions (because his job was to keep his eye on the entire project, as well as whatever specific systems area he did most of his work in, rather than the smaller parts other designers would be working with exclusively).
It's just not how game design works. GC might tell the team that they had to do something, because the suits said they had to. But it's not the sort of position that's authoritatively above other designers in the same way the President would be.
If there was ever
a case of GC walking up to someone's desk and saying something like "That stun is too long, lower it by 1 sec" and that was that, I'd be shocked.
It's just not how design works. You don't take a multi-million dollar franchise and put major decisions in the hands of a single person. I don't know why anyone would delude themselves into thinking that happens.
Then again, it's an incredibly common problem in fandom to attribute way more power to certain people in the production efforts, for good and bad, so it's not exactly surprising.
Oh, I also forgot to add that literally every change that goes into this game almost certainly goes through a peer review process. That generally means that will produce a mock-up of the change, which then gets looked at by other people in the design team (possibly all), as well as project heads from the other departments (like art, for instance, depending on what the change is).
They'll each have a turn giving their input, and if it's positive, they'll move to the second build where they can actually implement it. That probably also gets reviewed. And then they'll be a FINAL peer review for the whole patch, taking everything into account.
There may be more peer reviews in there that I skipped, depending on what they're doing.
My point being, game design structures and procedures are designed to maximize the amount of input from the teams, and ease the channels of communication there. GC wouldn't have kept his job if he wasn't taking his team's input. Edited, Jan 20th 2014 9:50am by idiggory