Chris Metzen, Book of Cain Interview


GamePlanetNZ has posted a lengthy interview with Chris Metzen, in which he answers numerous questions about the oft-delayed loregasm, the DiabloWikiBook of Cain. (New Amazon.com release date: January 10, 2012.) It’s a nice read with a lot of info about the merch item itself, plus the Diablo game lore and creative process.

There are no spoilers, and there’s even a photo of Metzen looking his most meterosexual, which I know will delight some of you. Here’s a quote:

Gameplanet: Just picking up on the development of the original Diablo and then building the lore around it, where does lore fit into the design process? Does one come first, drive the other, or are they co-developed?

Metzen: I guess I’d have to answer that relative to the games themselves. On the first game there wasn’t a tremendous amount of story put forward. It was really just a lot of great game design and it was a lot of fun, but there wasn’t much of a sense of world and the quests that had been developed didn’t really string together in a super-cohesive form.

So I remember feeling a little anxious about that, and I worked with another developer, a guy by the name of Bill Roper. Bill took the town of Tristram and developed those characters, the context of Griswold and Wirt the peg-legged boy, and a lot of the characters that were really fun in Diablo, and I took the mythology background stuff. I was intent to build a kind of meta-fiction that really was the backdrop to the quests you were doing in the game.

So you know, we banged that out and it turned out fairly well. I don’t know that the story was super-cohesive in terms of the gameplay, but Diablo – as an overarching experience – certainly had a lot of personality.

When it got around to Diablo II, Blizzard North’s designers really stepped up and they had much more story for that offering. They had done a lot of world development – places like Lut Gholein or Kurast, different areas in the world – they had [also] developed a lot of specific lore around their character classes that time out. So they really had stepped up on the sequel and also [the expansion] Lord of Destruction, but in those intervening pockets of development there were a lot of inconsistencies and a lot of really good fiction was developed by it didn’t really match.

From the numerous Book of Cain release date changes, it seems they’re not going to release it until Diablo 3 is ready, or nearly ready. Blizzard always says they never tell anyone release dates in advance, but clearly someone is telling the book publisher to keep postponing the release, as it’s been a completed product for many months now.

From what we’ve been told about the book, it doesn’t sound like there are any spoilers for D3’s story, so it’s not clear why they don’t just ship the damn thing. Probably they want more release date synergy and cross-marketing and all that other “put the gleam into Bobby’s eye” marketing stuff.

Tagged As: | Categories: Blizzard People, Interviews, Merchandise

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  1. Simply f**k you blizzard!!! It is holarious! Is it hard to publish that book?

  2. No-one else has changed the date though, and the publisher themselves confirmed the date so soon before amazon.com changed it that I suspect(hope) amazon have got it wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  3. Wait what, they already confirmed the date to Dec 13nth, why send out advanced copies a last week if it was not coming out this coming tuesday

  4. “it seems they’re not going to release it until Diablo 3 is ready, or nearly ready”

    which could potentially mean D3 might release sometime after January the 10th? Oh, that would be so great.

    • If Amazon got a call from the publisher, who likely got a call from Blizzard, then this change might indicate a nearby Diablo 3 release date (January 17th or so). What remains is the Korean RMAH gambling issue, and from what I’ve read so far the Korean government wants to get back to Blizzard in January regarding this. It then seems to depend on what Blizzard does if the answer is negative. Will they insist on a global release and push back Diablo 3 further until they get the OK from Korea, or will they launch without the Korean RMAH?

  5. This is something that has bothered me. Lore changes… sooner or later you might end up with a book that just contains obsolete info.

  6. “I was intent to build a kind of meta-fiction that really was the backdrop to the quests you were doing in the game”

    …that doesn’t even make sense.

  7. I’ll put the cream in Bobby’s eye

  8. This got nothing to do with release of Diablo3.
    Amazon ran out of copies guys :). All people who preordered it, will receive them in appropriate times, unless they dont have enough copies for all preorders either, then some might be out of luck.

  9. My amazon account still has the expected delivery date as the 14th so I don’t know… I doubt the publishers changed the date if press people already have copies… Maybe they accidentally changed the date on the book when they meant to put it on the game…

  10. That’s all well and good but what I want to know is when I can expect my Sexy Metzen calendar.

  11. Not sure what the hubabub is all about – my friend pre-ordered the book from the publisher at Blizzcon and he already has the thing.

  12. Contacted Amazon today and because their system is still not up to date with the correct product info, they are telling me that my pre-order of the Book of Cain will not ship today.  I’ve asked that this be escalated to be fix asap.  I’ll report back if I get any further update.

    All I’ve got to say is I’m glad I didn’t pre-order my CE from there…

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