Diablo creator and Blizzard North founder David Brevik hosted a panel at PAX East on the changes in the video game industry since Diablo. Here’s the official panel description:
To Hell and Back Again: How the Game Industry Has Changed Since Diablo
President of Gazillion Entertainment and former President of Blizzard North, David Brevik, has seen the gaming industry change immensely since he created the Diablo franchise. With the growth of social games, free-to-play business models, the digital distribution of titles, and the industry itself being thrust into the spotlight of mainstream media; David will be discussing what he has seen as the most pivotal shifts in gaming over the past decade and where the industry may be heading.
Sadly, there’s no transcript or video online (that I can find) and I can’t find any good coverage of it online. (The now-very-OT thread in our forum is the first Google return for related searches.) Seemingly the only write online was posted by permaximum in that thread, and it’s courtesy of Hardcore Casual, a gaming blog. A quote:
One very interesting point made was that during the making of the original Diablo, if David wanted to add a treasure chest mechanic to the game, it would take about three hours total from idea to in-game. That same idea (a chest) would take two weeks or so for Hellgate:London, and would involve a dozen people jumping in at various points (and potentially falling behind on whatever else they were doing). What David and his team were able to get away with and making Diablo great ended up crippling Hellgate.
…David wrapped things up by stating he believes the PC space is going to return to a similar state it was in during the early-mid 90s, where new ideas from the ?small guys? were rampant and lots of cool stuff was being released. We are seeing some of that with titles like Minecraft, Plants vs Zombies, and others. Steam also helps out by making mass distribution easier, and gamers being more educated about their hobby means a good title is more likely to get noticed over the mega-corp driven noise.
That first bit reminds of Max Schaefer’s numerous comments about how working smarter = working faster at Runic, now that they’re making the Torchlight games without the unlimited time and budget they enjoyed at Blizzard. We’ve debated this one many times before, but it’s entirely possible that Blizzard is drawing the line between speed/quality too far in one direction. Taking longer and longer and longer doesn’t necessarily mean the game keeps getting better and better. Sometimes it means things are just being overdone and changed around for the sake of changing them around.
I find it very interesting that numerous ex-Blizzard developers, as well as other other AAA game designers are willing to admit that they took way too long to make games, and that a lot of that time was wasted through overcomplication and poor organization. Most of us are familiar with writing term papers or completing other big school or work assignments, where the deadline is what gets us working, and what makes us say “good enough” instead of continuing to tinker with it endlessly. There’s an old saying that any project expands to fill the time allotted for it, and when a project is given infinite time…