Back in late 1999, when Diablo 2 was still under construction (it was released in June 2000), the staff of Diabloii.net, the, as we like to say, Unofficial Diablo II Site, were invited to Blizzard North for three days of wine, women, gaming, and song. Well actually, mostly gaming, especially since 2/3 of our crew were, in fact, female themselves. Elly, Gaile, and me made the trip, and for three days we were given unrestricted access to the pre-beta build and permitted to roam semi-freely through the halls of Blizzard North. (The newer wing was off limits, where they were working on D2X and another never-announced, long-canceled title.)
We produced a great deal of material from the information gathered during our visit, and while the thousands of words of it spent in forum posts and live chat are lost forever, the formal reports we wrote up have now been unearthed and reposted in the Diabloii.net Archives in the DiabloWiki. Now obviously the game info in this isn’t exactly current, but that’s what makes it interesting. What was the game like pre-release,? Which skills looked most promising, what play styles were used, and how did we think the game would play long term, based on our testing and everything the D2 Team had told us? You should also enjoy Gaile’s office tour write-up, with numerous photos of the old Blizzard North offices, the D2 Team when they were young and sleep-deprived, and the Dii.net crew when we were… younger?
The visit main page holds links to all the rest, along with background info and some bonus images. The A-Z report is a massive (9 pages in original HTML format) alphabetical overview of everything, the Amazon, Barbarian, Paladin, Necromancer, and Sorceress reports cover the characters, and there’s even a quick facts collection of stuff we posted from the scene the first two nights, when fans were clamoring for news and we were brain dead from 12+ hours of play time and game discussion.