A site called NowGamer has posted a hefty four-page feature about the creation of Diablo I, with numerous quotes from game creator and Blizzard North founder, David Brevik. It’s not a new feature; they describe Dave as the CVO of Flagship Studios (which closed in August 2008), but it’s always fun to read about the early days. Here are a few quotes, click to the source for the whole thing.
One of the most popular ways to enjoy Diablo over and over again is through its multiplayer component. Diablo’s multiplayer was so compelling, in fact, that it spawned a substantial (and persistent) community. Originally, though, Blizzard North didn’t realise the potential of such a component – there wasn’t actually going to be any multiplayer at all. “About six months before the project deadline”, Brevik notes, “Blizzard’s president at the time came to us and proposed Battle.net. This was obviously a superb idea and we agreed to do it even though it meant a ton of extra work. We had to go back through the code and retro-fit much of multiplayer into it.”
…“We wanted to make a less warm-and-fuzzy type of game and put RPGs in a darker place,” Brevik says. “I was never a big fan of elves, unicorns and dragons. I thought that a zombie-infested game with demons was a far more attractive prospect than the Tolkien-esque stuff. We wanted a far grittier atmosphere to the game. I never really set out to make it strictly for a more mature audience, but we made it the way we found most interesting and different.”
…[In Diablo II] “We were able to implement many of the ideas we had during Diablo’s development but couldn’t put in due to time constraints,” Brevik admits. “We also listened to the gamers and used their feedback to fuel some of the changes we made.”
Multiplayer included the biggest changes. The Battle.net interface was retooled and a special Hardcore mode was created. This new, improved multiplayer proved so popular with players that Blizzard’s net code couldn’t keep up. The result? Bugs. “The game was much more popular than we had ever imagined”, Brevik enthuses, “and we were not ready for it. We expected about ten per cent of the numbers we were getting, and the system just wasn’t designed to handle what was being thrown at it. We worked very hard for the coming months and years to solidify it. Eventually it became very stable and reliable.”
There are still people playing Diablo I, and if you’re one who has the Diablo Battlechest but has never given the original a try, break it out one of these days. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Diablo II, and you’ll need patience to adjust to the slower movement speed, but it’s a much darker, moodier, more atmospheric, and more difficult game than Diablo II. You can find an article about the differences between D1 and D2, along with all the info and strategies you’ll ever need in the Diablo I wiki, and we’ve got aas well.