ShackNews concluded their preview of Sit a While and Listen, David Craddock’s upcoming book on Blizzard North, with an interview of the author himself. It’s a good read, covering how he got into the topic, how he met and interviewed all those dozens of former (and some current) Blizzard employees, and the interview contains some great info about the development of Diablo, the differences between Blizzard and Blizzard North, the early days of World of Warcraft, and much more.
To get the inside scoop on Blizzard, I got hold of Patrick Wyatt, Blizzard’s fourth hire and a major influence on Warcraft, StarCraft and the Diablo series. Thanks largely to Patrick’s help, my Blizzard contracts snowballed through all of the company’s games and, finally, through Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo 3. And that’s the important distinction: Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo, not Blizzard North’s. SAAL charts the growth of the two Blizzards by focusing on Diablo. Through examinations of Diablo’s development, we chart how each Blizzard changed in terms of culture, development styles, and long-term goals.
After Dave, Max, and Erich left Blizzard North in 2003, Blizzard Entertainment governed Blizzard North from afar and set the team’s marching orders for Diablo 3: “Make it like Diablo 2.” They gave that directive because originally, under Max Schaefer’s direction, D3 was being built as an MMO, like World of Warcraft.
So, Blizzard North scrapped that version of D3 and started out making what they referred to (some jokingly, some bitterly) as Diablo 2.5. Later, circumstances dictated a change in orders, forcing North to rethink their direction. By the time Blizzard North had made serious headway on the game, the studio was closed. Based on what I know, I think Blizzard North’s D3 would have retained enough of D2’s spirit and mixed in new elements that it would have been successful and great fun, but maybe not as ground-breaking as D2. Of course, it was only about one-third finished, so who knows how things would have turned out?.
Good stuff and for those of us interested in the history of the Diablo series, including the early days of Diablo III, the book seems like it will be a treasure trove. Though I hate to think how much editing I’ll have to do to update the Diablo 3 History article in the wiki.