ShackNews is posting their preview chapter from David Craddock’s book about Blizzard North this week, so far they’ve posted part one and part two. It’s chock full of quotes from all of the principles who formed the company in 1993-1994, during their earliest projects… Justice League Task Force for the Sega Genesis and NFL Quarterback Club ’95 for the Game Boy handheld.
Back in those days we didn’t have big contracts to make games, so we said, “Okay, who do we really need? We need a programmer, we need one more artist.” We didn’t even think about hiring designers. There were just programmers and artists. Even bringing in a sound guy made us say, “Oh my God, that breaks the budget,” just to bring in a guy who wasn’t a programmer or an artist.
They were tough calls, and we didn’t always have the money. But the guys who kept expressing interest—Matt Uelmen and Eric Sexton are great examples—made us think, Yeah, these guys are going to be good because they’re just really interested. They seemed to really want to do it.
– Erich Schaefer
The earliest work on Diablo went on side by side with those other projects, and after Dave Brevik met Allen Adham at an industry trade show in 1994, Blizzard became interested in assisting with the creation and publishing of what was then a turn-based dungeon crawler:
By the end of February 1995, Dave Brevik and Max and Erich Schaefer had hammered out the final draft of their publishing contract with Blizzard Entertainment. Functioning as publisher, Blizzard would dole out $300,000 to fund Condor’s descent into Hell. Signing on the dotted line hit Dave like an adrenaline shot. Diablo, the game he’d dreamed of making since high school, was poised to rise from the depths of his imagination and become virtual reality. The boost faded as he and his partners assessed their situation.
Blizzard’s six-figure sum wouldn’t flood Condor’s bank account all at once. As per the standard agreement between publishers and developers, paychecks would trickle in as Condor met milestones over the one-year development they projected for their game. To meet those markers, they needed to hire more programmers and artists. To do that, they needed at least one additional project to fill the void left by Justice League Task Force, which the team had just wrapped up. As luck would have it, the guys knew just who to call for work.
The third (and final?) preview comes up tomorrow and covers the rest of chapter eight, moving into the production of Diablo. Which is interesting, since it is the reason all of us are here, right now. I almost want to go install it and start a new Sorcerer, for the giddy joy of those first few couple of hours working through the Crypt and begging the RNG gods for more spellbook drops.