Diablo I Promotional Video

Motivated by nostalgia for his PRfu which I expressed in a forum post, I was hunting around You Tube tonight, looking for Bill Roper interviews from his Blizzard days. I didn’t find many of them, but did run into this amazingly-cheesy video apparently made by Blizzard in 1995, during the very early production for Diablo I.

It’s narrated by Bill in a fake voice that sounds a bit like the one he used for the Warcraft I and Warcraft II narration, and the visuals are just a series of screenshots of the alpha-version of Diablo I. Honestly, it’s fairly terrible, but of historical interest, and it’s only a minute long, so do you have to lose?

A longer version, reportedly from the Warcraft II CD. Different visuals early on, with a lot of just black screen while Bill talks, and then cheesy fiery text that he reads. Lack of artwork is weird, as we know they had tons of awesome renders of the monsters and other stuff that could have been used. Watch it if only to marvel at how far Blizzard has come in marketing and delivery. Bill actually reads off their old 1-800 number to order games from, as this is before they even had an online store or much of a web presence.

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38 thoughts on “Diablo I Promotional Video

  1. Coincidentally, I *just* reinstalled Diablo 20 minutes ago. I’ve been going back and beating old games that I never actually finished and Diablo is up next. It also seemed fitting given the imminent release of D3 (I did the same thing with Morrowind for Skyrim).
    I always played as a warrior but I think I might have an easier time with the sorcerer. Wish me luck 😛

    • I just finished D1 as a sorc. Lucky as hell with Spellbooks, but unlucky as shit with drops. Had to redo lvls to be able to finish Big D on Normal! Still such an awesome game.

      • Well I’m up to floor 13 now and those knights having either immunity or resistance to all magic types are really a pain in the ass. I haven’t had great drops and I forgot that letting your durability hit 0 means the item is lost, so I lost my helmet (luckily I left a backup on the ground). I’m playing single player so I can’t go back and farm. If worse comes to worst I’ll reset the map by hitting “new game” and just run past the first few levels and farm the later ones, but I’d like to avoid doing that if possible.

        • Whelp, I did it, I killed Diablo. I was making those knights out to be a lot harder than they were, I just had to kite them a little. The game on normal was actually a lot easier than I had predicted. I think I may have over-prepared. I cleared every room of every floor trying to maximize EXP and drops. I don’t know what is normal, but I ended it at lvl 25.

  2. diablo  1 remains the best game in the series, despite its functional flaws.  there were improvements to be made, namely that dungeon longevity was lacking and there was too much portal and potion reliance, but the game created complex combat scenarios that were more compelling than “throw DPS at enemy / absorb enemy DPS” scenarios that would come in diablo 2, and seem even more strongly on display in diablo 3.  not to mention that diablo 1 had far better atmosphere.  diablo 2 was cartoony and overwrought where diablo 1 was dark and lean. 

    • i will agree that i enjoyed D1 more than D2 from a story point of view but thats about it. there are little things lacking that really drag it down and date it. the story and atmosphere of D1 was far better than d2 but the gameplay of d2 was way better than d1. i really think D3 is creating a good mix of the good things from D1 and D2 and i love all the throw backs that are already in the game

    • I would like to borrow your time-machine when you are done with it. I’d love to play Diablo 3 before it comes out too.


      • Your positioning in Diablo 1 was very important, because 2 or 3 monsters on Hell difficulty could easily kill you in under 3 seconds. This made the game very tactical and you had to take your time and know what you were doing or you could die easily – and all your items would drop, which is a huge penalty if you couldn’t get them back.

        I don’t think there are any monsters in D2 that do that, except for stygian dolls or bosses with nasty affix combos.

        • this is very much my point.  position mattered in diablo 1 because you could not run, and you could easily be block-locked or hit recovery-locked by a swarm of enemies, regardless of class, whereas diablo 2 offered too many mobility options.  fighting the butcher was in fact much different than fighting a crowd of archers, or lesser melee monsters.  systematically clearing out a dungeon was important, because if you backpedalled into a new area while being chased, you would be in trouble.  the butcher’s relentless pursuit was difficult, and scary.  there is still nothing comparable in diablo 2, which is why the butcher remains the signature monster of the diablo series.  
          in contrast, diablo 2 boils down to “throw mana pot at the enemy for damage” for virtually any ranged or caster build.  you position yourself for maximum damage output, and thats about it.  you pump your attack skill, pump synergies, pump +% damage gear, and then click on the enemy until it dies.  diablo 3 looks better from a skill usage perspective because blizzard seems to be borrowing what i would call the Titan Quest skill model, where skills range from active use “spam” skills, to passive skills, to very powerful high cooldown skills.  high cooldowns means you actually have to use your brain and decide when is best to use your strongest skills, which makes combat more complex.  however, all classes seem to converge in diablo 3 because they all have powerful screen clearing AOE DOT skills.  part of playing a melee class in diablo 2 was having no answer for certain mobs, just as ranged builds had no answer for normal duriel.     
          because of a multitude of small logistical improvements, most people prefer to play diablo 2.  diablo 1 is extremely raw by comparison, in terms of interface, town functions, multiplayer, etc.  for me, i am willing to forgo the “ease of play” improvements in diablo 2 and suffer through the more primative diablo 1.  there are also a ton of great diablo 1 mods out there, especially for hellfire.  i recommend “the hell” for hellfire. 

          • This is a fair and accurate analysis.  Joebert, did you get past Diablo Spawn or did you just stop at level 2?
            D1 was extremely position-oriented for the reasons outlined above.
            Spells also worked in a fundamentally different way by scaling in power if the player invested in Magic points at the cost of Hit % or life, offering a benefit to books that happened to drop.  It was single-player oriented in this way.  You could have a vastly different game experience each time you played because of this combination of drops and stat selection.  D2 was build-driven almost entirely. 
            The Achilles foot of D1 was actually the scaling damage of certain spells (Fireball) and the Sorcerer’s built-in cast speed advantage.  The golden “skill” unique to each class provided little or no benefit to the Warrior after the first 4 levels.  The Rogue’s disarm skill could be useful.  But nothing could stop a Sorcerer with 255 Magic, a belt full of mana pots, Naj’s Light Plate and a Bountiful Staff of the Apocalypse (16-18 charges), if you were playing legit. 😉
            Amazing, amazing game.

  3. I don’t care what anyone says…the original diablo was much more “dark” then diablo3

    That being said i still LOVE diablo 3. 

  4. Made me remember my old Pentium 1 with voodoo graphics aboard. The days when ‘I’ had 3Dfx which was pretty damn elite. Then round the corner came Half Life 1. Playing Diablo 1 on the old battlenet in games where you had to wait out the hacker to leave the game and we’d just sit up next to the witch watching people dupe stat boosting potions.
    Diablo 1 loot didn’t have anywhere near the diversity of Diablo 2’s but it was the first game I played that introduced me to ‘Treasure Hunting’ as a game play mechanic / reward system. Maybe other games did but not in a way that added so much longevity and replayability to the game itself.

    Another thing they had right about Diablo 1 was 4 players. Its all you needed imo, even then in games with 3 others (which was pretty rare) you’d still play ‘follow the loot trail’. This was something else that Diablo 1 introduced me to as not many other games at the time were long enough to reproduce such an occurance as follow the loot trail.

    I played all 3 characters in D1, getting ea one to that grinding level 42 at which point the rewards for going further were purely prestige based. I would like to add that it also played very well on the console and I always wondered why they never ported D2. It proved to me that its always best to make a game for the PC then port to Console than the other way round. Wall of text ends.

  5. This is pretty cool, thanks for digging it up. Pretty crazy that they made this at all, considering that the state of internet video longer than 30 seconds at the time was pretty much limited to terrible Vivo-format music videos. Everything else was probably really bad, really short porn clips. :p  And if you did find something you wanted to download (probably on Usenet) and you could find all the binaries, it would take you hours to get it. Was that really just 15 years ago? 😯

  6. Did anyone else notice bill said something about “the monsters that killed your family”???  Was this from an older story, or was Aiden less of a ret-con than I thought??

    • if i remember correctly they always said you (the hero) was from tristram and you returned home to see the place pretty much destroyed. if i am remembering that correctly then it is a pretty big ret-con still

      • Yeah, the warrior was the central figure (he’s seen in the intro cinemetic, anyway) and the implication was that he was from the area and returning home after some wars or campaigns. The intro dialogue from Ogden is the longest and sets the stage, and it begins, “Welcome back my friend, much has changed since you’ve been away.”

        The Rogue and Sorc get the same dialogues, but that’s kind of a limitation of the story and tools, since the game manual details  their foreign origin.

        The prince Aiden thing is still a big ass Met-con though, since there’s nothing in the D1 story about Leoric being the hero’s father, and he’d have shown much greater urgency to find his kidnapped brother before it was too late. I think it would have been a better story with those elements for the warrior, but it wouldn’t have much sense for the rogue or sorc.

  7. I remember reading a preview of Diablo in EDGE magazine and being blown away. To me it was like an ultimate version of Gauntlet.

    When I finally got hold of it, my pc was so old that I could only run it with the sound disabled, and never got to fight Diablo because the cinematic would crash the game. 

    N.B  486 overclocked to 133mhz!! 

  8. When my Pops passed away, I inherited his P266 comp.  My roommate played D1 in my bedroom.   Hooked ever since (many moons ago). 

  9. Wow so in the alpha, Ogden was the Blacksmith…8-l
    Whatever anyone says, D1 was the best, D2 was great but lacking that horror feel. D3 is just loot and graphics.
    let me put it this way…
    D1 was ‘The Exorcist’ and D3 is ‘Zombieland’

  10. Old video is old. So, this is some kind of news if you have no real news? You can do better IncGamers. 😉

    • I did not know this site in its pre-Diablo-3 days, but even I have a feeling that this is not a site of IncGamers network, but rather something along [email protected]. (Not to count out Rush and other regulars, but I hope you get the point.)

      All these little non-news are the spirit of the site. I like it much more than, for example, DiabloFans’ “cram-it-all-into-one-post-and-update-it-several-times” approach. 

  11. I remember watching this on my warcraft disc.   Nice to rewatch and remind me of it.  Recently I have replayed diablo 2, with lod all the way through hell mode.   I should go back and replay diablo 1 before diablo 3..  Since I haven’t gotten in the beta yet, it’s been giving me something to do.

  12. “Demonic horror”… that’s what the series lost along the years.

    This feature made BlizzNorth proud. This feature makes JWilson&Co ashamed and uncomfortable.  

  13. Notice this is of the alpha, not the beta. I’m guessing for that first one, Blizzard (mostly Condor at that pont?) was using these to convince resellers to give them enough time and provide more shelf-space.

    The alpha version plays differently due to the missing belt slot and others. You can go here to get a version of the pre-release alpha that plays pas the first few levels. Lots of interesting things that got cut from the game!: http://diablo-evolution.net/ 

      • Bummer that the Pre-alpha link went down 🙁 I bet they can’t afford the hosting costs anymore. They also lost their forum, which is a shame because there was a wealth of weird D1 and D2 information in there…

        Anyway I didn’t have it on my computer anymore, but I found the modified pre-alpha demo in a torrent and made a mirror here. Word of caution that you should always do a scan with this kind of stuff before you run the install. That said, it scanned and installed fine for me… 

        I’ve forgotten the person who maintained that site, does somebody know?


        • Wow thanks for posting that website, very awesome stuff for D1 fans.  You can actually see screenshots of the turn-based iteration of the game, whoa.  And the SPELLS!  The entire third page of spells is here!  Mind Mace, Invisibility, Blood Ritual…..

        • The pre-release demo is also available from the Files section of that website, click through to the French website (“Demo Download”) then look for the 55MB demo pre-release.

        • If you download the pre-release demo check out the voiceovers (Adria, Griswold, etc.), they are really bad placeholders for the real ones. 😀

  14. This brings back memories. Diablo & WC were the only games that could pull me away from Master of Magic. I used to play NIN Downward Spiral in the background along with the D1 music. Good times.

  15. Flux, I’m disappointed.
    The video that cinicraft posted on youtube is from mid 1996, not from 1995. The version that you see there is clearly one of the versions with the E3 1996 interface.
    That’s the 1995 presentation:
    (someone posted it on this site, but I can’t find it)

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