Patrick Wyatt, who is mainly known for his work at Blizzard on numerous titles and ArenaNet on Guild Wars, has updated his blog with an interesting post on the development of the original StarCraft which also touches on the creation of the original Diablo when Blizzard North was formed. Here’s the interesting piece on Diablo but it’s worth reading the full blog to put it in context.
But a higher priority project overshadowed StarCraft and stole its developers one by one. Diablo, a role-playing game being developed by Condor Studios in Redwood City California, was in need of additional help. Condor, a company formed by Dave Brevik along with Max Schaefer and his brother Erich Schaefer, was given a budget of only $1.2 million — ridiculously small even in those days.
The Condor team had no hope of making the game they aspired to build, but they did such ground-breaking work in developing something fun that it made sense for Blizzard to acquire Condor, rename it Blizzard North, and start pouring in the money and staff the game really deserved.
Initially Collin Murray, a programmer on StarCraft, and I flew to Redwood City to help, while other developers at Blizzard “HQ” in Irvine California worked on network “providers” for battle.net, modem and LAN games as well as the user-interface screens (known as “glue screens” at Blizzard) that performed character creation, game joining, and other meta-game functions.
As Diablo grew in scope eventually everyone at Blizzard HQ — artists, programmers, designers, sound engineers, testers — worked on the game until StarCraft had no one left working on the project. Even the project lead was co-opted to finish the game installer that I had half-written but was too busy to complete.