Diabloii.net Interview with David Brevik – Diablo Podcast #220


I count myself lucky to have been able to interview the people I have. It’s awesome to spend time picking the brains of people who shaped the worlds you love. My luck continued with a conversation with David Brevik. We spend time discussing Diablo, his current pursuits, as well as advice for those looking to go into the industry. David also goes into some depth as to his thoughts on a D2 remaster. I won’t lie, I jump around a bit, which I credit to nerves but overall it’s worth a listen.

Interview Timeline:

  • 0:46 – David probed about anything he hasn’t said about Diablo 2 yet.
  • 3:50 – David talks about his current work including his new game, his work at Gazillion and more.
  • 10:30 – Hardcore mode in Diablo 2 and is discussed and why they added it to the sequel.
  • 15:08 – Were there problems with the implementation in Diablo 2
  • 17:21 – How social media and new outlets has affected game development.
  • 21:00 – Is the new action RPG less about the grind? Is there a way to do that?
  • 25:40 – David talks about how he would feel about a Diablo 2 remaster and the challenges Blizzard would face to make it happen. It’s a lot more complicated than some may think.
  • 32:11  David talks about whether any Diablo game will be able to match Diablo 2.
  • 34:20 – Is any team that takes up a Diablo game at a disadvantage?
  • 39:42 – David tries to dish out some advice for anyone wanting to join the games industry.

With this interview being posted we’d like to kick off the podcast once again which has been on a break for a few months. Please email [email protected] if you’re interested in talking some Diablo with me and others on the Diablo Podcast.

Comments

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  1. many thanks for your efforts, Xanth! actually I forgot there was even a podcast, haha. will listen to it on morrow!

  2. SC remaster is 100% the same game just with HD sprites/textures and higher resolution though, right? the engine and everything stays the same so there’s no 2D->3D conversion or anything. that’s the way I understand it anyway, someone correct me if i’m wrong.

    anyway, good stuff. david is always a please to listen to.

    • You’re correct. I haven’t listened to this interview, but I saw another one on Youtube with Brevik where (it sounds like) he made the same statement about converting a 2D game into a 3D engine, would change the behaviour.

      He seems to completely ignore the possibility of doing an HD version of a 2D game in the same engine, along with UI and other improvements. It’s hard to see D2 being re-rendered to allow a higher resolution, but I know for a fact that the graphics, terrain in particular, were highly compressed so that they could fit on 2 install CDs when the game was released (Act 1 graphics and Act 3 jungle in particular are pretty muddy/blurry). Since everything is digitally distributed these days or on DVD, they could easily release a non-compressed version of the graphics for $10 and fans would buy it. Easy money.

      • If you’ve listened better, in the other interview he also talks about just remastering it to a HD resolution also. He simply says Blizzard has to create “all” art assests from ground up since those art assets’ resolution are incredibly low even for it’s time to the point where it becomes easier to make a remake instead of remaster. And with the higher resolution he said they had to competely rewrite the AI code and how “the camere and the directions work in the engine” which is apperantly no easy task especially without sacrificing D2’s pace and feel. I believe he said it’s too hard to keep the same feel there too.

        That’s probably why he thinks remake is more possible although he doesn’t think they can capture the D2 feel.

        And Brevik just thinks all that trouble for such an hard task doesn’t make any sense from business standpoint in my point. In the other interview, when he was asked for remaster or remake he simply said no, they’re not going to make a remaster or remake. Then he explained it’s reasons.

        • Not sure what “other interview” you are talking about, because the one I watched, he didn’t say any of that, and that is the interview I’m talking about.

          Also, assuming they have the original art files, they simply need to not compress them, and they’d end up with better quality. No need to re-create anything from scratch.

          • A guy named rhykker interviewed him. I don’t want to promete it here. That’s where he said they have to create all art assets from stratch and recode monster AI even if they only go for something like D2 HD.

            But if you know better than the president of Blizzard North or creator of Diablo or lead programmer of Diablo or lead designer of Diablo, then you’re probably right.

            Nowadays everyone has an opinion on everything. Everyone knows everything. Just recently I saw someone talking about GRRM and how he didn’t know ASOIAF characters he created and now this. It’s a strange world we’re living in thanks to the internet, google and social media.

            Compressed art assets? Brevik talked something like 5×5 pixel for monsters I guess. Lol 😀

          • Yes, I said that if they re-rendered everything to support a higher resolution, that would be a lot of work.

            What I am saying is that if they still have the original art assets before they were compressed to fit on the CDs, then they could simply release that. Wouldn’t take much work at all, and it would be an improvement over what we have now. This info is from Peter Hu, btw, the guy who named an Act 5 merc after me: https://www.diablowiki.net/Peter_Hu

            Would it look as good as re-drawing / re-rendering everything from scratch? No. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a remaster.

          • Yes, it wouldn’t be a remaster. It wouldn’t even be an HD mod.

            Also, Brevik spoke like sprites were super-low pixel that I wouldn’t think they’re compressed at all. Unless you learned that from Peter Hu directly ofc. He was one of the programmers of D2 and responsible for the 1.10 patch so I guess he has potential to know.

          • Yes, I did learn from him. And I talked with him at length. Several of the v1.10 features were my idea (coloured text for Fire Enchanted, Lightning Enchanted affixes on bosses, for example), as well as a lot of the input for rebalancing of the Normal unique items that was done in 1.10. There’ll be other stuff two but I can’t remember it all.

            Peter went to management and tried to get them to do a DVD release with uncompressed graphics but they weren’t interested.

        • Nice. Then considering Brevik’s comments about the resolution of monsters I guess background art assets were compressed. Still, like I said before it wouldn’t even be an HD mod let alone a remaster.

          But better than nothing ofc. However, I would definetely not pay for something so little like that.

  3. Great interview. Thanks for posting.

  4. Currently playing Diablo 2 Expansion with our family on 2 computers (TCP/IP method of playing over our own home network); we having a great time.

    Thank you Blizzard for such a great game!

    ==> If Blizzard makes a HD remake of Diablo 2, and it does not require internet connection (and forced game patching), then we would be more than willing to support Blizzard with two (2) sets of Diablo 2 Expansion HD-remake!

  5. The problem with D2 and “HD” textures for the game world would be that it would make the world look “unrealistic” and “too perfect”. D2 graphics work BECAUSE they are “muddy” and thus gives the player a feel like they are looking at a real world with “crappy glasses” but it works! Our mind and our fantasy fill in the gaps for us and everything is just fine.

    All they need to do is to bring a patch in D2 that would simply allow us to run a 16:9 aspect ratio by adding an option in the game menu to switch from 800×600 to 1152×648 or 1280×720. This would not require much work but would allow the player to see a little bit more of the game world and because of the nature of how D2-type games work, it would also make the world look more detailed because the “camera” zooms out automatically every time you “increase the resolution”.

    They could create a High-Res-UI to go with the new resolution and give an option to play with an “updated UI” or the classic UI.

    D2 1280×720 16:9 Screenshot:

    http://www.wsgf.org/f/u/imagecache/node-gallery-display/contrib/dr/323/ingame_16x9.jpg

    • I think this is what a HD version would look like. Just purely increasing the resolution to modern monitor sizes. There are a couple of issues though; as you pointed out, the UI would need to be redone as it looks pretty nasty just putting filler all the way across the bottom of the screen. The other issue with just giving more screen space is seeing outside of the intended map area. A lot of the areas (probably) are only made with enough buffer around them for the smaller screen resolutions, with the higher res you’d need to fill more buffer area or you’d see the edges of the map.

      There also might be issues with how enemies are spawned / despawned based on screen space. With more enemies on screen at once, the network will need to account for more enemy data simultaneously, which could lead to network issues.

      Now of course I’m making a few assumptions about how a nearly 20 year old game was programmed without seeing any of the code, but there will likely be a pile of these kind of issues pop up. But I don’t see them remaking the game in any way, it will just be some sort of resolution upgrade.

    • no offense dude but that’s a bunch of bollocks 😉 D2 graphics work because the art style is cool, not because they’re ‘muddy’. they’re muddy because they’re old not because they were designed to be muddy. original SC graphics are just as ‘muddy’ and the remaster looks great. with fully redone HD sprites D2 would look great too.

      they don’t have to zoom out the camera either, SC remaster isn’t zoomed out (except for casting mode) and it supports up to 4k. and the original game was in 640×480 for christ sake. proper way to do D2 remaster is the same way they did SC – redo the sprites in HD and update some non gameplay affecting tech.

      • That’s my understanding, too. Brevik seems to talk about the problems of a 2D -> 3D conversion, which is not what the fans want. They simply want a high-res 2D Remaster like the Starcraft one recently. But maybe he was just dodging the question with this answer, because a 2D Remaster of Diablo 2 might become more popular than Diablo 3. ^^

      • My comment about the graphics being muddy, is purely because of the compression that was applied to them in order to get them to fit on the CDs.

        I don’t know if the same level of compression was applied to everything or not – I suspect that characters and NPCs probably have little to no compression, since you look at them a lot. Monsters may not have much compression either for the same reason. But the general tilesets do have extra compression that makes it hard to see what some of the details are actually supposed to be.

        • sure. compression + bunch of other tricks they applied for performance reasons. i doubt even the source graphics are good enough for modern remaster though. I mean they had to re-do everything for SC and D2 isn’t much younger 😉

          • And what is a “modern remaster”? If the choice is between D2-as-currently exists, or improved-D2-with-better-graphics, does it matter if the graphics are only 2x better instead of 5x better?

          • >And what is a “modern remaster”? If the choice is between D2-as-currently exists, or >improved-D2-with-better-graphics, does it matter if the graphics are only 2x better >instead of 5x better?

            of course it matters. if you go about doing a remaster might as well make it the best it can be and as future proof it can be. I don’t want a half-assed remaster that will look like crap again in a couple of years, I want a good one that will last.

          • D2 already ‘looks crap’ though and it’s lasted, what, 17 years?

            The point is they wouldn’t need to do a lot of work (probably less work than SC remaster), and they could sell it for $10 and fans would buy it. Good revenue for little work.

  6. D2 remaster would never come !
    To much work , go watch the video with ryker as David Brevik explains what needs to be done

    And Lanthanide it’s clear that you don’t know anything about computer graphics , remastering , HD , (old) computer engines, 2D and all that shit otherwise you would not say that BS like it is not allot of work to remaster D2.

    • I am strictly speaking about using the uncompressed graphics, nothing more.

      And yes, I do know quite a bit about that stuff, being a developer myself. But never mind, it’s easier just to assume that anyone on the internet knows less than yourself, I guess.

  7. The old podcast Rss link seemed to have gone down a while ago and I can’t seem to find it here. Is there an Rss for dii.net podcasts? (for all us old farts stuck in our ways)

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