In addition to the great Bill Roper interview, PCGames.de has also posted a short interview with Jeff Strain in which he gives his thoughts on Diablo 1, a game he assisted in the programming of. (Jeff Strain was a senior programmer at Blizzard, but he’s much better known as one of the three ex-Blizzard founders of Arena.net, makers of Guild Wars). Here’s a quote, with another recommendation to check out the full interview (it’s only 4 questions).
PCGames.de: When you hear the word “Diablo” today you immediately have to think of … ?
Jeff Strain: Nothing less than the rebirth of the PC RPG. Everyone thought we were crazy at the time, because the RPG genre was presumed dead. It would be tantamount to betting your company on a traditional adventure game today. When I hear “Diablo” I feel proud that I was part of the team that rescued my favorite genre.
PCGames.de: What “lesson” did we – you as developers and we as gamers – learn from the Diablo games?
Jeff Strain: Sometimes you have to plug your ears and go your own way. Diablo would never have happened if we had designed for a focus-test group. Everyone thought we were crazy—the press, publishers, even a good chunk of vocal gamers who couldn’t understand why we weren’t cranking out another RTS—but we could see what it could be and we just barreled on. It’s always important to listen to your fans, but you also can’t be a feather being blown on the wind. It gets harder for companies to continue to innovate when they grow very large, but I still believe that true excellence requires that we push boundaries and challenge assumptions.