Check out the original Diablo Pitch Document

Diablo 1

A couple of days ago we highlighted David Brevik’s Diablo postmortem at GDC which was an interesting read. Today we have some real historical Diablo documents as David Brevik has release the original Diablo pitch documents.

Reading through the document  while idea sounds so simple when you compare it to today’s modern games. Here’s the overview:

Diablo is a role playing game wherein a player creates a single character and guides him through a dungeon in an attempt to find and destroy ‘Diablo’, the devil himself. All the action takes place in an isometric, three-quarrter perspective, with diamond shaped, square floor spaces. The entire game operated in a turn-based system. Using a mouse, the player moves his character from space to space, exploring corridors and rooms and engaging in combat. The character faces the challenges in the form of hostile monster and traps in his quest to descend deeper into the dungeon,  Many beneficial weapons and magical items can be acquired and used to help on the quest.

The full document covers the game’s setting and a walk-through of a typical game session. There’s even marketing notes suggesting that expansions should be released for $4.99.

Check the document out here which is on David Brevik’s Graybeard Games site.


Tagged As: , | Categories: Diablo 1


You're not logged in. Register or login to post a comment.
  1. Fantastic read. I couldn't dream about it even 10 years ago. Thanks alot, David!

  2. I really enjoyed that. So interesting to see the features that were cut and the ones that made it. To see how it expanded from what it was; certainly alot of growth occurred in that year of development. I was particularly stricken with their prediction of microtransations: "The tremendous success of Magic is a testament to the willingness of players to continue to make small additional purchases to revitalize their existing game." My god… they had no idea how right they were.

    • They were right, and wrong.

      People like collecting magic cards because they can show them off to other people (and also get utility from them, when playing the game).

      (some) People pay real money for purely aesthetic items in online games, again so they can show off to other people. I don’t think anyone would pay extra money for aesthetic items in single-player games, or at least very few people would.

      The nature of the add-ons they’re talking about (new monsters, new dungeon elements, new items), only the latter could really have a “show-off” aspect to them. Also it’s not really clear how they could even support such a system in multiplayer.

      So a pretty radical idea for the time, but not too surprising that it ultimately didn’t come to fruition.

      • Also the model presented doesn’t match up against other mobile-style micro-transactions (like Candy Crush), where those games are all about instant gratification and spending money to continue where you died from, or other various powerups. The things they were talking about with their expansion ideas would be much more random and ethereal in payback.

        Certainly early would not have had any scope for acting as a store front to sell and distribute these expansions, so selling them in physical stores would not be a barrier-free way to encourage someone’s addiction (vs Candy Crush, where your credit card details are saved already etc).

        Piracy would also have ruined their model.

        • I was really just referring to the part I quoted, not their expansion model as a whole. I absolutely agree with you that it was a terrible idea, supported by the fact that it never came to fruition.You're correct about the show off factor, though I wouldn't limit it to that. There are certainly single player games that offer DLC aesthetics. Though it is certainly more prevalent in multiplayer games. I say multiplayer rather than online to make a point. Back during the time of this Diablo pitch, online gaming was still very limited. Alot of people remember Diablo, and other such games of the time, having to timeshare the computer. Whether it was a sibling thing at home or checking it out at a friend's house. Even still online WAS a thing at the time. So I don't think the show off factor could be ruled out entirely. I recall them mentioning somewhere in the document about how extra content would be supported online. But honestly it could have worked without a hitch anyway. Whenever "expansion" content is created, it is released as a patch (a system they had working) on the server and everyone downloads it. The disk simply unlocks the content for your local client. People who haven't unlocked the content could see it (because they had downloaded the data in a patch), but wouldn't be able to find it in their own games because of it being locked. I am willing to bet they would be able to trade these items from another player though; they would probably have wanted to do a soulbinding system, but it would have required alot more coding.As far as instant gratification goes… it does specifically mention in the document the possibility of granting a user a single item immediately upon installing expansion content. Though honestly… the whole idea is flawed anyway. Clearly I want to, having already played through Diablo enough to consider the game worth purchasing expansions for, continue playing or restart playing the game to see a few extra items and possibly tile sets. I think they are clearly overstating the player's desire to refresh the game experience.Obviously wouldn't have had such infrastructure as you mentioned. However, I'm not sure I follow on "barrier-free". I suppose you are meaning it isn't as easy to make an impulse buy. But this was before any sort of online purchasing really… and people have managed to successfully impulse buy for hundreds of years ;o. Before we had so much technology and connectivity at our hands… it was often considered fun to just go out for a drive or just browse a retail store.Piracy certainly could have hurt the model, though I'd say it depended on how it was implemented (though that really does little to alleviate the issue). It couldn't have hurt it for more than it was worth however. Diablo itself was very easy to pirate, yet the game still sold phenomenally.Honestly, from the description in the document… it likely wouldn't have been a successful model at all. It very much read: "We really like magic and basically want to rip off the booster pack model." And that just doesn't translate very well into software. All in all, I agree with you. I guess I was just originally saying that:"Players are willing to continue to make small additional purchases to revitalize their existing game." ~ Slightly paraphrased.Was really foreseeing the market for small content patches that would not be significant enough for an expansion, such as modern day DLC.

  3. "[…] and magical factors." Well, of course. =)

  4. Interesting trip down memory lane.

Comments are closed.