Excellent article on GamaSutra that profiles Crate Entertainment, founded in 2008 by Arthur Bruno and Eric Campanella, who were lead developers on Titan Quest, at now-closed studio Iron Lore Entertainment. Much like our ex-Blizzard/Flagship friends who are now toiling away on Torchlight at the much smaller Runic Games, Bruno and Campanella are part of a small team hard at work on an unnamed action RPG that they hope can carve out enough market space to survive in a landscape dominated by behemoth AAA titles by mega-publishers like Blizzard. The whole article is worth a read, but I’ll just quote from a bit near the end, when the conversation turns to Diablo 3.
Diablo-style action RPGs aren’t popular on consoles. But it isn’t the most prolific genre these days even on PC, where social gaming, MMOs, simulation, online-centric, and strategy games can flourish. That could change, Bruno hopes, with the release Diablo III.
“I think the anticipated release of Diablo III may even act in our favor, so long as we don?t release close enough together that we?re totally eclipsed,” he said. “I think Diablo III will help revitalize the action RPG subgenre, and PC gaming in general.”
He added, “I?m sure there will be a certain segment of the hardcore audience that buys Diablo III and plays it exclusively for the next 3 years—I may even be one of those people. However, I think a majority of players will put 2-6 months into it and, if they?ve really enjoyed it, go look for the next closest thing. If we position ourselves correctly, we should be able to attract some of these players. If we?re able to release first and do a good job, then I think we?ll have fans going off to play Diablo III and recommending our game to new players there.”
Elsewhere, Blend Games has a short summary of D3 as seen at PAX.
The first thing to notice about Diablo III is that it looks insanely good and runs incredibly smoothly. Much like Starcraft II, Diablo III’s environments are fully rendered 3D objects, instead of the flat “paint job” style of the previous games. Not only does the complete 3D make the game look more consistent, it also allows for a first in the Diablo universe: destructible environments. They’re nothing big, but it’s something that really helps with the immersiveness.