The Diablo 3 Podcast #1: Max Schaefer Interview, Part One


At long last, it’s the one you’ve been waiting for. The Diablo Podcast! Our new weekly+ podcast debuts today with a jam-packed episode, featuring a candid Max Schaefer interview, plus conversation between Elly and me about issues of historical import.

The bulk of the program, the middle thirty minutes, is the first half of my interview with Max Schaefer. In it you’ll hear Max talk about the original art direction of Diablo I and Diablo II, give his opinion about the look and style of Diablo III, and share exclusive details (some of which we’ve already teased) about the original MMO design of Diablo III. Max also talks about Diablo and Blizzard North being written out of the Blizzard 20th Anniversary coverage, expresses his disapproval of the removal of crosses and pentagrams from Diablo III, and answers plenty more questions about the Diablo games and Blizzard.

Bracketing my interview with Max is conversation between Elly and me, in which she displays her lovely English accent and I attempt to perfect a radio DJ voice. Before the Maxerview you’ll hear us reminisce about how we first teamed up to run this website back in 1997, and our legendary (first) visit to Blizzard North. Elly and me return after the Max segment as well, for some wrap-up about the security issues he mentions from the D1 and D2 days, and how they apply to Torchlight 2, Diablo III, and other games such as WoW and RIFT. Do you know what Coin Lock is? You should, since something like it will protect your Diablo III account (if Blizzard knows what they’re doing), and you’ll learn all about it here.

The Diablo 3 Podcast Episode Guide in DiabloWiki.net provfides links to every show, plus quick summaries.

Click through for a full transcript of this episode, courtesy of Varquynne.

The Diablo Podcast – Episode 1 (air date: 4/12/11)

FLUX: Hi! Welcome to the Diablo Podcast – a production of the unofficial Diablo site. My name is Flux. I am the host of the show. And, we are online at DiabloPodcast.com. If you visit that site, you can find the newest episode and all the archived shows there, along with additional information on the topics we’ll be covering today. Joining me today – on our first show, our first installment of the Diablo Podcast – is my lovely co-host and co-webmaster, Elly.

ELLY: Hi!

FLUX: And we have known each other since we met via your Diablo I website, which was way back in ‘97 or ‘98, I guess. Was that your first website?

ELLY: No, not really. I had a few on the go. I had a Dungeon Keeper one. And, I had a Hexen one. And, a Jedi Knight one. And then, the Diablo one as well.

FLUX: And as I remember, which is possibly inaccurate, but I recall it was right after Hellfire had come out and there was really no information about Hellfire that I could find online. I was looking everywhere, and I think that’s how I found your site. You had some of the best stats and early info for Hellfire.

ELLY: Yeah, it was really a project, so I was learning Photoshop at the time. And, it was a project to gather information about Diablo that I was playing with customers in a shop, that were also playing it. That’s where we would collect the data, and I put it into a website. They could access it from home and they eventually told friends about it. That’s how it actually – it never was meant to be a public site as it were – it was just for customers in the gaming shop, really.

FLUX: And you were running a gaming café, right? Something like that?

ELLY: Yeah, it was a multiplayer gaming café in Edinborough.

FLUX: That was way back before people had good online access at home. Broadband was very unusual, I guess.


ELLY:
We actually started off in some cupboards at the back of Dead Head Comics in Edinborough. We had four little PCs set up with DOOM. And, that’s how it started.
(2:35)

FLUX: Back in the good old days. The old days of gaming.

ELLY: Yeah.

FLUX: I sent you emails about various things. I was very interested in Diablo II as soon as that was announced.

ELLY: Yeah.

FLUX: I remember collaborating with you on the narration of the cinematic – the very first teaser cinematic for Diablo II. I sent you in some… what I thought were corrections on what the guy says in the narration of it.

ELLY: Yes.

FLUX: And you were like, “I really didn’t listen that closely. If you think this is the fix, then sure, I’ll put it up.” And, you put it on the website. I remember thinking, “Wow, I just sent this person an email, and like it’s on the internet now.” You know? Websites were still so new.

ELLY: Yeah, yeah.

FLUX: It didn’t occur to me how easily they could be updated and how readily one could get involved in them.

ELLY: And then as things busied up, I was able to snap you up and get you on board.

FLUX: Yeah, you asked me a couple of times to work on the website. I was like, “I don’t know how to run a website.” You were like, “It’s easy. If you can write, we can figure ways to work it with text editors and such.” Shortly after that, you changed… we got a whole new layout. You got the diabloii.net domain name.

ELLY: Yes.

FLUX: And we started running this website together. Eventually, we added this other writer, Gale, who helped us out in the old days.

ELLY: Yep. Yeah.

FLUX: It was funny. She was in Seattle area, and I was in the San Diego area. Both in America. And, you were over in Edinbra, as they call it. As I mangle the pronunciation.

ELLY: That’s just how we say it! *laughter*

FLUX: Yes, of course! *laughter* And, somehow, us just working on this website, it became this really popular destination. And, we were like in the top 10,000 busiest websites in the world at the time.

ELLY: Yes. Yeah, we were.

FLUX: And still almost are, actually. I’m sure we will be once the Diablo III beta is going.

ELLY: It was very hectic.

FLUX: And somehow that became the leading Diablo fansite. And we came to the attention of all the developers. The Blizzard North guys were very freewheeling. They liked to come and visit the website – they’d come to our chat room and forums. Eventually, they invited us to come up and play Diablo II in… I believe it was… was it December of ’99? Or it was early 2000? I forget, but it was right before the beta.

ELLY: We went there for about three days, did we not?

FLUX: We got to spend a weekend and got pretty much full access and played all day. They wanted our feedback and met all the guys on the team. It’s funny, they’re just such real people. You’ve met them. I think I met a few of them before at E3 that year. They’re just so friendly and happy to talk to you. We kind of envision them on the internet as these god-like figures. You get there and they’re like all the guys from your computer science class in high school, but now they’re making a really cool game.
(5:12)

ELLY: *laughter* And I was struck as well, ‘cause we were put in quite a square room. The three of us, weren’t we? It was a darkened room. Just throughout the time there, there were just various codies that would pop in and just stand behind the chairs as we were playing and sort of ask questions and feedback. Everyone was really eager. And I think that’s why we were possibly invited there, was because the developers who could make that decision to invite us could see that we were really passionate about the game. And we had its best interests at heart and they wanted to have our opinions. But, when we got there, it turned out all the codies who were there were sort of interested to hear, right, “What do fans have to say about it now?”

FLUX: They were all coming in and asking us questions. They were really playing… I think they were almost… it was very close to the beta, so they were pretty much done with a lot of the main work. But, I recall they were just really getting into hardcore at that point. It was a new feature in the game. And guys kept running into the room shouting, “Oh my god, John just lost his level 20!” Everyone started laughing and applauding. You hear this clapping. We could hear these voices shouting from the different – they didn’t really have cubicles, they had different rooms. They were so excited if someone lost a hardcore character. They were just getting started with that. It was just fun to see inside the developers. And to see how it’s run – really get an inside view of those things.

ELLY: It was my first look into an actual development house at that point way back then.

FLUX: Yeah, not quite the same with Blizzard Irvine these days. Not quite the level of access to outsiders. But, that’s a topic for another day perhaps.

ELLY: It’s a different market now, isn’t it?

FLUX: Shortly after our visit there, the Diablo II beta began. That was very small – there were only 1000 people. They used to actually send out… they would FedEx you CDs back in those days – Blizzard would. It seemed like the FedEx always would arrive Friday afternoon when you were out for 10 minutes. And you had this note on your door saying, “You can pick this up Monday.” And you’d just be like, “Nooooo! A whole weekend of beta testing is gone!” I swear that happened like three betas in a row that I was involved in. FedEx would leave some note when I stepped out for 5 minutes. It just drove me crazy. And now, of course, we just download them and bitTorrent it. And everybody can get… you’re waiting for your email with your password. But yeah, the Diablo II beta. I remember we thought the site was busy, and then the beta started. Suddenly, we were getting like 300 emails a day. People just going crazy, just how much busier it got.
(7:40)

ELLY: Yep. Good days.

FLUX: It was very busy and very exciting. It only got more so once the game came out. But, if I had told you – or, if someone had told us I guess would be a more accurate way to put it – in 2000 that you’re going to be doing this again for the Diablo III beta. We’d have said, “Oh, sure, no big deal. A few years.” And, here it is, 2011, are you amazed that it’s this much… it’s more than 10 years later?

ELLY: Yeah, I try not to think about it too much. To think that I’m still doing this all these years later. I have to look at it as a hobby. It’s perfectly acceptable to be doing something that long if it’s a hobby.

FLUX: Well, you can do it from your home in your pajamas while drinking your Tetley [tea]. So, it’s not that bad.

ELLY: Err, yes. No comment. *laughter*

FLUX: This is why this is a podcast not a webcast!

ELLY: That’s exactly why I didn’t put a bloomin’ camera in.

FLUX: We’d have to take our pajamas off to do it! So, as it turns out, as we just discovered quite recently via the… and I should have mentioned earlier. The bulk of this podcast is going to be an interview I recorded with Max Schaefer, one of the creators of Blizzard North and the founders of the Diablo games. I did that with him last week. We talked a great deal about Diablo, Diablo II, and the initial creation of the company. Max was willing to divulge some never before known information that the first version of Diablo II [sic] was actually going to be an MMO. They were working on that back in 2003 when Max left the company – Max and a lot of other guys. Obviously, World of Warcraft was under development since 1998. It was finally released in late ’04. So, it’s just interesting to think there might have been – if all these guys hadn’t left the company, hadn’t left Blizzard North – there would have been a Diablo III MMO and a World of Warcraft MMO both on the market in ’06 or ’07 probably.

ELLY: Perhaps that’s why Blizzard North aren’t there anymore. Blizzard maybe didn’t think they could support two MMOs. There’s a huge commitment, isn’t there?

FLUX: You’d think, but that wasn’t what Max… I didn’t really ask him that question in the interview, but he didn’t say that there was any reason they closed it because of WoW. They both were in development for years by the time he left the company in ’03. And one of the things, just today, there’s been news from Dave Brevik’s speech at the Penny Arcade Expo. He talked a lot about the problem with Diablo II was that they had tremendous box sales, but then the upkeep costs – running the battle.net servers – were quite expensive. For the bandwidth, and the tech support, and the people running it, and game masters – which they never really had enough of. Obviously, that was something that factored into their thinking on their first version of Diablo III. They were working on World of Warcraft at the time and thinking, “This would be a lot more fun if these people were giving us 10 bucks a month and we could keep developing content instead of feeling like we’re losing money running these servers.”
(10:36)

ELLY: I’m just surprised they managed to keep this Diablo III MMO piece of information secret for this long.

FLUX: Yeah, I was wondering… I didn’t get a chance to ask Max why he told me that. I mean I just sort of asked him – you guys will hear it in 10 to 20 minutes listening to the tape. It’s toward the middle of the half hour segment of this podcast. Maybe no one has ever asked him before. I have heard them… you know, the other guys, Bill Roper, Dave Brevik and others have been asked and they’ve usually not answered the questions about what was going on in the early days. So, maybe Max was just in a good mood or no one had ever asked Max himself. He knew it was being recorded for a podcast – it’s not like I stole the information from his brain or something. As we just discussed, we were at Blizzard North in ’99 and I ran our Hellgate site for some time like in like ’05, ’06, ’07. I was at Flagship studios a number of times for that, and I saw Max repeatedly. So maybe he feels like he knows us. He’s known our website for more than a decade and he’s talked to me quite a few times. Maybe he was just like, “Well, I’m gonna tell somebody. It might as well be Flux and the unofficial site.”

ELLY: Maybe nobody thought it was that newsworthy really. So what? So, it’s going to be an MMO. Maybe they just didn’t think people would be that interested to hear it.

FLUX: Yeah, it doesn’t change anything. I mean, he left in ’03. Then a whole new team basically took over the game until ’05 when Blizzard North was closed. Then a whole new team took over in ’06 and that’s the game we have today. So, really, it’s three versions ago long since changed. It’s not like this information makes any real difference in the world.

ELLY: No.

FLUX: As you said, it’s just odd that this never came out before. How differently Diablo III would have been as an MMO and not (as Max says in the interview also)… it was not set in Heaven – it was not set with Angels. None of that stuff in the leaked screenshots were in the game he was working on. So, it gives you an idea just how long ago it really was.

ELLY: Yeah.

FLUX: But, I think we’ve talked enough about the interview before the interview. So, check out the Max interview coming right up. And, we will… you will hear a little more from Elly and myself afterwards talking about some security issues and some of the ways which we’ll be looking to protect our accounts in Diablo III. And, say, “Enjoy the show, Elly.”

ELLY: Enjoy the show… Elly. *laughter*

(13:02)

FLUX: Hey Max, let’s get right to it. There’s been a lot of discussion about the art style of Diablo III. That’s something that I’ll probably ask you about a little bit.

MAX SCHAEFER: Sure.

FLUX: Obviously, people are comparing that to the art style of Diablo I and Diablo II and you were a prime reason that exists. You were basically the artist on the original game as I understand it.

MAX SCHAEFER: I did some art on the original game and was definitely part of the art direction and… the genesis of the style of Diablo.

FLUX: How did that style come about? People struggle to find words for [it]. We say “gothic” or it’s kind of “realistic”, but it’s obviously… there’s magic and demons and stuff.

MAX SCHAEFER: Right. I think our idea was to make a gothic and sort of grim world. We definitely didn’t want to go cute, and we didn’t want to go rainbow colorful. The idea was to make a gritty, kind of muted world, and background that would 1) have the foreboding feeling that we wanted for the whole world. But, also set off the magic and the explosions, and the items, and the characters real well. It was something that we just experimented with and came out with a palette that we liked and a general look that we liked and just sort of built on it from there.

FLUX: People seem to remember – especially Diablo III fans – Diablo I and II being like they were the Temple of Eternal Darkness. “Oh, Diablo III is not dark enough. There’s colorful monsters!” But, obviously, things had to be visible. If you actually go back and play Diablo I or Diablo II (or look at screenshots), the monsters are orange and yellow and green quite often. They pop out of the background. The lava flows are very bright. Obviously, you guys were looking for a variety of palettes. You weren’t trying to make Grim World of Dark Grey Shades of Nothing.

MAX SCHAEFER: Right. *laughter* Yeah, I mean, the idea was that we wanted…

FLUX: I think that’s a mod, by the way.

MAX SCHAEFER: Right, right – very popular! *laughter* The idea was to make something that imparted a sort of an emotion and a feeling, but also let you focus on the important things like, you know, when a ring dropped. Or something like that.

FLUX: Ding!

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah, we had the sound certainly. You also wanted to be able to concentrate on the action, the characters, and the new loot that you got. Those are the things that we wanted to really pop. And, just have the background be a background.
(15:28)

FLUX: Obviously, there’s a lot of stage decoration, so to speak… mostly involving naked bodies on spikes.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yes, yes. *laughter*

FLUX: That was important for the ambience, obviously.

MAX SCHAEFER: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s not to say that we didn’t want you to look at the background or for the environments to be an afterthought at all. We want you to be affected by it. That’s why we had the bodies on stakes and all that. Just to emphasize that this is… it was no joke in this world. This is not a fuzzy, gauzy look back at kind of like it was in the world of Diablo. It was supposed to be as emotionally intense as possible.
(16:09)

FLUX: People have a lot of fond memories of Diablo I, especially the Butcher and the scariness of it.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah, yeah!

FLUX: It’s very hard to get that in an RPG. It’s not like it’s a DOOM kind of game where you can have some monster jump out and fill the entire screen. How did you make scary when it’s 10 by 5 pixels?

MAX SCHAEFER: Right! *laughter* The way we did it by making it kill you the first couple times you see him. *laughter*

FLUX: With a cleaver the size of a bus bench, yes.

MAX SCHAEFER: The way he just kind of came out and said, “Fresh meat!” and killed you. The pacing of it was perfect. You were just getting used to the game. You were kind of starting to feel good about your character and what was going on, and we kill you with a scary new monster. It was just a confluence of things that came together well. And as we have found out since, it’s kind of difficult to duplicate that moment. You can have a monster come out and kill you, but usually it’s just annoying. For some reason, in that case, it was just the right timing and the right looking guy and the right kind of shock value that it really worked well.

FLUX: Just to digress on that, do you recall how you did the voice? Or who did the voice? Or when you first heard the voice? Because that, “Fresh meat!” is just so iconic.

MAX SCHAEFER: You know what? I don’t remember now. It’s been so long. Immediately, it was like… hearing that just sent a chill down your spine.

FLUX: Yeah, it’s hard to go wrong with that. I recall playing the Diablo demo and that was like the last thing in the demo – was the Butcher. You kind of save his little butcher block for the last and then he’d chase you through the dungeon for 15 minutes. For nothing! He’d drop some stupid item you didn’t even want. The demo was over anyway. But god, it was so cool.

MAX SCHAEFER: You still felt good killing him and moving on.
(17:53)

FLUX: Jumping forward a few years, you guys started working on Diablo II pretty soon after Diablo I.

MAX SCHAEFER: Right.

FLUX: And you had a much bigger world, all new characters, all new levels. Was it kind of everything you’d wanted to put in Diablo, but didn’t have the time, or the budget, or the resources?

MAX SCHAEFER: Well, sure. It was, “How would we do this again knowing what we know now?” And a big part of it was to remake the game as a client-server game. Diablo I was a peer-to-peer game. As such, it was very cheatable. When we were making it, we were kind of naïve about what was going to happen. We didn’t even know that it would be a big enough game that people would bother cheating. And, boy, did they. Unfortunately, we never really created the expectation that this is a peer-to-peer and therefore cheatable game. People kind of went into it with the expectation that you were going to have a good time playing with other players online. They’d go onto battle.net. They’d join a game and die in town mysteriously and someone would take all their stuff. I mean… it was something that we had to address. It’s like, “Hey, we have to realize that this is a popular franchise,” and that there are people out there… it’s worthwhile for them to be griefers. See what they can do. Part of the big change in Diablo I to Diablo II was going to a client-server model. Since that was going to take a lot of time and be a big complicated thing, we made a much bigger game as well.

FLUX: Luckily all your changes made Diablo II entirely cheat and hack proof.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah! *laughter*

FLUX: No problems there at all.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah, it worked perfectly, huh? Mission accomplished! *laughter*
(19:37)

FLUX: So, if you could wave a magic wand and change something about Diablo II…? Just, the technology doesn’t support, really, stopping cheating with it. The programming wasn’t advanced enough yet, in that… technology?

MAX SCHAEFER: It really slowed it down though. It did make for… it was much, much less than Diablo I. I would even say, despite all the flaws that it actually succeeded in what it tried to do. Now, obviously, it was at that point one of the very first client-server internet games of its type. So, we were winging it on that as much as we were on Diablo I. We just had one game’s experience to draw upon.

FLUX: Yeah, I think it’s kinda like what you said with Diablo I. The expectation that there will not be cheating makes any cheating worse.

MAX SCHAEFER: Right, right. There’s lots of peer-to-peer games out there that people just play them and know someone might cheat. As long as you go into it with that expectation, it’s no big deal. But, if you think that you’re going to be having this totally secure, cheat-free environment and you don’t – it’s just incredibly frustrating.

FLUX: It’s like you mentioned with Torchlight II. You’re going to have multiplayer and people can cheat if they want and make mods and stuff. But, everybody knows that going in, so you play with friends and then it’s not a big deal.

MAX SCHAEFER: Right, and people will be able to… you get the advantage of it by having the mod community. You know? At least there’s an upside to it. And, nowadays, generally with client-server games people are charging subscription and item sales and stuff like that to support it. It’s totally different. In the case of Diablo I, it was basically… people had no idea what to expect. They got online and they got cheated immediately. It was super widespread. It caught us by surprise and we realized that we had to remedy that quickly.

FLUX: Okay. Besides the cheating and the online issues, you can recall other things you really wanted to address in Diablo II? You just wanted a bigger world and more monsters and more characters and unique skills?

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah, pretty much. Pretty much.

FLUX: It’s a big list.

MAX SCHAEFER: It’s a different task when you’re doing it for the second time. Like with a sequel like that. You learned so much in every area. Not just in what makes a good game, but in how to put together animations and how backgrounds go together. Just, like, every little part of it you gain so much experience that makes it easier to do it the second time that you can just make a much bigger and more complete game. I think Diablo II was… it felt like a more complete game. Diablo I was great. But, looking back on it now it’s very simple and [a] very limited gameplay experience compared to Diablo II.

FLUX: But still fun.

MAX SCHAEFER: Oh yeah! Yeah.
(22:19)

FLUX: I’ve actually been playing Diablo I in the last year or so more than I’ve played Diablo II recently. Obviously, it’s retro and simple.

MAX SCHAEFER: If you haven’t gone back to it in a long time, it’s a little bit of a shock of just how slow you walk around, though.

FLUX: I couldn’t play for it about three years after Diablo II came. Just, it was so slow. I can’t… why am I not running? Why am I not running?

MAX SCHAEFER: Right, right.

FLUX: I think it’s expectations going in.

MAX SCHAEFER: Exactly, and that actually had some good effects on the way you fight some monsters. I mean, when you run around as fast as you do in Diablo II – and even in Torchlight now – it is difficult to make monsters challenging without being frustrating. It’s a function of the speed of your character.

FLUX: I noticed a lot that in Diablo II. You could just sort of outrun almost any difficulty.

MAX SCHAEFER: Right.

FLUX: One other question on Diablo II. Why only one expansion?

MAX SCHAEFER: Um. *sigh* I think… that’s a tough question. First of all, we didn’t want to farm out expansion work. So, we had to do it ourselves, right?

FLUX: Yup. You weren’t happy with Hellfire, I guess. Or not especially happy.

MAX SCHAEFER: No, not at all. That was a very bad experience. So, we wanted to do it all ourselves. And, by the time we were done with the Diablo II expansion, we were pretty anxious to move on to really updating it. We were still a sprite-based game at that point when everyone else had long since gone to 3D. We felt like rather than just kinda keep doing it – even though it probably would have been a good business decision, it probably would have sold like hotcakes – but rather than just do it again, it was time to modernize and get going on the next big thing.

FLUX: And the next big thing, as you so conveniently segued for me, was you guys got started on your early version of Diablo III which was super top secret forever at Blizzard North. It was never publically acknowledged until the new one came out in 2008 when they announced it. And then finally said, “Yeah, we were working on this at Blizzard North. But, now this is a different version.”

MAX SCHAEFER: Correct.

FLUX: And you left Blizzard North in 2003 along with the other big four, as they call them.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yep.

FLUX: Like, I talked to you before… when you looked at the recently leaked, alleged screenshots of Diablo III it was nothing that you recognized at all.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah. It looked like the sort of things we were doing, but I absolutely did not recognize that. So, I’m assuming if that was actual Diablo III art, that it came somewhere in the period after we left but before Blizzard North was shut down.

FLUX: I don’t know if you can comment on this or not, but can you tell us anything about what your plans were for Diablo III? What you wanted to change from Diablo II? What you wanted to expand upon? Just better, bigger?

MAX SCHAEFER: We wanted to make it a bigger… we actually were going a more MMO route with it. So, it had more players in the game. But, we were very early and it’s the point in a project where you don’t talk to the public about it because so much can change and so much can go on. There’s lots and lots of things that go on at game companies that never hit the light of day, because it’s just too early to really sit and things are subject to change all the time. So, we may have changed our own path radically had we kept going with it. But, at the time our thinking was to go more MMO style with it. With big communities in-game, not just like a session-based – four-person or eight-person – or anything like that. But, to really make a big overworld and a giant shared community.
(25:44)

FLUX: Huh. So, that would have been many people in the same sort of instance. Or were you looking at a perpetual world kind of thing?

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah, like a really big instance. So, basically a perpetual world sort of arrangement.

FLUX: Huh. Interesting. There were lots of rumors flying around the time you guys left, that you had wanted more an MMO kind of thing with Diablo III. But, because World of Warcraft was under production, that was kind of Blizzard’s MMO and you guys were unhappy that you couldn’t make that.

MAX SCHAEFER: No, not at all. It was just a desire. We really didn’t think that World of Warcraft was… that didn’t drive our decision at all. What the guys down south were doing… we felt was different enough from what we were doing. It really didn’t dawn on us that having two subscription games would cannibalize each other at all, because they were historically different communities – the Warcraft communities and the Diablo communities. So, no, that didn’t drive it at all. It was just a desire to make something cool in the Diablo world using some of the newly emerging MMO mechanics. Having the cool interaction, chaotic interaction of lots of random people in a world. We just wanted to experiment with seeing how that works with our camera style and our control scheme. You know, the action RPG genre.

FLUX: You liked how it was going? Or was it just so early at the time you left you can’t even say?

MAX SCHAEFER: There was a couple of fits and starts as we experimented with stuff. It was going okay. Yeah, it was going fine. We were working on two projects at the studio at that point. So, we were kind of split down the middle as to who was working on what. So, I think we kind of slowed down a little, because all of a sudden we had to have two concurrent teams going on. We didn’t necessarily have the full expertise and staff and leadership across both projects like we did previously when everyone was on one thing. So, there was some adjustment as well. It was very difficult for any game studio to go from focusing on one project to doing two, just because it’s very difficult for one person to work on both of them. You tend to have to divide the team up. There’s issues associated with it. I think a lot of game companies have struggled when they get to that point where they want to work on two things.
(28:01)

FLUX: And, you were really scaling up the company quickly, too. That had to be a difficulty to integrate all the new employees.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah.

FLUX: You were like eight people with Blizz-Condor, and then once you started being Blizzard North. Since, quickly you were 30, and then quickly you were 50.

MAX SCHAEFER: I think we got up to 60 something by the time we left. I think when we were bought out to become Blizzard North, we were 14 people. It grew pretty quickly. Although, by today’s standards, even having 65 people in the company is pretty small.

FLUX: Well, yeah. But, you’ve got your Runic Games now. I think you said you had 31 there.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah, yeah. We’re trying to go back to the old way. *laughter*

FLUX: Like you said last time, then you started Flagship and wanted to stay a small company. How did that go?

MAX SCHAEFER: That didn’t last very long. We made the mistake of succumbing to the temptation to make the next big, triple-A blockbuster as our first game as a new studio with new technology and new everything. It was way too much, too soon. And, as everyone knows, it collapsed fairly spectacularly.

FLUX: Yeah. I don’t want to digress on that too much. You’ve talked about that in interviews in the past.

MAX SCHAEFER: Thank you. *laughter*

FLUX: One other question about your early version of Diablo III.

MAX SCHAEFER: Sure.

FLUX: We’ve seen… the rumors were that it was set largely in heaven and that was what we saw in the leaked screenshots.

MAX SCHAEFER: That’s not what we were making at the time.

FLUX: That was my question. I was wondering if players were invading heaven or defending heaven? Was there ever going to be a chance to kick Tyrael’s ass?

MAX SCHAEFER: We were in the Irish countryside hitting wolves and regular demons at the time I was there.

FLUX: Okay, well. No wonder you recognized nothing of what they released. Obviously, a lot of changes over the next two years.

MAX SCHAEFER: Sure. After we all left, you had to have new creative people in charge. They are well served by pursuing their vision and not trying to just duplicate what we were doing. I think that’s true for the Diablo III team today. They’re doing their own vision of the game and pursuing their own sense of what it should be like. And that’s how they should be doing that.
(30:07)

FLUX: Yeah, definitely. So, one of the things we talked about last time a little bit – and I just sent you a link about it – you had a lot of Christian references… a lot of crosses and pentagrams and sort of parallels to Christian religion. You know, real existing faiths in your mythology of your Diablo games.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yes.

FLUX: Obviously, you guys planned that. It wasn’t just like, “We can’t think of something better or something different so we’re just going to slap in some crosses.”

MAX SCHAEFER: No. And it wasn’t necessarily because it’s Christianity as such. It’s just that it evokes images and ideas that people are familiar with. It’s not just a cross, it was a cathedral. It was a town that had the architecture style of what you would find in medieval Europe. There was lots of things beyond that imagery that was drawing upon real world parallels. It was just because that’s what evoked the ideas that we wanted to evoke.

FLUX: As we’ve seen recently – as I sent you the link supporting it – where Blizzard has sort of removed all of the crosses and pentagrams from Diablo and also from World of Warcraft apparently. Some of the stuff upon release has since been sort of… I would say sanitized. Their explanation is that they’re creating their own original individual world and their own mythology. Obviously, you can comment on this to whatever variety you like, but what do you think about that? I believe you said last time that you wouldn’t have done that if you were still on the project.

MAX SCHAEFER: We definitely would have not done that, because it doesn’t… the idea that it’s just because you want to have a new world that you’re creating something in just doesn’t wash. They picked out those two things because they’re controversial. We wouldn’t have done it. I don’t begrudge them their decisions. Again, they gotta pursue what they think is right with the game. But, we would not have done that.

FLUX: Okay. As I mentioned to you previously as I keep saying and should probably stop saying. You enjoyed arguments in the old days. You enjoyed getting in to it and mixing it up with people. I recall you doing some real debates about PK switch and other game issues. You used to come in our old IRC channel and just argue with pretty much any belligerent fan who wanted to step up to the plate.

MAX SCHAEFER: It was a weakness of mine. *laughter* I definitely liked to debate those things.

FLUX: You never got any boycotts. You never got any major… you guys had all these Christian symbols and the game’s called Diablo. It’s devils and monsters. But, you never got Jerry Falwell leading a crusade against your evil, youth-destroying game.

MAX SCHAEFER: No, no. I think that we were always a little bit less gruesome, a little bit less exploitative, and a little less shocking than people who are out deliberately trying to create that kind of controversy. We were trying to make a game that was really pure in what it was trying to do. There was nothing that was thrown in there to shock or anything. It was a fairly uncompromising take on the medieval dungeon crawling fantasy, though. We made it a gritty, grim world because that’s what we wanted to play a game in. That’s how we wanted it to come together. Not because we wanted to shock anybody. Having said that, we always kind of jokingly hoped that we’d be mentioned in some sort of Senate hearing or something, because you get all kinds of free publicity when that happens.

FLUX: Yeah.

MAX SCHAEFER: But, no one ever complained really about anything in those games.
(33:40)

FLUX: It seemed like you kind of slipped… it was a famous game. It was at a cultural awareness, but it was still a computer game. Dungeons and Dragons used to get protested all the time. Then, more recently, things like Harry Potter have gotten lots of protests ‘cause it’s cheating sorcery and they’re banning it from schools. But, I guess maybe because your game was fantastic enough – it wasn’t real life. It was obviously adult-rated as well. It wasn’t written for children.

MAX SCHAEFER: Right, right. I think the rating set the expectations appropriately. The size of the violence and gore on screen was really small compared to… it was kind of an era where the first-person shooters were becoming more graphic and crazy. For some reason, we just slipped by all of that.

FLUX: Alas.

MAX SCHAEFER: Still joking. I’m glad that it didn’t provoke a whole lot of controversy, because that’s all we would have talked about then. It’s more fun to talk about the game.

FLUX: Couple of other questions on a current Blizzard issue. I don’t know if you’ve been noticing, they have this 20th anniversary thing they’re doing this year. They’ve been putting up… they have a speech from the two founders who are still there. They had a 45-minute movie covering all of their game development and creation. And, there was like 9 seconds about Diablo or Blizzard North. It was all Warcraft and Starcraft and World of Warcraft. Pretty much the only thing they mentioned about Diablo or Blizzard [North] at all was… you guys had this early system in Diablo II. It was kind of a crazy claymation looking thing.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah.

FLUX: Bill Roper… other people have mentioned that a few times. That wasn’t new in that. It seemed like that’s all they mentioned on this movie.

MAX SCHAEFER: It’s a weird, bizarre, tiny, insignificant bit of trivia that I keep at… a very tiny part of what Blizzard North was. It’s a curious thing to point out.

FLUX: It seemed a little like… I guess in one way, you could say that was something that the people who are still at Blizzard Irvine had some direct input into. In them saying, “No, this is terrible.” It’s how they portrayed it anyway.

MAX SCHAEFER: Which is bullshit. They had nothing to do with it at all.

FLUX: *laughter* Okay. Not to stir up too much trouble here. You can obviously pass on the question. Obviously, you guys were a big part of what Blizzard came from and their success accompanying. And to have virtually no mention of Blizzard North or Diablo in this whole company 20th anniversary profile thing…

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah, I don’t what to say about it.
(36:18)

FLUX: Did anyone contact you at Blizzard to ask you about this?

MAX SCHAEFER: No, not at all. Not at all. And, you know, it was just a video. I don’t know how much the people who were making the video even knew about it – Blizzard North. They don’t necessarily have many people to ask about it. They don’t necessarily have a lot of pictorial stuff to put in their videos. I don’t know what went into it at all. So, I don’t… I’m going to assume there wasn’t some sort of malice there.

FLUX: A Horadric malice.

MAX SCHAEFER: *laughter* I don’t want to start a controversy. I don’t feel like…

FLUX: Oddly enough, I do want to start a controversy.

MAX SCHAEFER: Okay, so you do. *laughter* I don’t feel insulted. I don’t really care what their 20th anniversary video has in it.

FLUX: If they had asked you – you and Erich and Dave and Bill Roper, among other people – obviously you’re not all the same person. Would you have been interested in participating?

MAX SCHAEFER: Sure! Absolutely!

FLUX: You’re not bitter or glad to put it behind you?

MAX SCHAEFER: No! Not at all. I look very favorably upon our time at Blizzard.

FLUX: Well, you spent 20 minutes telling me about, so obviously you can’t be too unhappy.

MAX SCHAEFER: There was a lot things that happened, but it was a wonderful, exciting, successful run I think.

FLUX: One other sort of… segueing from your Diablo… the look and the feel and the mood and the theme… to Torchlight. It was pretty well received. Obviously, it was a very quickly produced project with a small team. You had limited goals of making it a single-player game. And, you went with a lighter, less gothic, less gory style, et cetera. You just wanted a new art direction? You weren’t actually drawing the images yourself, I don’t guess.
(38:06)

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah, I did zero art on Torchlight. I’m proud to say. We got a new art director and new technical requirements… new goals. We also didn’t want to just make Diablo again. We wanted to make something that we could do some maybe crazier backgrounds and more exaggerated things that happen on screen than when you’re doing a more realistic look. So, it’s just kind of a fun, different approach to it. I don’t think one style is right and good and others are bad. I don’t think colorful is bad and grim is good. It depends on the game you are making and what you’re trying to do with it. I think the art style we have now really fits what we’re trying to do, which is produce stuff faster, have it run on anybody’s machine, and spend more time making game than worrying about graphics’ bells and whistles.

FLUX: You may have lost about half the old Diablo fans there by saying you don’t think it needs to be graphic and gory and gruesome or something.

MAX SCHAEFER: Well, I think Diablo does! Diablo does! And, if you’re making a game like that, it has to be that way! Not all games have to be that way is what I’m saying.

FLUX: Yeah, and we talked about this previously, but nothing from the art controversy or Diablo III’s debut really influenced the look or style of Torchlight at all?

MAX SCHAEFER: Not at all. Not at all.

FLUX: You had your own thing. You saw it and were kind of curious about Diablo III, obviously.

MAX SCHAEFER: Absolutely, absolutely.

FLUX: It had nothing to do with what you’re working on today?

MAX SCHAEFER: No. I mean, not… except maybe to the extent that subconsciously that we wanted to be different. I think that if you look at Torchlight, it’s more along the lines – aesthetically and with some of the sensibilities – of Travis Baldree’s previous game Fate. So, it wasn’t a complete departure. It’s not like we did a 180 turn and went a completely different direction because of Diablo III. It was kind of the art style that people who were – the art director and lead programmer for Torchlight – were comfortable with also. It is different. We made something that was specifically made to look good in sort of low poly low tech environments. It’s a different project. There’s a lot that’s similar between Torchlight and the Diablos as far as gameplay mechanics go and just kind of look and feel. But, we did want to have a really different… it’s a different spec. We’re going for a different sort of audience, different price point, different project scope, different team size. There’s a lot that’s different there.

FLUX: Everything was different. Except for the fun, of course.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yep.

FLUX: There was one other comment. When Diablo III first debuted (the new version), Bill Roper said something to the effect of… there was sort of a Blizz[ard] North and Blizz[ard] Irvine style of art. Like the Warcraft style was more cartoonish. I don’t know. Cartoonish has become kind of an ugly word in this instance.

MAX SCHAEFER: Yes. *laughter*
(40:53)

FLUX: It’s like “gothic” for Diablo II. You can’t think of any other adjectives that are especially appropriate.

MAX SCHAEFER: That’s what we had always called it. Sort of a gothic look. Which doesn’t necessarily imply “realistic” and “gritty” like that, but that’s kind of what it’s come to mean in this context. The guys down south definitely had more… kind of established their style with Warcraft I and Warcraft II and then into World of Warcraft as being a little more cartoony. Obviously, that’s worked out pretty good for them.

FLUX: You haven’t seen every piece of art from the game, but where would you put the new version of Diablo III? Sort of in between the gothic and the cartoony? Or?

MAX SCHAEFER: I think it’s still pretty gothic. It’s a little bit more colorful than probably we would have done. But, I think… personally, I think it looks awesome!

FLUX: Have you actually seen it? Did you see it at PAX or something?

MAX SCHAEFER: Yeah, I’ve seen it at the shows. Just where they’ve publically displayed it. Yeah, I think it looks really cool.
(41:53)

FLUX: And, you guys just heard “part 1” of the interview with Max Schaefer. In that one, we talked a lot about some interesting Diablo stuff from the early days and got some new information about their first version of Diablo III. “Part 2” of this interview will be broadcast in our second podcast coming up one week from today. Possibly one week from yesterday, depending on when you listen to this. That covers about another half hour. That’s me and Max talking about his work on Torchlight I and then what they’re changing and improving for Torchlight II and a fair amount about general game development – why games take so long, why they can be made more quickly with any luck. And, I think it’s a good listen. Not just if you’re a Torchlight fan. So, come back in a week and you can hear that bit. You just listened to the Max interview, Elly. You weren’t able to take part in it, unfortunately. But you did hear what he and I had to say. What did you think?

ELLY: I thought it was a good interview. I thought it was interesting that he said about D1 (Diablo I) being peer-to-peer and how that opened it up to be a free-for-all as far as hacking was concerned. They decided to take Torchlight II down that route as well rather than client-server which would give them a little bit more control over that aspect. I wondered why that was.

FLUX: Well, I think there’s two reasons. One of them is what Max said in the interview, that they think it’ll be better. People sort of know that’s what they’re getting into and it’s more of a community thing. People are expecting it to be potentially cheated, so they’ll play with friends who they know won’t cheat them. And, if they do play with other people, maybe they’ll have some sort of thing where you can back up your characters or your account before you start playing. Just in case something bad happens. That was possible in Diablo I, but you had to know what you were doing and go into your Windows Explorer and back it up manually. And, the other reason I think you might be a little cynical about, it costs a lot of money to run a client-server system.

ELLY: Well, I accept that reason. I do. But, to say that people would just play with people that they know and people were angry about it in Diablo I because they expected it to be hack-free. So, when they played it and they found out it wasn’t, they obviously reacted to that. Because they know it’s going to be the same in Torchlight before playing it, that they won’t be so unhappy. I think that’s… I don’t accept that, actually, as a reason.

FLUX: I think I have to agree with you on that to some extent, because I think as we’ve learned from other games, no matter how much you expect there to be hacking or problems, it’s always going to be worse.

ELLY: Oh yeah. It’s never acceptable.

FLUX: Maybe Max and the guys are thinking they’ll just be a little bit of stuff and people won’t be spoofing. They talked about supporting mods and you’ll be able to see what mods someone is running when they are playing. But, it seems to me that people will pretty much immediately find ways to cheat that. It’ll say that they’re running some cool common mod, but when you join it your character gets corrupted or something.

ELLY: Absolutely.

FLUX: Obviously we hope not, but neither of us are hackers so we don’t know how it’ll be done. But…

ELLY: But, it will be.
(45:12)

FLUX: People often joke that it’s hard to go wrong predicting a release date delay for a Blizzard game. I think it’s hard to go wrong predicting that hackers will do much more and much worse things than you think they will.

ELLY: Yeah. It would be completely acceptable if he just said that it would be more expensive to not do it peer-to-peer. That’s what we’ll be doing with the MMO. I would accept that.

FLUX: As you just said, obviously the MMO is going to be a client-server with all the security measures they can manage. But, I guess they don’t feel that they have the budget for that with this… they can’t afford to support the servers forever given that it costs a lot of money to run them and it costs money to have tech support and to keep patching security problems and leaks. We’re not programmers. We don’t know, but maybe it’s just a lot more work to code the game in the first place to make it client-server, to make it hack-resistant.

ELLY: Well, I would imagine that it was – it is, rather. Sorry.

FLUX: That would probably also… their big selling point is their TorchED mod maker, which is basically their own game tool as Max explains in “part 2” of the podcast. That’s what they release to fans. There’s not really much documentation, but it’s extremely powerful. If they had a bunch of client-server protections, they’d probably have to take a lot of the teeth out of that program. And, that would make it less useful and less fun. I guess they figure the tradeoff is worth it.

ELLY: I guess they’re hoping for a lot of mods then. Or a large modding community.

FLUX: We’re getting ahead of ourselves again, but Max does say they’re pretty happy with how the mods worked in Torchlight. So, I guess we should leave that for next time.

ELLY: Okay.

FLUX: It leads us into something that I wanted to ask you about. You’re running a website now for Rift, made by Trion. People can see that at Rift.IncGamers.com. That’s a new MMO, right? It’s all client-server and protected?

ELLY: Yes, yes it is. It is protected as best you can.
(47:26)

FLUX: They’ve had some issues in the early going with the same sort of client… same sort of email impersonations and ripping off of passwords and accounts that Blizzard has always had. And, Blizzard fights that with the authenticator to a large extent in their World of Warcraft. They also have this program called Warden that goes on your machine and kind of scans to see if you’re running third-party programs. That’s been fairly controversial.

ELLY: Yeah, it has.

FLUX: Trion doesn’t have either of those, but they do have something called “coin-lock” which I think is a pretty cool feature.

ELLY: I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that roll out for WoW sometime in the future and in other MMOs – Star Wars…

FLUX: Diablo III I would imagine as well.

ELLY: It’s an IP… it’s kind of an IP checker. Once you log on to Rift…

FLUX: Maybe we should briefly explain what an IP is for people who aren’t as tech savvy. Can we do that?

ELLY: Well, go on then. *laughter*

FLUX: Okay, to explain it… this is wikipedia.org… no. *laughter* IP is your internet protocol. Everyone who connects to the internet, you get this 12 digit number basically and that lets computers know where you’re coming from. You can tell someone’s location and what their ISP is locally, et cetera. So, when you play Rift, it knows you live in wherever – New York City or London or wherever you live. It knows basically where you are and what your connection is from. If you log on from some different location… much different location, I guess, right?

ELLY: Yep.

FLUX: Then, this coin-lock thing doesn’t allow you to access most of your character functions until you authenticate it.

ELLY: Correct. It does what it says, actually. It locks down any coins. So, you can’t take money off. You can’t buy anything off your character. You can’t buy anything. You can’t bid on the auction house. You can’t remove any items from your character. You can play and you can collect items, but you can’t actually take anything off of your character. When you log on, there will be the coin-lock symbol on the middle of the screen which tells you that an email has been sent to you with a little code in it. You just paste that in and it immediately unlocks in-game. You don’t have to go out and reboot or anything. It leaves you with full access. It will add that IP that it’s registered as being one of the IPs connected to this account. If you play the game in two different locations, those two IPs will be locked onto your account and you won’t get coin-locked again.
(50:10)

FLUX: And you could, I’m sure you could edit those and delete them if you want to. If you’re not playing it at a friend’s house anymore or something.

ELLY: Well, I don’t know. No, actually. I do know. There hasn’t been anything released about getting IPs removed from your account. It hasn’t cropped up, actually.

FLUX: So, I guess if you’re playing it with your roommate and then you move out and he’s a bitter enemy and you don’t want him to get on your system and steal all of your items you need to do something about that. That’s not a real major problem, I guess.

ELLY: No, I guess you just need to go to support then, really, and get it erased.

FLUX: That sounds like a pretty useful feature. People can still try to steal your account, but what good does it do them if they can’t… unless they can also hack your email somehow. I guess they can level up for you. They can do all the content and then you’ll be unhappy because you don’t get to do the quests. But, as you said, it locks down all of the important features.

ELLY: Yeah, it does.

FLUX: It’s interesting to me. They could obviously have just made it so you couldn’t even log on unless you had your new IP allowed.

ELLY: So, if you have a delay, sometimes it takes a while for an email to… for you to receive an email. You can at least still play for ten minutes whilst the email comes through. So, there’s not that sort of frustration level of sitting there, tapping your fingers waiting for this bloomin’ email to come through. You can at least level up, you know?

FLUX: I like that idea. It’s kinda cute. I can imagine people using that as an excuse. “I can’t give you an item, now. I’m coin-locked. Sorry. I’m waiting for the email to come in.” You can be like, “Oh. Oh, the hell you are. You’re trying to cheat me.” You know? That’s neat. Like you said, I think it’s pretty likely that we’ll see that in other MMOs. In Diablo III, it seems like it would be a useful feature.

ELLY: Yes. Absolutely. It doesn’t stop hacking, of course, though – people running hacks. But, it does stop people accessing your account and stealing your “whatchamacallits”… bits.

FLUX: Yeah, your bytes.

ELLY: Your “thingies”.
(52:14)

FLUX: We don’t want that. It seems funny, too. It’s like a double security measure. Everyone who’s got an email account, whether they play World of Warcraft or not, knows that you get a lot of spam emails saying, “Oh, your account has been compromised. You have to go on and change your password.” And they’re all scams. At least it seems that way. I don’t even have a WoW account, and I get those emails every day. So, obviously, they’re pretty common out there.

ELLY: Yeah.

FLUX: Even if they got that in Rift, it wouldn’t do them any good because they couldn’t access/use any of your goodies because of the coin-lock thing. So, it makes me wonder if people will just stop trying at some point or if there’ll be some new, horrible, nefarious work-around. They’ll try to find a way to hack the IP numbers or something.

ELLY: Well, they have had some other security issues.

FLUX: I saw that. Yeah, you showed me that link… that link is on the website for the Diablo Podcast, by the way, if you want more information on this stuff. But, there was a problem with Rift early on where someone… a user found a way to hack the database, I believe?

ELLY: Yeah. It was a user that pinned it down, and actually rather than doing anything with it, he went to Trion and told them about it. And, they fixed it immediately. But, there was another one just this weekend, actually. Someone had got into the servers and was using it to spam the chat channels with adverts, I think, for platinum selling services.

FLUX: Is this in real life or in the game?

ELLY: In chat channels. In-game.

FLUX: I mean it was in-game platinum sales. It wasn’t like real life platinum. Do they have in-game Ugg boots, by the way?

ELLY: Oh, god no.

FLUX: Because, I see lots of ads for those. That would be nice. You could combine the two. Anyway.

ELLY: No.

FLUX: They fixed that loophole, I assume?

ELLY: Yes. Very quick. They are very quick to react.

FLUX: Do you know… have you heard figures how big Rift is? How many people are playing it?
(54:22)

ELLY: Initially, the day of release… they had a million accounts created. But, we haven’t had any figures since then. But, certainly, the servers are still full. High capacity.

FLUX: I saw some news on the general MMO sites about… a lot of the WoW sites… people were really unhappy about it. This is like the first MMO that is actually getting some traction it seems like. We’ve had all these big roll outs. You know, the Conan game and the Warhammer and other ones. People were afraid these were going to be the ones that would be the WoW killers. That was what they were aiming for anyway. And, they all pretty much seem to have fizzled. I’ve seen people voice complaints about… I mean, they’re not out of business. No one is making any progress towards denuding the ranks of the WoW realms, raids, and guilds.

ELLY: No. There was a lot of interest from the WoW community. Our WoW site gave away, I think, about 35,000 or 40,000 beta keys through the WoW site… alone. There certainly was a lot of interest. I don’t know how many of those people went on to buy the game.

FLUX: It’s definitely getting some traction, you know? It seems like it might be successful. Although, it’s early. It’s hard to say… if games can retain their initial surge of users is the real key.

ELLY: Although, as a user, all I can see is how busy the servers are and they’re still full. I do keep an eye on the whole server list to see… certain times of night if they’re less busy than they were, say, a month ago, and they don’t seem to be.

FLUX: Well, maybe there’s another multi-player, World of Warcraft-esque option out there for fans. Not that we’re plugging Rift too relentlessly on our Diablo Podcast here.

ELLY: No, I don’t think WoW has got anything to worry about.
(56:12)

FLUX: Yeah, well, it’s interesting… not to totally digress back into Diablo III… they’ve often said, “We don’t think that D3 will cannibalize our user base.” But, since the Max Schaefer news about the Diablo III MMO, I’ve asked a number of people – including you, Elly – if a D3 MMO had come out in ’06 or ’07 and you were playing WoW, what would have happened? Like you said, pretty much everybody said, what?

ELLY: I would move straight to Diablo.

FLUX: I’ve heard that from multiple people in the last few days. I do wonder what will happen with the Diablo III, which looks pretty good to most people.

ELLY: Well, if it was Diablo and WoW, I would have gone to Diablo ‘cause it was more dark. It was sinister. And, I prefer that over the Azeroth lore. I prefer the Sanctuary lore. It’s darker. It’s more sinister, as I say. But, we’ll have to wait to see if Diablo III’s like that.

FLUX: Yeah, it may be different, because it’s not an MMO this time. So, there’s no monthly payments. At least, not in the US and Europe to keep playing Diablo. I think Blizzard’s hope is that lots of WoW fans will try out D3 and then they’ll just keep playing WoW. Keep paying WoW, at least – if not playing. And, then people will do both and maybe go back and forth. If there’s an expansion every 18 months in one game or the other, every 9 months there’ll be an expansion in one or the other, basically. Some people will just play whichever one is more recently expanded and with new stuff. That’s probably their hope, anyway. I guess we’ll find out how it goes.

ELLY: We’ll do a vote on the site after Diablo III is out. See how many WoW players have come over.

FLUX: Yeah, that’ll be interesting. But, obviously, we have a lot of readers now who tend to hate on WoW and hate on the whole concept of cartoony, bright colors, et cetera. So… who knows how representative our sample would be? It’d be interesting to see what a WoW site would vote. “How many of you are now playing Diablo III?” or “How many of you are looking forward to Diablo III?” So, I guess that’s good enough for today and thanks you guys for listening to the first installment of our podcast! We’ll be back next week and every week after and we may actually do more often than once a week. We have a lot of volunteers who are interested in chatting and talking. And, it’ll usually be me and it’ll sometimes be Elly and lots of other people from the community. And, we’re going to be doing mostly Diablo III community stuff, but we’ve also got some other developers we’re going to be talking to in the future and give you guys some more information on that stuff. Check out the site. It’s DiabloPodcast.com and you can make comments there or you can contact us directly at [email protected] Thanks for listening!

ELLY: Bye!

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