Erich Schaefer on Blizzard's Canceled Sci-Fi Action-RPG

Erich Schaefer, the senior designer and story writer on the original Diablo, recently had a chat with TechRaptor, talking about a curious Blizzard Entertainment project that never got to see the light of day - a sci-fi take on the Diablo formula. Check out the article if you'd like to learn a thing or two about this so-called "Starblo" project, and here are a few sample paragraphs:

“I think we were kind of thinking [that] your ‘session’ would be basically landing on a planet,” Erich continued. “Maybe it would be 15 minutes, maybe it would be an hour.” In a sense, these smaller pieces of content would be like moving from waypoint to waypoint, and that was, in Mr. Schaefer’s estimation, part of Diablo’s success. “[The] secret of Diablo was all the staggered rewards. There were so many things that might be just coming up that makes it addictive and impossible to stop playing. We did recognize that and we probably would have tried to engineer as much as we could of that into Starblo, but I don’t think we were quite at that point other than copying a lot of Diablo II mechanics.”

My next question for Erich Schaefer was just how far the prototype of Starblo managed to get before it was canned and he had quite the surprising answer. “We had for Starblo a full set of monsters, a full of character classes. You know, not completed by any means, but the idea for them and graphics for them. We rarely used placeholder graphics.” In his estimation, it’s just a lot more fun to make the assets as they’re needed—even if they’re a bit of a waste. “I bet we had six to eight completed monsters that would have made the cut and another four or five that were either in progress or maybe would have got cut.”