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David Brevik, Erich Schaefer and Max Schaefer, who, as Blizzard North, developed the two original Diablo games, were attending this year's ExileCon event. There, they had an extended chat with a PC Gamer representative about the trajectory of the Diablo series and the current state of Blizzard Entertainment. The resulting interview touches on a lot of interesting topics, including some cut Diablo content, Diablo IV reveal impressions and how some of the things it attempts were initially planned for Diablo II, and much more.
Here's an excerpt:
What about the direction Blizzard is going with multiplayer? Diablo 4 seems a lot like an MMO. David, you did it with Marvel Heroes, Max, you're doing it Torchlight Frontiers. Is MMO-fying action RPGs the future of the genre?
DB: That was the original design for Diablo 2. We were going to have a Battle.net town, it was part of the Battle.net thing. You never left the world, you were never in a chat room. It was one of the things we were trying to do and we ended up running out of time.
So that's where the Battle.net chat system had to fill in?
DB: Right, we just had Battle.net channels and things like that. But we were going to basically make those in the game, so you're still kind of in a chat channel but it was in the world you were in with, like, 25 other people in an instanced to town. That was the original design that we wanted to do but never got around to it. So then with Diablo 3 we were like, we're going to go full MMO-style ARPG and that was originally what we started working on. And then we left and [Blizzard] redid the whole design.
I actually didn't know that you guys were working on a Diablo 3 before you left.
MS: It was maybe about 12 months. It was really early. It almost didn't look like anything yet.
DB: We had to make a new engine. It was our first 3D game.
MS: New engine, new everything. We had concepts. We made some sample levels, but it wasn't fully formed enough that it would have resembled its final form. It was like we were just getting stuff in and working and running around.