History of the creation of Diablo

Original author: Edge Staff
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The world of computer games is full of drama: great ideas are being cut down by crooked managers, and ideas that could not reach the title of “greats” are subjected to painful public euthanasia. That is why the birth of Diablo seems even more triumphant. From the very beginning, the guys were successful, including in the person of Stieg Hedlund, who helped them to organize the work process. Even the conversion of Condor to Blizzard North six months before the official release did not affect the continued popularity of the game.

For a complete immersion in reading and memories, I recommend including the Tristram music theme:

And now, “Let's go!”

Indeed, the game Diablo once and for all changed the way gamers think of RPG. The mix of bloody fights, a deep dungeon and collecting trophies has turned, according to Eric Schaefer, into a source of “simple pleasures”.

Simplicity is a hallmark of Diablo. “In those days, RPG games were oversaturated with statistics, so the circle of their fans narrowed sharply,” recalls Max Schaefer, Eric's brother and co-founder of Condor. “We wanted to create something similar to Dungeons & Dragons: killed a monster - got candy. It was necessary to minimize the time between the start of the game and scouring the first skeleton. "

Condor, within whose walls Diablo was born, was founded in 1993. “The three of us started — me, Eric, and Dave Brevik,” says Max. “Dave just quit Iguana Entertainment, and our first meeting was held in his house. Suddenly the phone rang and a voice on the other end of the wire offered Dave a new job. It was a representative of SunSoft who learned of his departure from Iguana Entertainment. We looked at each other and did not believe our happiness. "

By signing with SunSoft, Condor began work on the Justice League Task Force for Mega Drive. It was a Street Fighter II clone with DC Comics characters from the Justice League. The work was in full swing, when suddenly the guys were again lucky. “SunSoft was developing the SNES version of the game with another company,” laughs Max. “This“ other ”turned out to be Blizzard Entertainment. We met with her representatives at one of the game shows and immediately became friends. Blizzard while just released WarCraft and was going to closely engage in games for the PC. We wanted the same. ”

As they say, at the right time in the right place.

The new project was not long in coming. “I have been harboring the idea of ​​Diablo for several years,” says Dave Brevik, chief programmer at Condor. “The first sketches appeared in high school, and it was 1985. However, not only its design changed over time: Moria and Angband games created for Unix machines had a huge impact on Diablo. ”

“As for me, it all started with X-COM: UFO Defense,” Eric says. "Viewing angle, character size and" random "maps. Even then, I realized that all this goes well with the "underground" genre. " Soon, Condor and Blizzard signed a new contract.

“The main concept of the game has always remained unchanged: killed a monster - got candy. But this does not mean that Diablo was born in the blink of an eye. Just the opposite. At first we thought like this: the player is moving - the monster is moving. The first takes out a weapon - the second gets the opportunity to tear it into small pieces, ”says Eric. "Probably, it was an echo of Nethack or any other" bagel "from which Brevik was a fan."

However, Blizzard thought differently and suggested rewriting the game in real combat. As a result, Brevik did not leave his own office for a week. “As soon as I finished making changes, I clicked on the skeleton and my character smashed it to pieces, I saw the gates of heaven and the apostle Peter nearby. Here it is, the long-awaited magic. ”

The game gradually took shape, but the problems from this only increased. By analogy with X-COM, Diablo used randomized content, that is, partially delegated authority to design the dungeon to the central processor: the system should create playable, atmospheric and not too confusing maps. “Randomization has become a real test for us, since there were no tools for its implementation. What is the secret, you ask? In repetition. "We played and tuned the same plot over and over again."

The structure of Diablo was frankly crude, and team members often changed roles. But in general, Brevik was responsible for programming, and the Shafers were responsible for the design and feel of the game. Plus Max actually ran a business. However, team spirit still hung in the walls of Condor. For example, the guys worked together on a character management system. Movement, struggle and the search for trophies - all this had to be reduced to a few clicks of the mouse. “The right button, left button, and a couple of keys are what we aimed for,” Brevik explains.

Eric agrees: “In the developer community, grind (that is, the continuous destruction of the same monsters) is notorious. We concentrated all our attention on him. The player should get the maximum pleasure from the game, feel how the bones of each skeleton killed by him crunch. So the mouse turned into an ideal weapon. On the one hand, I had to click a lot, on the other, it allowed anyone who wanted to play Diablo, even my mother. ”

“The simpler the game, the harder it was for the developer to write it,” says Max. “One of our doctrines says that there shouldn’t be a whip in Diablo - just a carrot. Many RPG projects went awry due to the developed system of punishments: if a character does not eat, he dies, and the player gets up from the computer with a strong sense of resentment. In our case, the opposite is true: every movement brings pleasure. ”

Six months before the game was released, Condor faced financial problems. Diablo at that time was almost ready, but this did not save its creator from the inevitable closure. Help came quickly: Blizzard offered to buy the company and turn it into its branch - Blizzard North. “It was unexpected, but on time,” Eric laughs. "The tax was already on the threshold, threatening to cover our shop to hell."

“We worked perfectly together,” Brevik says. “Our ideas were very similar in many ways, so there were no difficulties in communication.”

After the takeover of Condor, the process of working on Diablo has changed dramatically. “Initially, our budget was about half a million dollars. This is not enough for the game. As part of Blizzard - no financial restrictions plus six months in stock. This opportunity could not be missed, so we headed for Battle.net. "

The Battle.net system, owned by Blizzard South, put into practice the idea of ​​a multiplayer game. “She loomed on the horizon at the very moment when we were nearing the end,” admits Max. “And, frankly, it seemed fantastic: two people in different corners of the globe can fight each other by pressing only one button. In those days, it was necessary to drive the user's IP address in order to get in touch with him. And while Diablo still worked on the peer-to-peer network, we began to record the first cases of fraud. None of us were ready for fame, millions of fans, and success in principle, so we were absolutely not ready for such frauds. "

Max admits that Battle.net is "very chaotic" in the gameplay. However, the future popularity of Diablo depended largely on it. “Our team worked in conditions of relative anonymity,” he recalls. “Therefore, when we got the opportunity to get to the Windows demo disc, there was no limit to joy. The day after the release, our phone was literally torn to pieces. It was then that we realized that we were on the verge of something new. "

Further more. Frantic demand, huge sales, the long-awaited sequel and, of course, the first clones. Competitors did not hesitate to copy every element of Diablo, trying to give their games the spirit of "devilism." At the same time, Quest Givers with exclamation marks over their heads got widespread.

After the release of Diablo II, the Shafer brothers and Dave Brevik left Blizzard. Together with Bill Roper, they founded their own company - Flagship Studio - and began to implement a new project - Hellgate: London. There were two modes in the new game: from the first and from the third person. Levels were randomly generated, and events continued to unfold in the dungeon.

Inconvenient payment system and crumpled release did not bring happiness to Hellgate: London. The project ultimately failed. “When I worked at Flagship, I learned a lot more than when I created the first part of Diablo,” Brevik laughs. “From now on, we did not have an older brother, who, in the event of which, reinsures. There were problems with the design, the withdrawal of the game on the Network, and at some point we realized that we took on too much. ”

“The Flagship had potential,” Eric agrees, “but we were not able to realize it. For the most part, I blame myself, as I was the one responsible for the design. It is bitter to realize that Bill Roper took the brunt of the blow. He stood breastfeeding for the team and each of its members. However, life goes on. ”

And indeed - soon Torchlight came into being, in the creation of which the Schaefer brothers took part. “This time it turned out much better. I think we finally found our place in life, ”laughs Max. Then he falls silent for a second and continues: “And we will not leave him.”

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