In a recent interview, Max Schaefer, CEO of Runic Games, talked about his time working at Blizzard and his experience developing Diablo 3. He admitted that the team originally set out to create the Diablo version of World of Warcraft. He also said the release of the final product actually helped the pre-sales of his current game, Torchlight 2.
"When I was working at Blizzard a million years ago, we were working on Diablo 3 and it was an MMO," he said. "We were going to do the Diablo version of World of Warcraft. Blizzard obviously changed that pretty quickly, so we left to start Flagship Studios and we brought in a lot of the guys, so they rebooted with their own team."
He added that the game changed back to an isometric hack-n-slash presentation once Blizzard hired on the new team. "They had different design priorities and goals than we did. Again I totally approve of that," he said.
Naturally the interview focused on his upcoming game, Torchlight 2. So far it's slated for a "late summer" release, but he was unable to pin down anything more specific. What the team didn't want to do was release the action-RPG the same time Blizzard unleashed Diablo 3. Yet at the same time, Runic Games has seen a 40-percent increase in pre-sales on Steam since Blizzard's release.
"It’s a subject of debate within the studio and our partners but I think it actually helps us," he said, regarding Diablo 3's release. "I think when someone like Blizzard comes out with something like Diablo 3 -- where they’re doing TV commercials on ESPN, real mass market stuff -- they’re bringing in millions of new gamers into the gaming community, and that makes our audience bigger. They’re bringing in lots of people into this genre, and people are becoming aware of what we’re doing through them. We’re kind of piggybacking on their marketing."
As for the rocky Diablo 3 launch, Schaefer knew there would be trouble. After all, it happened to Diablo 2, it happened to World of Warcraft and it happened to Starcraft.
"You cannot test and prepare for that many millions of people pounding on your stuff on day one," he said. "It didn’t surprise us at all. Obviously they were trying to prepare for it, they’re not dumb guys at all. It’s just impossible to prepare for that [much traffic]. We were actually relieved that the game didn’t suck. It’s a good game, and we want our genre to be hot."
To read the full interview, head here.