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Diablo 3 Was Originally an MMOG, Says Former Developer

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.

  • erunion
    Pretty much stuff we already knew. He left in 2005. Blizzard North was closed that same year and the original Diablo 3 died with it.
    Reply
  • leongrado
    I'm rooting for Torchlight 2! An actually fair priced game! Plus you get Torchlight one if you pre-order on steam right now!
    Reply
  • DroKing
    HURRRRYYYYYYY TL2 come out =D
    Reply
  • christarp
    So glad blizzard north didn't make Diablo 3.
    Reply
  • lashabane
    Yet at the same time, Runic Games has seen a 40-percent increase in pre-sales on Steam since Blizzard's release.
    I myself got a refund for D3 and then pre-ordered T2. I played the beta of both and can say without a doubt that my pre-order of T2 is more inline with my values than my post beta purchase of D3.

    The beta of D3 was fantastic but they should've had the world test all of their content instead of 3/4 of Act I.
    Reply
  • masterjaw
    Looking forward to Torchlight 2.

    Diablo 3 is still MMOG-like with an emphasis to the letter "O" in the sense that you have to be online all the time to play the game.
    Reply
  • SuckRaven
    Duh... I mean just look at the game play. After playing for a while, I forget that I am playing a Diablo title, and suddenly cringe when I think "oh sh*t !!!" am I playing Warcraft III? (Yes, I know Warcraft III is not a MMORPG). Nevertheless, the story-line is predictable and thus boring and not engaging at all. I did "peek" before the game was released, and I was able to peg every single major plot element. This made it feel like...damn...get to the point already, and induced no sense of mystery or surprise.

    In addition, they went way overboard with lighting effects and glows and other crap, which contributes to the Warcraft III similarities, not to mention the horrible polygonal craptacular graphics, and a somewhat clumsy inventory and stats interface. Is it just me, or does no one actually want to see the artwork of the items they find in a slightly bigger graphic? Guess they just can't re-capture the magic of the original Diablo so many years ago that I loved. I was highly anticipating this game. Bought it. Played it through once, and.... mehh.... I'm over it. Even Diablo II (at least after the LoD Expansion) has more replay value than Diablo III.

    The whole real money auction house also detracts from the "core" of what the game should be. Multiplayer is fine, but seems like everyone gets their panties all in a bunch if they don't include some sort of lame-ass attempt at including some form of social media in heir games. I understand that not everyone will use these features, but it still cheapens the essence of what a lot of people thought the game would be.

    Oh yeah...then there is the whole "always connected/authentication" nonsense, even for single player.

    In short, it does not surprise me one bit that Diablo III was initially conceived as, and perhaps even started development as a MMOG.
    Reply
  • SuckRaven
    Duh... I mean just look at the game play. After playing for a while, I forget that I am playing a Diablo title, and suddenly cringe when I think "oh sh*t !!!" am I playing Warcraft III? (Yes, I know Warcraft III is not a MMORPG). Nevertheless, the story-line is predictable and thus boring and not engaging at all. I did not "peek" before the game was released, and I was able to peg every single major plot element. This made it feel like...damn...get to the point already, and induced no sense of mystery or surprise.

    In addition, they went way overboard with lighting effects and glows and other crap, which contributes to the Warcraft III similarities, not to mention the horrible polygonal craptacular graphics, and a somewhat clumsy inventory and stats interface. Is it just me, or does no one actually want to see the artwork of the items they find in a slightly bigger graphic? Guess they just can't re-capture the magic of the original Diablo so many years ago that I loved. I was highly anticipating this game. Bought it. Played it through once, and.... mehh.... I'm over it. Even Diablo II (at least after the LoD Expansion) has more replay value than Diablo III.

    The whole real money auction house also detracts from the "core" of what the game should be. Multiplayer is fine, but seems like everyone gets their panties all in a bunch if they don't include some sort of lame-ass attempt at including some form of social media in heir games. I understand that not everyone will use these features, but it still cheapens the essence of what a lot of people thought the game would be.

    Oh yeah...then there is the whole "always connected/authentication" nonsense, even for single player.

    In short, it does not surprise me one bit that Diablo III was initially conceived as, and perhaps even started development as a MMOG.
    Reply
  • Tochlight 2
    Grim Dawn
    Path of Exile

    these are the last hope for the RPG market. and i pre ordered all of them ^^. highly recommend for any hack and slash fan to check these three titles out.
    Reply
  • memadmax
    Aye Play STO....
    =P
    Reply