Author: Diablo 2 Hardcore mode almost made it into first game

By John Keefer, Sep 03, 2012 10:30am PDT

Author David Craddock has been working on a book about Blizzard Entertainment since mid-2008. Entitled Stay Awhile and Listen, the unauthorized book talks to nearly 80 former employees, including those who used to work at Blizzard, Condor (later Blizzard North), and Silicon & Synapse (Blizzard's original name when it was founded), as well as people who had regular dealings with Blizzard head honchos Mike Morhaime and Allen Adham. Shacknews is pleased to offer a steady stream of stories from the book leading up to its release early next year and published by Digital Monument Press.

Few people know that the concept for Diablo was not formulated by Blizzard, but by Condor co-founder Dave Brevik. In 1996, Condor was purchased by Blizzard's owner at the time, Davidson & Associates, and renamed to Blizzard North about six months before Diablo hit shelves on December 31 that year.

"Brevik's goal with Diablo was to resurrect roguelike games," Craddock said. "In roguelikes, players received only one life. When their character died, their saved game was deleted and they were forced to start over. Blizzard Entertainment rejected the idea, worrying that such a harsh death penalty would alienate players. Dave fought against them, but eventually agreed with their decision. Hardcore returned in D2 as an optional mode players could enable after finishing the game once."

Craddock also said that one topic in Diablo 2's development formed a good-natured rift among the team.

"Blizzard North endeavored to switch up players' methods of restoring health and mana in D2," he said. "They tried a number of experiments: removing potions and installing auto-regeneration, and body parts that monsters would drop instead of potions. At first, players could pick up a part, like a heart, and eat it to receive health or mana. That seemed inappropriate for some characters--would the paladin, a holy warrior, really gobble up hearts?--so they tried collecting parts and transmuting them using the Horadric Cube.

"The team eventually split, with some arguing in favor of the old potion system," Craddock continued "This divided the office; those in favor of using body parts in some manner hung signs from their doors proclaiming their vote. Eventually, the team went back to the tried-and-true potion system, deciding that having to round up lots of parts to transform into potions slowed down the game."

Future stories from Craddock will include behind-the-scenes details on the Diablo games, StarCraft, the Warcraft series and World of Warcraft. Craddock and Shacknews will also bring you a week of book coverage during the week of October 29, featuring an in-depth interview with the author and a full chapter from his book.

So Stay Awhile and Listen with Shacknews through the coming weeks.

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