Author: Blizzard North almost had a sports division

In last week's chat with author David Craddock about his upcoming book, Stay Awhile and Listen, about the behind-the-scenes look at Blizzard Entertainment, we learned that hardcore mode almost made it into the original Diablo. This week, we turn back the clock a bit further to find out a bit about Condor, the company co-founded by Dave Brevik and Max and Erich Schaefer. Condor had published three games after it was formed in 1993. Two of those games were sports games, NFL Quarterback Club '95 and NFL Quarterback Club '96.

A 3DO M2 prototype

"Through a publishing contact Max and Erich had met earlier on, the Condor founders signed a deal with 3DO to create a football game for the M2, an add-on for the 3DO console that never materialized," Craddock said. "The lucrative deal was just what Dave Brevik and the Schaefers needed to continue funding Diablo--then a turn-based game--and hire on more programmers and artists. The football game was an arcade-style romp, much like NFL Blitz. Around the time Davidson & Associates acquired Condor, 3DO abandoned the M2 and sold off the technology, putting the football game out to pasture." When acquisition talks were under way in 1996 with Davidson, a surprise suitor for Condor materialized. "During negotiations, Trip Hawkins of 3DO made a pitch to acquire the company," Craddock said. "Condor and 3DO had already established a relationship working on the football game for the M2, but Condor turned down the offer because Hawkins wanted to fold Condor into 3DO, and Condor wanted autonomy." After Diablo was released, Condor, now known as Blizzard North, was trying to decide on its next project. "Many of the guys at North were sports fans, especially Dave Brevik and the Schaefers," Craddock said. "After Diablo was finished, the guys talked to Blizzard about starting a sports game division. The south branch thought they intended to create arcade-style titles in the vein of Blood Bowl, a fantasy football board game, but Dave wanted to do a simulation-style football game, an RPG-like experience where players started out in high school and worked their way into the pros. But both Blizzard North and South agreed that North should focus on Diablo, and work on a sequel began."

Diablo 2 almost had a smaller team working on the game.

Craddock said that Diablo 2 would have happened anyway, but that the sports division would have been a small slice of Blizzard North, not the full company. One team would have worked on Diablo while a smaller unit would have made sports games. 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.
Author David Craddock has been working on his 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 each Monday leading up to October 29. The book launches early next year. and will be published by Digital Monument Press.