The always-online concept was tossed around back in the time of Warcraft 3. Blizzard wanted to come up with a way that players could not cheat.
"The decision to store critical game data on internal servers rather than players' hard drives was an idea Blizzard had toyed with during spitball sessions for WarCraft 3," Craddock said. "The team lead wanted to do something a little different, so he came up with a design entitled Heroes of Warcraft, a RPG/RTS hybrid where players controlled a hero who had special abilities, and a small squad of companions. The game would eschew economics and base-building in favor of pitting squads against each other in tactical combat.
"The Heroes of Warcraft model provided the project's lead developer the opportunity to attempt creating a cheat-proof game: because players would control no more than 10 to 12 units each, Blizzard could store all critical data on its servers. Without direct access to that data, players could not hack the game to give themselves advantages over other players. Ultimately, the team decided that a squad-based game with no resources or base-building strayed too far from the series' beaten path. They decided to return to WarCraft's 'gather resources, build bases, crush enemies' roots, and threw heroes into the mix to change things up a bit."
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.
The Diablo ending cinematic was not Blizzard North's idea.