Author: Blizzard wanted a Diablo for handhelds

The Stay Awhile and Listen series continues with author David Craddock as we lead up to the October 29 reveal of a chapter from his upcoming book. Today's stories revolve around a possible second expansion for Diablo 2 and a Diablo game for handhelds. "Following Diablo 2's release, Blizzard North split into two teams ... kind of," Craddock said. "One team immediately started in on D2's expansion set, Lord of Destruction. The other team went into spitball mode, kicking around ideas for a new IP. But several other developers ventured into groups of two or three and put together proposals for smaller projects. One of those was given the working title Diablo Junior, a game tentatively planned for the Game Boy Color and/or the Game Boy Advance, depending on market share and other business-y factors. "Diablo Junior was intended as a single-player-only prequel to the original game. Taking a page from Pokémon's book, the team wanted to release three cartridges, each packing a different hero in the warrior-rogue-sorcerer vein as well as items that players would have to trade for in order to collect. Heroes started in a unique town before heading into dungeons and wilderness zones. Diablo Junior was ultimately put out to pasture (absent of cow levels, I'm sure) because of the steep production costs associated with developing handheld games." After Lord of Destruction, thoughts of a second expansion were kicked around.

Lord of Destruction was the only Diablo 2 expansion. That almost wasn't the case.

"Immediately after finishing Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction, the expansion team considered tucking in on another add-on," Craddock said. "Whereas Lord of Destruction added new character classes and a fifth chapter to the story, the second expansion would have focused more on expanding D2's multiplayer features. Background artist David Glenn built guildhalls for groups of players who wanted to start their own clans. They could meet up in the guildhall, organize experience runs or quests, and head into the field from there. "One cool guildhall feature was the Stieg Stone, a stone named after designer Stieg Hedlund where guild members could deposit money. At certain increments, they would unlock new guildhall rooms and various accoutrements for their guild's pad. After a few brainstorming sessions, the team decided not to follow through on the expansion. Diablo 2 had run its course; it was time to build Diablo 3. "Did I mention David Brevik also put together proposals for two new character classes? No? Must have slipped my mind."
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.