Author: Diablo hacking fix a priority of sequel

By John Keefer, Oct 15, 2012 9:00am PDT

We are getting ever closer to the October 29 release of the full chapter of Stay Awhile and Listen, David Craddock's upcoming book on Blizzard Entertainment. But, as with every Monday, we bring you a few more tidbits and recollections from Craddock about his research. Today's installment deals with why sequels are made and while Diablo was a success, there was an ulterior motive to making Diablo 2.

"Diablo veterans doubtlessly remember the minefield that was the original game's online realm," Craddock said. "At any given moment, players could step into the game and lose their lives, gear, and ears to hackers. Many within Blizzard North and Entertainment predicted that hacking would take place because of the game's composition. Diablo was a peer-to-peer game, meaning character data was stored locally on the player's hard drive. Easy access to that data meant hackers could crack open their characters and soup up their stats and gear for unfair advantages over legit players.

"Nothing could be done to plug the tide of cheaters--nothing except create a sequel that stored character data on Blizzard's internal servers, preventing cheaters from exploiting it," he said. "In theory, any way. Blizzard North wanted to make a sequel regardless. They had a long wish list of features and ideas that hadn't made the cut in Diablo due to time and resource constraints. But once Battle.net became infested with cheaters, scrubbing out the memory of Diablo's inoperable hacking took the top spot on their wish list."

As for Diablo 2, Blizzard North took the opportunity to broaden the scope of the game.

"For Diablo 2, Blizzard North wanted to break out of the first game's vertical mode and create a larger world with lots of varied locations to explore," Craddock said. "Over time, the team hit on some drawbacks. They added the ability to run in order to explore new regions more quickly, but running meant if the going got tough, the tough could just get going. Second, many on the team missed the original game's grittier environments, which had largely been put aside in favor of grasslands, jungles, and deserts that, while beautiful, certainly couldn't be described as "gothic horror," Diablo 1's trademark theme.

"Most of the team's reservations came from an attachment to the mechanics that had made Diablo 1 so much fun, such as the slower, more strategic march through claustrophobic dungeons. Eventually, Blizzard North came to embrace Diablo 2 as its own game, one that needed to step away from the original in some ways," he said. "Creating lots of new environments gave them the opportunity to expand Diablo's world and mythology, and presented players with a change of scenery just around the time they might start to feel bored of their current region. Running left Diablo 1's emphasis on picking through dungeons carefully and methodically in the dust, but it also broadened the sequel's mainstream appeal and punched the pace up considerably."

Tease for next week: Starblo, anyone?


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.

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