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

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). Shacknews is pleased to offer a steady stream of stories from the book leading up to its release early next year.

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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.

Think of all the potions that could have been made from these body parts.

"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.
Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
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    September 3, 2012 10:30 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Author: Diablo 2 Hardcore mode almost made it into first game.

    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). Shacknews is pleased to offer a steady stream of stories from the book leading up to its release early next year.

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      September 3, 2012 10:53 AM

      Alternate screenshot caption: "OM NOM NOM NOM"

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        September 3, 2012 11:29 AM

        Thanks for this exclusive, David. This project should be fun over the next several months.

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      September 3, 2012 11:02 AM

      This is relevant to my interests.

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      September 3, 2012 11:05 AM

      That would have been pretty cool and would have fit the whole "roguelike" theme of Diablo 1.

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        September 3, 2012 12:59 PM

        I would have tried it out as a mode, but as the ONLY way to play? Scary. Someone else would have to have been passionate enough about Diablo to write a book about it!

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      September 3, 2012 11:36 AM

      I really miss playing Diablo 2 but I can't stand the low end graphics :(

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        September 3, 2012 11:41 AM

        graphics don't bother me. just the stupid defense = 0 when running. walk speed is horrendously slow

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        September 3, 2012 1:29 PM


        Really? That's like saying I couldn't enjoy super Mario bros because of the primitive 8-bits.

        The game has style and atmosphere, great sound effects and music that brings it all together. I question your love of Diablo 2 in the first place.

        I want a touch and move 3d version of Diablo2 on my 3ds...

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      September 3, 2012 11:44 AM

      Imagine hardcore mode with diablo 1 player killing whoo

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      September 3, 2012 11:55 AM

      It'd go a long way for me if they replaced D3's item drop system with D2's.

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        September 3, 2012 12:00 PM

        I'd like to see the old rune and charm system make a comeback in some way.

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      September 3, 2012 11:59 AM

      Haha, imagine if Hardcore was the standard. Would it have been as popular?

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        September 3, 2012 12:27 PM

        That's a good question and a tough one to answer. I lean toward probably not, though. The game was punishing enough during later levels, but a one-life game would have been too far out of the grasp of the mainstream audience Blizzard has always sought to entice.

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          September 3, 2012 3:23 PM

          Yeah, it has been so long since I played through Diablo I that I honestly didn't remember some of the nastiness that was the end-game. I feel like The Butcher would have been the real end-game for many, many people.

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        September 3, 2012 7:00 PM

        of course it wouldnt have.

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      September 3, 2012 12:05 PM

      David, how'd you get the material for this book? Just persistence or some unique contacts?

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        September 3, 2012 12:17 PM

        A little bitta both. I moved to the Bay Area in '07 and started doing some freelance writing. I pitched an article on how stereoscopic graphics might be used in games to Official Xbox Mag; they liked the idea so I started searching for contacts to interview. My uncle ran a PC-game start-up at the time and put me in contact with two artists who worked there: Kelly Johnson and Eric Sexton of Diablo 1-2 fame.

        Eric and I hit it off; we started getting together to chat and play games. During one gaming session, I thought it might be fun to see if he could round up some old workmates and play Diablo 2 with me. Then a light bulb went off: maybe he could put me in touch with them so I could interview them for a book about Blizzard North and Diablo, a story that had never been told in full. There are editorials on Blizzard North and "South" out there, but many of them contain false information. I figured I could tell the tale and set the record straight.

        Eric and Kelly jumped aboard, and my uncle gave me Dave Brevik's phone number. I cold-called him one night during dinner time. I blurted out something like, "Hey your name's Dave mine too ha ha I'm writing a book on Blizzard and Diablo could I interview you sometime?" He said, "Uh... sure."

        Things snowballed from there. :)

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      September 3, 2012 2:44 PM

      Looking forward to this David. :)

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        September 3, 2012 3:17 PM

        Thanks, man! I follow your game reviews, so perhaps we can discuss getting you an advance copy of the book when it's ready.

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      September 3, 2012 2:59 PM

      Great idea to put previews for the book here! Can't wait for more articles (and the book when it's done).

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        September 3, 2012 3:35 PM

        Thanks! I think you'll enjoy the coverage Shack has planned, and the final product, of course.

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      September 3, 2012 3:02 PM

      Tell me more about the book... is it going to be print, or digital?

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        September 3, 2012 3:17 PM

        Glad you asked! We're releasing on Kindle, Nook, and iBooks platforms. We hope to release a print version of the book, but that will depend on the success of the e-version.

        Check out more stuff here: http://dm-press.com/faqs.php

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          September 3, 2012 3:20 PM

          Sorry to derail, but I can't help but read links like this as fags.php

          Shack has broken me. :(

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          September 3, 2012 8:15 PM

          Loved reading your blurbs at GoG. Can't wait to see what you were able to discover on this adventure. Thanks for putting in the time to do this.

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            September 3, 2012 8:25 PM

            Blurbs? He wrote whole articles on the King's Quest series. They owned.

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              September 3, 2012 8:40 PM

              calm down there tofu pirate. in no way was I being demeaning to his work, but in fact complimenting him on work well done. I've thanked him before this post as well. it was always nice to see a couple paragraphs written by David on the store page for a product. regardless if he wrote a full blown article or a paragraph. I used blurbs as a way to encompass the entirety of his work at GoG, that's it.

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                September 3, 2012 9:44 PM

                Compliment taken as intended. :) Many thanks to you both for the kind words.

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          September 4, 2012 3:31 AM

          50 Shades of Gray got it's start like this. Does your book appeal to the female audience in a similar fashion? :D

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        September 3, 2012 4:02 PM

        We plan on doing a feature down the road a bit where we will interview David and he can tell you all about the book, how it started, etc.

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          September 3, 2012 7:02 PM

          Please be sure to ask him about the Chronicles of Craddock

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            September 3, 2012 7:08 PM

            The Raddicles of Raddock?

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            September 3, 2012 7:29 PM

            Haha, first I've heard of that in a long time. :)

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              September 3, 2012 8:11 PM

              And the Chronicles of Craddock are ... ?

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                September 3, 2012 9:51 PM

                Back when I wrote (briefly) for IGN, my editor suggested Chronicles of Craddock for my blog's name. A reader Photoshopped a Bioshock graphic for the blog's "Craddock" banner, which displayed my name in a font from the game.

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      September 3, 2012 9:56 PM

      Last sentence makes no sense fyi

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      September 3, 2012 9:58 PM

      David please tell me you have an exclusive collector edition that has the Blizzard North Diablo 3 Alpha as a bonus pack in :(

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      September 4, 2012 12:45 AM

      super cool, looking forward to it!

      Congrats on the upcoming book, David

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      September 4, 2012 2:04 AM

      That's great, but I prefer starcraft.

      I'm interested in why the gape between 1 & 2 are so long, the original team's all but moved on. SC2's just a shadow of the original in terms of quality.

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        September 4, 2012 3:38 AM

        The proposed units for HoTS (at least some of them) are proper, proper dumb. Like .... bottom of the barrel second party RTS from some dodgy game company. It's incredible just how bad the warhound actually seems to be designed overall. I hope I'm wrong but the stats are out for it, movies of it are out. Developers have told us how it works, it's just a very lame supreme commander looking unit.

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          September 4, 2012 4:00 AM

          Eh! I couldn't spell in my last post.

          They're actually trying to put back some of the Broodwar elements they took out of sc2 with HOTS. The problem however is the same as with sc2 - they're taking from pop culture (transformers the movie), and bad pop culture at that. I agree completely. Units like Dragoon and Reaver made the original's design such an outstanding game. Come SC2 suddenly it's all regurgitated facsimiles like the war of the world or transformers.

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            September 4, 2012 4:01 AM

            Agreed, the reaver is a really amazing unit which requires some serious work to manage. The colossus, while cool looking as fuck is a very easy unit and the warhound.. holy fucking shit, I think derp covers it.

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      September 4, 2012 8:34 AM

      I see another AMA in the future...

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        September 4, 2012 8:35 AM

        I would like to do one at some point.

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          September 4, 2012 10:04 AM

          you heard it here first! Thanks, David.

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            September 7, 2012 8:28 AM

            We should do the AMA on Shack as a thread off one of the stories.

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      October 13, 2012 11:24 AM

      "Few people know that the concept for Diablo was not formulated by Blizzard, but by Condor co-founder Dave Brevik."

      Diablo would have been a turn based RPG instead of an Action RPG had it not been for Allen Adham and Blizzard "South".