Pub­lisher Bliz­zard En­ter­tain­ment (US), Sierra En­ter­tain­ment (EU) De­vel­oper Bliz­zard North For­mat PC Re­lease 2000


“Af­ter Di­ablo, we were in a rush to make Di­ablo II, but we were a lit­tle burnt out. My sec­ond child was born three days af­ter Di­ablo launched, and that last six months of putting in the net­work­ing code and all that, then de­lay­ing it and miss­ing Christ­mas – which was a big deal – was a stress­ful time. We thought we’d missed our chance, and we didn’t know if it was go­ing to sell. We hoped we’d sell 50,000 copies. Then we’d be golden. But it did all right in the end [laughs]. We didn’t know if we want to go through it again, but a few months af­ter the launch, we found a bunch of stuff we wanted to fix.

By this point, the cheat­ing was ram­pant, so I re­ally wanted to make a se­cure ver­sion. I was sick of walk­ing around town; I wanted to be able to run. And ev­ery­body keeps talk­ing about this hid­den cow level, so let’s put one of those in! We kind of started to get ex­cited about the idea of do­ing this project. And some of the other ideas we had just weren’t fleshed out enough, so we de­cided to go back and make a se­quel.

We re­did so much of the tech­nol­ogy. There was a big de­bate whether to make it 3D or not, be­cause 3D games were just emerg­ing. In the end, we de­cided not to make it 3D, and we also de­cided not to make it 24bit colour and just stick with 8bit colour be­cause of speed. One of the guys down south, Mike O’Brien, who later went on to found Are­naNet, made this pal­ette-op­ti­mis­ing pro­gram that al­lowed us to make it look like 24bit even though it only had 256 colours.

De­vel­op­ment started re­ally well, and we knew it was go­ing to be a great game. We had a lot of sup­port, and things were eas­ier on the com­pany in gen­eral, be­cause we had Star­Craft, War­craft, War­craft II and Di­ablo out there – we had three years to work on the game and it felt like we could take our time. About six to seven months be­fore the end, we thought, ‘Wow, we’ve got a lot left to do. We still haven’t fin­ished act three, and we have an­other act af­ter that. We should prob­a­bly start crunch­ing…’ And so we started work­ing pretty much ev­ery day, av­er­ag­ing maybe 14-hour days.

When you’re that close to some­thing, you can’t see how far you have to go, and about a month be­fore we thought it would be done – we were aim­ing for Thanks­giv­ing – they said, ‘You’re not go­ing to make it.’ We were like, ‘No, no, we’re go­ing to make it, we swear!’ As we got closer, we re­alised that wasn’t the case and aimed for Fe­bru­ary in­stead, and kept the crunch go­ing all the way through. Then Fe­bru­ary wasn’t hap­pen­ing, and it kept go­ing all the way to May. So dur­ing that pe­riod of time, I ba­si­cally crunched for an en­tire year, with three days off.

Then Di­ablo II came out, and it was not su­per well re­ceived. There were a lot of prob­lems: there were tech­ni­cal prob­lems, server prob­lems, dup­ing prob­lems – all th­ese things that peo­ple found, be­cause thou­sands of peo­ple find bugs a lot faster than a cou­ple hun­dred. We scram­bled even though we were ex­hausted and burnt out, and it was a night­mare. Things eased up a bit af­ter that and we were able to fix some of the bugs and what­not, and then start on the ex­pan­sion. Af­ter the ex­pan­sion, which fixed a lot of things, it was in good enough shape that we could start putting in a lot of im­por­tant ad­di­tions. Af­ter the 1.10 patch, which was re­leased a year later, that’s re­ally when Di­ablo II be­came what

Di­ablo II is to­day. Peo­ple don’t re­alise that it took two years af­ter Di­ablo II was re­leased to make Di­ablo II.

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