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Ask Author David Craddock About the Development of Diablo, Warcraft 109

The original Warcraft and Diablo games hold a special status in the hearts of many gamers. Each game brought its genre into focus, and their success elevated the status of Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North to the point that further games are still hotly anticipated more than 15 years later. In an effort to discover and document that part of gaming history, author David L. Craddock conducted extensive interviews with early Blizzard developers. His intent was to investigate how both of the Blizzard studios succeeded at breaking into a saturated and competitive industry, and how their design process influenced both their acclaimed releases and the projects they discarded along the way. He's writing a series of books about the history of Blizzard, titled Stay Awhile and Listen. The first is due out on October 31st, and David has agreed to answer your questions about his investigation into those early games. David will be joined by Blizzard North co-founders David Brevik and Max Schaefer. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
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Ask Author David Craddock About the Development of Diablo, Warcraft

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  • I'd love to ask a question, if only I knew one to ask!
  • Lost Vikings? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @04:26PM (#45063313) Journal

    Can we get another Lost Vikings game?

  • If there is one thing you could go back and change in any of Blizzard's games, what would it be?
  • at the time the original warcraft came out PC's cost $2500 to $3000 or more for a decent gaming model. Figure $5000 in today's dollars

    the people buying them wanted something more than today's brainless run through a maze and shoot continuously at everything that moves experience

    • Warcraft came out in 1994. At the time there was no such thing as a "gaming computer". If it had a sound card and cd-rom they called it a multimedia PC. Gaming video cards did not exist yet. You bought a video card based on maximum desktop resolution, for example a 2 megabyte card ran a higher resolution than a 512kb or 1 megabyte. The first gaming video card, the 50mhz 4 megabyte Voodoo, came out in 1996. But even then the Voodoo was rare and very expensive (hundreds of dollars) so most games ran fin
      • by Hatta ( 162192 )

        There were definitely gaming cards in the 486 era. A VLB video card will run DOOM faster than an ISA card. A Tseng ET4000 will run DOOM faster than a crappy Trident.

        • by vux984 ( 928602 )

          There were definitely gaming cards in the 486 era. A VLB video card will run DOOM faster than an ISA card. A Tseng ET4000 will run DOOM faster than a crappy Trident.

          Not in 1994. That didn't exist yet as a thing.

          If you wanted a computer for games the main requirement was a fast cpu, and a soundblaster and well that's it. Take a look at the system req's of the big games of that era:

          Privateer - 386DX - 33, 256 color VGA, sound blaster, 2x cd-rom (although there was a floppy disk based version iirc)

          Doom II - 38

    • by Toad-san ( 64810 )

      "the people buying them wanted something more than today's brainless run through a maze and shoot continuously at everything that moves experience"

      Sorry, but I don't play the game that way at all. It's been about five years now, I guess, and I still enjoy questing, exploring, farming to get the gold to advance my characters, etc. I like the way things have changed so you can pretty much solo most things (questing and exploring anyway).

      And I like very much that you don't have to spend real world money for

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      the people buying them wanted something more than today's brainless run through a maze and shoot continuously at everything that moves experience

      I think you mean "something more than todays brainless rundown a hallway and shoot at everything that moves, unless it's a cutscne.

      A good key-maze FPS with constant shooting would be a breath of fresh air today.

  • Speed vs. Strategy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ScottCooperDotNet ( 929575 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @04:29PM (#45063357)

    How did you determine the best game speed for WarCraft? Do you feel the increased speed in the sequels detracts from the strategy element?

    • I really like that question!

      My question would be: WC3 introduced heros and creep camps that encouraged roaming around outside the base. SC2 remained pure units (no heros). Do you think that blizzard may resurrect the hero/creep style in the future?
  • by sixsixtysix ( 1110135 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @04:39PM (#45063451)
    Will there ever be a fully 3D Diablo? I was hoping for that when III was announced, but it was just more of the same.
    • I'm not sure what you want. The rendering engine was 3d. There was a z axis. Do you want to have 3 degrees of freedom of movement? Because that is a UI nightmare, and blizzard is a company built on slick polish.

      (No amount of polish will make up for always-online.)

      • i was hoping for a wow-looking interface but in the diablo world.
      • Maybe he wants World of Diablo, a game with the WoW interface and a Diablo storyline.

    • I was surprised about that too. Didn't Blizzard developers ever check out any of the Snowblind engine games which DO have that feature?

    • Oooh ooh with Oculus Rift compatibility too!
    • I remember reading many years ago when Diablo 2 was in development that they experimented with the idea but didn't like how the gameplay turned out.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If click click click yo click click click were click click click designing click click click Diablo click click click today click click click would click click click you click click click still click click click make click click click it click click click such click click click a click click click click-fest?

    click click click click click click click click click click click click

  • Since it was announced that Diablo III would be ported (and has been ported) to consoles, has there been discussion as to whether WoW would/could be ported as well?
    • You cannot port WoW to a console. You could use some of the assets to make a pretty much completely different game, but MMORPG are not controller friendly, unless specifically designed from the ground up to be (and even then...).

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        Yay Slashdot. the land of "if I can't think of it, that's proof it's impossible". There's nothing that would keep a MMORPG from being on a console. I've played one. One of the superhero games was on the PS3 (DCUO). So you are factually wrong, so why should we listen to your opinion based on provably false facts?

        "I wouldn't play one, and I can't (in my limited mind) imagine it being a success." Isn't the same as saying it can't be done.
        • yes you could port wow, but I think what the OP was referring to is it would require massive reengineering of the controls and system interaction as it is heavily designed around having a mouse and keyboard as well as the ability to have mods and macros. I have not played wow for 2 years, but when I did my keyboard had 60+ keybinds as well as complete sets of macros for the various classes.
          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            Play Diablo III on a PC and play it on a console and let me know whether it plays ok. It's another one that "could never work on a console". So, play it and let us know. It's one that is even done by the same people that would be porting WoW, if it were to happen.
            • Not sure where you heard diablo 3 was a title that could never work on a console. The whole game is perfectly suited to the console, it is basically a glorified arcade game even on the PC.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Were you inspired by earlier computer games like Rouge and NetHack? What elements of these games did you feel were fun and why, and how did that influence your design choices? Recasting the question, what elements didn't work or were tedious?

  • Obfuscation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by r_naked ( 150044 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @05:00PM (#45063697) Homepage

    As a developer of one of the WoW emulators, I am curious if Blizzard made a conscious decision to randomize the opcodes used by WoW (and the many other protections that were put in place). Up until the Cataclysm expansion, there was no real protection against reverse engineering the WoW client. As of Cata, blizz seems to have gone out of their way to prevent any emulation of WoW. Cata, and MoP take a lot of work, but we will still be able to provide decent emulation *eventually*. Also, why hasn't Blizzard removed GRUNT? That would completely eliminate ALL emulation of WoW as has yet to be broken.

    -- Brian

  • if you were to remake WoW, how would you incorporate micropayments in a way that preserved the gameplay?

    • Do you mean like having to pay for a room in the inn every time you want to log out your character?

      Or pay the taxi per mile rate when you take a flightpath?

      Taxes on purchases from vendors perhaps? Or even better on loot drops!

      Billboards on the streets of Org/Stormwind?

      The possibilities are endless!

      • taxes are a good option actually. It's seamless in that it doesn't add an additional barrier. also, increasing the gold farming etc, then taking a cut of that too. income taxes! i like it.

    • by Clsid ( 564627 )

      Jesus, no micropayments for WoW, that would ruin the game. We have enough with the gold sellers already.

  • Did you know it took 631 spear chucks from a single Orc spear chucker to destroy the human castle at the end of a level?

  • I'm curious as to what was the motivation behind over simplifying nearly every aspect of the game World of Warcarft. I believe WoW is losing subscribers so it seems at some point the balance between RPG technicality and an arcade game was perhaps slanted too much towards being an arcade like game to me that enough interest was removed from what made it popular to begin with. I remember spending time devising the best spec, which had profound impact on the play style and numbers, this seemed to be replace
    • I think a big part that people overlook when talking about the simplification of WoW, is that WoW was always going for the simplification of MMOs. If you look back what pre-dated WoW (EQ, DAoC, UO), WoW took the basic game and simplified and polished it dramatically, big EQ fans complained back then that WoW was dumbing down the MMO genre which arguably they did. The trend of gaming in general wanted less time sinks and greater accessibility. WoW didn't only recently start "catering to the casuals" Th

      • The only problem with this argument is that if they were truly trying to simplify WoW, they would make it so you don't need so man f'ing buttons to play your character.

        Yeah, yeah, boring, noob mode, etc., but as I get older, and my carpal tunnel gets worse and worse, I wouldn't mind some abilities simplification (moreso than has already been done).

        Also, as a person who plays primarily a healer, PLEASE for f's sake, less cc in PvP (hence less trinket/button tracking; see above).

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @05:31PM (#45063989)
    I'm a lifetime and thoroughly addicted gamer, starting when my dad hoisted me up to PacMan when I was 3. If you combine all my time coding, playing games, and designing, I'm probably in the tiptop of developers. The problem is that even though I've coded heavily since I was 12 and been seeking since I was 16, I have only ever gotten one video game developer interview in 20 years!(just this past week)

    What is the secret to getting a starter job in the video game developing industry? I've been doing indie stuff since 1992 when I was trying to write a MMORPG. The key is that I attempt large scale projects that normally take dozens of programmers, and then I couldn't find artists to contribute when my code was pushed forward.

    To me, it seems like Indie is the only way to go if you're passionate about games anymore since there are not too many game development houses, and the competition is fierce.

    Is there some secret to breaking into the gaming industry if that is all you've done your entire life? Or should we all resolve ourselves to doing Indie titles and starting our own companies? I mean I do have 15+ artists working with me on my current project due to cracking the code on revshare, but I'd rather have a steady paycheck and a higher mountain of source code for better games.
    • PS: I tried applying to Blizzard, and almost got a WOW game designer interview, but HR got switched and they never even gave me a phone interview.

      I have a lot of Blizzard props as a gamer, got #1 on ladder in SC/BW, Diablo2(hardcore), and Warcraft3 1v1,2v2,3v3 and first to 1500 wins in Warcraft3.

      I never picked up Starcraft2 seriously because I'm busy writing flash games now.
    • This a problem that I have had too.
      Make a simple game that you can actually complete in a short amount of time, and polish the crap out of it. Be able to finish it.
      A well put together Zelda clone with a new tactic, a town, one random dungeon and a webpage with downloads will be a lot more impressive to prospective employer than an MMO that will require thousands of hours of artist's time.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Don't do it man. Really, if you love games don't try to become a games industry programmer. These days it's not much fun. You mostly spend your time working with tools and frameworks written by other people, doing boring game logic or writing more tools. You have zero creative input, they have game designers and directors for that.

      If you are passionate about it maybe come up with a realistic plan and try Kickstarter.

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Monday October 07, 2013 @05:43PM (#45064081)

    Having seen games evolve in positive ways, it seems that gaming has either gone one of two paths:

    The first path is the console game. The game is usually a late beta, so requires patching. Then, for content, unlike in the past where expansions were as good as the original game, one is inundated with DLC purchases they have to make. Want to play an orc? That's 9.99. Want the rocket gun? That's another ten-spot. Want another level? $29.95 please. So, to play a game that was released to the fullest, it can easily be hundreds of dollars for gameplay that on earlier games, came with the game.

    The second path is free to play, play to win games. Yes, one might be able to get a canoe to play for a pirate's game, but if one actually wants to advance, they will have to spend hundreds to purchase a decent ship, not to mention cannons, and so on.

    These two paths seem to be what 99.9% of the gaming industry seems to be going. Games tend to be cookie-cutter.

    I tend to bag on WoW, but even though WoW is a MMO, Blizzard does a great job with expansions, providing not just endgame stuff, but additional things to do 1-cap. MoP had an additional class and race, Cata had two races, WotLK had another class, BC had two races and classes (debatable, but regardless of faction, you had another class to choose from.) Other MMOs miss this and might toss in a few expansion zones, some raids, and call it done, but WoW does a good job at the whole 1-cap game.

    Another good game that did it right was Neverwinter Nights 1. The expansions not just added gameplay, but added to almost every facet of the game. The later modules were smaller, but added a good amount of content that was worth playing. One didn't have to spend $10.00 for the ability to get a ninja turban, or $20.00 to play a drow.

    My question:

    Is there a market niche for "old school" games (think Baldur's Gate) that one bought the game, then down the road, perhaps a significant expansion or two. Not "junk" DLC that might be required to win, such as $10.00 for a sword or $100.00 for uberness? Or are we pretty much doomed to keep getting nickled and dimed by pointless [1] DLC regardless.

    [1]: There is useful DLC, such as the NWN1 modules, then there is pointless DLC as having to buy the privilege to see and use a rocket launcher in order to survive at a multiplayer FPS.

    • by sgtrock ( 191182 )

      There are plenty of games out there that meet your criteria if you're willing to look around a bit. For example, just about Valve's entire catalog has consistently had plenty of new material included for free at later dates. Sometimes in addition to DLC that required a payment, sometimes not.

      Tripwire Interactive does the same thing with the Red Orchestra series. They recently released an expansion to Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad that not only added a whole new campaign called Rising Storm based

  • If there is one thing to bring to Starcraft 2 from Warcraft 1, what would it be? I'm thinking along the lines of an ability, a type of unit that doesn't exist anymore, a simplified or more complex resource management, a slower game pace to allow more unit control instead of deathball vs. deathball.. that sort of thing.

  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @08:10PM (#45065061) Homepage
    what were you guys thinking when you made diablo 3 always online only? Most the people I know who love the first 2 installments used the game as single player or at lan parties. sure multiplayer is fun but why the necessity to always be on? the RMAH has been such a flop that it is being removed from the game so there is 0 reason that the game needs to be online to play a single player game
  • The original Warcraft and Diablo games hold a special status in the hearts of many gamers. Each game brought its genre into focus,

    That sounds a bit exagerrated. Maybe it's true for Diablo, but in the RTS genre, Dune II was pretty high-profile and came out 2 years earlier. In comparison, Warcraft felt like a knock-off, with little innovation, and less balanced (once the catapults started rolling out, it often became a game of chance, depending on which catapult would insta-kill a bunch of difficult-to-control units that were running around erratically). Bilzzard later redeemed itself big time with the epic StarCraft and Warcraft III, b

  • Since the release of Torchlight II and the announcement there won't be another Torchlight a year ago, it's been awfully quiet. Is the company doing OK? Are you still working on something? If yes, can you reveal something, a hint, anything?
  • What twisted mind conceived this terrible boss creature. His words, "Mmmmm, fresh meat," were spine tingling. It's one of the earliest moments of terror I had in videogames.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.