Diablo II is remembered very fondly as one of the best games of the year 2000, and 20 years on it’s still regarded as one of Blizzard’s best games. Now, reflecting back on the game, former Blizzard North president David Brevik has talked about the creation of the game–and the terrible period of crunch the team undertook to release it when they did.
Speaking at Devcom Digital, as reported by Gamesindustry.biz, Brevik opened up about the game’s development process, recalling how for the original Diablo the team crunched for “three or four months” to get it done. Following this, it took “a couple of months” for the developers to want to think about making a sequel.
For the sequel, the team wanted to implement improved online multiplayer, a version where there was “a real economy and you can trade items and it means something,” Brevik says. “That was one of the biggest motivations; seeing how people loved Diablo, but being very critical–and rightly so–about how things had been going with the online part of the game.”
The development team doubled from 20 to 40 (which is, of course, a small team by modern standards), and set about making a game that was also “at least twice as large”. However, the ambitious size of the game meant that there was a major grind at the end of production.
“It’s not a good decision,” Brevik admits. “I don’t recommend it. It cost me dearly. It cost everybody dearly. But it was what it was. We crunched.” He estimates that he worked, on average, 12 hours a day for seven days a week during the game’s crunch period, which ran from late April through to the game’s release in June 2000.
Brevik says that “everybody was working on the weekends,” and that many people slept in the office. “It was an incredible grind on myself, my relationships, my life, and my soul,” he says. The grind relaxed a bit when it became clear that the game would be delayed into 2000, but he only took three days off in this entire period.
Reflecting today, Brevik is glad that Diablo II is still “very, very popular,” although the development was extremely difficult. “For it to be so beloved is a wonderful experience. We’re very blessed to have that.”
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