Echtra Games’ Max Schaefer and Matt Uelmen, two prominent members of the development team responsible for Diablo II, have shared their thoughts on the impact their games have had on the ARPG genre, and gaming as a whole.In this episode of IGN Unfiltered, Ryan McCaffrey spoke with Schaefer and Uelmen about Diablo 2, the upcoming release of Torchlight 3, and much more.
Since Diablo II took the world by storm in 2000, it has had many imitators. From Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance to Champions of Norrath and so many more, its influence on the ARPG genre (and others) can’t be overstated.
When asked what he thought of the far-reaching impact of Diablo II, and the games that took cues from it, Max Schaefer, one of the directors and designers of Diablo II, said, “I actually like to see it. First of all, it’s a tribute to Diablo when anything comes out that has those elements in it, and is evocative of that. So it’s a flattering thing to see.
“I think that anyone who makes a successful ARPG has done something significant because it is a uniquely difficult genre to make games in and I think that that’s maybe not appreciated across the board very much. It’s just… there’s a lot of fiddly parts to an ARPG and it’s very easy for them to go wrong. So when someone comes out with one that’s a commercial success and is a fun time, you just have to respect what they’ve done.
“I like to see competitors… First of all, we’re still at the beginning of scratching the surface of what the ARPG genre can be. I think it’s going to be with us… Even now, today… 2020, this is a genre that’s going to be with us until we’re all long gone, so it’s cool for me to see what other people are doing and their take on it and what twist they have.
“There’s always a twist, whether it’s turning it into a giant MMO like Path of Exile or, in the case of a guy who became one of the founders of the Torchlight franchise, Travis Baldree, made a little, tiny, super low-budget one-man version called Fate, that was just a kick-in-the-pants to play and really fun and cool. So, you know, the breadth of what can be done is great and we never look at it as… competitors, but building and expanding on the genre.”
Matt Uelmen, who composed Diablo’s highly influential, atmospheric soundtracks, also shared his thoughts. “There are so many design elements that [World of Warcraft] took from Diablo II. So many design fundamentals, approaches to gear… I mean there’s so much weird crossover in gaming… The fact that the Destiny formula was more or less developed by the team that Max was with… and that the formula behind [Hellgate: London], more or less… became Destiny.”
“There’s a lot of… kind of mushy barriers in terms of… even though we kind of fleshed out the randomized loot mechanic with [Diablo II], and pioneered it with Diablo, it found its way into the formula of a lot of different games…”
For more on the best, brightest, most interesting minds in the games industry, be sure to check out every episode of Unfiltered, which includes interviews with Master Chief co-creator Marcus Lehto, 343’s Bonnie Ross, Valve’s Robin Walker & Chris Remo, Respawn’s Stig Asmussen, and many, many more.
Brian Barnett writes wiki guides, deals posts, features, and much more for IGN. You can get your fix of Brian’s antics on Twitter and Instagram (@Ribnax).