Diablo 3 has just been announced by Blizzard. The details are at http://www.blizzard.com/diablo3/
Wow. It looks great. I’m SO excited. And it won’t be released for at least a year, perhaps several years. 🙁
Of course, I waited a long time for…the previous two versions, too. Oh, yes, I’m that old, and older still. 🙂
It was ’97, and I saw some hype about it in a gaming magazine. I realized instantly what was going on. Someone was making a rogue-alike, but with cool graphics!
Random dungeons? Different character classes that play differently? Scads of monsters, spells, weapons, armor, potions, altars, traps, chests, and unique items? Rogue-alikes like Nethack, Moria, and Angband had all of those in spades. I knew people who had lost entire college semesters to them. A graphical version was gonna be great, I just knew it.
And it was, but not as I expected.
As it turns out, this was exactly what the dev team was looking to do, and the product was going well. Like all rogue-alikes, it was turn-based and single-player (though Nethack had pioneered an online leaderboard), but the publisher asked for changes to both.
Real-time play and online multiplayer were both hacked in (and the resulting code was nasty). The product was released, and it was a BIG hit. Years later, when they made Diablo 2, they continued the hit gameplay, but designed it to be online and real-time from the start, of course. They also added more more more of everything.
Diablo 2 was a huge hit. To date, including all versions and the (single) expansion pack, Diablo has sold over 17 MILLION copies. Blizzard would have been set even if they’d never invented World of Warcraft.
I never played Diablo 1 or 2 in multiplayer modes, and I would have been just fine with a turn-based version, but it seems clear that those two changes had a huge (positive) impact on its popularity. Turn-based, single-player graphical rogue-alikes are a very popular genre in Japan, but such products never took off in America. My wife loves the Japanese rogue-alikes, with their cutesy graphics and very old-school mechanics. I can explain how Diablo is just another rogue-alike, but the real-time, blood and guts play turns her off. Oh well. 🙂
Here’s a PVP comic strip from that time: http://www.pvponline.com/2000/06/30/fri-jun-30/