Diablo - What Could Have Been

Now, I've got an odd habit of using game manuals as reading material on the john, and as I was rifling through the Diablo I manual several weeks back, I found an interview that I previously hadn't read.

Of course, I read through it, and was surprised at the amount of insight into the development and history of Diablo that was contained within. One section in particular however, completely dwarfed all others in the sheer amount of questions it raised about what our beloved games could have become.



Official Blizzard Quote:

Diablo a real-time game, like Warcraft II. " class="blizzsource">

The original idea was to develop a "turn-based" game much like the old Unix-based games (or chess, for that matter): Players would move a character one square, and then the opponent or monster would move one square. Eight months into the development, the folks at Blizzard suggested making Diablo a real-time game, like Warcraft II.

In case nobody knows what they mean by old Unix games, they basically mean dungeon-romps (much like the Diablo series), in which you would move around a character, often represented by a letter, to kill monsters. All of which was often turn based.


Official Blizzard Quote:



"We resisted and pushed for a turn-based game," Schaefer says. "And they said OK to that, which I think was pretty cool of them. But then the real fight started up here."

For all of you out there who blame Blizzard for all of Diablo III's shortcomings, and wish that Blizzard North was running the show, know this: If Blizzard North had their way with Diablo I, we would have been playing a turn based game, possibly with Diablo II as well.



Official Blizzard Quote:



Brevik had to develop a new engine to run the game in real time, but it added an element of almost DOOM-like action that made the game unique among RPGs. Schaefer says that although they were sold on the game's real-time aspect, they still wanted to make the play different than a game like Warcraft." class="blizzsource">

"We had this big argument in Eric's kitchen," Brevik recalls. "We stomped around, dug our heels in and said, 'We're not changing it!' From an art standpoint, it would really have been no different, but from a programming standpoint, it was going to be a big pain for me. But then we thought about it some more and decided to try their idea. I hacked up something in a couple of days to see what it would be like, and we all just loved it."

Brevik had to develop a new engine to run the game in real time, but it added an element of almost DOOM-like action that made the game unique among RPGs. Schaefer says that although they were sold on the game's real-time aspect, they still wanted to make the play different than a game like Warcraft.

It's really quite interesting to consider what would have been, if that real-time-test had never occured...

I don't want to think of how PvP would have turned out. No doubt it would still function similarly, but it would have lost that fast-paced, on your toes feeling granted by the real-time aspect. It would also eliminate all but the most capable PKers; can you imagine trying to jump lower level characters, when they have time to wait for you to move 4 more squares before you could land a hit on them?

Along the lines of PvP, is the combat system as a whole. What use would faster attack be with a system such as this? Would it simply add another chance to attack on your turn? What about potions? Would they be free-actions, or would drinking a potion end your turn before being able to move or fight?

It also really brings into question how the development of further games would have been effected with a turn-based system. Perhaps it would have influenced Diablo II to become more of an RTS-styled game, than the fast paced mayhem we all know and love.

Though, the most important question I had on my mind...
Would we even be playing it?

Sources: Straight from the Diablo I manual, pgs. 243-244.

Comments

  • #1 Siaynoq
    That habit's not odd. I also keep lots of game manuals in the bathroom for reading.

    But anyway, I actually like certain turn based games, particularly Fallout. But I think turn based games can work just fine with an RPG, but I never really thought of Diablo as an RPG. I understand there is a lot of debate about this, but Diablo didn't have enough character development to keep me interested had it been a turn based game. It's almost entirely plot driven.
  • #2 Turmobil
    Gaming manuals? Those little things in the start telling you about all the buttons you should press? Never seen anything interesting in them, never been any interesting things in them, at least not mine :(

    Good read by the way, and no. I'd probably not be playing it, I dislike round based games for some reason...
  • #3 Daxiongmao87
    I've actually read about this a few years back upon the opening of a diablo fansite dedicated to the history and the making of the original diablo game. I found it quite interesting. They did, in fact, make a pre-release demo that was available to the public at the time. I believe it's been made available again through the website I was speaking of, though apparently the turn-based function was only present in their first alpha build and the prerelease was based on their third revision. So no turn-based gameplay. If anyone is interested to find more information about the development of the original Diablo game the website I am speaking of is Diablo Evolution. Enjoy.

    EDIT: Just realized the website hasn't been updated in about 2 years so some links may be dead.
  • #4 Siaynoq
    Not all game manuals have much lore in them. But Blizzard's manuals have always been really good at having lots. I especially love the Starcraft manual.
    Quote from "Daxiongmao87" »
    If anyone is interested to find more information about the development of the original Diablo game the website I am speaking of is Diablo Evolution. Enjoy.

    I've linked to this website before. The alpha incarnations are especially interesting.
  • #5 Musica
    Game manuals are fun to read. Especially when they're for games that you know and love like the Diablo series. And of course, Blizzard makes great game manuals. I remember when I read the Diablo 2 manual before I even started playing the game, I was immediately entranced. The Starcraft manual was also very good as Siaynoq has already mentioned.

    I have no idea how a turn-based Diablo would've have turned out but I'm glad it didn't become the final game's gameplay system. I could see it working for Diablo since it was a fairly slow game anyway but it would have ruined Diablo 2.

    There are so many interesting tidbits to be found on Diablo Evolution, it's amazing how much stuff Diablo was originally going to have.
  • #6 Nekrodrac
    Interesting to see the evolution of the game. Only the end product matters though. Must admit I wouldn't have cared if it was turn-based game system. It would have been boring. The butcher would have made a lot less impression on me for sure... Man I did walk(flee?) around a lot with that guy... Level 3 not a good time.
  • #7 Zhar
    Well think about it, you'd hear "AAH, FRESH MEAT."
    Then he would just stand there, and patiently wait for your turn to end.

    Not as frightening as him rushing out to dismember you.
  • #8 Magistrate
    Turn-based can be fun, I still enjoy them more than most immediate action games. And...

    Diablo didn't have enough character development to keep me interested had it been a turn based game. It's almost entirely plot driven.


    This.
  • #9 LinkX
    Quote from "Zhar" »
    Eight months into the development, the folks at Blizzard suggested making Diablo a real-time game, like Warcraft II.


    Excuse me while I laugh at all the people claiming they are making Diablo into Warcraft.

    If it were not for Warcraft, we might have a turn based Diablo. Lol...

    Quote from "Daxiongmao87" »
    If anyone is interested to find more information about the development of the original Diablo game the website I am speaking of is Diablo Evolution. Enjoy.

    EDIT: Just realized the website hasn't been updated in about 2 years so some links may be dead.


    Yea, I saw that site before, it's kinda interesting to see how the game evolved. o.O

    Quote from "Musica" »
    I have no idea how a turn-based Diablo would've have turned out but I'm glad it didn't become the final game's gameplay system. I could see it working for Diablo since it was a fairly slow game anyway but it would have ruined Diablo 2.


    How it would of turned out: Bad.

    No, but seriously, I'm glad too. Lol.

    Quote from "Zhar" »
    Well think about it, you'd hear "AAH, FRESH MEAT."
    Then he would just stand there, and patiently wait for your turn to end.

    Not as frightening as him rushing out to dismember you.


    Teleport three spaces. Then he moves a space. Then you cast fire ball. Then he moves a space. Then teleport three spaces. Then he moves a space. Then cast fire ball. Then he moves. Rinse and repeat. xD
  • #10 luc1027

    'We're not changing it!' From an art standpoint, it would really have been no different, but from a programming standpoint


    I think the game will not be considered to a turn based system, I understand that we don't see the difference when we play... same actions, but the programming will be more controled with a managment of stat, the balancing will be more easier...
    I think and I hope !? I want my favorite action rpg :P
  • #11 Magistrate
    What are you talking about? This was about Diablo I.
  • #12 Siaynoq
    Oof! Reading comprehension fail.
  • #13 Nekrodrac
    Quote from "luc1027" »


    I think the game will not be considered to a turn based system, I understand that we don't see the difference when we play... same actions, but the programming will be more controled with a managment of stat, the balancing will be more easier...
    I think and I hope !? I want my favorite action rpg :P


    Decode please.:confused:
  • #14 Zhar
    I think he thinks this article is about DIII.....

    Should probably make it clearer that this is concerning DI.
  • #15 Ruric
    If you want to know approximately how Diablo 2 would play as a turn based system, try playing Dofus. It's a nice MMORPG that has perhaps around 20 (1%) levels out of 200 (100%) of free farm- and spam-bot infested, but still somewhat playable content and $6 monthly subscription to the rest of the game.

    It has quite interesting 2D Flash graphics and style. Very artistic in my opinion, and they're about to be updated to be even more detailed. In my opinion, its graphics and style is one of the two most important and impressive things about it. If you'll like them, you'll love them, but if not, then it's just not for you. The other thing is its unique, well designed and balanced set of 12 classes. You won't be able to decide which to choose. ((((( Luckily you can run multiple clients. Some people run 2, 4, some even 8 clients at the same time (that's 6$ x8 for all 8 clients per month). In fact, I think most players above level 100 are subscribed to 2 accounts. Unfortunately, the game itself doesn't support this kind of play, but also doesn't discourage it, so you have to switch between windows, or have two windows open next to each other and do every single action twice. It is still in your interest to run multiple clients, as you'll win battles more often, faster, and get better loot. etc., etc., etc. )))))

    The developers also created a TV series based on the game: Wakfu.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oaqxoSlH1w&feature=PlayList&p=48F70E5E0F8688A2&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=2 Very high quality, as you'll immediately notice.

    It's really too bad that it's not a single player game, where the pace could be much faster, where all the highly inspired features of the game could come together much more elegantly, where even a weak storyline would seem epic in conjunction with its features and its art style, and where you could experience the game in greater concentrations than you would in the watered down, insulting, stupid MMORPG play.

    It's really a sad story. That's why Diablo franchise is great, as it offers equally well inspired style, single player experience (which is still a little bit intruded upon by the multiplayer), excellent design in all other aspects of the game.
  • #16 maximusje
    Here you go, Diablo as a Turn-based Strategy Game; screenshots from Alpha 1. Especially this screenshot is interesting.

    UPDATE: I see that someone linked to this on the first post. The links I posted require less clicks to find Diablo I as turn-based strategy ;).
  • #17 Legilimens
    I'm glad it wasn't turn-based...I probably would not have gotten into it.
  • #18 Magistrate
    Well, if you think about it, if Diablo I went the way it would have, it would have had a significant impact on where it is today. It may have been that it wouldn't have sold nearly as well, or maybe that it did better. If it did better, we might have been seeing a turn-based Diablo III. Who knows? Some more modern turn-based games are pretty successful. Civilization has been turn-based for a while, hasn't it? And of course there's lots of games that use turn-based battle systems.
  • #19 Don_guillotine
    Quote from "Seth" »
    Well, if you think about it, if Diablo I went the way it would have, it would have had a significant impact on where it is today. It may have been that it wouldn't have sold nearly as well, or maybe that it did better. If it did better, we might have been seeing a turn-based Diablo III. Who knows? Some more modern turn-based games are pretty successful. Civilization has been turn-based for a while, hasn't it? And of course there's lots of games that use turn-based battle systems.


    But on the other hand, a real-time civilization would just be another RTS. It's the turn-based nature of it that makes it so great a strategy game.

    On the other hand, back at the time, I think the real-time nature of Diablo made it just what it is. A great game. There's nothing wrong with being turn-based but it cuts down on the action.

    To me, this is just a great proof of how trial & error - or iteration, if you like, in game design is such a great method instead of just having a fixed masterplan and strictly sticking to it.
  • #20 mad3nch1na
    Hind sight is 20/20, its easy to say now that it would be better if they did a live action game like they did and how much it would suck if Diablo was turn based, but it was a very risky decision at the time!

    Who knows, maybe if they made a turn based game it could have lead to a Fall Diablo Out 3 or World of Diablo-craft?
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