[Gamasutra Classics is a new weekly article that flashes back to content published years ago, because the most valuable lessons grow better with age.
October 25, 2000 --
Twelve months of exhausting crunch: That's what it took for Blizzard North to finally get the critically-acclaimed Diablo II
, released in June this year, into players' hands.
"The original Diablo
went gold on the day after Christmas in 1996, after a grueling four-month crunch period," writes Erich Schaefer, VP at Blizzard North in a new feature postmortem
for Diablo II
"We hadn't put any thought into what game to do next, but as most developers can probably relate to, we were pretty certain we weren't ready to return to the Diablo
world after such a long development cycle," he adds. "The only thing we were certain of was that we wanted to avoid another crunch like we had just experienced.
went gold on June 15, 2000, after a grueling 12-month crunch period."
But the hard work paid off -- shortly after the game's launch, Blizzard announced that Diablo II
sold 1 million units worldwide in just two weeks, and the game has met with positive reception from critics.
Though the crunch was brutal, Schaefer's recounting shows that it's not crunch that defined the game's development cycle, but rather the studio's ability to draw ideas from various disciplines, and take the time needed to create a game to high standards.
"Blizzard's development process is designed to ensure that we make a great game," Schaefer writes. "While our goal is to meet the milestones we set, our process, in terms of design and business, is structured to allow us to wait until the game is as good as it can be before we ship it. We recognize that not all developers have this same opportunity, but many of the methods we use along the way are applicable to any development environment."
Much more about the development of Diablo II
is available in Schaefer's full postmortem of the game, now live on Gamasutra
(no registration required).
[Be sure to check back on Monday to see a feature interview with Diablo III director Jay Wilson on the creative process behind Blizzard's latest game in the franchise