DGC Ep 156: David Brevik Interview

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we extend our time with 1996's Diablo with an interview with Condor/Blizzard North co-founder and Diablo lead programmer and designer David Brevik. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:39 Interview
1:21:19 Break
1:21:51 Wrap-up

Issues covered: falling in love with games as a young person, learning how to program, finding out you could make a living making games, typing in programs from magazines, sticking with games, clip-art discs, founding Condor, Diablo pitch document, meeting people at CES, genre calcification and RPGs, working on a fighting game and finding out the SNES and Genesis games were being developed independently, switching to PC games, having the whole gang up to get a pitch, starting with Rogue and adding graphics, the short life of claymation-based graphics, signing as turn-based but Blizzard wanting real-time, getting a 3D0 contract for a football game on the M2, a side distraction into baseball and other sports, cutting turns up fractionally, being all-in on the turn-based/permadeath nature of Rogue-likes, strategy games going to real-time, squeezing more money out of the publisher, getting real-time running in a couple hours, stealing from X-COM's graphics, having a moment when the clouds part and the angels sing, democracy works, having an "I've never seen this before" moment, moving away from D&D tropes and getting darker, having internal hockey tournaments, lowering "time to killing monsters," removing complexity from potions and also verbs, pen and paper requiring character development and games less so, stealing the attributes/requirements loot properties from Angband, getting away from Tolkien and towards the Gothic from the art direction, the contribution of music to the tone, trading player-oriented drama for immediacy, constraints leading to a cornerstone of the series, simplification of the good and the evil, having the stories you get from playing rather than from dialog and designer-written story, running around in multiplayer, getting owned by The Butcher, tackling lots of big new programming stuff on Diablo including networking, having a tutor in Pat Wyatt, inventing Battle.Net, coming in with the multiplayer very late, peer-to-peer model and notifying others, non-deterministic model and rampant cheating, erring on the side of being generous, uniting people on the Internet, the huge impact of Diablo's designs on gaming as a whole, David's latest project, going from CEO to a one-man-show, the huge impact David's had on the industry, transformative games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Iguana Entertainment, Condor/Blizzard North, Flagship Studios, Hellgate: London, Gazillion Entertainment, Marvel Heroes, Graybeard Games, It Lurks Below, Pong, Apple ][+, Richard Garriott, Ultima, Inside (magazine), Intel, FM Wave, Tramiel family, Atari/Atari Lynx, Gordo 106, Sunsoft, Acclaim, 3D0, Justice League Task Force, SNES, Sega Genesis, Silicon & Synapse, Warcraft, Davidson & Associates, Math Blaster, Reading Blaster, Allen Adham, Mike Morhaime, Pat Wyatt, Chris Metzen, Rogue, Nethack, Moria/UMoria/Angband, Primal Rage, Dune 2000, Baldur's Gate, X-COM, Starfighter, Mortimer and the Riddle of the Medallion, J. R. R. Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons, NHL '94, DOOM (1993), Erich and Max Schaefer, Matt Uelmen, Dragon magazine, Amazon, Total Entertainment Network, Daron Stinnett, Dark Forces, Loderunner, Terraria, Starbound, Zork, Don Tomassello (now that's random), Planescape: Torment, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Bill Roper.

Next time:
An additional bonus episode with Diablo III!

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