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Chris Metzen, Book of Cain Interview

Posted 11 Dec 2011 by

GamePlanetNZ has posted a lengthy interview with Chris Metzen, in which he answers numerous questions about the oft-delayed loregasm, the DiabloWikiBook of Cain. (New Amazon.com release date: January 10, 2012.) It’s a nice read with a lot of info about the merch item itself, plus the Diablo game lore and creative process.

There are no spoilers, and there’s even a photo of Metzen looking his most meterosexual, which I know will delight some of you. Here’s a quote:

Gameplanet: Just picking up on the development of the original Diablo and then building the lore around it, where does lore fit into the design process? Does one come first, drive the other, or are they co-developed?

Metzen: I guess I’d have to answer that relative to the games themselves. On the first game there wasn’t a tremendous amount of story put forward. It was really just a lot of great game design and it was a lot of fun, but there wasn’t much of a sense of world and the quests that had been developed didn’t really string together in a super-cohesive form.

So I remember feeling a little anxious about that, and I worked with another developer, a guy by the name of Bill Roper. Bill took the town of Tristram and developed those characters, the context of Griswold and Wirt the peg-legged boy, and a lot of the characters that were really fun in Diablo, and I took the mythology background stuff. I was intent to build a kind of meta-fiction that really was the backdrop to the quests you were doing in the game.

So you know, we banged that out and it turned out fairly well. I don’t know that the story was super-cohesive in terms of the gameplay, but Diablo – as an overarching experience – certainly had a lot of personality.

When it got around to Diablo II, Blizzard North’s designers really stepped up and they had much more story for that offering. They had done a lot of world development – places like Lut Gholein or Kurast, different areas in the world – they had [also] developed a lot of specific lore around their character classes that time out. So they really had stepped up on the sequel and also [the expansion] Lord of Destruction, but in those intervening pockets of development there were a lot of inconsistencies and a lot of really good fiction was developed by it didn’t really match.

From the numerous Book of Cain release date changes, it seems they’re not going to release it until Diablo 3 is ready, or nearly ready. Blizzard always says they never tell anyone release dates in advance, but clearly someone is telling the book publisher to keep postponing the release, as it’s been a completed product for many months now.

From what we’ve been told about the book, it doesn’t sound like there are any spoilers for D3′s story, so it’s not clear why they don’t just ship the damn thing. Probably they want more release date synergy and cross-marketing and all that other “put the gleam into Bobby’s eye” marketing stuff.


Tagged As: | Categories: Chris Metzen, Interviews, Merchandise