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Interview: Diablo Creator David Brevik Discusses His Feelings on Diablo 3

Posted 19 Aug 2012 by

This week I was fortunate to catch up with DiabloWikiDavid Brevik at Gamescom in Cologone to find out more about his new title Marvel Heroes but also to find out what he thought of Diablo 3, after all, he created the Diablo franchise. In the interview David talks quite openly about Diablo 3 and the mixed emotions he feels about the game and all the backlash from the community since the game was released.

Watch the video, or if you prefer, you can read a transcript after the break.

You can also check out the press demo video I shot of Marvel Heroes with the Gazillion team on IncGamers, view the full interview with David or jump into our new Marvel Heroes forum.

IncGamers: You are very well known in the world of ARPGs, and I am going to ask you, Diablo 3 is probably the most anticipated PC title in 10 years. What’s your opinion on the final product?

David Brevik: Honestly, I think that they did a lot of the things the best they could, it was a very different game than I would have created, the team and personalities, the people, the talent and all the design philosophies of the people that worked on it in Irvine, we called them Blizzard South, those people have their own style and the their own way they like to design. It was very, very different from the Blizzard North.

So I think that when Blizzard South took over the development of Diablo 3 it was inevitable that they were going to create an experience that was in the Diablo theme but concentrated more towards the things that they liked to experience. Including more story and things like that.

When Blizzard North shut down they lost a ton of experience with why the Action RPG works and what about it works. That’s really difficult to recover from. They didn’t have the experience of people that knew it well. This is why you do things with random levels for example, and so when you lose that experience you are going to create a very different experience in the end than we would have created.

IncGamers: Do you think they bought the wrong people in? As we understand, Jay Wilson, for example, his background was RTS. From our point of view it looked like they misunderstood what kept people playing, The type of loot drops, which has been a big issues. One of the other issues is they have not listened to their community, and they have not analysed what makes up that addictive Diablo  experience. What are your thoughts on that?

David Brevik: Well, the loot system. They made some decisions with the loot system that were very different than the way that we did it in Diablo 2 and I think that obviously the community has been upset with some of the decisions they made. Having all of your powers work off your main weapon and things like that, to having blues that are more powerful than yellows. Eventually the auction house and how that worked, even something as simple as when you equip an item and it’s bound to your character permanently would  have totally changed the dynamic  of the game.

It seems odd that they have not really responded in a quick fashion to some of these things. I think they are very well aware of the problems at this point and are trying to fix some of this stuff. It’s a shame that they had to learn some of these painful lessons

IncGamers:  As you created Diablo, how do you feel about it? Do you feel a little let down that the legacy has kind of been mashed up?

David Brevik:  I have very mixed emotions about it (laughs). On one hand I am sad that people haven’t enjoyed Diablo because it’s a love, a passion, and its obvious people still have a giant love and passion for Diablo and they are speaking out about it because they have such love for it. That makes me feel great.

I am sad because people are outraged and, you know, some of the decision they have made are not the decisions I would make and there have been changes in philosophy and that hasn’t gone over very well. I think in that way I am a little sad.

I am also a little happy, which I hate to say, it shows that the people that were involved in Diablo really did matter, and so I am happy that it has come to light that how talented that group was and how unique and special that group was. I am hoping that, as this happens very often in the industry, you see it with Call of Duty and things like that ,  when the people leave the game changes and it shows how critical people are in this industry.

IncGamers:   One of the questions the Gazillion guys asked me to ask you was, where did the name Diablo come from?

David Brevik:  I thought of the game when I was in high school and I lived in the east part of San Francisco in a town called Danville and I lived at the base of Mount Diablo and that’s where the name comes from. Once I found out what the mountain name was, I thought that was awesome, I didn’t speak Spanish, so I thought I wanted to use that as a title for a nemesis in a videogame. It’s simply from where I lived.

 IncGamers:    Well thanks a lot David, you’ve brought a lot of pleasure to millions of people over the years and hopefully you’ll continue to do so.

Update: Some of the Diablo III developers, including Jay Wilson, reacted angrily to Dave’s comments in this interview. See this post for quotes.

Update #2: A few hours later Gazilli0n issued IncGamers with a statement reading

“We admire Blizzard and Blizzard games.  David was asked about Diablo 3 and gave his honest opinion and we stand by him 100%.  Marvel Heroes is David’s vision and is the spiritual successor to Diablo 2. We’ll be in closed beta soon, so visit MarvelHeroes.com if you want to check it out.” – Leo Olebe, VP Marketing Gazillion Entertainment.