17 years ago today Blizzard North debuted Diablo II, the seminal followup to its trailblazing 1996 action-RPG Diablo.
Blizzard North is gone now, as Diablo II (or more accurately, its 2001 expansion Lords of Destruction) turned out to be its swan song. But the game remains, a key piece of a franchise that popularized an entire genre of game design.
It was also, by all accounts, a real textbook example of how poor planning, feature creep, and lack of project management experience can undercut your game and drag you into the depths of crunch.
"The original Diablo went gold on the day after Christmas in 1996, after a grueling four-month crunch period," wrote veteran game dev Erich Schaefer in a Diablo II postmortem published on Gamasutra a few months after the game shipped. "The only thing we were certain of was that we wanted to avoid another crunch like we had just experienced.Diablo II went gold on June 15, 2000, after a grueling 12-month crunch period."
To mark Diablo II's 17th birthday, we thought it would be interesting to fire it back up and play through an hour or so on the Gamasutra Twitch channel today at 3 PM Eastern (12 PM Pacific). Join us as we kick some pyres, light some fires, and try to understand what makes this game so enduring.
If you want to be automatically notified about this stream and others we do in the future, make sure to subscribe to the Gamasutra Twitch channel for a smorgasbord of gameplay commentary, developer interviews and editor roundtables.