Blizzard was apparently very close to making a Diablo version of World of Warcraft, with Diablo III starting off as an MMO very early in its development. How wild would that have been?
That particular anecdote comes from Max Schafer, CEO of Runic Games, the developers behind Torchlight. Prior to running Runic, Schafer worked at Blizzard “a million years ago,” when Diablo III was in the early stages of being a massively-multiplayer online title much like WoW:
Schafer tells the whole story to I.Eat.Games:
You know, when I was working at Blizzard a million years ago we were working on Diablo 3 and it was an MMO. We were going to do the Diablo version of World of Warcraft. Blizzard obviously changed that pretty quickly, so we left to start Flagship Studios and we brought in a lot of the guys, so they rebooted with their own team.
Wait, the Diablo 3 MMO you were working on at Blizzard changed because Blizzard was working on World of Warcraft?
No no, they changed because once they brought it in-house down at Blizzard, they had different design priorities and goals than we did. Again I totally approve of that.
Eventually, that project was scrapped when several StarCraft, Warcraft, and World of Warcraft team members including Schafer left Blizzard to found Flagship studios. After working on Hellgate: London and Mythos, Schafer moved on to Runic Games.
Schafer also talks at length about the upcoming Torchlight 2, which is currently aimed at a late summer release:
Are there any plans to bring Torchlight 2 to Xbox Live Arcade or the Playstation Network?
It’s something we’ve talked about. It’s definitely going to be a more difficult job than the first Torchlight because now we’ve got higher polygon models, multiplayer and it’s just so intense to do a direct port. Plus we’d have to redo the entire interface. So we’re not sure it’s going to be worth our while. We’re going to focus on the Mac version after the PC, and then we’re going to take a look at the world and see how it’s shaking out. Are people clamoring for a console version? We obviously have to take that into account.
Schafer also talks about the possibility of a Torchlight MMO, what his team learned from the Torchlight 2 beta, and how they see themselves competing with Diablo III further down the road. It’s a pretty long interview, and you can catch the whole thing here.