Blizzard’s Diablo series is easily one of the most recognisable games in the world. As one of the earliest games to push the action RPG genre, its impact on gaming cannot be disputed. However, the game that we know and love today started out as something quite different as evident from the original pitch.
The name Condor Inc probably won’t ring any bells, but it was to this company that Diablo creator David Brevik first pitched his game. In its original form, Diablo was meant to be a turn based dungeon crawler. The description outlined the – now – iconic isometric point-of-view for the player and a square grid movement system.
There was also supposed to be a more traditional RPG method of character creation for Diablo, with player choosing a race and class combination. Unlike other fantasy RPGs of the time, Brevik pitched several variations of humans instead of the usual elves and dwarves. Dying was also intended to be a whole lot more dangerous, with the game erasing any character who had the misfortune of dying.
Condor eventually began work on Diablo after finding a publisher in Blizzard Entertainment, who recommended that the game should drop the whole turn based idea and have it play in real time. Condor was eventually bought up by Blizzard and became Blizzard North before the launch of its first big hit; and the rest is history.
The document itself provide additional insight into what goes into a successful video game pitch; which notably includes a business model on how to make it profit. Interestingly, Diablo was meant to be sold with small expansion packs in mind. Brevik even cites the Magic: the Gathering business model of gradually introducing new items and monsters to the game through small investments. Which shows that the idea of DLC was already bouncing around with developers long before the idea of downloading something became a thing.
Fans of the Diablo series should take a look at what how their beloved game series started out. While Brevik is no longer working on Diablo, his original document shows just how true the game is staying to his original vision. That being said, we would love to have seen what a turn based Diablo would have looked like.