ExileCon 2019 has wrapped up this weekend, and former creators of the Diablo franchise Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer, and David Brevik, shared some fascinating stories about the series that has been instrumental in shaping Action Role Playing Games for over two decades now. One story stood out regarding the potential remastering of Diablo II, which is something that fans have been requesting for years.
During the development of Diablo II in the years leading up to its release in 2000, Erich and Max Chaefer describe a situation that would send chills down the spines of any developer: the backup of the game’s source code, along with all assets, was lost. Everything was corrupted and unsalvageable, and the developers had not kept up with creating additional backups for such an occasion.
From there, Blizzard North relied on code and assets that existed in a version of the game that the developers had in their homes for testing, yet this was far from complete. The root code and assets were lost forever, and as a result, they were able to finish the original game, but remastering Diablo II today would be a monumental task because much of the game’s assets would need to be recreated from the ground up, rather than having a foundation of material ready to work on.
While the story may be a bit of a shock to long-time fans of the Diablo series, it does at least put to rest any notion of a remaster in the future.
The loss of data seems almost like an impossibility. When one considers the scope and size of the team working at Blizzard North, it seems inconceivable that such a project could suffer a catastrophic data loss due to neglecting to create proper backups. And yet, missteps like this have happened over the years in other large projects as well.
Pixar found itself in a similar situation during development for Toy Story 2 after a user accidentally deleted everything on a file system. The solution was similar to what happened with Diablo II, and the team’s supervising technical director, Galyn Susman, had the necessary files backed up at home, where she often worked because of her recent newborn baby. Had it not been for that circumstance, the film would have been lost, and we might not have the Toy Story series we know today.
While the story about the lost Diablo II assets seems like the final nail in the coffin for a remaster from Blizzard, that might be for the best. Nostalgia is fun in small doses, but there is much to be said for creating new experiences, rather than focusing only on the past.