Diablo II: Resurrected – Studio design director and project lead discuss rebuilding the foundation and being faithful to a classic ARPG

Blizzard Entertainment is the company behind Diablo, one of the most popular action role-playing games ever released. In this interview, game director Wyatt Cheng and project lead Chris Sigaty discuss their process in rebuilding the foundation of a classic ARPG.

The diablo 2 resurrected impressions is a blog post by the studio design director and project lead, who discuss rebuilding the foundation and being faithful to a classic ARPG.

Because of how significant Diablo II was over 20 years ago and the impact it has had on so many games to this day, approaching a remake for it is difficult. Massive games are still attempting to recreate the lightning-in-a-jar moment that Diablo II so brilliantly captures, and Vicarious Visions has a difficult task ahead of them in attempting to remake it. 

The staff knows that altering even the tiniest element may completely change the experience. The process of remastering Diablo II into Diablo II: Resurrected was not taken lightly, and the production team went to great lengths to maintain the original’s authenticity while simultaneously bringing it into the contemporary age.

We sat down with studio design director Rob Gallerani and project lead Michael Bukowski to talk about the process and difficulties of working on Diablo II: Resurrected.

The original strategy was to elevate almost everything they could in order to preserve Resurrected as clean as possible. “When we initially began, we simply thought, ‘Oh, what would we do?’” says the author. When Gallerani initially took on the job, he stated. “We were already doing more than we should have been. As a player, your first thought is, “Hey, can we get rid of that stamina meter?” But as soon as you start making those adjustments, you understand that’s not the case; it’s all part of the game.”

Diablo-II-Resurrected-Studio-design-director-and-project-leadBlizzard Entertainment provided this image.

Throughout the conversation, both Gallerani and Bukowski emphasized the importance of staying true to Diablo II. The team took a preservationist approach to this remake. “The first thing we had to acknowledge was that we were protecting this game,” Gallerani remarked. “We’re putting the game into his period that people remember. We’re not iterating on the franchise, however. This is not a D4 situation. D2 was like this.”

Everything in Diablo II is tightly linked, from the mechanics to the fighting motions. The team couldn’t change the recipe since the players would have a different experience. A small tone change or a mechanism may have far-reaching consequences for the whole experience. Gallerani said, “You take one tiny block out and you’re like, ‘Oh, I suppose I was playing Jenga.”

One of the things that made Diablo II so memorable was its difficulty, which the developers wanted to retain as a product of its period. Gallerani emphasized, “The game is difficult.” “The game is not, ‘Oh, we’ll give you this lovely little lesson on how to figure things out.’” Sorry, it’s act two’s boss. You’re going to die a lot, but you’ll figure it out eventually.”

1631891478_663_Diablo-II-Resurrected-Studio-design-director-and-project-leadBlizzard Entertainment provided this image.

While the essence of Diablo II was preserved to the greatest extent feasible, the team did make minor changes to bring the game up to current standards. Things like auto gold pickup or hopping into a friend’s game via your friend’s list. Gallerani said, “That doesn’t really alter what the game is.” “It’s simply making it more convenient for you to play it.”

Even the auto gold pickup option, however, is something that a player may turn off in their settings. Many of the contemporary options included in Resurrected may be turned off with a simple click, allowing some gamers to maintain as authentic an experience as possible. 

It allows 20-year veterans to select how much of a contemporary experience they want, while also allowing new players to see what the original Diablo II was like. Gallarani said, “It makes things simpler.” “However, if we made a mistake in our judgment. That is entirely our responsibility. You have the option to turn it off.”

When Resurrected is in everyone’s hands, the team’s true test begins. Before moving on to more sophisticated development, they’ll have to wait and see how well they hit the target on their first attempt, then make the required adjustments. “We bring in ladder if our base is strong,” Gallerani added, referring to their future plans. “The ladder begins to roll, and soon a lot more items are placed on the table. However, we do not begin construction on the first level until the whole bedrock has been laid.”

Most-anticipated-games-of-September-2021Image courtesy of Blizzard

When those choices are made, the community will have to determine what is most important to them. Because Resurrected can be played on many platforms and isn’t simply a PC game, there will be a lot of community involvement. “Even as we go through launch, we’re trying to listen and understand to make sure we’re doing everything properly for all the various groups out there,” Bukowski added. “We learnt a little bit about it throughout the beta.”

Giving a remastered game to fresh new players who have never touched Diablo II is part of the excitement of revisiting a 20-year-old game like Diablo II. “I believe it’s such a significant game in gaming history,” Bukowski remarked, describing his impressions of what new players would encounter when they play it for the first time. “Being able to go in there and play it, whether on a console or a PC, I believe a lot of people will have a lot of fun and a better respect for ARPGs in general. I’m looking forward to seeing the uniqueness that people felt 20 years ago come to life in a fresh manner with a contemporary player.”

“It’s like rediscovering the game for the first time,” Gallerani remarked, describing how Resurrected would startle experienced gamers. “We’ve already seen this with our alpha and beta testers, who believed they knew all there was to know about the game after playing it for 20 years. They’re like, ‘Oh, that wall, I’ve seen that wall a million times,’ and then they’re like, ‘Wait a minute,’ before switching over to discover it was in the original game.”

When Vicarious Visions was given the reigns of Diablo II, they knew it would be a classic ARPG. The team understood that with Diablo II: Resurrected, the charm of the original game had to seem genuine, or they’d miss the point. That’s been their goal from the beginning, and they’ve worked hard to accomplish it. Gallerani said, “[Diablo II] is a significant memory in people’s history.” “Knowing that there would be individuals that know this game inside and out better than we do was a project I was proud to work on.”

The diablo 2 resurrected beta is a game that has been taking the gaming world by storm. It was announced at BlizzCon 2017, and it’s currently in closed beta.

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