Diablo creator David Brevik spoke about their brutal working conditions when they crunched the finish the original Diablo and its sequel. He was speaking at Devcom Digital when he recounted the final few months during the development of both games.
Diablo Creator Recalls Crunching For Months To Finish The First Game
Brevik first mentioned that they had to crunch for the final three to four months during the first Diablo’s development. They wanted to meet the game’s original launch date of Thanksgiving 1996, with the game eventually coming out in January 1997.
All of this work left Brevik and his team of developers creatively drained. He recalls that they didn’t even want to think of a sequel for a while. However, they eventually came back together to get to work on Diablo 2. One of their hopes for the sequel was to improve the game’s online component.
Diablo 2’s Development Crunch Was Even More Intense
However, their ambitions for it were far beyond that. As gamesindustry.biz notes in their report, they wanted to add more classes, eliminate loading screens and make numerous other improvements. “All of these things led to the final grind,” said Brevik. “We just kept on designing more and more and more and more, and guess what? It kept taking longer and longer and longer.”
The resulting grind was punishing for everyone involved. “Nobody wanted this, but it was the way things were back then. It’s not a good decision. I don’t recommend it. It cost me dearly. It cost everybody dearly. But it was what it was. We crunched,” he said.
Brevik mentioned that everyone was working every day, including weekends. He himself was working an average of 12 hours a day, seven days a week. All-in-all, Brevik crunched for around a year. “It was an incredible grind on myself, my relationships, and life, and my soul,” he said.
Opposition To Crunch Culture In The Games Industry Is Growing
He’s proud of the game that Diablo 2 became, citing the fact that it’s popular on Twitch despite being 20 years old. However, it highlights how prevalent crunching has been withing the games industry. It’s only in recent years that we’ve seen widespread recognition that this is a practice that needs to die.
Acclaimed studios like Naughty Dog have faced criticism for the working conditions of its developers during The Last Of Us Part II’s development. A recent series of delays for massive games do seem to indicate that things are changing, though.
Both Halo Infinite and Deathloop’s developers mentioned that one of the reason’s they were delaying the games was for the well-being of their employees. Hopefully, we’ll see this trend continue across the industry.