March 20, 2023
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Diablo creator explains why he works for a Chinese rival – BNN Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) – David Brevik, an American game developer, is best known for creating the iconic Diablo franchise for Activision Blizzard Inc. The 54-year-old is the mastermind behind the action role-playing game Diablo and its sequel Diablo II, which pioneered a whole genre of real-time combat combined with randomized dungeons and plentiful loot. In 2003, Brevik left Blizzard to start his own projects and fell out with his former employer over the sequel to the dark-fantasy series.

Brevik recently joined the Torchlight: Infinite development team as a consulting producer. Published by Shanghai-based XD Inc., the game is one of a host of mobile Diablo wannabes and rivals Blizzard’s Diablo Immortal. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Brevik explained why he was helping a Chinese rival. Below are excerpts from the interview, slightly edited for clarity.

Q: Why did you join the Torchlight: Infinite team?

I’m a huge Torchlight fan. When there’s a new one coming, of course, I get excited about it. So I was playing the closed beta and they reached out and we started talking. And then we came to a relationship where I can become a consulting producer.

Q: What is your role?

One does media things like this, in addition to playing the game and giving feedback and interacting with the community, providing more perspective from like-minded gamers in this part of the world.

XD is very responsive to feedback, which isn’t always the case, and they really listen and are willing to make changes. We had a few Zoom meetings. I am in a WeChat group with them and we chat there as well.

Q: How many hours have you spent on this game and which hero do you prefer?

It’s really the only action RPG I’ve played lately. I probably have close to 50 hours at this point. I mainly play Moto, the robot dwarf.

Q: Blizzard has its own Diablo mobile game. How would you compare Immortal to Infinite?

I don’t really want to compare them directly, but I think in general the Torchlight: Infinite experience is extremely smooth. It’s not really intense – where I feel like you have to repeat the same content over and over. I really like the endgame mechanics in Infinite, and I think it’s more player-friendly. It’s much easier and much more varied.

Q: There’s a lot of criticism around “pay-to-win” in these action RPG mobile games, and Infinite has dropped some of the extra features it charged players during closed beta. Do you think Western or PC gamers are more reluctant to embrace the freemium business model?

The definition of pay-to-win is different for everyone, right? Some people think they should get everything for free. And if a company charges for anything other than cosmetics, then it automatically pays off for some people. I don’t think that’s even true.

I deliberately tried to play Infinite as a free player to gain that experience and experience what it’s like. I feel like this game is extremely generous and allows everyone to get the items they want and play the game they want for free. And that’s about all you can ask for.

Q: Even after Infinite made some changes to its in-app purchases, some players still criticized the in-game pet gacha system. Where’s the line?

Each development team must decide where this line is. For Infinite, it won’t affect the core gameplay, you can play anything, you can loot anything.

Moreover, it is not directly in competition with everyone else. There’s no player versus player in the game. It’s not like “hey, I can advance further and faster and have better stats to play against someone else.”

These two things are really like lines in the sand.

Q: How would you rate Infinite, on a scale of 1-10?

My friends laugh at me saying my scale doesn’t go from 1 to 10. It goes from -8 to 2. Just because I’m so grumpy.

But I really enjoyed this game. For me, I think it’s in the 8 or 9 range kind of way, which is way up there on my scale.

Q: What about Diablo II, your own game?

I don’t like Diablo II when I play it. It’s different when you make a game. I’m super critical of my own decisions and my own things, so every time I play I see all the mistakes, I see all the things I want to fix.

I haven’t worked on it for 20 years now, but it’s still hard for me to play it without thinking about all the things I would do to change it, to make it different. All my games are bad because I feel like I can always improve them.

Q: There’s been something of a boom in Diablo-like mobile games lately, with the releases of Immortal, Infinite, and a South Korean game called Undecember.

I think there are a lot of fun choices. I would love to see this genre become more popular and become even bigger than it is. Just seeing a resurgence is really fun.

Q: Your early Diablo co-creators also tried to outdo Diablo in the action RPG genre. Are you still in contact with them?

There are always new ways to play these games, new ways to experience the action, and new ways to deal with randomization – all sorts of things that can come into play to create experiences we haven’t yet. had.

I created Blizzard North with two other people, Max and Eric Schaefer, two brothers that I knew. And they created the Torchlight franchise. Max and Eric live about six blocks from my house, so I see them all the time.

I talked about Infinite with them. They tried and they both enjoyed playing.

Q: Many gamers say that Infinite doesn’t feel like a new Torchlight game, but more like a mobile version of Path of Exile, which is another classic action RPG title. How do you feel about this?

I think the world of Torchlight is really interesting. I think it’s more user-friendly and open, but the colors and graphics are brighter and more user-friendly, not as dark as Path of Exile. I think it’s a great franchise, and bringing something new to the franchise, something completely different, is really interesting.

Q: Looking at the Infinite leaderboard, the top players all play the Berserker character with a similar build. Is there a balance problem?

No. You can change the balance of that for next season. So this build really isn’t as powerful as it was during this season. And it doesn’t matter. And then people will approach the game and play in a different way.

I think a lot of times when you’re designing a game, the community is so smart that they come up with all these different combinations that you never thought of that create super powerful builds. And discovering them and playing through them is part of the fun.

Q: Chinese game developers are now accelerating their global push after a year of regulatory repression that has hammered growth in their home market. Is there anything they should learn from western developers during this process?

Chinese developers have become very good at mobile. And in general, they’ve become a place where I think they have as good a design sensibility as anyone else in the world.

Everyone learns from each other all the time. I would like to see their point of view on things. Having a different culture and having a different way of thinking about games or experiencing content. I like these cultural differences. I celebrate these things rather than trying to get rid of them. So I think it’s important for them to have their own voice and get really good at not just making games that have broad appeal, but have a Chinese twist on them.

Q: Do you think Infinite has a Chinese touch?

Yes. It’s the fact that a mobile version of an action RPG has been very well done like this. That in itself is not something that has been done with other developers.

Q: Will this consulting role lead to something bigger with XD?

Who knows? Never say never. I think that would be cool.

Q: Would you consider taking on a similar role with Immortal or Diablo IV?

No. I will never go back to Blizzard.

©2022 Bloomberg LP

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