Diablo is now one of Blizzard's biggest games, a gothic world that stands alongside the universes of StarCraft and WarCraft as one of the publisher's three multi-million selling franchises. But back in early 1994, Diablo only existed in the minds of designers, a small group who envisioned a dungeon-crawling adventure packed with isometric combat and glittering treasure. Now these early ideas are visible, described in the game's original pitch, and uploaded by one of the game's original designers for anyone to peruse at their leisure.
The document recommends expansion packs be priced $4.95
The eight-page design brief, stained with age and illustrated with demons, was uploaded was David Brevik, a few days after he promised to make it available at GDC. At the time the document was written, Brevik worked at Condor, a small development studio in northern California. Condor would be bought by Blizzard nine months before Diablo's launch, but that wasn't the only change ahead of release. The game also shifted from a roguelike, a template that gave players only one life to get as far as they could, to a loot-centric action-RPG — a genre now so synonymous with Diablo and its sequels that that gamers have come to refer to similar experiences as Diablo-clones.
The document describes the game, but it also details its long-term sales model, explaining how customers would be kept on the hook with the release of multiple expansion packs that brought new items, monsters, traps, and levels. Discs should be priced at $4.95, the brief suggests, and placed "near cash registers as point-of-purchase items." Interestingly, while the recommendations weren't followed to the letter, they appeared to be ahead of time, more relevant now when we have constant drip-feeds of cheaper impulse-purchase DLC, than during the 1990s when expansion packs often came close to the core game in terms of both size and price.