Hey, Reddit! My name is David L. Craddock, and I've spent the past five years researching and writing "Stay Awhile and Listen," a trilogy of eBooks that chronicles the history of Diablo/Diablo II developer Blizzard North and Blizzard Entertainment. I released the first volume of "SAAL" on 10/31 for Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, and Nook; it covers the founding of the two Blizzards and the making of WarCraft, WarCraft II, and Diablo. You can read a summary of, and buy the book, here.

To publish SAAL, my wife, Amie Kline, and I founded Digital Monument Press, a publisher devoted to the video-game industry. I've also published five short stories and have a young adult novel, HERITAGE, due out next summer from Tyche Books.

Got a question about Blizzard's early years and the games covered in Stay Awhile and Listen - Book I? Just want to chat about writing or games? AMA. Here's some proof.

EDIT #1: Click here to read a sample from Stay Awhile and Listen. Check out more excerpts and coverage here.

EDIT #2: I'll be around until 7:30 p.m. EST. Keep the great questions coming!

EDIT #3: Thank you for a fantastic AMA, Reddit. You all asked great questions, and some of you even showed concern for my soul, which was unexpected but appreciated. I hope you'll read STAY AWHILE AND LISTEN - BOOK I and leave a review to let me know what you thought. Talk to you soon!

Comments: 181 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

DatFLank13 karma

Is the title a reference to something? It sounds so familiar.

dlcraddock49 karma

It comes from gaming's favorite old guy: Deckard Cain. It's a bit controversial, too. Many people don't realize that "awhile" is an adverb meaning "for a time." As in, "Stay for a time, and listen." People correct me, saying, "You mean "a while," right? No sir! No sir, I do not!

hiyosilver6412 karma

ssssh I think DatFLank was pulling your leg

dlcraddock15 karma

I think I kicked him by reflex. Sorry, DatFLank.

hiyosilver643 karma

Oh don't be sorry. This is reddit where slings, arrows, fuck yous, and kicks to the shins happen on a regular basis! :)

dlcraddock7 karma

Oh! Well then FU... No. I won't do it. I like you, hiyosilver. A little, but it's enough.

hiyosilver646 karma

Well ya better sonny. After all I am the self-proclaimed Reddit Nana (65f gamer - rare bird I am!)

Nana internet hug

dlcraddock5 karma

Nice! hug right back and a high five for good measure

EvilTech515010 karma

Just how satanic are the Blizzard Diablo2-3 game devs? Are there King Diamond screensavers, is death metal playing in the background? Anything cool like that, or just kinda nerdville like Studio C and D at MS? ;)

dlcraddock25 karma

I believe the daily schedule at Blizzard North during Diablo 2's development went something like this. Arrive at work in the morning; hang coat on the GIANT DIABLO STATUE in the front lobby; remove a stray, three-legged kitten from a rusty cage by the front desk; sacrifice said kitten in the center of the pentagram that stretched from corner to corner of the main conference room; drink blood of said kitten for vitamins and protein; sit down to work on the greatest action-RPG ever made.

EvilTech51509 karma

Sweet! Sounds better than having to work on the Metro interface, even though, in the end, that was far more satanic. :D

dlcraddock7 karma

shudder You're not kidding.

Paraglad9 karma

There was an extremely obnoxious comment made by one of the D3 developers a few years back. I, of course, can't remember it. However, I sense that there's a much more adversarial relationship between the fans and developers now than there was in the past. Back in the day, Blizzard North would actually support some of the fan communities, such as diabloii.net.

I do miss the days of voices and such being done in-house. Somehow, the talent had a greater range of vocal tones than now, i.e. every enemy NPC in WoW is a screechy twat.

dlcraddock13 karma

During my research, I was amazed at how the culture of Northern and Southern California played a role in the cuture at Blizzard North, based in San Mateo, and Blizzard Entertainment, in Irvine. Northern CA's Bay Area tends to be quirkier and more liberal, while Southern California is more old money. That's why Blizzard North was more open to studio tours and interacting with their communities. Max Schaefer, one of North's founders, debated with Diablo players over player-killing and other topics for HOURS on online forums.

There was also a fierce competition between Blizzard North and Blizzard Entertainment. Most of it was a healthy competitiveness, as Max Schaefer described it to me. But things got very, VERY heated, and did affect both Blizzards as time went on. There was a, uh, certain incident that occurred last year that marked the first time the North vs. Entertainment hostility spilled over into the public.

Paraglad7 karma

Yeah, that was a low point for those of us who had been enjoying the Blizzard games for the last fifteen years or so. What the hell was that dickery? :(

dlcraddock9 karma

Sensitivity over giving years of your life to a product only to have it stumble about aimlessly while 6+ million people clicked their mice at the same time, I'd say. Also, probably more than a little ego.

HaveTheWavesCome4 karma

What's this event your referring to? I can't recall as there has been so much hostility about D3 that it all blurs together.

dlcraddock3 karma


jagarr1 karma

blizzard's World of Warcraft and Diablo III CMs and their 'interactions' with the playerbase (hello Emonix) still stand out to me as the worst examples of community management since AskChopper busted those GMs selling gold on eBay back in the 90s in UO. what a disaster. i've never seen a group of people get trolled so hard by their own playerbase.

i knew they were in trouble when i kept stumbling across quickly-deleted posts from CMs melting down and resigning publicly.

interesting stuff to read here, thanks for doing the AMA!

dlcraddock1 karma

You're welcome! I hope you enjoy STAY AWHILE AND LISTEN.

regular_gonzalez9 karma

Were most of the interviews done in person or via phone / internet? If you did a fair amount in person, I imagine your travel costs must have added up rather quickly.

dlcraddock11 karma

Most were done in-person over 2007-2011 when I lived in the Bay Area. I was 20 minutes away from a lot of the Blizzard North crew such as David Brevik and Max and Erich Schaefer. Dave and I met once a week at his office; we'd walk and talk over the 15-minute walk to the local Starbucks, where he was kind enough to treat me to a warm drink. Then we'd spread out at a table and talk for 30-60 minutes.

I spent a lot of time looking people up on Facebook and LinkedIn, and asking people I'd already talked to for contact info. I'd punch an address into my GPS, gas up, and drive around Silicon Valley. It was expensive, but I always left interviews charged up and daydreaming about writing the scene I'd just learned about.

For anyone I couldn't get hold of in person, I left the method of communication up to them. In most cases we talked over Skype or the phone. There were a few who preferred email.

HappyWabbit8 karma

Was there anything that took you by surprise during an interview or information obtained by your research?

Loved your work on GoG by the way!

dlcraddock19 karma

Thanks! Writing for GoG was lots of fun and gave me the chance to cut my teeth on smaller biographies.

One thing that surprised me was how quickly Diablo made the jump from turn-based, like X-COM, to a real-time hack-and-slash. As a kid, I remember reading that Diablo was turn-based for a short time, and "short" is the right word. Blizzard Entertainment pushed Blizzard North (then Condor) to convert the game to real-time. After the success of real-time, they couldn't imagine putting out a game without real-time and multiplayer modes.

Blizzard North fought them on it; they wanted to resurrect the roguelike genre, after all. North's founders asked the team to weigh in, and most of the guys wanted to at least take real-time for a test drive. That night, a Friday, after work, Dave sat down and converted the game in just a few hours. He says he compiled his code, fired up the prototype, clicked on a skeleton, and FREAKED OUT when his Warrior marched over and shattered a skeleton to bits.

There was no going back.

HappyWabbit3 karma

Thanks for the response! Lamp sand lime <3

dlcraddock1 karma

Free Haxim!

miqers7 karma


dlcraddock14 karma

One of my favorite anecdotes that I'll pass on in Book II came from Kelly Johnson, an artist on Diablo 1-2. Kelly, Patrick Tougas, Ben Boos, and a few other artists from Blizzard North took a trip to Irvine to work on the Diablo 2 teaser trailer. One night, they decided to inject a little Bay Area rowdiness into the well-manicured Irvine area. Kelly pulled up to a red light and gunned the gas when the light went green. He stopped at the next light, and Ben and Patrick clambered out of the car and onto the roof. They told him to gun it again, so Kelly did, and listened to his friends whooping for joy from on top of his car.

Anecdotes like those were testament to the close bonds that crew formed during their time at Blizzard North.

Favorite D2X build: Javazon with Lightning Strike complemented by Charged Strike.

SoJ? Nope, I don't have one of those.

tommygoloeg6 karma

I am curious if factions developed within Blizzard about ones preferred game line; Warcraft, Starcraft, or Diablo?

Given the success of all three I would think there would not be one 'total-favorite' of the blizzard crew. That being said I have not read your book and wouldn't know.

I know as a child I grew up on D1 and SC1 and found Warcraft totally awful...

dlcraddock7 karma

There's a reason Blizzard sticks with their "holy trinity" of IPs: even if you don't care for one, or even two, another will hit the mark. My order of preference goes Diablo -> StarCraft (1) -> WarCraft (2). A guy I know loves WarCraft 3 and that's it. But almost every gamer likes a Blizzard property, which speaks to the appeal and longevity of those IPs.

In regards to your first question: kind of. Most of the developers at Blizzard North who worked on Diablo 1 and 2 preferred the first game, in large part because they loved the ERA during which that game was made: it was their first game, Blizzard North was smaller and more intimate.

Later on, there were factions of a different sort within Blizzard North. Those had to do with company politics of the sort you'll find at any job within any industry. There were also factions at Blizzard North during the development of Diablo III: those who wanted to try wild and new ideas, and those who believed it was best to stick close to Diablo 2's formula since it worked so well.

what_ocean6 karma

I can only use Paypal for web purchases, and don't have a fancy book reader. Where can I buy a .PDF or other computer-readable version?

dlcraddock6 karma

I did some digging and found that Nook accepts Paypal. And you don't need an eReader to read SAAL; just download an app for the device of your choice here.

Let me know if that doesn't work and I'll keep looking around for you.

what_ocean5 karma

Hm, I seemingly can't buy it without first adding a credit card to my account (which I don't have). I do have a couple questions/possible rant if you don't mind:

Do you think people were realistic with their expectations of Diablo 3? Blizz is now a gigantic company (4700+ employees), and I kind of felt like they couldn't capture the same magic that DII had if they tried.

I feel the same way about id, for example... the early Doom games were made with less than 20 people. Now id has 200+ people, and their latest games are technically great but just haven't felt as focused and special as the earlier games... Is it that game companies get 'too big' to be able to take risks and be creative mavericks, or is it something else?

dlcraddock5 karma

AWESOME question. I don't think it was possible for D3 to live up to anyone's expectations. Even if Blizzard North would have made the game, or if Blizzard Entertainment had baked the game in North's mold, someone, somewhere, would have been disappointed.

The reason for that is, as you said, Blizzard is such a different company today than the were in the 1990s and early 00s. One of the biggest contributors to the success of D1 and D2 was that the teams were relatively small; thus, EVERY SINGLE PERSON who contributed left a footprint in the game. Look at it this way: remove one of those people, and the games (especially D1, which was made by 15-ish people), would have turned out differently.

When your teams grow to 60, 80, 100+ people, you're just a cog in the machine. I mean no disrespect to anyone at Blizzard. I like D3, even though I thought they dropped the ball in a few ways. But you just can't make significant contributions to a product, ANY product, when there are so many other people working on the same product.

EDIT: What about a debit card?

what_ocean4 karma

Thanks for replying. May I message you privately to talk about my ordering problems? I don't want to turn your whole AMA page into tech support.

dlcraddock6 karma

Sure thing! I'll help in any way I can.

balanced_view3 karma

What a thoroughly nice chap

dlcraddock1 karma

tips hat Pip, pip... Pipin the Healer!

ancientcreature1 karma

I thought it was Pepin the Healer.

dlcraddock3 karma

It is. I just got carried away with my pips. No typo in the book. Promise. :)

1475369826 karma


dlcraddock3 karma

I have lots of behind-the-scenes pictures to include in Book II. I also have some I intend to add to Book I later. The ones I have came from one source and are all from the same event, so there's not enough diversity in terms of who's in the shots, what's going on, and location. I'm adding pictures to that collection and will update the book later on.

Media to include in Book III will be trickier to obtain since Blizzard doesn't officially support the book. I intend to dig around as I work on the book, though, so we'll see!

1475369825 karma


dlcraddock5 karma

Great question! I do plan to cover Hellgate, ArenaNet, Castaway, Runic Games, and other studios that spun off after Blizzard North closed and various Blizzard Entertainment developers went their separate ways. I just don't know where I'll fit them into the story.

Back when STAY AWHILE AND LISTEN was a single volume, I intended to write a sequel about all those studios. If I do that, that will be Book IV. If I don't, they'll go into Book III. In fact, I'm really glad you asked me this, because you've got me thinking about it! I think Book III makes more sense, but we'll see how things play out.

1475369826 karma


dlcraddock4 karma

As a point of interest, I rewrote Hellgate from top to bottom over 2008 and '09. The publisher passed the game off to a new developer, Redbana, and assigned them the daunting task of revamping it: new game systems, areas, and story. When we finished, the publisher thanked us for a job well done and laid off most of the staff, including yours truly. Good learning experience, though.

More recently, I wrote dialog for some of the heroes in Marvel Heroes.

EricZBA5 karma

What are your thoughts on Diablo 3?

dlcraddock14 karma

That's a pretty complex question that I'd prefer to explore in Book III (objectively, of course). Honestly, I've played Diablo 1 and 2 over the past two years more than I have Diablo 3, but I'll take a crack at your question.

I'll start by saying that Diablo 3 is a lot more fun now than it was at launch. My first experience with D3 was Error 37, and that was a sore spot. Diablo 1 and 2 had single-player modes, so I could still enjoy them even when my Internet was down or Blizzard had to take Battle.net down for maintenance. First impressions count for a lot, and I was not keen on D3 going in.

I can divide the rest of my thoughts on Diablo 3 into three categories: the feel of the game, the skill system, and the loot system. Those three elements define Diablo, and must support each other. Right out of the gate, I thought Diablo 3 felt fantastic. In Chapter 9 of Stay Awhile 1, I describe the "Condor test" -- the process Condor went through of coming up with an idea, sticking it in the game, and test-driving it to see how it felt. Right away, they realized clicking was vital to Diablo. There was a responsiveness and visceral feedback to the simple act of clicking the mouse that made it fun. Diablo 2 expanded on it, and so did Diablo 3. I loved seeing monster corpses fly away with every swing of my Barbarian's axe.

The skill system left me more conflicted. I loved the ability to say, "I'd like to try this skill now," and put together a brand new character build on the spot. At the same time, the reason I still play (and enjoy) Diablo 2 today is because I'm constantly coming up with new character builds to try. Yes, it sucks that you can only respec your skill choices three times per character, but having to make a choice and stick to it establishes a connection between me and my avatars.

Which way is right? I don't think there is a "right" way, at least not at this stage of my research. Remember, I've been more focused on D1 and 2 lately. I will say that I prioritize replayability and longevity in games, so I'll throw in with Diablo 2, even though I like both systems.

As far as the loot system, I don't think there's much more I can add. Blizzard admitted that they goofed with the auction house, and they're ripping it out next spring. And good on them for admitting it was a flawed idea. Diablo is a series built around breaking open monster pinatas and grinning when you see prizes spill all over the ground. It's not much fun to just go buy the prizes and skip the pinatas.

16dots3 karma

Yes, it sucks that you can only respec your skill choices three times per character,

You can respec ulimited amount of times with the use of respec tokens they introduced maybe 5-6 years ago?

Diablo is a series built around breaking open monster pinatas and grinning when you see prizes spill all over the ground. It's not much fun to just go buy the prizes and skip the pinatas.

When you have sites like d2jsp running, I really though blizzard taking control of the virtual market was a good idea.

dlcraddock8 karma

I also agreed that Blizzard needed to take the reins on the market. The trouble was that playing that market seemed a more viable option for getting through the game than PLAYING the game, at least during D3's early stages. I say that as someone who never hit up eBay or trading channels during D2's heyday.

I never knew about the respec tokens! Very cool, although not needed.

EDIT: I just read up on the Token of Absolution. I've never seen one, probably because I'm one of those players who never finished Hell difficulty. I enjoyed rolling a new 'toon after playing one build for a while. I've got a Necro in Hell now, though. Maybe I'll see about finishing.

alsax5 karma

Fuck Blizzard and their D3 PC beta test for consoles and money-grubbing AH meta game.

dlcraddock10 karma

It is disappointing that the console version of D3 seems so much more together than the PC game. I'm glad the AH is on its way out. Next, give me a single-player mode! C'mon, Blizzard! I'm a gaming historian. I don't like the idea of games going offline one day. I can still plug in my Atari and NES. 50 years from now, will I still be able to play Diablo 3?

alsax6 karma

This. D3 players of Al corners of the world share your sentiment!

dlcraddock5 karma

I can still play Custer's Revenge on Atari. All I'm sayin'.

TheManWithNoNam35 karma

It makes me sad to even think of the old Blizzard North team, D3 really ruined my view on Blizzard. As a kid they could do no wrong, WC1/2/3 were all amazing as was D1/2. How did they feel knowing their masterpiece Diablo had been tainted with shit?

dlcraddock7 karma

They would have taken Diablo 3 in a different direction, for sure. And I've got lots and lots AND LOTS of documents to prove it... that I'll flesh out in Books II and III, of course.

TheManWithNoNam34 karma

I saw early stages of development, prior to it being scrapped. Sad to think about... Did they ever discuss POE, and what they thought about it? I feel POE is the real d3, it's just a shame it didn't come from them.

dlcraddock3 karma

POE started off shortly after I concluded my interviews with most of the Blizzard North folks. I do plan to touch base with them to cross-reference anecdotes and check facts, and I'd be happy to bring up POE to them. Most of those guys either make action-RPGs or keep up with them, so I'm sure they could provide some interesting insight.

epiclemonaid5 karma

square with me did starcraft ghost ever exist?

dlcraddock5 karma

Yes. Book II.

ziddersroofurry4 karma

Knowing the kinds of benefits and disadvantages companies like Condor, and later Blizzard & Blizzard North had going on, do you think we'll ever see companies like Blizzard North happen again?

You know, where you have small and/or largish teams working for a big publisher, with little to no community interaction, or do you think things are heading more towards a situation where there will be lots of smaller developers working closely with their communities in order to develop small budgeted yet more personal and tailored towards their community games (like Torchlight II)?

dlcraddock2 karma

I asked David Brevik, one of Blizzard North's three founders, this very question. He replied that those sorts of studios are already popping up, but in a different context: indie games. I believe Frictional Games, the studio behind Amnesia and Penumbra, exists as a bunch of developers scattered around different countries (at least, they did during the development of Amnesia).

I think we're living in a time when AAA and indie developers can exist in harmony, with plenty of pie to go around for both types of studios. I love survival horror, for example, but RE and Dead Space don't scratch that itch any longer. Fortunately I've got games like Outlast, Amnesia, Routine, and lots of others to play. If an action-RPG gamer doesn't care much for Diablo 3's direction, he or she can play Torchlight 2 or Path of Exile and have a grand time.

ziddersroofurry3 karma

I agree. Also...I can't believe I asked a question you asked squee! Thank you for the book. I'm definitely going to get it some day, I just won't have the scratch for it for awhile. I wish you and yours the best :)

dlcraddock2 karma

Certainly! And not to tempt you to break your bank, but the Kindle version of SAAL is on sale for 20% off right now. If you're interested. :)

Garfield124 karma

Pretty terrible with things like ebooks - Do any of these formats support me just reading it from my computer rather than a tablet etc?

dlcraddock4 karma

Absolutely! You've got several options. You can download a free Kindle app for the PC; Nook also comes in free-app form. And Google Play also lets you read on your computer.

Garfield123 karma


dlcraddock2 karma

My pleasure. Let me know if those don't work for you and we'll keep looking around.

Sheepyboy3 karma

It really feels like Blizzard has recently nose-dived in quality, I haven't really liked a title they've put out since about 2007 (TBC of WoW). I wonder what about them changed to where I don't like their games anymore? There's some sort of spark lacking and I just can't understand why that is. I guess the games feel less imaginative and daring (i.e. SC2's metagame hasn't changed since release really, Diablo 3 had boring items compared to items in D2 like breath of the dying, it really lacked on hit effects and stuff).

Anyway, I used to be a megablizzard fanboy and I'm looking forward to reading this. Thanks!

dlcraddock3 karma

I hope you like it!

I think Blizzard's games are as POLISHED as they've ever been, but many of them do lack soul. The reason for that is simple: they're now a juggernaut that employs thousands of people instead of a small, intimate company where a few dozen people each get to make bigger contributions to the game. When you have dev team sizes in the hundreds, you're just not making as much of a impact. You're a big fish in an ocean instead of a pond.

Sheepyboy2 karma

Ah, I was worried this might be the case. They've grown from a small company culture to a juggernaut in such a short time, they might even be mismanaging people or over-managing because of this rapid shift, probably brought on by World of Warcraft (Which I love, but it has made them huuuuuuuuuuuuuge compared to previous releases).

dlcraddock2 karma

WoW was certainly a blessing and a curse. Blizzard isn't an evil company; it's just that when you grow that large, you're going to lose some of the magic that made your earlier years special. Happens in every industry, sadly.

una1233 karma

Have you read Masters of Doom about id software? Did you like it and how does it compare to your book in terms of structure?

dlcraddock2 karma

I've read Masters of Doom three or four times. It was a big influence on my work, although I structured my book a little differently. My structure combines a narrative with quotes from the developers. To get an idea of how my book reads, think of the same tone David Kushner used in Masters of Doom, but with lots of direct quotes. Other books that influenced my writing of SAAL were The Ultimate History of Video Games and Replay: The History of Video Games.

You can read a sample excerpt on IGN for a better idea of my voice, flow, and structure. For more excerpts, check here.

dlcraddock3 karma

Thanks for a fun time, Reddit. Enjoy the book!

Kubiubo3 karma

"I can see what you see not— Vision milky, then eyes rot."

Will this happen if I read your book? I feel like I'm about to learn a whole lot about Blizzard North, and I've scoured the Internet for every bit of information I could get.

Really though, thanks for your hard work, I cant wait to buy the book tomorrow when I get paid!

  • Grant AKA, that one guy that's been following SAAL for a while now and apparently comments a lot on your Facebook posts. xD

dlcraddock3 karma

Hey, welcome to the thread! Stay out of the Halls of the Blind, or you'll be dead. I look forward to your thoughts on the book. Which you can buy on Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, and Nook.

Kubiubo2 karma

In regards to Book II, and a comment you left to another redditor, will you be touching on anything from the Alpha version of Diablo II? Hardly any information is available about that particular build. I've seen only a handful of screenshots and I'm particularly interested in that because of how much the game evolved in the final stretch. Plus, you gotta admit, the weird demon hand UI for the health and mana globes were pretty sweet

dlcraddock1 karma

I sure will. Diablo II gets a ton of screen-time in Book II--not only the game, but how the development of that game affected the two Blizzards. 18+ months of crunchtime creates a lot of ripples.

maschine013 karma

Do you remember a guy names S. Pabst?

dlcraddock1 karma

Doesn't ring a bell. Throw me a bone?

amphetamine_salts3 karma

Ever stumbled across a genuine educational video game (as opposed to an interactive 2D/3D environment that has no entertainment value)?

dlcraddock6 karma

Hmm, good question. I probably played a few at school in computer labs when I was a kid, but they were obviously forgettable because I've forgotten them. I think educational games that gain support are ones that DO have entertainment value: Carmen Sandiego, Math Blaster, and so on. Give kids a goal and characters to rally around, and they'll learn from dawn till dusk.

Even Mavis Beacon had a goal to achieve. The program wasn't FUN, per se, but I did enjoy setting and crushing typing records. I entered my typing class my freshmen year of high school able to put out 99 words per minute. That class became a glorified study hall, so all my time with Mavis paid off.

regular_gonzalez3 karma

I have! In 7th grade Algebra back in 1987, there was a simple grid-based rpg game (ala early Wizardry / Might and Magics) where you "fought" monsters by solving Algebra problems. It sucked.

dlcraddock2 karma

That sounds like it COULD be awesome. Shame it didn't turn out well.

generalzee3 karma

Math Blaster truly helped me excel in math as a child. The most difficult settings used multiplication and division, which I learned from that game before I was in kindergarten.

dlcraddock4 karma

Math Blast was so fun.

FYI: The studio that made Math Blaster, Davidson & Associates, was Blizzard's first owner.

sonicdeathwalrus3 karma

What kind of inside access did you get to Blizzard's current and ex workers, in order to write this story?

dlcraddock4 karma

I spoke to over 80 developers (and counting) to write the series. As of write now, I have hundreds of hours of interviews in my archives--and I'm still researching! Most everyone from Blizzard North was on board and enthusiastic about talking with me. I had to do some arm-twisting in a few cases, such as Rick Seis. Now I count the guy as a close friend, and he always tells me how much he enjoyed our conversations.

I approached Blizzard Entertainment on three, maybe four separate occasions to see if they'd like to support the book. I asked for access to current employees for interviews; they asked for creative control. Deal breaker. They did wish me well and even read several complete chapters earlier this summer.

To fill in those blanks, I pored over old newspaper and Internet articles. I also received the enthusiastic support of Patrick Wyatt, Blizzard's ex-VP of R&D, and several other former Blizzard developers.

uebersoldat4 karma

hmmm, wanting creative control eh? Glad you stuck to your guns Mr. Craddock. To me there are obvious reasons for that and I've always thought of your book as less marketing and more 'insider'.

Thanks again, I am enjoying the book so far!

dlcraddock5 karma

Maybe they were worried that I'd pass around mud for new and old employees to sling. That was never my intention. I wanted to tell the real, inside story--the good, the bad, the ugly.

I'm glad you're enjoying the book!

Shadowmoose3 karma

I watched the StarCraft I cinematic CD with the developer commentary (have you seen it?) and it was hilarious. Some of those cinematics where hammered out in 24 hours with absolutely no clue on where in the game it would go. They excelled in trying different lense flares...

Blizzard has always struck me as putting a lot of time into their games and they change direction a lot in development until they arrive at what they see as a good game.

Through your research did you see a positive trend of going from a more haphazard approach to gaming development within Blizzard to a more focused style? Do you have any insight into how their development process has changed for better or worse?

I'm curious because like someone else on the thread has said, in the past Blizzard could do no wrong, but now (as in D3 and SC2) they appear to be making strange choices in the final outcomes of their games.

dlcraddock6 karma

Excellent question. As you read the SAAL series, you will see Blizzard Entertainment's style change over time. They started out flying by the seat of their pants, and the reason they evolved to a more focused, regimented development style over time had a great deal to do with the growth of the company.

In the early days at Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North, meetings were held in hallways, in the kitchen, and by gathering a few guys and spreading out in an office. Blizzard Entertainment was interested in growing an empire, and saw the need to organize design discussions when the teams started growing. It's one thing to let everyone speak up when you're 15, 20 guys. It's another to try to let 60+ people speak at once.

One of the ways they solved that problem was a concept called the strike team, a gathering of leads from the disciplines (art, programming, design, etc.) on each team. The strike team would hash out ideas and problems, make decisions, and carry verdicts back to their teams. As you might expect, some resentment occurred from guys who had been around during the earlier days when everybody got to put their feet at the table.

Shadowmoose3 karma

This is very interesting. I'll have to pick you're book up.

dlcraddock4 karma

I guarantee you'll love it. I also put in over 100 pages of extra content. Think of the extra pages as a shovel you can use to dig as deeply into the story as you like.


amphetamine_salts3 karma

How intuitive and simplified do you think game engines will be in say, 3 years?

dlcraddock6 karma

I'm no programmer, so this is a tough question to answer from a technical standpoint. I can say that the widespread availability of engines such as Unreal and Unity have been at least partially responsible for the boom in the indie scene over the last several years.

One obstacle that Blizzard North's crew tackled early in their history (when the company was known as Condor) was the cost and availability of development kits. Nintendo tried to scare off competition by tossing a technical manual in a developer's lap and saying, "Good luck." Developers had to engineer a development kit from scratch to build and test code. And even in instances when dev kits WERE available, they were expensive--$20k and up, usually.

Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo probably still charge an arm and a leg for development kits, but indie developers can still make a go of it by downloading a free and sophisticated, and writing games on the PC.

adenansu3 karma


dlcraddock2 karma


hobopenguin3 karma

One of my favorite raps of all time


dlcraddock6 karma

I don't hold with you youngins and your rappers. I'm more of a... medieval man.

kuljhu2 karma

Did u have an editor or somebody manuplate the story in "editorial" way. I hope you were completely free.

dlcraddock1 karma

Definitely not. My editing team advised me on the book's structure, word choice, and flow of the story. In no way did they nudge or push me to tone anything down, sensationalize, or otherwise compromise the story. In other words, you get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in STAY AWHILE AND LISTEN.

regular_gonzalez2 karma

Best D2 1.09 build, javazon, strafezon, or WW barb?

dlcraddock4 karma

For me, a Javazon with Lightning Strike.

Bridgeboy952 karma

I want to ask you...how can you kill something which has no life?

dlcraddock2 karma

With the Sword of a Thousand Truths, of course!

dlcraddock2 karma

Hey, Reddit. Since the questions keep coming, I'll pop in to answer some when I have time throughout the day. Thanks for the great questions!

InMSWeAntitrust2 karma

I'd love to buy your book, but I didnt see the option on the page; do you accept bitcoin?

dlcraddock2 karma

Did you go here? Click the e-reader icon of your choice. We support 4 platforms right now: Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, and Nook. Let me know if you run into trouble and I'll help you out.

As for bitcoin: we don't accept those as of right now. We're open to considering new platforms (lots of people want Kobo, and, of course, a printed version of the book) and currencies. We'll look into bitcoins for sure.

Joel_guy1 karma

I'd love a kobo version!

dlcraddock1 karma

I'll see what I can do! :)

JustAdolf-LikeCher2 karma

dlcraddock1 karma

That's almost the exact expression I wore after FINALLY publishing that sucker.

lighthaze2 karma

Tell me a bit about your book. Is it a chronology? Are there interviews (Bill Roper)? Why should I, as a fan of Diablo I and Warcraft II buy your book?

dlcraddock1 karma

STAY AWHILE AND LISTEN is a trilogy that tells the history of Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North in a creative-nonfiction format. Meaning, it reads like a novel. Throughout the book, I spread around quotes from the developers that I received during my interviews and from articles uncovered during my research. Hearing directly from the developers in this way allows readers to get to know the people behind the games and establish a connection with them.

For a taste of the book's structure and the voice I used to write it, check out this sample on Escapist.

nelkyle2 karma

I think I'm too late, but wanted to get your opinions on Heathstone. That is supposedly built by a small Blizzard team to try and bring back some of the Blizzard magic.

dlcraddock1 karma

I haven't played it, actually. I'm not sure if I will cover Hearthstone in the SAAL series. Time will tell.

Supa_Koopa2 karma

What did you think about the "Fuck that loser." comment debacle?

dlcraddock3 karma

It'll make a helluva chapter title. That comment and the events surrounding it was the eruption of a volcano that had been rumbling for years. Blizzard North and Blizzard Entertainment had some... not bad blood, but rocky blood that needed to be settled. It had just never been settled in such a public display. It left a blemish on Blizzard's previously spotless armor.

Supa_Koopa3 karma

I don't follow Blizzard much anymore. I feel as if they really aren't the same entity that made Diablo II (you would know best), but the last I heard the guy who made that comment was shuttled away to a lower position on something else.

Were there any legal worries writing this book?

Best wishes to you on your book sales!

dlcraddock3 karma


No legal worries, really. I contacted Blizzard and tried to get them on board, but they declined and wished me well. I've got a paper trail proving as such if anyone decides to get feisty.

what_ocean2 karma

Favourite Diablo II character build/playstyle?

dlcraddock2 karma

Argh! Don't make me choose! Okay I'll choose. When I'm in the mood for wanton destruction, I load my tri-elementalist Sorc: throw a frozen orb, cast a meteor, run in and mop up using static field and more orbs. I'm also partial to bow-azons since the Rogue was my favorite class in D1.

I've been alt-tabbing between D2X and the AMA, and I'm playing my level 63 javazon right now. I started her last year having never rolled one before, and I really like her. I'm using lightning strike backed by charged strike for the damage pulled in from synergies.

Aeterne2 karma

Hi, David! I finished your book just yesterday and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

When will the next book in the trilogy come out; is there an ETA on that? If so, will you continue on from the release of Diablo 1 and perhaps touch upon the development of Diablo 2, Starcraft and the games that came after?

I'm a huge fan(or at least, I used to be) of Blizzard entertainment, and I have enjoyed every single game of theirs since The Last Vikings up until even Heart of the Swarm.

(Thank you in particular for all those Matt Uelmen quotes! I adore this man's work!)

dlcraddock2 karma

Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the book. It was a story that needed and deserved to be told in full. Speaking of, I have a rough ETA on Books II and III, but I stress "rough." I'm thinking about 18-ish months out for Book II, and I don't dare comment on Book III yet. So I'll take a page from Blizzard's book and stick it in my own: "When it's done." :)

Books II and III will touch on every Blizzard game through the Diablo III, including plenty of lost projects. That includes the two versions of Diablo III in development at Blizzard North before the studio closed in 2005.

I'm glad you enjoyed Matt Uelmen's quotes. One of my editors claimed him as her favorite "character." I used quotes from my interviews so that each developer's personality could shine and solidify into someone you felt like you knew; I'm glad that's panned out thus far.

EDIT: To expand on Book II, it picks up right where Book I left off. The motif of Book I was people from wildly different backgrounds coming together to make something great. In Book II, we see how the success of their product affects their bonds and culture.

Kpadre2 karma

What ever happened to Blackthorn? I think my copy is in a box under a copy of LOOM.

dlcraddock1 karma

Blizzard made console games mostly to pay the bills and fund their own projects. What they really wanted to make was a strategy game for the PC in the vein of Dune II, which everyone at the office played and enjoyed. Once they got bought out by Davidson & Associates and no longer had to worry about money, they left the console business and focused on PC games.

Incidentally, Blackthorne was released for free on PC. You should find it on your Battle.net account.

Viewtastic2 karma

Is your book available in non digital versions?

Could I find it at my local barnes n noble?

dlcraddock1 karma

We've seen a lot of interest in a print version of SAAL and will be exploring it. We're thinking about running a Kickstarter; there's been interest in a leatherbound edition decorated with all sorts of Diablo-y symbols and stuff. I'd also love to see... er, listen to SAAL in audiobook form.

Airyk212 karma

Who would you like to narrate it besides Samuel Jackson or Morgan Freeman of course?

dlcraddock2 karma

Why, Deckard Cain (Michael Gough), of course! Actually, that's TBD. We'll see what resources allow us to do with the project.

regular_gonzalez2 karma

Have you / do you play Path of Exile? If there's a spiritual successor to Diablo 2, it's PoE and not D3. Curious your thoughts on it.

dlcraddock2 karma

I write about the games other people make. :) I've been swamped finishing up Stay Awhile and Listen; now that the first book's out, I would like to take some time to play PoE. I've read previews and heard great things about it.

regular_gonzalez5 karma

If you're the type of D2 player who had all the breakpoints memorized, it's a fantastic game. Rough going for new players, but it really hits all the right notes.

dlcraddock2 karma

Good to know. I should be able to jump right in.

Ipushpolygons2 karma

Sounds very interesting. Dd you write anything about their work mentality and ethics. I'm always interested in hearing how others treat their employees and how they handle development and decision making.

I think I'll check it out regardless though. :)

dlcraddock1 karma

Honestly, I don't think there's a chapter that goes by without touching on the mentality and work ethic of the two Blizzards. This excerpt from the book, which shows how the two Blizzards decided to convert Diablo to real-time, is a shining example.

Enjoy the book!

Ebirnbaum862 karma

I understand that you write books (probably the better part of the blizzard franchise), but will blizzard ever make a good game again?

dlcraddock3 karma

"Good" is subjective, of course. I still enjoy their games, although I do miss the early days where their games felt a little rough around the edges. They felt homemade. Blizzard's teams are still incredibly talented and creative. It's just that individual talent can't shine because they're one developer on teams made up of hundreds of developers.

jtreezyy2 karma

as a kid who grew up in irvine, driving pass the blizzard office was awesome. what made blizzard choose irvine as a location for hq opposed to some other city?

Was there a point in development where the staff wanted to quit?

dlcraddock1 karma

Most of the Blizzard Entertainment crew lived in or around Irvine, so it seemed as good a spot as any.

As for your second question, a few employees became discouraged with their monetary compensation after "the three bosses"--David Brevik and Max and Erich Schaefer--sold the company. One guy quit, but everyone else stayed on. They were very passionate about the project; in fact, a few of the guys were livid at the idea that anyone would rather make a few books than stay and finish their dream game. That's covered in the book.

Hopacalypse2 karma

a reminder to visit this again.

dlcraddock2 karma

I'm sure you'll enjoy the opportunity to stay awhile and read. 8-|

Uplifting_Link1 karma

What demons did you make pacts with for World of Warcraft? Asherah is a given considering you named the Eastern continent after it, but what about the demon with the great tooth and two horns?

My second question is why do you think the temporary wealth of this life is worth selling your soul to demons? This doesn't profit you or anyone in the long run and it only hurts others. I want you to intently visualize a permanent immolate spell cast on yourself for all eternity.

You should turn to God for forgiveness. Undue the damage you've caused. Tell the people the forces you and others at Blizzard work with or that eternal immolate spell just might be in your future.

dlcraddock3 karma

Your questions are less than uplifting, Link. Clearly, we sell our souls for gain in this oh-so-ethereal of lives to crush more of our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear as many lamentations from the lasses as possible.

Uplifting_Link1 karma

Tell people about the non-physical demons you make pacts with. If you want to get out of your downward spiral, tell them the truth, about the sorcery practiced by you talentless sell outs at Blizzard.

The wealth of this world that you sold out for is as fake as the gold in your video games.

dlcraddock2 karma

I'm liking the downward spiral, actually. The momentum keeps growing. It's quite a rush.

hiyosilver641 karma

Thanks -just got it on my iPad Kindle app! Looks great !

dlcraddock2 karma

Awesome! I know you'll enjoy it. Please remember to share your thoughts in a review when you finish. I can't wait to read what you have to say.

hiyosilver642 karma

Thanks - just read about losing the character in a dungeon and needing to go back for your gear - been there, done that, what fun it is!!

dlcraddock2 karma

Ahhh, the corpse run. Memories.