Diablo 4: crunch, “mediocre” game… development hell explained

Diablo 4: crunch, "mediocre" game... development hell explained

Chaotic development, stress, crunch… according to the developers, Diablo 4 will never be ready on time and would be just “mediocre”.

Extremely awaited, Diablo 4 made a remarkable appearance at the Game Awards 2022 with a superb CGI presentation to formalize a release date of June 6. If the fans are in heaven and can now almost touch their Grail, the developers are much less.
Chaotic development, stress, crunch… according to them, the game will never be close on time without “lots of overtime”, worse still, the reception of the game may not live up to expectations.

According to a long survey of washington postthe development of Diablo 4 has been chaotic from the start, nothing is going well and the teams are exhausted. In any case, this is what the newspaper reports after speaking with about fifteen employees – current and former – of Blizzard.

Diablo 4, development from hell

Post sources agree that the general vibe within the studio has deteriorated over time. While some tried to have their salaries revalued, major staff movements at Activision and in the team of Diablo 4 have only ceased to upset their plans, gradually eating away at everyone’s morale.
As a bonus, the employees interviewed underline the fact that the development of Diablo 4 quickly descended into chaos because of the project’s executives.
Indeed, according to the testimonies collected by the Post, the game has only been abused internally, in particular because of several leaders who would have constantly changed direction and would not have hesitated to reject their frustration and give their work to other developers.

The interviewees particularly point the finger at Luis Barriga, initially director of Diablo 4, and Jesse McCree, lead designer. The duo had started development of the game without having any clear ideas about the direction they wanted to take. The developers also describe McCree as someone particularly unstable. He could demand changes overnight, throw himself headlong into them, then suddenly lose interest in them, drop the matter and give the job to someone else. Later, when the latter “resigns”, along with Luis Barriga, the developers will remove and change most of the changes that the two men had made to Diablo 4 to find a semblance of consistency. Tell yourself that a Battle Royale mode was planned and was canceled, that is to say the turn that things were taking.

You could tell they weren’t very confident, there weren’t many concrete plans for the game. They changed their minds a lot, sometimes even without warning, on a whim. Gradually, it began to wear people out.

Via washington post

The sources of the Post also declare that the game took a huge delay because of Sebastian Stępień, a former CD Projekt who notably worked on Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3. The latter joined the project Diablo 4 in 2019 to retype the script of the game. Only, there you go, the changes of the man did not have more at all and caused a slowdown in development for several months.

Stepień had indeed proposed a long script written in Polish, which therefore had to be fully translated, which highlighted the “brutal” rape of a woman. which was to make Diablo 4 more “dark and gritty”, actually did nothing but disgust the developers who had absolutely no idea what was going on there. After an internal battle, the latter managed to have the entire part concerning the rape removed and the female character even ended up disappearing from the script. Blizzard nevertheless tempered with the Washington Post by saying that this was only the background of a character who should only be secondary and that nothing should have been represented on the screen.

But despite the departure of the duo, and the express reworking of the script, things have not particularly improved. The staff has been coming and going for years, the Covid 19 pandemic has caused trouble… In short, nothing is won and at the moment, the developers still on the project are not very confident about the quality of the game.

Game release delayed if there is no crunch or cut features?

He explains that internally, Diablo 4 has already changed its release date several times, without it being made public. 2021, 2022 then April 2023. Now the game is expected for June 6, 2023 as confirmed at the Game Awards. Only, here, the people questioned do not think that the game is ready in time. Unless more features are tossed out and teams agree to work even more overtime.

We’re at the point where they don’t want to delay the game any longer, so we all have to follow through and figure out how badly we’re willing to hurt each other to make sure the game comes out in a good enough state.

Via washington post

To release its game on time, Activision Blizzard therefore called for reinforcements by merging the Vicarious Vision studio, now known as Blizzard Albany, with the teams already in place. But as veteran as they are, the developers of this new studio had absolutely no experience developing a game like Diablo 4. It must be said that we are very far from a Guitar Hero or a Crash Bandicoot, previous Vicarious Vision productions. Here too, what should have been a great help turned out to be rather problematic at first.

After a while, recruiting and dumping people on the job doesn’t solve the problem. If you add them quite late in the project, it doesn’t matter if you’ve hired an entire studio, because they’ll never be up to date in time to help deliver the game. So whatever you’ve done, it’s to hire people who will work on extensions.

Via washington post

The development of Diablo 4as chaotic as it is, continues despite everything and the game is therefore dated June 6, 2023 on PS5, Xbox Series and pc. The developers are clearly not reassured and the working conditions do not seem to be suitable for everyone. Some believe the game will still be “fun” upon release, while others believe it will be “mediocre, but passable.”
Although the employees do not think that the game will be postponed, we are not immune to a final postponement a few months before the arrival. The game obviously needs to be tweaked, even if the feedback from those who have been able to walk through the different beta phases is generally not that bad.

In parallel, Activision Blizzard is currently in full paperwork to be redeemed, but here too the takeover project by Microsoft is starting to drag and falter. Recently, we also learned that the FTC, the American regulatory service, had decided to block the file and to confront Microsoft in court.

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