Diablo 3

Behind the Gear: Where does this come from?

diablo19 - Behind the Gear: Where does this come from?
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In my first BTG post, I talked about my desire to share my experiences making Diablo III art and assets. I didn't talk a ton about myself, because this is about Diablo. But some of the comments and questions about my posts make it clear that I should say something about context.

I'm not a Blizzard employee. I worked there for more than a decade, and I worked on Diablo III for nine terrific years, but I have since moved on to other projects and companies. I don't get reimbursed for writing and I don't coordinate with Blizzard in any way.

It's my pleasure to share war stories and behind-the-scenes tidbits with people who care about them. The processes we used and misadventures we had making Diablo III are stories worth telling, and some Diablo fans want to hear them. But I am not a representative of Blizzard, and I am not tasked with the very difficult job of representing the company in this forum. What I am doing is very easy, and what they do is very hard.

When I started at Blizzard, I was a manager for the original Diablo forums. That place was rough. What you had was a community of players that loved Diablo II, and were absolutely starved for updates. Stir into that mix some legitimate sources of negativity: the game had some longstanding bugs, item trading with weird sites lead to a ton of account theft, and there was this long-heralded 1.10 patch that was going to come down from the heavens and make D2 perfect… someday soon. I and my moderators couldn't move that patch along, or even get details on what it entailed. We couldn't fix the awfulness of the trading situation, and we couldn't fix those bugs. All we could do was moderate the truly ugly posters, provide support on what we could, and share some positivity about the game.

In the course of that work, my life was threatened several times.

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Later, I worked closely with people became the first World of Warcraft community managers, and in the course of their work, their lives were threatened more than mine. They were also doxxed, had creepy packages sent to their homes, and treated terribly by the fans that they were earnestly supporting. They were also occasionally reprimanded or fired for cracking under the pressure and responding to player negativity with a little negativity of their own. Harsh, but that is part of Community Management.

So I have a TON of appreciation and respect for CMs at Blizzard and elsewhere. You can see how tough it is, just looking at what they deal with on this side of the job. There is a whole other job where they report to their managers, deal with flighty developers, negotiate with web developers, PR, Marketing, Legal… all that happens on the other side of the screen.

So please don't compare my little storytelling with what Community Managers do. I am doing the easiest version of their job- just talking. My hands are not tied by my manager. I don't have to bite my tongue for fear that I'll accidentally hint at some upcoming project. I am not working to synergize some reveal with a larger media push. I don't have the responsibility of funneling communication between a playerbase and a development team. I'm just a guy who knows some Diablo stories and wants to share them with people who would listen.

I don't know about new Diablo games any more than you. At this point in my life, that's kind of nice! I've come full circle, from being a fan who loved D1 and D2, to being the most junior employee at Blizzard North, to being a Producer managing big chunks of Diablo III. And now I'm somewhere else, and I can just be a fan again.

Isn't it great to imagine what they might do next?

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