Risen, game in development in the capital region
ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – Upstate New York native Rob Gallerani said he never thought he could participate in one of his first and favorite computer games: Diablo II .
“The first computer I ever had, well really the first computer my family had, was the laptop I took to college. I had like a little pile of my friends that said you have to play this game, you have to play this game, and the first one at the top was Diablo II, and I don’t think I ever did. none of the other games in the stack, ”Gallerani recalls.
Today, 21 years after its release in 2000, Diablo II still claims a place among the best hack-and-slash RPGs of all time. Gallerani and his team at Vicarious Visions in Albany have taken on the delicate task of resurrecting the game in the modern age. As the studio’s design director, Gallerani was instrumental in deciding what was left and what needed to be improved in Diablo II: Resurrected.
“That would be like hey, we want you to repaint the Mona Lisa.” It was as much a remaster of a game as a preservation, like a little window into history, ”he told NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton. “If you look at other games that VV has recently made like Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, the ones we have rebuilt from the ground up. We couldn’t do that with [Diablo II], because what makes the game so special is all these little quirks, all these little things that we knew we would miss and the fans would notice.
Gallerani says Diablo II: Resurrected works as a cover for the latest 3D graphics, colors and sounds layered and powered by the original game’s code. He says things like console controller changes, the addition of colorblind mode, and font scaling all help catch up to 20 years of game development. However, some elements and bugs were too meaningful to be corrected.
“Even though people play differently now, Diablo II hasn’t stopped. People have continued to play the whole time, and because a certain bug has been in the game for maybe 20 years, it’s not even considered a bug anymore. It’s seen to be how the game works, so that’s probably where we spent the most time. Deciding okay it’s a little quirk in the game, do we fix it and do it the way it was originally meant to be or do we actually keep it because that’s how people s expect this to work? Gallerani explains.
He says some of the game’s beloved elements have been kept by some of the original developers who still work at Blizzard. However, even though Vicarious Visions had the original code, Gallerani claims that many files used to create the game have been lost. Much of Diablo II: Resurrected’s development time was spent hunting down people and asking to see their old computers, hard drives, or even paper sketches and marketing materials.
“In a lot of cases we didn’t create new art concepts, we just used the originals and in some cases we were even able to use the same models. So Tyrael’s wings, we were able to use the exact same model in our game. There were also textures for the walls and things, we found them and we just brought them in, ”says Gallerani.
He says Thursday’s official release went well, with some of the first launch bumps expected on the road. Gallerani is adding new content and improvements to the game that shouldn’t be happening for some time.
“Our North Star right now is to stick the landing because we are aiming for a good base. We were really trying to get people to remember the same game, so our main focus was to watch our comments. We made an alpha, we made betas [tests] and we’ve got a whole team of people dedicated to making it run smoothly, but when you let the whole world play and you have millions of people, that’s really the real test, ”he says.
Gallerani says Vicarious Visions is working on such major projects proves you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to make great games.
“I was like it was perfect, so close to my family, I keep working on the cutting edge of technology, new games,” he says. “You see more and more people leaving urban areas and moving to places where you have more balance. “
He says as more and more major games are being developed in the Capital Region and bright minds are entering the industry from local schools like RPI, he would like to see the game play an even bigger role in the future of New York.
“We are entering a new era in the gaming industry, and to have this choice of multiple studios to choose from, I would like that to continue,” he said.
“Due to the many changes we’ve had to make for COVID and working from home, people are starting to realize that they can really do their jobs where they want to. In developing this game, we didn’t have the Albany team and the California team or the European team, it was like we were all invited to each other’s house. I watched the kids grow up through endless screens and cats, and then I showed them our leaves and snow. While [the pandemic] is something I would never want to do again and I certainly can’t wait to get out of it, it opened up new opportunities for me, ”he said.