Blizzard Entertainment
May 17, 2012 at 04:05 PM EDT

Diablo fans finally had their 12-year wait come to an end on Tuesday with the release of Diablo III. In fact, there was such intense demand to revisit Sanctuary, the world that’s always coming under attack from all manner of hellspawn, that many fans weren’t even able to log in to Blizzard Entertainment’s site — a requirement whether you’re slaying demons solo or in multiplayer droves. EW spoke to Blizzard’s senior VP of creative development, Chris Metzen, a living legend in the gaming world for his work developing Warcraft, StarCraft, and all three Diablo games. He sees Diablo III as the “end of a trilogy” and an opportunity at last to tell stories in that universe that he’s always wanted to tell. So is this the last Diablo game? And why did it take 12 years to get made? Read on and find out:

EW: Fans have had 12 years to speculate about Diablo III. What’s the one question you’ve been asked the most?

CHRIS METZEN: The really easy answer is “When the hell’s it coming out?” But from a lore standpoint I think the biggest question is “How does Diablo fit into this one when we apparently kicked his butt at the end of the last two games?”

Why did it take 12 years to get Diablo III made?

It was in development for a few years at Blizzard North, but we ended up restaffing the team and rebuilding a lot of the technology and tools for the game. We pretty much started from scratch. We’ve been trying to find our feet in a post-World of Warcraft world, and there have been a number of growing pains that maybe took us a little longer than we’d expected. The development team has killed it, though. They’ve built a beyond-worthy Diablo sequel, even if it took a little longer to get the oil that it needed. It’s felt like we’ve been a pregnant mother in month eight for awhile now. It’s ready to come out.

Was some of the delay also attributable to, as you said, the character Diablo being so thoroughly trounced in the last one? Did it take a while to pin down the concept?

Oh, not at all. Not at all. I think we had some pretty strong intentions for this game’s story right out of the gate. Story elements you see in Diablo III are things I’ve always wanted to see in a Diablo game, since the first Diablo. For one reason or another it wasn’t the right time to chase those ideas back then. But for this one it was, since it’s the end of a trilogy in some ways, even though it happens about 20 years after the last product, according to the timeline. It’s really the ending of a cycle, the ending of a meta-storyline in many ways.

What were some of those ideas you had going back to the original Diablo?

I always wanted to see the angels come forward, the other side of the argument in the Diablo universe. In the past couple games we’ve been fighting Diablo and his kooky cousins, the Lords of Hell — it’s been a series defined as much by its villains as its hero characters — and there’s only a few NPCs apart from the player characters that are very noticeable, like Deckard Cain or Tyrael. But we never heard from the other side, the angels, to get a sense of the grander conflict that’s playing out within the franchise. I knew from the get-go that this sequel, Diablo III, would be a little more informed by the broader tapestry of the universe and mankind’s role in it. It’s not just demons going crazy, although certainly it’s predicated on that.

NEXT: Metzen on the end of the Diablo “trilogy.” Does that also mean this is the last Diablo game?

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