Starblo. That was the actual codename Blizzard gave to a prototype sci-fi-themed Diablo-clone - as revealed by Shacknews in an interview snippet with David Craddock about his upcoming book on Blizzard Entertainment, Stay Awhile and Listen . Apparently, a team at Blizzard North were toying with the idea of propelling Diablo's slot-machine formula into space shortly after Diablo 2's launch.
"After D2, the company split into separate teams," says Craddock. "A Diablo team [which continued to develop Diablo 2's Lord of Destruction expansion set], and a 'We love Diablo but it's time to try something new' team. They started and scrapped more than half a dozen ideas before a few team members suggested making a Diablo clone, but set on a space opera stage."
So, not that new then.
"Like Diablo 2, Starblo would take place over several acts, but rather than journey across a single world, players would board their customizable spaceship and travel to new planets, killing and looting the space creatures they found there. By the time Dave Brevik and the Schaefers left Blizzard North in summer 2003, the Starblo team had produced a few playable builds of the game, but still hadn't come up with a proper name."
This was the same team that, also according to Craddock, put together a prototype Game Boy version of Diablo, under the working title of Diablo Junior. Meanwhile, the team working on the expansion originally planned to slip out another release before turning their attention to a sequel - one which would expand multiplayer features, with online guildhalls where players could meet, organise quests, and even build extensions with their pooled money.
But it was not to be. Shame! Let's hope the book encourages Blizzard to dig out their old prototypes for a bit of public reminiscence.