Diablo Co-Creator Erich Schaefer Teams Up With Moon Beast Productions To Create An Action RPG – Studio Varam

Diablo Co-Creator Erich Schaefer Teams Up With Moon Beast Productions To Create An Action RPG

Moon Beast Productions has announced the appointment of Diablo co-creator Erich Schaefer as Creative Director.

Schaefer will lead the creative direction of Moon Beast’s unrevealed action role-playing game (RPG) project.

They hope to revolutionize the genre together with Schaefer’s former collaborators from Blizzard North. Schaefer previously co-founded four development studios: Blizzard North, Flagship Studios, Runic Games, and Double Damage Games.

Erich Schaefer, co-creator of Diablo, has joined Moon Beast Productions.

He co-created Diablo I and II, the Torchlight and Rebel Galaxy franchises, serving as creative director and lead designer. He is also responsible for Hellgate: London, but he survived, like a phoenix, and now has unlimited powers, the company said.


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The team hasn’t previously said it was working on an action RPG, but isn’t ready to say more about it just yet.

“That probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone,” Phil Shenk, co-founder of Moon Beast Productions, said in an interview with GamesBeat. “We have ideas to change the genre with a different approach to progression and try to address some of the issues that PvE games are beholden to, especially games, like the ones the Diablo franchise has faced.”

Phil Shenk is co-founder of Moon Beast Productions.

In an interview with GamesBeat, Schaefer said that he met with the company’s founders, Peter Hu and Phil Shenk, and found that they were working on an interesting ARPG that he was very excited about.

“I am extremely energized to team up with Peter and Phil again. At this stage of my career, I’m pretty picky,” Schaefer said. “I want to work on projects that are fun and really try to do something different. It’s amazing what the Moon Beast team has built in such a short time. It fired up my imagination with possibilities, and that’s a big part of why I wanted to come on board.”

Schaefer said that many action RPGs are pretty much the same game, titles like Diablo, Torchlight or Path of Exile, with 4X strategy features.

“They are all essentially the same game. They have a 4X structure. They have five classes, and each has a skill tree tab. It is a great space to work. Obviously, I always loved it. But it’s really hard because the demands for content these days are so great. You have companies like Blizzard working on titles with budgets of 100 million dollars. These big ARPGs need to have a full campaign. And then you have to have ongoing content now forever. And the ARPG was always super loaded with content.”

Peter Hu is co-founder of Moon Beast Productions.

Schaefer worked for many years with his brother Max Schaefer, who is currently at Zynga working on PC games.

“We started Moon Beast to take a fresh look at ARPGs. A lot of what we see today is a pretty linear evolution of the original Diablo,” Hu said. “Coming back and reinventing the isometric ARPG genre with Erich is like a dream come true for me. In this short time since we got together, we’ve generated some of the most incredible ideas and sparked a creative impulse that I haven’t really felt since the days of Diablo II.”

It is a bit risky to play with the models of the genre. The team wants to do something familiar to players, but not make them feel like they’re starting something from scratch. But Erich Schaefer liked Moon Beast’s ideas so much that he decided to come out of retirement from him.

“What they were showing me was very similar to a lot of ideas that I’ve been running around in my head,” Schaefer said. “So I thought this was a way to improve the genre, or at least change it enough to make it more interesting. And that’s where I am.”

Moon Beast Productions has 12 people.
Moon Beast Productions has 12 people.

Shenk is based in Austin, while the company has people spread across the country. In general, the company has 12 people. He’s small, but very experienced, Schaefer said.

“Erich of us brings a unique perspective and invaluable experience to the table. Erich’s superpower is cutting through the noise to find the heart of the fun. His instincts and skills have been honed over decades bringing innovation and delight to tens of millions of gamers around the world. We are very honored and excited to be working with Erich again,” said Shenk. “This is the first time we have officially said that we are working on an ARPG. I doubt it’s a surprise, given our history, but now we can confirm it. Our mission is to find new ways to make this type of game more fun for players and more efficient to operate as a service.”

Prior to the studio’s attendance at GDC 2023, the team is preparing an initial prototype to show to selected potential partners. The title is likely to be a cross-platform game and the company will use a commercial game engine.

“We want something that is familiar, but feels fresh and innovative,” Shenk said. “And it should be easier to operate as a service, with the best of both worlds.”

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