15 years Diablo demo
August 30, 2011
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It is now 15 years that Blizzard released the first Diablo demo, which I just uploaded to Download Central. The time stamp on the executable is August 29, the time stamp on the readme September 3. Back then, it was distributed on game magazine CDs, and via FTP. Downloading this monster (55.8MB) surely was not an easy task in 1996. Even on my then super fast cable connection in 1999 it would have taken an hour. Over a modem, even a fast one, it would have taken the whole night (Darious wrote it took him seven hours).
When I started writing about Diablo in 2002, the pre-release demo had become impossible to find, only a few screenshots were around. I finally discovered it in 2005 on Biblioteka Kalais’a, a Polish site, but for some reason never got around to upload it myself until now. It’s become far less rare in the meantime.
Unlike the Fallout demo, this is not a separate game, it allows to play the first two cathedral levels and includes the Butcher as a sort of end boss. But nearly all the item graphics are different from the final game, and it still has a number of spells that were later discarded. Of course, since you can only play the warrior, and leveling up is quite limited, it is unlikely that you’ll get to learn any of these spells.
The demo is just a single executable that is highly compressed, no archive utility I tried could reduce the size any further. There is no installation, the game starts immediately. There is some sort of intro video. Due to the format of the demo it is not possible to look inside the MPQ. If I remember correctly, it is not possible to save games, and there is no in-game screenshot function.
This demo is the oldest version of Diablo that was ever released, officially or otherwise. The Alpha4 is available as well, but it is from a later date and already quite close to the Beta and final. And it is currently the largest file on Download Central!