There’s an office space somewhere in Redwood City where it all started. Twenty years ago, three friends settled into that office space, and three years later, they were reaping the rewards of their efforts. David Brevik and his colleagues Max and Erich Schaefer had founded Condor Games, and were releasing Diablo on the market after joining forces with Blizzard Entertainment. In the first book of what is to be a trilogy called Stay Awhile And Listen, writer David Craddock takes us on a journey through time in Northern California, detailing the stories of Condor Games’ three co-founders, from their years as teenagers who simply enjoyed messing with code and playing games, to their time at FM Waves, and all the way to the launch of Diablo.
For the loyal Diablo and Blizzard fans, there’s plenty to learn from the book. Craddock presents his prose in the form of freely flowing text interwoven with quotes from a plethora of people related to Condor Games and Blizzard Entertainment; it’s easy to realize that years of effort, interviewing, and research have gone into this book as readers easily gain insight into the thought processes that were going through the developers’ heads.
Aside from the quotes, readers will also notice that many pages contain footnotes. The digital form of the medium has been cleverly utilized so that each footnote will, when clicked, direct the reader to a so-called Side Quest, which is usually a bit of extra information and trivia related to the subject. Some of them are personal facts about developers, while others are tiny lessons and tricks about game development, and some are simply additional quotes left out from the main book. I advise anyone who’s interested in picking up the book to read these, because they help make sure that Stay Awhile and Listen stays an interesting novel and not merely an extended history lesson.
Not only that, but Craddock has also included the full interviews that he conducted to write this book, as well as additional pieces of text written in the same pattern as the main book, but were likely left out due to not being significant enough. Nevertheless, they are available, alongside the full interviews, in what the author calls Bonus Rounds. Much like the Side Quests, there’s a wealth of information and facts that dedicated fans might enjoy.
Craddock’s own writing is also significant; he goes to some extent to explain everything from major career moves to the tiniest part of working out an algorithm, and his style is clear, varied and consise. Words are rarely repeated, and quotes come often and frequently. Readers will have an easy time picturing the environments, owing in no small part to Craddock’s excellent writing. The choice of words is carefully chosen to reflect Diablo‘s rustic origins; there are no elaborate and lengthy metaphors here, no complex allegory, and no convoluted language – but there doesn’t need to be, either. The author uses his language effectively while maintaining the reader’s interest until another developer quote can present itself.
However, Stay Awhile and Listen is not without its flaws. While Craddock’s discrete prose may be elegantly written, I was often left craving more, and eventually found the developer quotes to be distracting rather than intriguing. Rarely do the writer’s own words string together more than a handful of sentences before they’re seemingly interrupted by input from Erich Schaefer or David Brevik, and personally I found it disappointing to see Craddock’s own writing so underutilized. This oftentimes led to me struggling to turn pages, when I should have been eagerly flipping through to find out what happened next.
Moreover, the book feels very much like a niche title, written specifically for dedicated supporters who want to know more about Diablo. Those who aren’t interested in either Blizzard or Diablo are unlikely to come out on the other side feeling differently, and there’s not much that will draw them in to continue reading, either. Make no mistake, this is a title that knows its audience and knows what that audience wants.
Stay Awhile and Listen delivers on everything that it promises, but fails to make an impact outside its target audience; those looking for a good old conventional story may find themselves disappointed. Nevertheless, fans of the Diablo franchise will certainly appreciate it; the topic is well-researched, the writing is extraordinary, and buyers certainly get their money’s worth of content. I can confidently recommend Stay Awhile and Listen to anyone interested in the original premise, but it’s unlikely to lure any new followers into the world of Diablo.
Stay Awhile and Listen
Excellent writing, high content levels, well-researched
Quotes tend to overshadow author’s own prose, highly niche title