Older software, most especially video games, have been harder to preserve or re-release mostly due to their source code being unfortunately lost entirely or in parts. Despite the finished product being available, it requires a ton of time to reverse-engineer the software to get its actual source code. A coder has actually done this with the original Diablo, a timeless classic.
The coder, who goes by the alias GalaxyHaxz, has detailed their process of reverse-engineering the game, which took them over 1,200 hours in the span of “6-12 months.” The goal was to ensure that “everything is preserved” in the new project, which is cutely referred to as “Devilution.”
To be clear, this is purely the source code of the game, and does not contain any of the original assets like graphics or sound effects, so this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to grab a free copy of Diablo (not to mention Blizzard lawyers would have already shut this thing down by now if that were the case).
“For years mod-makers had to rely on tedious code editing and memory injection. A few even went even further and reversed a good chunk of the game (such as Belzebub/The Hell),” GalaxyHaxz noted. “The problem is that they never released their sources. Usually being a one-man job, they move on with their lives inevitably due to the amount of time/work required or lack of interest.
He went on to further explain how this will massively benefit the modding community: “This leaves people with a half-finished mod; one which had countless hours put into it, but left full of bugs and unfinished potential. So we’re back to square one. Devilution aims to fix this, by making the source code of Diablo freely available to all.”
Furthermore, the goal of Devilution was to wholly reproduce the 1996 classic and its source code as accurately as possible, including “bugs and badly written code”, so that fans can even make updates, fixes, and even ports to other platforms.
Most interestingly, this will provide a deeper look into the development of the game, including both unused and cut content that never saw the final release. “Development of Diablo was rushed near the end—many ideas were scrapped and Multiplayer was quickly hacked in. By examining the source, we can see various quirks of planned development,” the coder said.