It’s About Time

The Story of Starcraft II takes place 4 years after the events of the first Starcraft game. In real life, it has been 12 years. In most cases there is a time lapse so that stories that span longer periods of time can be enjoyed quickly. This time it’s the other way around. Of course this isn’t the first time where there discrepancy between in-game time and real life goes this way. Still, the 4 years in the story are supposed to represent “a long time”. I find it hilarious. It’s a well-know effect but it falls flat this time. The audience has been waiting for much longer than the in-game characters. In real-life, much more has happened than in the world of Starcraft.

I remember quite well when I got the original version. I bought an early, imported version. I popped it in and the first this I felt was the sting of disappointment. The graphics were still 256 colors. A dated technology even back in 1998. The resolution was 640×480. Cutting edge at that time was 800×600 or even 1024×768 for high-end machines. The game didn’t use 3D technology, which at that time slowly creeping in. Even the interface was a little limited. You could only select 12 units at a time. But it was Starcraft so I kept playing and after the second mission or so, I fell helplessly for it. It was a rare AAA game. It was consciously low-fi. It’s qualities were an incredibly amount of game-play polish and a rock-solid, bug-free technology.

I played quite a lot Starcraft. I played it single-player. I played it on LAN parties with my friends. I even got it to run on a souped-up i486 Notebook, even though the game required at least a Pentium 90. It was also the first game I played on-line – back then on a dial-up connection with a by-the-minute contract. I had an alarm clock to tell me when to stop. The bills shot through the roof anyway and I had to stop. But years later I got my first flatrate DSL and returned to Starcraft for a while. I never got to a competitive level but I was enough to pwn some n00bs.

As much as I am looking forward to Starcraft II, I can’t shake the feeling that this is it. This is the end of PC gaming as we know it. This is the last big, single-player, stand-alone PC game that comes in a box. It’s going to be all web-based and downloadable from there on. Hence, I couldn’t deny myself the Collector’s Edition.

StarCraft II Collector's Edition

They literally don’t make then like this anymore.

It looks like it may very well be one of the most impressive, elaborate retail packages ever. A fitting swan song of an era.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

4 responses to “It’s About Time”

  1. sirleto

    the last one? truly?
    what about diablo 3?
    (just the first thing that came into my head ;)

  2. Krystian Majewski

    Before that, there will be the two other Starcraft II games, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void.

    As for Diablo 3 – yeah you’re right. And there is stuff like Blackspore too. On the other hand some of the guys from the Diablo team split off to make an apparently quite good Diablo clone called Torchlight. Guess what, that one’s digital delivery only. Blizzard themselves are expanding their digital delivery infrastructure. Have you seen their on-line user interface when you install a game? It won’t be long now.

  3. Clayton Hughes

    To be nit-picky: it’s 4 years after the events of Brood War, which was sometime after the initial game (how long I don’t really know). Ideas still stand, though.

    It’s interesting that you recall the UI as being painful. Of course, compared to all the advancements in SC2, the original seems archaic, but I remember playing it for the first time and it felt so much less restrictive, so much more amazing and powerful ( up to this point the only RTS games I had been exposed to were the *Craft games, so I might not’ve known about some UI features from other games).

    You could select up to 12 units! That beat whatever number was in WarCraft II (and definitely the 4 from WarCraft). The right-click context sensitivity was a godsend; it was a pleasure to have. I don’t remember whether War2 had things like building waypoints or control-groups, as those are things that sort of stand out in SC to me.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Yeah, you could select an unlimited amount of units in the Command & Conquer series. The *Craft series always had this weird restriction.

      Rickt-click context sensitivity came with Warcraft 2. Command groups weren’t initally in Warcraft 2. They were later patched in with the Edition. Still earlier than Starcraft.

      Waypoints seem to be the only true innovation but they were also present in other RTS as well. One game that stands out was Dark Reign. It came out a year before StarCraft and introduced a lot of interesting UI and gameplay concepts: building queues, waypoints, customizeable unit AI, terrain height, etc…


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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