As I begin writing this post, we are 2 hours and 35 minutes away from midnight in Israel, when Starcraft 2 will be released. For the first time, I will be going to a midnight release of a video game. Not because I’m such a huge Starcraft fan, but, why not?
The hype and excitement over Starcraft 2 is quite crazy, and it’s not like Blizzard even had to do a lot to fan it. Well, that’s not entirely true, they fanned it by not speaking too much about it, and letting gamers who were honestly excited do all the promotion on their own. This is a winning technique, when you already have people going crazy for your next release, no matter what you say or do.
I really started playing serious video games in my own home when I was in fourth grade. One of the first few games I’ve received was Warcraft 2, and then its expansion (which I didn’t enjoy much with the crazy magic difficulty). I still remember after my father installed it he tried to play and couldn’t get things done, and I got things working from the first few minutes of playing the campaign – I found it intuitive; same as some years later my cousin had Age of Empires and didn’t know how to get things done, and I sat down and within a couple of minutes got the hang of the game.
Starcraft, the first game? I only got to play it at a summer camp sort of thing I went to, with a focus on war-gaming, geeky fantasy movies, etc. I was the only kid there who had not played the game before, yet when all the others got teamed up, the computer I was on was the one which had me controlling both armies of my “team” on my own. Oy. I only picked the game up a couple of years ago, nearly a decade after the original was released, and had fun with its campaign. It was neat.
Warcraft 3 suffered from a big issue many video games suffer from: The campaign does not train you to play against other people. Take first person shooters, playing the campaign never trains you to play against other people, it teaches skills like caution and conserving ammo… or in WC3: Slow advance, whereas even the basic computer AI will rush and smack you if you try this approach. I know rushing and hotkeys are a big part of SC and WC3, but to a degree, it almost feels like those with better hotkey command don’t need to be masters of tactics, and tactics only really hit in when both players are of equal hotkey skill.
So, I much prefer turn-based strategy games, on the whole, mulling over my options, making decisions, without losing things in the heat of combat. Which I might be more ok with if there was less hotkey action going on. Furthermore, while older strategy games were intuitive, the tech tree of SC1, or even WC2, once you are plunged into a free-for-all game on the internet (and thus have all the options available to you) is overwhelming. The addition of a screen which shows what’s going on is going to be very helpful.
So now I am going to go and pick up a copy of Starcraft 2, and I hope I won’t lose too badly online (though I usually do ;)), and am eagerly awaiting Diablo 3 :)