It was 2000. I was heading back to college, as a returning student, and I was twenty-five years old. My friend took me to the local store (remember those, kids?) and decided he was going to buy me a video game.
Now, I’m not proud of this, but I’ve always been poor. My first computer, I overpaid for an underperforming, floor model machine. I had that thing for four years before a “friend” shorted the motherboard out because he was trying to be smart. Or something. The replacement computer I got had the mouse port burned out. Ultimately, I got a better computer, but it was still a couple years out of date.
So, when I got to the store, there were a few games that interested me, and none I could play on my computer. After searching high and low, we settled on StarCraft, the boxed set. I have to admit, I didn’t think much of it. I was more into older games that could be played on run down computers – turn based games and so on. This wasn’t quite state of the art, but it was more state of the art than I’d ever played.
So, it was months before I got around to playing it. I got excited reading the manual, and frustrated when I wasn’t allowed to use those units in early missions. As usual.
I was often between college and home, with internet access not often available. Heck, for the most part, I was on dial up at home still. So, I played alone.
I eventually discovered the scenarios and single-player non-campaign games. Again, even when I had the internet, it was often mostly unavailable. As a side note, the university I went to actually throttled internet access to games and such. My crappy computer never helped either.
It was a long time before I realized there were game updates – missile turrets always cost 100 minerals, for example. I don’t even remember the rest, but I always built lots of missile turrets.
Then, I was stuck on campus for the summer. I’d made plans for that summer, but they were cancelled when I realized I wasn’t going to stay on campus. Then, amazingly, I got to stay. Yeah, it was complicated. So, I was on campus, doing a “job” that didn’t involve a lot of work, or money, and all I had was free time. I’d stay up all night, every night, playing StarCraft. I’d beat missions with Goliath walkers, or just Siege Tanks – just because. I’d always play the long game. In fact, the best experience I could have in a game would be to have my fleet of Battlecruisers hit by a Defiler with plague. I’d have to rush home and sit and repair them, all the while imagining different sections to be engines, life support, bridge, or engineering.
Alas, StarCraft 2 changed that. StarCraft 2 was designed to force you to play online. Playing offline was possible, but was unnatural. Achievements weren’t recorded and enemy unit stats weren’t available, even in-game, when the internet wasn’t available. The game measured things that I’d never worked on before – speed, counters, and so on.
I’ve played too long by myself, on my own rules, to ever be a good player, but the new way of playing has ruined me for the older way. I still have some remnants of the old way – “Ratchet”, my repair/build SCV is always hotkeyed at four, for example. Even so, the game has become less for me, than it has become a force to change me for it.
That’s disappointing. It’s not a bad game, but other people are too often pains in posteriors. Chat is all about political arguments. Games are an exercise in fast-clicking rather than any sort of strategy or fun. Blizzard itself has become another money machine, well on its way to a more advanced Mafia Wars, nickle and diming users for the smallest tokens and digital hooha.
I bought the new game - StarCraft: Remastered. I played the final mission of the first StarCraft game and rather than running around, killing all of the bad guys over the course of ninety minutes, I rushed in and beat the game in just under thirty, without even trying hard. Sigh.- Jim