Back in the olden days, before there was internet, multiplayer generally meant “hot seat”. You’d sit at the computer and do your turn, then you’d scooch over and your opponent would take his turn, then he’d scooch back and so on and so forth until it was time for dinner and mom would kick you off the computer. Turn-based games were *PERFECT* for this. On the fantasy side you had Heroes of Might and Magic and Missionforce: Cyberstorm on the sci-fi side and those games were not only perfect for hot seat, they were dang good in their own right as single-player games.
(Note to self: do a Saturday! post about Missionforce: Cyberstorm)
Well, with the advent of networked computers, the whole “real time strategy” thing really started taking off. Now, Dune 2 was probably the first RTS the way we think about them, but it was *YEARS* ahead of its time in 1992. Mostly because it didn’t really work with the whole hot seat thing. By the time lan parties were within reach of the average geeky person (remember putting your CRT in the back seat? Good times), we were playing Command and Conquer and Warcraft but the thing that blew everything out of the water was StarCraft.
Ah, StarCraft. This game was downright *PERFECT*. Even Heroes of Might and Magic partisans like me were sucked into it based on the fascinating (and distinct!) races, the really sweet graphics (that could play on average computers! You didn’t need a warhorse!), and the absolutely *AMAZING* story. Seriously, the story was good. There were strong characters, intrigue, backstabbing, comeuppance, and all sorts of *AWESOME* things that I don’t want to spoil if you’ve never played it.
Well, maybe a couple of spoilers.
You’ve got a couple of heroes, Raynor and Kerrigan who are doing a great job fighting against the various bad guys out there. These guys are the ones you know you can rely on to get you out of jams because, seriously, they’re the ones who get you out of a ton of them because they’ve got tech early that takes you a level or two to generate on your own. At the end one of the later human missions, you watch Kerrigan get betrayed by the leader of the humans as Raynor is powerless to do anything. In the *NEXT* batch of missions, you find out that Kerrigan was not killed by the Zerg, but adopted and adapted by them into the Zerg Queen. At which point, seriously, she becomes your favorite character.
If you want to see the difference in how the original game did the scene and how StarCraft II did it, watch this. Warning: contains spoilers:
This is on top of intuitive gameplay that was fun, races that all played *VERY* differently from each other, and replayability out the wazoo.
Well, StarCraft is being updated by Blizzard at some point in August. Remastered. So if you’ve been idly thinking about how much better gaming used to be back when dial-up was a thing, the cure for what ails ya comes out in a few short weeks.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))