Saturday!

Aliens Action Figures Toy Commercial from 1993

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:

The Betrayal of Kerrigan in Starcraft 1 AND Starcraft 2

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))


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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16 thoughts on “Saturday!

  1. Back in the olden days, before there was internet, multiplayer generally meant “hot seat”.

    Well, that or dual joysticks. Not sure how many strategy games implemented that, though.

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  2. Huh you learn something new everyday. If you would have asked me five minutes ago, I would have said that the Dune games were derived from Command and Conquer, not vice versa, as is actually the case.

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  3. Junior and I played Qwirkle today. It’s my new favorite board game but I’ve made him play so many times he’s starting to lose his patience with me. Now he understands how I feel about Pokemon.

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  4. I never really got into the early RTS games, once it became a recognizable genre.

    I’ve never had a problem with pausable continuous-action games: Microprose had a couple of WWII division/corps level games on the C64, there was Pirates! which was more of an RPG, as was Jagged Alliance 2. Hell, Championship/Football Manager is technically an RTS game, just speeded up ridiculously (decades in weeks).

    But I bounced off the original Warcrafts, Starcrafts, Kohans, etc. It seemed at the time – and I’ve never grown out of it – that the RTS games prioritized doing more things, while the TBS games prioritized doing the right things – that RTS was more an action genre than strategy. And from someone who grew up on boardgaming Squad Leader, which cried out for a real-time implementation that the technology couldn’t support, that was a deal-breaker.

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  5. I’v enearly fdinished the main story of the Withcer 3, and I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that CD Projekt Red have out-Biowared Bioware.

    For one thing the game is gorgeous, which probably has a lot to do with the lack of character customisation – with only one specific character model to build, they can put more work into the animations to make Geralt’s movements graceful and realistic.

    Also, Geralt is a much better Bioware-protagonist than pretty much any of Bioware’s actual protagonists. Unlike Bioware’s normal practice of having a VIP for a main character, Geralt is an itinerant monster-slayer for hire, and a mutant besides. As such despite his prowess in combat few people treat him with any real respect. This helps explain why people keep wanting you to do odd jobs for them, and why you’d be inclined to say yes.

    Admittedly the characters are in general weaker than they typical Bioware game, but all the same I can see why it was reviewed so well.

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    • I loved the witcher 3.

      Be sure to do the card playing quests. There are some fun elements. I may replay the game (for the third time) just to do those. The second replay was to get the outcome of the game I wanted. The add ons are also nice, particularly “blood and wine”. The visuals are gorgeous, especially after playing the raining islands in the latter part of the main game.

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