1. The beginning and background
To start the history of Starcraft, one has to go back to the previous Blizzard game - Warcraft 2. It was the first RTS game to introduce "super VGA"graphics (aka 640:480 resolution). You can laugh now, but at that time it was something big (and the game still looks pretty well), especially in comparison to Command and Conquer with it's crappy 320:240 resolution. Warcraft 2 also had great music and sound effects - if you clicked on units they would make funny sounds, critters would explode etc. But the most important thing is that Warcraft 2 could be played on LAN. With 8 players! It had such good IPX support that professional network architects would often use it to test if the LAN is built properly ;-) (and maybe other tools was Doom).
What Warcraft 2 lacked was the possibility to play on-line easily. Players had to use other ways to play over the relatively young Internet - a tool called Kali. In times of Hamachi it might sound easy, but it wasn't as easy. In fact you had to pay to play via Kali! It was a service which allowed to connect by means of modem to a special "server" that would allow you to play with people from other countries/states without having to pay as for an international call. Yes, otherwise you'd have to pay A LOT.
StarCraft precursor - Warcraft 2; believe me or not, these graphics were beautiful at their time.
Despite its drawbacks the Kali community was really strong and organized few competitive ladders, but what the game lacked was diversity. Players complained that both races were very similar. Nowadays most people write that the races in Warcraft 2 are the same, but it is not true - Orcs have a spell called Blood Lust, which gives them a big advantage over humans. Consequently everyone plays orc till this day...
After the success of Warcraft 2, Blizzard started to work on their new game - Starcraft.
The subject of our love, and this guide. The alpha version was really, really exotic and different than the game that we play today.
Protoss fighting Zurg. WTF
After the first few screenshots were published the community went mad - it was just "Warcraft in space". It's not even the crappy looks, the races were still very similar.
After some thought, Bob Fitch, the main programmer of Starcraft asked the team to give him 3 months and he completely rewrote the game engine - so that it would allow not only much better graphics, but also special abilities/effects such as blind, mind control, mutalisk splash and so on. In addition, during the development of StarCraft the Warcraft "map making rage" started - most gamers without a proper Internet connection (or without any connection at all; yes there were dark times without Internets!!!) would make their own Warcraft maps. At first using the normal editor, but then by means of third party tools such as Puddraft or War2xEd. Why is it so important? These tools were so good, that reportedly Blizzard started using them in-house.. and decided to make a better editor for their next game! :-)
This is how the maps were made back in the day. Notice the lack of details...
The work on the game was quite slow - the previous Blizzard games (Warcraft2, Diablo) were delivered on time - Blizzard still didnt have the reputation of a company that "publishes games when they are made" (which is good, when compared to companies like EA). As a consequence of the delay a group called "Operation Can't Wait any Longer" has emerged on the Blizzard forums... and had to wait for few months anyway. Have you ever thought what does "Operation CWAL" cheat code stand for? It speeds up the time of constructing everything :-) There is also other code, "there is no cow level", but it's important to Diablo players...
At that time, Starcraft became StarCraft (capital C), because apparently there is a brand of cars called Starcraft.
No wonder that GM went bankrupt. If you try google searching for Starcraft, you wont find any pictures or websites about their "Starcraft" vans.
2. The beta
Before publishing StarCraft, Blizzard decided to make a beta test in order to search for bugs in the game and balance it. Nowadays it might sound as a typical move made by any other publisher (apart from EA), but at that time it was revolutionary. Probably only Windows 95 received more beta testing - 1000(!) lucky people were given the chance to play and change the game before its release. Beta-testers competed the ladder; tested the interface and the units- some of which were removed; some of which changed their abilities. For example, during the first days of StarCraft evolution one of the main Zerg units were the Zerg queens! They had the ability to attack just like the Mutalisks with bouncing glave wurms PLUS they could cast Broodligns. Imagine that Queens would do 15 damage now! This would be insanely imbalanced! Archons had the ability to mind control, but it was removed later on; just like Valkiries and Dark Templars. The beta test was a great success and the gaming magazines (at least in my country) made multiple articles about it.
Please note that in 2007 I have found the beta CD ISO, and managed to convince l2k-Shadow and Tec27 to make a patch, that would allow to make the game playable on battle.net. I still have the ISO, but the patch stopped working, as Blizzard upgraded their servers. If you are interested in running the beta, please contact l2k-Shadow (the maker of the program callded SC Beta Gate) or Tec27. Alternatively try running the game using the old tools that can be found here + a private server.
StarCraft beta. Do you recognize the units? The graphics slightly changed between alpha, beta and the final version..
3. StarCraft is published - 31 March 1998
The game debuted at a rather unusual part of the year. Most games are published around Christmas, but Blizzard knew that StarCraft was so good, that it would succeed at any period. At first gamers noticed the great campaign and story line. It was the first RTS to use scripting so extensively. The units "talked" (just like in Warcraft 2, but this is rare even for games published in 2005...), the missions were not only "seek and destroy", but also "rpg" style, there was a good story line... there was a great map editor. I remember that many magazines would publish campaigns and custom UMS maps made by casual gamers. There was such greed for more StarCraft maps! Of course the lucky ones could play on battle.net - mostly by means of modems, which led to gigantic telephone bills.
The main competitor of StarCraft at that time was a game called Total Annihilation. It had 3d graphics (which were in fact pretty hard to read) and doezns of units. Small tanks, medium tanks, heavy tanks, super heavy tanks and so on... Many people considered it a great game, but in fact it was very repetitive (all the single player missions were the same "build a base->destroy your opponents"), plus there was barely any story line. But you are probably mostly interested in multiplayer - Total Annihilation did not feature any battle.net service... so people had to use other means of finding opponents. Also the game was quite boring, all the units were the same, they did not shoot enemy buildings (!) and the maps lacked any details.
Total Annihilation - main competitor of StarCraft at the time.. believe me or not. Can you find a tank on this picture?
Only lucky few could play at battle.net during its early days - mostly rich American kids.
Telephone costs were expensive (at least in the country I live in) and I would prefer not to write anything about the lag... because Im trying to omit swear words in this guide. Anyway, as far as I know, at the beginning most people played simple maps, such as (2)Challenger (which was also included in the Starcraft demo, I think) and (4)Blood Bath. Most gamers did not know any effective strategies and the play was quite sloppy. Spawning pools costed 150 minerals, and were build faster, so Zerg was the dominant race. Terrans had very hard times, as they struggled to stop the infamous "zergling rush" tactic, which we would now call a 4 pool... Some old player once told me that in the past people did not use the psi/supply limit to control the game flow, but rather would use a watch - "build spawning pool at 0:45, 6zerglings at 1:15, then a hatchery at 2:00" etc. This sounds funny now, but that's how the game was played. Protoss were the 2nd popular race, people would often start with cannons first in order to stop the Zerglings.
Something which was reinvented only by Nal_Ra years later.
Blood Bath - the best StarCraft map ever
If you want to learn how StarCraft was played, please take a look at these ancient battle reports prepared by Blizzard./
The best players would compete in the official StarCraft ladder. People would play for points and hope to get to the final 16, which would compete in an official Blizzard tournament with nice rewards. Good players, such as BratTsunami (who also created a great website about playing zerg), would often have problems in finding the opponents, because everyone was dodging. Not to mention the hacking. Zynastor published his map hack and ruined the game for many players. People would cheat even in official tournaments, to this day, there are big controversies about the "Blizzard 10 000 dollar tournament"... Hell, I think even I would hack in a 10 000 dollar tournament. Testie hacked too!!!!11oneoneone
5. StarCraft add-ons
StarCraft was gaining more and more popularity in 1998. Players demanded more missions. To test the demand Blizzard pubslished a single player campaign called "Enslavers: Dark Vengeance". It was made using the standard editor and quite cheesy for todays standards, but became very, very popular. Blizzard knew that a follow up was needed and decided to create "add-ons". Please note that "add-ons" were different than "expansion packs". Add-ons just added new missions... - the first one was called Insurrection. It consisted of a single player campaign, with some new sounds, but without any new units. In addition it included some some average multiplayer maps. Despite its drawbacks it was quite a success and the 2nd addon, called Retribution. It also featured some average single player maps.
You probably think that these campaigns were poor, but in fact some of the missions were designed in quite a smart way by the standards of that day; for example in one of the Insurrection missions the player would have to build a base while being constantly harassed by multiple Queens, who would spawn Broodlings on nearly every unit he had.
Due to the popular demand (which also led to creation of Big Game Hunters) a third party add-on was created. It was called Stellar Forces and the maps were simple and boring. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately?) it was quickly blocked by Blizzard's lawyers and is quite hard to find nowadays.
These 3 mission-packs (as well as the Precursor Campaign from the StarCraft demo) would be quickly forgotten...
Precursor campaign. Do you know any other games, apart from Warcraft3, that feature hero units and installation terrain?
Most people rememeber only the Terran demo, with multiplayer capability, which allowed only TvT battles.
6. Brood War - 30 November 1998
The expansion pack was published 8 months after the release of the game. It featured new units and a completely new campaign. It was also proceeded by a beta test, during which the units were balanced again. Rarely would an "expansion pack" receive 10/10 points in reviews. It was so good because, it made the game much more complex...
Brood War was mostly focused on multiplayer; new maps were added and the game was balanced as Blizzard published the few final patches. The first ones fixed bugs and balanced the game.. but then a special patch was published, the 8th one.
The new unit gave a great advantage to the poor Protoss race, they could mind control an enemy worker in order to build their units and win.
7. Patch 1.08
This is one of the most important patches for StarCraft. It is the one that made the game so big. Hated by many, loved by others... - it introduced replays! These small files would allow to watch games played by other players. You could observe the "gosu" players struggle in long battles.
Who remembers the replay where a terran player called `SlayerS`_Boxer proceeded to use EMP shockwave and nuclear missiles in order to destroy a Protoss player (DockSury)? (after the years we learned that the game was either fake or staged).
There was also this beautiful TvT between Boxer and [NC]..no1 on Showdown.
You might think that replays are not important, but they allowed the casual gamers to spend hours studying them in order to improve. Mutliple websites have spawned - in order to host the replays; good players would publish them - for fame and for money! Companies like coca-cola or AMD would sponsor the players to use their brands as the tags.. only years later would they learn that advertisements can be included in texts showed at the beginning of the game.
(A brief description of some of the older maps can be found here:
Anyway, where did this Boxer guy come from?
8. Korean scene and the emergence of pro-gaming
In the late 1990s Korea has been investing a lot into the development of cable Internet. Today it might sound not important, but at that time, most countries had to rely on slow (and laggy) modems. Cable Internet allowed not only fast Internet spped, but also the more important thing - fixed fees! Your parents would not rant about your telephone bills any more! You would not have to be afraid of getting a "dialer" (malware program) that would make you dial some operator in a third world country and your telephone bill would get astronomical.
StarCraft gained lots of popularity in Korea. Seriously, what else could you play at that time? FPS games? They casual gamer had really big problems in running them, as graphic accelerators, such as 3Dfx Voodoo were really expensive at that time. Players could play not only at home, but also at Internet cafes, called PC Bangs in Korea. Im not from Korea but I remember that I used to go to cafes to play StarCraft with friends! This was one of the opportunities to play Hunters on LAN.
Players like Boxer and later [NC]..Yellow would get recognition and slowly gain sponsors. I do not have much information about StarCraft in Korea at that time, but I assume that it looked similar to StarCraft tournaments in Poland: at the beginning we had tournaments for the best player in an Internet cafe, then we would have off-line tournaments for the best player in a town, then tournaments at country level.
Netcraft/Netwars.pl server was born at that time, and most peoeple in Poland Started to play it (it was less laggy and did not check if the CD-key is original).
9. Meanwhile in Europe - Team like weed is formed!
When montaro.org failed and Tsunami quit; few new websites would emerge. One of them was http://battlereports.com/, where people would describe their epic games with other good players (ok, it was launched before the 1.08 patch), another was http://sclegacy.com/ with descriptions of different strategies.
In addition, two fellow Dutchmen, tolkien fan Liquid~Nazgul and and meat fan Liquid~Meat decided to create a clan.. The clan (and the accompanying website) was called Team Liquid. These two guys were interested in two things - StarCraft and horses. Horses were dropped later on (for poker), but the StarCraft sentiment remained.At the beginning the website was small and less moderated. For some reason, probably the quality of posts, few English speaking Koreans decided to visit it frequently and provide English battle reports describing the events of the emerging Korean scene. Koreans managed to transmit StarCraft on TV!!!
Teamliquid had Stimey the ok GM fish. Teamliquid had Rekrul who banned people randomly. Teamliquid had OrangeTerran who claimed that he would beat people. Teamliquid had Hovz who would beat people (in game and in real life). Teamliquid had Elky the French progamer who clashed with Boxer on TV!
Believe it or not, this guy is great at StarCraft and poker despite the fact that he is French.
One would come to teamliqud.net to learn some broken Korean phrases that could be later used in order to play with the "Korean gosus":
You would come to teamliquid to ask for the names of the best channels on US West, because for some reason this was the server with the most skilled players for some reason (after all the servers were split into realms. Before that there was a big single server for everyone!). My theory is that the best Koreans came to US West to clash with the best US players, like BratTsunami. Europe was always multikulti garbage and US East was about dodging, flaming and trashtalking - does anyone remember X17 clan? They are still doing this, after like 11 years...
Did you note that Koreans seem to prise "U.S. West server" till this day.
Go West? Screenshot taken at ICCUP in 2009
Does anyone remember the best US west clans from the old days?
Brood War KOR-nAmOmO
Brood War KOR-NeXus
were the best...
And at Europe server:
The progaming teams were much different too:
On December 10 2003 07:15 stimey d okgm fish wrote:
jinnam, joyo, hovz, rekrul
boxer, slayers, limterran, yaoyowan
nazgul, meat, john sears, liquid
reach, assem, gundam, yellow, orange
jinnam, joyo, hovz, rekrul
boxer, slayers, limterran, yaoyowan
nazgul, meat, john sears, liquid
reach, assem, gundam, yellow, orange
10. Somewhere around 2003, Legionnaire and Rekrul would go to Korea.
Teamliquid got pace. Not only did it have battle reports. It also had players competing in Korean teams. Not only Elky and Rekrul, but also Leg, who in fact would write about strategy and answer the questions of average Joe. A real progamer!
StarCraft was so cool back then, that some lamers would create a "StarCraft university" and would give lessons for $80 per hour.
Teamliquid also had the VOD thread. You might think that VODs are common bread and butter. But Im talking about 2005. The times where there was no Youtube. Do you remember it? Bandwidth costed a shitton, hosting video was hard. But teamliquid members managed to do it! Everyone would try to spam to get 300 (or was it 500?) posts in order to be able to download VODs, as only the users with a hydralisk or more could download them.I remember that many people from netwars.pl would write to me and ask to borrow my account in order to download the VODs, as they did not have enough posts. And I usually refused ahaha!
I sorta miss my old account, it had 2800 posts, which also grant some other privileges up to this day... (some people will know what I mean).
11. Former history
The boards became more and more similar to the one you can see nowadays. The strategy forum mostly consisted of Protoss players, who would complain that the game was imbalanced. They forgot about fast expands known before Brood War, they forgot about observers. They only used 3 units, Zealots, Probes and Dragoons.
But there was this guy, called Johnattan Walsh, aka Frozen Abitur, who would come and bash them.
Protoss players would complain that lurkers are imbalanced and that they would always forget to make observers. There was even some replay, where some guy used an Archon and few Zealots to kill the burrowed Lurker. He positioned the Zealots on top of the Lurker and attacked them with an Archon. Splash damage would be used to kill the Zerg unit. And no, the Protoss player did not have storm. He was considered gosu though! FA ridiculed it. We also laughed at the strategy involving mind controlling the enemy Overlord in order to get a free observer. But for some reason it worked.
Just like Boxer's blind spot rush.
At that time everyone was playing pure Lost Temple. I remember that I had 500 (yes 500!!!) versions of that map. Due to the increasing boredom, new maps would slowly start to emerge e.g. Nostalgia.
Difference between neogamei and regular LT; screenshot made by Bill307 (IIRC)
Blackman would get third at the WCG, everyone would try playing macro Zerg at this time... oh no sorry, everyone would switch to Terran. Because Boxer became even more awesome! He had the micro, he had the strategies! He was so great. He had a big rivalry with [NC]...Yellow... whom he would bunker rush multiple times; for example during the OSL final - THREE TIMES in a row:
or on an island map!
Yes, Boxer bunker rushed Yellow on an island map, just after he ridiculed him in the OSL finals
The average Joe would play on gamei - the gosu Korean server with antihack (only if you had fellow Koreans who would explain to you how to do it); and later on WGTOUR - the big ladder website, with lots of drama and abuse. At some point the Koreans even came to WGTOUR in order to participate in the ladder, LastGamer aka Yellow had 100 wins and 2-3 losses (he only lost to a map hacking German Terran from clan BWD as far as I remember).
Gamei would die soon; but not before Boxer acquired 2000 points there and hand picked 3 training partners for himself (one of the training partners was called Iloveoov, does it sound familiar?). JulyZerg had only 1300 points and was playing 50 games per day at that time. After the server died we would play on US West again; Koreans would run "HanStar" program, which allowed them to write in Korean in StarCraft (blizzard later updated it). After the servers demise, neo-gamei would emerge - this time made by Russians, and die too..
Protoss sucked in 2005
Terran sucked in 2005 too o_o
We did what we could to make the other players leave the game to get the points.
After ngi died, a brave, but forgotten social worker from Canada, called Pat, together with Ashur from Czech republic, would create a new server - PGTOUR.
This was one of the best StarCraft servers, it had a great launcher, great website, lots of
other features.. it was perfect. It was even better than ICCUP, because it was also focused on news and replays But everyone flamed Pat and one day he simply disappeared. Perhaps after PGT was hacked, perhaps due to the problems with getting enough staff - he had to do all the things himself. He is one of the forgotten people, just like Emlary, from the VOD thread, or ToKoreaWithLove, the old TL.net moderator.
Meanwhile, in Korea, a player called [Red]Nada would emerge and stomp Boxer. He would also stomp the Protoss players with his "tornado Terran" build. They would cry that both the Terrans and the Zerg can defeat them easily. After Nada, Iloveoov would emerge, and then Reach, and then JulyZerg.. and then Jaedong... but this is the more known history of StarCraft.
There was also Xellos, the imperfect Terran
12. The biggest secret of StarCraft revealed.
After 8 years from publishing the game, the biggest secret was revealed.
THERE IS A MAN INSIDE OF MISSILE TURRET
13. Biggest protoss victory
Protoss player BigBalls (teamliquid.net) won $1 million in poker.
14. And then everyone started making movies
Eros Leo the movie
The Shock Squadron clan (S2) cheated in their marine micro highlight video:
Not to mention the StarCraft origami. Everyone was making those at one point:
15. Over the years there were some epic games:
16. StarCraft and teamliquid.net have evolved
AND THEY DONT LOOK THE SAME WAY AS IN 1998
please open spoiler to see picture
+ Show Spoiler +
17. We don't discuss progamer mice any more
We focus on the SEN-DT35 keyboards instead.
18. Protoss learned the "Bisu" build.
as well as finally started to use Reavers.
19. In 2009 Valkiries became finally usable.
Boxer had to show how to use them lol
The rest is quite known.
EDIT: THERE IS AN UPDATE AT PAGE 4 WITH LOTS OF ADDITIONAL MATERIAL - CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW THROUGH.