Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
StarCraft (SC) is a real-time strategy computer game produced by Blizzard Entertainment in 1998. The game is similar to Blizzard's previous hit Warcraft II, but has a science fiction setting. The game was immensely successful: in 2004, Blizzard estimated that 8 million copies of StarCraft had been sold since its release. During the development process, there were great efforts to steer the game away from being simply "Warcraft in Space", and eventually the entire game engine had to be rewritten to allow the developers to achieve the desired result.
The main storyline of the game revolves around a war between three galactic species: the Protoss (a race of humanoid religious warriors), the Zerg (insect-like aliens who share a hive mind) and the Terrans (human colonists from Earth). It was initially released for Windows, later for Macintosh and the N64.
StarCraft was the best selling computer game in 1998, and won the Origins Award for Best Strategy Computer Game of 1998. In that same year Blizzard released an expansion pack called StarCraft: Brood War.
StarCraft makes significant improvements over Warcraft II. WC II, while advanced for its time, featured what many gamers believed to be a weakness in that, apart from a few minor (but significant for balance, especially at higher skill levels) differences in available spells and the cost of upgrades, the game's two races were exactly the same mechanically, with only graphical differences. StarCraft improved upon this by incorporating three asymmetric races, Protoss, Terran, and Zerg instead of two symmetric ones. Though the races were slightly imbalanced when the game was first released, the expansion pack and almost a dozen patches (of which four affected the gameplay mechanics) have balanced the three races.
The expansion, Brood War, provides several new units for each race (which dramatically modified the gameplay) and a new campaign for each race, continuing the story begun in StarCraft (see StarCraft storyline. Most people who still play use this expansion and agree that it changed the game significantly for the better, although some still prefer the original game.
The game also includes multiplayer gaming on Blizzard's own Internet gaming service Battle.net. One can play against opponents all over the world free of any charge beyond the original purchase of the game and local Internet access fees. Many fans enjoy playing in groups against the computer in skirmish games - while the AI is considered to be weak compared to a good player, decent early game performance can make it an enjoyable opponent for more casual players, and fans also create unfair maps that are advantageous to the computer and can be extremely hard to beat. A few years after the release of the game, Blizzard also released several free maps of a higher difficulty. The patches have also improved the AI over time.
StarCraft has achieved a cult-like status in the computer gaming world. Due to the complexity and depth of the strategic possibilities, StarCraft, especially in its online multiplayer form, remains very popular, even years after its original release. The game's popularity in South Korea has been unexpectedly high, with government-sponsored tournaments, and intense training groups sprouting up across the country. The top StarCraft players are fairly well-known and often appear in television commercials.
Fans impatiently await the creation of StarCraft II - Blizzard has announced that they are interested in making a sequel to their popular game, and there is evidence that they may have started design for StarCraft II in late 2004 (including posts by Blizzard officials on the Battle.net forums asking for suggestions for such a game, and the lack of other projects for Blizzard after World of Warcraft's completion, as well as a leak about a 2007 release from Hanbitsoft , the Korean publisher of Starcraft), but the development of a sequel has not yet been officially announced. Blizzard also currently has a third person shooter, StarCraft: Ghost that was released in 2005; the change in genre from RTS to TPS and absence of a PC version aroused considerable protests among many of the StarCraft faithful, though others eagerly anticipate the game.
- Main article: StarCraft Gameplay (includes information on famous players and a more detailed description of the game)
StarCraft improved upon its predecessor Warcraft II, which featured two very similar playable factions, by incorporating three races, Protoss, Terran, and Zerg and giving each race unique units and technologies, such as to create an important asymmetry between the three. The unit types available to each race defines its racial identity. The Protoss can field powerful and expensive warriors and machinery, while the Zerg count on sheer numbers and speed to overwhelm their opponents, with an emphasis on all-round strength and parallel production, with the Terrans being the versatile and flexible alternative to both races, with an emphasis on specialization and combined arms. In many ways the Protoss can be considered the "in-between" race in that they tend to benefit from more moderate conditions, whereas the other two races tend to prefer one extreme or the other. This can make it difficult to create maps which are fair for all races.
- Main article: StarCraft storyline
The plot of the original StarCraft game revolves around the arrival of the Zerg in the Koprulu Sector, and their later invasion of the Protoss homeworld Aiur. After they have destroyed the Confederate colony on Chau Sara, the Zerg are "used" by the rebel organization Sons of Korhal, which lures them to a number Confederate worlds using "psi emitters" to further their own goals. After the Confederacy's fall, the Sons of Korhal's leader, Arcturus Mengsk establishes the Terran Dominion, crowning himself emperor. The Zerg Swarm is however closely followed by a Protoss fleet which burns down all worlds the Zerg infest. The leader of the Protoss task force, High Templar Tassadar, later discovers he can disrupt the Zerg Overmind's control over the Swarm by eliminating his Cerebrate servants with the help of the Dark Templar. The involvement of the fallen Dark Templar will prove to be fateful; indeed, while slaying the Cerebrate Zasz, the Dark Templar Zeratul briefly comes in psychic contact with the Overmind, who is then informed of Aiur's location and directs his Swarm towards the Protoss world. The Protoss high authority, the Conclave, is defeated by the Zerg Swarm, along with a large proportion of all Protoss. In a desperate attempt to put an end to the Zerg's destruction, Tassadar, Zeratul, and the remaining Protoss unite their strengths with human Jim Raynor and attack the Overmind itself. They succeed in destroying it, although only at the cost of Tassadar's life, who sacrifices himself to eliminate the creature.
Even as of 2005, StarCraft is still one of the most popular online games in the world. The game itself has its own culture, similar to Slashdot's and Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) communities.
In the early 2000s, the game became extremely popular among South Korean online gamers, to the point of being (somewhat exaggeratedly) referred to as the national sport of South Korea by avid gamers. The majority of StarCraft players now come from South Korea. The origin of this unusually high level of popularity is likey a combination of Starcraft's suitability for comepetitive multiplayer and the fact that it was released during the beginning of the boom in popularity of "gaming cafes" in South Korea, resulting in a perfect opportunity for the game to catch on. (Another factor is that gaming consoles are less popular in Korea than elsewhere due to the historic Korean rivalry with Japan, resulting in more attention being paid to PC games such as Starcraft).
In South Korea, StarCraft professional gamers, such as SlayerS_`BoxeR`, Iloveoov, Reach, [NC]...YellOw, and Nal_rA are celebrities: their games are broadcast over several television channels such as MBC Game, Ongamenet, and iTV. While a select few have made any substantial monetary gains through this (for example, one highly successful player, known online by the nickname [Red]Nada (real name Lee Yunyeol), signed a 3 year, $500,000 contract with the pro-gaming team Pantech and Curitel in 2004), and some can earn a decent to good living from TV-contracts, sponsoring and tournament prizes, the lower-echelon pro players tend to subsist on relatively small wages. Many pro gamers playing StarCraft use every minute of their spare time to play, in order to maintain preparation for the highly competitive leagues. Superior StarCraft and Warcraft III players are often referred to as "gosu", a Korean word meaning "highly skilled". Professional gaming in South Korea is an example of how e-sports can attain a social status similar to physical sports.
Also of note is the infamous Operation CWAL (Can't Wait Any Longer). Operation CWAL formed in 1997, as a writers group, in the StarCraft Suggestions Forum in an attempt to "liberate" a final copy of StarCraft, which appeared obviously completed despite numerous delays on the part of Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard Entertainment has gone as far as to give special thanks to this group in the manual for StarCraft, as well as including their name as a cheat code in the game (typing "operation cwal" during a single player game will dramatically decrease the time required to build units). While not very active today, Operation CWAL remains as one of Blizzard Entertainment's older and more loyal fan groups. Many CWALers are waiting for release information regarding another RTS in the StarCraft universe.
While it has many similarities with its conceptual predecessor Warcraft II, StarCraft also draws heavily from characters and scenarios taken from many science fiction works, most notably popular movies. For example, many characteristic elements of the Terran race in StarCraft are reminiscent of James Cameron's Aliens movie. Terran buildings much resemble the installations of the Hadley's Hope colony in Aliens; the resemblance is especially obvious in StarCraft's cutscenes (see cutscene The Amerigo). Terran space Marines were also clearly inspired Alien's USC Marines; both the Terran Marine and the Terran Dropship units in StarCraft directly quote characters from the movie. ("How do I get out of this chicken *BEEP* outfit?!", "In the pipe, five by five.", "Hang on, we're in for some chop."). The Zerg Hydralisk, as well as the infestation process are also references to Alien's Xenomorphs. In the four-mission string of the StarCraft demo version, which tell the events immeadiately preceding those of StarCraft, the Zerg are also referred to as xenomorphs (see StarCraft Prequel). The Terran bipedal combat vehicle Goliath can be seen as drawing its inspiration from Japanese animé and RoboCop.
The popular Warhammer 40000 series from Games Workshop also obviously had an influence StarCraft's design, plot development, and visual style, particularly in the resemblence of the Zerg to Warhammer's Tyrannids. Also, the game may borrow from Arthur C. Clarke's 'Childhood's End', which mentions Overlords and an Overmind.
Another major influence is Star Wars, with the Protoss having energy blades reminiscient of lightsabers and a philosophy/mysticism reminiscient of the force, as well as the fact that Protoss infantry units disappear like Jedi when killed. The book Starship Troopers is also likely a major influence, given that it depicted human troops in power armor fighting against waves of "bug" enemies.
Because of its vast popularity, StarCraft has become extremely influential in the computer and video gaming fields. In the years immediately following its release, it became the bar against which new real-time strategy games were measured; for example, gaming news site Gamespot.com described Starcraft in 2003 as "The Standard by Which All Real-Time Strategy Games Are Judged" (Link). Several terms now widely used in computer gaming in reference to other games are directly derived from StarCraft: rush (popularized by the term "Zerg rush", although previously used in the multiplayer community of Warcraft II) and zerging (though the later has never actually been used in the Starcraft community itself, but as a derivation of "zerg rush", has become popular among MMORPG players).
Novels and eBooks
StarCraft even became an inspiration for the creation of official novels and eBooks (which were generally not especially well-received by fans). Four novels were officially authorized by Blizzard Entertainment:
- StarCraft: Uprising (2000) ISBN B00005AS12 (eBook only)
- StarCraft: Liberty's Crusade (2001) ISBN 0671041487
- (2001) ISBN 0671041495
- (2002) ISBN 0671041509
In addition, Blizzard Entertainment authorized two short stories in Amazing Stories magazine, entitled and .
Numerous fanfiction works also take place in the StarCraft universe.
The game comes with a campaign/map editor (practically a "Game Creation System" in itself) called StarEdit. StarEdit has many features, including a trigger system that allows one to make radical changes to the way that map works, readily giving gamers the ability to create custom map scenarios. Hundreds of custom scenarios are created everyday, giving the game a refreshing variety. The StarCraft map-making community has also constructed additional editors or functionalities that grant the user even more power to modify the game.
Scenarios are created with entirely different sets of rules, objectives, and units. More popular user created scenarios include StarCraft Diplomacy, Turret Defense, Sunken Defense, Nightmare RPG , and the ubiquitous Tower Defense. Scenarios with infinite minerals are also very popular, examples including "Fastest Map Ever" and "0Clutter." Many real-world events, including the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, World War II and the American Civil War, have also been used as a base for StarCraft maps. There have been recent StarCraft maps depicting single or multiple scenes from books and movies, such as Troy and` The Lord of the Rings. These maps include The Battle for Pelennor Fields and The Battle for Helm's Deep.
The popularity of custom maps is not limited, however, to only online gaming. Because StarEdit allows the map maker to "link together" several maps, single player "campaigns" (which are long scenarios played out over several maps, hence the name "campaign") have become prominent in the community. Popularized by the revolutionary Antioch Chronicles, many campaigns even come with "MODs" that feature new "heroes" (ie. the map makers create new art files to be imported in to StarCraft, thus creating completely new units and characters - something StarEdit alone could never do). Popular player-made campaigns include Campaign Creation's Legacy of the Confederation, Life of a Marine, The Antioch Chronicles, and StarCraft.org's official campaigns: The Shifters and Fields of Ash.
In addition, some other map editors exist. These include the "Starcraft X-tra Editor," and have other features not in StarEdit. One of the possibilities included in some editors include "stacking" buildings and minerals, placing many one on top of the other. The ability to change player colors has been left to some of the more advanced editors, including "Scm Draft" and "StarForge," which were introduced after editors such as "GU Edit" and SCM Toolkit" were becomming obsolete after barriers were broken and newer limits set. Most serious mappers now prefer "Scm Draft 2," "StarForge," and "ProEdit," because they give the user indepth capabilities, such as the ability to use hidden AI scripts, protect maps from common theft, running sizeless sounds directly from the StarCraft disc, changing the color of text, compressing their map, and in more advanced areas, place raw sprites, sprite-units, extended players, disabled units, etcetera. Most of these editors (excluding "StarCraft X-tra Editor") are designed from scratch, eliminating most of the limits of the original StarEdit, the "StarCraft Campaign Editor." Many of these 3rd party programs have revolutionized StarCraft map making and new discoveries as to what different sprites or unit numbers do to the game, or as the most effective way to cloak certain units are discovered virtually every day. Many websites including Starcraft.org, Staredit Network, and Starcraft Index have been built around the capabilities of these impressive StarEdits.
Replays, RWAs, VODs and Battle Reports
StarCraft enables the player to record a game and save it as a replay, which can then be viewed with any other copy of StarCraft, displaying the entire course of the game. As of 2004, there are many websites that host replays of players with different skill levels, though pro-level replays are relatively rarely released, for reasons of team secrecy and pro-league policy.
The RWAtools are a set of freeware tools that create valid replay files, additionally containing an Ogg audio stream. They allow gamers to comment their own games while they play them and comment replays of other players. During replay the commentary is kept in sync with the game. This can be particularly interesting for people new to the game, who can learn from more experienced players pointing out things about a replay they would not have seen on their own, or simply for entertainment.
Lasgo's Observer Pack contains, beside other things, a tool that allows you to see the results of the recorded player's actions as if you played yourself (except the mouse pointer and the selection boxes).
VODs (from "Video On Demand") are videos that show the screen of a commentator (or sometimes player) during a (usually) pro-level game. They are (legally or not) available from a variety of websites, and are ripped from Korean television or internet streams. They usually come in the ASF video file format for Windows Media Player, which plays them with seeking disabled, or in the WMV format. Because they are compressed with an MPEG-4 codec and the file size needs to be small, there is a significant quality loss in comparison to watching a replay. VODs are usually accompanied by enthusiastic announcing from the Korean commentators, and the occasional crowd shot.
Battle Reports (BattleReports.com) emerged as a a "review" of a game. Written replays of a past game, a Battle Report goes into length on the tactics used in the game and the different battles. Battle Reports were popularized for StarCraft by a player known as Breeze, whose impressive visuals and writing brought some of the most popular StarCraft players and games to fame. While the quality of Battle Reports vary, a good Report will not only show tactics and battles, but discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the different players, and comment on the general strategies used.
Everyone, at least once runs into a "hacker" online while playing Starcraft (Through Battle.net). These "Hacks" are third-party programs which are used to give an advantage to the player using them, such as map hacking, which allows the player to see the whole map. To prevent that player from using hacks again, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a replay of the game attached, and that player's actions will be monitored and could eventually become banned.
- GosuGamers (News)
- Team Liquid (News)
- StarCraft Legacy (News, content)
- Starcraft Index (News, content)
- WGTour (News, ladder)
- PGTour (News, ladder)
- Starcraft.org (Official map database)
- Staredit.net (Unofficial map and UMS database)
- Operation CWAL
- Replays.HU (Hungarian News, Large replay database)
- Yellowchrome.org (Extended list of links)
- YaoYuan (Largest Replay, VOD Database)
- Tsunami's Strat Guide (Zerg focused, somewhat out of date)
- Art of BW (Terran focused)
- Twotimer's Build Order Guide
- Manifesto7.com (currently down)
Customs and Campaigns
- Sovereign Modding Empire
- Campaign Creations
- Staredit Network
- The Star Alliance Mods
- Broodwar Artificial Intelligence Project
Tool and Programs
- BWChart (Jca's Tools, BWChart, RWA maker/viewer, BWCoach)
- BWScanner (TraveltoAuir's Tools, Replay Slot Maker, Ramdom Map Picker)
- LordMartin Replay Browser
- Lasgo's Development Forum (Lasgo's Tools, OP3, BWTVObserver, Keycraft)
- Starcraft Hacks
- Life as a Professional Gamer - Interview & profile of former professional StarCraft gamer Guillaume Patry (Grrrr_ca)
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