My cousin was ahead of the times in the weirdest of ways.
Back in the early nineties, I remember hanging out with my cousin. For fun he made battle axes, medieval swords, and battle hammers (think Thor) out of cardboard, wood, duct tape, and other items. I was around seven years old—it’s an early memory proven accurate by accounts of others who were his age at the time—and he was around 21 years old. He also was an avid gamer. This was before things like comic con, anime, gaming culture, LARPing, and general nerd culture had reached the mainstream.
He was an influential person during my early years.
I was 12 or 13 when he introduced me to the game StarCraft—the only computer game that I ever played until just recently (actually on my 30th birthday).
I only vaguely remember playing the original StarCraft. I remember the large, off-white computer monitor and my dad’s office more. I remember enjoying the experience.
Blizzard came out with a revamped version of the game a year or two ago. Last week I decided it was time to get back to my roots.
I bought the StarCraft II battle chest and started playing the game on campaign mode in the casual setting.
Star Craft is a real time strategy game set in intergalactic space. There are three groups fighting—the Protoss, Terrans, and Zerg.
After receiving the package in the mail, I immediately opened the box to find a rather large Beginner’s Guide. I opened it, read a couple of pages, and then realized that much of the information wouldn’t be especially useful until I had started playing. It included flowcharts, tips, and information on levels, characters, strategies, maps, and much more. It makes a great reference once you’ve played a few missions in the campaign and developed a sense for the game play.
I’m not good at strategy games. Nostalgia and a desire to build skills in strategy prompted me to buy this game in particular.
The design is great from what I’ve experienced so far (I don’t know much about video games, though). One complaint that I have is that after a mission, you’re directed to the Cantina—basically a home screen between missions—and it is not apparent in some situations where the user is supposed to click to reach the next mission.
Loading screens display a tip in a small text box that is relevant to the mission the user is loading. I love that—it educates and makes use of time while you’re waiting.
While I’m new to the game, starting a campaign starts very easy and progressively increases in difficulty (at least in casual mode).
The first couple of missions focus on the user learning how to gather resources, build, and operate a few key players—the basics. There is little combat to distract you, but enough to let you know what to expect in the next few missions.
The intensity increases mission by mission, adding new opportunities for building, new players, more combat, and new environmental factors that affect play as you proceed in the campaign.
After seven or eight missions, I’m starting to feel more competent in my play and strategy skills. I will likely finish the campaign in the current mode, and then start a new campaign in a more challenging setting.
The very basic setting makes it difficult to fail, but also teaches you all the details of play (strategy elements, too) that the user needs to succeed. It builds confidence and teaches. It is up to the player how much they want to challenge themselves.
American education is much like StarCraft II. With a little effort, you can get by. It’s up to the learner whether or not they are going to proceed in a more difficult campaign mode.