Starcraft II: Footage, Strange Decisions

By Jim Rossignol on June 29th, 2009 at 5:12 pm.


UPDATE: This story on VG247 suggests that they really mean it: no LAN support of any kind. Bananas.

An abundance of Starcraft II stuff has appeared on the grainy info screens of RPS HQ, including project lead Dustin Browder saying that the beta is set to last “four to six months”. Which means they’ll be right up against it if they’re aiming to get the game out before Christmas. In rather more bizarre news, Blizzardian hyperboss Rob Pardo has said that that the game won’t support a LAN option, and that the decision not to include it “is because of the planned technology to be incorporated into Battle.net.” Which presumably means they are going to support play over a local network, but you’ll still need to be online and logged into Battlenet on individual accounts to play. Maybe. I could be quite, quite wrong.

Seven minutes of footage – watch those tiny dudes eviscerate! – courtesy of Joystiq, below.


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171 Comments »

  1. Vector says:

    Oh, come on, that’s ridiculous. Why would someone need to depend on an Internet connection to play LAN with some friends?

  2. Zyrxil says:

    CD-key authentication.

  3. Frans Coehoorn says:

    Ask Relic. They did the same thing with Company of Heroes when addon Oppossing Fronts was released. It’s horrible, especially when Relic Online turns into Relic Offline. Battle.net on the other hand isn’t offline *that* much, bit still… Blizzard made a wrong choice.

  4. jon_hill987 says:

    So you think it won’t support LAN play in the same way as Left 4 Dead does not support LAN play. That sucks.

    Gone are the days when a single Age of Empires disk let two people play…

  5. Feintlocke says:

    Is this Blizzard’s way of tackling the Hamachi crowd?

    I can’t decide whether this grates me or not. There’s always an internet connection available whenever I’m lanning these days… but then again not all of my LAN mates are going to buy SC2.

  6. Colthor says:

    Probably just to stop pirate copies being able to play multiplayer over Hamachi.

    Sadly that means legit copies can’t play multiplayer over Hamachi when internet gaming has one of the funny fits it’s so prone to.

  7. cliffski says:

    It’s definitely to stop piracy. Devs arent able to come out and say that, because people hurl abuse at them, so they will phrase it differently. But this is almost certainly why they would be doing this.
    Starcarft 2 will be pirated to oblivion unless they do this. They have no choice :(

  8. Nimdok says:

    It’s not so much about “piracy” in a grand sense as it is to combat multi-user, single-disc play; A game store or LAN house will have to have one copy per computer now, each with an individual Battle.NET account. Blizzard MIGHT, MIGHT allow corporate accounts, discounted rates or a single copy authorized for LAN only play, but that’s doubtful. They’re basically shanking their fans in the back over a plink in the money ocean.

  9. Sajmn says:

    I can imagine this is being justified as an anti-DRM measure. What’s next? A connection required to play singleplayer too? Even though I plan to buy this game (atleast if the demo will work well) I hope someone will find a way to bypass this silly nonsense.

  10. Clovus says:

    /me hurls abuse at cliffski

    I like to complain about DRM a lot, but it really doesn’t make since for Blizzard to include something to make it easy. It will still be possible to sell a used copy of Starcrat II and the buyer can play on-line, right? If so, this seems ok

  11. cliffski says:

    Well what do you honestly expect them do? release the game as free?
    Games like this cost a fortune to make. It might seem ‘silkly’ to you for them to try and prevent widespread piracy of it, but the conversation in the board room will be:
    “Either we have some DRM to prevent offline play, or we just make an MMO”
    If you want to be angry at someone about it, be angry at the pirates. The future is Civony, and games like it. Thats what games companies have been driven to.

    yes it sucks.

  12. Graham says:

    In the long run, I think it’ll be a damn shame to not have LAN support for one of the most antcepated RTS sequels ever. I do indeed have fond memories of playing 8 person LAN games of Starcraft with a single copy.

    Hellgate London did the same thing, sadly. What a wonder it would be to blow up some baddies through hell with your mate right next to you.

  13. Forscythe says:

    I don’t mind if they don’t “officially” support LAN play, to discourage casual pirates, etc, but I hope it is like Left 4 Dead, which has no official LAN support, but allows LAN play through some trivial console commands (on the server: sv_lan 1 map [mapname], on the clients: openserverbrowser). My friends and I use this to LAN play L4D in offline mode when someone doesn’t own the game, and it hasn’t contributed to any piracy as far as I am aware.

    On the other hand, NOT having a lan option is usually enough to convince us not to even try a game, since trying to play a game over the internet when we are all on one IP complicates things just a little too much.

    On the OTHER other hand, this is Starcraft 2, so Blizzard can pretty much do whatever they want and still sell 10,000,000 copies.

  14. Serondal says:

    I would doubt it Clovus. They will probably require you to register the cd key with your battle.net account so that you can only play with that CD key under that account name. Isn’t that how Diablo 2 worked ? (‘m not sure it’s been soooo long since I played) I do know battle.net kept two people with the same CD from playing at the same time, but I don’t think you had to register your cd with it. That may change though since they’re getting rid of lan.

    Still starcraft is so old now and this game looks like star craft more than anything else, I think it is going to be a failure compared to DOW2 and Company of Heros (after all Starcraft is a direct rip off of WH40K (Zerg-Tyranid. Protoss-Tau or Eldar, can’t decide. The space marines should be obvious enough on their own ;P)

    It does look like Blizzard has gone a long way to making their races seem more unique then ever before though so I’ll have to see how it turns out. I’ll probably end up buying it too

  15. Steve says:

    @Frans: You can just insert your DVD into the drive if you’re not online.

    Oh well, not that I intend to buy SC2. It’s a rehashed old title that has been completely superceded by modern RTS games. Ones that aren’t based off micro and clicking fast.

  16. Shoe says:

    Did their black hole ability turn into super stasis? Lol.

  17. Pahalial says:

    This is ridiculous, I originally got into Starcraft after playing it at a LAN off a single disk. I eventually bought it and then bought it again fairly recently.

    Casual LAN-type piracy probably drives sales more than it prevents them :(

  18. EyeMessiah says:

    Yeah, its stupid – but I’ve seen similar setups in a lot of games nowadays. It will be intolerable when you move house or your internet goes down, but for the rest of the time we will probably be blissfully unaware of it. Pirates too will probably be undeterred and just play on private servers with modified clients.

    Maybe they will reintroduce some kind of spawn copy thing? Seems like it would be a simple enough thing to manage, especially if all the clients have to go through only authentication.

    RE. SC2′s relevancy. Its Blizzard so I will be surprised if they don’t turn out a great game, but from all the footage I have seen so far it does look quite dated and like they haven’t learned much from all the great RTSs that came out after WC3. The stacking on the flying units makes me squint with horror a bit. Maybe it will be satisfyingly old-school?

  19. SpoonySeeker says:

    @cliffski [CITATION NEEDED]

  20. Serondal says:

    Yah the stack of flying units made me go “erk” as well. I would have liked it if they at least made it so every flying unit in the game isn’t capable of hovering perfectly in mid air.

    I think it would be cool if a hovering unit becomes a valid target for ground units that can’t normally attacking flying units (like if a UH-60 is hovering right off the ground it becomes a good target for AK-47 fire since it isn’t moving any more it might be possible to shoot it down with a lucky shot into the tail rotor or at least you might kill someone on board)

    As far as lan piracy I think they would do well to remember their roots and how well their previous games sold when you could make a spawn copy on your friends computer so you could play with them even if they didn’t own it.

  21. Mman says:

    I don’t understand why companies keep coming up with these schemes that only hurt the casual player. Somebody interested in letting their friend try a game, or selling a used copy, or installing on multiple computers for a lan party. In an extremely shallow sense, these things to decrease how much money the developers get, but ultimately it does nothing to deter the serious “pirate”. It will only be a matter of time before somebody cracks the game/spoofs battlenet. Instead they should look at people who play a copy they have not bought as a potential customer. It seems that if I go over to a friends to play this game on lan I might just be slightly interested in buying a legitimate copy to play actually over battlenet, right?

  22. Gwyd says:

    yes everyone can throw in some nostalgic comment about LAN’s, but lets face it if they didn’t add something like this the game would be pirated in frank daft numbers.

    Hooking everything up to you’re battle net account is by far one of the least harmful forms of DRM, it’ll also have the effect of accelerating Blizzards new and “evil” plans to modernise battle net. After all we already use a similar set up for our Steam games and GFWL for DOW2.

  23. cyrenic says:

    @Gwyd

    This game will still be pirated in frank daft numbers.

  24. alset says:

    @cyrenic
    And it will still sell like hotcakes

  25. Tei says:

    This video make me feel the uncanny valley. Is real and unreal at the same time. That big monster ( I don’t know the name ) spins 190 degress in like 150 ms. It rotate tooo way fast. Everything feel fake, the the differences betwen races are blurry now. Everything as a… somewhat french nouvelle wave.. style to it. More than Starcraft it feel like “Paris vs Marseille vs Aquitania”.
    Even the two elevations is totally artificial and fake.
    If the original Starcraft was a movie, this one is theater.. greek theater. Is unbeliable ….fake. The pathfinding is also a joke.

    That comment may sound like criticism, but is not. I have develop quake engines for the opensource community for about 6 years, and I know what the e-sport guys want.

    This:
    http://img91.imageshack.us/i/ezquake004largewo4.jpg/

    ( No, is not a graphic error, e-sport gamers want a game where all realism is removed, all unfair adventages, and only a scheleton of a game remain. Is like Chess, If you remove the animations and the random encounters. )

  26. I HAVE TO BUY GAMES TO PLAY THEM? says:

    @cyrenic

    A little less so, I would venture to claim. Private servers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

  27. Psychopomp says:

    @cyrenic

    And then people will buy it later for multiplayer

  28. yutt says:

    “Well what do you honestly expect them do? release the game as free?”

    I’m sure no one will buy Starcraft II unless they *exlude* LAN support. You know, just like Starcraft and Warcraft 3 and Diablo and Diablo 2 didn’t sell any copies.

    Those games were such massive failures, and continue to be massive failures every month. Surely Blizzard must make changes to prevent Starcraft 2 from being the financial burden that Starcraft is.

    The only think that gives me hope is that we’ll have community patches to the game to allow LAN play. Thank you pirates for creating an incentive to fix the broken game I will no doubt pay for.

    So, as always, in the end, it is only the paying customer that gets screwed.

  29. Serondal says:

    @Yutt – There is a fine balance that devs have to walk down now a days. If they don’t protect the game from piracy enough then the customer gets screwed (DemiGod is a good example, pirates more or less fubared that entire thing. They did admit that it was also their fault but it is a good example since they had no DRM the game was pirated all to hell and back) Then the oppiste extreme is the Spore like DRM where you can’t even play a single player game without validating it online every so often and you’ve only got X amount of times to install it so on and so forth.

    I think the way Starcraft 2 is going to handle it is some place in between those two extremes. At least battle.net won’t be flooded with pirated copies of the game like Demigod had.

    Anyone remember when they made that hack in Diablo 2 where when you open a treasure chest tons of items and gold flew out in such numbers that it crashed battle.net all together? that was good times :P

  30. Heliocentric says:

    They need to look at the bottom line, if destroying traditional lan parties might decrease the damage of piracy, its what they have to do.

  31. Supraliminal says:

    For starters I must admit: I have never played Starcraft.
    Now when we’re over it, I can say some things that fanboys(and why not girls) will find heretical and burn me in a flaming bonfire of ‘ell.

    The problem when making a sequel to a old classic game with wide fan base is that you have to keep it somewhat faithful for the original. So they((good old companies(Blizarrrd etc.)) only add more similar troops and boost the graphix to the max.

    Well after seeing new innovative RTS games ,which aren’t usually sequels of anykind, like Supreme commander. I must say I’m not interested in some remix of (good/bad?) old ideas.

    And yeah the reason for writing this came from seeing those red/yellow flying things, at the start of the video, turn cruedly 180 degrees in a second or so (just changing the “sprite” like they used to do in the 90´s). They didn’t even upgrade the movement of the troops.

    ForFansMadeProduct I say. (they make millions with it for sure)

    I have nothing to say about that LAN Battle,net whatever, too complex stuff for me.

  32. Ging says:

    @Serondal: Protoss are Eldar, the Tau weren’t around when Starcraft was developed!

    Without knowing more about how they’re changing battlenet for SC2, it’s tough to tell if there’ll be an easy way of playing locally through it – in which case they’ll just remove the “LAN” tab / option from the menu system and let it all happen through BNet

  33. Colthor says:

    Well after seeing new innovative RTS games ,which aren’t usually sequels of anykind, like Supreme commander. I must say I’m not interested in some remix of (good/bad?) old ideas.
    See Total Annihilation by Chris Taylor’s old employer, Cavedog ;)

  34. Derek K. says:

    “My friends and I use this to LAN play L4D in offline mode when someone doesn’t own the game, and it hasn’t contributed to any piracy as far as I am aware.”

    Um, just fyi, that is piracy. Playing a game you didn’t buy, other than a demo, is piracy. Someone that doesn’t own it is playing it. That’s the *definition* of piracy.

    Don’t get me wrong – I played SC with my family on 3 computers with 1 CD too. But I knew I shouldn’t. And the fact that I can’t this time doesn’t surprise me at all.

  35. Kelron says:

    There’s been a few games taking up this trend recently. Just another example of ways legitmate users are punished for the sake of anti-piracy measures. I’m not interested in this particular game, but if I want to have a private game with some friends, I don’t want to have to make an account and log in and go through some unintuitive lobby system. So what if it stops a few pirates playing multiplayer, that should be considered an acceptable compromise for giving paying customers a pleasant experience.

  36. lumpi says:

    No LAN mode? What a wise, wise decision. The game had such a lack of internet hatred and blog comment rant, it almost fell under the average gamer’s radar. Not anymore.

    It’s good to know what to hate about a new 21s century sequel…

  37. Psychopomp says:

    @lumpi

    The thing about people who rant on the internet…

    Most have no willpower, and will purchase things regardless.

  38. Carra says:

    I’m not surprised. It’s a good measure to limit pirated copies. Can’t just download the game and play over LAN with some friends.

  39. Chris says:

    This seems like an unfortunate side effect of rampant PC piracy if you ask me.

    Though, personally if I have to enter my password in order to play SC2 I’m quite happy to, provided it means I can play without a disc in the drive. Hopefully the pirates will be slowed down as well.

  40. Starky says:

    @Derek K.

    Which is a damn good reason that the laws about software licensing need to be changed to per household being the lowest number available.
    Per computer/user is a stupid and broken idea left over from the days when people only had 1 computer (I have 3 personally, with 3 more in the house).

    Its getting close to a con these days when you buy a piece of software and can only use it on one machine – thankfully very few programs enforce this.

    It’s one of the things about steam that annoy me, and prevent me from buying many games on it – that only 1 person can be logged in at a time.
    If I own 2 games, say for argument Team Fortress 2 and Dawn of War 2, I should be allowed to play one game on one of my computers and allow my friends/family to play a different game on that same account.
    The limitations should be 1 person per game at a time.
    And 1 IP can be logged in multiple times (so home networks can share a steam account) but not more than 1 IP, Perhaps with a reasonable limit of 5 simultaneous log ins, to prevent cyber cafe abuse.

  41. bookwormat says:

    @cliffski: “It’s definitely to stop piracy.”

    I don’t know: According to what Blizzard told PC Gamer, most people who bought Starcraft never played multiplayer.

    So Starcraft and Starcraft 2 are mostly single player games, and you don’t stop people from pirating a single player game by preventing them to play on a LAN.

    I personally expect Blizzard to try to motivate users to connect to battle.net regularly, even if they only play the campaign. I’m not sure how they will do this, or if we will like it, but a simple forced check will be cracked out in hours, so I hope they find a better way.

    “If you want to be angry at someone about it, be angry at the pirates. ”

    Just don’t be angry at all. People who take expensive stuff for free when the damage is so abstract are not evil, just human. We never lived in a world were people would not do this.

    Almost every single person I know pirates software. Not necessarily games, but at least one of either operating systems, office software, music or tv shows. The good thing is that the same people also seem to spend a good amount of money on software. So I’m positive that there is some mix of distribution strategy and pricing out there that transforms a good portion of currently pirated copies into sales. Even for single player games. I hope.

    Back to the topic:

    This has probably nothing to do with it, but I remember reading in a Korean newspaper (2007, in English) that broadcasting companies are a bit nervous that Blizzard could license Starcraft 2 in a way so they can demand a share of the income of the many Starcraft related TV broadcasts. Maybe making Blizzard’s server infrastructure the only environment where Starcraft 2 can be played is a step in this direction.

  42. Neut says:

    Oh noes another piracy comments thread!

  43. rocketman71 says:

    No LAN = no sale.

    SC2 is going to be pirated MORE due to Blizzard’s stupidity. Congrats, guys.

  44. Nein says:

    @Serondal
    Demigod’s technical problems(for MP) were a result of some(in hindsight)questionable technical decisions.
    Agreed,it was massively pirated.Yet the game STILL sold like crazy;3rd on NPD’s April sales charts,and that didn’t include digital sales,which according to Stardock make up the majority of the games sales.
    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2009/04/demigod-sales-triumph-over-piracy.ars

  45. perilisk says:

    “Um, just fyi, that is piracy. Playing a game you didn’t buy, other than a demo, is piracy. Someone that doesn’t own it is playing it. That’s the *definition* of piracy”

    Yeah, it’s like when you have friends over to watch a movie and you didn’t buy a separate copy of the movie for each person. So each person sees the movie without paying and the movie industry, mainly consisting of starving Somalians, is denied precious and deserved wealth. Piracy, in other words.

  46. teo says:

    Isn’t ‘eviscerate’ a transitive verb?

  47. cliffski says:

    who plays a pirated game online anyway? There are enough hackers and cheaters as it is without playing a hex-edited .exe version that you can’t patch.
    Games aren’t $500 each, the cost per hour of fun is tiny.

  48. Clovus says:

    cliffski said, “If you want to be angry at someone about it, be angry at the pirates.”
    No, I’ll be mad at both. When a system tries to remove the right of first sale it is understandable to be annoyed at the company doing it. Not because they claim it is because of the pirates. When DRM almost cripples a game (like in Spore) it is reasonable to be annoyed at Maxis. You can bothered by pirates too, but that doesn’t give game companies the right to do whatever they want. Also, as someone pointed out, Blizzard will sell a billion copies of the game even if it didn’t have any DRM at all, unless the game sucks.

  49. SwiftRanger says:

    As bookwormat said, having no LAN option doesn’t make sense as LAN is an excellent way of introducing the game to friends and most people barely play RTSs for the multiplayer anyway. The most popular RTS game mode by far is skirmish, period. It would be genius if Blizzard could link up those offline modes to Battle.net 2.0 (through achievements, stat tracking and such) so people would easier make the jump to a game against real players.

    I really hope they’re just incorporating LAN somehow so it all goes through Battle.net but that it is still has the same effect while bypassing Hamachi (pirate heaven indeed) at the same time and having a stable experience as well. I am asking for a miracle, I know.

    @Nein: that’s just one week of NPD numbers, Demigod quickly dropped out the top 10 charts and didn’t debut that high in most European charts either (also due to the fact the price got upped to 50 euros at retail stores). Stardock is pleased with digital sales yep but they’re not happy about the retail numbers.

  50. Jordan says:

    Another day, another case of premature nerd rage on the internet. I fucking love it!

    Thank you, Blizzard, for giving people on the internet yet another thing they don’t fully understand to bitch and moan about for days on end.