Starcraft 2: The Midnight Launchening

By Quintin Smith on July 27th, 2010 at 2:39 am.

No, that's not me. Neither of them are me, in fact.

As you may be aware, a little game called StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was released tonight. Alec? Probably best you back off. These fine folks aren’t interested in a liveblog of the single player campaign. They’re not interested in the game. These guys? They want to know about the midnight launch at the Game branch in London’s fashionable Oxford Street. They want the glitz, the scoop, the drama. Lucky for them, I was there!

Things got off to a dodgy start with my canvassing the queue to see if I could find any Rock Paper shotgun readers. A Mr. Mike, who hesitantly claimed to have read Rock Paper Shotgun “A couple of times” (possibly following a link to some Eve Online news, he ventured), shared happy memories of playing the original StarCraft in the computer science lab at his school. I then met a Patrick, who hazarded that he “might have read an article” on RPS. He was happy to pay money for StarCraft II, but harboured some kind of terrible anger at what called the “commercialisation of PC gaming” and the removal of a LAN mode from SCII. My last exchange was with a Zak, who said he hadn’t heard of Rock Paper Shotgun but advised me to put our articles on Digg because that’s how you get a site off the ground.

Their taste in gaming news sites aside, it was a pretty respectable crowd. By 10:45pm there were easily 150 people stretching from the shop’s entrance all the way around the corner, the lucky ones receiving free cupcakes from a girl in a Blizzard t-shirt and micro-shorts. It was actually almost exactly the same size of crowd drawn to the Burning Crusade midnight launch, although I hear Wrath of the Lich King was far, far bigger than that. Speaking of girls, there were a surprising number of them in the crowd. There were about as many girls as there were Koreans, who I also found a bit of a surprising presence. I suppose I assumed all Korean StarCraft fans lived in Korea.

At about 11:00pm the event organisers decided to turn on the dry ice machines in the shop, which immediately set off the fire alarm. I’m not sure how to describe the insides of this Game, with the dry ice, the shaky staff and this claustrophobic mass of industry professionals. It was like being inside a Mormon sauna.

But honestly, my heart goes out to the poor girl they had playing that Kerrigan you can see in the top image. Whatever it was about the costume that was giving her trouble, possibly the weight or heat or the fact that underneath all that toy chitin there must have been a slot for her body the size of a violin case, she seemed in genuine pain the entire time with a sum of fury underneath that. I actually heard her hiss at one point.

There were also these guys, who would smilingly take your photo against a greenscreen and photoshop you into an actual StarCraft marine helmet.

And here is me in an actual StarCraft marine helmet.

“RRRAAAARRR LET ME OUT OF THIS ACTUAL STARCRAFT MARINE HELMET SO I CAN GET A HAIRCUT AND GO WATCH COME DINE WITH ME.”

But it was all worthwhile. Noble readers of RPS, I present to you a photojourney through the unboxing of StarCraft II.

The box is weighty, the cover glossy and subdued. The back begins like this: “YOU’RE GOING IN. In the distant future, in the darkest reaches of space, the ghosts of the past whisper your name. You are Jim Raynor, a marshal-turned-rebel on a vigilante crusade to bring down the Dominion and its nefarious leader, Arcturus Mengsk.”

Jesus Christ! You barely need to install the game. You’ve already gotten your money’s worth, right there.

The StarCraft II box doesn’t actually open. Instead, it gives birth. You’re left holding another, smaller DVD case with its mother box unfurling into a giant landscape of battle that labels units new to StarCraft II.

But this rollercoaster ride isn’t over yet! Inside the second DVD case is a miniscule paper manual that concerns itself largely with the game’s lore (it’s a spindly nerd, this manual), but there’s also a 10 Day Trial of WoW and two guest codes that give somebody 7 hours of time with StarCraft II. I like that. I think that’s pretty great.

Ee, enough of all this! I’m off to install this bad boy. I’m going in. Into the distant future, into the darkest reaches of space, where the ghosts of the past whisper my name. Maybe I’ll see you there. Or maybe I should just go to bed.

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84 Comments »

  1. RodeoClown says:

    So, Quentin… are you now an official Rock Paper Shotgunner?
    You seem to have posted more articles in the last few days than the regular crew combined…

  2. Mr Mike says:

    Hey!

    I’m that ‘Mr’ Mike! thanks for a quick write-up!! :) Will certainly read much more of RPS now! ;)

    M.

  3. Brandonk says:

    Damn that looks pretty sick. I hate having no money dollars to spend on this.

  4. Nels Anderson says:

    “It was like being inside a Mormon sauna.”

    Quinns, that’s the best simile I’ve read in ages.

  5. alice says:

    @RodeoClown

    I for one welcome our new Quinns overlord!

  6. pkt-zer0 says:

    Watching the Day[9] countdown event, in complete disregard of the 9 hour timezone difference.

    ONLY 12 HOURS TO GO AND THEN I CAN FINALLY COLLAPSE.

  7. Gorgeras says:

    Supposed to be at work in a few hours. Oh well, I’ll caffeine it and sleep when I get home.

    About that box description: what’s with the “YOU are Jim Raynor!”

    Sorry, but in Starcraft you played the anonymous Mar Sara Colony Magistrate turned Sons of Korhal Commander known only as ‘Magistrate’ and then ‘Commander. At least for the Terran campaign, then you turned into a Zerg Cerebrate. But what happened to you, the Commander? Merged with Raynor?

    Oh I get it, it’s like Fight Club: you was Jim Raynor all along and when everyone else addressed the ‘Commander’ they were talking to Jim and Jim coincidently only spoke to you when no one was around.

    Raynor is a schizo.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      The Magistrate is mentioned at least once in the campaign, but his (i.e. your) fate is not revealed, so he/you is still regarded as a separate character. But in SC2 ‘you’ are effectively Raynor. Erm, except when you’re Zeratul. But there’s an explanation given for that.

  8. The Hammer says:

    “My last exchange was with a Zak, who said he hadn’t heard of Rock Paper Shotgun but advised me to put our articles on Digg because that’s how you get a site off the ground.”

    Hahahahaha, Quinns. I love you dearly.

  9. Fumarole says:

    And now begins the likely futile task of avoiding spoilers until the price drops.

    • sebmojo says:

      It will be a verrrrrry long time before Blizz bring the price down on Starcraft 2. Diablo 2 stayed full price for yonks.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Yeah, good luck with that. You will need a time machine. Alternatively, stop giving a toss about the story.

  10. TenjouUtena says:

    I’m currently at a similar event in a northern suburb of Chicago. It is.. somewhat less occupied. I can see about a dozen people.

  11. The_B says:

    Quinns, did you goto the toilet in that Space Armour? It certainly looks like it, and I think it was a requirement of the assignment.

    • Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

      I think Quinns needs more sleep. Not that sleep is easy when you’re a MAN OF ACTION.

  12. Jamison Dance says:

    I was actually very confused by it, and I am Mormon. Someone care to explain it if I promise not to get horribly offended?

    • Jamison Dance says:

      gahh now I can empathize with the constant “reply fail” posts. That was supposed to be a reply to Nels Anderson.

    • Clovis says:

      I think the idea is that if Mormons got in a sauna then they would obviously do so in full clothing. Because it is against their religion to disrobe? Just like when they go swimming. Haven’t you seen those Mormon missionaries swimming in black pants, white shirts, tie, and little black badges? No?

      Ya, that joke fails with actual familiarity with the religion. OTOH, maybe most people drink tea in a sauna, and there was a distinct lack of tea at this event.

      For tips on how to correctly make Mormon-related jokes see South Park :-p

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I don’t think they stay fully clothed. I think it’s just the magic underpants that need to stay on at all times.

    • Michael says:

      I imagine he was referring to everyone being clothed. Which, given it’s actually a shop and not a sauna, is probably for the best. I know people get pretty excited about SC2, but that would’ve been one bridge too far.

    • Clovis says:

      @Dawngreeter: Neither is the case. Mormons go swimming wearing normal swimwear. Their underclothes are as “magic” as a priest’s vestments or a yarmulke.

    • Zogtee says:

      That joke has now been beaten up, thrown out in the street, where a steamroller rolled over it, crushing the remaining shreds of funny.

  13. Karthik says:

    How’s the music? Same as Starcraft?

  14. Rummy says:

    I’m kinda surprised that Game was chosen for the launch, they aren’t exactly pillars of the PC community. Last time I went in there I had to search for one lonely shelf hidden at the back of the store, and going there made me feel like I was perusing the top shelf at the newsagents or something.

    Wouldn’t it have made more sense to launch somewhere that actually promotes PC gaming like the HMV in Trocadero?

    • DazzeL says:

      I always feel the reverse of that.

      I sometimes feel a little “nerdy” in HMV buying PC games whilst surrounded by people who have no clue what they are. In GAME I sort of feel at home and amongst gamers with none of the stigma attached.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Or my flat?

  15. Psychopomp says:

    I don’t really have any friends who are terribly interested in it, and SC2 comes with a couple of guest passes. So, I think I’ll just leave them here.

    44yt4n-wwgx-h6jnvv-ypew-mffydh

    pkd4kh-cxdr-x8zht6-ev8n-k7h626

    Also, did anyone else get a Jim-Raynor-Wanted-Poster Notepad in their box? I don’t see it anywhere

  16. Risingson says:

    Random observations:

    - Photos with flash. That plague full of red eyes.
    - Those pictures smells like sweat. Thick old sweat.
    - Beautiful eyes, Quentin.

  17. VonFIDDE says:

    Got my copy waiting at home… still got 8 freaking work hours left :/ UNFAIR i tell YA!

  18. Hoernchen says:

    wats a quintin ?

    • Vague-rant says:

      Its a tin, where you of course keep your quins. If you leave them out for too long in a humid environment they may go mouldy or, worse, go bad. That’s what happened to Harley Quinn. We don’t talk about that any more.

    • Baboonanza says:

      Well played sir!

  19. Malagate says:

    So this is what Quinns has been doing instead of putting up episode 2 of his Galactic Bartender chronicles. Honestly, up to date computer game journalism fresh from fire alarmed event about one of the most anticipated games of the year? You think that’s more important than failing to serve drinks on an exploding space station and then writing about it?

    Well I hope you do, because I liked reading this! I can never be bothered to go to a launch event, because almost always the good ones are in London and almost always it’s far too much of a pain in the arse to get to (for anyone who lives outside of London). Also I seemed to be completely unaware that this event was happening, also unaware that starcraft 2 was coming out this week. So….yeah. I would imagine that either many other RPS-ites have a starcraft blindness/aren’t too bothered about it (like me), which I doubt, or they just pre-loaded it instead and are spending this time playing it right this second. Only time and posts will tell…

  20. UncleLou says:

    The StarCraft II box doesn’t actually open. Instead, it gives birth.

    Made me laugh, that did. :)

  21. BaronWR says:

    Oh the glamour of a midnight game launch… You’d think that something as serious as starcraft II could summon up a better venue than a GAME filled with smoke. I’m not expecting a red carpet or anything, but this looks like the kind of thing we used to sort out in our student days…

  22. Bob Bobson says:

    The tag “Will Somebody Take Me To Bed” ought to get used more.

  23. Butler` says:

    Haha, really enjoyable and fun read :)

  24. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    The pain the Kerrigan lady may have been feeling was shame: that’s an awful costume.

    I mean, wouldn’t have body paint worked just as well? Just as a suggestion? It being all about her comfort, and all?

    • Torgen says:

      How’d you like to be so down on your luck that you had to take that job? Made up in a grotesque costume, and stand around at midnight in a hot room full of nerdboys.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I think its terrible we don’t just assume she must be a total starcraft fangirl and actually was not even paid but just used the outfit to queue jump.

  25. Pod says:

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  26. bender says:

    anyone with a spare guest invite? Havent gotten around to buying the game yet.
    Feel free to send a code :) chessur86@hotmail.com

  27. Davian says:

    What’s with the Starcraft 2 ads and background all of a sudden? It makes the site look as professional as Eurogamer or, worse, The Escapist.

    • Koozer says:

      Heh, I only noticed that when I read your comment and scrolled up to check.

      Don’t listen to him! It’s a good ad! If it makes you lots of money-pounds it’s for the greater good!

    • Davian says:

      @Jim: Oh wow. Didn’t know that. I need to go wash my eyes now.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      We’ve been running RPS for three years for spare change. Want it to keep happening? Then we have to run proper ads.

    • Jonathan says:

      I’d forgotten that EG link, but this is all awfully suspicious considering the text of a recent Walker/Botherer blog post:

      “Say RPS were to review Shootybang VII, and at the same time the game’s publisher, EvilCorp, had negotiated an ads deal with our ads people, it’s possible that a Shootybang VII review could awkwardly be accompanied by adverts for the same game. Clearly that always looks a bit odd, but as it happens it’s difficult for a site to be dodgy enough to arrange it.”

      HMM! etc

    • Premium User Badge

      Hodge says:

      To be honest, I initially thought the background was RPS’s doing and not some ad thingy. Though at first my browser blocked the flash ads on the right, so I didn’t get them all at once.

      Surely Blizzard have used their GIANT MONEY BAG OF MONEY to saturate ad space wherever they can? I haven’t looked anywhere else yet but I imagine it’s the same everywhere.

  28. The Explainer says:

    @Jamison
    Supposingly you guys are so decent you wouldn’t take your clothes off, even if in a sauna.

    ontopic: Yay for Starcraft II

  29. rupert says:

    so the price for it on blizzards online shop has now appeared and its £44.99 when you can buy it from any retailer , either online or on the high street for £34.99 …. hows that work then? you may more to NOT have a disc or box? amazing

    • Rinox says:

      Welcome to the world of digital distribution. :-D Manufacturing costs of the disc and the box plus shipping costs magically make some games cost less in retail than in digital form. Makes you wonder hwo cheap the game retailers must be getting their copies off Blizzard/Activision. 20£ a piece, tops?

    • John Peat says:

      The odds are the high price of digital download is to avoid pissing-off retailers who are still needed to sell the most popular of games – apparently.

      Let’s not forget that they provide midnight openings where nutters gather to create lots of free publicity for a game – this is important ;)

      Bags your guest pass :)

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Can you download it from Battle.Net, buy a retail copy, and then use the retail key with the downloaded game? Because I’ve already downloaded it and installed (but not paid to activate), and I’d rather not have to install the whole thing again.

    • John Peat says:

      TO GingerYellow – yes, you can do exactly that

    • malkav11 says:

      There are two things going on here. Firstly, DD pricing is broken for you UK types. (And Euros, I do believe. Also Aussies.) Secondly, you actually have retail establishments that sell PC games. This is practically unheard of in America.

    • Premium User Badge

      oceanclub says:

      Monsieur SavyGamer has details on how to get SC2 for €29ish:

      http://savygamer.co.uk/2010/07/27/starcraft-2-pcmac-29-74/

      P.

    • Premium User Badge

      oceanclub says:

      Oops, I mean UK£29ish there.

    • Howl says:

      If you can find a copy. I tried to pick one up at lunchtime in the Liverpool St area. There’s no Virgin anymore so I had to walk to Moorgate. HMV only sells console games now, walked to PC World which has closed down, walked to Currys Digital, which only sells console games. Lunch break over. I decide I’ll just get the digital version after all and the Blizzard Store servers are broken….

  30. apricotsoup says:

    I thought I’d bite the bullet and go for the digital download version.

    £44.99 of my good english monies?

    Guess I’ll grab an amazon copy, seems to be the cheapest. Still so many other games to play though staring at me through steam, may wait for this to drop a little :/

  31. deanimate says:

    Walker should have been there. Hugging everyone.
    :(

  32. Zergling says:

    I want to have sex with the Kerrigan girl.
    At least in full makeup.

    Call me!

    I’m serious.

    • Jayt says:

      creepy

    • Okami says:

      @Jayt: Since he’s a Zergling, it’s perfectly normal for him to be aroused by Kerrigan and not creepy at all.

    • Rinox says:

      Wait but Kerrigan is a human-zerg hyrbid, which would make it equally disgusting from a zerg pov to want to know her in the biblical sense.

      I’m confused. This sounds like a racist remark, somehow.

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      Do zerglings actually have sex with *anything*? I mean, the entire race spawns from those little larvae things that appear at the hive through some mysterious unspecified mechanism.

      I was rather under the impression that the only appendages zerglings had to insert into anybody were those three foot long spikey blade things. :chinstroke.

      I’ll just go stand over here.

  33. Scroll says:

    I would love to join in the fun but it appears the euro servers have died to a certain extent.

    No Starcraft 2 for me says Blizzard.

  34. Calabi says:

    Geez, its only a game.

  35. John Peat says:

    Battlenet has been screwed most of the morning – I’m “logged in” (I have that little bar to the top right) but to do anything I have to login again – which doesn’t work.

    Enter correct details – thrown back to login page. Enter wrong details you get an error (e.g. it’s forked)

  36. M.P. says:

    Quinns looks a bit like a 16-year-old version of the actor who plays Dexter.

  37. Tei says:

    “starlaunchtop.jpg” this looks like something posted on /b/.

  38. Tuan says:

    I was going to buy via digital download until I began creating my account and realized this game is region locked. I am forced to pick Europe or North America, and I can only play online with people from that region.

    Guess what Blizzard f-tards, I have friends in Europe AND NA who I would like to play with. You just lost a purchase.

    You don’t want to provide LAN, fine. But this goes way too far. It’s either LAN or Battle.net region locking, you can’t do both and expect me to buy it.

    • Jad says:

      From what I understand you can play with people from any region if they are in your friends list. So the region locking just prevents you from playing with random people from across the world, which seems unproblematic. I don’t have the game, so I might be wrong on this.

    • TenjouUtena says:

      @Jad has this right. And Blizzard has said that cross-region matchmaking is to folllow.

    • Psychopomp says:

      @Jad

      You can’t even get them on your friends list if they’re on a different regions server.

      Battle.net in its current iteration was originally designed for WoW, so every region has its own database.

  39. Morte says:

    I queued outside Electronic Boutique for a big box Diablo2. How things have changed. PCgamer hadnt heard of it. Game would only sell if I had pre-ordered despite having piles of them, for £40 a piece, yet RIGHT NEXT DOOR, HMV sold me one for £35!

    I went back to tell Game, but they wern’t interested, but were very interested in any trade-ins I might have.

  40. Ardack says:

    Being Mormon, I didn’t get the joke either. I’m glad someone else also asked what it meant. I was starting to think there was some other group also referred to as Mormons.

  41. Jimbo says:

    Strangely reassuring that there seems to be so little RPS-user / Midnight Launch-goer crossover.

  42. Scandalon says:

    Anyone else want to give a poor boy a invite/trial/thingy?? (What is this, you have to have an in to try something now? What ever happened to demos?)

    I tried the (Mac) demo of SC1, stayed up till 3am. Bought the full version when it was available, never touched it until years later. True story.

  43. verifyer says:

    does anybody know where i can find pictures with Kerrigan girl, everybody was taking in front of the shop?