One of the first articles I wrote for The Escapist (and my very first as a full-time staffer) was this one, about the rise of Blizzard as a game development studio. I was able to get some of the studio’s earliest employees to talk on the record about what made Blizzard so great, and about the “secret sauce” that makes their games so ridiculously popular.
This was in 2006, when World of Warcraft was already hugely popular, and so the article generated a lot of interest in the magazine. At the time, though, few suspected that WoW would become the most successful game ever created, and would remain so in spite of numerous attempts from MMOG developers to unseat it.
Yet in spite of all of the history contained in the article, in spite of all of the celebrity shine and insightful commentary from people who were there when Blizzard’s industry-bursting mega-hit was being created, the single most commented-upon aspect of my article was that it did not mention StarCraft once.
The original comments on this article have been lost as a result of numerous site redesigns, but to read them, one would assume I was the devil incarnate. Likewise lost are my emails from that time period (server glitch), but they, too, were unsettling. My act of not mentioning that one, single game generated more negative feedback than anything we’d seen to date, and earned me more than a few enemies among our readership.
The slight was not intentional. As you’ll see in the article, the point was not to de-value the contribution of StarCraft to Blizzards’ greatness, but to instead pinpoint the elements of their evolving philosophy of game design and contributions to the way games were played that culminated in the successful creation of a monster hit. While the lessons learned by Blizzard from the development of StarCraft certainly helped them on their journey, considering there was only so much room on the page, so many more things to mention and so much one could say about StarCraft, I simply decided to leave the topic untouched.
Obviously, judging from the reader response, that was a bad call (Ripley). And so, as penance, I’m pleased to present Issue 248 of The Escapist, “Zerg Rush,” devoted entirely to all things StarCraft. In it, Brendan Main describes how his heart was broken and his mind was blown by the simple, yet elegant tactics of the Zerg; Brett Staebell profiles one of the best StarCraft players of all time; Jack Porter examines the hard life of a competitive StarCraft player and our own John Funk interviews the men behind the curtain themselves, Blizzard, about their forthcoming sequel, StarCraft II.
I hope this issue finds you well and that it in some small way salves the wound from so long ago. Also, please stop emailing me. It was four years ago. Get over it.