As we’ve seen, StarCraft as we know it today isn’t how the game was originally conceived. Once much closer to WarCraft in design, it was only when Blizzard saw how far ahead its competition was that it was motivated to transform the game into the RTS giant it would eventually become.
So you can understand the weird feelings at Blizzard HQ when, a few years later, they found out one of those competitors had been a big fat phony.
As former Blizzard exec Patrick Wyatt notes on his blog, the one game that did more damage to the StarCraft team’s spirits than any other was Dominion Storm (pictured above), by Ion Storm. While StarCraft in its original form was looking like something from the early 90s, at a 1996 CES showing Dominion Storm looked like something out of the next millennium.
It made the StarCraft team “lick our wounds and plan for the future”, he writes, and resulted in not just big changes for the game, but for Blizzard’s development process as a whole.
Imagine their surprise, then, when after Ion Storm closed up a few former employees came to work at Blizzard and spilled the beans on Dominion Storm’s CES demo.
“At some point I talked with Mark and Patrick about how Dominion Storm knocked us on our heels”, Wyatt says, “and they let us in on Ion Storm’s dirty little secret: the entire demo was a pre-rendered movie, and the people who showed the “demo” were just pretending to play the game! It would be an understatement to say that we were gobsmacked; we had been duped into rebooting StarCraft, which ultimately led it to be considered ‘the defining game of its genre’.”
A silly move on Ion Storm’s part, then, but one we should all be thankful for. Without that kick in the pants who knows how StarCraft would have ended up?
StarCraft: Orcs in space go down in flames [Code of Honor]