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Making StarCraft, 'we just threw a bunch of crap at the wall and saw what stuck'

"When we made these races, we just threw a bunch of crap at the wall and saw what stuck," longtime Blizzard artist Samwise Didier says in a new StarCraft retrospective published by the company.

Alex Wawro, Contributor

April 28, 2017

2 Min Read

"It’s not what you learn in business school. It’s sort of the opposite to say, no no no, don’t do any of that, just give your guys the freedom to go hog wild for a period of time.

Given enough freedom to iterate, and game directors who don’t abuse that freedom—out of that comes Overwatch, and Hearthstone... and StarCraft."

- Blizzard Entertainment cofounder Allen Adham, reminiscing about the chaotic way games like StarCraft (which is now free to download) came together.

Blizzard has plans to release a gussied-up version of its classic 1998 real-time strategy game StarCraft this summer, and to promote the game it today published a brief retrospective look at how the game was made. 

It's filled with comments from staffers who worked on the original game and makes for a fun read, especially if you have an interest in how games were made at Blizzard back in the '90s. While most of the memories are of the warm and fuzzy variety, there's still some interesting tidbits about how the StarCraft team worked -- mostly, it seems, by the seat of their pants.

"When we made these races, we just threw a bunch of crap at the wall and saw what stuck,” says longtime Blizzard artist Samwise Didier, who recalls having to create the game at a haphazard pace within significant technical limits -- like being limited to 15 colors per model.

“You know when you go to a restaurant and they give you a piece of paper to draw on, and a box of busted crayons, and you’re kind of making do with what you’ve got? And you end up with cool stuff because you’re forced to use color combinations you’d never normally use?" Didier said. "The ‘Blizzard Style’ was inspired by a technical necessity—from trying to make things translate."

You can read more anecdotes about the origins of the game, including how the dev team wound up voicing most of the units and how the studio got its name (after being forced to give up its original name, Chaos Studios), in the full retrospective.

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