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STARCRAFT II: Blizzard prepares to open its legs early

Sitting here typing, the countdown clock says 16 hours, 14 minutes and 23 seconds until a nuclear launch is detected. It’s been a long time coming, so can the game itself actually match all the hype and expectation?  KitGuru will have spies on-site at tonight’s Midnight Openings to discover just that.

For a start, none of the early openings seem to be happening at midnight. London is scheduled to kick off at the GAME store at 100 Oxford Street at 10:30pm.  Given that Berlin kicks off at 10:30pm as well, KitGuru thought it had detected some kind of pattern. Not so. Paris is in the same time zone as Berlin, but festivities start at 6:00pm.

One more hour forward, Stockholm kicks off at 7:00pm, with Moscow at 8:00pm and California ‘Welcoming everybody to the wild, wild west and a state that’s untouchable like Elliot Ness’ at 9:00pm local time tonight.

Mexico, Brazil and Australia all get their nuclear device dropped on 26th, but for some bizarre reason, the lovely people of Singapore will have to wait until 10:00am on the 27th.

Looking at the Blizzard launch site list, you get the suspicion that it was created by an American designer, given that Australia is a continent, Mexico is a country, California a state and London a city – but they all make it onto the same list.  What’s worse is that after two decades of constant, mindless, MTV rap culture – none of us see the list as wrong at first glance. A red-cheeked KitGuru is changing holiday plans and will find a spiritual retreat in the forest to help cleanse the soul and regain perspective.

OK, enough of the geography lessons. Let’s ask the really funny question. Who’s sponsoring Starcraft II ?

Games take a while to come to market, naturally. A lot of the important development work will take place earlier on. Later development work (sometimes known as ‘the crunch’ ) is all about making the early decisions work on different hardware etc – with a lot of focus on bug-fixes and the like.

On 12th August 2008, ahead of the first DX11 cards being made available to developers behind closed doors, Blizzard announced that it was partnering with AMD. The reasons Blizzard gave were pretty unambiguous at the time:

“Our collaboration with AMD is especially important to us because it provides us with early access to some of the latest graphics technology,” said Paul Sams, chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment. “Delivering a polished game experience is one of our top priorities, and this relationship helps us achieve that goal for Blizzard gamers who choose AMD graphics cards.”

However, by 24th June 2010, nVidia had ponied up enough cash to be the card of choice for exploring the Blizzard multiverse. Even so, while nVidia is listed as the Blizzard partner on the London Midnight Opening site, Australia remains unconvinced and seems to have decided to stay with AMD.

For Blizzard, does each country exist in a different quantum universe, where sponsors & launch times vary?

Cheekily (?), nVidia’s main offices in London/Theale and Paris would not have noticed, because the link for Australia has been removed from their landing pages.

Whatever happened to South Korea?
Another strange thing on the list of early-access stores is that there is no special option in South Korea (or even the ‘much more likely to detonate a nuke at midnight’ North Korea). You are talking about Blizzard’s strongest fan base and, as far as KitGuru knows, the only country on the planet to paint its intercontinental passenger jets in the Starcraft II colours.

Korean Air knows what its passengers want and it’s nothing to do with extra olives in a dirty Martini or a greater degree of incline in long haul seats.

Overall, StarCraft II will have taken 6 full years of development with a final team of more than 60 people working on it night and day to be ready in time. It seems that Blizzard has its ‘day one patch’ also ready to go and industry experts believe that this game will be the fastest ever to sell 4 million copies (given that South Korea now has more than 4.5 million StarCraft I players means this ‘guess’ of 4m in record time might be a little like saying KitGuru bets the sun will come up tomorrow).

KitGuru says: So that’s it – the wait is over. “Make no mistake. War is coming. With all its glory, and all its horror”. Yes. And in glorious 3D and with a choice of eSport Aids. The way war was meant to be played.

Feeling crafty about all the star based combat? Let us know over here in the forum – especially if you’ve pre-ordered!


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