Friday, July 30, 2010

Starcraft (Day One)

Day one, release day, was pretty much a wash. The UPS truck didn't come until seven, since I make most of my purchases through Amazon with my Amazon Visa, to both use and acquire more of their free gift certificates. It took about another hour to install, update, and register. Since the game was installing on my new computer that's hooked up to our TV, I switched the HDMI feeds and watched some Eureka. Eureka with the promise of the Starcraft II in mere minutes -- things seemed so simple, so joyful, so hopeful.

That feeling would not last for long.

The sun was going down by the time I booted up the game, and discovered that while the mouse was working, the mouse pointer icon was frozen in place at the lower portion of the screen. I had no way of knowing where the mouse was actually pointing, unless highlighted on a menu button. It took a good fifteen minutes, maybe more, trying to land on the buttons needed to finish registering the game and set up my desired A/V settings. Profanity on my part during this period was constant and, in my opinion, quite amusing. The wife, reading a book on the couch, seemed unamused by this profanity. Instead, she was amusing herself by saying things like "Is everything all right, dear?" when they were obviously not, knowing that I am at my most vulnerable when geeking out on the release day of an eagerly awaited game, movie, etc. In the constant battle of wits that is our marriage, such moments of vulnerability should not be passed up. It was, for her, the time to strike, and strike hard.

And strike she did.

My vengeance upon her will be swift and terrible, most likely involving tickling or shoving parts of my anatomy in her face while she's sleeping and saying, "Oh, is everything all right, dear?" with mock politeness as I do so.

After searching the forums for a solution and finding none, I attempted to play the single-player game, figuring the first few missions would be easy enough to mitigate my inability to move my troops in a straight line, to say nothing of the proper direction.

My small squad of Space Marines lurched back and forth across the battlefield, like a bunch of drunken idiots with very poor senses of direction and inner ear problems. Some of them shot at the enemy when they approached, others walked in the other direction, seemingly mesmerized by shiny objects. Frustration set in during the second mission. Finally, I decided to install the game on my other PC, now four years old, and see if things fared any better.

Another 45 minutes down to install and update the game. It was after ten by then, and I had work in the morning. The mouse worked, but either the age of my computer or poor graphics programming on Blizzard's part forced me to put all the settings on low. And while this normally doesn't bug me, the game looks like ass with low settings, and this was especially annoying since I had just been (unsuccessfully) playing the game on a new computer with everything cranked up. I think at least some this is on Blizzard at the moment, since complaints of framerate inconsistencies have been popping up on forums -- and to say nothing of a particularly evil glitch that can make hardware with poor cooling, like laptops, melt like a Nazi looking into the Ark of Covenant.

I finished all the Mar Sara missions that first night, which feel like a prologue to the meat of the game. Between all my built-up frustrations and the deliberately slow, basic nature of the game's initial levels, I wasn't terribly impressed with Starcraft II on my first night with it. A little after midnight, I finally found a post on one of the forums about how to correct the mouse pointer issue. It's a simple issue to correct: if you have have increased the overall text size under Windows 7's appearance settings, you need to set it back to default. A simple glitch to fix, and one I'm surprised Blizzard didn't catch. Every PC game debuts with problems, since there are thousands, if not millions, of hardware permutations -- but Starcraft II's release seems shakier than most.

Day two proved to be more much enjoyable. Of course, with everything that happened, how could it not be?

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