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Installing Starcraft and Broodwar

Originally written and posted 26/02/2022.

This guide will show you how to install Starcraft and Broodwar, update them to 1.16.1, move files so cutscenes work without the CD, and configure your gateways to connect to personal PvPGN servers.

This isn't about piracy, it's about getting the most out of old games and giving them new life. It's also about being able to play games with friends remotely during lockdowns, or playing with interstate friends.

It is a peaceful life...

Step 1: Installing Starcraft

First, get the ISO and double click it. For over a decade now, Windows has been able to natively mount ISO files as if they're CDs/DVDs. Double clicking will auto-mount and give it a drive number (e.g. F:). Once mounted, you'll see "SETUP.EXE", it's about 25kb or so. Run it!

Install Starcraft

Once the splash screen comes up, click "Install Starcraft". Do not install a spawn, that's the crippled version that can only play multiplayer on a LAN with friends. It doesn't provide any single player options and won't help you connect over the internet.

Enter CD Key

Enter your name and CD key. You can enter any valid CD key without issue, and you can have two players with the same CD key playing against each other on a LAN or a via PvPGN. This doesn't apply to Warcraft III! You'll need to make sure all your friends use different keys if you want multiplayer WarcraftIII!

Register Dialogue

Do not register, obviously.

Finished install screen

Stop here, don't run the game, just "Exit Installer". We still need to install Broodwar and update it to 1.16.1. If you try to play the game at this point (or even test launch it), the game will fail since you're not using a "real" CD. Up until version 1.09, Starcraft required that you have the original CD in your optical drive. This was requirement was removed with update 1.09.

File to move

Next, you need to copy over the "INSTALL.EXE" file to your Starcraft directory (C:\Program Files\Starcraft). This file contains all the cutscenes and extras for the single player game. You don't need to do this step, but I'd recommend it.

File to rename

Once copied over, rename the "INSTALL.EXE" to "Starcraft.mpq". Note, that's and MPQ, not an MPG. Make sure you rename it correctly! Do this now, don't wait, since we'll do the same thing with Broodwar, and it also has an "INSTALL.EXE". You don't want to mix these two files up.

Lastly, right-click on your mounted Starcraft drive (e.g. F:) and click "Eject". You're now ready to install Broodwar.

Step 2: Installing Broodwar

This is basically a retelling of your Starcraft installation. Get the ISO, double click it, and run "SETUP.EXE".

Broodwar Install Splash

Once the splash screen comes up, click "Install Broodwar". There are no options for spawn or entering a CD Key.

Register Dialogue

Again, obviously, do not register.

Finished install screen

Again, stop here and don't run the game, just "Exit Installer". The game will still fail if you launch at this point, and we still need to move "INSTALL.EXE" and update the game.

File to move

Copy over the "INSTALL.EXE" file to your Starcraft directory (C:\Program Files\Starcraft).

File to rename

Once copied over, rename the "INSTALL.EXE" to "BroodWar.mpq". (Again, that's an MPQ.) I'm not sure how important capitalisations are, but this is the style I was originally given and it works fine.

Once you've copied over and renamed both "INSTALL.EXE" files, you'll be able to play the single player campaigns of Starcraft and Broodwar with all the cutscenes. Each "INSTALL.EXE" is just over 500MB, so it's just a GB on your SSD/HDD.

Lastly, right-click on your mounted Broodwar drive (e.g. F:) and click "Eject". You're now ready to update.

Step 3: Updating to 1.16.1

It looks like Blizzard has removed the standalone update file, but it's still around. If you haven't already got it, I found a mirror at AusGamers.

Copy the update file to your Starcraft directory (C:\Program Files\Starcraft). This update needs to be run from within the your Starcraft directory or it will fail.

BW Update

Make sure you right-click and run the file as adminsiatrtor. If you don't, the update will fail, then the game automatically launch, and fail again.

Update complete

Once updated, the game will automatically launch when you hit "OK". It will start with a surprisingly loud electrical noise, before going straight into the Broodwar intro cutscene ("Where is the air support?!?!")

You can now go in and change your settings as required (turning off music, adjusting volume, adding player names, etc), and start playing single player or LAN games!

Once last note about versions. The lastest version for classic Starcraft/Broodwar is 1.16.1. You may see references to a 1.18 version, but that's only the updated Starcraft® Remastered release. Don't bother with this version. As of Feb 2022, it's AU$22 and they've completely removed LAN play. It also requires online "activation", and that you be monitored by Activision as you play. The graphics are a little better, but not that much better. It's not just worth it.

Step 4: Updating your gateways

A "Battlenet Gateway" is effectively a built-in URL that provides Starcraft with links to available Battlenet servers. All the built-in URLs are now basically dead, the servers are gone or have been updated for newer games. You can't play Starcraft, Warcraft II & III, or Diablo online without updating these "gateways". Here is where we tell Starcraft where to find an available online server, such as a private PvPGN server.

There are various gateway editors around, and each is slightly different, but they all do the same thing with roughly the same interface. If you haven't already got one, just web search for "battlenet gateway editor" or "bngateway editor".

When you launch the gateway editor, you'll be presented with tabs for Starcraft, Diablo, and WarcraftIII. Each tab will display the default gateways.

Default Gateways

You can remove all of these (by clicking the "Remove Gateway" button), or you can leave them there for historical/nostalgic reasons. It doesn't really matter. Once we add the new gateway, we're going to make it the default, so these old one won't get in the way. I took them out on my main desktop so the list is clean, but you don't have to.

To add a gateway, make sure you're on the "Starcraft" tab, then click the "Add Gateway" button. It will ask for a Name, Zone, and IP.

The "Name" is the title of the gateway, and how it will appear in your Starcraft Battlenet list (e.g. "U.S. West", "U.S. East", "Asia", "Europe"). I chose "Dark Steve", because it's my name and it's for my PvPGN server!

The "Zone" is the time zone, and will accept numbers from -12 to 12. I chose "10" because my server is in the UTC+10 time zone. However, it doesn't appear to use proper time zones, with the default US servers being "6" and "8", and Asia being "-9". It doesn't really matter.

The "IP" is either the IP address or the domain name of the server, it will accept either. I've entered "darksteve.tk", which points to my PvPGN server. Note, you don't include "http://" or "https://" here, just the domain or IP.

Gateway Details

Once you've clicked "Ok" to save your new gateway, it's time to make it the default. This is the easiest part.

With your new gateway highlighted, click the "Set to Chosen Gateway" button. That's it. Blizzard used the word "Chosen" instead of "Default" for some reason, no problem, just know that they're talking about the default.

Chosen Gateway

Of course, this only matters if you've left the old gateways in there. If you remove all but one gateway, the last remaining gateway will be the "Chosen" one. You can also use the "up and down arrow" buttons to move your new gateway up or down the list. This can be handy if you leave all the old gateways there.

Step 5: Logging into PvPGN via your new Gateway

On to the fun! Now we log into your newly added Battlenet server. Launch Starcraft, and start a "Multiplayer" game (Original or Expansion). The "Connection" will default to Battlenet™ with the list of available gateways below.

Battlenet Options

Your "Chosen" gateway should be highlighted. If so, just click "Ok", otherwise, choose your gateway from the list and click "Ok".

Battlenet Login

And you're there, in all its retro 90s glory! Create your account and log in. By default, your login name can contain the special characters - _ [ ] and the alphanumeric characters (a-z, A-Z, 0-9). No spaces are allowed. Basically what can be used in a file name without causing issues. Create your account and log in.

Creating the account will ask for your email address, but it isn't used for verification or authentication. You can use any email address, and it is as stored as securely as the server it is on. If you trust the sysadmin to protect your privacy, you can use any address you want.

Create a game and start playing. Happy gaming!

This page last modified: 26 February 2022 17:22:59.