For the StarCraft Legacy team, the lore panel was definitely the highlight of BlizzCon Day II. Last year, at the lore panel, we learned quite a bit about the development of the story. This year, the presentation was a bit shorter, which left more time for questions. The following is the very best of the article truncated and extrapolated by the SC:L team for your use.
The BlizzCon 2008 StarCraft II Lore Panel was presented by Chris Metzen, Blizzard's Vice President of Creative Development, and Andy Chambers, lead writer for StarCraft II.
The panel began with an outline of some of the new characters:
Dr. Ariel Hanson – This character will be used to show a colonist’s point of view. Dr. Hanson is a standard colonist that needs to evacuate. She’s an ordinary person, not a hard-bitten mercenary, who reflects basic humanity - and romantic interest - because we all know how good Jim's track record is with that. She joins the crew after you save her people. The premise is that there is going to be a Zerg invasion - all good stories start with a Zerg invasion.
Rory Swann – The shop-floor man – takes care of the nuts and bolts inner-working of the ship. Swann was one of those characters who practically wrote himself. He’s the stereotypical industrial, New York accent, big uncle figure, union-worker guy. Swann is the Hyperion Armorer. Originally a Kel-Morian, he led a miners revolt that didn't go so well for him as he lost an arm. Raynor however pulled his ass out of the fire.
Gabriel Tosh – He’s the Jamaican, piratical sort of character with a savage, black ops look that ties in to the Ghost mythology. His back-story connects to the manga titles, novels and he has a connection to Nova. Keith R.A. DeCandido will be dealing with him in the Ghost trilogy. Tosh is like the Boba Fett character for this storyline. Where Dr. Hanson appeals to Raynor’s good side, Tosh appeals to Raynor's dark side. Whether you want to deal with him or not is up to you however. In short, he’s a whacked-out voodoo quasi Ross Safari type dude.
Tychus Findlay – Tychus is the Marine sergeant who walks around the ship all the time with his suit on. His back-story includes an association with Raynor - goes back to Raynor's history before StarCraft. They were old buddies; Tychus went to jail and Raynor went off to be a freedom fighter. It’s the first time in 14 years that they've seen each other - thick as thieves. Tychus represents what Raynor might have become if he had made other choices. Raynor is trying to keep the fuel in the revolution, but guys like Tosh and Tychus lead him towards a different path; Raynor’s choices are to either be a gung-ho revolutionary or a survivor in a ever darkening world.
Matt Horner – The "Jiminy Cricket of the storyline", Horner is the captain of the Hyperion with a career military, by-the-book kind of vibe. He believes in Jim Raynor more than Raynor believes in himself. Horner tries to keeps Raynor on the straight and narrow path - getting rid of Mengsk because he is a tyrant. When creating Matt's character gestapo, fascist uniforms with the hard-edged look were used as references (ironically Matt is fighting against the Dominion). Blizzard wanted to differentiate between the other non-military type figures in the storyline so that Horner didn't come across as a baby as he’s a fairly young guy in his early 20s.
Valerian Mengsk – There is too much bad blood between Arcturus and Raynor, but there needed to be some mainstream Terran authority for Raynor to interact with. The overt conclusion therefore is that Valerian, given his ample supply of money and love of Xel'Naga artifacts, is funding the Moebius Foundation. Valerian is trying to set himself up as emperor. He’s the typical young prince - very similar to Arthas. Whereas Arthas had great hope and fell into evil, we don't know which way Valerian is going to go. We will see the Mengsk insignia more often, especially in the novel I, Mengsk. When creating the insignia they knew the lion would be too much like World of WarCraft, but the wolf references back to Roman Emperors.
The following are some of the main points covered by Andy Chambers and Chris Metzen during the Q&A Session:
There are a number of mini-campaigns so that the player is not in the same seat all the time. However, you'll be mostly sticking with Raynor.
The three trilogy campaigns will not occur simultaneously in-universe. They will all occur in chronological order.
When asked about leveraging Nova into a mini-campaign they said it could happen. It's extremely likely that Nova will be featured in either a normal or easter-egg mission.
Andy Chambers and Chris Metzen talked about some of their influences. Firefly for example did the redneck thing in space very well. StarCraft will have its own voice and vibe when you compare it to Firefly. Part of being a writer is incorporating all kinds of that idealism into your writing - everything inspires you.
The ratio of in-game to high-end cinematics is about four to one. As good as the pre-rendered cinematics are, Metzen likes the in-game cinematics better as they have more human and heartfelt moments.
As far as the Hybrids and Xel'Naga are concerned, there is an overarching thread that links all the campaigns - the culmination is in the Protoss campaign. What's really going on with this overarching mythology is really the background of the StarCraft II story.
The Terran campaign is focused on Raynor and revolutions. It has a very clean resolution. There is a funny tension between Raynor and Tychus; Tychus went to prison to cover Jim, and Jim was scared straight. Now how he is hardwired for justice and to be a hero swept away in events. As gods clash, one honest man makes a difference.
The Earth is a long way away. The UED kind of lost interest - one day they hope to do more. The Koprulu sector is a different part of space. Basically, this product has nothing to do with Earth and no new fleets from Earth will be making an appearance - there is too much stuff going on in the Koprulu Sector. When asked about StarCraft 3, Chris Metzen laughed at our collective faces.
The StarCraft universe will be much more fleshed out. We will have much more information about the planets, how big they are, how far away, their neighbors, politics, factions and economic status.
Ghosts are the epitome of human evolution. Transcendence, or higher evolution of humanity is a slippery slope. It's certainly a tool to be leveraged, but it could backfire.
There is the question of the Protoss relationship with humanity - to work together or fight each other? At the end of the day the Protoss view the Terrans as a big fascist state, essentially monkeys with machine guns. However, it's not like the Protoss don't have their own problems so that's an interesting political dynamic.
During StarCraft's development James Finney was writing the story. Kerrigan is based off the Command & Conquer character Tanya. Kerrigan was meant to be killed/betrayed by Mengsk in order to produce an emotional response. It wasn't until later that they decided that Kerrigan would return as Zerg.
There is always one question that is asked at a StarCraft II lore panel: Will a character return from the dead? StarCraft had great moments as far as characters are concerned:
A selfless death means less if a character comes back. A permanent death is better. Chris Metzen joked that "the StarCraft bible would be a list of characters of which 80% would have DECEASED next to their names. I was young and angry, I wanted to keep the tough vibe." At the time Chris was trying to produce an emotional response. In the future however, the goal is to kill less but do something more interesting (like Kerrigan's infestation).
The novels to pay attention to concerning StarCraft II are the Dark Templar Saga and I, Mengsk - also Queen of Blades to catch up on the events of StarCraft.
As far as mission balance, the developers prefer to mix and match. Sometimes they need events and make the mission, sometimes they need a mission and come up with story. It's a very iterative, but not very clean process.
StarCraft Legacy's LordofAscension asked how many Protoss are there and do they have any more colonies? The answer is that there's a lot less of them than there used to be, and those that are left are in disarray. There are a few colonies around, but they don't have contact with each other - most are populated by fanatics.
"I'm feeling it - StarCraft is finding its own voice" says Metzen - StarCraft is so much richer, it makes WarCraft III look like a Saturday morning cartoon.
Novels and comics isn't Blizzard's core business says Metzen. "Being in love with these characters has never been about the business or raking in cash. In the end of the day we're just a bunch of geeks trying to tell our stories."
Last year's lore panel and our subsequent meeting with Chris Metzen established a relationship with Chris and SC:L that culminated in our lore exclusive. We're now pleased to announce that following this year's lore panel, SC:L has renewed its relationship with Chris Metzen, and Andy Chambers has been brought into the fold. When we were talking, Mr. Chambers told us that the lore writers including Metzen and himself used StarCraft Legacy. He told us that we were a valuable resource and he appreciated what we do. So keep watching us as we continue to work with the Blizzard lore masters to bring you additional articles and insights into the StarCraft Universe.
Thanks to our friends at StarCraft2forum.org for the pictures.
This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2008 feature article.