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Visions of Khas
03-20-2013, 12:27 AM
Yeah, so I think it's about time we have that talk we've all been putting off. We've beaten around the bush, but let's just get it over with and face the elephant in the room.

So, I'll begin. *ahem*

What. The. Fuck.


StarCraft I


The StarCraft I spoke of essence and form several times, summarized as follows:


... Traveling thousands of light years into the burning core of the galaxy, the Xel'Naga eventually settled upon the volatile ash-world of Zerus. The Xel'Naga planned to continue their Grand Experiment of evolution, only this time they dismissed their tenets of physical and focused chiefly on the pursuit of a distinct purity of essence...

Ostensibly, the Xel'Naga pursued this route because;


... The inherent essence and sentience of the Protoss developed far too rapidly, leading to bitter strife and division between them and their creators. The Xel'Naga deemed that the purity of form they sought to create had been sullied by a conflict of essence and thus decreed that the Protoss were, in fact, a failed creation. The Xel'Naga abandoned their children and launched themselves into the void.

Now, over Zerus, the Xel'Naga stepped back to behold their work;


The Zerg, despite having an extreme physical handicap, had succeeded in not only surviving, but in retaining the purity of their terrible overriding essence. The Xel'Naga knew that they had achieved their goal.


Meanwhile, the Protoss bemoaned their lot in life.


[The Protoss] believed that the Xel’Naga had been right to abandon them and that because their racial essence had been corrupted by the rise of ego, they were indeed a failed creation.... The greatest hope of Khas was that the Khala would instill a new sense of essence and vitality within the Protoss race. Slowly, many Protoss gave up their ages-old feuds and rallied behind the ever-growing legions of the Khalai


From these passages we've assumed a simple definition for essence and form: Form, quite literal as it seemed, referred to a being's physical aptitude.


[The Protoss] were incredibly adaptable to harsh natural conditions and climates. Their strength and speed were unparalleled [...] However, their most distinct aspect was that they communicated with each other through a very complex method of instinctive telepathy, allowing them to operate communally with striking efficiency.

And thus the Protoss conformed, at first, to the Xel'Naga's model of a creature "that would be defined by a distinct Purity of Form." Strong, adaptable, powerful. Able to enact physical change in the universe with skill and efficiency.

The Zerg's Purity of Essence, on the other hand, was implied to have stemmed from the Overmind itself, which served as manifestation of all their hopes, instincts and intelligence. Essence is who and what you are, and what you plan to do with your strengths.



Enter Abathur


Now here comes Abathur, that hoarder of teleonomy.

Essence

From the conversations between him and Kerrigan, we are presented with a surprisingly philosophical perspective. To Abathur, the Evolution Engine himself, perfection is unattainable, but it is the pursuit that matters. In philosophy this is called entelechy; continual becoming, but never attaining.

In the vain hope of perfecting, Abathur and the Primal Zerg absorb essence. Simply, it is the genetic structure underlying an ability. Expanded from there, it is implied that all the experiences and accomplishments of a creature's successful ancestors are given form in DNA, which may be harvested and used by Zerg. DNA itself is almost deified among the Zerg.

Essence in definition has now been altered; rather than your intelligence and force of will -- who and what you decide to be -- it is now all that which you are. It is all potentialities, all paths given form. It is the change in the universe crystallized in a few million base pairs wound together in a double helix.

Form

Now, that leaves Form. What is form? It is clear our prior understanding has been invalidated by HotS; the Protoss have become more human with each game. They require technology and psionics to protect themselves from the elements, otherwise they are helpless. Turn down the thermostat enough and whamo, Protoss Pops in the freezer. The Zerg, however, go, "COME AT ME BRO!!!" and beat nature at its own game.

So far we've learned the Zerg are incredibly adaptable and versatile. The only thing they cannot assimilate is that which is wholly antithetical to them, namely the Protoss. The Protoss are contrasted by being stolid, stodgy, ill-equipped for change. They are the stagnation to the Zerg's potential.

Form in definition has now been left curiously nebulous and fallowed. Where it once stood for adaptability and strength, it has now been stripped of all that. Form, the noun, has been assimilated by Essence. So is Form, the verb, all that remains? The ability to form psionic abilities? If so, Kerrigan's beaten the Protoss at their own game.




So where are the Protoss left standing in this? What advantage. Do. They. Have? There's nothing special about them physically, and Kerrigan has proven humanity has greater psionic potential. In all respects the Protoss seem frozen in time.



So, I shall conclude thusly. Essence vs Form: What. The. Fuck.

Alar
03-20-2013, 07:45 AM
Form is also known as... beauty. :3 Protoss things are REALLY pretty!

Turalyon
03-20-2013, 08:25 AM
The way you put it VoK, it sounds like Zerg purity of essence is actually purity of form. Maybe the Xel'naga accidentally switched them at their conception and had kept messy research notes?

Visions of Khas
03-20-2013, 09:06 AM
The way you put it VoK, it sounds like Zerg purity of essence is actually purity of form. Maybe the Xel'naga accidentally switched them at their conception and had kept messy research notes?
I know, and that's how it seemed! The Zerg take in DNA and channel it into their many forms, adapting to anything and everything! The Protoss can't do that... :(

sandwich_bird
03-20-2013, 11:27 AM
How blizzard came up with those concepts:

-Person1 at blizzard(metzen?):''Mannn I was thinking we could do something cool for our tyranid/alien and eldar/predator. Ya know like make them contrast each other with like deep stuff. You know like our zergs are gonna be purity of essence and our protoss are gonna be like purity of foooormmm."
-Person2: ''Bro! That's amazing! Those words are like so deep and stuff! What does it mean though?''
-Person1 : ''It's like perfect form man and like essence is like so abstract and powerful! Get it man!?''
-Person2: ''Yeah...''

That's pretty much how they came up with ''vision'' too. Oh and the ''power of the void'' too(seriously, what is that supposed to be?? Magic? Kinda... At least it's more concrete I guess).

Visions of Khas
03-20-2013, 11:34 AM
Zagara: "What is... vision, my Queen?"
Kerrigan: "To Abathur's torture chambers, you go!"


Seriously. It was like Kerrigan beat her over the head with a rolled up newspaper every time.

FanaticTemplar
03-20-2013, 01:09 PM
I think 'vision' is what you need to witness 'the entropy of entire realities'.

But about the redefinition of purity of essence, I can't add anything. I have not yet found a coping mechanism for this one.

RODTHEGOD
03-20-2013, 06:03 PM
Well you are kinda right... but the purity of from vs essence battle was kind of a little messed up back in sc1. The zerg only used their bodies while the protoss had to use tech? I think essence is more like the continual drive to be something more while the purity of form is the ability to be an allpowerfull being. The protoss have their bodies with all their physical abilities, but their true form... is the archon a force that can take on anything and everything. The problem is that Tassadar and Adun have been the only ones to truely be able to master that form, which is where legacy of the void comes in.

Also I believe the concept of form vs essence come from ancient greece or rome. Could be wrong though.

FanaticTemplar
03-20-2013, 07:35 PM
I've always understood that form was the individual and essence was the collective. Originally, the Xel'Naga weren't going for purity of form or essence, they were going for outright perfection. They hoped to find this in the Protoss, but when the Protoss started fighting and severed themselves from the Khala, the Xel'Naga realised that while the Protoss may have had purity of form, they had a conflict of essence.

So they turned to the Zerg and decided, forget this entire form business, let's try for purity of essence alone. To avoid the conflict of essence observed in the Protoss, to avoid the dangers of competing egos, they created the Overmind. With the Zerg they crafter something that had purity as a species, rather than a species that had purity in its individuals.

Visions of Khas
03-20-2013, 09:43 PM
Also I believe the concept of form vs essence come from ancient greece or rome. Could be wrong though.

You're right. I was looking into concepts such as teleonomy, hexis, entelechy and energeia when I originally wrote the post. A lot of that comes from Socrates. :)


The protoss have their bodies with all their physical abilities, but their true form... is the archon a force that can take on anything and everything.
Y'know I hadn't considered the Archons. It is the ultimate expression of the Protoss, both Khalai and Dark Archons. But even these are simply two halves of something greater. When combined, they can create something that nothing can withstand, probably even Kerrigan. Tassadar's Khala/Void Archon obliterated the Overmind; and combining the Uraj and Khalis unleashed worldwide holocaust on Shakuras. And we all know VRs had to be nerfed, so there's always that, too.

But this particular expression of "Form", if that's what we're going to call it, has happened, what, only twice now? The Zerg have been mastering the universe in pursuit of essence, whereas the Protoss have been regressing ever since the Xel'Naga left them.

There have, however, been other clues to a deeper potential in Protoss. The Overmind remarks that the Protoss haven't even begun to use Khaydarin to its fullest extent, a sentiment echoed years later by Ego Stetman.

Perhaps it was the Protoss' pursuits and egoes -- their selfishness and rage on the outset of the Aeon of Strife -- that somehow blinded them to their own innate potential. I mean, we know that they're afraid of themselves. Maybe the Protoss we're seeing are just shadows of their former selves? Maybe it's their ability to combine individuals on a psychic level that will finally bridge the gap between Zerg and Protoss?



Will Zeratul and Kerrigan form an Archon to defeat Amon and finally resurrect the Xel'Naga in their truest form? Because I have the strangest feeling that of the three main characters -- Raynor, Zeratul and Kerrigan -- some of them won't survive LotV.

That's given me some good imagery, I should draw that. :)

Articorse
03-21-2013, 06:50 AM
I just hope we see regular, dark and twilight archons in LotV. I mean, for fuck's sake, they introduce this awesome concept of the twilight archon in the beta, then just throw it into the trash? No way. I'm calling it now - twilight archons will be the ultimate expression of 'purity of form'.

Telenil
03-21-2013, 08:35 AM
What I don't understand is: the manual says that although they took many forms and assimilate many creatures, the Zerg had kept their "purity of essence" because they kept their unity and still form a single race. So essence should be something "deep" that doesn't change with your appearance or the form you take. The hive mind certainly qualifies.

But if essence was DNA, then purity of essence would mean keeping your DNA intact, and thus not changing, and thus purity of form.

So as far as I can see, essence = DNA doesn't make any sense. The whole idea of Zerg evolution means that your DNA isn't "pure", on the contrary, you add as many strands of other organisms as you can. It is because the Zerg remained Zerg despite assimilating other species that they had purity of essence.

Turalyon
03-21-2013, 09:59 PM
^ Can't agree more with this (and FT's) assessment of purity of essence.

I think there is a disconnect between those who already know that purity of essence was actually explained in Sc1 and those who did not even understand or forgot what it was plainly spelled out in the beginning. Based on all this revisionist history that Blizz is doing to Sc lore, it seems they fall into the camp of the latter (see Sandwich_Bird's comment :D).

Laurentian
03-22-2013, 12:36 AM
Well the zerg wanting to kill everything certainly lines up with General Ripper's idea of Purity of Essence. I'm sure they don't fluoridate their water either and want to keep their precious bodily fluids. :p

mythology
03-22-2013, 07:35 PM
it says purity of form

when i think about that, i think of all those star trek episodes of beings attaining higher existence as energy. is existing as energy that purity of form the protoss have that the zerg can not attain? they have the essence but they are stuck in a tangible circle of evolution where there is no way further up the ladder until nature creates something higher for them to absorb into the swarm.

i think the overmind saw the protoss for what they truly represent. but now that kerrigan is in control that idea in her bias view is unthinkable and rejected and projected onto her swarm queens who now also dislike the idea as well.

for a visual coolness i would say not to look at the zealot in the editor and draw your conclusion but to look at the glow of the perseveres as maybe what the protoss really are.

what is of further interest of this form is the dark archon. is the dark archon further expansion upon of this form using the void energies or is it what you get when form meets essence? what if the dark archon wasn't starving for energy and was filled? what would it become then?

Turalyon
03-22-2013, 10:35 PM
I'm doubtful that the Xel'Naga intended Protoss "purity of form" to be their potential to be Archons or to be beings of pure energy because it if that was the case, why didn't they just make the Protoss all energy beings in the first place? Following on from this, in their normal, current state can Protoss be truly said to have "Purity of Form"? Shouldn't they be instead called "Potential Purity of Form"?

Besides, something that has "form" (let alone purity of it) implies a physical structure with shape and configuration - a limitation of some sorts. Energy beings in sci-fi are generally thought to be free of such constraints and are more often than not described as being formless. Given this mutual exclusivity, how can energy beings be the purest expression of form?

mythology
03-23-2013, 03:02 AM
I'm doubtful that the Xel'Naga intended Protoss "purity of form" to be their potential to be Archons or to be beings of pure energy because it if that was the case, why didn't they just make the Protoss all energy beings in the first place? Following on from this, in their normal, current state can Protoss be truly said to have "Purity of Form"? Shouldn't they be instead called "Potential Purity of Form"?

well according to the story the protoss already had "a purity of form" before the xel'naga touched them. after the xel'naga changes maybe their intent was not to turn the protoss into archons specifically but to blossom what they already had even further. that when the protoss creates a archon they merely bring out what is on the inside.



Besides, something that has "form" (let alone purity of it) implies a physical structure with shape and configuration - a limitation of some sorts. Energy beings in sci-fi are generally thought to be free of such constraints and are more often than not described as being formless. Given this mutual exclusivity, how can energy beings be the purest expression of form?

does not energy have form? a form of energy? just add psi to the categories and that the protoss have it.

maybe the protoss lost that purity when they started to diverge. maybe that explains why tassadar become so powerful because he re purified himself.

Visions of Khas
03-23-2013, 01:07 PM
It would make sense if the Purity of Form of the protoss stemmed from the psychic aspect.

The Xel'Naga were overawed by their physical prowess, but it's stated several times that their communal link and psychic aptitude that really made the Protoss.


Attempting to completely sever themselves from the rest of their race, the Tribes began to lose the connection to their primal psychic link. This breakdown in the inherent empathy of the Protoss for one another did the most to dissolve the last remnants of unity and brotherhood amongst them. The severing of the psychic link was also the greatest sign, to the Xel’Naga, that the Protoss had tragically lost the most fundamental element of their greatness

We know that psionics can be channeled to augment and strengthen a body. This is the origin of the Protoss' strengths. Their energy probably brings out the best of their limited physical selves; purifies it. This natural purification repels infestation.


So, to my understanding, the definition of Essence and Form, from the Xel'Naga standpoint as applied to their creations, is this:


Essence is experience, action, history crystallized into a physical, tangible form: DNA.
From the Overlord short story -- rest Purple Eye's soul -- we know even memories can be preserved over the course of millenia.


Form is how that DNA is expressed and used. Application of psionics and will can augment the physical form, or force it to transcend its traditional limitations.
Protoss are the best at what they do because they will it so. When those physical limitations are reached, they can be broken, or in the case of an Archon, literally transcended.



All this taken together, it would make sense that the key for the rebirth of the Xel'Naga rests with the Protoss. The Zerg can try all they want to assimilate the Protoss, but until a Protoss accepts and wills it, it can never happen. Both the Zerg and Protoss take physical limitations and push them to their utmost. Together, a Protoss can unleash untold potential from the Zerg essence, and vice versa. If essence is crystallized history, then purifying and transcending it would literally become a force of nature. Peace and acceptance is the only way the Xel'Naga rebirth can be completed naturally. In LotV, I see a Protoss and Zerg character bridging this divide to re-create a Xel'Naga.

Drake Clawfang
03-23-2013, 04:57 PM
I just hope we see regular, dark and twilight archons in LotV. I mean, for fuck's sake, they introduce this awesome concept of the twilight archon in the beta, then just throw it into the trash? No way. I'm calling it now - twilight archons will be the ultimate expression of 'purity of form'.

Agreed. Though given the patterns so far it's more likely we'll have to choose between normal and Twilight Archons exclusively.


Essence is experience, action, history crystallized into a physical, tangible form: DNA.
From the Overlord short story -- rest Purple Eye's soul -- we know even memories can be preserved over the course of millenia.


Form is how that DNA is expressed and used. Application of psionics and will can augment the physical form, or force it to transcend its traditional limitations.
Protoss are the best at what they do because they will it so. When those physical limitations are reached, they can be broken, or in the case of an Archon, literally transcended.

That's a good way to think of it.

I thought perhaps, though not exactly apt, Protoss "purity of form" meant their physical form. They evolved naturally over the years into powerful warriors, tall, muscular, intelligent. The Zerg on the other hand are always evolving, and Abathur or someone even says achieving perfection is impossible but they always have to try. So in a way, you could perhaps see Purity of Form as natural evolution into a honed, evolved lifeform, while Purity of Essence is forced evolution in pursuit of perfection.

Turalyon
03-24-2013, 12:15 AM
does not energy have form? a form of energy?

Yes, but we're getting into semantics about terminology here (watch that we don't fall down that rabbit hole...). Suffice to say that "energy" is difficult to describe in a direct observable way no matter which "form" it takes, whilst the concept of "form" in Starcraft appears to be a more overt, direct and observable quantity.


Essence is experience, action, history crystallized into a physical, tangible form: DNA.
From the Overlord short story -- rest Purple Eye's soul -- we know even memories can be preserved over the course of millenia.

Form is how that DNA is expressed and used. Application of psionics and will can augment the physical form, or force it to transcend its traditional limitations.
Protoss are the best at what they do because they will it so. When those physical limitations are reached, they can be broken, or in the case of an Archon, literally transcended.

All this taken together, it would make sense that the key for the rebirth of the Xel'Naga rests with the Protoss. The Zerg can try all they want to assimilate the Protoss, but until a Protoss accepts and wills it, it can never happen. Both the Zerg and Protoss take physical limitations and push them to their utmost. Together, a Protoss can unleash untold potential from the Zerg essence, and vice versa. If essence is crystallized history, then purifying and transcending it would literally become a force of nature. Peace and acceptance is the only way the Xel'Naga rebirth can be completed naturally. In LotV, I see a Protoss and Zerg character bridging this divide to re-create a Xel'Naga.

I like this description given that the it implies that "form" and "essence" are somewhat interrelated and are not completely two different sets of things. Pity we had to theorycraft it into something that made sense (although I think this is rather too fanciful and convoluted for the uninitiated in the end) rather than it being simple and patent in itself.

FanaticTemplar
03-24-2013, 03:07 PM
Now that I think of it, if we were to use the definition of form/essence that goes individual perfection/collective perfection, then by abandoning the Khala the Dark Templar would likely be the purest form, which would add to the duality by explaining what they're the only ones who could harm the Overmind and its Cerebrates.

Visions of Khas
03-24-2013, 10:29 PM
by abandoning the Khala the Dark Templar would likely be the purest form
How do you figure? With the Khala we get badasses like Tassadar and Adun. But, Zeratul did mentioned in Queen of Blades that the powers of the Void were the true gift of the Protoss, which is interesting and directly conflicts with the Xel'Nagas' desire for a collectivist society.

FanaticTemplar
03-24-2013, 11:19 PM
How do you figure? With the Khala we get badasses like Tassadar and Adun. But, Zeratul did mentioned in Queen of Blades that the powers of the Void were the true gift of the Protoss, which is interesting and directly conflicts with the Xel'Nagas' desire for a collectivist society.

Well, as I mentioned earlier, the Xel'Naga were originally going for total perfection with the Protoss, according to the manual. They wanted the Protoss to have both purity of form and purity of essence. When the Protoss cut themselves off from the Khala, this was perceived as a conflict of essence. So evidently, Khalai Protoss are purity of form, but also have, while not pure essence, they have pretty good essence. But by divorcing themselves completely from the Khala, the Dark Templar have no quality of essence. I speculate that this would make them anathema to something like the Overmind, which for most of the game didn't even appear to have a body at all, being pretty much entirely purity of essence.

The reason the likes of Tassadar are such badasses is because they're going both purity of form and purity of essence. By this reckoning, Tassadar would be the closest thing to a Xel'Naga before the Hybrids.

Telenil
03-25-2013, 08:09 AM
Well, as I mentioned earlier, the Xel'Naga were originally going for total perfection with the Protoss, according to the manual. They wanted the Protoss to have both purity of form and purity of essenceI don't have the manual right now, but I don't think the Xel'Naga had even come up with the notions of form and essence before the Protoss turned against them. The way I remember it, they wanted to improve a race but it backfired, and they diagnosed that their "essence" had been corrupted by their ego. Thus the importance they gave to purity of essence. Then they came up with the concept of purity of form, as something that was more or less unnecessary when trying to reach purity of essence. I would need to check that in the manual, though.

Also, the Dark Templar could kill the Overmind because they used the same energy as he did, not something opposite. I don't think there is any relation between the sort of energy your wield and essence or form, which were philosophical concepts more than anything else.

Turalyon
03-26-2013, 02:59 AM
I don't have the manual right now, but I don't think the Xel'Naga had even come up with the notions of form and essence before the Protoss turned against them. The way I remember it, they wanted to improve a race but it backfired, and they diagnosed that their "essence" had been corrupted by their ego. Thus the importance they gave to purity of essence. Then they came up with the concept of purity of form, as something that was more or less unnecessary when trying to reach purity of essence. I would need to check that in the manual, though.

Also, the Dark Templar could kill the Overmind because they used the same energy as he did, not something opposite. I don't think there is any relation between the sort of energy your wield and essence or form, which were philosophical concepts more than anything else.

Ssshh! Stop making sense, don't you know the most recent retcons rule all now? :p

Robear
03-26-2013, 11:59 AM
I don't have the manual right now, but I don't think the Xel'Naga had even come up with the notions of form and essence before the Protoss turned against them. The way I remember it, they wanted to improve a race but it backfired, and they diagnosed that their "essence" had been corrupted by their ego. Thus the importance they gave to purity of essence. Then they came up with the concept of purity of form, as something that was more or less unnecessary when trying to reach purity of essence. I would need to check that in the manual, though.

The manual definitely decribes Purity of Form being a goal thousands of years before the Protoss even existed. But you're right about Purity of Essence coming after/because of the Protoss failure.


Obsessed with fashioning the perfect life-form, the Xel'Naga labored to create a creature that would be defined by a distinct purity of form. For thousands of years they carefully steered the delicate evolutionary processes of their budding species. Although their protracted experiments produced many intriguing deviants and mutations, the races that the Xel'Naga cultivated always fell short of their enormous expectations....

blah blah blah... One advanced race had developed tribal society and telepathy, on Aiur, one of their engineered worlds... Xel'Naga name them the Protoss/Firstborn... Over another millennium they guide the Protoss until they develop advanced culture, then reveal themselves. Protoss are overjoyed, but, as they quest for knowledge further, they become proud and isolated as tribes and individuals...


The Xel'Naga reeled in frustration. They speculated that perhaps they had pushed the evolution of the Protoss too far, marring the purity of their creation... The severing of the psychic link was also the greatest sign, to the Xel'Naga, that the Protoss had tragically lost the most fundamental element of their greatness.

And, the Xel'Naga leave.

Then, in the Zerg history, it says:


The inherent essence and sentience of the Protoss developed far too rapidly... The Xel'Naga deemed that the purity of form they sought to create had been sullied by a conflict of essence and thus decreed that the Protoss were, in fact, a failed creation... The Xel'Naga planned to continue their Grand Experiment of evolution, only this time they dismissed their tenets of a physical form and focused chiefly on the pursuit of a distinct purity of essence.

Visions of Khas
03-26-2013, 12:14 PM
Race histories for quick reference. (http://sclegacy.com/feature/8-scencyclopedia/275-race-histories)

FanaticTemplar
03-26-2013, 12:22 PM
Also, the Dark Templar could kill the Overmind because they used the same energy as he did, not something opposite. I don't think there is any relation between the sort of energy your wield and essence or form, which were philosophical concepts more than anything else.

You're right. It was a thought I found interesting, but it seems it was indeed incorrect.

Gradius
04-03-2013, 07:43 AM
I'm hoping that "essence" and "purity of essence" are two totally different things.