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Thread: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

  1. #1

    Default Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    So the Field Manual basically says that Protoss eat sunlight and sweat out feces. This is, in a word, ridiculous.

    The only reason Protoss "eat sunlight" is because of a random Q&A. A questioner asked a moderator how the Protoss eat when they have no mouths, and the mod responded that the Protoss eat sunlight because he didn't take biology in high school. Since then everyone assumed that was the case, but it was actually a retcon.

    The original SC1 manual stated that the Protoss were hunters and evolved their telepathy to better coordinate during hunting. So the Protoss were originally perceived as carnivores. Several custom campaigns dating to the early 2000s ran with this and mention that the Protoss hunt bengalas for their meat and there are food shortages in the aftermath of the Zerg invasion, so the photosynthesis explanation was not believed back then.

    Sweating out feces is inefficient and silly. Won't it get everywhere? Do Protoss make their clothes out of diapers and toilet paper?

    I think the huge featureless chins are silly looking, not cool at all. It wasn't really obvious in the low-res SC1 portraits, but SC2's and SCR's emphasis makes them look absurd. Especially the dark templar wearing veils when there's no point. Even the low-res SC1 portraits tried to change things up by including hints of facial features like noses and gills or something, so kudos to the modelers for trying.
    I think Starcraft needs rebooting. See "Enumerate" for details (links: timeline, full document, original forum thread).

  2. #2
    Gradius's Avatar Administrator
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    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    It’s actually from the DT saga.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    No, I remember some people before the "DT" saga mentioning photosynthesis. It was around before SC2 era retcons.

    On the other hand, I don't really see how "it's absurd" is really that much of an argument. So is faster than light travel, but Star Trek explains that pretty well. I always figured the Xel'Naga figured out how to mess with plant biology and imbue the Protoss with it. And I've always figured that before the Xel'Naga messed with them, the Protoss were what we consider more "normal" creatures, in that they did hunt and eat. They're just changed now, and just because we don't necessarily understand them, doesn't mean they don't make their own kind of sense. Just in the same way we don't really understand how, say, a waterbear lives in the void of space.


    "Seeing Fenix once more perplexes me. I feel sadness, when I should feel joy."
    - Artanis.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissa View Post
    On the other hand, I don't really see how "it's absurd" is really that much of an argument.
    Yeah, it's not as if it's fiction or anything, right?
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


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  5. #5

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    It wasn't really obvious in the low-res SC1 portraits
    It's obvious from the artwork in that same manual that you are referencing before that the Protoss didn't have mouths. It's also obvious from higher-res post-mission splash screen art or the campaign mission select zealot.

    A questioner asked a moderator how the Protoss eat when they have no mouths, and the mod responded that the Protoss eat sunlight because he didn't take biology in high school.
    I also didn't take that alien biology class in high school. Guess I missed out... The protoss were hunters aeons ago. In the mean time, they've been enhanced by the xel naga and achieved scientific supremacy. Is it really that hard to believe that they've modified their own biology to work off of sunlight?

    I think the huge featureless chins are silly looking, not cool at all. It wasn't really obvious in the low-res SC1 portraits, but SC2's and SCR's emphasis makes them look absurd. Especially the dark templar wearing veils when there's no point. Even the low-res SC1 portraits tried to change things up by including hints of facial features like noses and gills or something, so kudos to the modelers for trying.
    I know where this is going, and, personally, what I would find silly would be hidden mouths. Maybe if you find a cool depiction of it I'd be down but as of right now, I don't see any way that this could look cool.

    The veils are stylistic. They don't have to make sense.

  6. #6
    Gradius's Avatar Administrator
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    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissa View Post
    No, I remember some people before the "DT" saga mentioning photosynthesis. It was around before SC2 era retcons.
    So were a dozen other fan theories. It was made official in the DT saga though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    The original SC1 manual stated that the Protoss were hunters and evolved their telepathy to better coordinate during hunting. So the Protoss were originally perceived as carnivores. Several custom campaigns dating to the early 2000s ran with this and mention that the Protoss hunt bengalas for their meat and there are food shortages in the aftermath of the Zerg invasion, so the photosynthesis explanation was not believed back then.
    The photosynthesis explanation was not believed because they already had an energy source (the khala and void).

    However, the protoss do not have a mouth or hidden mouths. That is stupid... Just drop it.

    Sweating out feces is inefficient and silly. Won't it get everywhere? Do Protoss make their clothes out of diapers and toilet paper?
    Never had sweat or body odor in your life before?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    I think the huge featureless chins are silly looking, not cool at all. It wasn't really obvious in the low-res SC1 portraits, but SC2's and SCR's emphasis makes them look absurd. Especially the dark templar wearing veils when there's no point. Even the low-res SC1 portraits tried to change things up by including hints of facial features like noses and gills or something, so kudos to the modelers for trying.
    Incorrect. The mouthless chins are literally the coolest thing about the protoss.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    It's obvious from the artwork in that same manual that you are referencing before that the Protoss didn't have mouths. It's also obvious from higher-res post-mission splash screen art or the campaign mission select zealot.
    Seriously. Whoever made a campaign where protoss ingest food must not have actually played the game.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    However, the protoss do not have a mouth or hidden mouths. That is stupid... Just drop it.
    Well, Protoss could've had a mouth at some point along their evolutionary path because they do seem to have vestigial nipples...
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    Well, Protoss could've had a mouth at some point along their evolutionary path because they do seem to have vestigial nipples...
    The fact that they have a jawline must mean they had a mouth at some point.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    It's obvious from the artwork in that same manual that you are referencing before that the Protoss didn't have mouths. It's also obvious from higher-res post-mission splash screen art or the campaign mission select zealot.



    I also didn't take that alien biology class in high school. Guess I missed out... The protoss were hunters aeons ago. In the mean time, they've been enhanced by the xel naga and achieved scientific supremacy. Is it really that hard to believe that they've modified their own biology to work off of sunlight?
    There is no way to infer that Protoss lost their mouths and became photosynthetic from reading the manual. The only way to infer that Protoss are photosynthetic is by seeing their artwork, not reading the manual, and not knowing that photosynthesis is not practical for powering animal metabolisms.

    It is physically impossible for animals like the Protoss to survive on photosynthesis. Even with 100% efficiency, which is physically impossible btw as the loss is due to metabolic processes and not just the limited absorption of light, they still do not have enough surface area to absorb enough energy from sunlight to power their metabolisms. Sunlight simply does not have enough energy density in that small a space.

    However, if that is not sufficient to convince you, then I will use an explanation based solely on the lore.

    Firstly, the xel'naga were not that advanced, as shown by the manual explicitly stating they were surprised by the Zerg's skill at genetic engineering. This would suggest that xel'naga were not capable of the same morphological alterations that zerg made. The zerg also gained the xel'naga's knowledge and skill by eating them. Since the zerg are canonically better genetic engineers than the xel'naga and have all their knowledge and skill, then it would stand to reason they would make themselves photosynthetic if it was a viable option. Since they have not, it stands to reason that the xel'naga were either not capable of this or that it is not viable to make that alteration. But you could argue that creep utilizes biological photovoltaic cells, since it is grey and has a huge surface area to catch sunlight.

    Secondly, the photosynthesis retcon was part of the overall wimpifying of the Protoss. In the SC1 manual the protoss were nearly physically perfect and could survive in almost any environment stark naked, which was the original definition of purity of form. Shakuras was darker than Aiur, but the nerazim were so wimpy that they need to genetically alter themselves to survive on moonlight. In the DT novels they needed to wear animal skins to avoid freezing to death in tropical jungles. Hardly pure of form, they are actually inferior to humans in every way.

    Thirdly, protoss portraits breathe while idle and some of them wear gas masks. This would only make sense if they had lungs and breathed through their face, even though the Field Manual explains they have no lungs or orifices.

    Fourthly, it is not like the art direction and lore has not been wildly inconsistent on many other occasions. The zealot in the SC1 Protoss mission success screen has a cone head, no apparent nerve cords, and freakishly long fingers. Compare that to the SCR artwork, which is supposed to represent the most recent conception of Protoss anatomy. Artanis varies wildly in appearance across the games and even within SCR his 3D model and 2D portrait look completely different. Zeratul has nipples only in some of his appearances, but not others.

    Fifthly, the fluff constantly contradicts itself and just plain makes no sense much of the time. The Field Manual explicitly states that Protoss have no orifices whatsoever. Whatever definition of "orifice" it is using is suspect, since the Protoss have eye sockets would should qualify as orifices. The microscopic pores they supposedly use for eating/shitting should also qualify as orifices. The authorship is just scientifically illiterate despite supposedly being written by actual scientists.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    I know where this is going, and, personally, what I would find silly would be hidden mouths. Maybe if you find a cool depiction of it I'd be down but as of right now, I don't see any way that this could look cool.
    Here are some examples of what I mean:

    • "gills": https://www.artstation.com/artwork/protoss In that image a nerazim is presented as having folds of skin on their face, presumably gills and/or facial muscles that serve a role in body language.
    • "mouths": https://archerblack.deviantart.com/a...tomy-194769147 This is what I imagine Protoss mouths would actually work like, or something like it.
    • skull: https://kaleblechowski.deviantart.co...kull-377073217 I prefer a skull design like this simply because Metzen's design is too human-like, since it is literally just a rip off of eldar masks in 40k. It actually fits pretty well with the most recent designs where Protoss seemingly have elongated skulls with ridges.
    • head organs: https://kaleblechowski.deviantart.co...gans-406138344 Ditto. The ability to vocalize can help solve any number of minor plot holes involving communications, such as how Protoss words could be pronounced by human mouths or the difference between telepathy and khala (if you are constantly reading the thoughts/emotions of those around you and vice versa through telepathy, that is functionally no different to how the khala was described).



    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    The veils are stylistic. They don't have to make sense.
    That is stupid and makes the nerazim look like lame posers. Not that I expected any different from Blizzard.

    In world building with verisimilitude and believably, the veils would have relevance to their culture and physiology. Veils are worn to veil things, so it stands to reason that in any vaguely realistic world building the nerazim wear veils to conceal their feelings. This leads to the conclusion that Protoss must have some kind of body language, which at least partly relies on facial muscles below the eyes. From there, you come to the conclusion that their telepathy and khala are not the only way they communicate and may in fact cloud their communication compared to speaking face-to-face.



    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    The photosynthesis explanation was not believed because they already had an energy source (the khala and void).
    There was no implication that the Protoss are sustained by space magic or otherwise autotrophic. See, the different evolutionary pressures on autotrophs and heterotrophs mean that it is impossible for autotrophs to maintain complex nervous systems. If the Protoss evolved from autotrophs, then they would have lost their photosynthesis to become more energy-intensive heterotrophs. If the Protoss evolved from heterotrophs into autotrophs, then they would lose their organs and muscles and so forth because those are not efficient for autotrophs to have. Their bodies should deteriorate until they are nothing more than mindless plants attached to their pylons and the remnants of their civilization.

    Protoss cannot be both autotrophic and animals with a civilization. It simply is not feasible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    However, the protoss do not have a mouth or hidden mouths. That is stupid... Just drop it.
    You sound like I do when I get into a tizzy about people disagreeing with me when I am really just being paranoid. Why is it stupid? That feels awfully arbitrary. I mean, before the retcons everybody seemed perfectly happy to assume the protoss had mouths somewhere else, or IDK tiny mouths in their skin or something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    Never had sweat or body odor in your life before?
    That's not remotely comparable. Sweating a few pounds of diarrhea every day would be unimaginably horrific, like "punishment in hell" horrific.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    Incorrect. The mouthless chins are literally the coolest thing about the protoss.
    My response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWdd6_ZxX8c

    Seriously, I think they look silly. From an artistic perspective those faces are a lopsided waste of space. The jawline needs facial features of some kind, or the eyes need to be moved to the center of the face, or the entire chin needs to be removed.

    The Protoss faces are clearly based on the masks worn by Eldar in Warhammer 40,000. From an alien world building perspective their overall design looks terrible and amateur.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    Seriously. Whoever made a campaign where protoss ingest food must not have actually played the game.
    There is nothing in the lore to suggest the Protoss do not eat prior to the photosynthesis retcon. The addition of breasts and nipples in SC2 would suggest that the writers cannot keep the facts straight.

    The addition of the bengalas as apparently evolutionary relatives of the protoss, since they explode into blue fire upon death, suggests that the writers/artists were not trying for consistently. The bengalas looks like an Earth panther with a clear mouth, so it could not possibly be related to the Protoss since they do not share a similar body plan like any sensible alien ecology would.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    Well, Protoss could've had a mouth at some point along their evolutionary path because they do seem to have vestigial nipples...
    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    The fact that they have a jawline must mean they had a mouth at some point.
    Evolution, especially to the point of completely changing the basic body plan, takes many tens of millions of years. The idea that the protoss had a hunter gatherer society many tens of millions of years ago, given their apparent progress since then, is absurd on its face. If they underwent such a change, it is the sort of thing you would expect the manual to mention, but not! We are supposed to believe that the seemingly mouthless Protoss are carnivorous hunters, because quite honestly nothing else makes as much sense as that.

    Not only that, as depicted in SC2 female protoss have breasts and wide birthing hips. I would attribute this to a lack of thought going into the design or the artists having no idea what they were doing.

    Seriously, one of the most common complaints leveled at LotV by non-lore fans is that the Protoss faces and voices are terrible. The faces are dead-eyed and empty, the voices have no emotion behind them, the protoss never emote, the protoss are generally bland, yadda yadda. It really frustrates me because I always liked the Protoss as they were originally presented as a counterpoint to the typical portrayal of ancient races as declining Tolkien elf wannabes.
    I think Starcraft needs rebooting. See "Enumerate" for details (links: timeline, full document, original forum thread).

  10. #10

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Uh, Mislag, you do remember that the Xel'Naga altered the Protoss, right? They're obviously the ones that arranged for the Protoss to feed from sunlight. After all, the Protoss weren't created by the Xel'Naga, just changed into their current form.


    "Seeing Fenix once more perplexes me. I feel sadness, when I should feel joy."
    - Artanis.

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