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Thread: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

  1. #1

    Default Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    Someone recently told me that if I was so annoyed with SC's awful story that I should write my own. I don't have any programming knowledge nor the money to fund game design. I can still write a story and hope that one day I could get it optioned. So I'm going to do that and ask if you guys were interested too. Let's brainstorm various ideas for a SC rip-off that has a story which doesn't suck.

    Some ground rules, though. It has to be a SC rip-off. What does that mean? The three playable races must follow the three generic archetypes of human space marines, advanced oft-theocratic space elves and infection/bug aliens threatening the universe. https://godlesspaladin.wordpress.com...me-old-motifs/

    Other than that, we need some ground rules to prevent any writers from pulling stupid shit like sabotaging the plot over and over or introducing epic heroes like Raynor, Master Chief or Shepard. This is an RTS, not an RPG.

    The premise needs to have a simple, reasonable justification for why they would show up and fight for as long as the franchise lasts. This overarching conflict cannot ever be allowed to be destroyed and replaced by stupid retcons. The determinant in the old SC lore is good, and since Blizz retconned that away we could recycle it without worrying about a copyright claim. Of course it is already very similar to Halo, too.

    To keep the story from meandering or going nowhere or making stuff up as it goes, like how all the big franchises ran out of steam or sabotaged/replaced their premise, we should probably lay out a timeline of major events spanning over however long we could expect the story to last. A few centuries or millennia, maybe? Different writers would be able to follow that timeline and keep the themes consistent rather than going off into bizarre tangents.

    The genre has to be military science fiction, grounded down to earth, dark and gritty, not epic space fantasy. The market is already oversaturated with bland world saving heroes journey clones. To avoid writers pulling stupid shit like focusing the story on epic heroes and romance at the expense of the wider universe, I would suggest making it an anthology series with an unimaginably large backdrop. Every campaign would have a different cast, none of them would ever be epic heroes with the fate of the universe in their hands, and they'd probably die at the end for good measure.

    I had a few ideas already for names, aesthetics and backstories of the three playable races but I will need to do some refining. What ideas would you like to share? Any criticisms of the ground rules?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    Instead of being the standard, middle-of-the-road race as they/we often are, how about putting humanity in the role of Protoss or Zerg, a transhumanist society that is either all about technological superiority, or all about throwing numbers at their enemy. The cultural, religious and technological implications that led to those roles could be fascinating.
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    I recently learned that there was a SC clone in 2001 called Atrox. That's pretty much what we're doing here, isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    Instead of being the standard, middle-of-the-road race as they/we often are, how about putting humanity in the role of Protoss or Zerg, a transhumanist society that is either all about technological superiority, or all about throwing numbers at their enemy. The cultural, religious and technological implications that led to those roles could be fascinating.
    I thought of something similar, but I am leery of moving too far away from what made SC attractive to me in the first place. Given how co-op and heptacraft have shown that factions within races can be fairly diverse, I think we should raincheck that. There are a number of concepts that existed in the early SC lore which were forgotten, and which are ripe to plundered by a clone.

    My thoughts for the humans was that they live in a cyberpunk dystopia with mutants, cyborgs, robots, clones and similar. In SC the Protoss used robot drones, but in my clone it would be the humans doing that. Since they field all these different types of units, they would have a fairly eclectic feel unified only by their basic engineering aesthetics. The mutants concept would be inspired by the yuri faction in Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, since I cannot think of any other way to represent it.

    The bugs are pretty much identical to the original zerg or even the flood. Their leader is a sapient hive mind that speaks like a Shakespeare play, which leads a bunch of subsidiary hive minds with their own personalities and specializations. Their army includes engineered plants, animals, fungi and so forth. All of the units are essentially derived from one or more organisms that were assimilated in the past. The bugs crave that sort of diversity, so their units have an eclectic feel with dramatically different body plans all given the same coat of paint that makes them identifiable as bugs.

    The space elves are probably the one with the biggest differences. I wanted them to be more distinct from the humans and bugs, so I imagined that they would be these weird sculpted biomechanical entities like a giger painting, or something like the Scrin in Tiberium Wars. They lack a distinction between biology and technology like the humans and bugs do. They could be explained as the technological equivalent to the bugs, but their machines are actually alive rather than constructed (to distinguish them from the humans). To tie into the hippy themes of elves (the old lore said the Protoss were nature lovers or something that disdained the greedy terrans, but didn't really show it), their civilization doesn't distinguish between forests and cities (the best comparable example I can think of would be the Olkari in Voltron, who have things like circuit boards in trees). Another thing I considered was that they would also field forces provided by client races, since in the oldest SC lore the Protoss were an empire with multiple client races.

    All three of the sides initially appear to follow the stereotypes of human space marines, vicious infection bugs, and aloof space elves, but like the oldest SC lore they all have a twist on it. The humans live in a cyberpunk dystopia rather than a space opera, the bugs have distinct personalities rather than a soulless horde, and the space elves are in the middle of a renaissance rather than inexplicably declining because Tolkien did it first.

    The mechanics are up for debate, I have not really gotten started on the excuse for why they fight, and I still need to elaborate on how I will explore the individuality versus collectivism theme, but that is basically what I think made the SC factions original from a fluff perspective. Since this is an original effort we could take inspiration for aesthetics and mechanics from other RTS games, like Command & Conquer, Battle for Dune, Rise of Legends, Supreme Commander, and so on. Or keep it genre neutral if we focus largely on utility as an IP.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    Don't have much critic to offer so far but I'd remove the determinant or at least completely redefine it. If your protoss are gonna be cyborgs, maybe the determinant is the ability of human to be able to interface with toss technology. It's not just a magic power like psi is. You need to figure out a way to make it realistic for all 3 races to be on semi-equal footing. If everyone gain access to the same level of tech, that's something. But then, that may affect the diversity...

  5. #5

    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    So would this be a hard scifi in line with Heinlein and Asimov, or are we bending laws to allow FTL? There's a certain appeal to centuries- long conflicts, as with the Forever War and Warhammer.

  6. #6
    Gradius's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    FTL? I don't really care. I just don't want telepaths.

    The bug monster race needs to rely on some harder sci fi. I don't like small creatures shrugging off hypersonic spikes and tank shots, so there's a couple things we can do:
    1) These things number in the trillions. They truly are endless.
    2) Instead of chitin, their carapace could be some iron mineral composite.
    3) They're huge. There are no tiny zerglings. And multiple organ redundancies means that your bullets aren't going to necessarily kill the thing.

    The space elf race has telekinetics, but it's entirely technology based. Their technology would be powered by these things:
    http://stargate.wikia.com/wiki/Zero_Point_Module

    What if we didn't have humans at all? Just a weaker alien race like the Beta from Grey Goo: http://grey-goo.wikia.com/wiki/Beta

    Or what if we have the story set in the Andromeda galaxy and humans are the violent invaders from the Milky Way.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    Quote Originally Posted by Grad
    I just don't want telepaths.
    When you say "telepaths", do you mean psionics, or mind-to-mind communication? We already have technology that can turn thought into action (Les Baugh is an amazing example), so I don't see it being that far a leap for implants to scan the language centers of the brain and transmit conscious thoughts to somebody else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Misla
    The mutants concept would be inspired by the yuri faction in Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, since I cannot think of any other way to represent it.
    I never played that game, but I took a quick look at the wiki. Apparently they use "psychically dominated" soldiers? A SC campaign story I've been working on involves colonies entirely run and owned by corporations and used for nothing more than to produce "material assets" -- people to be resocialized and used as canon fodder or menial tasks. Kinda like human hives. Other hive colonies, or Resource Pools (hence the derogatory term "Pond Scum" applied to these colonists) would function solely as petree dishes; biological or technological experiments would be let loose "into the wild," the company would observe the results, and harvest interesting and useful deviations, often resulting in new cybernetic offshoots and physical mutations.

    Resocking the greater part of your forces would easily lead to such philosophical conundrums as identity and self.


    I've always been fond of the "Precursor" role given to humanity, but with a twist: in whatever way humanity aided in the "uplifting" of a species, humanity's intent didn't correspond with the result. That is, whatever we did to earn apotheosis in the eyes of another species, it was entirely unintentional. For example, maybe humanity scoured a world of almost all life in order to use it as a resource point, without the knowledge that some other form of life was being allowed to fill a niche and proliferate. Or perhaps humanity is going extinct and serves the role of "The Man Behind The Curtain," arranging for the various races to war against each other, simply so we can fill in the space left after. Something like Halo Prophets.
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    So, looking at this combined with watching b5 and playing ME again gave me an idea for humans. Rather then doing the usual sci-fi or super modern aesthetics go full uncanny valley desperate with the human. Something where they are human in name and basic biology only at this point. Think of the Collector Assault armor in ME2 - its literally styled after enemy carapace. Combine this with zombifying black/grey goo nanotech for the troops to resurrect them upon first death? Works well with humans as the invaders to the galaxy with no semblance of morals. Organic-armor clad grey-goo infested disposable troops utilizing modern-ish vehicles warped beyond recognition? Sounds fun, warp them with bioengineering different variations of the armor for different roles like insect-wings for air mobility - even better. Very little actual robotics, moreso bio-machines on a level similar to

    Space elves are still somewhat doable, but perhaps style them tech and strategy wise more like the vanilla terrans but with DT attributes like stealthy, nomadic, peaceful-ish. Not socially suited to warfare and try to avoid it when possible. Relocatable stealthy/camoflauged buildings with lots of ECM, hacking, countermeasures and modern tactics. Perhaps lots of drones to set them apart from the humans. - Not my favorite sci-fi race usually and my like of protoss makes it hard to change something...

    Agree with Gradius on the bugs, perhaps have them go to the zerg extreme more then the zerg do by having their units literally on an order of magnitude different then the other factions. Like 20-ish basic units required to compete, or literal "clouds" of insect-like units using particles. More organic and less directly insect-like or noticeably different then the disturbingly hive like humans. Maybe more elements of planets and fungi with elements of diversity for the units, literally cloning and modifying creatures in specialized buildings/by specialized queens rather then the single larva to any unit of the zerg. Being able to dynamically copy and modify local fauna for shock troopers/cannon fodder might also be neat, stuff that the colony has yet to optimize for production but is willing to use. Something more akin to an ant colony then a zerg nest.
    Last edited by Nolanstar; 03-01-2018 at 03:31 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    As a big fan of biopunk, those seem like some pretty good ideas!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    Thanks, just don't know what to do with the space elves though...

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