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Thread: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

  1. #11

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

    I will post a more in depth reply later, but I have to make it clear now that some ideas I see here are moving far and away from what I liked about the outdated Starcraft lore, which is my primary inspiration. I envisioned a simple clone which did something with that premise as opposed being a completely different thing.

    That's not a bad thing, but I would prefer to... IDK, keep our options open? There's no rule that says we are limited to one universe. We could have a multiverse with different premises for those who prefer it. Right now I am limiting myself to a straight up clone, since game mechanics are not protected by copyright.

    If I ever got a chance to make this as an indie game (and learn to code at the same time), I'd probably be limited to an open source 2D RTS engine like OpenRA or OpenBW.

  2. #12

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

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    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...
    Cyborgs are already humanity's shtick, so I was trying to make the elves distinct from them. IDK, think of the elves as sculpting their buildings and units into existence like wraithbone in Warhammer 40k.

    The races are not on equal footing, at least in the story (i.e. gameplay and story segregation). The elves could easily squash the bugs and humans, but they fail due to a combination of arrogance, incompetence, and misplaced priorities. Meanwhile the bugs need to spend loads of time on research and development, fostering the potential determinant they found in humans, before they reach parity with the elves. The nature of the determinant would include various counters to the elves' military, including physical combat, electronic warfare, and so forth.

    The determinant would not be technology, since the bugs do not have the same psychology when it comes to tool use and that would defeat the purpose of each race having a distinct shtick. Where humans would make tools, the bugs would engineer an organism which fulfills the same purpose. They need to consume new species because they cannot make whatever adaptations they need from scratch.

    What is the determinant? Psychic powers are really the only thing that comes to mind. There are tons of way to explain it, like Mass Effect's biotics, but it is basically a plot device that justifies the narrative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    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.
    I don't know enough about real science to write a hard scifi setting, but I know enough to avoid trying to use pseudoscience explanations for everything I don't understand. Without FTL, the action would be limited to a single star system, unless we add some kind of wormhole network which is just fancy FTL anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    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.
    The extent of these changes defeats the purpose of making a Starcraft clone. At that point you might as well make an entirely new game since 3-way conflict is a fairly common RTS premise. See Tiberium Wars, Battle for Dune, Rise of Legends, etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    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.


    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.
    The super-science in Red Alert 2 is really inspirational for how I wanted to represent humans. The stuff they did with psychic powers feels a bit more psychic than what Starcraft did and it feels like something that would potentially provide parity against Protoss.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nolanstar View Post
    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.
    Again, this is drifting too far from a Starcraft clone to really call it one. At that point you are making an entirely new 3-way RTS.

    Perhaps we could save these ideas for faction variants, or specific army detachments, rather than try to shoehorn everything that remotely appeals to us.

    I will post the rudiments of a backstory later on.

  3. #13

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

    My initial thoughts on backstory:
    At this early in the brainstorm I don't think it would be prudent to write up a whole detailed backstory. Right now I think it is sufficient to assume that the backstory is essentially the same as that of the SC1 manual, with a few key differences. These differences were added with the benefit of hindsight to prevent any potential tangents.
    • There is no mysterious precursor race like the xel’naga. Instead, their role is taken over by the space elf civilization prior to their dark age. Any technological innovations are wholly their own, albeit separated by many generations.
      • Rationale: keep the precursor race from showing up in a sequel and take over the plot as a fourth race or big bad or whatever. Prevent the space elves from being reduced to wimps in sequels piggybacking on space gods.
    • The human civilization is based out of Earth, not a lost colony separated by a vast gulf of time and space that will inevitably be retconned away in the sequel.
      • Rationale: there is no point to establishing the humans as a lost colony if Earth is just going to show up in the sequel. Prevent Earth from being brought in later as a deus ex machina or big bad.
    • The bugs’ hive mind is similar to the flood from Halo and the necromorphs from Dead Space. It is an integral part of them that cannot be removed or replaced. If broken by any means, it will instinctively reassemble.
      • Rationale: prevent the bugs from ever having their motivations changed to incongruous human motivations, because they're supposed to be the big bad of the setting. This does not prevent them from being effectively enslaved with drugs and tech, but they are still a devouring swarm even if they make an exception for their slaver.


    In case it ever comes up:
    I would like to make a few pronouncements to address things that bugged me in Starcraft when I argued about them in another thread.

    The space elves are not autotrophic animals, not because it is impossible (photosynthetic animals exist on Earth) but because justifying their evolution is a world building project in itself. They rely on an abstracted power/population mechanic as in typical RTS games.

    The space elves have a clear distinction between their religion, their internet, and their power grid. They use their internet to communicate. They use their religion to inform their practices. They use their power grid to power their infrastructure and space magic. These things are not interchangeable. To keep people from confusing them in the future I will just call them by simple English words with unambiguous meaning rather than made up jargon.

    Army composition and strategy:
    tvtropes says that there are basically five kinds of armies in RTS games: powerhouse, subversive, balanced, cannons and horde. I see no reason why each race cannot have a different variant for each basic strategy, but in order to keep things interesting each side featured in the basic game mode needs to use a different one. If two sides have the same strategy, it makes matches between them the least interesting to play.

    Furthermore, the campaign and skirmish armies cannot work dramatically differently otherwise it will make it difficult for people to move from campaign to skirmish because they will have to learn what amounts to a new army. (This badly afflicts the SC2 campaigns.) What that means in practice is that, say, the determinant created by the bugs to fight the elves must be balanced even if the bugs are already balanced without it (even if this means making a spin-off army to avoid disrupting the faction calculus). Game play trumps lore, so the lore needs to be adjusted to match game play for the most part (hence my handwave that the elves lost against the inferior races through incompetence, even though the armies are balanced against one another, because the lore says they have reality warping super weapons).

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    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.
    Psionics. I guess as long as it's done with technology I'm happy. Didn't think that was possible to read surface thoughts though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    The extent of these changes defeats the purpose of making a Starcraft clone. At that point you might as well make an entirely new game since 3-way conflict is a fairly common RTS premise. See Tiberium Wars, Battle for Dune, Rise of Legends, etc
    What are you talking about? At no point did I suggest removing 3 race conflict. Just possibly replacing the human faction with a different one.

  5. #15

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

    We could each just create our own interstellar empire and have them go to war, Risk or Diplomacy style.

  6. #16

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

    If I ever got a chance to make this as an indie game (and learn to code at the same time), I'd probably be limited to an open source 2D RTS engine like OpenRA or OpenBW.
    If you don't already know how to code, you'll have to think very long term. I hope you're an artist too or have lots of $ to shell for assets. If I was to make a RTS alone, I'd use this as a base personally: https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/e.../content/79732. OpenRA looks promising since modding is core to the devs. It's not impossible to do though. Warshift was made mostly by one guy. Very impressive stuff considering everything. But anyways, it doesn't have to be a stand alone game or a game at all.


    We could each just create our own interstellar empire and have them go to war, Risk or Diplomacy style.
    "My imaginary interstellar empire is stronger than yours!"

  7. #17

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    We could each just create our own interstellar empire and have them go to war, Risk or Diplomacy style.
    Fun. First lets agree with a balance system. Yay.

    Depends what your trying to go for in lore, do you want something that's kina a "ripoff" or takes a similar premise as a 3-way rts with different factions but a similar feel?

  8. #18

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    Psionics. I guess as long as it's done with technology I'm happy. Didn't think that was possible to read surface thoughts though.
    If I used psychic powers (psionics is psychic electronics, IIRC), I would not spend too much time on explaining how they came into existence. All three races have done a lot of tinkering to themselves so it could be explained as a form of technology, biotechnology or whatever. Basically it is so advanced it appears to be space magic and we cannot easily explain it in modern terms, but I would do my utmost to avoid the trap of literal magic. (Even something like archons could be attributed to sufficiently advanced tech.)

    I personally developed an internal understanding of psychic powers which operated upon things like radio waves and gravity/electromagnetic manipulation of some kind. In order to read minds, you would have to perceive the target's brain activity by sending waves at them, receiving what is reflected back at you, and then be able to translate the sensations into something comprehensible to you. In order to perform telekinesis/psychokinesis, you would essentially have to manipulate gravity and electromagnetism in order to affect changes at a distance. I have no idea how this would work, but the basic idea is that this would have the long range of gravity and the high strength of electromagnetism.

    Something like mind control would require you to first alter the brain activity of the target so that they will obey the commands you send to them telepathically. An analogy would be to computer hacking: a victim computer will not obey you unless you first hack it and implant code telling it to obey you. For example, the bugs communicate using authentication signatures, so in order to enslave a swarm you would need to forge the authentication signature or else they would not respond. (Early in SC lore mentioned that Zerg would only respond to outside commands if drugged or lobotomized, but as the series when on this was replaced by anyone and their dog casually dominating feral zerg with little in the way of explanation.)

    The nitty-gritty would be glossed over in the game itself. I still cannot explain this in terms of hard science, only by analogy to similar systems in reality like computer science. These have well understood rules which could applied to similar situations in fiction, even if they underlying science is very different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    What are you talking about? At no point did I suggest removing 3 race conflict. Just possibly replacing the human faction with a different one.
    That was what I was referring to. My point of reference is the original lore of SC and I wanted to write a clone because I was dissatisfied with the direction Metzen took. We have spent months arguing about how the SC franchise has no future because of the lore. The further we move away from what made the original SC appealing to me... the less excited I am for the whole idea.

    I am trying to make the humans into a cyberpunk dystopia, which is actually based on statements in the SC1 manual to that effect. The space redneck stuff was added later in development, IIRC.

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    We could each just create our own interstellar empire and have them go to war, Risk or Diplomacy style.
    A risk-style map with non-linear missions could work, but it would generally preclude much in the way of a conventional linear narrative unless extra effort was devoted to a branching narrative or multiple endings like a visual novel. I remember playing Battle for Dune back in the early 2000s, and it only had like four or five linear story missions IIRC. But what was interesting about it was that it took the time to include alliances with minor factions as both a game mechanic and side stories with little impact on the overarching narrative.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    If you don't already know how to code, you'll have to think very long term. I hope you're an artist too or have lots of $ to shell for assets. If I was to make a RTS alone, I'd use this as a base personally: https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/e.../content/79732. OpenRA looks promising since modding is core to the devs. It's not impossible to do though. Warshift was made mostly by one guy. Very impressive stuff considering everything. But anyways, it doesn't have to be a stand alone game or a game at all.
    I would have to learn how to draw pixel art too, if that is what it takes. It's never to late to learn. People have suffered strokes and suddenly developed art skills, so I think I stand a chance.

    There's also OpenBW. That or OpenRA is what I would be most familiar with, so this is definitely a retro game concept. I got a lot of inspiration from the Westwood games, such as the stuff I mentioned before. That inspiration could also help to make more diverse factions, such as some operating on BW-style and others on RA-style. For example, building dedicated walls, planting buildings without a builder unit, or having an infantry/vehicle/building division where vehicles can run over infantry and certain units can insta-kill infantry. Or something like how Tiberium Wars and Dawn of War have units consisting of squads rather than single units. It is a lot to think about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nolanstar View Post
    Fun. First lets agree with a balance system. Yay.

    Depends what your trying to go for in lore, do you want something that's kina a "ripoff" or takes a similar premise as a 3-way rts with different factions but a similar feel?
    My point of reference is a straight up clone. Making variant armies to fulfill every possible fantasy is not a primary goal at this point in time.

    The basic army types are powerhouse, subversive, balanced, cannon and horde. Perhaps we should provide lore descriptions of how each race has a variant that implements each strategy. I will need more time to think on this myself so feel free to keep brainstorming. For reference, in SC the terrans are balanced, the protoss are powerhouse and the zerg are subversive.

  9. #19

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

    Hm...I'm not sure about this. Mislag, you seem to have a specific vision that you want us to contribute to, while most of the other dudes' ideas are more about creating our own thing. Tbh, I don't think we necessarily need to rip off Starcraft. Any space-based, science fiction, male demographic story with competing races is really enough of a "rip-off" for me. We don't really need to take too many ideas from Blizz.

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    We could each just create our own interstellar empire and have them go to war, Risk or Diplomacy style.
    Pffft, lol. My race is a bunch of space rodents who are known for repairing and fast-building space ships. Instead of being a faction, we're more like a resource on the map, and whoever pays us a bunch of money first gets to have our units in the game. This speeds construction of the latter-stage units and buildings.

    I dunno. I'm just havin' fun.


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

  10. #20

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissa View Post
    Hm...I'm not sure about this. Mislag, you seem to have a specific vision that you want us to contribute to, while most of the other dudes' ideas are more about creating our own thing. Tbh, I don't think we necessarily need to rip off Starcraft. Any space-based, science fiction, male demographic story with competing races is really enough of a "rip-off" for me. We don't really need to take too many ideas from Blizz.



    Pffft, lol. My race is a bunch of space rodents who are known for repairing and fast-building space ships. Instead of being a faction, we're more like a resource on the map, and whoever pays us a bunch of money first gets to have our units in the game. This speeds construction of the latter-stage units and buildings.

    I dunno. I'm just havin' fun.
    Those rodents will make excellent slaves when pumped full of the same nanotech that our troops use to get revived. If not more food for the human hive is also good.

    LOL.

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