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Thread: Let's brainstorm a Starcraft rip-off

  1. #61

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


    Something I have not seen much in scifi is religion. Most of the time the future is perceived as an atheist utopia.

    This is complete nonsense for one key reason: humans are tribal. Religion was never anything more than an excuse for our tribalism. Just look at how people behave on the internet, simultaneous claiming Jesus never existed and starting flame wars over trivial nonsense. Flame wars are just the internet equivalent of witch hunts.

    Although traditional religions are on the decline in rich countries, new religions are replacing them. Cosmism, for example, bills itself as "religion 2.0." Mormonism claims that God is a space alien from the planet Kobol (in case you recognize that name, the original Battlestar Galactica's chief producer was a mormon).

    Religion is ripe to explore as a theme in an RTS about aliens invading.

    The original Zerg were portrayed with religious overtones (Metzen outright states he based them on the Old Testment and Shakespeare): the Overmind was analogous to the Old Testment God and the cerebrates were his prophets. There's also Gravemind in Halo, who speaks entirely in rhyme. I would like to do something similar for the bugs, since many of my ideas are just recycling neat stuff from Starcraft that Blizzard threw away.

    I expect that religion would be quite prevalent in human space, since religiosity scales with poverty and human space is full of poverty. I would probably copy the Brotherhood of Nod plot from Command & Conquer, since the tiberium rip-off is seeding the religious outer planets first. When the bugs invade, there would probably be people worshiping them; since the bugs are intelligent, they will probably realize it would save time and resources to exploit this religion.

    The elves would have religion. Since they have a telepathic internet, elves who die would have their memories preserved in the cloud. I suppose the cloud would become something akin to their afterlife and serve as the focus of their religion. I imagine their religion being a form of ancestor worship. However, taking cues from Starcraft, they would have a theocracy loosely based on the medieval Catholic church. Their theocracy has very good reasons to exist, in contrast to what atheist propaganda would have you believe, but even so that does not mean they are perfect. I believe I mentioned the alien protectorate, multiple genocides and civil war back in the rough timeline. Much like the Covenant in Halo, they offer the more mature species in their protectorate places in their military.

    Space zombies
    Much like the Flood in Halo and the Necromorphs in Dead Space, the bugs make use of space zombies. The space zombies are actually a provisional force designed to establish a beach head, not the main force of their army. Unlike the main forces of bugs, the space zombies are not engineered breeds spawned from the breeding pits. The space zombies are composed of organisms recently infested by the helminth and various Frankenstein abominations composed of transplanted tissue. However, the space zombies are also accompanied by breeds engineered for infestation, which are similar to things like Halo's infection forms, Starcraft 2's infestors and virophages, Half-Life's headcrabs, and so on. Unlike other space zombies in fiction, the bugs also make use of literal and vehicular zombies: these operate similar to Tleilaxu contaminators and leeches in Emperor: Battle for Dune (I'm using OpenRA as my conceptual basis for gameplay right now).


    The bugs as invasive ecosystem
    I would like to frame the bugs as being more than just the bugs that fight the humans and elves. They are an invasive ecosystem, with analogues to plants, fungi, and pathogens. An invasive or hostile ecosystem is a concept only explored in a few works of fiction: Alpha Centauri's xenofungus and mindworms, The War Against the Chtorr novels, Fragment and Pandemonium by Warren Fahy, the sandworms and spice in Dune, the tiberium in Command & Conquer (based on the spice, btw).

    The bugs are pretty much an amalgamation of all those ideas I thought was cool. They have xenoforming agents, they have zombie apocalypses, and they have fleets of engineered warrior monsters. Each of these aspects has its own identity and can exist apart from the others in different plots.

    A political story could focus on the ramifications of humans exploiting the properties of the miraculous alien moss, which is very loosely similar to the modern debate about climate change and green energy. The zombies would be great for a survival horror story.
    Last edited by Mislagnissa; 03-26-2018 at 02:12 PM.

  2. #62

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

    Going on the invasive ecosystem tangent, SC2 actually does a decent job with that. Showing creep withering and infesting or killing trees and flora, as well as the large variety of zerg-ish flora doodads we see in infested areas.

    Going further and you can have replacements for most levels of an ecosystem. The swarms of flies picking over bodies can be bug servants, the local water microfauna co-opted by them and used to hijack populations, pollen and spores modified for reactions, etc.

  3. #63

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

    Some more miscellaneous ideas

    Elf society
    The elves are divided into around three major super-ethnic divisions.

    The high elves are those who adopted the faith of the telepathic internet. Although composed of numerous clans, kiths and tribes, these divisions are secondary to a caste system dividing the ethnic groups among the knights, clergy and guilds. The knights manage the military, the clergy manages the civil, scientific and bureaucratic issues, and the guilds maintain the infrastructure.

    After the high elves are the various heretics: the wood elves and dark elves.

    The wood elves are analogous to the Warcraft night elves, the Starcraft dark Templar or Warhammer eldar exodites. They rejected the faith and were exiled from their homeworlds, but now live a hidden existence in the shadow of the high elf empire. They are divided into numerous ethnic groups that often have little to do with one another, united only by their shared hiding from the empire.

    The dark elves are analogous to the Warcraft nightborne elves, the Starcraft taldarim, the Warhammer dark elder, the sith lords, yadda yadda. They are nominally evil pirates and rejects from Hot Topic. I don’t have as much to say about them.

    Where the humans are only a single species and the bugs assimilate other species into themselves, the high elves have an empire that includes various client species similar to the Halo covenant, the Mass Effect citadel, or the Warhammer tau.

    Taking a page from tvtropes, the iconic client races could fall into the "Five Race" stereotypes of stout, fairy, mundane, high men and cute. This would include the industrious rodent people mentioned earlier.

  4. #64

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

    After thinking through it some more, I think the elf aesthetic could stand to be more abstract. Something like the angels in Evangelion and their numerous imitators, like the gnosis in Xenosaga, the d-reaper in Digimon or the vertexes in Yuki Yuna.

    What do you think?

    EDIT: I recently learned from the IGN 20th anniversary interview that the Protoss were at one point intended to be non-humanoid. As an old old school fan, I feel vindicated in my decision to make the elves non-humanoid in appearance. To distinguish them from the bugs I want to avoid any insect features, though.
    Last edited by Mislagnissa; 04-02-2018 at 02:41 PM.

  5. #65

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

    Considering the spate of big budget movies based on trashy young adult novels, I am considering writing plots with child soldiers as protagonists.

    No, it makes no sense that a spacefaring cyberpunk civilization would employ child soldiers. So they would have to be from the poorer outer colonies which live in space western conditions. It just so happens that the tiberxenofungus hit those worlds first and the bugs invade those first.

    Why young protagonists? Really, they are more marketable. Plus most fanfic writers are women in their teens and twenties. I would like to encourage others to play in my sandbox.

    I would probably have to add gay and trans characters to get more mileage. Fanfic writers seem to go wild for that.

    What do you think?

  6. #66

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

    ^ Caving into what's "marketable" eh? What happened to your almighty integrity, lol?

    Those trashy young adult novel are rife with characters that are to idealised, be wish-fulfillment for the reader and where the fictional universe seems to spin around and exist for those very characters. You know, the very thing you apparently hate about Starcraft and its supposed predilection for such Sue-ish type of characters.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


  7. #67

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    ^ Caving into what's "marketable" eh? What happened to your almighty integrity, lol?
    I am capable of compromise. I was too hard on others when they suggested more radical ideas, but I am lightening up and adopting ideas like biopunk humans and rodent aliens and alternate universes.

    Those trashy young adult novel are rife with characters that are to idealised, be wish-fulfillment for the reader and where the fictional universe seems to spin around and exist for those very characters. You know, the very thing you apparently hate about Starcraft and its supposed predilection for such Sue-ish type of characters.
    Execution is key. Since I am aware of those flaws, I can avoid them. For example, I can kill characters off for making dumb decisions and then use cyberpunk mind uploading to resurrect them while justifying that plot point as death being a valuable learning experience during wartime. I can make the characters flawed and give consequences for their actions. Coming of age stories do not have to be badly written drek.

    On another note, does anyone have suggestions for the elves' protectorate species? I have industrious rodents but I cannot think of much else at the moment.

  8. #68

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

    I discovered another Starcraft clone in the vein of Atrox called Starfront.

    Like me, it also takes some ideas from Command & Conquer, such as making the main conflict a resource war. It has "rare Xenodium crystals" to which "The Myriad, an indigenous race of aliens, is addicted." That is the exact same relationship as the tiberium and Scrin.

    Speaking of Atrox, what little I could learn of the story for that was weird. Apparently the not!Zerg and not!Protoss descended from black and white "angels" created from human genetic experiments. I could not find the not!Zerg story in English, but the not!Protoss story ended with them deliberately becoming hybrids of not!Zerg.

  9. #69

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

    Queen of blades-style plots, and why I'd never use them

    One of my enduring disagreements with the SC storyline is the queen of blades. Her character does not fit the hive mind hierarchy that characterizes space bugs. What makes this so irritating for me is that this plot point is fairly easy to salvage.

    I said before that I find it plausible for bug swarms to demonstrate aberrant behavior during the bug wars after their unity is shattered. It stands to reason a swarm which has consumed a large number of human souls might, I don't know, display simplistic human motivations like revenge on the groups who betrayed Earth to the bugs in a political coup. Even before the bug wars, a swarm might go insane and break from the unity after unwittingly assuming a human personality (this is straight out of Starcraft: Insurrection, btw).

    The bugs are a hierarchy of hive minds, where every level of organization is a gestalt consciousness. They can hold conversations among themselves, but this is merely a vastly expanded example of the inner conversations that we humans normally hold inside our own heads (e.g. should I or should I not perform action X?). The group mind of the bugs is so huge that its equivalent of personality quirks are intelligent, fully realized personalities whose individual quirks are also intelligent, fully realized personalities.

    The reason for this is practical. It is much easier for writers, and more engaging for audiences, if the bugs are written as a family drama rather than a deep voice saying "feast!" all the time. I am looking at you, Dawn of War 2 tyranid campaign. Gravemind is decent as a villain, but not as a protagonist.

    The idea that the bugs would elevate infested human hosts to leaders or counselors is completely absurd. An infested human host's personality would be utterly subsumed by all the other minds it is connected to like an individual neuron in the brain. But, like Locutus of Borg, these human hosts provide a convenient face (quite literally) for enemy humans to interact with and get a deliberately false impression of what the bugs are like.

    It is entirely valid for a character backstory to be a human host severed from the hive mind and how they deal with that separation. I imagine that such characters would behave much like Ripley 8, Seven of Nine, Illyria or Amaru depending on disposition. Speaking of the latter, something I find particularly intriguing is the idea of a swarm personality being trapped in a human body.

  10. #70

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

    I originally intended to post this a week ago but never did. My SC clone is largely based on SC plot points which were dropped during development or retconned in the sequels. A recent interview with Metzen reiterated a few of these plot points.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    IGN has posted an interview with Chris Metzen and Sam Didier.
    Kerrigan was never conceived to be a villain in Sc1 nor was redemption ever a possibility for her in BW. Her role in the narrative was to represent a "loss for the hero" and to help personify the Zerg.
    I honestly prefer this to the evil queen we got in SC. She did not act like a member of a hive mind at all. See my previous post for more on my thoughts of infested human characters.

    The UED were to have a bigger role in BW, culminating with the Zerg invading Earth. The UED were going to be "a really big theme that was going to define the Starcraft franchise" but the "grand plan got walked back" for unspecified reasons.
    The SC manual made a big deal that K-sec was cut off from Earth, but BW retconned all that away. When I decided to just have the bugs invade Earth, I did it for simplicity (to avoid Earth being retconned in by sequels) and was not aware this was originally planned for BW. In any event, I think I made the right choice.

    Apparently, the idea of bringing in fourth franchise power during the development of Sc2 made less sense over time.
    My clone does not have any fourth races because I think that dilutes the themes and the three faction symmetry. The ancient elves take the role of a precursor race, and the bugs are the main villains of the series.

    The way Tassadar sacrifices himself was not pre-planned. That end cinematic was created last and the only one to reflect the written story whilst in all other cinematics, the story was written and/or changed to reflect them.
    I was initially confused by why Enumerate, another of my primary sources, decided to keep Tassadar alive, but I guess this explains it. It makes more sense that the dude who united the high elves and dark elves would remain to teach them the path of twilight elves or something.

    At one point in the early stages of development, the Protoss were more insectoid and Zerg-like in appearance.
    I was never satisfied with giving the elves an appearance too similar to either the humans or the bugs. Other clones like Atrox and Starfront made the elves obviously robotic, but I still find that too similar to the mechs and robots employed by the humans. Currently I settled on a more abstract design inspired by the alien enemies in some Japanese mecha franchises, which provides a good contrast against the conventional mechs employed by the humans.
    I think Starcraft needs rebooting. See "Enumerate" for details (links: timeline, full document, original forum thread).

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