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Editor’s Note: The following interview was conducted at BlizzCon 2007 with the following people:

LoA – SC:L Lead Admin
NC – Nick Carpenter - Creative Director for the StarCraft II Cinematics, Art Director for the in-game cinematics

starcraft 2 nick carpenter interview

LoA: For the cinematics in StarCraft II, it sounds like you’re not going to do as many as in StarCraft I.

NC:
It’s not so much that we’re not going to do as many - it’s of different beats. Like in StarCraft I, you had 30 seconds of a ship flying by and everyone thought “oh that was a lot” but what we’re doing is taking that 30 seconds and combining it with another three minutes of cinematics and doing (telling) the story. Instead of taking all the time that we’re allotted to do all this we’re actually cutting it all up or not cutting it up, but actually focusing on individual cinematics to create a much larger experience. But that’s not to say we’re not going to put those in – it’s just time constraints.

LoA: How long then have you been working on the cinematics for StarCraft II?


NC: Oh god, for StarCraft II – I’d say probably off and on for probably about 2 years (since BlizzCon 2007).

LoA: So are you working on an ending cinematic for each campaign?

NC: It’s hard for me to say right now. Like we’ve got a lot of really cool stuff planned, where it actually fits depends on the designers. I’m saying bookends wouldn’t really fit because some of these things are really starting and ending cinematics.

LoA: In the opening cinematic for StarCraft II it looks like there are interjections of other things – are those scenes from other cinematics?

NC:
From things to come - yes, absolutely.

LoA: It looks like you are trying to do the battle scene that you couldn’t get to in WCIII (the final battle between Arthas and Illidan was to be a cinematic but the team ran out of time so the battle was portrayed in-game cut scene instead.)

NC:
Oh, I’m always interested in that. I’ve been personally chasing that battle since, well I directed the first WarCraft III cinematic where the infernal comes down and you have the night elf and the orc fighting and that was the first time I was like I want to get the characters together and fight and then tell the story. And every time I get to that it always seems to be the first thing to hit the chopping block right? So yeah there’s a big surprise in StarCraft II that I think everyone has been waiting for a long time to see some of these characters actually clash.

LoA: So how much influence do you actually have in the story, how does that process work? Do they give you like a “this is how things need to end up”?

NC:
We have a lot of influence. Obviously we’re going off the original idea that the designers are giving us, you know Chris Metzen is a huge story guy, but we meet twice a week, sit down and he says, “hey guys this is what’s going to happen in the campaign” and you know, I sit and look at it from a directing standpoint, a film director and say ok well this won’t play, this won’t work, let’s try to make this meet, and they’ll be like, “eh – well I really want this”, and we’ll kinda play cards trying to figure out exactly the best way of telling this story is. We go off, with my team, cut together something, and then I present it to them make sure that they get - they’re a thumbs-up and then from there it’s just to the finish line.

LoA: Are there different teams in the cinematics?

NC:
Well, everybody works on everything, but at any one given time we have a group of people dedicated to a project. It might flow, but at that current time I might have half the department dedicated to my team, or the whole department if we’re in crunch mode, so it kind of goes up and down.

starcraft 2 - Nick Carpenter Interview



LoA: Do you feel this will continue in the future or do you really feel like you’ll move into a film?

NC: Well, that’s a tricky question because you get into a situation where we want to tell more of the story but we also need to keep content coming into the game, so currently our focus is game, telling the best gaming experience possible. The future might allow us to do other things, but currently, right now, we’re focused on making the best games we can.

LoA: If you could pick which franchise to make a film out of which one would you pick?

NC:
I think I like StarCraft a little bit more simply because I remember when I came off Frozen Throne, you know, we kinda took a break. We were talking about doing StarCraft and I’m like dude, I’m all over that simply because I love the used future aspect. I love WarCraft and fantasy, it’s amazing, but I’ve always been a little more partial to sci-fi.

LoA: What’s your favorite Blizzard game?

NC:
Oh my favorite Blizzard game – I’d have to say Lost Vikings II.

LoA: Would you be interested in doing more stuff for that franchise?


NC:
I think I hold that game in a special place, simply because it was the first game I worked on when I came here. You know – so it taught me a lot about the industry. But yeah, I’d love to revisit some of those old titles, absolutely; those characters are dear to all of us.

LoA: Is it possible for Blizzard to introduce another IP in the near future?

NC:
Oh… absolutely – we are always looking for something else.

LoA: It’s been ten years.

NC: We’ve got some interesting stuff cooking. But, yeah, it’s just one of those things, we try to utilize those licenses that we have, we don’t even think of them as licenses – they’re just what we’ve created and take good care of. But we’re always constantly thinking what if, how about this, how about this, what if this.

LoA: What about expanding – you talked about expanding your cinematics team. How big is too big?

NC: Well that’s a challenge, and that’s a good question. We’re focused on creating a great experience for our employees and great work, so we go through a very delicate hiring process to make sure that we’re getting the best people that we possibly can and that they mesh with our group – that’s key to us. Until we start feeling that we’re hitting the ceiling and it’s no longer a healthy environment, we’ll start pulling back the reigns. But currently, right now with the demand we’re seeing, we don’t really have plans on scaling back, we’ll keep hiring the best people we can and create the coolest stuff we possibly can. From a directing standpoint its awesome to finally be in a situation where we can tell the story I want to tell.

LoA: So are you excited for the new medium – the in-game vs. the pre-rendered?

NC: Oh I love it. It’s a huge departure from what I’m normally used to. But I’m all over it and I love it! It’s real-time so I get feedback immediately. Hey move the camera, oh that didn’t work. Move the lights – hey that didn’t work. I don’t get to find that stuff out till weeks after we do it in pre-rendered. Currently, right now, I’m the overall creative director for the department directing StarCraft, and I’m also the art director for the in-game cinematics, so I’m taxed.

LoA: Sounds like a very different experience.

NC:
Yeah it’s totally refreshing. The fans have a lot to look forward to – I think you’ll be impressed.

starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2007 feature article.

starcraft legacy


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BlizzCon 2007, Day 2

Room 204: StarCraft II Lore

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Panelists:

Chris Metzen - VP Creative Development

Andy Chambers - Lead Creative Director for SC2

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It was only 2:30 PM but it had already been a long day, though I arrived in room 204 extra early to ensure a front row seat. I’d already been to the Cinematics panel and the StarCraft Art panel had just finished. But this one, this one I was excited for - really excited for. Growing up playing StarCraft vanilla and Broodwar, I was ruined for other games. No other video game had such a rich lore. This was the panel I’d been waiting for. After nine years Blizzard was finally returning to its richest and most diverse world. Once again the three mighty races, the Protoss, the Zerg, and the Terran, would descend upon each other - some to survive and others to conquer the Koprulu sector. But there was an older, more powerful threat. The Xel Nega’s return is imminent, their web tightening and the ultimate battle will soon be joined. Who will be victorious? Metzen and Chambers whet our appetite for the prize - StarCraft II is coming.

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Chris Metzen started the panel off with an explanation of the literature that had been written since the game first was released. He noted that there were several reasons why the books were written. He explained that the books written under the StarCraft license, with the exceptions of Nova and The Dark Templar Trilogy, were an attempt at novelizing the first 3 campaigns of StarCraft. He continued by saying that at some point they’d like to novelize Broodwar to eventually have the “definitive take” on those stories. As to the unspoken question as to why no other StarCraft material was created, Metzen responded, “… at the time (when they began novelizing) we didn’t want to answer the big questions, right? I knew that this sequel was not going to materialize for many years, right? We had a lot of projects ahead of us. And I didn’t want to get ahead of the bus. I wanted to pick nice safe little books that would be cool stories in and of themselves but wouldn’t necessarily put us in a bad spot and setup questions that we weren’t prepared to answer.” He continued by explaining that the Dark Templar Trilogy is really breaking that mold. At its core it is an attempt at explaining more Protoss history but it also foreshadows the events of StarCraft II. Andy adds that it’s been quite fun developing something new for the lore especially since their developing the two (the Dark Templar Trilogy and the story for SCII) concurrently. It seems like the two will really work and relate to each other in ways that haven’t been explored before between the game and its novels. The books have also served to tell parts of the story that weren't described in the game. For example, as Metzen points out later in the Q&A, "when did Tassadar and Zeratul hook-up and meet? That's a huge part of the story that we didn't show in the game." He continues, "How does Tassadar, this Executor of the Protoss, this really talented and gifted guy get jumped into this black cult that his bosses hate and by the end of it become this "twilight messiah" and take down the monster alien of the galaxy. We didn't show any of that in the game." The books are also there to try and fill in some of those gaps and tell more of the story. Metzen feels the books are a chance at redemption to tell the whole tale.

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Ghost is really the big thing that kept the hopes for more new and original StarCraft lore alive during our nine year drought. But as Metzen pointed out early in the panel, “The first rule of Ghost, is that we don’t talk about Ghost.” *Cue thunderous laughter from the crowd* Blizzard took several passes at making the game but ultimately decided to indefinitely suspend the project. Even though we never learned much about the plot or story of Ghost, Metzen says: “Ghost had a killer plot; it had a really good bad guy. It set up a really cool kind of sub-license if that makes sense. It was kind of unrelated between the greater war in the galaxy between the Protoss and the Zerg… It was more like, like a really focused sub license with its own personality its own vibe. But I’ve always been really hip to keep that alive.” However, the destiny of the game is unknown and throughout Blizzcon it was reiterated that there were no current plans to take finish Ghost, but that’s no reason to stop the story from being told. Andy and Metzen were very adamant about wanting to continue Nova’s adventures. Andy explained that they’d like to novelize the game’s story into a book, a series of books or he mentions that there’ve even been discussions about turning the story into comics or magna - “something to keep that idea rolling”. Metzen concluded the discussion of Ghost by saying, “And there’s been just internally, this is no promise, just saying, just saying, a lot of the guys on the team are like dude are we going to get a cameo of Nova? We gotta stick her in there somewhere. Yeah we might be able to get our girl in there as long as it makes sense and it’s cool; we’ll try and do what we can.” For quite some time there’s been some speculation as to what, if any, role Nova would play in StarCraft II. Now we know that at the very most she’ll have a cameo that may sometime in the future work into her continued adventures inside of the main story. It seems that Nova was an extraordinarily developed character and was to be used to gain a more personal, intimate look at the StarCraft universe than an RTS game ever could. Her character development was, perhaps, a precursor to the new single-player story mode interface. Since this new interface will allow for a more developed and personal story experience than previously offered it seems like a natural medium between the necessary movement of an RTS game and the inside look that Nova’s story would have offered into an individual character and back story.

Andy took the microphone and spent sometime talking about the “why” behind the new story mode. He said that the new mode’s roots lie in the evolution of the storytelling between Warcraft II, Warcraft III and StarCraft; “there’s been an increasing sort of emphasis on the world itself, the characters in it, the events that take place and trying to create this immersive experience.” StarCraft was one of the first RTS games to put characters at the forefront of the story. The now classic talking heads in the briefing room gave depth to characters and story, which allowed for the StarCraft story to advance through the characters. When the StarCraft II Team started talking about how to tell the story, the method had to carry the evolution forward. The team drew inspiration from games they’d enjoyed in the past that had character driven plotlines. It seems that one of the main goals of using this new story mode is to really establish and develop relationships with the characters so their fate and your dealings with them matter to you. From a single player standpoint this is great to hear. The virtues of the masterful multiplayer in StarCraft II, reminiscent of the first StarCraft, have been extolled and while the amazing balance and multiplayer aspects of StarCraft were probably the largest contributors to its lasting success, the story and its characters are extraordinary. Andy made it clear that there will be a variety of ways the story will be advanced in StarCraft II. In addition to the game play and the cinematics, the player’s choice of mission, the cut scenes, and the interactive dialogue in-between missions, will play an important role in moving the plot forward. But, Andy cautioned, the exact balance as to each mode was still being discussed. Though there will be variations from campaign to campaign, each will have different elements; for example the armory in the Terran campaign, where the player decides which units/technology to buy, will be a Terran only feature. The Protoss and the Zerg campaigns will each offer something different to the player’s experience. The issue was raised as to whether or not there would be specific missions that would require certain player actions or interactions with the environment or characters. Andy’s answer was that they hadn’t really made up their minds. He did mention that there would probably be sub-plots and sub-missions that would only be discovered/playable through certain choices or interaction. But, he continued, the exact balance between keeping the game linear for RTS game purists and more immersive for the fan boys was still being discussed.

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State of the Universe


Andy was quick to state that the creative team was keen to really continue the previous storyline and that the events of Brood War would serve as the starting point of the next chapter in the lore. It’s been four years since the end of Brood War and the Koprulu sector is wary. But, according to Metzen, things have improved since the end of Brood War, when Kerrigan forced everyone up against the wall. Here’s an update on many of the factions/characters from before as well as an introduction to some new faces.

The UED Taskforce - Metzen: “She (Kerrigan) pretty much slaughtered the rest of the UED Taskforce that came out to the Koprulu sector, DuGalle, all those guys dead.” However, it may be possible there are splinter groups that survived and are still creeping around somewhere with their own agenda. That hasn’t been decided yet.

Arcturus Mengsk - He was left alone to rebuild his own, new, Terran dominion but there is a constant, pervasive fear that Kerrigan’s ultimate attack could come at any time. He has however, been successful in consolidating much of his power.

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Valerian Mengsk - First introduced in Firstborn, Valerian is Mengsk’s son. Arcturus kept in hiding for many years for fear of Confederate reprisal or attacks.” He’s meant to take over for dad; he’s going to be Emperor Mengsk II some day, if he lives that long.” says Metzen. Valerian is the heir apparent to the new Terran Dominion. The reason the developers are excited about the “new Mengsk” is they feel that Arcturus’ story had been told through StarCraft and Broodwar. Andy explains that Arcturus went through his revolutionary phase, defeated the Confederacy, and now has become this kind of “tyranty” figure. Now the question is how will Valerian turn out? He’s been brought up by a very ruthless, power-driven man. Will he turn out the same way or will he be a benevolent character? Will he learn the lessons from daddy’s mistakes? Plus, Andy points out; there is this interesting dynamic between father and son. Arcturus pushes his son to make his own way and be his own man, so how will that influence Valerian’s development and relationship with his father? But he’ll never challenge daddy directly; Valerian’s story will really be about defining himself and his role inside the new Terran Dominion.

Jim Raynor - According to Metzen, Jim Raynor is based on a character from the movie "The Rush", sort of a "gritty undercover Texas cop". Metzen continued to praise Jim: “I love Jim Raynor, I love this guy, he’s the one honest cop in a universe full of demigods walking around and he’s just a dude, right? No superpowers, he ain’t the brightest guy, you know, but he’s just a cool cat; he just doesn’t give up.” But four years later we find Raynor’s almost lost the war against Mengsk. Mengsk has rebuilt and is the charismatic media darling but since Brood War Mengsk has used the media in a savvy way to “dismiss” Raynor. He’s succeeded in marginalizing Raynor and as a result Raynor’s Raiders are running out of money, they’re running out of belief and Raynor is drinking heavily. Which is definitely unlike the Raynor we remember; it seems as though his past and his guilt are catching up with him and lay heavy upon him. He hasn’t been the fire-up, ready-to-do-good guy in quite a while; he’s still trying but he seems a little lost. Metzen assures us that “we’re going to make our boy into a hero”. Metzen expounds by explaining that any mystique the license may have is because there are these great races and then simple folk in the middle. The great allure, the great mystery is how, in a universe full of demigods, does a simple man in the middle, who’s just trying to find himself and his mission, affect the fate of the universe? The different relationships between Raynor and the other characters also provides an interesting dynamic that both Metzen and Andy love. This ordinary guy has met some of the most important and influential Protoss in the galaxy, and his “girlfriend” wound up being the Queen of Blades and that lends a certain mystique to this character. I got the impression that these relationships will play a more prominent role this time around, and will provide a richer story because each of those relationships is so different. Raynor is back and it seems, through Metzen’s eyes, Raynor will end up being (is) the ultimate protagonist in the SC universe, which is definitely interesting considering there are so many sides to route for who all think they’re doing the right thing.

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Matt Horner - He was in first introduced in the novel, Queen of Blades, as the captain of Hyperion. Now he takes on the role of the enthusiastic motivator. Metzen says he’s a good guy and believes in Jim and the causes very much. It sounds like Matt acts as Jim’s conscience and he attempts to keep Jim focused and on the right path.

The Kel-Morian Combine and the Umojan Protectorate - While Mengsk’s new dominion’s power has increased and been consolidated these factions are still “relevant groups in the sector and they’re still vying for their own control and resources while Mengsk grows in power.”

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Kerrigan and the Zerg - At some point she just pulled back to Char. No one has heard or seen anything from Kerrigan or the Swarm in close to four years. Everyone’s just waiting for the hammer to fall. It’s been quiet, really quiet says Andy. Kerrigan’s had four years, she’s poised to sweep everything but she just hasn’t done it. While neither Metzen nor Andy would go into much detail about Kerrigan or the Zerg, Andy did mention that some of the big shocks/moments/events will occur in the Zerg campaign. They wouldn’t say anything else, and even apologized, “we’d like to” said Metzen, “because it’s really good.” finished Andy.

The Protoss - They’ve been forced out of their home world. Now they’ve been regrouping on Shakuras. But the Protoss from Aiur are having a hard time accepting the demonized Dark Templar. And much of what’s been happening in the past four years has been the Protoss reconciling themselves to the fact that they are each a half of the same race. Some of the Protoss have understood that “white templar, dark templar, there really is no difference” and still others are having a hard time understanding this. The Protoss civilization, socially and psychology, has devolved back into their tribal states. Their technology has obviously adapted but not all that significantly.

Artanis - Artanis is the one who is trying to hold it all together and lead this sort of renaissance of rediscovery. A student of Tassadar (or the “Twilight Messiah” as Metzen refers to him), Artanis really believes in Tassadar’s dreams and the teachings. Artanis now holds the rank of Hierarch, similar to a President. He’s got a long, hard road to travel and he’s trying to strike a balance between each half and each faction as he tries to reunite the splintered race.

Zeratul - While Artanis is bogged down trying to heal the race, Zeratul, “who could, perhaps, be a big help in all this” says Andy, is no where to be found. He disappeared right after the events of Brood War and he still harbors quite a bit of guilt for slaying his Matriarch, Raszagal. Zeratul is traveling the stars searching for clues, for answers; he’s trying to figure out what’s going on. Metzen interrupted Andy at this point and says, “Remember a map, uh, Dark Origins? A secret mission in Brood War where he meets a kooky cat named Samir Duran, who has, oh I don’t know, a kind of breeding thing going on, with what looked to Protoss and Zerg, you know, Hybrid creatures. And um, he suggests that some great cosmic event is about to unfold, and that leaves Zeratul very… troubled.” Metzen does let slip that Zeratul will wind up find what he’s looking for; he is going to find those clues and get a vision of what’s coming, that is “really going to trip him out”. And then can Zeratul make it back in time to rally our heroes to face impossible odds.

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Silendas - During the Q&A (see below), Chambers mentioned a Protoss female character - Silendas. There wasn't much information revealed about her, except that she'll be Artanis' assistant and the new executor.

The Xel’Naga - The whole Xel’Naga concept always brings up tons of questions - Would they come back?, what’s the true origin of the Protoss and the Zerg?, where’s this all going?, is there a way bigger overarching mythology under all these events that we’ve seen begin to happen in StarCraft I?- Will StarCraft II answer all these questions? “Absolutely” said Metzen, “well, ok, most of them, there’ll be fifty more by the time we’re done with this”. “But we’ll try” finished Andy.

That was all the information they gave during their “lecture” if you will but then came the mighty Q&A.

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Most of the questions that were asked weren’t all that relevant or didn’t get answered all that well but I’ll pull out some of my favorites (paraphrased for brevity).

Q: Will Terrazine gas and the Specters make an appearance in SCII? Or will that be saved a Ghost storyline?

A: Ghosts are a very cool idea in their own right. Specters are Ghosts+++ in development. Mengsk didn’t just pick-up where the Confederacy left off with the Ghost program, he and the new Dominion have injected some new ideas into it. The idea of this weird new substance could effect certain psychic abilities and the specters are both ideas that Blizzard is very “keen” on exploring in the future but as to the question of whether or not they’ll make it into SCII is still being discussed but (SPOILER: yeah they might make it in there - Andy).

Q: Why did the UED have the same technology as the banished Terran prisoners?

A: “That’s funny, we were just talking about that the other day, not necessarily because of StarCraft II - well there’s a spoiler for you” Metzen answered that this part of the lore was clumsily handled. The humans on Earth should have had a far more advanced tech tree. The official reason was that the UED stole all this stuff why they got here and left all the “big guns” at home. Now why they did that - Metzen doesn’t know. But Andy and Metzen are going to keep developing and the history of the UED, why it was sent, and why they used local technology instead of the super “uber tachyon lasers” from home.

Q: What about the voice actors?

A: For the units - 50/50 because some of the units’ voices will be coming back - but because they’re coming back and they’ll look quite similar, we don’t want them to sound exactly the same so they’re the exact same unit. So there might be different voices or sounds to give them a fresh personality, but some of the actors will be returning. No final decisions have been made yet. For the characters - Here Metzen says that guy that did Zeratul and Duke’s voices is deceased - Jack Ritschel. Metzen emphasized that it has been almost ten years these roles were originally cast. Blizzard wants to make sure that the voice still fits with the Kerrigan. Metzen did say that Glynnis Talken had been back in the studio and that she sounded great (Glyniss actually confirmed on her blog that she would be reprising her role as Kerrigan). As for Raynor, while Robert Clotworthy (the original voice of Raynor) has said he’d love to do Raynor’s voice again, Metzen loves a new guy that has come in to the studio and read for Raynor. He says from his, a creative, perspective he wants to get the character right and that this new guy is much closer to what he had originally envisioned for the character. But he does realize that we, as fans, have an emotional attachment to the original voice and they haven’t quite decided what to do on that one. Recording the voices for many of the other characters has even started yet and Blizzard is still debating internally what they’d like to see whether it is a new voice or a returning one for an iconic character.

Q: Is there any good left in Kerrigan? Is there anything challenging her for control of the Zerg?

A: Broodwar is the story of Kerrigan becoming the undisputed ruler of the Zerg, so that’s really the starting point for StarCraft II. As for there being any good in her or any humanity left in her - that’s an interesting idea/dynamic that might be explored in the story. What a classic Blizzard non-answer.

Q: What about the characters that you played as in the original and Broodwar (the Cerebrate, Executor, and Magistrate) are they dead, replaced?

A: “Dead. Gone.” In the new Terran campaign you’ll be taking on the roll Jim Raynor, you’ll be controlling his conversations with the characters etc, but at the same time some characters will refer to you as Commander, “so we’re really merging the two ideas…” Metzen feels that while the approach taken in StarCraft was cool, when you took five steps back it didn’t make sense trying to work the characters into the story. There were actually some early drafts of SCII that followed the former games’ approach but it just came off too clunky and it was too difficult to try and change the story to accommodate the new characters you’d be playing as.

Q: Why is Kerrigan called the Queen of Blades?

A: *They had just talked about this issue between themselves recently and at first Metzen couldn’t remember what he and Andy had come up with.* But then he did remember: Kerrigan’s title is an honorific one. Blades is a core unit to ripping apart species and what better title to describe the greatest agent of the race, of the Swarm. She was designed to be this thing - it was what she was built to be, probably a title given to her by the Overmind.

Q: StarCraft Movie?

A: If we were to do a movie - it wouldn’t be about Nova (maybe a TV show?) “I’m just talking!” warns Metzen as he pretends to get a call from Blizzard’s PR “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SAYING?”. There are no current plans for a StarCraft movie but that would be “Sweet”.

Q: What about infested Stukov and Braxis?

A: Metzen: “Oh yeah… why oh why did we think that was cool *hangs his head*” Andy: Infestation was a fascinating subject - Stukov was an experiment for the Zerg in infesting other humans. It may be something we (Blizzard) may want to touch on or do with other characters. The whole concept of the Zerg - there’s a subtle level of alien invasion, what happens when humans get infected by this hyper evolutionary virus and become something else. The story itself was two dimensional and is really a door to the future. Metzen: “That was pretty good - and almost completely pulled out of your ass.”

Q: In Christie Golden’s novel, Firstborn - what is the creature and what is up with the Temples?

A: Metzen: The temples are all different (Shadows of the Xel’Naga, Firstborn, the one on Shakuras) but they are all tied together, all part of a larger theme tied in with the stuff that is starting to happen, the stuff that has been happening for some time. What that connection is - “I don’t want to tell you.”

Q: What about the obvious similarities between Medivh in Warcraft III and Zeratul in StarCraft II, both come with warnings, etc?

A: Metzen: “Yet more evidence I’m a one trick pony.” People are more likely to listen to Zeratul and do what he says; the story will play out quite a bit differently than Warcraft III’s. Andy: The warning that comes too late is a classic storytelling technique that you see time and time again.

Q: What characters are in the Protoss campaign will we play as Zeratul or Artanis?

A: Andy: We haven’t made up our minds up. They both are very compelling characters and would offer some different parts to the story. Andy would rather have a single strong lead in the campaign rather than rotating between characters.

Q: Are there any plans for any female Protoss units or characters?

A: Yes. Silendas (sp?) is the new Executor, which is as explained by Andy: Artanis’ chief of staff or the commander of the armed forces. There are both male and female Protoss forces. But neither Andy nor Metzen have decided how the Protoss reproduce.

Q: Will Fenix return - again? (Asked by SC:L’s very own Zero!)

A: Andy: “Sometimes you kill characters off and people really miss them and you go screw it - let’s bring him back he was cool - and sometimes you don’t".

Q: Who or what is actually controlling all the Zerg life forms?

A: Metzen: “…since Brood War there’s only one mind controlling the Zerg (as far as anyone knows). After Brood War she whacked out all the (remaining) cerebrates, so as far as anyone knows she is in sole control of the swarm. But that sure is an interesting theme *wink wink*”

Q: “If I go see Rush like you were talking about - will I find out if he gets the girl?”

A: Metzen: “That movie had a brutal ending - so don’t base it off that.”

Q: “World of StarCraft?”

A: Metzen: “One isn't enough?”. "But really", continued Metzen, "we don't have any plans for something like that. WOW was being developed side by side with Warcraft III but there are no plans to do something like that with StarCraft II."

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Conclusion

The lore panel was an amazing experience. BlizzCon was amazing but this was the creme de la creme. Having played this game for so long and enjoying the story and the characters for so long it was great to learn more about it and learn more about the people that created it. After the panel I hung around as was able to meet Chris. He signed some stuff for me and then we started talking about StarCraft: Legacy. He knew of the site and said he really digged it. I explained to him that much of our user base loves the lore and how great it was to meet him and learn more about StarCraft II. He’s a great guy and who knows? We might even get a couple of surprises thrown at us ;). Unfortunately Andy was gone before I had a chance to say hi to him but I’m sure I’ll meet him in the future. These guys were really great with all the fans and despite all their success they were really down to earth and cared about what everyone had to say. These guys wrote StarCraft - and that was over nine years ago - imagine the possible twists and turns to the story now. StarCraft II is definitely in good hands. What’s written above is all I’m allowed to share about the story or the lore - right now. But rest assured, this game and its story are going to be amazing.

~LoA

Metzen and I
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The Lore Panel Video

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I love StarCraft. I've been playing for more than nine years. I love so much about the game. I love the story, the lore, the gameplay, the balance, the community; it is in my opinion the greatest game ever made. I mean really, I've dedicated a large portion of the last nine years to it. Obviously my expectations are high. When I first saw the announcement and accompanying media I didn't know how to feel. StarCraft II was here - but being a purist, I wasn't convinced that this is what I'd waited for so long.

Twenty-one hours ago I got to spend several hours playing the game and discussing the game with Dustin Browder.

I was absolutely floored. The game at this stage is incredible. It's an absolute blast to play. The build that is playable at BlizzCon is an excellent one. We were told that the game builds change at least weekly if not every day. Both the Protoss and the Terran were fully playable and I spent well over an hour with both - I played both single scenarios (one for Terran and one for the Protoss) and I also was party to some extremely fun 2v2.

I started with the Protoss - my favorite race. The Protoss feel good to play. Right now they have a great mix of quick, maneuverable units, and their classic heavy tech.

The Zealot is the same as always - a great, fast, cheap infantry unit that really is the staple of the Protoss force. Honestly, he hasn't changed much, with the exception of his upgradable Charge ability that really does make a huge difference.

The Stalker is a great light back-up unit that really is there for early game harassment. Browder and I discussed how he envisioned it used in the early game and then once its ability, Blink, had been upgraded that it would serve as a very micro-able unit into the mid-game. However, he cautioned, its purpose isn't to be a late game unit. I found using this "dark dragoon" to be fun and the sheer versatility of it early/mid game will make it a very exciting unit.

In the current build the Star Relic is now a ground unit known as Stasis Orb. Its current purpose is as a secondary support unit. It has a normal ability that allows it to slow down enemy units. I didn't really find that it was an amazing or a necessary unit but it will definitely have its uses and of course I only played the game for a few hours so there's plenty more to learn.

The Immortal turned out to be one of my favorite units in the new Protoss arsenal. Browder admitted that right now it might be a little too strong against the Terran, but man it is fun. It is the anti-tank killer, but the Protoss really need something to do that. The units animations were smooth, concise, and it was just fun to play around with. It has a shield upgrade that makes the unit one of the best ground warriors the Protoss now wield.

The High Templar and Dark Templar are really two that have changed the least. The High Templar's damage has been reduced slightly but its purpose is exactly the same – "the stormer". Unfortunately, the storm animation is one of the few things I really didn't like about the Protoss, but Dustin assured me that that it would most likely change. The Dark Templar really is the exact same unit as in the original. But once again, I wasn't fond of the unit model. The unit appears cloaked, wielding some kind of scythe blade but it has this very odd neon outline that makes it seem very out of place. Of course this is all subject to change - and in all honesty, it probably will.

The Twilight Archon was another unit I was really excited to see. It still does splash damage and it has been gifted with the Dark Archon's Feedback ability. The unit looks good and plays well as the very heavy archon of the original. It really is like the original archon. I was also informed that both the shadow and the legs would be disappearing quite soon!

The Reaver was another unit that I was anxious to play with - and it didn't disappoint. They're still fun, loveable, and still do massive amounts of damage to the Terran infantry - just watch out for tanks.

(Important Note: Blizzard confirmed they had removed the Reaver from the current build (that was shown at BlizzCon).

The Colossus was a unit that I wasn't sold on before playing it. Now I love it. The cliff mechanic is really going to add another, fun, dimension into the game and really change how battles will be fought. It's amazingly good against ground units and buildings and its trade-off is that it is extraordinarily vulnerable to air. The Colossus is worth it because the potential for hardcore micro and versatility really make this unit something special.

The Phase Prism's primary function is to really use it's Matrix ability and facilitate the warping in of units from the Warp Gates. I played with this mechanic quite a bit and it definitely adds something to the Protoss that wasn't there before. It adds mobility and another dimension of versatility that will really change the flow and play of the game. It was really fun.

The Warp Ray was another unit that I was quite worried about. And it turned out to be another unfounded worry. The unit is another great addition and plays well. Its focusing ability makes it unique and stands out.

The Phoenix is probably one of the only two units that I wasn't sold on. Its overload ability has been nerfed down so that it only affects six surrounding enemies instead of all of them. All in all, it didn't feel worthy of being both the Corsair and the Scout's replacement. And it is currently highly unbalanced. It's cheap, early tech, and does great damage against ground, especially the early units with weak to no anti-air. I'll be keeping close watch on this unit.

The Carrier - yes, you read that right -the Carrier has returned along with its interceptors. The "dark carrier", the Tempest, is out. Dustin said that the Tempest didn't feel right and that there was too much of an emotional connection with the original unit. He mentioned that if you asked someone what his/her favorite Protoss units were, the Carrier is one that is always near the top of the list. And he's right. The Carrier hasn't changed much from the original. It looks, feels, and plays great. And this time around it can even auto-build interceptors if you so choose.

The Mothership's abilities and powers have been significantly changed. It's much cheaper than I had expected but I soon found out why. It's Planet Cracker ability delivers some excellent damage to the ground but it is ridiculously weak against air. On more than one occasion my Mothership was reduced to rubble by a decently sized air fleet. The black hole is also reportedly undergoing some massive changes but it still looks pretty powerful. It did quite well against most forces that my enemy sent. However, it has no affect on buildings. Browder also mentioned that one of the Mothership's new abilities is to cloak all the ground units under it so you could really pack a nice force down under there and do some major damage. It will be interesting to see how that ability works out with further testing.

It really was amazing to play the game - both the single player and the 2v2. The game looked great, flowed amazingly well, and ultimately did feel like a worthy successor to the original. It was also great to have Dustin Browder all to ourselves for several hours and get him familiar with the community, what you, our members want, and how we felt about the game. He was right there talking to us, asking for suggestions, and offering tips as we all played and it was amazing. Dustin Browder is a great guy and a ton of fun and I think he's going to do a great job. I really was impressed and it gives me great faith in the development of this game, when really they aren't even close to being out of pre-alpha. The Protoss are the closest to being finished but things are always being tweaked. The Terrans are playable but aren't really polished or even fully designed. And while we talked a bit about the Zerg, nothing at all was shown - the development team really hasn't touched upon them much beyond concept. I talked to both Testie and Tasteless who were also playing the game and they were both impressed. I specifically asked Testie what he thought of it. His answer? "At first I was like this is horrible, but now I'm like - this is actually pretty good." I agree.

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