Were there any other ending scenarios that were tossed around for the original StarCraft? i.e. Kerrigan is not abandoned.
Metzen - Actually no, it was funny, the Kerrigan thing wasn't a foregone conclusion. The Aiur thing was - the Overmind invading Aiur, the fall of the Protoss, all that good stuff. Kerrigan actually came around the middle of development, we made her up, we made her kinda cool, we developed this relationship and I think the decision to have her abandoned by the [Terrans] and become the Queen of Blades was by me and a guy named James Finney. We co-wrote the campaign and we were like "Whoa, that's got some pepper, we should go there". It was sort of a surprising turn of events; it wasn't mapped out from the start. My impression, and it's been a few years, but my impression is that we pretty much went the way we conceived of it going. But this time around, with all these years of expectations and all this stuff we wanted to do with these characters, I think this one is shifted more in flight that the first game did. There were so many more voices and writers. Did Kerrigan find out anything about Duran's activities? When she talks with Raynor at the end of one of the missions we played she says "Time is running out ... for all of us". So it seems like she knows there's something going on...?
Metzen - She's found out quite a bit, I can't tell you what that is. But she doesn't know everything. Uhm. Yeah. ... That's a shitty answer but it's true, I swear it!
One of our concerns from playing the little bit of the campaign is that we got two missions from Dr. Hanson, but at the end of that second one she's talking about a "Paradise world" where we can "run away to". I guess we were just making sure we weren't treading on the toes of Battlestar Galactica type territory... In search of Kobol and so on.
Metzen - To address the concern... Sure, she's looking for a nice clean place for her people to live. That was what Galactica was about whereas in StarCraft II it's just one minor storyline. The fate of her people could take a number of shapes. But it's not remotely as big a theme as it is in Galactica... it remains to be seen, had you continued that game experience whether they make it or not... The StarCraft universe has a way of roughing people up. But they might!
Can you tell us a little bit about the process you go through when you're working on developing the lore behind a planet? How do you decide if it's in shambles or if the inhabitants have a sudden change and where that history comes from?
Metzen -It's a lot of things. It's not always just story up front, it could be from tilesets we're building, what's cool with them, the permutations of tilesets. It could be designers having an instinct for a mission i.e. "we really want to do this kind of mission" and we're like "oh well that kinda fits in here". There's a number of conditions that go into these maps. For Hanson 01 where we show Agria where the Zerg increasingly show up and rough it up. We want to show that in its most idyllic form up front and then it sort of goes to hell. Sometimes the story demands that. Other times it's kinda whimsy, or cool art or chasing clever hooks - any number of things. The story usually before the level design process is pretty broad and we'll know generally "we want to finish up Hanson's storyline in ... 4.5 maps" whatever that means. So let's look at the kind of missions that are appropriate for that arc and then let's look at what each of those missions... there's a lot of layers that go into it and no over-arching solution. Story is just yet another of the dials on the board where everything is relative to everything else. If you pull one thing up over here it goes way down over here - it's a balancing act in terms of how it all comes across at the end of the day between art, sound and design.
Where do the Dark Templar books fit into the timeline of the StarCraft Universe?
Metzen -If you sat down and read all of those in one sitting... I think... God I've been reading them again too... If you can say it's been four years since Brood War, the Dark Templar Trilogy happens in year four, so it's many months if not a year before StarCraft II - so it's relevant. The Zerg are popping back into the picture in that trilogy in very specific ways and places, like Aiur where they already were. But they're not on the scene yet in terms of the Terran Dominion and UNN and whatever news services are covering general threats, but they're still out there.
In the disabled Protoss bonus mission on the StarCraft CD where Fenix is reminiscing over his and Artanis's conquests over the Tagal on Dannuth VII. Basically is there anything behind that?
Metzen - Off the top of my head, I tell ya, it's just something I made up at the time. The universe you envision... Like yeah, there might be a lot of races and there's loads of stuff going on that we just allude to. Like in a WarCraft way you can just drop names and chase them up later cause there's a whole world out there to explore. The way StarCraft actually took shape... The problem about not referencing the Tagal all these years later is "Shit, is it real or is it just something I threw out all those years ago"... I haven't heard that word since I wrote it all those years ago, so there's nothing to tell. I'm sure there's a lot of those little diddies that were just sort of sown in. Interesting thing about the Protoss is that they have this mission called the "Dae'Uhl" where they have to go out and police the universe and protect lesser lifeforms... Who? Where? There's another part in the campaign where Fenix is yapping on about having fought on these battlefields like "Who are you talking about? The Zerg just showed up like three months ago..." in the original game. It is true the suggestion that in StarCraft there is a bigger universe out there, it isn't just these three races. There's creeps and critters all over the tilesets. There is aliens out there we just haven't put a lot of thought into it - yet. Thanks for reminding me though, that seems like something we should do.
Are there any sentient races out there that are going to make an appearence, other than critters?
Metzen - They probably won't make an appearance in Wings of Liberty. Candidly, yes, we probably should look into that kind of thing. I don't know what we'll do.
Stukov: will he be making an appearence somewhat or has he just totally disappeared since Resurrection IV?
Metzen - I'm gonna take the 5th on that one. It's interesting but we'll see. We haven't had any plans for him in this first chapter. There's some really interesting hooks with him and what happened to him but with everything else going on with the Zerg component of the story, we haven't made any huge plans with him yet. Don't wanna promise anything, it's something interesting to be leveraged if we can figure out the right way to do it. There's all sorts of ways to leverage characters meaningfully into things without derailing your whole story. For people trying to create their own stories and campaigns, what inspires the hooks and decisions to have various important events happen?
Metzen -Again, it's probably a lot of things. Especially this time around, the story telling process for StarCraft II has been a lot more team-based. For the first one it was me and a guy named James Finney, he was the lead designer and I was the writer. But we really cross-informed, just sat there every day and ground it out. This time around it's so much more of a group process, like me and Andy Chambers, the other writer, we sit and jam like "well what do we do here". The art directors, the lead designers, there's a lot of stakeholders in story mode. And I just mean the single player in terms of the way the story comes off, the characters we show, what are these spaces, what are the broad themes we're chasing.
For my part I love big overaching mythological cycles, like the dark sins of the past come back to haunt the present. I love that shit. I love broken people scrabbling for redemption - people like Raynor and Kerrigan, the two loneliest people in the universe, two beaten up people: can they pull themselves out of the mud they find themselves in and find redemption of some kind? I tend to chase things from that level, like the Kerrigan Raynor relationship to me is the heart of what StarCraft is, but my teammates are like "yeah whatever bro, it's all about multiplayer". I geek out on that, like how real can we make these characters feel and in the midst of this great galactic conflict and these ancient races battling for supremacy there's just these two lonely people in the middle of it and the way their story will unfold affects everything else. That just seems worth chasing to me, so everything else just extends out of that for me in terms of walking into a design or story meeting.
But I think a lot of the stakeholders process their own favourite themes and chase the stories they dig. I mean, we watch all this stuff, like Galactica and all this sci-fi and fantasy - it all gives you new fuel to envision these campaigns or whatever. It's informed by everything science fiction - I'm sure Buck Rogers has a part to play in the DNA of StarCraft II. It takes a lot of different shapes - inspiration is everything, the late night news, it all defines the story teller you are for all of us. As you come into a creative session or group session to build a campaign like this I think it all just informs. You gotta play with what pieces fit better than others like "I was watching pokemon the other day and like these little balls..." maybe not, it might not work as well. We have to figure that out at a tribal level now, what are our instincts as a crew, as opposed to ten years ago when it was just one or two guys. That's definitely shifted in flight for the better, I think this story's a lot more informed by more perspectives, a broader sense of what works for an audience. Can Protoss get infested?
Metzen -I'm trying to think if there are specific fictional answers to that, I could have sworn we had a story or two like that in the manga recently. But I'm spacing out... I feel like I wanna take the 5th on that too. It's a weird one. Off the top of your head you'd think "sure!" I read something about them using their psionic ability to negate it? Metzen -I'm not so sure about that. These days with so much being written I'm not so on top of it all - if you could say I ever was - all the little ins and outs. That question runs to the core of what the mythology is, it is a question that will haunt us for the next four years, it's part of the DNA of what StarCraft really is. There isn't a really satisfactory way of answering that at this time.
This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) feature event article.