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Thread: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

  1. #1

    Default Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    I'm trying to write a big post/article to convince Blizzard not to add Kerrigan infinite extra clones to lore. Would you please help me to improve it? Then I'll post it to Blizz forums.


    Some media don't depend too much on a positive atittude from the audience to tell a story. For example, real-life themed movies, fantasy movies with good enough special effects, and books.

    Other are completely dependent on the audience's will to colaborate. Think of theater: not only mimics, but even more in-built and necessary things such as changing the lights to represent the characters are somewhere else only work if the audience is willing to believe that they're not seeing a mad person walking on a dim illuminated wood floor, but a character living their drama. This tacit agreement between artist and audience is called the "theatrical convention".

    Many times, theatrical convention fails. It is very common in child plays. Some children refuse to see the fantasy that is being proposed, only seeing stupid adults dressed as fools, and often misbehave to the point of stopping the place from going on.

    Video games that try to tell stories are more like theater than like movies. If the player lets the game's interface spoil his immersion in the game, it will. I could provide many examples, from FPS protagonists carrying invisible arsenals to RPG characters talking to strangers and running afters quests.

    Starcraft has a serious case with this: its gameplay is almost nothing like a real war, and even less like the war stories it tries to tell. Still, from SC I to WoL, Starcraft's in game stories could always captivate and immerse us. This is because we, mostly inconciously, have an agreement with the game designers. We pretend we don't see many things, so we can focus on what we should, like:

    - How Raynor receives the same money from Moebius foundation and desperate colonists;
    - How we train marines on hostile territories intead of just bringing all your forces with you at once;
    - How we need local resources to train those units... and how those local resources always look the same;
    - How Ultralisk are born of tiny eggs and how, even in campaign, 16 marines can shut down a battlecruiser.

    Those are just some examples. Sometimes the convention is pushed too much, and it breaks the illusion for some people: for example, when we gather resources, including vespene gas, over an Augustgrad building :P So, we can argue that even the better audience needs help to hold their belief. An actor who just falls on fours and says, "look, I'm a dog!" is nothing but embarassing. But if he's using props and sounds and moves like a dog, he's helping you to imagine and enjoy. You know he's not a dog, but he's not distracting you from the story.

    Is that clear? Then let's go to what matters: Kerrigan's ressurrection mechanics in Heart of the Swarm.

    To allow the use of Kerrigan in a more aggressive way, instead of hiding her inside the base as we did in SC I, the (former?) Queen of Blades will reincarnate after a cooldown if all her health is lost. The community knew this game mechanic was coming since 2011.

    In SC:Legacy's most recent interview with Dustin Browder, the following words were exchanged.

    Crota: Another Question. We found out you can actually lose Kerrigan, but all of a sudden the mission doesn't stop. Is there lore based upon or is that something that is going to be disabled for Brutal, and say Brutal is the true lore?

    Dustin Browder: No, we feel that Kerrigan's revival is a natural part of her abilities as the Queen of Blades. That's something she can develop as she regains her power within the Swarm. We saw this throughout the last mission in Wings of Liberty. The killing of Kerrigan is a little bit more challenging than just destroying her mortal form, that you have to do maybe a lot more than that ultimately to wipe her out. And so we’ve brought this mechanic forward. Obviously it helps us a lot with the campaign, but it is part of the experience, of the game, part of the lore.

    Crota: So, how would one kill Kerrigan? You said that the entire Protoss race wants to kill Kerrigan. How would one kill Kerrigan?

    Dustin Browder: That's something we haven't revealed yet, what you would do to kill Kerrigan. I could hypothesize with you ways that you could potentially do that, but I imagine it would involve the destruction of her hatchery, all nearby hatcheries, and her, all at the same time, in a place where her consciousness could not really get back to any place where she can revitalize herself and continue forward.
    I'll admit that at least to me, this kind of ability would sound weird in lore. But that's just my opinion. I'll dare to say, thought, that we can objectively say this idea is complicated. The is no doubt it has a chance to be well done and become an interesting part of lore; and we also can't deny the risk of "tainting" the lore with an awkward piece of information that doesn't fit well with the rest. What I'm complaining about is that it is unnecessary.

    Our heroes died many times during our Warcraft 3 campaign gameplays. Did we expect their deaths, deincarnations and latter ressurections in Altars to be "canon" and part of the lore? Did we ever thought it was incogruent that Thrall didn't ressurect Grom on an Altar after his heroic death? I don't think so.

    I know Starcraft has a history - including in Starcraft II - of using a hero's death as a defeat condition. I expect LotV to have some missions like the Prophecy ones, were we had both a regular base and had to use a hero offensively, without letting he die. Maybe Blizzard fears that giving Kerrigan an unique death mechanic would feel weird compared to every other single character.

    I respect Blizzard's design philosophies, but I wouldn't be the first fan to humbly suggest they're taking the wrong approach.

    Kerrigan having a unique death mechanic isn't weirder than collecting natural gas on the top of buildings. It isn't weirder than Ultralisks rising from small eggs. It surely isn't worse than training marines on Char!

    Blizzard has a philosophy: "gameplay first". No one ever disagreed because this mantra was never taken radically. There is not lore about how battlecruisers can be defeated by a dozen of ground soldiers or how about half a general's deployed units for a surprise attack are SCVs harvesting stuff. Even in War3, no one tried to find any reasons why heroes could be ressutected if they died in-mission, but not during a cinematic. Nor to understand how D2 heroes drank potions so fast, or if D3 health balls are canon or not...

    Because sometimes, lore really needs to be tweaked in the name of a better game experience. But most of the times, convention - the instinctive deal between a part who wants to tell a story and another part who wants to listen (or rather be part!) of that story - can overcome any meager piece of reality trying to distract us from the flight.

    Rock, Metzen, Kindregan and co: if you really want Kerrigan to be like that, it's your baby, do with it what you wish. But if you're altering lore just because of gameplay... it's both unnecessary, and risky.


    TL;DR: Kerrigan's reincarnation mechanic seems fun and necessary, but we can see even Blizzard is cautious about making it canon. No need to even worry about that: if we can live with War3 hero mechanics and overall SC1&2 missions, we can see Sarah reappearing in her hatchery without making any embarassing questions. (we will still ask how Protoss reproduce, though)
    Last edited by TcheQuevara; 01-27-2013 at 02:44 AM. Reason: Mod Edit: Sorry, deleted the wrong one -.- so I set this one back to original txt -- Tche Edit: ok :) Tche edit 2:TLDR change

  2. #2

    Default Re: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    Frankly, I don't see Kerrigan's resurrections being part of the lore as a bad thing. In fact, I think it has the potential to be quite cool. Riddled with so much guilt, yet even if she wants to she can't die, because the swarm will just build her a new body? Awesome. Plus it has dramatic potential for when someone finally finds a way to kill her for real.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    Except we had the resurrection thing with the cerebrates and Overmind.

    I'm with Tche on this. I wouldn't really call it lore breaking, but I'd be happy to just chalk any re-spawns up to gameplay, or, say, you lose Kerrigan, she re-spawns after x minutes, the explanation being that she was wounded or something. It's the impression I got from All In that her 'deaths' were simply her retreating. No reason to change that impression IMO.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    The only problem I see, why can't she just suicide and reincarnate?

  5. #5
    Gradius's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Default Re: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    Reincarnation feels more like the area of cerebrates than an infested human. But Kerrigan burrowed underground when you beat her in All-In. Why couldn't they have just used that instead?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    I wonder if there may be a connection between this and the old, leaked pre-viz for the final cutscene for HotS (at 1:20)? Are those Kerrigan clones in those tanks?

    If the mechanic were explained properly early in the game, giving Kerrigan a shock and further existential problems, I could see it working. Moreover, this could be the meaning behind her words, "I AM the Swarm." You literally have to destroy the entire Zerg species to defeat her. The Overmind isn't dead; its new name is simply Kerrigan.
    Aaand sold.

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

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

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

  7. #7

    Default Re: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    I don't see a problem with this. The Kerrigan resurrection thing is not much different from any other example of the "gameplay and story segregation" trope and if we're going down that path, we might as well say the entire concept of the gameplay is nonsensical in terms of lore.

    As Hawki and Gardius have mentioned, it can easily be hand-waved as Kerrigan just retreating and regenerating to fight another day having sustained critical damage and not actually dying at all. I think there are many other things within Starcraft's story itself (independent of their gameplay representation) so far that are more potentially "lore-breaking" than this.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


  8. #8

    Default Re: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    What if a Nydus worm appears and swallows her when she 'dies'? Or, say, cloaking and disappearing?

    Or we could just stick to "Gameplay and story separation". There's already plenty of it in StarCraft.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel View Post
    What if a Nydus worm appears and swallows her when she 'dies'? Or, say, cloaking and disappearing?

    Or we could just stick to "Gameplay and story separation". There's already plenty of it in StarCraft.
    I was actually wondering why Cloak wasn't showed on her ability list... unless she just gets it right off the bat?
    I've fought for the Terran revolution, I've seen the promise of the Protoss, and now I'm ready to join the might of the Swarm...

  10. #10

    Default Re: Conventions in Fiction & Kerrigan's "deaths"

    Quote Originally Posted by Alar View Post
    I was actually wondering why Cloak wasn't showed on her ability list... unless she just gets it right off the bat?
    It could be that she gets it from the start, but I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't have cloak at all.
    "Living for the Swarm!"

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