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Thread: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

  1. #1

    Default StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    While it may seem like I'm jumping the gun trying to talk about SC3 already, I'm trying to distance myself from the context of SC2. I almost jumped into the Legacy of the Void thread, but realized it was a lost cause when people were going on about "shattered dreams," about the projections they took from Dark Origin and how they did(n't) manifest in SC2. I've got my work cut out for me in such a context because I've got no knowledge of what those hopes might or might now have been. That, and some comments about storytelling in SC2 (not story, storytelling) got me wondering as well. Some sentiments I can understand. Some I don't. Some make me want to smash my head against my desk and...well, that's getting ahead of myself. So, I'm kind of venting my creative spleen here, but it's just as much gauging other people's thoughts as well.

    And remember, this isn't just about story, but storytelling. It's actually the latter I'm more interested in, but...well, you'll see what I mean.

    Story

    To be honest, I don't think a SC3 is really needed. Assuming that LotV ties up the xel'naga/hybrid/Amon thread, then I don't think there's really anything that needs to be pursued, per se. Dark Origin (to me at least) made it clear there was more to come, but there's been no hint of future plotlines on that level. But, since it's pretty clear that the UED is the next logical plot point, and there's been multiple hints towards it, both in HotS and in interviews, I'll assume that a requisite of SC3 is that the UED has to feature in some form or another. Personally, I'm less than thrilled, what with the UED being the least interesting terran faction (to me personally), and feels like a part of the universe that could exist independently from the K-sector, and perhaps should. But factoring in game requirements, I have to assume that not only the UED would feature, but there would have to be protoss and zerg campaigns as well. And maybe a fourth playable race, but...well, more on that later. What I will say is that if SC2 used Reign of Chaos as a template, with storylines leading up to a singular climax, I think SC3 should use The Frozen Throne as a template - independent storylines that generally have their own climaxes.

    So, what ideas can I take from this? Well...

    Terrans

    This is a bit more tricky than it would suggest. On one hand, there's the UED, which is a requisite for the plot. On the other, there's three terran powers in the K-sector. That thus leaves two questions in mind - what is the status of those powers, and what POV should a terran campaign be from? The UED? Or the K-sector terrans?

    Concerning the first question, IMO, the Dominion shouldn't be the de facto terran power, or at least, not as it has been up until the end of HotS. I know this has been discussed to death, but at least in Brood War, there was little evidence of the Dominion undertaking infrastructural damage, and it ended with the declaration that Mengsk would rebuild it. In HotS, there's only a possibility that Valerian will be accepted as a leader, and even if he is, he's ruling over a Dominion that's completely shattered, both in terms of military, and in terms of infrastructure. IMO, there's no wriggle room out of this. Something's got to change, and luckily, unlike BW, we actually get to see the Umojan Protectorate in some form. And considering Valerian's part Umojan background, I think there's leeway for some kind of intergration of Dominion and UP powers...or something. I'm not expecting some grand alliance of powers because there's still the KMC to consider, but of the 'big three,' Umoja's probably in the best place. In WoL, the KMC was trashed. In HotS, the Dominion was trashed. Unless Umoja gets the same treatment in LotV, it's probably in the best place.

    Concerning POV...honestly, I think it would be better to come from the K-sector terrans. Maybe the UED can take place in the prologue or something after the zerg invading Earth (more on that later), but otherwise, because we saw the UED perspective of a K-sector invasion in BW, it would feel like too much of a retread IMO. On the other hand, a UED perspective gives more leeway to vs. zerg/protoss missions.

    As for the story itself...well, either way, the issue of the UED will have to be solved. So either the UED establishes a foothold on the K-sector that actually lasts beyond the game itself, or is defeated for the last time. Whatever the case, I don't think it should be "terrans of the K-sector, unite!" but more "what do we want?" The KMC worked with the UED before, would they do so again? Would Dominion citizens disgruntled from SC2 (or heck, even BW) welcome the new arrivals? Would Umoja, a (relatively) democratic power, even contemplate allying with a power like the UED? I know the UED should be light years beyond the K-sector terrans and the like, but seriously, I don't want another "let's all unite against our foe." It could work with the terrans as a whole, finally ending their struggles. I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to do that in some form. But it would be far more interesting to see them divided on the issue of what they want. Honestly, if I had to pick, it would be a case of faction a (UP and some Dominion) coming to an agreement with faction b (KMC and UED) - some kind of power sharing agreement. May be wimpy, but sometimes, it's okay to end with a whimper rather than a bang.

    At the end of the day, the terran campaign should be a terran story. Not the UED stumbling into the Brood War, not the fall of a power in the midst of the Great War, nor a battle that will be eclipsed by one against powers beyond human comprehension. The Earth/K-sector relationship is a terran one, should remain as one, and be given some closure as one. Heck, have Emperor Valerian end the story signing a treaty and shaking hands with a UED admiral. I'm all for something like that.

    As for characters, I don't think many need to be catered over from SC2/1. While I'd like to see Valerian in a position of power in some form, others like Raynor don't need to factor in heavily. While I like Raynor and the Raiders, they don't have any real beef with the Dominion the same way they did with Mengsk or Kerrigan. Ergo, I think a new cast would be required.

    The Zerg

    Of the "big three," the zerg are the hardest to place for me. Partly because I don't know what LotV will have in store for them. Partly because I'm not sure what remaining plotlines can be pursued. It was mentioned in an interview that the zerg invading Earth is an idea that's been toyed with, but I'm iffy about that. Partly because we had our "moment of awesome" in HotS with the Korhal invasion, partly because it's an iffy scenario. If the zerg take out the UED, there goes my terran storyline. If the zerg fail to take out the UED, and Earth is the climax of their campaign, it feels like a wasted campaign. Apart from that though...

    In all honesty, I wouldn't mind dropping the zerg. RTS/RTT factions come and go in a gameplay sense, and storywise, I just don't know what can be done with them. The primal zerg are interesting in concept, but any internal zerg strife would feel like a rehash of BW. Maybe Kerrigan is killed or something in LotV and the zerg need a new leader, but again, it feels like a BW rehash. There's no real reason for the zerg to go against the protoss presumably either.

    I dunno. I just don't really know what can be done with the zerg storywise beyond LotV. Perhaps the game will give me some ideas, but right now...

    The Protoss

    Kind of hard to place as well, as we haven't seen LotV yet. I'll go out on a limb and assume that the xel'naga/hybrid issue is wrapped up, that the Khalai and Nerazim come to full terms with each other, and that Aiur is reclaimed. The campaign is practically based on the first two, and the third...well, from HotS, we know that every broodmother has joined Kerrigan. So the force controlling the zerg on Saalok is either a broodmother that's now gone, or Amon, who'll be defeated anyway. Or maybe reclaiming Aiur will be the focus of SC3 somehow, and the broodmother chose to stay for whatever reason, but as I've often said, Aiur can't be ignored forever. Sooner or later, that plot point has to close.

    Apart from Aiur, there's one protoss plot point I think could be explored, one that could tie-in with a fourth playable race (more on that later), and that's the Dae'Uhl. Up until the Great War, the protoss maintained peace in their corner of space, watching over "lesser races" and intervening when they had to. With the protoss powerbase shattered...what are those lesser races doing now? What's the power vacuum like? What role do the protoss have in it, if any? I can imagine there's some lingering resentment there - if I'm race a who wants to raid race b, only for the protoss to ruin my fun every time, then you can bet that I'll get back to raiding as soon as the protoss have left the playground, and if they come back to the playground to take me home, I'll keep on the slide, thank you very much. And how do the protoss feel? They've probably done some good, but try telling that to the kalathi or tagal.

    Personally, this is a storyline I find appealing. Post LotV, the protoss can ask, "what now?" The previous wars have been their World War II equivalent, and the protoss may see themselves as being in a position to be the equivalent of a colonial power again. But how would the equivalent colonies feel?

    The Fourth Race

    I'm making a big assumption here. I'm assuming that there's a fourth race at all, that said fourth race isn't the UED in gameplay terms, and that said fourth race even gets a campaign. SC2 has had campaign exclusive units before, but they're not necessarily playable. But I'll assume that a protoss campaign deals with these "lesser races." I'll also assume that they get a campaign too, that somehow, the game structure allows for a fourth race to be balanced (or heck, have them replace the zerg for all I care). And also, for everyone suggesting that a fourth race be the xel'naga and/or hybrids...no. Just no. In an ideal world, they'd be wrapped up in LotV.

    So what should this race be? Until recently, I saw the kalathi as the prime candidate - they'd had a fair ammount of lore given to them, and had the whole cultural contamination aspect with the protoss. Which, in hindsight, kind of makes them like the protoss as well given their relationship with the xel'naga. Besides, they've been confirmed to be knocked back to the stone age, so...gah!

    The tagal are another option but chances are they're just as far down the tech tree as the kalathi. And apart from that, there's not really anything to go on bar races of dubious canonity. So, at the end of the day, we'd probably need something from the ground up.

    Something else to consider is the inter-race politics. The protoss and terrans have inter-racial strife, and even the zerg have a few times. There needs to be a mandate for a fourth race to have that as well. In light of this, I kind of see a fourth race actually being a group of species rather than a single one, but more along the lines of the Covenant, Tau Empire, or Heirarchy, rather than, say, the United Federation. Some race getting to the top now that the protoss couldn't keep bullies out of the interstellar playground. I find this appealing because a) it gives a new type of factional strife we haven't seen in the setting before, and b) it allows this faction to be a mirror darkly of the protoss. The protoss maintained order through the Dae'Uhl. Who's to say that what they did isn't any different from the new status quo?

    But there's another problem. A terran campaign deals with the UED and K-sector terrans. A fourth race/protoss campaign kind of deals with the same thing, with an older power (protoss/UED) and its relationship with a younger power (K-sector terrans/fourth race). I mean, if we cut the zerg out, it's ideal maybe, how the events are being mirrored. But then again, maybe it's a bit too similar?

    I dunno. In all likelihood, any fourth race will be represented by the UED, the zerg will remain, and a story will be found for them somehow. But hey, this is just me. No doubt others will have their own ideas. Get the dreams out before they're shattered and all that.

    Storytelling

    Introduction

    In 1998, three games were released that each took a different approach to games as a storytelling medium. These three games would be regarded as revolutionary, but each for different reasons.

    One of those games was Metal Gear Solid. It had a defined character (Solid Snake), who developed throughout the story, said story being very cinematic in nature. Long cutscenes that represented gameplay and story segregation. Like a movie...though as some would say, perhaps too much like a movie.

    One of those games was Half-Life. It had no gameplay/story segregation whatsoever. It allowed players to experience everything from the first person perspective, to attribute whatever personality they wanted to Gordon Freeman, who technically had no personality at all. Some called it a revolutionary example of what games could do as a storytelling medium, hailing Dr Freeman as the greatest videogame character of all time and Half-Life as an immersive game. Others argue that the things that make Half-Life immersive actually take away from any immersion, and that Gordon Freeman should not be considered as a character at all because he has no real character to speak of.

    One of those games was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This incorporated elements of both approaches. On one hand, it had many cutscenes that lasted for minutes on end, seperating gameplay and story. On the other, Link was essentially a blank slate. He could do whatever he wanted, however he wanted, and have his personality, even name, imagined by the player.

    The reason I use these examples is that I want to give an example of how different storytelling can be in games. That, and it was an interesting idea I found in a retrospective of how these three games, released in the same year, were so different in their storytelling methods, yet all three are still hailed as excellent examples of what the medium can do. Speaking personally, I like the MGS and OoT appraoches, yet despise the H-L approach. It's an approach that can work IMO (e.g. Portal), but so often, doesn't. Not even in the game series that arguably spawned it.

    Of course, in 1998, another game was released that I'm sure I don't have to tell you about. In 2010, another game was released that was a sequel. Looking at these two games, they approach storytelling very differently. The 1998 game utilized silent player characters, talking heads, use of the game engine for key moments, and had cinematic/story segregation. The 2010 game didn't utilize player characters the same way (arguably not at all), used cinematics to convey key events rather than the game engine, and had cinematic/story intergration. It's probably no secret which branch of storytelling I prefer. But this being a discussion, I'd like to consider the following aspects and see what other people think:

    Player Characters

    ...Gah.

    Okay, let me make this clear. I don't dislike player characters in theory. I don't dislike Commander Shepard, or Link, or player characters where I have a personality of sorts to work with (I bring up Link because he was given more of a personality in later games, just not in Oot itself). What I do dislike about player characters is when they go down the blank slate route. All the Gordon Freemans and Jimmy Pattersons of the gaming world, with all the Lone Wanders and Dragonborns not being far off. I dislike them, I despise the method of storytelling, and it's a method I feel deserves to be put in a grave with Gordon Freeman's name on the top of the gravestone. It's a method I feel stems more from technological limitation of the early decades of gaming that has somehow carried on to this day.

    But, of course, not everyone thinks the same. So in our hypotehtical SC3 game, what storytelling medium would you prefer? Do we want to be "the commander" or "the executor," free to form our own reactions to the going-ons of the higher ups? Or do we want our protagonists to be the Raynors, Kerrigans, and Zeratuls of the setting - defined characters in their own right, but not defined by us?

    To me, the answer is yes to the second option, no to the first option, and lots of head banging if the first option is implemented. I don't care about the magistrate. I don't care about the cerebrate. I don't care about "immersion" that I've never felt. I do care about established characters that actually have personalities. But then again, to each their own.

    Cinematic Intergration

    The way I see it, there are three types of cinematic intergration that I could see existing. But first, I want to provide a scenario.

    Look at the cinematics of SC1. Quite well rendered and executed for the technology avaliable at the time. Now imagine the game without them...

    ...if you've come to the same conclusion as me, you'll realize that the story could have those cinematics removed, and lose basically nothing. If Lester and Sarge were gone, would we notice? If we didn't see Fenix's goof at Antioch, would we really lose anything that the green text doesn't already convey? If we didn't see the marines on the Amerigo, would we miss out on key plot points? My answers to these are no, no, and no. Apart from the ending cinematics of each campaign in SC1, you could take the cinematics out and lose nothing.

    Now look at the cinematics of SC2. Try taking them out of WoL and/or HotS. Now try to have the story function without them...try to have Raynor say "oh BTW, Zeratul visited me." Try to have Kerrigan kill Warfield in-game using the game engine. Yeah...good luck with those facial expressions as a game unit.

    To me personally, the cinematics of SC2 are so superior to SC1 that I find it very difficult to comprehend how people can think otherwise. Whatever you think about the action or lines, as a whole, they're far more important to the story than in SC1, which can exist independently. Yet people have argued that this is what makes the SC1 cinematics better. That they are independent from the main storyline. That it's far more compelling to see the macro-perspective of Aiur's invasion with a bit of Overmind, rather than the micro-perspective of Kerrigan's place on Korhal with only a bit of zerg. I know that there are those in the games industry who dislike cutscenes in any shape or form (the same bastards that propped up Half-Life...gah), but it's a philisophical notion I can sort of entertain. Do you take something out of a game when you don't rely on game mechanics to tell a story? Is Stukov's death in BW more compelling because it's in the game engine? Or, by choosing to stick to such old formats, are you shooting yourself in the foot?

    There's kind of a happy medium between the two I guess. Tiberian Sun of the Command and Conquer series used live-action cutscenes for the SC2 equivalent of cutscene storytelling, while having side-cinematics that exist outside the main storyline as a SC1 equivalent. I don't mind this approach, but I sooner remember the SC2 equivalent rather than the SC1 one. So, for a hypotetical SC3 game, I'm firmly in the camp of a SC2-style of storytelling. But this being a discussion, other viewpoints are welcome.

  2. #2

    Default Re: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    There is a ton to dissect here. Wow. I guess I'll start in on the cinematics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Cinematic Intergration

    The way I see it, there are three types of cinematic intergration that I could see existing. But first, I want to provide a scenario.

    Look at the cinematics of SC1...if you've come to the same conclusion as me, you'll realize that the story could have those cinematics removed, and lose basically nothing. If Lester and Sarge were gone, would we notice? If we didn't see Fenix's goof at Antioch, would we really lose anything that the green text doesn't already convey? ...Apart from the ending cinematics of each campaign in SC1, you could take the cinematics out and lose nothing.
    True! For SC1. Especially the bit about ending cinematics being important. Mengsk's inaugural address needed that propaganda newsreel, it would be deadly boring and ineffective in the briefing room or in-mission. Tassadar's sacrifice needed to be seen outside of the confines of SC1's engine (i.e., the carrier sprite exploding, the overmind sprite splashing some blood, the end).

    Same goes for Brood War, where, again, each of the cinematics was pretty vital. Maybe not the intro, aside from reemphasizing that even the smallest Zergling should be completely terrifying.

    Now look at the cinematics of SC2. Try taking them out of WoL and/or HotS. Now try to have the story function without them...try to have Raynor say "oh BTW, Zeratul visited me." Try to have Kerrigan kill Warfield in-game using the game engine. Yeah...good luck with those facial expressions as a game unit.
    To me personally, the cinematics of SC2 are so superior to SC1 that I find it very difficult to comprehend how people can think otherwise. Whatever you think about the action or lines, as a whole, they're far more important to the story than in SC1, which can exist independently.
    This is because SC2 has no briefing room. Of course you can't just have the unit mention in-mission that Zeratul visited them— we would have heard Zeratul's transmission to them in the briefing room before the mission. The reason SC2's cinematics are so essential to the story is because they've replaced the briefing room— and the short briefings you do get are just short, redundant descriptions of the missions (which are always nonessential and inconsequential because Blizzard assumes that you'll skip them).


    Maybe 1/3 of SC1/SCBW's cinematics were story-centric— culminating in Brood War's ending. Yeah, others are totally unnecessary (most specifically the wraiths destroying that communications satellite and the Protoss attacking that Terran outpost— completely useless).

    I still loved them when I was younger though, because they let me know how to imagine the tiny pixels I was commanding looked and acted. Without those Marines on the Amerigo carrying their beers and explosives in the same cooler, nothing separates Starcraft's space marines from any other Sci-Fi franchise's. They were necessary to give a feel for the universe that the game engine alone could not. Now this is no longer a technological concern— Warcraft 3 replaced briefing rooms with in-game cutscenes, and imo they worked great! SC2 takes this a step further with its Campaign menus, and that's fine.


    In this way, Starcraft: Ghost's intro cinematic is actually the worst. The game begins at the end of that intro, with you stepping out of that dropship onto that same battlefield. What a waste of a cinematic: it shows you nothing but the exact content you're about to see in the game engine, from the same perspective— watching marines on the ground fighting zerglings. Except it makes the game look bad by comparison, because obviously the animations would all be worse and it would be like ~3 zerglings at a time instead of ~50.


    To me, Starcraft 2's cinematics and in-between missions are in that territory of making the game look worse. Compare the in-game units in SC1 and their menu/cinematic depictions, and you can see why the cinematics were necessary to tell us what we were supposed to be looking at. Compare the in-game and menu/cinematic units in SC2, and... ugh.

    SC1: Necessary!



    SC2: Who screwed up her proportions??



    (obviously by this metric SCG is especially unnecessary, and its cinematics should have been used for story/character expressiveness rather than action).

    SC1 cinematics make the game look/feel better, because they let me imagine what the game was supposed to look like. SC2's graphics are clear enough that I can see what things look like for myself— WC3 never needed to show Tyrande or Furion or Kel'Thuzad in a cinematic for me to know who they were, how they dressed, etc. But SC2's fatty, stylized in game models just come off badly when in between missions you're seeing designs that are so obviously sharper and better.

    Obviously this is just an objection to Blizzard's stylization than anything else. If they wanted to, they could have proportioned and textured the in-game units realistically, but they chose not to to make them easier to read. Similarly, with the terrain— looking at a tree doodad in SC1, I knew it was supposed to be a real tree. But thanks to SC2's style, they make no attempt whatsoever to make plants look like real, so... none of it feels real. While I was playing SC1 I believed they tried to make the game match up to the world depicted in the cinematics and did the best they could. For SC2 they obviously didn't try, because that wasn't the style.

    Bringing this back to SC3, in SC3, I want them to try. I don't want them to abandon anything about Starcraft's gameplay, but, you know, you could hide the fact that your maps are all just sets of tiles a bit more. Warcraft 3 was a huge step up from Starcraft in making the maps feel like organic environments. SC2 was a step... nowhere. Give me maps and terrain in the missions that look more like, say Halo Wars, and less like Warcraft 3, and maybe I'll be able to take the cinematics/in-between mission sequences more seriously as being part of the same game. It doesn't have to be all about realistic graphics, but it could at least let me forget how it's just a bunch of wall segments next to each other instead of a real cliff.



    Man, I got way off of storytelling, sorry. Basically the briefing rooms thing was the only important thing I said.
    Last edited by Robear; 03-20-2013 at 10:39 PM.

  3. #3
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    StarCraft II's terrain is a necessity for its formula of eSports competition. So they had zero choice in that matter and its not like Halo Wars was all that good anyways.

    For StarCraft III though, I really hope we'll be starting to see a departue from SC1/SC2 gameplay and get an evolution at least on par with WC2 > WC3. I mean, by then, SC's gameplay will be probably close to a quarter century old.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  4. #4

    Default Re: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    I'm not responding directly to your points, but I hope what I write goes in the general directions you intended this topic to go.

    As regards the story, I'm not going to really discuss what should happen because while pointing out how a story went wrong is easy, actually writing one is hard. But there are a few perspectives I have about the way Blizzard comes up with their storylines, and how I think they are inherently flawed and the subsequent disappointment is to be expected. I, and I would hope others as well, would like the stories to build on what has been established. Look at where we left the story, and ask ourselves "what happens next?" Sometimes this does happen in StarCraft. I didn't like the Protoss being retconned into losing the battle of Aiur, but I loved the idea of them being forced into exile. It takes this important, established element of Protoss culture and uses it to create conflict. It's sadly underused, I would have rather there be a lot of Protoss who, like Fenix simply refused to leave because that's how important the planet is to them, but the idea is great. It's immediately striking. We've spent a third of StarCraft fighting for this world, and now we have to abandon it. This is also part of why I preferred Wings of Liberty over Brood War, Wings is all about Raynor, where he is now, how he chooses to deal with his fate. People didn't like this decision, but at least it was a decision. It defines and develops the characters and the setting.

    Unfortunately, this is not usually what Blizzard chooses to do. Rather than looking forward, they love to look backward. They look at the interesting histories they've made for the setting and go "what if Earth isn't just a part of history and has been watching EVERYTHING ALL ALONG?" "What if the Xel'Naga aren't dead, but have been planning EVERYTHING ALL ALONG?" It's the difference between the Hybrids and the Dark Voice. You have these two races, the Protoss and the Zerg, opposing halves of perfection. And the Xel'Naga were trying to make a perfect species, but only succeeded in getting distinct elements of perfection, never the full package. The Overmind tried to complete their work but couldn't achieve it. What if someone did? That's a great idea, that could change the entire setting. But instead of changing the future, Blizzard chooses to use it to change the past. Suddenly, the Xel'Naga weren't just obsessive biologists, they had A GREAT PLAN but then one of their villains also had A GREAT PLAN and these dramatic events happened in the past and everything that has happened has done so because of those GREAT PLANS. In the past. What happens in the present? Nothing. A new villain wants to destroy the world. They took a great idea and made it as boring as they could while divesting so much energy in using it to rewrite the past.

    That's the idea I'm getting to here. Write stories in the present, not in the past. Have actions that have consequences, because then that means those actions matter. Instead of having every action in the game, that the players have emotionally invested in, suddenly become meaningless because you want this new thing you've created from scratch and has no real reason to exist to look awesome. Arcturus Mengsk has become the absolute tyrant of humanity, betraying all the hopes you had when you joined the rebellion and now stands as the symbol of oppression that will carry humanity into this new future of alien threats? Nope, he just got shunted aside to demonstrate how powerful our new villains, the United Earth Directorate is. ISN'T THE UED COOL GUYS? GUYS? So you thought it was a significant a dramatic moment when Tassadar sacrificed himself to take down the Overmind and shatter the Zerg? Too bad, 'cause they created a new Overmind, like, weeks later so it was all pretty meaningless. The Protoss all had to leave Aiur anyway. Tassadar probably shouldn't even have bothered. But listen, we needed an Overmind so the UED could take control of the Zerg, 'cause the UED IS TOTALLY COOL, GUYS. You people thought the Zerg attacked the Protoss because they are a litteralisation of the need for self-improvement and the Overmind thought that combining the Zerg's purity of essence with the Protoss' purity of form would result in their finally attaining perfection? Nah man, he was just a pawn for the Dark Voice, 'cause that's how far his plans reach. ISN'T OUR NEW VILLAIN IMPRESSIVE AND INTIMIDATING, GUYS?

    Okay, so I didn't intend to whine quite that much. But as this relates to your ideas, this is basically why I hate the notion of the UED or, generally speaking, a fourth race. These are just new things being thrown into the setting to stir up a story that doesn't stem from the setting itself. They're artificial. However, I did say generally, because your fourth race idea is actually interesting. However, I think it would be more interesting as a Protoss story than a story of that fourth race itself. About how the Protoss failed to uphold their duty, how their Stewardship affected the lives of those under their care, whether for good or ill. It could be about this race that is only just beginning to reach for the stars, incredibly weak by the standards of the main races, so the Protoss want to shield them from all the threats of the Sector, and yet that new species craves independence, the right to determine their own fate. I don't think making them an actual factor in the dynamics between the great races is a good idea, that'd just be another case of "and these guys were there all along, and they are totally on the level!" But I really like your idea of using them as a plot initiator, a cause for conflict and story.

    As for the Zerg... meh. I really, really wished Kerrigan wouldn't return to the Swarm after Wings of Liberty. Her story really ended then. Heart of the Swarm is a story out of time, a 'what if' taking place after the original StarCraft but with a Kerrigan dedicated to revenge over Mengsk instead of wanting the galaxy to fear and pay attention to her. It could have been a good story if it had come out then, but now it's just out of place. They had to de-infest and re-infest her just to put her back in that position of "Kerrigan is free from compulsion and gains control over the Swarm, what does she do next?"

    Storytelling!

    Wings of Liberty tried to give a lot more control to the players, and it just didn't work. That RPG-style is about the decisions of one person shaping the universe, but StarCraft is more about how the universe shapes that person. Linear story-telling is unpopular these days, and RPG elements and contaminating games of every sort, but I should hope that doesn't become a necessity of video games. The branching narrative is a possibility very nearly exclusive to video games, few other mediums allow that kind of interaction. But because they rely on the character being able to make any choice, they also require that character to be unfocused or ill-defined enough that all those choices are a possibility.

    This then follows to your topic about player characters. These are the characters that just stand around listening and take a decision. Without personality, motives, emotions or characteristics proper beyond what the player may or may not choose to give them, when it is convenient. I liked the notion back in 1998, when having someone just standing around listening to these conversations was still feasible - though it does lead to a moment near the end of the UED campaign in Brood War where I was left to wonder why 'the Captain' didn't just tell DuGalle that Duran had disobeyed orders, moved out of position and obviously mocked Stukov when he tried to order him back into position. But as the technology advanced, this is no longer possible, if you actually want to have a story. Having such an undefined character occupy such an important role would be distractring, to say the least.

    Of course, if you pick an actual character to be your point of view into the game, then it becomes important to choose a good character. For example, I believe Tychus Findlay would have been a much better choice of viewpoint character for Wings of Liberty than Jim Raynor. A character like Fenix would likely be preferable to a Tassadar or Zeratul.
    Zeratul: I have journeyed through the darkness between the most distant stars. I have beheld the births of negative-suns and borne witness to the entropy of entire realities...
    Aldaris: Did not! That doesn't even make sense!
    Zeratul: Shut up, I totally did!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    If there is really going to be a SC3, I personally think it's rather boring & meaningless because the stories will just be similar to the SC1+BW+SC2. The invasion and resistance. I hope the main plot will end with LotV and there could be branches about UED, KM, different tribes of the protoss and so on. They can be novels, comics and even other forms like a FPS game, but not a SC3. It's enough.
    And at the end of LotV, I wish I can see following scenes:Amon is eliminated. The New Terran leaded by Valerian, Matt and other people who determine to make a better future will rebuild their homeland over the ruins. The protoss will reunite. Kerrigan will pay for her crime. Of course, the UED and other forces will come back one day and the smoke will rise again. But it's a cyclic process, war and peace. There is no permanent peace, but people can still hold the hope.

  6. #6

    Default Re: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    Wow... That's a lot of post there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Some sentiments I can understand. Some I don't. Some make me want to smash my head against my desk and...
    Use a pillow. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and reconstructive surgery is expensive as Hell.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    To be honest, I don't think a SC3 is really needed. Assuming that LotV ties up the xel'naga/hybrid/Amon thread, then I don't think there's really anything that needs to be pursued, per se. Dark Origin (to me at least) made it clear there was more to come, but there's been no hint of future plotlines on that level.
    Assuming that Dark Origin is a level in Heart of the Swarm, I shall... Well, there's not much in the way of spoilers there, so I don't have to forget anything, really.

    Hybrids still have to be dealt with, na? So, maybe after the whole VENGEANCE! sidetrack in HotS, LotV will focus on the hybrids?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    But, since it's pretty clear that the UED is the next logical plot point, and there's been multiple hints towards it, both in HotS and in interviews, I'll assume that a requisite of SC3 is that the UED has to feature in some form or another. Personally, I'm less than thrilled, what with the UED being the least interesting terran faction (to me personally), and feels like a part of the universe that could exist independently from the K-sector, and perhaps should.
    I think I understand what you are saying here. The UED is already set up, and they probably have a reason for returning. But there's really not much for them to do that would be new and interesting from a storytelling point of view.
    Well, they could try taking over the Korprulu sector by seizing control of the Hybrids... XD

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    What I will say is that if SC2 used Reign of Chaos as a template, with storylines leading up to a singular climax, I think SC3 should use The Frozen Throne as a template - independent storylines that generally have their own climaxes.
    That actually sounds like a pretty good idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    The Zerg

    Of the "big three," the zerg are the hardest to place for me. Partly because I don't know what LotV will have in store for them. Partly because I'm not sure what remaining plotlines can be pursued. It was mentioned in an interview that the zerg invading Earth is an idea that's been toyed with, but I'm iffy about that.
    The Zerg invading Earth? I wonder how I feel about that...
    Oh, I know! Something like this:



    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    In all honesty, I wouldn't mind dropping the zerg. RTS/RTT factions come and go in a gameplay sense, and storywise, I just don't know what can be done with them. The primal zerg are interesting in concept, but any internal zerg strife would feel like a rehash of BW. Maybe Kerrigan is killed or something in LotV and the zerg need a new leader, but again, it feels like a BW rehash. There's no real reason for the zerg to go against the protoss presumably either.

    I dunno. I just don't really know what can be done with the zerg storywise beyond LotV. Perhaps the game will give me some ideas, but right now...
    The problem is that faceless hordes of bug aliens make for great antagonists, but it's hard to characterize them.
    The Overmind had a goal that made it worth fighting through the Korprulu sector. Kerrigan had a goal of seizing control of the Zerg. Kerrigan had another goal of seizing control of the... yeah, it's getting repetitive.

    Narratively, I think that uniting the Zerg was the worst thing that could happen. Smaller factions are more versatile, capable of doing more than invading other planets. Can you imagine a Queen settling her Brood down on a planet, focusing on her own thing, hiring out Zerg mercenaries in exchange for being left alone? Maybe.

    Can you imagine the entire Swarm doing the same thing under the leadership of Kerrigan? Not really.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Apart from Aiur, there's one protoss plot point I think could be explored, one that could tie-in with a fourth playable race (more on that later), and that's the Dae'Uhl. Up until the Great War, the protoss maintained peace in their corner of space, watching over "lesser races" and intervening when they had to. With the protoss powerbase shattered...what are those lesser races doing now? What's the power vacuum like? What role do the protoss have in it, if any? I can imagine there's some lingering resentment there - if I'm race a who wants to raid race b, only for the protoss to ruin my fun every time, then you can bet that I'll get back to raiding as soon as the protoss have left the playground, and if they come back to the playground to take me home, I'll keep on the slide, thank you very much. And how do the protoss feel? They've probably done some good, but try telling that to the kalathi or tagal.
    That's actually a pretty interesting direction to take the StarCraft universe in, and one I would love to see done.
    Unfortunately, I don't have anything more insightful than that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    What I do dislike about player characters is when they go down the blank slate route. All the Gordon Freemans and Jimmy Pattersons of the gaming world, with all the Lone Wanders and Dragonborns not being far off. I dislike them, I despise the method of storytelling, and it's a method I feel deserves to be put in a grave with Gordon Freeman's name on the top of the gravestone. It's a method I feel stems more from technological limitation of the early decades of gaming that has somehow carried on to this day.
    What, no hate for the Rookie or Noble 6? = D

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    But, of course, not everyone thinks the same. So in our hypotehtical SC3 game, what storytelling medium would you prefer? Do we want to be "the commander" or "the executor," free to form our own reactions to the going-ons of the higher ups? Or do we want our protagonists to be the Raynors, Kerrigans, and Zeratuls of the setting - defined characters in their own right, but not defined by us?

    To me, the answer is yes to the second option, no to the first option, and lots of head banging if the first option is implemented. I don't care about the magistrate. I don't care about the cerebrate. I don't care about "immersion" that I've never felt. I do care about established characters that actually have personalities. But then again, to each their own.
    Personally, I think that the faceless player character is a strange duck. It's not a character you're supposed to care about, but can help the story or immersion. Not sure about anyone else, but I felt that Halo Wars had a big player-shaped hole in the story.

    Let's play hypotheticals. Taken at face value, the chain of command on the Spirit of Fire ran from Captain Cutter directly to Sergeant Forge. The latter was reporting directly to the former in the field. There's also plenty of lines that are awkward if they're interpreted as being spoken directly to each other, instead of a silent major or colonel.

    "Covenant Locusts! Destroy them wherever you find them, they're building killers!"
    "You've reached the area where the dome once stood. Take a look around."

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Now look at the cinematics of SC2. Try taking them out of WoL and/or HotS. Now try to have the story function without them...try to have Raynor say "oh BTW, Zeratul visited me." Try to have Kerrigan kill Warfield in-game using the game engine. Yeah...good luck with those facial expressions as a game unit.
    Ever play Company of Heroes? They actually do in-game cutscenes with models as detailed as those from Halo 2, if not later.
    Hell, there's even this one scene where an Ami clears out a bunker with a Tommy gun, and it makes good use of lighting effects.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    To me personally, the cinematics of SC2 are so superior to SC1 that I find it very difficult to comprehend how people can think otherwise. Whatever you think about the action or lines, as a whole, they're far more important to the story than in SC1, which can exist independently. Yet people have argued that this is what makes the SC1 cinematics better. That they are independent from the main storyline. That it's far more compelling to see the macro-perspective of Aiur's invasion with a bit of Overmind, rather than the micro-perspective of Kerrigan's place on Korhal with only a bit of zerg.
    I find that a convincing argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    (the same bastards that propped up Half-Life...gah),
    What? Half Life and its sequel have cutscenes.
    I don't care if you still retain control of your character. There's parts of the game where you stand around twiddling your thumbs as characters Do Stuff and Spout Exposition at you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    but it's a philisophical notion I can sort of entertain. Do you take something out of a game when you don't rely on game mechanics to tell a story? Is Stukov's death in BW more compelling because it's in the game engine? Or, by choosing to stick to such old formats, are you shooting yourself in the foot?
    Depends on whether the format can actually depict what is going on.
    Stukov's death would have been better presented in a cutscene, mostly because of the death animation. He gets shot, has time to give that speech to DuGalle, and then bursts apart, simply because that's the death animation for Ghosts.

    For most other scenarios, StarCraft's in-game cutscenes performed adequately.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robear View Post
    SC1: Necessary!



    SC2: Who screwed up her proportions??

    = (

    Quote Originally Posted by Robear View Post
    SC1 cinematics make the game look/feel better, because they let me imagine what the game was supposed to look like. SC2's graphics are clear enough that I can see what things look like for myself— WC3 never needed to show Tyrande or Furion or Kel'Thuzad in a cinematic for me to know who they were, how they dressed, etc. But SC2's fatty, stylized in game models just come off badly when in between missions you're seeing designs that are so obviously sharper and better.
    Got to admit that I don't have this problem, but that's because I play SCII on a laptop with the details cranked all the way down. A Marauder in-game looks like a fair representation of how they look in the Armory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robear View Post
    Give me maps and terrain in the missions that look more like, say Halo Wars, and less like Warcraft 3, and maybe I'll be able to take the cinematics/in-between mission sequences more seriously as being part of the same game.
    Oh, Halo Wars. I love that game, and I will never tire of bashing it.

    The problem is, that screenshot isn't really representative of actual gameplay. I'm positive that the glare on that Wraith was added in Photoshop. And unless you mod the game, you're not going to get that camera angle.
    As for TERRAIN, Halo Wars did have some beautiful maps, but they got progressively duller as the Campaign wore on. Some parts of the last three levels feel absolutely rushed.

    Oh, and as bad as StarCraft II was about the units in-game, Halo Wars was even worse. Ya can't have everything, I guess.

  7. #7

    Default Re: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    Going to group responses by topic area rather than order of posting:

    Cinematics

    Quote Originally Posted by Robear
    In this way, Starcraft: Ghost's intro cinematic is actually the worst. The game begins at the end of that intro, with you stepping out of that dropship onto that same battlefield. What a waste of a cinematic: it shows you nothing but the exact content you're about to see in the game engine, from the same perspective— watching marines on the ground fighting zerglings. Except it makes the game look bad by comparison, because obviously the animations would all be worse and it would be like ~3 zerglings at a time instead of ~50.
    Disagree. The context of the mission has to be introduced in some form or another. If a cinematic can do the job for me, I'm all for it. Cinematics look better by game engines practically by definition. Ghost wasn't different in this regard.

    Story

    Quote Originally Posted by Robear
    Without those Marines on the Amerigo carrying their beers and explosives in the same cooler, nothing separates Starcraft's space marines from any other Sci-Fi franchise's.
    There's still the resoc angle, which isn't something I've encountered much, if any of. But apart from that, the marines of StarCraft are more or less a synthesis of those of Aliens (attitudes and suit artwork) and arguably Warhammer 40,000 (suit design, but the similarities have gone down over time IMO, not to mention that power armour goes back to at least Starship Troopers). The attitude of carrying drinks beside a nuke isn't make or break in this regard.

    Quote Originally Posted by FanaticTemplar
    These are just new things being thrown into the setting to stir up a story that doesn't stem from the setting itself. They're artificial. However, I did say generally, because your fourth race idea is actually interesting. However, I think it would be more interesting as a Protoss story than a story of that fourth race itself. About how the Protoss failed to uphold their duty, how their Stewardship affected the lives of those under their care, whether for good or ill. It could be about this race that is only just beginning to reach for the stars, incredibly weak by the standards of the main races, so the Protoss want to shield them from all the threats of the Sector, and yet that new species craves independence, the right to determine their own fate. I don't think making them an actual factor in the dynamics between the great races is a good idea, that'd just be another case of "and these guys were there all along, and they are totally on the level!" But I really like your idea of using them as a plot initiator, a cause for conflict and story.
    I'd actually call the UED and a fourth race "natural" to the setting in that when the UED made an in-game appearence, they'd already been established as part of the backstory. Likewise, it was known from day 1 that there are multiple sapient species in the galaxy, only we've never seen them in-game, and every case we know of implies/depicts them as being very low on the tech tree. It's not a plot point that I think has to be explored, but in the event of a sequel, just throwing it out there. I'd argue for a fourth race more than the UED because, IMO, the UED makes the setting feel much smaller what with its short travel times from Earth, and that while the other powers aren't exactly immune from tropes, they still go a bit beyond "rednecks in space" (Confederacy) or "the evil empire" (Dominion).

    Your idea of the protoss dealing with such a race in such a manner is a nice one, but I'm not sure how it would work. Maybe if they were indeed protecting them from something (zerg, UED?) it could work I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    I think I understand what you are saying here. The UED is already set up, and they probably have a reason for returning. But there's really not much for them to do that would be new and interesting from a storytelling point of view.
    Well, they could try taking over the Korprulu sector by seizing control of the Hybrids... XD
    The "XD" is right. The hybrids, while effective in the context of SC2, have no reason to go beyond it unless we get proper hybrid individuals (as in, individuals that utter generic threats like Maar). The hybrids have little reason to exist post-LotV, and even less to exist as a playable race.

    Quote Originally Posted by FanaticTemplar
    I liked the notion back in 1998, when having someone just standing around listening to these conversations was still feasible - though it does lead to a moment near the end of the UED campaign in Brood War where I was left to wonder why 'the Captain' didn't just tell DuGalle that Duran had disobeyed orders, moved out of position and obviously mocked Stukov when he tried to order him back into position.
    I could see the captain being fooled. We don't even know if the captain is technically privy to the conversation. Course, it's another limitation of the player character format when used in this regard - the player knows something the character doesn't, yet has no method of 'giving' that info to the character being controlled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Assuming that Dark Origin is a level in Heart of the Swarm, I shall...
    DO is the secret mission from Brood War

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Narratively, I think that uniting the Zerg was the worst thing that could happen. Smaller factions are more versatile, capable of doing more than invading other planets. Can you imagine a Queen settling her Brood down on a planet, focusing on her own thing, hiring out Zerg mercenaries in exchange for being left alone? Maybe.

    Can you imagine the entire Swarm doing the same thing under the leadership of Kerrigan? Not really.
    Yeah, the zerg are pretty much the giant mass they were back in SC1, for better or worse. Could change in LotV though, as the zerg will need to be fightable for the dictates of gameplay at the very least. The only way I could see some splintering outside that is if the old Abathur ulterior motive plot becomes manifest, or if cerebrates are re-introduced. Both are very unlikely though.

    Storytelling

    Quote Originally Posted by FanaticTemplar
    As regards the story, I'm not going to really discuss what should happen because while pointing out how a story went wrong is easy, actually writing one is hard. But there are a few perspectives I have about the way Blizzard comes up with their storylines, and how I think they are inherently flawed and the subsequent disappointment is to be expected. I, and I would hope others as well, would like the stories to build on what has been established.

    Unfortunately, this is not usually what Blizzard chooses to do. Rather than looking forward, they love to look backward. They look at the interesting histories they've made for the setting and go "what if Earth isn't just a part of history and has been watching EVERYTHING ALL ALONG?" "What if the Xel'Naga aren't dead, but have been planning EVERYTHING ALL ALONG?"
    Due to the size of your post concerning storytelling styles, I've compresed the quote to something more digestable.

    I think you raise a very interesting point about storytelling styles. I think you kind of blur the line between building on between what's established, and looking backwards, and when does one cross the line. Warcraft III and StarCraft II are similar in a sense of revealing how past events were part of a larger setting that was only revealed at a given point in time. The former revealed that, in a sense, the entire history of the Warcraft setting was leading up to the events of Reign of Chaos, with elements such as Sargeras and the Burning Legion (previously only hinted at) becoming manifest. The latter did the same thing with Amon, how everything leading up to this point (or at least from the point of uplifting the zerg). The latter hasn't exactly been well recieved by many people to say the least, while the former...admittedly I played WC3 before its predecessors, but while there's the occasional fan that expresses regret at the direction Warcraft took after Beyond the Dark Portal, they're generally the exception rather than the rule. It's curious. The Overmind "retcon" (which I'd call it, but it kind of straddles the border) is really no more severe than the revelation that the orcs of WC1 and 2 were the way they were because of demonic corruption. It's the same approach, yet the reactions have been on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

    I dunno. My general approach is that any continuation of a story should be a mix of old and new, and that can mean digging up old plot points. Of course, what plot points are worth persuing is subjective I guess. It's subjective for me to say it was worth persuing the hybrid plot point, but the UED one isn't needed for instance.

    Quote Originally Posted by FanaticTemplar
    Of course, if you pick an actual character to be your point of view into the game, then it becomes important to choose a good character. For example, I believe Tychus Findlay would have been a much better choice of viewpoint character for Wings of Liberty than Jim Raynor. A character like Fenix would likely be preferable to a Tassadar or Zeratul.
    WoL would need a very different story for Findlay to be the player character. As for Fenix...meh. I don't dislike him, but let's be honest, Fenix is a bit 'cookie cutter.' Tassadar has the whole cultural/ethical torment of betraying his people for the greater good, Zeratul has the whole 'experienced sage/warrior' thing. Fenix is just...some guy. Fights the good fight, sides with Tassadar, but we've already gone through that in the story. I think losing Fenix hits players more out of him being like a sidekick than someone truly integral to the plot. Batman can mourn Dick Grayson in a hypothetical scenario, but there's plenty of Robins ready to take his place.

    I will say that I've become iffy about Zeratul being the player character of LotV though. There's so much he knows that we don't. With Raynor and Kerrigan, we were generally on the same level of knowledge as they were, but Zeratul? Unless he gives out the relevant info at the very start of LotV, we could have some problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    Let's play hypotheticals. Taken at face value, the chain of command on the Spirit of Fire ran from Captain Cutter directly to Sergeant Forge. The latter was reporting directly to the former in the field. There's also plenty of lines that are awkward if they're interpreted as being spoken directly to each other, instead of a silent major or colonel.

    "Covenant Locusts! Destroy them wherever you find them, they're building killers!"
    "You've reached the area where the dome once stood. Take a look around."
    Looking at the lines alone, Forge could just be referring to the troops under his command. I guess if you wanted to fanwank though, we could be the lieutenant who's gutted by the Arbiter. That takes care of 14 out of the 15 missions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    What, no hate for the Rookie or Noble 6? = D
    Not Six, as (s)he has a defined personality, yet also allows for some player imput. The Rookie though, is yet another example of the limits of the storytelling technique. Never radios for help, never questions why he's being led around New Mombassa for no discernable reason, never reacts to the reveal that "BTW, we're actually after huragok...and if you shot any on the streets, I'm still blaming you!"

    Yeah...I'm really not fond of ODST...

    Quote Originally Posted by Quirel
    What? Half Life and its sequel have cutscenes.
    I don't care if you still retain control of your character. There's parts of the game where you stand around twiddling your thumbs as characters Do Stuff and Spout Exposition at you.
    It's my point exactly. For all the talk of Half-Life (or at least HL2) never taking control from the player, there's still long sections of dialogue that have to be stood through. IMO, HL2's storytelling was at its best through the Breencasts - no storytelling/gameplay segregation, they were well written, and made me dislike Breen for all the rights reasons. It was at its worst in the drawn out cutscenes that had me hating Eli for all the wrong reasons, so that when he was killed by the Advisor, I was gratified that the old prat was finally dead (and admittedly, Episode 2 did its cutscenes much better in that regard, the death scene being an example).
    Last edited by Hawki; 03-22-2013 at 09:34 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    Due to the size of your post concerning storytelling styles, I've compresed the quote to something more digestable.
    Heh, no problem, I kind of went off on an unexpected rant, you've got the important part.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    I think you raise a very interesting point about storytelling styles. I think you kind of blur the line between building on between what's established, and looking backwards, and when does one cross the line. Warcraft III and StarCraft II are similar in a sense of revealing how past events were part of a larger setting that was only revealed at a given point in time. The former revealed that, in a sense, the entire history of the Warcraft setting was leading up to the events of Reign of Chaos, with elements such as Sargeras and the Burning Legion (previously only hinted at) becoming manifest. The latter did the same thing with Amon, how everything leading up to this point (or at least from the point of uplifting the zerg). The latter hasn't exactly been well recieved by many people to say the least, while the former...admittedly I played WC3 before its predecessors, but while there's the occasional fan that expresses regret at the direction Warcraft took after Beyond the Dark Portal, they're generally the exception rather than the rule. It's curious. The Overmind "retcon" (which I'd call it, but it kind of straddles the border) is really no more severe than the revelation that the orcs of WC1 and 2 were the way they were because of demonic corruption. It's the same approach, yet the reactions have been on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
    Well, I think I'm going to really supersede your expectations with regards to WarCraft III, because not only did I not like the way it made the previous games irrelevant, I did so without having ever even played the previous games. The notion that this setting has a long history of war between the Orcs and Humans, and suddenly it's revealed that this all only happened because Kil'jaeden or Archimonde or whoever was in charge couldn't manage to find someone to open the Dark Portal on the right continent is something I find really off-putting :P. It's a warning not to get invested in the story, because the writers might just decide it was all meaningless next game.

    Reaching into the past for inspiration is fine, but Blizzard's writers seem to enjoy writing the backstory far more than the actual story. They write events that happened before the game, with characters, conflicts, motivations and everything, and in exchange take away any investment we might have had in the history they've overwritten and give us an actual story about some new alien threat wanting to take over the world! It's like they don't actually want a sequel, just another story starting from scratch with approximately the same actors. They write an entirely new backstory for the setting which replaces the previously existing one and just start a new story from there.

    Take the UED. We knew Earth existed, but we also knew that the Terrans were completely lost. It was just this place they came from, like Zerus was the home planet of the Zerg that they had left long ago. Then they decide they want to use Earth as villains instead, so here comes a new history where Earth was not lost but actually watching (somehow) and suddenly decided to take action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawki View Post
    WoL would need a very different story for Findlay to be the player character. As for Fenix...meh. I don't dislike him, but let's be honest, Fenix is a bit 'cookie cutter.' Tassadar has the whole cultural/ethical torment of betraying his people for the greater good, Zeratul has the whole 'experienced sage/warrior' thing. Fenix is just...some guy. Fights the good fight, sides with Tassadar, but we've already gone through that in the story. I think losing Fenix hits players more out of him being like a sidekick than someone truly integral to the plot. Batman can mourn Dick Grayson in a hypothetical scenario, but there's plenty of Robins ready to take his place.

    I will say that I've become iffy about Zeratul being the player character of LotV though. There's so much he knows that we don't. With Raynor and Kerrigan, we were generally on the same level of knowledge as they were, but Zeratul? Unless he gives out the relevant info at the very start of LotV, we could have some problems.
    I wasn't talking about specific characters, more about character type. I agree that Fenix was a minor character, but what is useful in having him as a viewpoint character compared to Tassadar and Zeratul is that he has a very limited perspective. Tassadar is this visionary messiah with vision beyond his peers. The player is the subject of exposition, but this character is one who is likely to be explaining things because he sees more clearly than others. Zeratul is supposed to be wise and enigmatic, and the more you see of someone, the less mysterious they become. Zeratul basically spoke three times that mattered in the entirety of StarCraft in Brood War he spoke a lot more (and started making really terrible calls) and in Wings of Liberty he was talking to himself about the most trivial things. The latter is kinda the perfect demonstration, since he was the viewpoint character. It leaves us in a situation where Zeratul has to either talk to himself about how he can blink across that chasm, or he needs other people to explain to him how to do it. This is basically poison to mystery.

    Now, with Tychus I've got a few specific reasons why I think it would have helped out Wings of Liberty a lot, but that's a bit off topic and I don't want to clutter your thread. But the same thing applies there when comparing him to Raynor. Raynor is a friend to the Protoss, the Queen of Blades' ex-lover, the Terran Emperor's past subordinate and personal rival. This is a guy who's been around and knows pretty much every big thing in the Sector. Tychus on the other hand spent the last few years in prison and hasn't even seen a Zerg yet. It's far easier both to have things explained to him, and to convey the sense of grandeur and wonder of a sci-fi setting through his neophyte eyes. And since Wings of Liberty was the first instalment of StarCraft II, this is even more important because there might have been people playing who never played the original games. Those of us who did can easily identify with Raynor, because we have the same experiences he does. But newer players don't.
    Zeratul: I have journeyed through the darkness between the most distant stars. I have beheld the births of negative-suns and borne witness to the entropy of entire realities...
    Aldaris: Did not! That doesn't even make sense!
    Zeratul: Shut up, I totally did!

  9. #9
    Junior Member
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    Mar 2011
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    110

    Default Re: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    Unfortunately, this is not usually what Blizzard chooses to do. Rather than looking forward, they love to look backward. They look at the interesting histories they've made for the setting and go "what if Earth isn't just a part of history and has been watching EVERYTHING ALL ALONG?" "What if the Xel'Naga aren't dead, but have been planning EVERYTHING ALL ALONG?" It's the difference between the Hybrids and the Dark Voice. You have these two races, the Protoss and the Zerg, opposing halves of perfection. And the Xel'Naga were trying to make a perfect species, but only succeeded in getting distinct elements of perfection, never the full package. The Overmind tried to complete their work but couldn't achieve it. What if someone did? That's a great idea, that could change the entire setting. But instead of changing the future, Blizzard chooses to use it to change the past. Suddenly, the Xel'Naga weren't just obsessive biologists, they had A GREAT PLAN but then one of their villains also had A GREAT PLAN and these dramatic events happened in the past and everything that has happened has done so because of those GREAT PLANS. In the past. What happens in the present? Nothing. A new villain wants to destroy the world. They took a great idea and made it as boring as they could while divesting so much energy in using it to rewrite the past.
    How about Kerrigan? She was originally supposed to die at New Gettysburg to show how much of a bastard Mengsk was and to get Raynor mad. That was it. At the last minute she was brought back from the dead and became the Overmind's "greatest creation" who has no role in the whole invasion of Aiur which is the Overmind's ultimate goal. Then in BW she takes over the zerg and backstabs everyone causing Raynor to vow to kill her. And in SC2 she is the Chosen One and she and Raynor are starcrossed lovers. She is a minor character who is made extremely important because they felt like it and takes the story in directions it was never meant to go.
    Last edited by Laurentian; 03-23-2013 at 03:48 AM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: StarCraft III - Story and Storytelling

    Man, I wish I could join in this conversation but I can't think of anything more to add than what FT has already said.

    I may have been unable to put it down succinctly before about what it was that bugged me about how the story-telling (and not the story content) in SC is currently panning out, but the constant revisionism of the past and this preoccupation with the (constantly revisioned) past to explain the present actions that FT spoke about finally crystallised it for me. He hit the nail on the head about the results of such making it hard for oneself to invest in the story because of this constant threat of it being revisioned away. This leads me to think that it's not the storytelling that's entirely at fault (although there will always be quibbles there) but the lack of an adequate story or a poor choice of story to weave the story-telling around.

    I don't relish the prospect of another Starcraft honestly (I pretty much had the same notion after BW even way back then and Sc2 is turning out to be a vindication of this sadly ) in terms of "story" (not storytelling) because the way it's currently going, it's actually starting to look very tired and bereft of places to go. When all we can rely on is going back to the UED or some other "heretofore unknown and even more powerful presence that had an ancient plan that affects or informs the actions of the present no matter what" in order to self-justify itself in the name of escalation, all I can see is more trouble. The irony of all this is that if SC3 should come to light, then it would be expected that things should escalate more (most likely in a contrived manner) lest it become stagnant and if not that, will become stagnant by rehashing themes that were well liked initially but most likely turn out to be in a pointless manner. Huh, it seems sequelitis has something for it, afterall.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


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