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Thread: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

  1. #1
    The_Blade's Avatar Administrator
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    Default Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    I've been asking myself this question for a long time. What if we like StarCraft's lore because most of it took place in our imagination? Because of technological limitations, the game was closer to a book. I believe this is entirely possible, but I would also like to know how "good" the plot actually was.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    Well, I've always thought that Brood War was awful, personally. But I did like StarCraft. The problem is that not everybody uses the same standards for quality, so what I find to be indispensable might not even be relevant to you. Can you be specific about what you would consider to be the important factors in determining the game's quality?

    Or do you want to know how I judge it and according to what standards?

    One thing that your post makes me think of is the limitation in dialogue. Because there is much less dialogue in StarCraft and Brood War, characters rarely speak unless there is important information to be conveyed to the player. This means that characters have less depth, but instead have strong focus and impact.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Well, I've always thought that Brood War was awful, personally. But I did like StarCraft. The problem is that not everybody uses the same standards for quality, so what I find to be indispensable might not even be relevant to you. Can you be specific about what you would consider to be the important factors in determining the game's quality?

    Or do you want to know how I judge it and according to what standards?

    One thing that your post makes me think of is the limitation in dialogue. Because there is much less dialogue in StarCraft and Brood War, characters rarely speak unless there is important information to be conveyed to the player. This means that characters have less depth, but instead have strong focus and impact.
    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!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    I hate to admit it but I think there is a little of both "First Installment Wins" and "Nostalgia filter" going on here. Especially for the former, there was nothing else comparable to it at the time it was released even though Sc1 was a mish-mash of familliar sci-fi trappings (taken and altered liberally from WH40K, Alien etc.). Besides, there weren't many other RTS' that had a full roster of characters to help breathe life to the universe (if so, it was usually just one boss guy telling you what to do next on your military campaign). It felt like a different and fresh-er way to approach material that had already been doing the rounds for a decade beforehand.

    That said, I do believe that one of the strength of Sc1's lore initially was that it did foster imagination due to some of the gaps (purposeful or not) in the lore (not talking specifically narrative or plot here) and that it felt OK at the time to not know how every little thing worked or why something occurred or why not. Leniency is a thing that people have most in abundance when facing something for the first time (not necessarily the first iteration).

    Going on a tangent now, so feel free to not read on: I remember getting into the Star Control series (I wonder how many of you even remember this title) first by playing the 3rd one - the most abhorred one of the series. I liked it because it was a completely new world to me... until I eventually played the 2nd one - the most universally adored one but with even worse graphics. I was able to finally see how the 3rd one was really just a lame riff off what was clearly the original inspiration and how hackneyed its story was. Star Con 2 was fantastic in it's ability to make all the stereotyped one-note behaviour of each alien race (which were somehow strangely compelling in their variety) important to the story of defeating the Ur-Quan. It felt more epic than the forced epicness and "ultimate threat of all life" of the Eternal One's in Star Con 3 - an enemy that you defeat by feeding the "sentience" of your alien allies (whilst "high concept" and potentially exciting on an intellectual level, it ended up being highly anti-climactic because we don't even see them or fight them) whilst for the majority of the game you fight this evil alliance of aliens that ultimately are there only so you have actual opposition to fight. I can see Sc2 following in the same footsteps as Star Con3 - it's just aping what was exciting the first time around. What's worse is that at least Star Con3 was justifiably miserable because the original creators were not involved, Sc2 has no such excuse (unless you want to consider James Phinney as being the true creative spark of Starcraft that is...)
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    The answer is, yeah, definitely. I ended up romanticizing it in my head as this dark, hard sci-fi universe, largely based on the histories in the manual, but then in the actual game you have those cheesy missions with terran teleportation grids and marines quoting Star Wars. It didn't bother me when I was young, but it would now if I were seeing it for the first time.

    Probably like people who grew up with a certain movie, and even as the special effects age they still think that it just adds to the charm, and insist it still holds up. Those demon dogs in Ghostbusters, for example, or the final werewolf on the streets in American Werewolf in London, or the stop-motion and puppet ending of Terminator. People who grew up with them still love them, because some of the life was in their imaginations being sparked, but that just wouldn't happen to a new audience in today's day and age.
    Last edited by Robear; 04-03-2014 at 09:42 PM.

  5. #5
    Gradius's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Default Re: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robear View Post
    The answer is, yeah, definitely. I ended up romanticizing it in my head as this dark, hard sci-fi universe, largely based on the histories in the manual, but then in the actual game you have those cheesy missions with terran teleportation grids and marines quoting Star Wars. It didn't bother me when I was young, but it would now if I were seeing it for the first time.
    This.

    That being said, I enjoyed the dark and gritty universe that SC originally created. It spawned some awesome books, custom campaigns, etc. I really do believe it was "good" by video game standards. But yes, the dialog was so barebones that lots of the dots did have to be connected in our imaginations. That's not a bad thing though.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    I disagree, though that's probably due to the way I read books.

    Thing is, Starcraft is not about the plot. It's about the characters. When we like and identify with them, it doesn't really matter what they do. Sort of like original series Star Trek, except that instead of going through sci fi tropes, the crew of the Enterprise goes through wacky, random adventures such as finding a haunted house, getting their ship possessed by the spirit of a murderer, and other such nonsense. It works because the characters are so strong that you can take the Star Trek characters, drop them in any universe, and they'd be interesting.

    It's the same with Starcraft. The characters were fun, relatible (I know lots of rednecks), and think on a different level than we do. Protoss think on very high, conceptual levels, whereas the Terran characters live life under the hands of various tyrants, and have to figure out how to survive. And so Starcraft II fails because none of the characters were fun. Sure, Tychus tries and Swann wasn't bad, but them alone do not a good cast make.

  7. #7
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    This.

    That being said, I enjoyed the dark and gritty universe that SC originally created. It spawned some awesome books, custom campaigns, etc. I really do believe it was "good" by video game standards. But yes, the dialog was so barebones that lots of the dots did have to be connected in our imaginations. That's not a bad thing though.
    In addition to this and some of the other things people have said, is that the potential of the continuation of the story was mostly in my imagination. Yes, we all imagined StarCraft was more complex and deeper than it was because of the manual, and, yes, we were young and unexposed to other sci fi back then, and whatever else, but when I was a kid, I had a super active imagination and had already been exposed to a lot of sci fi, so I had a lot to work with when coming up with my own continuations of the story. One of the best things about StarCraft was imagining what the Xel'Naga and the Hybrids would be like. Come to found out that the Xel'Naga have been reduced to basically one being that is a complete cop out and rip off, and the Hybrids are just win button shells for the Xel'Naga to try to inhabit. In my opinion, the story would've been so much better if the Hybrids were just another, more powerful race and the Xel'Naga was a powerful yet small group of highly intelligent space farers.

    Looking back, if I hadn't let my imagination go wild, I don't think I would've blown up the potential for the story so much in my head. Brood War itself (taken only by itself) did not hold as much potential as the manual and early StarCraft lore hinted at. Or maybe that's just SC2 coloring my memory of it. It's hard to replay SCBW with the same sense of awe after playing StarCraft 2.

    That being said, the way they've handled things like Raynor and Kerrigan, and, of course, their bastardization of Duran wreaks of incompetence, not unrealistic expectations or whatever. How they were able to set up such a bad ass character like Duran, give him such complex motivations, back story, mystery, and intrigue, and then technically not even directly mention him in the sequels and then consider that a conclusion? Unfathomable stupidity. Duran, to me, is the most wasted character I've ever come across in story telling, and that's saying a lot.


    Nissa also makes a good point in that StarCraft was probably always meant to be a more character driven story than I wanted. I should've seen the signs. Its a method was probably gives them more fans, but, for me, personally, when you're in a universe with so much potential for large sci fi concepts to be explored, I couldn't care less about the internal problems of some people or the hormonal instincts of others. I just don't care and will never care. If I wanted that, there's a hundred and one better places to get that.

    But even there, Blizzard failed. SC1 Mengsk > SC2 Mengsk and SC1 Kerrigan > SC2 Kerrigan and especially SC1 Zeratul > SC2 Zeratul is a catastrophe. But, I've reiterated enough by now.
    Last edited by TheEconomist; 05-29-2014 at 07:57 AM.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    SC2 Zeratul is a catastrophe.
    Amen, haha. I was holding out hope that Selendis would be an interesting new character, but then she wasn't even in HotS... I still hope she'll be doing something in LotV.

    By the way, Nissa, did you ever happen to go by "Gonissa?" Say, back around, I dunno, 2007?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    Hey, you remember me!

    ....I don't remember you....*awkward*
    It has been a while, though. Blizzforums is officially dead now, so that.


    On topic, I would say it wasn't character driven vs. plot driven as to why it was good. Starcraft was good because our imagination could fill up the gaps. What helped make SCII fail is that it botched not only the characters, but attempted to fill in the gaps during the game and by making the horrendous novels canon.

    What really should have happened is that they should have found a person with a "history book" type of mind to write up a background "Bible" for Starcraft, and then the game designers use the parts they want, leaving the rest unexplained to the player. In other words, they should have hired me. I'm gonna be that arrogant person that says they could have done a better job of writing the game than they did (of course, who could fail harder?). Looking at the game and the official novels, I'm forced to agree more that the early writers either tricked us into thinking they were good, or left Blizzard.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Was the success of SC and BW lore in our imagination?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissa View Post
    In other words, they should have hired me.
    Haha.

    Looking at the game and the official novels...
    The only thing that I thought the initial novels did well was to flesh out marines' resocialization in interesting ways. That was a thing they were good for, since the games can't really follow marines due to them just being cannon fodder.

    And, heh, I bet you do remember me, though maybe not fondly. It's kind of embarrassing, I was actually in Sons of War (haven't typed that in a while, heh) with you, but I was literally 13 years old when I joined, so I was really arrogant and whiny— afterwards I took a break from internet forums and Starcraft fan stuff for a couple years, hence the username change. I was MoH (but it's a secret!). Sorry if I was ever an idiot!
    Last edited by Robear; 05-29-2014 at 10:28 PM.

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