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Thread: Grand Survey of Starcraft "results" lore and story + breakdown.

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    Default Grand Survey of Starcraft "results" lore and story + breakdown.

    Hey guys, I've been playing SC ever since I was a little kid, and being sometimes very sensitive to detail, I have felt that much of the art style, atmosphere, characters, and story of SC2 do not feel the same to me, I did an informal/casual/on the spot survey, with its format serving as a general template. After putting off writing 3 posts regarding the story, art, and gameplay of SC2 vs SC1 and BW, here are my first thoughts for the story:
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    (Originally posted on scrollsoflore.com under the SC forum)

    Hello everyone, you may know me for some of my thread "The Grand Survey of Starcraft" and "Can the Forsaken be Redeemed". I've only recently joined scrolls of lore, but when I did I interviewed several members regarding their ideas on a series of questions regarding the story, art-style, and game play of Starcrat 1 and Brood War versus SC2, so that I might make three separate posts on those topics. (You can find the most recent survey format here:
    http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/18719273722)

    Seeing as this forum revolves around the lore of Blizzard games, this thread will serve as my opinon of the general difference in story telling, story quality, character development, etc. I will of course attempt to delve into how a player perceives story through game-play and art, meaning that there will be some crossover. That being said, what follows this paragraph is a summary what people who I surveyed in game, online, etc, and written criticisms elsewhere, believed about the story, and then my opinions after playing the games myself and surveying others, I will attempt to respond to as many comments and criticisms as I can, as well as edit in more text as I remember or hear good points:

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    Of the people I've talked to, I've noticed a spectrum. There is a size-able chunk of players (in-game mainly) which view the SC2 campaign and story as of moderate to somewhat good quality, some people didn't feel very strongly about the campaign either way, and considered it to be OK.

    On the other end are people who expressed a degree of disappointment, while others, like me, viewed the story as being lackluster and were very sensitive to many perceived flaws in the story.

    Mostly, complaints seemed to revolve around the following:

    - Something that came up a couple times was Kerrigan's plot development, specifically how her transformation, anti-hero nature, and personality were handled. Some found that her tendency to use extreme violence and often outright disregard for innocent life made her much more difficult to sympathize with. One poster in particular noted

    "Kerrigan's characterization flip-flopped in the bits we saw before release from unrepentant monster, amnesiac, and penitent anti-hero. Instead of sticking with one, we got a jumbled mess of all-of-the-above, and it did not work"

    -Very dramatic character shifts in general aside from just Kerrigan, characters are seen as having less depth, becoming more one-dimensional. It seemed to me that characters such as Mengsk, Zeratul, Raynor, etc were expressed in a microcosmic fashion, instead of written out subtleties in character achieved through dialogue, their personalities become more narrow and singular, as one person put it:

    "Kerrigan goes from a god-like sociopath liberated from chains she had worn ever since she was a child to a sexy alien stripper who just needs to be shown how to love again. Raynor goes from an angry old man determined to tear down two people he once considered his friends but who had used and betrayed him for their own designs to a stereotypical idealist freedom-fighter. Mengsk goes from a charismatic snake in the grass to a bumbling wannabe dictator who can't even control his own damn state media. Zeratul goes from an ancient and powerful warrior with a gruff and cynical outlook on life and the universe to an old fool feebly chasing shadows."

    The youtuber Rhykker, whom I interviewed as well, brought up criticims she raised in a written review as well.

    " Without getting into spoiler territory, the decisions Kerrigan makes, the words she speaks, and the actions she takes make it difficult for me to want to see her succeed. I?ve always been fond of morally grey characters, but every well-written grey character has a redeeming quality that allows the audience to sympathize with her ? and I simply couldn?t find that in Kerrigan." (

    -Dialogue for some was not seen as a strong point, both in terms of character identity and structure. In the words of one poster: "As for the dialogue, it went from well-written monologues to average one-liners."

    -Lack of powerful themes, and dramatic plot moment. One person in particular mentioned feeling that the story felt contrived.

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    Now for my thoughts, personally, I agree with many of the complaints above, what really stands out to me is:

    -A lack of continuity with the Original SC and BW characters. I think this is most powerful in Zeratul, Kerrigan, and Raynor,and now with Artanis. in that order. To me, Zeratul dosen't feel at all like the same person. As a complaint that also applies generally to the non-human characters, he seems to have this disconnect, the same kind that one feels whenever Izsha or Abathur try to make sense of Kerrigan's human motives or reasoning, it's very difficult to put a finger on, I will come back to this and attempt to articulate it in a better fashion.

    -A lack of new, significant plot elements. I've noticed this with Warcraft specifically, that is, new factions and characters which REALLY change up the story do not seem to be prevalent, and when they are, they often are connected to an existing character. In HoL and HoTS, the only characters that come in tend to only serve a secondary role, Matt Horner, Stukov, Rory Swanson, Abathur Tosh, etc, who, while entertaining, do not bring to the story what Alexi Stukov, Admiral DuGalle, Artanis, etc brought in Brood War. With the current format, it is potentially very difficult to add characters of that scope who are not villains, as the "main character" you play as (Artanis, Zeratul, and Jim Raynor) would likely have to interact with them in some way.

    -Differences in writing structure. While I touched on this briefly in the survey summary, I do think it is one of the two problems most responsible for what I see as SC2's problems with its story.

    These differences primarily arise when comparing story-telling mechanics and devices. In the original, as well as Brood War, for example, story is explained to us mainly through mission briefings, entertaining, 2-4 minute long interactions from 1-4 characters, often regarding the current situation, as well as sometimes the aftermath of the previous mission(s). Dialogue also frequently takes place within the mission, typically at the end, when the screen will pause and the characters will speak to one another, and will typically be physically present on the map.

    In SC2, as far as raw numbers go, it is likely that there is objectively far more written dialogue. HOWEVER, this takes place in the form of conversations while on that race's base of operation/. HOWEVER, because these conversations are completely optional, they usually cannot include vital plot elements and character development that are important enough to merit them being put in missions, briefings, and cut-scenes.

    Cut-scenes and mission briefings (albeit in a very different format). c. There will often be a surprise that will later serve as the unique game play mechanic for that mission. Unlike BW/OG they do not possess nearly as much back and fourth between characters or story exposition. Monologues that we see in the original/BW are very rare, if at all present.

    This ends up working against SC2, for the simple fact that every single story requires a certain minimum of "structural work". A certain minimum of dialogue and exposition is required to build the universe as a whole, as well as the characters. Without properly directly communicating the world building to the audience, subtle motifs, character motivations, and related nuances simply are not noticed by the audience, leaving an incomplete picture.

    ---------------------------------------------
    I also responded to a person in the thread (pretty knowledgeable guy on lore in general)

    ---------------------------------

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Anansi View Post
    I think all the problems with SCII's story stem from lack of effort. The manual didn't just provide a foundation for the story, it forced the writers to be coherent, clever and engaging.
    So I actually read through the manual recently after you mentioned that, the same night actually (I didn't do so the first time I experienced Starcraft, namely when I was a kid, because, you know, I was like 6 or whatever) and while it really is impossible to know what would've happened without a manual, I think in some ways you're absolutely right. For instance, I was reading the Blizzcon transcript a while ago, and they mentioned this:

    "Much like the samurai of ancient history the Protoss live by a code of honor, they have a strong sense of justice and strive for glory in battle; and over the course of this game, the player will take this mighty race across the galaxy righting wrongs and smiting Amon's evil where it's found." (http://starcraft.blizzplanet.com/blo...l-transcript/3)

    I agree that the "warrior/tribal" identity is a part of who they are, but I now notice that what was also a huge aspect of their identity, the meticulous/self-aware/principled/withdrawn/etc side hasn't been effectively communicated. Coming back to the manual, references to the Protoss as being studious, cautious, and otherwise elevated. Here are a few excerpts to illustrate:

    Observatory (observer building perquisite) background:

    "History is of vital importance to the Protoss, as they believe that great events echo across space-time and serve as lessons for those wise enough to study them. Even during the Aeon of Strife, Protoss scribes recorded the wars and their heroes for future reference. The Observatory is a modern refinement of the ancient scribe library, and it is here that the data gathered by the robot Observers is recorded and catalogued for study by future generations of Protoss."

    Citadel of Adun, leg-enhancement upgrade/prerequisite to Templar Archives:

    "The ultimate goal of all Protoss warriors is to achieve the highest level of
    Khala. To this end they spend much of their time in deep meditation and
    sparring with each other in the floating Citadels. Named for one the greatest
    masters of the Khala, the Citadels of Adun are centers of learning and research for acolyte warriors"

    Protoss History Section:

    "Following the ancient traditions of the Xel?Naga, the Dae?Uhl called for the Protoss to protect and safeguard the lesser races that lived under their shadow. Unlike their predecessors, however, the Protoss refused to manipulate or interfere in the evolutionary processes of the lesser races under their protection. Ever vigilant against xenomorphic threats, the Protoss kept a close watch over their unsuspecting wards. But, much like the Xel?Naga many millennia before, the Protoss kept their presence hidden from the lesser races in their care. Many hundreds of species grew and thrived on the various worlds within their space, never knowing that they were secretly guarded from on high"

    (you can find the manual here) http://ftp.blizzard.com/pub/misc/StarCraft.PDF

    That's whats so frustrating about the Protoss now, you can see it in Zeratul and Selendis, for instance. They seem to be more focused on the warrior aspect of their race, on the part of their civilization which has incredibly advanced technology, unwieldy psionic powers, etc. But they don't seem to reflect what brings it all together, that is, the part of Protoss civilization which deals with general scope and knowledge of the universe, with protecting other life-forms and studying the nature of the universe. Things like the doctrine of Dae-uhl in the original Starcraft, they come across as less self-aware and wise to me as a result. Not to say that all members of the species are like that, namely the conclave, and to some extent, Aldaris (I feel like, at least sometimes, on some level he knows he's wrong or feels doubt. He did lapse back into prejudice against the Dark Templar, but that was at least largely because Razagal, the woman who played a role in swaying him, seemed to allied with and was controlled by Kerrigan.) But it all took place within the context and the prism of a larger society concerned with all of the aforementioned attributes, the flaws and villiany of Protoss antagonist factions like the Conclave seem to mostly stem from arrogance (although I feel like members of the Conclave being corrupt, greedy, or otherwise dishonest is implied, at least by Tassadar) , and from strident and rigid religious beliefs/tradition.

    I think Blizzard has the passion and the effort, but, as a couple of the WoW devs mentioned, they have this tendency to sometimes swing the pendulum too far, like when Chris Metzen mentioned that he didn't like WC3 being too "top heavy" with so much time spent on communicating story to the player. He even mentioned in an interview that he always wanted to communicate more story but that he (and I guess the team at large) felt that people pick up the game to play as the hero and to fight, which is true to an extent, but they seem to prioritize gameplay over the largey story, even though people who play the campaign typically do play mostly for the story and not just for the, admiringly great, single player experience.

    Beyond the continuity of the Protoss' backstory which I went into in the beginning (and which you got into earlier), I think you were also right when you said that it forced them to make the story interesting and consistent. I think building a strong, written base for the different species and factions helped them grow out characters that were unique and yet fit the mold of what would be conceivable for a Protoss. I believe a lot of this goes back to my original point though, all of this nuance and detail isn't communicated properly when there isn't a proper avenue to do so. You can't experience and feel the identity of the Protoss, Zerg, and Terrans when you don't have that, at least not as well.

    Now of course, that's not to say there aren't problems with the art-style, rendering, overall plot line, etc which are present in all games, that don't detract from SC2's story, there are, but the infrastructure from which fantasy is delivered to the player, I think, needs to be considered before much of that. Still, thanks so much for taking the time to respond, more people should really come to the SC sub-forum.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Grand Survey of Starcraft "results" lore and story + breakdown.

    I agree.

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