BlizzCon 2008: Starcraft 2 Lore Panel

Chris Metzen and Andrew Chambers discuss introducing new characters to the Starcraft universe and the freedom of in-game cutscenes.

ANAHEIM, Calif.--Blizzard used Friday's Starcraft 2 gameplay panel session to make the announcement that it would be moving away from a single-box, three-campaign storyline for the sequel to its hit real-time strategy game Starcraft. Despite the rousing reception it received from the loyalists at BlizzCon, many gamers were quick to jump on the accusatory bandwagon and aimed their sights firmly on Blizzard’s perceived profiteering. The decision to move from one retail product to three was sold to gamers as allowing the development team the opportunity to focus its energy on providing players with a deep, rich story and fully fleshed-out Starcraft universe characters for all three factions. It's something we're interested to keep an eye on, and though it was hinted at during the keynote address on the main stage, the follow-up lore session gave a glimpse at where some of the extra development time is being put.

The first character we were introduced to was Dr. Ariel Hanson, a female colonist in need of rescuing. Exploration of the universe will net you some interesting new friends, and each will open up side missions for you to complete. Hanson began concept as a male character, but was ultimately changed into a woman to provide not only a nonmercenary contact for Jim Raynor, but also a potential love interest. When we saw her she was dressed in traditional hospital garb, but alternative costumes included a set of army camouflage gear, so perhaps she'll take to the battlefield too.

Rory Swann was next up and featured slightly more than a striking resemblance to Arnold "Poet" Jackson from HBO's Oz series. Described by the panel as the game's own version of Scotty from Star Trek, he brandishes a huge mechanical claw as a replacement for one arm and doesn't mind getting down and dirty in the engineering bay. A people's freedom fighter from way back, he has a strong New York accent and looked quite detailed in the live character renders we saw.

Blizzard is selling Gabriel Tosh as Starcraft II's Boba Fett since he plays the role of an outlaw and a pirate. There's apparently a connection between Tosh and Nova from the Starcraft novel series, but the panel was keeping much of the connection secret for fear of spoiling the game's storyline.

We met Tychus Findlay on day one of BlizzCon 2008 during the gameplay panel, but it was here during the lore session on day two that we got a better indication of his connection to Jim Raynor. The two were apparently "thick as thieves" previously, but while Tychus went to jail, Jim went on to become marshall of a colony far, far away. Metzen described Tychus as representing what Jim could have become had he made different choices, while Andrew Chambers said it also gave them a chance to visually represent the physical differences between a human being and a guy in a big tin can. Gabriel Tosh and Tychus Findlay also represent two very divergent pulls by offering Jim Raynor distractions from the overarching goal of freedom fighting.

Matt Horner is Jim's second in charge and the captain of the Hyperion. He also represents the straight-up, by-the-book yin to Tosh and Tychus' yang and is a believer in the revolution. He believes in Jim and the cause (sometimes more than Jim does) and is determined to keep him focused when other temptations may sway his attention. Matt Horner's character model draws on multiple artistic influences including fascist uniforms, while the straight cuts and clean lines let you know that though he's younger than both Jim and Tychus, he's a career military man and just as able to get the job done.

Valerian Mengst was the last character we were introduced to and is Arturus Mengst's son. Valerian offers the chance for Jim to interact and accept Dominion missions during the Terran campaign. Valerian has more than a passing similarity to Arthas and is described as being thematically similar in the role as a young prince. Dressed in a regal-styled outfit he features a flowing red cloak, a black and silver chest piece, and gold shoulder armor.

Metzen and Chambers confirmed during the session that Starcraft II will feature four times as many in-game cinematic scenes as it will prerendered sequences. Both were happy with this decision because it provides a much more agile storytelling mechanism since specific details don't need to be locked down a year out from creation and the team can more readily develop on the fly.

We're optimistic about the trilogy concept for Starcraft II for the sake of creating well-rounded characters and about the adherence to the lore the franchise has established over the last decade. We've already had a sneak peek at some of the faces that are going to be in the Wings of Liberty Terran campaign, and we're eager to see who else pops up as we get closer to the game's still unknown launch date.

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Discussion

58 comments
pooya_d
pooya_d

After company of heroes tales of valor let down...... this is really going be one of the best strategic game in years.....I am really counting on this one!!!!!!!

Vasot
Vasot

At least the Single player campaign sounds deep and with some interesting characters...

Spat262
Spat262

seriously when is this game coming out im ganna die from the waiting..it better be awsome...who am i kidding i know it will be awsome

tovey87
tovey87

This game is made by Blizzard! The company that is never sloppy, like others that could be named..

Vasot
Vasot

W4K: Dawn of War 2 was a bit dissapointing after all...:(. Anyway i expect Starcraft 2 and Empire Total war to be better

balrogthane
balrogthane

You know, this is really not that different from a lot of other RTSes out there. Many of them include multiple factions, but the single-player campaign only follows one faction. Of course, the ones that do tend to pour more time and effort into making sure those campaigns are good. Blizzard is doing the same as Dawn of War, but across three releases so each game is all about its race and campaign.

Themaazandar
Themaazandar

Blizzard has a distinct inability to live up to its deadlines. Its like - how you say - Blizzard got snowed in! And to think that I was once called "stupid" for comparing Starcraft 2 to Starcraft:Ghost. Behold Starcraft: to boldy go absolutely nowhere.

Cpalberg
Cpalberg

listen, im not disagreeing with anyone who thinks this trilogy business is bull. but blizzard, like any company, is out to make money. if you dont like what they are doing, do not buy the other 2 games. get the first one so you can play online (thats what most of us will be doing anyway) and show blizzard your discontent by not buying the other 2. as of now, ive decided not to buy the expansions unless they are significantly cheaper than the standard 49.99

vito_128
vito_128

hmmm the question I ask now is, how much will each copy of a part of the trilogy cost?

yacbos
yacbos

will it even be released or just like they did to starcraft ghost many years of development then canceled ?? blizzard should really work on their development teams

VIP-Jerry
VIP-Jerry

This sure smells like first Blizz fiasco. Game looks like complete crap, and they are not introducing anything new or original to the RTS genre . Hey Blizz this is 2009. Wake up! Did you hear for destructible environment and things like units can use env for cover etc. I hope that gameplay will make up for all this flaws.

Vasot
Vasot

Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War 2 will be better

mikeydumbo
mikeydumbo

doing this reeks of greed? i think you have forgotten about the WoW series already? that has effectively crushed all other genre in PC gaming? that they are earning over 100 mil per month? and still making more expansion packs to milk more money out of it? i think you'd be really naive if you say they're doing that to give everyone an awesome story. love interest? mercenary contract? i guess a combination of the RPG element and the RTS element is possible in this prospect, but it seems that instead of the merge in warcraft 3, the rpg element has completely overtaken the rts element in that the focal point is the rpg and the sideline support is the rts. its now an RPG game with rts minigames. is that what starcraft 2 is aiming to be? cos if it is, the rpg element is pathetic and the rts is overdeveloped. in case no one has realised yet, the story to an rts is always on the macro scale. epic things happen. generic decisions are made. concentrating too much on a single character creates a hole. here i see very personal decisions made by a character with a heavy emphasis on character development. really, blizzard isn't even trying properly.

Anteares
Anteares

There is really no reason for Blizz to do this. What would be GENIUS!, is if they put out the first SC2 game...with all the units and races for multiplayer and 3 campaigns of 12-15 missions each, and then pump out 3 separate EXPANSIONS to continue each races' story line. This way, they don't piss off the customer base by 'forcing' them to buy 3 separate 'full games' for $150-180 dollars and they can still make a good bit of cash. But doing it like this reeks of greed.

ssggrkin
ssggrkin

How long do we have to wait for the other two campaigns? You hint at releasing them in two more annual installments, that would seem to drag out the game play and pad your pocket at the same time.

jamesangove
jamesangove

The fundamental questions, to my mind, are pricing and story/game length. I some ways, I like this idea: if, in rapid succession, we get three full sized games (that is, if wings of liberty is as big a game on its own as SC was) then paying basic retail is complete reasonable. It just means we get three SC sequels in quick succession, instead of waiting another decade. Thats a value for dollar proposition. The other dollar for value proposition (which I think would really hard to pull off) is the Penny Arcade model: shortish, but cheap games. I don't think it works, I don't think the starcraft universe supports it. But I'm prepared to withhold judgment. But if Blizzard wants to produce 3 full size, no crap, 49.95 worth of games, games, to build a real trilogy storyline... More power to them. That's some ambition. Its a lot of room to fail. Think of it this way: I paid (fallout is on my mind) full retail for Fallout, and got my money's worth. Barely a year later, I did the same for Fallout 2. And got my money's worth. Both those games were built on basically the same engine. If blizzard wants to say "We've got this engine, and we've got all this content. Lets not slam the game into one piece, but lets get ever inch out of this tool... I'm totally in favor. (plus, it lets me skip playing as zerg. I hated playing zerg. Don't know why).

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

you guys dont seem to realize that the blizzard that was then is gone and dead and sold out, and now we have a money hungry megacorp here in its place whose trying to take the old name and games for all they are worth.

ShadowB86
ShadowB86

It's been cartoony since Warcraft III.

ThePielord
ThePielord

i actually think that it's too cartoony too. I liked the first one mostly cause it was serous and in some way realistic! this is a stupid decision from blizzard if you ask me.

Vasot
Vasot

I do not like the cartoony style...

PdPstyle
PdPstyle

economy fail? where do you guys live cus the prices are going down where I live? and yes I live in the USA. So long as its fun and fleshed out I dont care how they split it up :)

allinchrist7
allinchrist7

well.. the economy will fall.. that is for certain.

jarule88
jarule88

man, i don't like idea of making World of Starcraft... it's sooooo stupid :D i would just like blizzard to back off from starcraft.. they destroyed warcraft RTS... let's all hope they won't destroy Starcraft 2 like they did with. WARCRAFT 3 :D

jedi_hasyir
jedi_hasyir

starcraft seems to have upgraded warhammer style...imagine this, World Of Starcraft (WOS)...whoa...oh and let's hope the three parts don't come out like the half-life 2 series is doing

viperggb
viperggb

Well, with the world in economic crisis now, cash flow for everyone will be an issue or not. Blizz hopefully thought this move through. I hope this marketing plan works for them.

PSdual_wielder
PSdual_wielder

Valerian Mengsk is the illegitimate son of Arcturus, also a character in the dark templar novels. After easing off my frustration for the 3 game thing, I thought about it for a bit. Maybe I could brainwash myself to thinking its a good thing. At least probably the campaign would be very epic, much more epic than the first starcraft and brood war, and with the span of time with these games maybe by the third blizzard will have enough time to make sure the multiplayer could be as perfect and as fun as the first sc.

jhstaub
jhstaub

Just to state a point. This decision could be driven purely by money and yet still produce games worth purchasing. By releasing three separate games they raise the bar, as each campaign alone has to be good enough to justify the price, but that doesnt mean they cant reach that goal. Well see

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

Well, I'm glad that they're taking extra time to make sure that the single player campaigns are better and longer and more distinctive. Heck, I'm glad SC2's coming out at all! As much as I don't like the fact that Blizzard takes forever to get a game out, I have to admit that it's still a very good thing. The amount of polish they put into their games and their extreme quality control ensures that when their games are out, that they're very good and well worth the wait.

Zanthia561
Zanthia561

Blizzard Owns every game they put out is polished to the extreme hell if u think about it every game with online still are going and going strong. WC3, SC, Diablo 1&2, And of course WoW. I have all of these games listed and have gone online and still found groups to go slaughtering enemies or plunder villages so if you really think this game is going to suck maybe you should just Destroy ur computer and never play games again.

tespac
tespac

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

miksalud
miksalud

After reading all the books (a bit neridsh yeah :P) I might say they have a hell of a lot to show us, in terms of story and characters. Great personalities like Mengsk, Raynor, Kerrigan, hell even Samir Duran (the Xel Naga pimp) will add up to the storyline. The new ones, are also intriguing, if and only if they also include some of the characters seen in the books, to sum it all up. As long as they don't kill everyone (like in WoW), its going to be great! :)

Ziloron
Ziloron

To Lightzy, in case you have a head injury, let me fill you in on some things. The Starcraft universe is exactly that (a universe.) There are many different planets and many different people on those planets. Blizzard is expanding that universe because what we saw in Starcraft and Brood War are just a very small part of what's going on with people. By the way, the freedom fighting (in case you don't remember), Mengsk f***ed everything up in the end and betrayed everybody and now is the supreme power in the sector (beside Kerrigan who nobody knows what the f*** happened with her.)

lEagle_Eyel
lEagle_Eyel

It's sad that some people lack the self-conscience to tell apart from what is good and what is bad... Saying that Blizzard is all about money. If you do agree with that, then you need to go and get a cat-scan to see if you actually have a brain, or maybe you're just someone who thinks they know what it's all about when they really don't... Long Live Blizzard... \m/ (•_•)

NightmareCV
NightmareCV

Blizzard is still great and i dont know why all of you people are complaining about them. if they were in it for the money they wouldnt be re-hauling battle.net, which is still FREE or putting 30 plus missions for each campaign. any true sc fan will be happy to but one blizz game a year. its not hard to buy one game a year over three years to get the sc collection. blizz dont care about whether or not they make 3 discs, if you dont buy it thats ur problem, they just want to make sc2's story as good as it can be and they feel this is the best way. id rather buy three games that are all amazing than one game that doesnt satisfy me. oh and Forseti666, its people like you who are killing pc gaming, damn pirates make me sick. good thing blizz will find your pirated game and ban ur ass when you play on the new bnet. anyway, if ur are a sc fan, you will buy this game, if not the thats just more copies for the fans to pick up.

pooya_d
pooya_d

So much for multi player in LAN...... I was a huge fan........... but now..... I am not sure if I buy it..... LAN is more stable than any other multiplayer environment ... I am sorry......and I tell you guys it is all about f***ing money

Forseti666
Forseti666

Blizz pwned themselves on this one i predict that most people who buy it for playing online will buy the first one and pirate the rest (unless of course Blizz comes up with some kind of "improvements" and additions to the MP portion of the game in each of their "expansions") and of course those people who just play it for the story and dont care about MP will probably just pirate all 3 parts. I know many people, including myself, were against pirating Blizz games since it used to be one of the last honest game developers, but after dumbing down WoW so a 3 year old can play it to get more cash and now this bull**** i say fu blizzard and steal as much as you can...

Lightzy
Lightzy

WTF... What the hell is up with 'character motivation' and 'freedom fighting' and all that irrelevant crap they're hammering into SC?? Humans are fighting ZERG. there's no politics and freedom fighting, there's survival.. if the story is not about base survival of the species, then it loses all of its urgency and tension. same for protoss. How goddamn stupid can they be.. "oh hi jim, I have a side quest for you, can you please deliver this parcel rice cakes to the guard at guard station 2? if you have the time, I mean, what with the zerg trying to eradicate all life on this planet" and wtf is gonna happen when they do the zerg game?? "lets make a zerg queen you can really IDENTIFY with" ?! "Oh hello zerg queen, hive mind #3 was wondering if you can take this packet of BBQ crisps to the hydralisk on hive #6, he'll repay you with some gas"

usoglf
usoglf

cut-scenes were great from Starcraft, and Starcraft 2's look better... I would prefer cut-scenes, but as long as the game rocks as it is looking to, I'll live

RatTrap
RatTrap

dont get me wrong, i played SC single player, but, i spent most my time playing online in that game anyway.. so as long as it has the same multi-player aside small changes with each new game.. thats all i care

jbar27
jbar27

If you don't like the way Blizz is marketing this franchise, you can always sit back and wait for the SC2 Battle Chest to come out.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

@kerwinramos ...or think of it as a straight up money whoring tactic. its always nice to watch the gaming industry implode. whether it be blatant shameless rip off titles, EA being EA, mass whoring of repackaged games, the recent dlc scams that have been going on (lets just not release a full game and sell the rest of it a month or two down the road over the internet). it would seem blizzard was literally the only developers left that still felt quality service = more customers but apparently greed has no limits. instead of releasing this into 1 massive ultra high quality game (which is what i, and every other loyal blizzard fans have some to expect) here comes the most obvious scam EVER in the gaming industry. blizzard just went from providing lovingly crafted games that were "all for the fans" into ...well EA. forget gaming. hollywood manifestation. ps: a group of sociologists should watch new art forms in the making from here on out. im sure it was interesting to watch film turn from lovingly, brilliantly made movies (hitchcock days...) into the vomitory garbage that it has turned into with hollywood. greed corrupts everything eventually i guess. same deal with gaming...anyone remember back in the day when games were completely original and were made by other gamers? nowadays its all about how can we milk as much money from consumers as possible. EA is king of this game. and most of you people cough up the dough gladly. blizzard is following suit.

kerwinramos
kerwinramos

what this is leading to is much like SC1. Wings of Liberty = SC Classic,while heart of the swarm will be like Broodwar. Just think of them as expansions that can actually stand on their own, and announced early.

Gifted_One
Gifted_One

Anyone still play Starcraft. Add me. "Gifted[xL]"

Gifted_One
Gifted_One

Well, as far as im concerned. I will not mind paying for the games 3 seperate times. For some reason! On that note, they have also raised my expectations for single player mode. I believe that they are more than capable of making a trilogy far worth the price. Hopefully, they manage to meet their potential.

00Terry00
00Terry00

This is a first...The game must be very HUGE!!! Maybe they shld merge them or make one big finale for the game!!!

azn_windsoul
azn_windsoul

to everiez: make more sense. actually make a good point and dont ask stupid questions - your practically saying: have a good game, or have a bad game.

Everiez
Everiez

If they can make a good story and game, why not? We should make a poll like: Which one you choose? A good games and deep story divided in 3 (hopefully as good as they claimed) with each released a year apart OR 1 good game with 2 mindless spin off or bad sequels games released a year apart OR 1 good game with 2 good sequels released a year apart ?

NightmareCV
NightmareCV

idk about the prices but each game will have 30+ missions for their respective campaigns and you can use all three races in custom games and on battle.net. they will not lock races out just cuz you bought the terran one. and to all the people who say they wont buy it because it is 3 games, what is the difference between buying 3 full games that each have their own campaigns and getting 3 other games. you will buy a lot of games each year, you will spend the money, if the game is good does it matter? plus they are each releasing a year apart. so once a year over a three year period you buy one starcraft game, what is the big deal? i think this is a good move by blizz because it shows that they want to tell the best story possible without having to sacrifice anything. i always loved starcraft's story and i am looking forward to this game.