Scrolls of Lore Forums  

Go Back   Scrolls of Lore Forums > Blizzard Discussion > StarCraft Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-02-2015, 04:37 PM
Undeadprotoss Undeadprotoss is offline

Treant
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 24

Default GSOS: Starcraft's story development

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:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.

Last edited by Undeadprotoss; 10-02-2015 at 04:42 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 10-03-2015, 08:41 AM
Anansi Anansi is offline

Master Worldbuilder
Anansi's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: A Dying World
Posts: 17,754

Orb of Lightning

The single greatest difference, I believe, between SC and SCII is the presence of a manual.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeBlader View Post
And the HRE was a meme that went too far.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PajamaSalad View Post
You are pretty cool for being one of the bad guys.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaronGrackle View Post
I was probably just upset about the Horde fleet in the Second War.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-03-2015, 12:19 PM
Menel'dirion Menel'dirion is offline

Arch-Druid
Menel'dirion's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: The most gorgeous place in the world (if you've been there you know what I'm talking about)
Posts: 2,225

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anansi View Post
The single greatest difference, I believe, between SC and SCII is the presence of a manual.
You know, I like SCII, but you are absolutely right.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-03-2015, 06:44 PM
Undeadprotoss Undeadprotoss is offline

Treant
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 24

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anansi View Post
The single greatest difference, I believe, between SC and SCII is the presence of a manual.
Hmm, that's interesting, I think it is a good point that the manual provides a solid, story-telling foundation, but I don't think its necessarily the main problem. I never read the manual, and I really wish I did, but I still loved teh story.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-04-2015, 08:38 AM
Anansi Anansi is offline

Master Worldbuilder
Anansi's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: A Dying World
Posts: 17,754

Orb of Lightning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Undeadprotoss View Post
Hmm, that's interesting, I think it is a good point that the manual provides a solid, story-telling foundation, but I don't think its necessarily the main problem. I never read the manual, and I really wish I did, but I still loved teh story.
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.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeBlader View Post
And the HRE was a meme that went too far.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PajamaSalad View Post
You are pretty cool for being one of the bad guys.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaronGrackle View Post
I was probably just upset about the Horde fleet in the Second War.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-09-2015, 12:28 AM
Galdus Galdus is offline

Banished
Galdus's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 2,346

Default

The first Starcraft really is the best Blizzard has done plotwise isn't it? Or at least one of the best.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-11-2015, 05:04 PM
Undeadprotoss Undeadprotoss is offline

Treant
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 24

Default

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.

Last edited by Undeadprotoss; 10-11-2015 at 05:27 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 11-21-2015, 01:49 AM
Siegrune Siegrune is offline

Arch-Druid
Siegrune's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,405

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anansi View Post
The single greatest difference, I believe, between SC and SCII is the presence of a manual.
While the manual was wonderful, SC1 was starting from scratch. For SC2 you already have the SC1 manual and the SC1 campaign to which you can refer to as background, so it's not as valuable.

I'd say the "single greatest difference" is simply that SC2 has a crappy story, though perhaps that's cheating.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Undeadprotoss View Post
-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.
Mostly agreed. Zeratul acts like a mad and senile prophet, and just doesn't carry any of the dignity or gravity present in the SC1 Zeratul (I was actually very glad that Legacy of the Void killed him off early on, putting him out of the misery). Kerrigan... let's just say she deserves a special discussion. I found Raynor believable (given the unbelievable plot and the unbelievable Kerrigan), or at any rate not much worse than the SC1 Raynor. SC2 Artanis is just a stock Hollywood American hero.

Quote:
-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.
You make a good point, especially about the characters: everything in SC2 revolves around heroes and villains we already knew from SC1 (other than Amon perhaps, who was only hinted at in SC1): Raynor, Mengsk, Kerrigan, Zeratul, Duran (Narud), Artanis. Even BW, which was merely an expansion, brought new characters which were more significant. Blizzard even went out of their way to recycle dead characters (Stukov, Fenix).

When WoW recycles old heroes from the RTS, it's at least understandable because it can be cool to meet an old hero in an RPG setting. But SC2 is an RTS just like SC1, so what's the point of this?

On the other hand, SC2 did have a significant plot element (Amon and stuff). It's not entirely new, for it was only hinted at in SC1, but was fleshed out very much. The problem is with the way they did it... Frankly, I'd have preferred the SC2 storyline to not have existed at all. I don't simply find it uninteresting or not exciting... it's positively abominable.

Quote:
-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."
Definitely. SC2 is overloaded with hollow slogans about freedom and brotherhood and unity and all kinds of bullshit feel-good phrases, as well as cringe-worthy love scenes between a space cowboy and an semi-human semi-alien demigod. Re-watching SC1 mission briefings you can clearly see that the quality of dialogue is much lower in SC2. Hell, Mengsk's speech or the UED victory report (which are obvious propaganda) actually sound more authentic and inspiring than the speeches that Artanis can't help himself from making every second mission throughout LotV, which sound like they're taken straight out of a Hollywood film. Not to mention the whole scene with Raynor and Warfield in WoL.

The Protoss also have shittier voice in SC2.



Now, I'll try to pinpoint what I think is the main flaw with the SC2 story - though it's so wrong on so many levels (to be fair there are a few things that are cool, too). Kerrigan is an integral part of this, of course - but I'm not so concerned about her 'redemption' per se. What's really egregious about the Kerrigan story, and the SC2 story as a whole (which is really the Kerrigan-Amon story anyway), is the trivialization of the great. On the one hand, they make everything grandiose and epic by introducing an all-consuming Big Evil as well as origin stories and prophecies and so forth, and then make the person who is at the heart of it, namely Kerrigan, get deeply involved in personal love and personal vengeance. She's just a hero because she was chosen to be so, endowed with superpowers and, um, the purity of essence and the purity of form - in short, the fate to become a Xel'naga. And this godlike being goes out with Raynor (making life grow anew on nearby planets again... seriously?). Thus SC2 manages to simultaneously make the story seem too grandiose and too trivial and personal. Tassadar was a serious hero. Kerrigan is a third-rate anime heroine.

Last edited by Siegrune; 11-21-2015 at 02:50 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 11-21-2015, 03:22 AM
neoshadow neoshadow is offline

Elune
neoshadow's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 11,389

Default

fun fact. Blizzard has clarified that the Voice in the Darkness is not the same entity as Amon (i.e. the Dark Voice) of StarCraft II.[3][4][5]
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneurysm View Post
Neocat's got it all figured out.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gurzog View Post
I love you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sakurako View Post
based neokitty
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneurysm View Post

Shape up, Neocat. Fuck's sake.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
critical thinking, starcraft

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:15 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.