Saturday, July 31, 2010

Starcraft 2: What's Next? Spoilers Contained Therein...

I went to TVTropes the other day hoping to learn more about Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty but thinking that, since it wasn't that long since the game came out, I wouldn't have the entire storyline ruined.

Wrong.  Pretty much everything's there.  Life lesson--if you see a lot of spoiler tags, assume someone's beaten the game already and don't read them.

Of course, Starcraft 2 at present is only the human campaign, which my friend David said is so well-done it's better than the three-races campaigns of the first Starcraft and Starcraft: Brood War and, for that matter, many movies.  Scuttlebutt online is that the Zerg campaign "Heart of the Swarm" won't come out for another 18 months.

So now it's time to speculate as to what's going to happen in that one.  For the record, this is all speculation based on what's happened in Starcraft 2 and scuttlebutt online about the later campaigns.  I don't have any inside sources feeding me information.

David told me that due to the revelation that Terran Dominion Emperor Arcturus Mengsk brought the Zerg down on Tarsonis, much of the Dominion is open revolt.  Furthermore, his son Valerian has taken much of the Dominion's fleet for the attack on Char, which would weaken Daddy Mengsk further, especially since David says that Valerian wants to use Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan (de-infested during the climax of the campaign) to help overthrow his father.

I suspect that the Zerg campaign will involve Kerrigan attempting to re-establish her control over the Zerg to use them against the Dominion alongside Raynor and Valerian and/or against the Zerg-Protoss hybrids and the "Great Hunger" behind them.  The rumors about the Zerg campaign describe it as kind of like a role-playing game where Kerrigan "levels up" and gathers new mutations to help her take control of more and more Zerg.

If her de-infestation decapitates the Zerg Swarm and it either starts falling under the control of the Protoss-Zerg hybrids Zeratul foresaw or goes wild and starts killing everything, I can imagine Kerrigan being needed to take control once again.  Zeratul said she was necessary to keep the hybrids from using the Swarm to exterminate the Terrans and Protoss and her taking control of the Zerg would be a good way to stop this.

Even before she was infested, according to other Starcraft media, she was able to control Zerg, but I could imagine her de-infestation could weaken her abilities in that field.  The "leveling up" part I could imagine as her using her psychic abilities to compensate for her lack of Zerg biology to take over more and more of the Swarm, although I hope to heck and back that they don't re-infest her (the "new mutations" part). 

I liked Raynor/Kerrigan from the first game (it alternated between being hilarious and sweet) and the breach brought about by Mengsk's treachery and her infestation was sad.  I would prefer to avoid the sad and unhappy, thank you very much.  Besides, it'd basically be rehashing the original game and Brood War and I think Blizzard can go in a much more interesting direction with Kerrigan's character than having her getting "re-bugged" (as opposed to her being "de-bugged").

Think about it.  She was probably the sole survivor of the forces Arcturus abandoned on New Gettysburg, there's the physical and psychic trauma of being captured and infested, and there's all the evil stuff she did as the Queen of Blades.  Assuming her de-infestation restores her human personality--which, based on how she recognizes Raynor and smiles, I think it did--she's going to likely have a colossal amount of survivor's guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, and ordinary guilt-for-sin.  This on top of the issues she had before, due to her experiences in the Ghost program.

Her overcoming all these issues to take control of the Zerg Swarm once more, for good (protecting the sector from rogue Zerg, overthrowing Mengsk, and defeating the hybrids) and not for evil (her own self-aggrandizement) this time would make a really interesting story arc for her and perpetuate her status as a strong female character.  Bonus points if she does all this while dealing with everybody who is out to kill her for what she did as "the Queen of Blades" (essentially everyone except Raynor and Valerian, and Valerian might well sell her down the river to ensure his popularity with the general public and although Raynor can be trusted, some of his crew probably can't).

Her slowly but surely reverting to "the Queen of Blades" even after all the trouble gone to to save her from the Zerg and her own dark side (she killed Raynor's Protoss friend Fenix of her own free will) would just be a major downer.

Despite all the horrors I inflict on my characters in my own writing, I'm a big fan of happy endings.  Valerian overthrowing his tyrant father and bringing peace to the human powers of the Koprulu Sector, the "Great Hunger" being defeated by the combined efforts of the three races, and Raynor and Kerrigan retiring to Mar Sara to have lots of red-head telepathic kids who romp with Zerglings like ordinary kids might play with puppies would be a nice ending. 

Hopefully the Blizzard powers-that-be won't read this and decide to rework everything to avoid the possibility of being sued--apparently movie producers won't even listen to idea pitches anymore for fear of stuff like this happening.  Blizzard people, if you've already come up with something resembling the above storyline, for the love of all that's holy, USE IT!  I hereby solemnly swear that you did not get it from me!

(Seriously, they probably already have the macro-plot mapped out already even if the Zerg and Protoss campaigns aren't close to ready yet.  But people have done very odd things due to fear of litigation.)

In any event, the reason I haven't gone out and bought the game yet is because my computer isn't advanced enough to handle it.  I've got 2 GHz processor speed and 960 MB RAM and the game requires 2.6 GHz and 1 GB RAM.  Plus I don't know if my computer's video card can handle it, although I'm able to watch cinematics and the like on YouTube.

I'll swing by the Best Buy at some point and see how much it is to upgrade my computer.  I wonder if they have a "Starcraft 2 Upgrade Package" available?

If I do buy the game, I'll be sure to play it and blog about it here.


  1. I have to agree with you. One thing you missed is the name of the campaign itself: Heart of the Swarm. The word "heart" is indicative of human emotion and compassion, something that up until this point has been distinctly un-zerglike.

    I think that according to lore about the original purpose of Kerrigan, as created by the overmind, was a way to liberate the zerg from their pre-programmed lust for destruction. Essentially, the corruption and then liberation of Kerrigan first gave her the power to help and control the zerg, then the release of the pre-programmed zerg dna fully freed the zerg from their savage programming.

    I think that in this campaign, we will be helping Kerrigan that is not based on destruction, but on creating a more meaningful existence for the victims of sociopathic Xel'Naga experiments.

  2. The ending of Wings of Liberty was wonderful. It was a moment I'd been waiting for for 10 years, since I played Brood War.

    The campaign gives us great insight into Raynor's character. Ultimately, he loved Sarah Kerrigan more than he hated Mengsk.

    I found the end to this campaign a nice change from Blizzard's usual "doom and gloom" and "corrupt all that is good" type story telling. After everything they've suffered, Raynor and Kerrigan deserve their happy ending.

    It's actually one of the greatest love stories I've ever seen told. Raynor literally went to the ends of the earth to save her. And he finally did it, he finally brought her home. Brought a tear to my eye :)

    I hope Blizzard doesn't re-infest her or kill her off or kill off Raynor. I would be heart broken if they did.

  3. James,

    Same here. When you love someone, you should be willing to fight for them, and Raynor did exactly that. And he won, despite the sheer unlikelihood of being able to pull that off and treachery from a close friend.

    Here's to a happy ending for both of them.

    (And here's to some hard-core violence from her in the meantime. Some people complained that the ending made her a damsel-in-distress and let's remember that she was a great warrior and smiter-of-evil before she was infested.)

  4. Anonymous,

    You might be reading a bit too much into "Heart of the Swarm" there, but Blizzard sometimes goes surprisingly deep.

    (I read an analysis of Tychus Findley as a tragic hero and it actually made a lot of sense, based on the classical definition.)

  5. Matt,

    "If there's one thing I know it's that some things are just worth fighting for." --Jim Raynor

    In favor of both the happy ending and the hard core violence. Nothing would be better than for Kerrigan to take control of the zerg, put Mengsk out of her misery, and defeat the evil voice coming to end the universe. And then her and Jim should retire and have their gang of red-headed telepathic children. I hope Blizzard doesn't screw it up.

  6. Good thing Raynor was vague about just what he was fighting for--the crew might not mind joining up with the Dominion to fight the Zerg, but an interstellar booty call for the boss is an entirely different matter.

    (Of course, using the Xel'Naga device on the Zerg managed both--it debugged Kerrigan and, in theory, other infested Terrans captured by the Swarm, and at the same time, it looks like it scoured Char clean. Goodbye, buggies.)

  7. Matt,

    True, I think what he was fighting for and his men were fighting for weren't the same, but they were both able to get what they wanted. The Zerg queen was stopped, and Raynor got his beloved back.

    I just hope get gets to keep her.

  8. I hope so too.

    Thing is, I don't think Raynor is so self-absorbed that this was his primary goal. He was right when he said that if the Zerg consume all the humans in the sector, the Raiders' whole insurrection against the Dominion was pointless.

    I just wanted an excuse to use the phrase "interstellar booty call," especially since the crew that are in the know about Kerrigan might have reason to be skeptical.

  9. Matt,

    I'm wondering how Kerrigan is going to get over her self-loathing. That's actually what my fan fic deals with, but I wonder how Blizzard is going to deal with it.