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The second episode of BlizzCast, a new feature which gives fans a chance to get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes at Blizzard, has been posted on Blizzard.com.

As with the last BlizzCast, we will focus on the StarCraft universe portion of the interviews.

First up, an interview with Chris Metzen, Vice President of Creative Development and creator of the original WarCraft, StarCraft, and Diablo storylines. Chris talks about his work – juggling three different stories simultaneously, coming up with new ideas and integrating them into the core of his stories, and the how working at Blizzard is like compared to other companies. Here are some interesting excerpts:

… about StarCraft in particular, how did that particular story-line get started with you?

 

We had done Warcraft II and now we’re interested in trying to do the next RTS outing in science-fiction. And early ideas like ‘well, let’s blend them together man, we can do this kind of space-vampire-clan-thing and real-time-strategy.’ … the group response is like ‘well, let’s simplify this, right. People, they understand space-ships. They understand creepy, spidery aliens. They understand psychic brain aliens, right? So let’s just cut down to the core motifs that are really classic in science-fiction. That’s where we should start.’

 

It wasn’t the story-line, specifically, the linear flow of events, the overthrow of the Confederacy, Kerrigan, Raynor, the Protoss, the destruction of their homeworld. A lot of that stuff wasn’t clear from the get-go. We were just making the broadest science-fiction universe we could and trying to make sure it really resonated with people.

Zeratul

Chris reveals the process which led to the birth of one of StarCraft’s most important characters: Kerrigan.

… the whole character of Kerrigan didn’t really exist until the middle of our construction of that first campaign. We knew we had Ghosts and the joke was – I don’t know if this is common knowledge but I think it was Command and Conquer that had a character named Tanya, back in the day. She was kind of like an assassin, a badass. And we just had this conversation one day using a Ghost character on a map, like ‘ha ha, how funny’, the whole ice-skater debacle was going on with Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. ‘Haha, how funny, we’ll make our super assassin named Kerrigan on this one map.’ And it was a total throw-away character but as we started discussing it and really getting in to this character, we kept coming back to her; she had a lot of gravity. It really created a cool, kind of triangle of tension between Mensk and Raynor and this emergent Kerrigan character.

 

Ultimately, it was pretty late in the game when we decided that she would be betrayed and become the Queen of Blades. The Queen of Blades was never an original concept; it really came about just at that, kind of in the final stretch of that campaign.

Kerrigan

 

Andy Chambers, StarCraft 2’s lead writer, reveals the mystery of the planet featured on the bottom of StarCraft2.com:

The question we have for you today is a bit of a two-parter. What planet is seen at the bottom of the page at starcraft2.com and what is happening at the planet’s surface at the red dot? People are referring to it as ‘the explosion.’

 

Well, as befits a two-part question, I’ve got a two-part answer for you. The first one is the lore answer to it all. The planet itself is Bel’shir one of the moons of the Mackan system which has not previously been seen in StarCraft I. It’s a Protoss ex-shrine world that was invaded by the Zerg and much of the Protoss have now been pushed out of the area. It keys in with the sort of jungle tile-set that you may have seen in some of our previous videos for StarCraft II. Now, the little explosion as people call it, is actually a vent for an artificial volcano the Zerg have pierced through the surface of Bel’shir to produce a heat-source for their nests full of hot magma –because it saves them having to knit little cozies for their eggs and things like that – so, that’s the lore reason.

Ex-shrine Protoss world, Bel'shir

 

The actual reason there’s a little dot there goes back even further. Goes back to our career announcement. The world that you’re actually seeing there is the same sort of brown ringed world that we saw in the announcement behind the space platform. As part of a test during that, some of our artists wanted to do plasma bombardments, little explosions going off all over the world all the time. So, when the guys in the Community Team got hold of this piece of art, they reshaded it into the green world you now see. But as part of that process, one of the little explosions carried over into the new image that you now see.

 

So, as ever, lore must be responsive to art as art must be responsive to lore, so I’ve incorporated that into the back-story for Bel’shir and it’s actually added this little unexpected bonus of like ‘oh, cool, artificial volcano. I like it!’

Bel'Shir from space

 

Check out the rest of the cast, which deals mainly with WoW, here:
[Transcript | Audio]

christie-golden.JPGOver the last five months, Blizzplanet has conducted two interviews with Christie Golden, author of the StarCraft trilogy of books that serves as the introduction to StarCraft 2.

Christie has a rich background – she’s worked on Star Trek: Voyager, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft and more. For Blizzard, she’s created the Warcraft: Lord of the Clans and World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde novels.

The interviews deal with the plot of the books and the way they relate to the story of the game.

Check out the first interview, about The Dark Templar Saga: First Born, here. The book was released in May 2007, alongside the announcement of StarCraft 2’s development.

Will we see protoss characters we have been previously introduced to, such as Raszagal, Zeratul, Adun, Tassadar and Artanis? Will there be terrans such as Raynor, General Edmund Duke, Arcturus Mengsk, Dan Liberty or other characters from previous novels or from the game? What role will they play?

 

Christie: Yes, you will see all kinds of familiar faces throughout the series. Since this is set after Brood War, though, no Duke I’m afraid. Don’t want to give too much away, but this is a very big and important series and many of the main players in the game will make appearances. Some of them have very significant roles indeed! It’s been very exciting to be able to use well-established characters in addition to creating my own. I hope the readers enjoy it!

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Read the second interview, about The Dark Templar Saga: Shadow Hunters, here. The book is slated to be released on the 27th of November, 10 days from today.

How will the trilogy fit with the single player storyline of Starcraft II?

 

Christie: It’s interesting—when I was first contracted for the trilogy, it was intended to be rather small scale. While of course computer games take years to develop, nothing had been made public at that time about StarCraft 2. I began work on the trilogy, then I shifted attention to RISE OF THE HORDE so it would be out in time for the WoW expansion of The Burning Crusade. When I got back to the trilogy after that little delay, the decision had been made to announce StarCraft 2 along about when the first book was due out. Suddenly my trilogy went from being a small scale storyline to something quite major, as a way to get readers excited for the game (like that would be hard—StarCraft players love their game with a passion!). It was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time. There are challenges that go along with that, because as the game is constantly changing as it develops, we all of course want the books to reflect that as much as they can. So I do a lot of rewriting, but hey—that’s part of the fun of being involved with something so cutting-edge! Unfortunately books have to get “set in stone” at a certain point, so often changes are being made to the game after the books have been turned in. But we all do everything we can to make it as close as possible within those constraints. So to answer your question, it’s my hope that it will be a very, very good fit indeed.

shadow-hunters.jpg

If you want to know what the books are about without actually reading them, look no further than this Wikipedia synopsis.

… Jake finds a dying Protoss who transfers her mind into his brain beforing finally expiring. Jake eventually discovers the Protoss inside his mind was a female named Zamara, a Protoss Preserver that was in charge of housing the memories of both dead and alive Protoss. Zamara warped Jake’s brain to be able to house the memories of all the Protoss, essentially making him a preserver.

Driven by the living memories of a long-dead protoss mystic and hounded by the Queen of Blades’ ravenous Zerg, archaeologist Jake Ramsey embarks on a perilous journey to reach the fabled protoss homeworld of Aiur.

Seeking a vital piece of protoss technology, Jake finds that Aiur has been overrun by the Zerg. Descending into the shadowy labyrinths beneath the planet’s surface, he must find the sacred crystal before time runs out — for him…and the universe itself.

Yet, what Jake discovers beneath Aiur is a horror beyond his wildest nightmares — Ulrezaj — an archon comprising the seven most deadly and powerful dark templar in history….

Five sketches of what initially appeared to be unidentified artifacts have been posted on the official StarCraft 2 website, along with a new illustration of the Queen Bitch of the Universe herself, Kerrigan.

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Blizzard has remained silent about these updates, but our highly talented investigative team has matched them to pieces of Zeratul’s new armor:

 

zeratuls-armor.JPG

 

Blizzard’s art and lore updates are being closely monitored for clues regarding the powerful artifacts that were mentioned in the BlizzCon single player video.

The lights blacking out in succession, a sharp musical note revealed Zeratul, a character from the original game. “I bring tidings of doom,” said the Protoss warrior. “The Xel’Naga have returned. The cycle nears its end. The artifacts are the key.”

 

“To what?” Raynor said, to which Zeratul replied, “The end of all things,” before falling to his knees, apparently wounded.

These artifacts, that the player will pursue during the single player campaign, might eventually form Zeratul’s armor. The significance of the armor is not yet known, however. Of course, it is more likely that the artifacts Zeratul mentions are different items entirely, and these pictures are just early design sketches.

Another concept art picture, depicting Kerrigan, clearly shows her “wearing” stylish, organic heels.

 

Hot or not?

 

This immediately brings to mind the following illustration, which Blizzard has included in their fan-site kit:

 

Can't wait to see this cinematic in action

Kerrigan‘s Zerg-enhanced heels versus Zeratul and his mysterious armor! This is the match-up we’re all looking forward to, and it looks like Blizzard is telling us that we will indeed witness it in StarCraft 2. Who will win in this battle of giants?

StarCraft Legacy has conducted an interview with Chris Metzen, Blizzard Entertainment’s Vice President of Creative Development. They got to ask him many questions regarding StarCraft 2’s story and lore, to which he extensively replied.

Here are a few interesting highlights. The full interview is massive, so if you’re interested in reading it in its entirety, head over to SCLegacy.

So, what’s up with that Duran guy?

SC:L – Can you put more emphasis on this quote: “…her (Kerrigan) rebirth into the Zerg Swarm has sped up my progress…” (Duran, Dark Origins)? Why exactly?

 

Metzen – That would be telling… We’ll just have to wait and see what Duran’s motivations are and how Kerrigan’s true role within the Swarm ties into all this galactic-scale maneuvering.

Next up, Chris talks about Zetaras’ good friend – the new Protoss heroine in StarCraft 2, Executor Selendis.

SC:L – Please tell us more about the new Protoss Executor, Selendis: her history, her new role etc…

 

Metzen – Selendis – Protoss Templar Executor: Selendis was a student of Artanis. In the new hierarchy now ruling the Protoss she has been elected executor: overall leader of the combined Protoss military forces. At her command, many new weapons and robotic fighting machines have been developed to help preserve Protoss lives in battle, and she is eager to take the battle to the Zerg and reclaim Aiur. Selendis represents the best and brightest of what the Protoss can be–fiercely loyal to her race’s ideals, completely dedicated and focused beyond any mere human capacity.

selthumb.JPG

 

What ever happened to the Arbiters?

SC:L – Why did the Protoss abandon Arbiters during the time of StarCraft II and what ships do the Judicators now pilot (as Arbiters were “their” ships)?

 

Metzen – After judicators were eliminated from the Protoss power structure, the arbiters quickly fell into disuse. When the Protoss fled to Shakuras, the arbiters were lost along with Aiur.

The return of Tassadar?

SC:L – And last, for our own curiosity – you referred to Tassadar as a “twilight messiah” during the lore panel on BlizzCon – is there ever a chance of seeing his return in some form or another?

 

Metzen – What goes around comes around. You know our Blizzard heroes: they roll back from the brink of death more often than the original X-Men. Seriously, though – given what the Khala is, and some of the other upcoming themes we’ve devised – it’s probable that Tassadar’s spirit is out there somewhere. However, I wouldn’t count on his pulling a “Medivh” any time soon… (if ever).

The rest of the answers deal with other, more minor characters in the StarCraft lore and reveal some more of the history of the universe. This level of detail sets a precedent in the RTS world (with the exception of WarCraft, perhaps), which usually revolves around stale, historical stories or shallow, formulaic “Sci-Fi” settings. With StarCraft 2, Blizzard is taking the story to a new level.

We can’t help but feel the build up for the inevitable release of World of StarCraft.

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