BlizzCon 2014 – StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Overview Panel Transcript
This is a transcript of the StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Overview panel held at BlizzCon 2014. Among the panelists were: James Waugh (Director of Story development), Allen Dilling (Lead 3D artist), Jason Huck (Lead level designer), Justin Thavirat (Lead 3D artist) and Matt Morris (Lead campaign designer).
Waugh: Welcome everybody to the Legacy of the Void Campaign Panel. We hope to answer all your burning questions about the end development final chapter of the StarCraft II trilogy. My name is James Waugh, I’m the lead writer; I’m joined on stage by Jason Huck (lead level designer), Allen Dilling (lead artist), Justin Thavirat (lead artist) and Matthew Morris (lead campaign designer); each of whom will talk about how their discipline helped craft the game.
So with the core gameplay for StarCraft II established already in the last two titles, the development of Legacy of the Void started with the story — and it doesn’t mean that as the writer I wanted some cabin in the woods somewhere with a vintage typewriter and picked out a manuscript that we’d go build a game from, instead like everything we do at Blizzard our story development process was highly collaborative and for several months Chris Metzen, myself, Dustin Browder, Sam Didier and these guys worked closely to craft a compelling story that would also make a great gameplay; and so right from the start we wanted to set out a few core tenets that would help guide us along the way.
These were: we wanted to create a distinctly Protoss story while wrapping up the trilogy story threads; we wanted this game to be about what it means to be Protoss and its core fictional conceits would be built around their deep lore and themes so even though this is a conclusion of a trilogy of a lot of story lines to wrap up, we wanted to make sure that we kept our camera focused squarely on the Protoss on their hopes, on their struggles and their desire to reclaim their lost homeworld.
Next we wanted to make sure that with this game we created an epic end-time scenario for the players to stand against. We have talked about the coming of Amon and the threat of galactic destruction for two games now. It is time we paid off on that promise and more importantly it is time we created a scenario that the players (you) could stand against; and maybe most important of all these three we wanted to make sure that this game fulfilled the fantasy of playing Protoss; and so every single storyline and mission choice was filtered through that lens.
Who are the Protoss, and what is that fantasy you are going to be hearing so much about today? We boiled down several key traits that we really felt defined them. These were: they are an ancient and noble race, the Khala, high tech, small numbers.
The Protoss are an ancient psionic species, so old they consider themselves the firstborn in the universe. Their empire once reached across the Koprulu Sector and stood at the height of evolutionary achievement; but notice we said noble race because in many ways at Blizzard we looked at the Protoss as our space samurais or space paladins; they are a species with a deep sense of honor and a strict code of justice (right and wrong) and a responsibility to enforce them. This idea of nobility deeply impacted how we looked at the Protoss as we were developing the story, and as you’ll see from these guys, how they developed gameplay and art.
The Khala: you really can’t talk about protoss fiction without talking about the Khala. The Khala is a sacred and mystical energy field that unifies the Protoss’ every thought and emotion; it’s the thing that the entire civilization is built upon. In the past, the Khala has allowed us to play with themes like collectivism versus individuality and trying to find a balance between the two; and those themes will certainly surface once again in this game.
High Tech: If you played as Protoss or you played against Protoss you know just how devastating a Colossus or Mothership assault can be. Being an ancient race has its advantages and has allowed plenty of time for the Protoss to create incredible weapons of war. We wanted to make sure that that high tech and those incredible war machines were featured as prominently as possible throughout this game.
And finally, Small numbers: Protoss civilization is thinned in population due to eons of war and sacrifice. So unlike the Zerg who seems infinite in number, each protoss warrior is a rare and precious army of one. This is a story about a small band of Protoss warriors who dared to stand against seemingly limitless numbers and nothing felt more like playing Protoss to us than that.
So over the last two games, we really focused on the Terran and Zerg storylines ultimately building to Kerrigan’s revenge with the fall of Arcturus Mengsk. The Protoss have made appearances, but they haven’t been front and center; but what the Protoss have been up to is critical to understanding where this game is going so allow me to give a brief recap.