BlizzCon 2016 StarCraft II: Foundation for the Future Panel Transcript

Nova Covert Ops

Tim: That’s the War Chest. We’re going to change gears a little bit now and talk about Nova Covert Ops. Valerie wrote the story for Nova Covert Ops. Could you give us a little recap of what has happened so far?

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Valerie: Absolutely. So Nova was a character who appeared in Wings of Liberty, and at Heart of the Swarm briefly. Now we’re getting her full story following the events of Legacy of the Void. She has found herself mired in a web of conspiracy and political intrigue, tied into the reign of Emperor Valerian.

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One of the things we have coming up too is Nova: The Keep. It’s a comic that takes place before the events of Nova Covert Ops, but sets up a lot of the stuff you see happening in there. So this was in the early days of Valerian’s reign. Those of you who know your StarCraft lore might remember the ghosts program was not always the happiest place to be in. So this comic explores that situation, and it’s a great set up for how some of those character relationships play out in the events of mission packs three.

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Tim: And when is that comic going to be available?

Valerie: The comic will be out later this month.

Tim: Alright. Can you tell us anything about what’s coming up in the story without spoiling too much for the third Nova mission?

Valerie: Absolutely. So as I mentioned, there is this web of intrigue. It centers around an opposition faction that calls itself “The Defenders of Man“. Recently in the last mission pack, Nova learned who was behind the Defenders of Man, was not who anyone expected. And here today at BlizzCon we have a little teaser for you. Right from the beginning of mission pack three, as we’re catching up with the leader of this faction, and seeing a hint of what motivates her to do all of these things that she’s doing. So here you go.

Onscreen: Vardona. General Davis’ Homeworld.

Song “Morituri te salutant” plays.

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Computer: Psi-emiters have been augmented by a technology recovered by the Mobius Foundation. If discovered, it will trace back to Valerian Mengsk.

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Valerian: I have accepted that my father is beyond redemption and must be removed from power.

General Davis: Yes?

Man: The Emperor has arrived, General. He wants to make his announcement soon.

General Davis: They’ll see. I’ll be watching closely. If anything goes wrong, your orders are to kill that boy.

 

 

Tim: Let’s switch over to Alan. Alan what can you tell us about what the art team is working on for the mission packs?

Alan: You know after Legacy of the Void, we thought this is the best looking StarCraft game ever, and then the crew did an amazing job from the cutscenes to the campaign maps, effects, UI, and everything. So one of the challenges for us is how do we improve on that, how do we raise the bar, and then just make a better product. One thing that helped out was the scope. We actually have less missions. It’s three missions per pack, and using an expansion is like 25/30.

So we’re able to put more resources toward each map, which means more detail, just more cool stuff, telling a better story, how to complement a story further. And then, also we’ve had like 70+ missions over the course of StarCraft II, so we’ve seen a lot of jungle planets, space platforms, cities, all these things. So trying to figure out how do we best, tell these stories in new environments, and keep it fresh? One thing is that actually you make a location where the story allows.

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So for instance Mission Pack 2, we had this cool tropical resort, which seems kind of un-StarCrafty, and then of course, it gets invaded by Zerg and burning boats and everything; and it’s very StarCraft all the sudden. We also have like a mining planet that has Terrazine gas throughout the atmosphere, actually produced by these huge flying space whales, also kind of get more fantastical with it. And then the other side of that is how do we think something we’ve already seen before. Like a city, and try and give it more detail, make it more immersive, more engaging for the player.

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So here we have in another city, but we’ve got a lot more distinct areas. Industrial districts, there’s like a biker bar. There’s a banking area. We actually have a natural history museum that has Arcturus’ bones in it — which is really cool. And there is a lot more small details in it than what we were able to put on the maps.

 

And then on the cutscenes side of the story routine, we did an amazing job, improving camera work, gliding, scripting, all these things and trying to tell the story in the best way possible. I think you saw from Valerie’s video that they did an amazing job.

Tim: Definitely. How about on the unit side, are the team doing anything special for Nova’s units?

Alan: yeah, I thought Nova is such an awesome character. She deserves her own unit. For the mission packs, all units use their own skins for the Covert Ops team. So starting with the new Mission Pack 3 coming out soon, all her buildings also have the Covert Ops skins. So we do some fun stuff with this, and it’s kind of nice because it’s a departure from the old skins and the old technology where the terrans were still clunky. Traditionally, they are kind of well together, rusty; and this is the opposite end of the spectrum where some are more elegant, more stealthy, more higher tech. It’s the pinnacle of Terran technology. So it was kinda fun for us to flex them out in that manner.

Tim: So will all of these assets be available to Arcade content creators?

Alan: Absolutely. Just like all the campaign of the past, all the assets, and all the source art will be available for all the Market community, and the arcade maps, whatever you want to do with it. So, we’re really excited about that, and also we actually put in some new functionality, for instance, we needed a hologram turned on and that’s all we needed it for, but we would have made sure we had different states and now it is turned off and included those animation into the final file, so that you guys can use it however you want to.

Tim: So I know another question that’s going to come up since we’re not working on another mission packs right now. Valerie, is this the end of the StarCraft story?

Valerie: We’ve wrapped up Nova’s story with Nova Covert Ops for now. The story will be moving forward with the comics that we’re calling Shadow Wars. So you see what all three races are up to in that content.

Tim: Very exciting. How do players experience those comics?

Valerie: For the first time, they will be available right in your StarCraft game. So you can go straight from playing to reading comics.

Tim: That is super exciting. Very cool. Alright, we’re going to change up gears again, and talk about Co-op.

Next: New Co-op Commander: Alexei Stukov

BlizzCon 2016 StarCraft II: Foundation of the Future Panel Transcript
War ChestNova Covert OpsNew Co-op CommanderArcadePanel Q&A

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film. Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers. I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com) ***Fans who would love to watch Blizzard-related panels and appreciate our efforts can support Blizzplanet's patreon in a monthly-basis, or a one-time basis. Our staff are volunteer fans like you. Your donatives will help us travel to all the Blizzard events we attend year-round.