THE GRAND EXPERIMENT
Driven to perfect their science of proto-genetic evolution, the ancient, enigmatic race known as the Xel’Naga traveled to the distant fringe-world of Aiur. The vast jungles of Aiur had produced the most advanced race that the Xel’Naga had ever seen. Believing that they could steer the race’s evolution to the pinnacle of physical perfection, the Xel’Naga began to conduct their proto-genetic experiments. The race that the Xel’Naga would eventually name ‘Protoss’ advanced rapidly and gained what their creators termed ‘a distinct purity of form’.
Unfortunately, the Xel’Naga pushed their experiment too far. The inherent essence and sentience of the Protoss developed far too rapidly, leading to bitter strife and division between them and their creators. The Xel’Naga deemed that the purity of form they sought to create had been sullied by a conflict of essence and thus decreed that the Protoss were, in fact, a failed creation. The Xel’Naga abandoned their children and launched themselves into the void.
THE BIRTH OF THE ZERG
Traveling thousands of light years into the burning core of the galaxy, the Xel’Naga eventually settled upon the volatile ash-world of Zerus. The Xel’Naga planned to continue their Grand Experiment of evolution, only this time they dismissed their tenets of physical and focused chiefly on the pursuit of a distinct purity of essence. Residing in their massive ships high above the fires of Zerus, the Xel’Naga began once again to challenge the wiles of fate.
The Xel’Naga were more successful with their second venture than they could have imagined. They laboured to advance the evolution of the most insignificant life form on Zerus, a race of miniature insectoids known as the Zerg. Through Xel’Naga proto-genetic manipulations, the Zerg survived the torrential firestorms of their world and thrived. Although extremely small, worm-like, and possessing no ability to manipulate their physical surroundings, the Zerg adapted to survive. They developed the ability to burrow into the flesh of the less vulnerable species indigenous to Zerus. Feeding off the nutrients contained within the spinal fluids of their hosts, the Zerg learned to parasitically merge with their host creatures. Once they became capable of controlling the metabolic and anatomical processes of their hosts, the Zerg used their new bodies to manipulate their surroundings.
As the Zerg incorporated more and more host creatures into their fold, they began to assimilate their various genetic strains and processes. Zerg chemistry began to mutate and adapt according to the volume of new genetic material being processed. However, as diverse as the range of host creatures became, there was always the undeviating drive to consume only the most evolutionarily advanced species encountered. The Zerg were innately selective as to which species they consumed, ensuring that at every stage of their development they were at the top of the proverbial food chain. Any race that the Zerg came across that was deemed unworthy of assimilation was eradicated to further purify the strains.
The Xel’Naga soon made an alarming discovery. The original races assimilated by the Zerg were hardly recognizable after only a few generations of their inception. Somehow the Zerg had developed the ability to supercharge and steer the latent evolutionary processes within their host creatures. The host creatures fell prey to the effects of gradual physical mutations that caused all of the various strains to grow armor piercing spines, razor-sharp limbs, and ultra dense carapaces. Over a surprisingly short amount of time, the strains grew to resemble a terrifyingly ravenous and unified race.
The Xel’Naga, remembering all too well that their failure with the Protoss was a result of pushing the sentience of the fledgling species too quickly, decided to follow a different path with the burgeoning Zerg. Attempting to waylay the potential hazards of differing egos, the Xel’Naga structured the collective sentience of the Zerg into a unified, amalgamated ‘Overmind’. The Overmind coalesced into a semi-sentient being that represented the primary drives and instincts of all of the Zerg strains. As time passed, the Overmind developed the rudiments of personality and advanced intellect.
Although the Overmind directed the actions of every creature within the swarm, it did so through the use of secondary agents. The Overmind created a new strain of Zerg that could facilitate the communication of its whims. These Cerebrates were massive versions of the original Zerg insectoids and were engineered to process and carry out the various objectives of the Overmind. Each Cerebrate had a unique objective, such as ‘Defend The Hive’, ‘Scout For Potential Strains’, ‘Produce New Warriors’, or ‘Eradicate All Life Forms’. The Cerebrates were then empowered to build their own Hive clusters and carry out their intended agendas. Over time they developed personalities that corresponded to their primary drives. However, the Cerebrates were still genetically incapable of ignoring or overriding the commands of the Overmind.
The Zerg chain of command lengthened as new races were incorporated into the Swarm. Cerebrates began to use secondary agents to communicate their orders as well. For the defence and productivity of the immediate Hive, the Cerebrates created Queens to further extend their control over the swarms. The Queens oversaw Drone activity throughout the resource lines of the Hives and kept a vigilant watch over the budding spore colonies of the collective. In times of battle, Cerebrates called upon the Overlords to directly relay their commands to the myriad of warriors of the Swarm. Overlords not only transported Zerg warriors into the fray, but also directed their attacks against the enemies. Just as the Cerebrates followed the Overmind, the Queens and Overlords were incapable of disobeying the commands from their Cerebrates. This rigid system of command kept the swarms at peak, savage efficiency.
As the swarms continued to grow and strengthen, the Overmind turned its thoughts towards its own future. It realized that within a few short centuries its race had assimilated all of the indigenous life upon Zerus. It knew that to further evolve the swarm, the Zerg would need to leave Zerus. The Overmind began to reach out with its senses, looking for something – anything – which would provide them with transport from this world. That opportunity soon arrived. A race of gargantuan, space-faring life forms passed through the Zerus system, and the Overmind called to them. Drawn by this beacon, they were quickly assimilated by the swarm. The inclusion of super-dense hides and the ability to exist in a vacuum bolstered the genetic pool of the swarm. Soon the Zerg warriors were conditioned to survive the harshness of space.
This pivotal moment in the development of the Zerg was not lost to the Xel’Naga. The Zerg, despite having an extreme physical handicap, had succeeded in not only surviving, but in retaining the purity of their terrible overriding essence. The Xel’Naga knew that they had achieved their goal.
THE FALL OF THE XEL?NAGA
The pride in their achievements proved to be the fatal downfall of the Xel’Naga. The Overmind, while slowly expanding itself into the void of space, became aware of the mighty Xel’Naga world-ships hovering ominously above the skies of Zerus. The Xel’Naga, having kept a constant watch on the Overmind, were horrified to find that it had actually severed their psychic link, effectively hiding itself from their view. With its need to consume driving its minions into a lustful frenzy, the Overmind launched the now space-faring Zerg swarms at the uns
As the greater whole of the Xel’Naga race was consumed by the raging, genetic whirlwind of the Zerg, the Overmind gained the knowledge and insights of its masters. The Overmind processed thousands of sentient beings into itself, causing it to grow far more powerful than it had ever imagined. It learned the secrets of the sacred Khaydarin Crystals, and began to incorporate the energies of these Crystals into its own. Through the intimate knowledge of evolution and proto-genetic physiology gained from the Xel’Naga, the Overmind was able to increase the level of sentience in many of the higher Zerg strains, while still keeping them fully under its control.
Through dissecting the memories of the Xel’Naga, the Overmind was made aware of the myriad races that had at one time or another been influenced by the ancient race. The Xel’Naga had kept a detailed genetic history of each race, giving the Overmind a clear understanding of their respective strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, the Overmind learned of an exceedingly powerful race that lived near the galaxy’s fringe known only as the Protoss. The Overmind knew then that the Protoss and the Zerg would be caught in an inevitable, apocalyptic conflict.
The Zerg left the lifeless, burning world of Zerus and laid waste to every planet they found along their path towards the Protoss Homeworld. As they progressed slowly through the trackless dark between the stars, the Zerg assimilated only the strongest of the races that they came across. The swarm continued to build steadily, ever-increasing in size and power. As they progressed, the Overmind sent out numerous deep-space probes that scouted ahead of the swarm, searching for new worlds to plunder.
Despite innumerable victories, the Overmind was greatly disturbed. The Overmind was aware that the Protoss had become a highly psionic race, able to bend and warp the very fabric of reality to their whims. It sought a way to counter the awesome might of the Protoss, but found no answers among the genetic strains it devoured.
On the verge of despair, the Overmind made an amazing discovery. One of its deep-space probes had relayed the location and vital statistics of a race that occupied a series of nondescript worlds right under the shadow of the Protoss.
The new race, called Humanity, was mere generations away from developing into a formidable psionic power. But the Overmind also knew that Humanity was still in its infant stages, hardly capable of defending itself against the ravenous Zerg. Although a short-lived and seemingly frail species, the Overmind knew that Humanity would be the final determinant in its victory over the Protoss. If it could assimilate the psionic potential of Humanity, the Overmind would have the ability to combat the Protoss on its own terms.
Thus, the Zerg swarms slowly made their way towards the burgeoning worlds of Humanity. The journey lasted for sixty years, but eventually the massive, extended Zerg Swarm reached the outskirts of the Terran sector of Koprulu. Sending in a scouting Brood, the Overmind soon discovered that the Humans dwelt on over a dozen different worlds within the Sector. Seeding the atmosphere of the planet called Chau Sara with rudimentary Hive-spores, the Overmind began to unfold its master plan to enslave Humanity. The Hive-spores gradually drifted down to the surface of Chau Sara and saturated the ground with their denuding, alien toxins. Although the Human colonists had no idea that the Zerg had subtly infested the topsoil of their world, Zerg minions began to descend to the planets surface and construct their bizarre structures and Hive clusters. Once the infestation of the colony was well underway, the Overmind sent its voracious children to the other nearby worlds. Insidious and elusive in their tasks, the agents of the Overmind soon infested the colonial worlds of Chau Sara, Mar Sara, Brontes and Dylar IV, unnoticed by the denizens of those colonies.
Yet, from out of the cold void of space, a mighty fleet of Protoss warships emerged to combat the Zerg invasionary forces. The Overmind, anxious to learn what it could about the enigmatic Protoss, decided to let them hamper the initial infestation process. Holding its ravenous warriors at bay, the Overmind watched as the Protoss razed the colony of Chau Sara. Apparently, the Protoss were aware that the Hive Spores had already despoiled the planet and seeking to prevent further infestation, incinerated the planet.
Such decisive action pleased the Overmind, who could only marvel at how the Protoss wrought absolute devastation with such grace and power. Knowing that the coming conflict would be the greatest challenge of its existence, the Overmind pulled its forces back to observe how the Protoss and Humanity, would react next.
THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
Although technology and world culture progressed rapidly throughout the twentieth century, their advancements paled in comparison to the seemingly reckless leaps that would follow. By the end of the twenty-first century, mankind had seen bold and unprecedented changes within the world. Radical new technologies were surfacing at incredible rates, offering increased access to advanced computers and informational databases to even the most destitute nations of Earth. In the wake of the eradication of Communism from the Eastern Nations, nuclear weapons quickly became available in abundance. The international power structure, once defined primarily by the acquisition of capital and military superiority, was blasted apart as third-world nations rose to challenge the economic and military might of the world’s super-powers.
As the manipulative sciences of cybernetics, cloning and gene-splicing rose steadily into the public forum, militant humanist and hard-line religious groups challenged the rights of private interest corporations who profited from genetic experimentation. Multitudes of people were being augmented with cybernetic implants while others began to manifest slight physical mutations ranging from heightened senses to advanced telepathy. These dramatic changes within the human gene pool caused widespread panic amongst many of the fundamental humanist factions.
Technology continued to evolve and spread, and population rates soared. Near the end of the twentieth century, there were six billion people upon the earth. Within three hundred years, the population had grown to an estimated twenty-three billion. Pollution and a lack of natural resources and affordable fuels added to the fire as world leaders sought ways to stem the growth of their nation’s inhabitants. Popular sentiment held that the world was plummeting towards an inevitable catastrophe as overpopulation and genetic alteration swept across the globe.
Meanwhile, as tensions rose around the world regarding the use and capitalization of cybernetics and genetic mutations, many core international economic systems folded in upon themselves and shut down. Horrific acts of terrorism and violence erupted between the corporate sector and the humanist factions, resulting in forced police actions across the globe. Irresponsible media coverage of these atrocious police actions spurred the already rampant civil chaos in many of the larger countries. Ultimately, the precarious balance of world power exploded into international pandemonium.
THE NEW ORDER
On November 22, 2229, the United Powers League (UPL) was founded. The UPL was to become the ultimate incarnation of the vision of a unified humanity held by the now defunct United Nations. This new order encompassed and controlled close to ninety-three percent of the earths population, failing only to bring order to a few volatile South American states. The UPL was founded upon the basis of ‘enlightened socialism’, but often resorted to harsh, fascist police actions to maintain the public order. With its control lasting for nearly eighty years, the UPL began to devise a rigid agenda that would unify the various cultures of humanity for all time. Great lengths were taken to eradicate the last vestiges of racial separatism, and the Unitariate Commissions banned many of the world’s oldest religions. English was designated as the common tongue of the planet, replacing many ancient languages that were subsequently banned in their native countries.
Although religions were officially banned by the UPL, the organization held an almost zealous belief in the supposed divinity of mankind’. This quasi-religious dogma called for the immediate eradication of any non-vital prosthetics or mutations amongst the pure-strain human gene pool. Hard-line UPL proponents and scholars argued that genetic alteration, cyber technology, and the use of psychoactive drugs all led to the eventual degeneration of the human species. The UPL leaders formulated a bold plan that would assure that humanity would persevere, unscathed by the tempting corruption of radical technologies.
THE GREAT PURIFICATION
Like the bloody Inquisitions that devastated Europe eight hundred years before, the UPL set in motion one of the harshest agendas ever conceived by humanity: Project Purification. This genocidal crusade was the Government’s final solution to the matter of cleansing humanity of its more degenerate facets. UPL troops scoured every nation on earth, rounding up dissidents, hackers, synthetics, the cybernetically enhanced, tech-pirates, and criminals of every kind. This planet wide culling resulted in the eradication of nearly 400 Million people. The world-media, now under the strict control of the UPL, downplayed the horrific violence and kept the general populace of earth unaware of the scope of the atrocities being committed.
Despite their heinous acts, the UPL succeeded in advancing many core technologies. Fields of research that had lain dormant for decades were opened again under UPL control. The Space Exploration programs of the mid-twentieth century, abandoned by the American and Russian governments due to drastically reduced budgets and incessant political sabotage, became the basis for a new era of exploration for humanity. The coupling of cryogenic hibernation with warp-drive technology resulted in the ability to travel amongst the stars. Within the span of forty years the UPL founded colonies upon the moon and many other planets within the Terran solar system.
During this period, a brilliant young scientist named Doran Routhe made plans to consolidate his power within the UPL. Uninvolved with the vulgarities of Project Purification, Routhe was obsessed with founding colonies upon the world beyond the Terran Sector. Routhe was convinced that the discovery of new minerals and alternate fuel sources on the outlying worlds would make him one of the most influential men on earth. Through his political connections and personal fortune, Routhe was able to secure thousands of UPL prisoners to use as guinea pigs for his secret plans.
The prisoners, slated for mass execution under the edict of Project Purification, were transported to Routhe’s private laboratories. Routhe, planning on sending the prisoners off to colonize the outlying worlds, had his science crews prep nearly 56,000 people for long-term cryogenic hibernation. Cataloguing the various mutations and cybernetic enhancements of the prisoners, Routhe input all of the data into a revolutionary supercomputer. This Artificial Tele-empathic Logistics Analysis System, known as ATLAS then processed this genetic information and was able to predict which of the prisoners should be able to survive the trial to come. Only 40,000 of the prisoners were deemed viable to survive the rigorous conditions. Those 40,000 were then loaded onto four gargantuan, automated deep-space supercarriers. As the prisoners were prepped for cryogenic ‘cold-sleep’, the ships were loaded with enough supplies, rations and hardware to aid them once they arrived at their scheduled destination. The navigation computer was then programmed with the co-ordinates of the outlying planet Gantris VI. All seemed in perfect preparation, but even Routhe could not have imagined that the prisoners would be launched to their almost certain deaths in the galactic rim.
THE EXILES AND THE LONG SLEEP
The ATLAS was installed into the first of the super carriers, the Nagglfar. Three other carriers – the Argo, the Sarengo, and the Reagan – were programmed to follow the Nagglfar as it was launched into the void of space towards Gantris VI. Over the course of this journey, which generations later would call ‘The Long Sleep’, ATLAS continued to monitor the humans kept in cryogenic stasis. Evaluating the numerous mutations and enhancements found within the prisoner’s gene pool,
Originally scheduled as a one-year trip, their voyage took a turn for the worse at some point during the journey the navigational systems linked to ATLAS shut down, erasing not only the co-ordinates of Gantris VI, but those of the earth as well. The four ships, carrying their hapless cargo in stasis, barreled blindly through space at warp speeds for nearly thirty years.
Eventually, the warp-drive engines of the four super carriers reached critical meltdown. After twenty-eight years of warp travel, the huge ships emerged into real space near the edge of a habitable star system. Some 60,000 light years from the earth, their engines destroyed and their life-support batteries nearly exhausted, the ships engaged their emergency protocols and plummeted towards the nearest habitable worlds in the system.
The Reagan and the Sarengo crash landed on the world that would be named Umoja. The Sarengo, which had suffered massive systems failures during its atmospheric descent, smashed into the planet killing all of its 8,000 passengers. The Reagan was more fortunate, making a controlled descent and landing safely. Once the ship had landed, the ‘cold sleep’ chambers were deactivated and the surviving passengers slowly awakened. The passengers, attempting to discern where they were and how long they had ‘slept’, found that the ATLAS system had somehow erased all knowledge of their journey from their computer banks.
The Argo landed upon the red world of Moria. Its passengers met with the same fate as those aboard the Reagan, as all information regarding their current status was erased. Only the passengers of the Nagglfar could access their ship’s computer to discern their plight. They accessed ATLAS directly and confirmed their growing suspicions that they would never see the earth again, for although they had landed on the temperate planet of Tarsonis, the Nagglfar was damaged beyond repair. The surviving exiles, now spread across three worlds, began to salvage their wrecked ships in an attempt to find refuge in their new surroundings.
THE CONFEDERACY AND THE NEW WORLD
The inhabitants of each planet worked to survive in what they termed ‘the New World’. Unaware that their fellows also thrived upon the other worlds in the system, the vagabond Terrans made do with whatever meager resources they could find. Having lost the means to communicate over interplanetary distances when their ships were stripped for essential materials, the Terrans lived in isolation for decades. In a relatively short amount of time, the three isolated groups of Terrans founded their sister colonies upon their respective worlds, and although it would be at least sixty years before the three colonies would be reunited by space travel, each of them grew into prosperous, self-contained communities. Tarsonis, the largest and most technologically advanced of the colonies soon developed second generation sub-warp engines. This allowed their ships to explore the myriad, barren planets of the surrounding star system and eventually led them to find the other survivors of the Long Sleep.
Once reunited, the three colonies benefited from mutual trade and commerce treaties. Although Tarsonis kept pushing Umoja and Moria to join in a conglomerated government, the two colonies steadfastly refused. The fleets of Tarsonis continued to explore the Terran patch of space that came to be known as the Koprulu Sector.
Founding prosperous colonies upon seven other worlds within the system enabled the military might of Tarsonis to grow by leaps and bounds. A new government, christened the Terran Confederacy, was founded by the Tarsonian colonies. The Morian colony, which had benefited from having the largest resource mining operations in the Sector, began to fear that this new Confederacy might attempt to move in and regulate their lucrative operations. Thus the Kel-Morian Combine was formed; a shady, corporate partnership that would supply military aid to any Mining Guild that was oppressed by Confederate policy. Tensions rose between the Confederacy and the Combine leading to the outbreak of the Terran Guild Wars.
The Guild Wars lasted for nearly four years, with the Confederacy eventually “negotiating” peace with the Combine. Although the Combine retained its autonomy, almost all of its supporting Mining Guilds were annexed into the holdings of the Confederacy. The Umojan colony, after seeing what blatant abuse the Confederacy was capable of, founded the Umojan Protectorate. This nationalized militia would work to keep its colony free from Confederate tyranny. In the final analysis, the Guild Wars assured the Confederacy its position as the dominating factor within the Terran power structure.
The might of the Confederacy continued to grow as its ‘prospectors’ claimed world after world with their reckless expansionism. Pirate groups and radical militia organizations began to spring up more frequently as Confederate enforcement agencies continued to abuse their citizenry. One of the greatest examples of revolt against Confederate policy was the Rebellion of Korhal.
THE REBELLION OF KORHAL
Korhal was one of the core Confederate worlds originally settled by Tarsonian colonists. A world of affluence and enlightenment, Korhal contributed greatly to the military and technological advancements of the Confederacy. Although the Confederacy benefited from Korhal’s continued productivity, the citizens of the colony resented their forced affiliation with the often-corrupt Confederate Senators. Attempting to retain their independence, the citizenry of Korhal instigated numerous riots against the local Confederate militia. The Confederates responded in kind and declared martial law throughout the colony. This only seemed to agitate the populace even more, escalating the already rampant civil chaos. The Confederates believed that if their most treasured and pampered colony could turn against them, then all of their other colonies might revolt as well. It was decided that the crisis on Korhal would be ended by any means necessary. Korhal would serve as a chilling example to all of the colonies in the Confederacy.
A dynamic Korhalian Senator by the name of Angus Mengsk took it upon himself to formalize the sentiments of his fellow citizens. Their cry for freedom was undeniable when Mengsk actively declared war against the Confederates. Whipping the people of Korhal into a volatile, patriotic frenzy, the Senator succeeded in capturing all of the Confederate outposts on Korhal. Issuing statements declaring that the Confederacy no longer held any claim over the world of Korhal, Mengsk succeeded in garnering the respect and admiration of many other struggling colonies.
The Confederates, seeking to contain the situation, pulled their forces from Korhal and withdrew their fleet from its skies. Mengsk and the other leaders of the revolt, believing that they had won their independence, celebrated their victory over the Confederacy. The Confederates, knowing that a perceived loss to Korhal might instigate other colonies to revolt, planned to retake the planet through subtler means.
The Confederates sent three of their deadliest assassins, known only as Ghosts, to eliminate Mengsk and his supporters on Korhal. The Senators decapitated body, along with those of his wife and young daughter, were found the next morning on the private balcony of his towering, fortress-like headquarters. Mengsk’s head was never found. While the assassination did
Arcturus Mengsk, an accomplished Confederate Prospector and businessman, did not take the news of his family’s death well. Having been a Prospector for years, Arcturus knew of the despicable lengths that the Confederacy would go to in an effort to reach its objectives. He was uninterested with greater Sector politics and was even alarmed and somewhat embarrassed by the actions of his estranged father on Korhal. He never dreamed, however, that his family would be killed merely to prove a point. Their deaths stirred something inside the young Arcturus, leading him to forsake his promising future and follow a lonely path of vengeance.
Rallying the various militant groups that had followed his father against the Confederates, Arcturus succeeded in fashioning an impressive, yet somewhat ragtag, army. Mengsk’s followers struck boldly at various Confederate bases and installations, costing the Confederacy billions of credits in men, machines and equipment. With rumors spreading of a secret alliance between Mengsk’s group and the Umojan Protectorate, the Confederate government quickly decided on a final solution to their problem. A salvo of one thousand Apocalypse-class nuclear missiles was fired at the planet of Korhal from the distant Confederate capital of Tarsonis. Over four million people were annihilated during the savage attack. In a single instant, the prosperous colony of Korhal was reduced to nothing more than a super-heated sphere of blackened glass and stirring phantoms.
The news of the holocaust reached Mengsk at a secret base located within the border of the Umojan protectorate. With nothing left save vengeance, Arcturus and those gathered with him on that sorrowful day pledged a sacred vow to bring down the Confederacy at all costs.
Calling themselves the Sons of Korhal, Arcturus and his renegade team of volunteers quickly made themselves as the most wanted fugitives in the Sector. Striking silently and swiftly, the Sons of Korhal won countless victories over the Confederacy. But with every battle won in the name of justice, Arcturus was portrayed as a madman and a terrorist by the Confederate-controlled media. Most colonies refused to house or provide services to anyone affiliated with the outlaw group. Yet, despite seemingly overwhelming odds and scandalous public opinion, Mengsk never gave up the fight against the Confederates. To this day, the Sons of Korhal continue to confound Confederate enforcement agencies as they work to bring about their mission of liberation for the Sector.
The various colonial powers and pirate militias continued to spar with the Confederate forces. Although many of the groups were constantly at odds with one another, the overall Terran presence within the Koprulu Sector continued to strengthen and expand. These petty squabbles would end soon enough as the Terran colonies found themselves in the midst of a struggle of epic proportions.
Without warning a fleet of fifty alien warships descended from the skies over the outlying Confederate colony Chau Sara. The massive ships opened fire upon the unsuspecting colony, continuing to decimate every inhabitant settlement on the planet. This unprecedented attack caught the Confederate forces by surprise, sending the shocked Terran fleets into disarray. Although they had never encountered alien species of any kind, they rushed quickly to defend themselves against this new, mysterious enemy.
The Confederacy launched a clumsy counter attack against the alien fleet as it made its way towards the second Terran planet of Mar Sara. The alien fleet, identifying itself as the Protoss, mysteriously withdrew its forces and spared the colony. Soon afterwards, a second, terrifying alien presence was discovered on the outskirts of Mar Sara. These new, insect-like invaders were very different from the Protoss that attacked the Colony just a short time before.
No Terran agency could account for the disturbing presence of not one, but two strange alien races within their colonies. Overcome by a collective, paranoid terror and encumbered by their own political infighting, the hapless Terran factions could only watch as an ever-increasing tide of alien invaders made their way towards the heart of the war torn Terran Sector.
In celebration of StarCraft’s 10-year anniversary, we’d like to invite every one of you to participate in our “I <3 SC" photo mosaic project, which will be a compilation of photos featuring StarCraft enthusiasts from all around the world. This is your chance to be a part of StarCraft history, as we bring together 10 years worth of StarCraft players from all age groups and nationalities into one massive wall of StarCraft. Image Submission Parameters:
Please take a picture of yourself or your friends including our StarCraft “I <3 SC" image in creative and unique ways. This picture must be in jpeg format, have a resolution of at least 1024 x 768, and be no greater than 2 MB in size. As long as the “I <3 SC" logo is clearly visible, images can be digital photos or third-party generated content. These picture submissions will be used to form a mosaic that will be featured on the official Blizzard website. Read the full contest rules and submission link.
Additionally, submit your entry to Blizzplanet here.
Your submission will be shown to visitors of Blizzplanet at the front page.
Prize: Three lucky participants will receive a Starcraft 2 T-Shirt.
This contest is open only to residents of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States—who do not live in Arizona, Conneticut, North Dakota, Maryland or Vermont; or the Province of Quebec, or residents of the Australian states of victoria, Queensland or the Australian Capital Territory (“Entrants”). IF YOU ARE NOT A RESIDENT OF THESE AREAS YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO WIN A PRIZE. (Read the full contest rules)
|Download “I <3 SC" images:|
SAMPLES OF “I <3 SC" MOSSAIC
I have been in contact with Glynnis in the past months, and as reported recently, she went to the San Diego Comic Con to meet the Blizzard folks there. She had been spearheading her way to get back her role in the past months. Glynnis barely commented on the subject, but finally confirmed her participation in Starcraft II in her August newsletter released today. I do not know how this affect our upcoming interview, or if she will be able to discuss certain details.
A rounds up on the awaited unofficial Starcraft Chronicles CGI Film. J.J. Franzen (Lightning/Rendering Supervisor), known for his credits at South Park and Team America, has nominated Modeling/Animation Supervisors and Project Managers to organize the CGI team . The new Project Manager Fdario will be instructing the modelers and animators with further plans of action, to synch efforts. The storyline of the teaser will be submitted by Critical.Mechanism to the team before the weekend. New Matte Painters have joined the Starcraft CGI film, but more are needed for the next part of the project after the 2 minutes teaser. If you know matte painters, tell them to join up here; or help by posting at your favorite forum, please do so.
Now if those Matte Painters just astonished you, take a look at this video. One of the modelers, bodhisattva, decided to rig the tank model he practiced with on his own, and took video. It is not determined if the model will be the one to be used on the CGI, however this looks like good material to show the fans.
Blizzard Vice-President of Business Operations – Paul Sams – told Gamespot that Blizzard is currently working on various unannounced games hinting that Diablo and Starcraft franchises are among them, and a possible new franchise as well. Read More
Gamespot: ” When asked by GameSpot if the Warcraft universe was all that’s left for the company to mine, chief operating officer Paul Sams said, “No. Absolutely not. We have multiple games in development, currently, they are just not announced? To the outside world—and the reality of it is—we are laser focused on what is the thing right then, but there’s a ton of additional focus being put toward these other [games] that are in development.”
Reflecting on the existing franchises, Sams emphasized, “World of Warcraft and the Warcraft franchise is not the last and the only franchise we are going to operate within. We have two other very, very key franchises to our company’s history and to our company’s future success. The Diablo and Starcraft franchises are of the utmost importance to us as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new franchise from us at some time in the future; there’s certainly a desire to do so.”
Dustin Browder, game design director for EA’s Battle for Middle-earth announced his leave in a few days from EA, and his new position as a Blizzard Employee to be effective on March 14th. Browder will be under the direct work with Rob Pardo on an unveiled game. Browder doesn’t know at this point what game he will be working on, but his great expertise in RTS games, rises few eyebrows in the community. Speculations are starting to arise since the only RTS people can think of is Starcraft 2 or Warcraft IV—which is unlikely. Another speculation heard from fans in many forums is that Blizzard could get Diablo series into an RTS. Browder will be a Senior Designer in Irvine, not in San Francisco.
Blizzard North was known to be working on 2 games until the executives resigned back in June 31, 2003 and later the new vice-president announced that one of the games were shelved after 30 employees resigned a month later. Most of the remaining team was merged with the second game project which is kept in secrecy. Although seeing a Diablo RTS is improbable, we have also to consider that Starcraft—a traditional RTS is now being developed as a Console Shooter gamer and Warcraft RTS game is now a MMORPG—terrain that Blizzard is stepping into for first time. Therefore, with Blizzard you can never know. They are innovative and have no fear to explore new grounds. We will find out soon enough. Dustin Browder was credited for:
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle-Earth (2004)
- Command & Conquer: Generals (2003)
- Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour (2003)
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dominion Wars (2001)
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 (2000)
- Battlezone (1998)
- Vigilante 8 (1998)
- Heavy Gear (1997)
- MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries (1996)
- MechWarrior 2: Ghost Bear’s Legacy (1995)
Read the full article at Gamespy. We submitted this news to SCLegacy as we consider this is a big news of interest to the Starcraft fans. We will try to dig more details after Browder starts his duties at Blizzard. Stay tuned!
Julian Kwasneski started his career in game audio at LucasArts Entertainment Company, and is credited with sound design on several leading LucasArts titles. After leaving the company in 2000, he co-founded The Bay Area Sound Department with Clint Bajakian. Julian has worked on many award-winning game titles, including Starcraft: Ghost, James Bond: Everything or Nothing, Star Trek: Bridge Commander, Star Wars: Jedi Outcast, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and SOCOM: Navy Seals. His consistent sound design has been critically acclaimed by ign.com, epigamer.com, gamezone.com, Computer Gaming World, gamepro.com and others. He also has many independent film credits, including sound design for Big Love (Sundance 2000), The Upgrade (Mill Valley Film Festival 2000), and The Last Birthday Card. He has worked extensively with wireless and Internet audio technologies.
A lot. We are all so familiar with the sounds of the RTS that it would be criminal not to base sounds on those. Still, this is a different type of game, so you can expect to hear a lot of cool new things.
2. Will StarCraft: Ghost have specific soundtrack themes per race, and scenario-based themes?
I am not doing the music, but the ambiences are totally immersive so the player will really feel like they are “in the Space” in each of the locations.
3. Which game out of all of the games you’ve worked on, have you enjoyed creating the most or fills you with satisfaction the most?
I liked Knights of the Old Republic for the diversity of the locations and I loved creating ambiences for the different worlds. Grim Fandango was also very satisfying ambient work (I worked on the ambient beds with my partner Clint Bajakian). Jedi Outcast was cool too and of course, Ghost was a nice new challenge for me.
4. Do you reuse/recycle the old sounds from previous games where applicable, or do you start all sounds of a game from scratch?
On the Star Wars titles I’ve worked on, I always build upon the awesome sounds created by Ben Burtt and I will use the classic sounds from the films as elements to create new sounds. In some cases though, I need to start from scratch if there isn’t sufficient source sound from the movies. For example, while a certain vehicle may only make a brief appearance in a film, it may be a featured vehicle in a game. In these cases I need to recreate the vehicle sounds from scratch. Another example is the Ebon Hawk in Knights of the Old Republic. It is similar to the Millennium Falcon, but it’s way bigger and beefier. I took the Falcon sounds, added new elements like V8 motors, dragsters and thunder and created a similar but different vehicle sound.
5. How did you make those Zerg sounds, do you swallow something and yell; or are they animal sounds added and mixed with some other sounds?
I didn’t actually, these were done by Derek Duke and the Blizzard sound gang and they did an awesome job.
6. Who are the composer(s) of all the songs in Starcraft: Ghost and their career background(if available)?
7. I assume you are involved in both voice sound editing, and sound effects of Starcraft: Ghost from what I have heard. Are you backed up by more people? Or is this a solo job?
I am doing the majority of the sound design though Derek Duke and the sound team at Blizzard have done an awesome job on all the creature sounds and many other sound effects.
8. I was wondering this one when I looked upon that Goliath model. How on Earth did you go about getting sounds for something that huge? It is hard to “recreate” I guess.
We’re still working on it, but I drew upon large machinery and hydraulics recordings and thunderous metallic foot impacts. It’s really fun to drive!
I am all Mac-based using a Digidesign Pro Tools TDM system with loads of plugins including everything from Waves as well and Kantos, Pitch’n Time, Bias Peak, etc. In my opinion, Digi is the only way to go. Expensive, yes. But you step into any major studio on the planet and you’ll see Pro Tools. It’s rock solid and sounds incredible.
2. Voice acting, do you normally get a batch of wave files from Blizzard studio and they want you to work with those?
Yes. I will get large batches of edited voice files and will process them to sound the way they should. I have different processes for each group of characters…the Marines sound one way, radio briefings sound another and Nova has a sound all her own.
3. What hardware do you use for voice editing?
I use Pro Tools to get the regions (files) in the ball park. Sometimes this means adding a little EQ or compression or simply a global gain change to get them to healthy levels. Then I use Bias Peak to trim them nice and tight and for the final mastering.
4. What hardware do you use for recording sounds? Do you actually go out into the wild outdoors and record stuff?
I use a Tascam DA-P1 DAT deck to do mobile recording with a variety of mics depending on what I’m doing. I absolutely get outdoors and record things. The only way to get a game to sound unique is to use unique sounds. We’ve all heard most of those library sounds a few times now and though they have their place, I like to roll my own.
5. In Starcraft: Ghost, How much of sound effects are computer generated? And how much are real recordings? Elaborate.
Some of the Protoss sounds are synth generated or some kind of other processing like granular synthesis, etc. The vast majority of what I’ve done to-date have been real-world sounds.
Digidesign Pro Tools and Bias Peak are my main tools. I use them for everything.
I am a member of GANG, the Game Audio Network Guild (www.audiogang.org); but other than that, I am honestly just too busy to get involved in a lot of different organizations (though I’d love to).
Not much to tell. Blizzard hired some real pros, they just do what they do and have great creative direction.
2. How do you go about just cleaning up and preparing for recording a simple humanoid voice? Mention examples(units–Marines, Templar, Zealot, etc.):
I didn’t record the voice, Blizzard handled that.
3. How do you get realistic effects? I doubt you bang pots and pans together.
I record things that make the types of sounds I want and combine them. It takes a lot of trial and error and often you have to leave something and come back to it if it’s just not working. It’s kind of like music….like a guitar solo. When you’re ripping a lead, your mind is slightly ahead of where you are playing. You know where you want to go and how you want that note to sound….when it happens, you go, “Ahhhh, that’s it”. Sound is the same. I see an animation and I instantly know how it should sound. The tough part is matching what’s in my head. That’s where experience comes in handy. Like a chef who knows what two things make a nice spicy sauce, I have my bag of tricks. Still, there’s often nothing better than a fresh take on something. I often run my sounds by friends and colleagues.
Check out GANG, the Game Audio Network Guild. If it’s not there, you will find out where to look for it.
Advice on how to make it into the industry
2. I hear that you did not have a specific College education for this line of work. How exactly did you get in then? How can a young guy, like any of the fans, make it into LucasArt, BioWare and Blizzard? –This is to show fans that they don’t need to spend thousands on a College degree to be a professional in the industry. You are the role model with a great career and testimony. All you need is the talent and the guts.
Oh boy…well…there is nothing that prepares you for life like a college education. But you are correct, I did not study sound design or anything related to it. In Junior High and High School I played with synths and ganged tape decks together to make my own poor man’s multi-track recorder. In college I was in a band (and still am to this day) with my cousin and we did all kinds of sequencing. I also saw many films and would notice the details of the sound. When I graduated I worked for several Real Estate developers and was miserable. I was a stock broker with Merrill Lynch for a year, got my series 7 license and I was miserable. I even went to law school briefly and was also miserable. I ended up getting a waiting/bartending job and pursued my passion at the time which was recording, mixing and playing music.
I worked in several studios (for free) to get exposure. I bought a bunch of gear and recorded bands on my own. I wanted a job at Lucasarts and eventually found my way in as a temp in product support. I quickly advanced and got hired into the Voice department and from there, the Sound department where I absorbed everything I could. I’m sure I am being too modest so I should add that I obviously had some talent and a good ear. I kept working on numerous titles before leaving to form my own company with Clint Bajakian who was a real pioneer in game audio and a mentor of mine while at Lucasarts. I really enjoyed working there, but I wanted more variety…and I got it. You know what they say, be careful what you ask for….
2. If you could go back, how would you have changed your approach to getting into the industry?
Hmmmm…..I don’t look back. I am happy with everything I got to experience, the good and the bad.
3. Will recent technologies influence how to get noticed? Is internet a good way? Or maybe game developers hardly need new fresh sound engineers anymore, because they have all they need with Veteran engineers?
Just be persistent and get good with whatever tools you can get your hands on. I scored all the cinematics for Outlaws with a 4 channel Deck system on a Mac Quadra 650. You need to really push sometimes, and you may not always get paid….but if you stick to it, and you’re good, you’ll make it.
4. Do game designers find you, or do you find game designers in this phase of your career? Who contacts who?
Both really. I am fortunate to be friends with a lot of my clients. Sound is really a collaborative art to me and I enjoy the back and forth that often results in a great soundtrack. I am not one of those sound guys who knows everything and who take complete ownership. I’ll stand my ground when I need to, but you never know when that next brilliant idea will get suggested.
5. Have you ever considered writing some tutorials on getting started in sound creation? The web is strangely silent on the topic.
Yes, but it’s a lot of work and I tend to work 60+ hour weeks and I like to see my wife and son from time to time.
It’s all fun and I am lucky to be doing what I love to do. I am also lucky in that I work in my own studio, free from water coolers and senseless meetings. If I work a 10 hour day, it’s 9.5 hours of pure sound work. It also doesn’t hurt to be in a company with other people to share the heavy lifting. Still, I am pretty particular about what I am after and often can only get the sound I want by doing it myself.
2. Do you have a lot of competition in the business?
Absolutely and it keeps getting more intense. But I should add that a lot of the competition are my friends. I don’t play dirty pool…you win some, you lose some. It’s a business at the end of the day.
3. Why haven’t movie directors contacted you more often?
Movie directors don’t often play games. They also don’t move in the same circles game audio people are in (GDC, E3, etc)…though this is changing. I have done sound for quite a few short or independent films, but game audio is interesting in one respect. The skills we game audio folk rely on to score games are directly applicable to doing film work but it is not the same in reverse. While there are a lot of people who do both game and movie sound, most of the film people I have worked with had a tough time with the technical limitations of games. Short loops, 28 sample boundaries, memory budgets, sample rate conversion and the lack of a consistent linear playback can be overwhelming, even for those of us who do this every day. I should add that I like doing game sound. I like the challenges and I like the payoffs. If I wanted to do film sound, I would do film sound.
4. Have you ever done a voice acting yourself or played a role as an actor? 🙂
Only in small roles, like a single line for a computer or something. My recorded voice sucks!
5. Have you ever checked out the modding of games, and what do you think of their sound level?
To be honest, I haven’t…but I would love to if I had the time.
6. What are your favorite games?
This is like asking what my favorite song is, it’s just not a question I can answer. There’s too many.
Well thanks for sharing many tips and info to the fans. Many Modding Sound Editors out there are grateful to sharing questions with you and get some feedback that can teach them more about your career and that may direct them through the right tracks into the Game industry. We appreciate your time and dedication during the interview, and will keep tabs on your future projects and your sound editing organization.
|Helpful links for Modders and Sound Editors:
Digidesign Pro Tools TDM system
Below are links with information, and details about this tool. You will find links to download it too.
Antares Kantos 1.0 plugin
List of Hardware and Software you may find in a Studio:
Serrato Pitch’n Time 2.0
BIAS Peak — the world’s most popular stereo audio editing
Tascam – DA-P1 DAT Deck