《星際爭霸》的過去,現在與未來

作家:Megan Farokhmanesh

在90年代的時候,Chris Metzen想出了一個新遊戲理念。而對於還處於發展階段的暴雪娛樂來說,那幾年是屬於重要的形成期。那時候只有1994年發行的《魔獸爭霸》,還沒有《魔獸世界》。那時候的主流趨勢是實時策略遊戲,而該公司也非常擅於這方面,並且他們也希望能夠引領這一趨勢的發展。

作爲故事和授權開發部門的高級副總監的Metzen和作爲藝術與音頻開發部門的現今副總監的Nick Carpenter一起致力於這個全新理念中。這是一個科幻故事—-即發生在擁有一個巨大的世界幷包含不同派別的遙遠宇宙上。

這是關於太空吸血鬼的故事。

Metzen說道:“我們的其他團隊成員的反應是,‘我不懂,太空吸血鬼太古怪了。我們爲什麼不創造一些較正常的內容。’”

直到2013年《暴雪的藝術》發行時,我們才知道《Bloodlines》這款遊戲,並且它也影響着暴雪之後的遊戲—-主要是《魔獸世界》。Metzen(也是暴雪)最終決定投入一個全新的RTS項目中。大部分遊戲概念是關於三大種族;而找到這三個種族間的平衡便能夠定義它的特性。它們的文化是什麼?它們是如何在戰鬥中相互聯繫?它們的戰鬥風格是什麼?它們是如何重新創造單位?

這些都是《Bloodlines》並未考慮到的問題。而暴雪也將全新項目命名爲《星際爭霸》,與之前的名字很相近。

Metzen在聽到這個名字的反應是:“星際爭霸?你說真的嗎?跟魔獸爭霸相似的星際爭霸?”

“那時候的我並未參與進去。我也不喜歡《暗黑破壞神》。但這並不代表它就不有趣。它們只是具有相同點。我也不能想象如果它未變成今天我們看到的《星際爭霸》的話會是怎樣的情況。”

《星際爭霸》真的擁有很長的發展史,即跨越了17年。而隨着《星際爭霸2:虛空之遺》的發行,暴雪總結了Jim Raynor和Sarah Kerrigan的故事以及2010年首次問世的這三部曲內容。

比起想出《Bloodlines》這個遊戲理念的Chris Metzen,2015年的Metzen變成了一個更聰明,更年長,同時也更冷靜的人。現在的他已經是暴雪的元老級人物,這與他在1994年剛進入該公司時的作家角色真的相差甚遠。

StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void(from polygon)

StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void(from polygon)

Metzen描述過去的自己就是一個普通的作家。他也強調:“現在的我還是這樣,”即那種努力想要將更多角色和細節呈現在最終作品上的作家。那時的他只是一個年僅19歲的孩子,迫切地想要證明自己的能力。他希望讓朋友能夠爲自己感到驕傲,並希望能讓爸爸放心地卸下自己的重擔。

Metzen回想過去並說道:“當我們開發了第一款《星際爭霸》時,我還是作爲電子遊戲產業中的一名小小的作家。對於那時候的電子遊戲產業,一名作家到底能夠做些什麼呢?我並不能找到其它相似的先例。”

“而我擁有了所有可以證明這點的東西。我們的團隊也是如此。”

比起現在暴雪的團隊規模,那時候我們的團隊還很小,大概只有50名成員。這是一個非常嚴謹的社區。週四的時候,10至20名來自不同地方的羣組成員會聚集在一家當地酒吧Patsy一起K歌。雖然我們唱的都不好,但這卻是讓團隊成員交流並放鬆的機會。

Metzen提到正是在那時候他遇到了Chris Sigaty(遊戲邦注:現在作爲《星際爭霸》的執行製作人)。那時候的Sigaty是《星際爭霸》主要測試員。Metzen回想起那時候對他的印象就是“很高,還很嚴肅。”因爲那時的Sigaty是在QA部門,所以他們兩個見面的機會很少。不過最終他們一起參與了《魔獸爭霸3》的創造。

Metzen將Sigaty描述爲“金屬之神”,即比起遊戲開發者,他更適合舞臺,因爲那時的他留着搖滾愛好者中很常見的長髮。但現在Sigaty的形象已經不是這樣的,現在的他是一個帶着輕柔語調,並且坐着的時候會雙手交叉的人。他的語調緩慢而有分寸,就像一個充滿耐心的父親一樣—-而他的確就是。

和Metzen一樣,Sigaty也是走了很長的一段路纔到達這裏。他是在20歲的時候參與了《星際爭霸》項目,這也是他的第一份工作。即當他還在南加州大學的一個夏天,爲了賺取生活費的他找到了一份測試工作。他也表示那時候作爲超級宅男的自己深陷於遊戲世界的魅力中。儘管他並未接受過正式的訓練也不是主修相關專業,他還是爲了找到更適合遊戲領域的工作而改變了自己的目標。

QA並不是一份簡單的工作。他便曾經歷過幾個晚上爲了跟上較快的遊戲開發節奏而睡在辦公室的地板上。

Sigaty說道:“我記得那時候的自己就像在迎接呼嘯而來的旋風似的。那是一段非常特別的時期。”

Metzen也對此作出了迴應,但卻是基於一種不同的方式。他表示,暴雪是一艘很容易駕駛的船隻。一旦他們明確了方向,他們便會啓程。“

Metzen說道:“那時候,我會說,‘嘿,讓我們創造一款太空遊戲吧!’那是一段非常單純簡單的時期。”

Metzen將那段時間描述爲“大金剛”。也就是說在那個時期的電子遊戲中,故事所扮演的角色與今天是不同的。Metzen是伴隨着《龍與地下城》和Marvel所創造的世界長大。他渴望能夠挖掘一些更深入的理念。而當他們團隊開始撒下《星際爭霸》的種子時,他的這種感受也更加強烈。

他們很快便確定了《星際爭霸》的核心理念。它是關於三大種族,Metzen說道:“一個是超自然的,一個是爬行類的,還有一個是高科技的。”也就是古老的Protoss,代表人類的Terrans以及蟲族Zerg。

Metzen說道:“我想幾乎所有人在看到它時便知道我們創造的是怎樣的遊戲。‘這聽起來就好像我們已經清楚下一步是什麼,’即基於我們準備創造的內容以及我們所擁有的能力。”

當然了,《星際爭霸》並非暴雪的第一款實時策略遊戲,但這卻是暴雪邁向更復雜世界的一大步。它從《魔獸爭霸》的兩個種族中發展到三個種族。並且這些種族中的角色也與玩家之前看到的不同,每個種族都有自己的策略和遊戲風格。這對於該公司來說是全新且大膽的嘗試。

不幸的是,粉絲們在一開始並不是這麼想的。

statue of Jim Raynor(from polygon)

statue of Jim Raynor(from polygon)

《星際爭霸》標誌着暴雪從《魔獸爭霸》的幻想世界中開始轉移。緊隨着《魔獸爭霸2》的發行,該工作室必須做出選擇。他們可以繼續創造《魔獸爭霸3》,就像粉絲所期待的那樣,或者他們也可以在RTS遊戲領域中嘗試一些不同的內容。

在第一款《星際爭霸》中,暴雪使用了他們在《魔獸爭霸》中使用的引擎,但卻是基於不同的圖像。暴雪的首席執行官同時也是聯合創始人Mike Morhaime回想到,當團隊打包了遊戲的早前版本並將其帶到1996年的E3展會時,粉絲們根本就不買單。

“我們展示了這款遊戲,但是所有人看到它時都說,‘哦,這就像是太空中的半獸人。’而這並不是我們所期待的反應。”

帶着受傷的自尊,暴雪重新開始計劃。遊戲的引擎需要得到強化,團隊也需要重新思考一款太空RTS遊戲到底該是怎樣的。單純改造《魔獸爭霸》是不可能成功的。

雖然《星際爭霸》系列是基於主角Jim Raynor和Sarah Kerrigan的關係展開,但在一開始並不存在這種動態化。Chris Metzen最初希望Raynor能夠作爲一個比起牛仔更傾向太空的太空牛仔。而Kerrigan的背景則較爲明朗。暴雪是以花樣滑冰運動員Nancy Kerrigan的名字爲該角色命名(遊戲邦注:Nancy Kerrigan曾遭遇競爭對手Tonya Harding男友的攻擊而受了重傷)。但是這一選擇卻剛好對上了競爭遊戲《命令與征服》及其角色Tanya。

Metzen解釋道:“大聲說出這點可能聽起來會很荒謬,因爲這一點都不酷。”

“那時候Tonya Harding和Nancy Kerrigan的事件在花樣滑冰界引起了巨大的轟動。而我們選擇使用這個名字時只是覺得這很有趣。但其實這是很愚蠢的做法!”

Kerrigan成爲太空牛仔Raynor隱祕的心靈武士。當Metzen嘗試着體驗這兩個角色之間的動態元素時,他逐漸發現早前的架構能夠構建這個系列內容。

Metzen說道:“在這麼多年後,特別是考慮到《星際爭霸2》的寬度時,我們有趣地發現他們之間的動態元素真的很有意義。這便是《星際爭霸》的核心。但在一開始這並不是一個重要理念。我們是在之後的過程中領悟到這一點。你們也會發現這些理念真正定義了這些遊戲及其故事。所以一開始我們並不需要一個巨大的理念。它們總是會隨着時間的發展以及遊戲的發展而不斷完善。”

就像Kerrigan進化成Queen of Blades等更大的理念也是在之後纔出現的。

Metzen說道:“在成長過程中我閱讀了許多有關托爾(遊戲邦注:北歐神話中司雷,戰爭及農業的神)的故事—-Stan Lee或Walt Simonson所處的時期也是我最喜歡的時期。就像我爲Zerg創造了莎士比亞與舊約的相遇這樣的氛圍。但是我還是需要人類角色,所以便延伸出了Terran活動,而我們也再一次地在這裏遇到了這些連接點。”

最終,在粉絲的翹首期盼下,《星際爭霸》於1998年發行了。《星際爭霸》社區中一羣粉絲隨之開始編寫有關他們如何期盼遊戲的文章,同時也分享了有關遊戲狀態的一些異想天開的理念。

Morhaime說道:“他們想出了許多有關遊戲真正該如何進行的理論。但是我和其他成員還是繼續堅持我們的遊戲理論,因爲我們擁有自己的計劃。他們將自己的行動稱爲‘再也等不下去了’。並且他們會開始在我們的工作室周圍遊走並在晚上拍下停車場裏還有多少輛汽車的照片。”

Morhaime在回想起這些粉絲時表示,當時真的很害怕他們爬進公司。他真的是非常真摯地在講這個故事,而這也解釋了暴雪爲什麼會決定在最初的《星際爭霸》中添加“快速建造”作弊碼。但在那時候,暴雪已經擁有良好的聲譽。如果說《星際爭霸》讓公衆認識了該公司,那麼《暗黑破壞神》則讓暴雪成爲一家強調優化的公司—-甚至在今天這也仍流淌在他們開發者的血液中。

當《星際爭霸》發行時,它對暴雪的貢獻是基於不同方面。這是一款將暴雪帶向國際市場的遊戲,這也是暴雪的第一款電子競技遊戲。並且這款遊戲是從韓國起步的。

Morhaime說道:“在引領着世界電子競技遊戲的韓國,這款遊戲迎來了發展的最高潮,甚至有三個有線電視頻道在宣傳《星際爭霸》。而這也是我們之前從未預料到的情況。”

“在今天,作爲《星際爭霸》最初版本的《星際爭霸:母巢之戰》仍然是韓國最受歡迎的遊戲之一。它也向我們證實了世界各地人們對於暴雪的遊戲擁有巨大的興趣。所以對於《星際爭霸》之後的遊戲我們都面向韓國市場進行了本土化調整。”

如今,暴雪的一大核心目標便是面向全球市場,即考慮將全世界的玩家當成是暴雪的“一級公民”。

2012年,前研發部門副總監Patrick Wyatt(遊戲邦注:之後離開了暴雪並創建了ArenaNet,即《激戰》的創造者)發佈了一系列詳細描述《星際爭霸1》的開發細節的文章。

在接受Polygon的訪問時,他談論到了他們公司早前爲《星際爭霸》設定的方向:他表示這款遊戲最初只是一個一年項目。他說道,他們團隊打算爲1996年的E3展會準備些東西。但是結果“並不盡人意”。多虧了那時候還沒有社交媒體,暴雪並未因爲遊戲而遭受“猛烈抨擊”,但是該團隊還是對此感到鬱悶。他也將部分原因歸咎到競爭遊戲Ion Storm的《Dominion: Storm over Gift 3》身上。

他說道:“比起我們的遊戲,《Dominion Storm》更有野心。而我們的聲譽是源自我們在自己的領域所創造的開創性的遊戲,我們所創造的是真正具有抱負的遊戲。”

“這便是我們所創造的《星際爭霸》。我們之所以會繼續創造這款遊戲是因爲我們的母公司覺得我們需要繼續製造產品,而不是因爲我們非常熱愛它。比起個人原因這更多地傾向於工作原因。”

Mike Morhaime在迴應Wyatt對於這一故事的評價時說道,《星際爭霸》最初的規劃是花一年時間進行開發,但是結果我們卻投入了更多時間。他也推翻了暴雪原先將《星際爭霸》作爲一個填充項目的想法。

他說道:“從一開始,《星際爭霸》就是我的主要支柱之一。我們所有人都是瘋狂的科幻題材粉絲,並希望能夠創造這類型遊戲。我們意識到比起嘗試特定的發行內容,創造一款真正優秀的遊戲更重要,於是我們便投入時間去創造《星際爭霸》並認真構造這個世界,三大種族和遊戲玩法,直至它們都達到我們所設定的標準。”

實際上,暴雪也糾正了原先的計劃,但是有關《星際爭霸》的改變並不是一觸即發;首先,暴雪必須先發行《暗黑破壞神》。而當他們重新恢復《星際爭霸》的開發工作時,Wyatt表示整支團隊已經因爲《暗黑破壞神》長期且高強度的工作而精疲力竭。而《星際爭霸》的許多內容都需要重新創造—-即按照Wyatt的估算,爲了支持替換後的系統,他們需要調整90%至95%的內容。所以團隊成員需要再次應對高強度的工作,雖然Wyatt對於自己在暴雪中的工作感到自豪,但是在回憶時他說道:“我們真的是很辛苦地在做這些工作。”

在回想當時的情況時他說道:“犧牲是必要的。我們都不自覺地投入這個我們想要完成的理念中。但是在面對整個過程時我們卻顯得心有餘而力不足。對於創造這款遊戲我們都充滿熱情。我們希望這會是一款出色的遊戲,但同時我們也爲此承受着巨大的壓力。”

Wyatt在2000年離開暴雪,他也表示,正是在那時候暴雪開始做出改變。迫切需要發行遊戲的想法被投入儘可能多的時間去創造真正出色的遊戲的想法所取代了。

他說道:“直到我們開始投入《星際爭霸》時,我們才真正開始內部化整個公司所獲取的經驗教訓。”

Chris Metzen說道:“我不記得我們是從幾年前開始創造《星際爭霸2》了。可能是在10年前?天哪。”

當2007年《星際爭霸2》對外發布公告時,那時的遊戲領域已經和最早之前出現了巨大的區別。《星際爭霸》本身便是一個非常受歡迎的內容。而隨着《魔獸爭霸2》和《魔獸爭霸3》,《暗黑破壞神2》以及引人注目的《魔獸世界》的出現,暴雪的陣容也不斷擴大着。而當《星際爭霸》續集出現在韓國的暴雪全球精英賽時,人們將全部視線都轉向了這款遊戲。

在首爾舉辦的這場活動非常完美。當Morhaime上臺並發表公告時,臺下的人羣發出了熱烈的歡呼。遊戲的預告片在黑暗中展開,當Raynor出現時人們又一次尖叫起來。當他再一次開口說話時,整個體育場瞬間被高分貝的歡呼聲掩蓋住。

而當時與現在的《星際爭霸》以及暴雪這家公司的區別已經大大超越這樣歡呼的人羣或已發行的遊戲列表。暴雪清楚自己是誰,想要做什麼,並且想要將時間投入於哪裏。他們也對設計,編寫,創造更大型的遊戲充滿信心。

Metzen說道:“我們的志向變得更大,並回到了《星際爭霸》中。比起只是呈現出彼此大叫的角色的畫面,我們希望它們變得更加真實。也許有些人會覺得我們扯太遠了。但我們知道自己是與衆不同的開發者。這也推動着我們去思考一些更大且更有遠見的內容。”

“比起我們之前的嘗試,《星際爭霸2》便擁有更突出的敘述內容。所以當你問我們改變了什麼時,我的回答是全部。我們想要儘可能地創造出一個最大且最瘋狂的科幻內容。這也是我們一直嘗試着去做的事。”

粉絲們很快便會注意到《星際爭霸2》有多厲害。在2008年的暴雪嘉年華中,暴雪公開了《星際爭霸2》將以三部曲的形式呈現出來—-即包括三個部分並且每個部分都將側重不同的種族。

《星際爭霸2》一開始並不是如此。當暴雪確定了故事內容時,他們便意識到將這些內容整合到一款遊戲中是不合適的。所以他們決定去分解它,並提供給每個種族各自發展的空間。

說實話,玩家並未對該消息感到興奮。反而他們在Kotaku和GameSpot等網站上表達了自己的種種擔憂與失望。

Chris Sigaty表示,《星際爭霸2》已經按照團隊想要的方式發展了,但是那時候,他們也“清楚地”聽到了反饋。他指出因爲第一款遊戲的成功讓玩家對此充滿期待,而這也是出現這種反應的部分原因。

Sigaty說道:“我們儘自己所能添加了部分內容,但還是有人提供給我們負面反饋。我希望這種情況只是暫時的。重要的是,那時候的我們覺得《星際爭霸》已經可以發行了。”

對於暴雪是否考慮再次進行分解是未定的。Sigaty表示這將取決於公司想要通過這款遊戲達到怎樣的目的。

他說道:“對於我們來說這很重要。這可能又是我們要面對的一個大問題,但這也是‘我們嘗試着通過下個產品所實現的,’不管該產品是什麼。”

在回憶《星際爭霸2》的第一部分《自由之翼》時,Metzen既感到自豪又表現出了作家們常有的自我討厭的心態。爲了爲《虛空之遺》做好準備,他在幾周前又重新進入了《自由之翼》中。而這段懷舊旅程遇到了一些麻煩。

Metzen說道:“天哪,這個在之前看來多棒啊。但是現在卻如此糟糕。”

在所有的故事線中,未能達到標準的便是Raynor嚴重的酗酒問題。Metzen想要呈現的任務是Raynor能夠基於某種方式不斷髮展,甚至是在玩家成功完成目標時。雖然人們最終可能會受傷,但最後Raynor還是會克服自己內心的惡魔並獲得救贖。

Metzen說道:“那時候我們團隊的反應是,‘爲什麼要這樣?這是不必要的。’‘我只是想清楚地看清一切。我想要在一開始就感受到這樣。’這是完全可行的。如果我能夠編寫有關這一內容的小說,它一定會很棒。”

“但是在爲遊戲創造故事時,你必須記得人們只是想要擁有強大的感受。如果在你的遊戲玩法的前幾分鐘,在故事線的前幾個任務中,你的感受並不好,你便不會願意再玩下去。”

他繼續說道,儘管還有一些問題存在,他還是很高興看到自己所添加的內容。爲遊戲編寫內容並不輕鬆,而致力於創作中可能會一而再再而三地讓你感到難過。

他表示:“這便是作家。我們總是會有爲什麼那時候這聽起來是個不錯的理念的想法?但同時,這些內容在之後看來卻像是未加工過的一樣。。它不一定要像莎士比亞筆下的內容一樣。它不用達到最完美的狀態。我們只是想竭盡所能去創造這樣的內容而已。”

“你不可能什麼都做到最完美。你只可能通過熱情不斷前進。”

《自由之翼》是Metzen想要創造的許多主題和故事的靈感來源。但有時候也會製造一些阻礙。

Metzen說道:“回想過去所寫的內容,我發現有許多讓我感到尷尬的內容。不管那真的是糟糕的內容,還是當時對我來說很重要的理念—-只是當我回首時我會覺得自己的想法都顯露無疑,而在當時追逐主題或故事的時刻對我來說真的很重要。但我還是對於自己採取的每一步感到非常驕傲。這是真的。因爲在那時候這就像非常純粹的藝術一樣。”

當《虛空之遺》於11月10日發行時,它是帶着暴雪爲該系列遊戲所規劃的三部分體驗問世的。這是《星際爭霸2》的Protoss章節,即主要關於《母巢之戰》中的Artanis展開。而這款遊戲業是對於該系列遊戲中一些重要問題以及基礎故事的歸結。

Chris Metzen說道:“關於Protoss,這些將在《虛空之遺》中完結的主題是從一開始便存在着的。它們基於各種方式構建了《星際爭霸2》的整體故事。很久以前在宇宙中存在一個黑暗勢力操控着所有的這些活動,這是我們必須處理的問題。而我們的英雄將爲此做出許多犧牲。這始終是遊戲的核心,甚至在幾年前這便是遊戲的唯一故事線。”

Metzen是最初《星際爭霸》幕後的重要力量,但自從《自由之翼》誕生以來,他在《星際爭霸2》的角色便被大大削弱了。他在公司中的工作轉變讓他需要承擔更多責任並處理更多問題,從而導致他在面對鍵盤的時間大大減少了。

在《自由之翼》的大部分基礎工作完成後,剩下便是Andy Chambers的工作了。故事和創意開發部門總監James Waugh作爲《虛空之遺》的首席作家只提供了一些情節節奏。

2008年成爲首席故事開發者的Waugh從未想過自己會成爲一名電子遊戲作家。他是來自電影產業,在那裏他做了10年的開發主管與編劇的工作。但是他與《星際爭霸》的關係卻可以追溯到大四那年,那時候他選擇了自己的第一款遊戲。Waugh回家並開始玩他的全新遊戲,之後他花了好幾個小時去研究遊戲的指南,也就是Metzen所編寫的一頁頁的內容。

Waugh表示在他待在電影產業的日子裏,他也非常喜歡玩遊戲。並且他對將《星際爭霸》等遊戲帶到大熒幕的想法充滿興趣。而最終他獲得了在暴雪工作的機會,而他在這裏的第一份工作便是作爲《自由之翼》的作家。

他說道:“一開始我是否真的想要成爲一名電子遊戲作家?剛畢業的時候我甚至不知道還存在這樣的職業。我認爲這是一個不斷改變的產業,而電子遊戲也成爲了一種有效的故事敘述載體。所以我最終選擇了這裏。”

Waugh也對自己從瀏覽電子遊戲指南到爲遊戲史詩的最後章節收官感到驚訝。在今天,他將自己稱爲敘述內容的傳遞者,即引導着遊戲系列中的世界和角色的創造。

在編寫《虛空之遺》時,Waugh和暴雪遇到了一個有趣的挑戰。不管是在《自由之翼》還是《蟲羣之心》,Raynor和Kerrigan都提供給了玩家觀察故事發展的鏡頭。但是《虛空之遺》卻缺少了這樣的角度,因爲暴雪並不想破壞玩家的Protoss體驗。

Waugh說道:“如果能夠將角色與遊戲玩家真正維繫在一起的話最好了,即找到與我們的體驗相關的共性和故事弧—-同時也不會讓他們覺得太現實。我們仍然需要找到一種方法去傳達這樣的事實,即這是一個與我們現在不同的古老的種族,但最終他們其實也是關於人性某一面的體現。”

《虛空之遺》的故事主要是關於“本位主義”和“集體主義”的區別,他們也一直在努力尋找兩者間的平衡。而對於遊戲主角Artanis,《虛空之遺》則是關於領導的壓力。

Waugh說道:“也許成爲領導者聽起來是件很棒的事,因爲他能夠將各個Protoss派系集合在一起。但事實上領導者也需要承擔着巨大的壓力。我想在這點上人類便能夠產生共鳴了。”

Artanis的工作既包括引導人們前進,也包括對抗遊戲中可怕且強大的壞人Amon。在《母巢之戰》中就有Amon了,Waugh表示,早在《星際爭霸2》開始前這個角色便在他們的計劃中了。

在提到Amon時Waugh說道:“這非常像撒旦的故事。這是一個有可能成爲好人的角色,但是之後你會意識到事實並非如此。最後他變成了過去中的一份子,即掉進了無限的循環中。而他會發現這並不是自己想要的,所以他要摧毀這樣的循環。他想要破壞所有的一切。在他心中,他便是自己故事中的英雄。”

Amon是一個很難創造的反派角色,畢竟當關於他們的最有趣的內容是力量時,所有的一切也就變得無趣了。在早前的設定中他其實是一個蠻單調的角色。雖然在團隊內部大家都知道他的動機是什麼,但是在遊戲中玩家卻很難判斷出來。

Waugh說道:“我真的認爲遊戲中的主角與他的對手一樣出色。在很多方面,Amon就像是基於不同主題的Artanis。在那裏Artanis遇到了巨大的壓力並意識到世界上存在許多問題,並且存在一種方法能夠解決這些問題,但是Amon卻決定去破壞該方法。”

“我認爲真正的問題在於尋找這個負面角色的人性。即爲什麼他要做這些事。”

而關於暴雪是否成功塑造了Amon或Artanis的角色還是有待觀察。但不管怎樣暴雪還是繼續向前發展着。隨着《虛空之遺》的結束,開發者將把注意力轉向全新的機遇。

暴雪多次聲明《虛空之遺》將終結《星際爭霸》的故事。但是直到現在他們才表明,這款遊戲也爲這系列注入了新鮮血液:受故事驅動的可下載內容。即作爲三部曲中的其中一部,作爲terran族的Nova本來是作爲被塵封的《星際爭霸:幽靈》中的主角,但之後她還是出現在了《自由之翼》中。

暴雪將新擴展包稱爲《星際爭霸2:Nova的祕密行動》。James Waugh擔任內容故事總監,而Valerie Watrous則負責內容的編寫。Waugh表示他們的目標是將Nova與Kerrigan區分開來,因爲粉絲們總是能從他們身上找到許多共同點。

他說道:“我們認爲Nova是一個非常與衆不同的角色。在Nova身上,我們總是覺得自己身處一個如何成爲一名好士兵的故事中。她是一名軍事刺客,不過有時候她的角色也會變得很混亂。”

“這是一款有關選擇的遊戲,這也非常符合Nova是誰的主題,我認爲當我們完成遊戲時,我們便能夠將Nova帶到一個比過去更強大的位置上。”

儘管從未擁有一款真正關於自己的遊戲,但是Nova還是擁有一批熱衷的粉絲。在2013年的暴雪嘉年華上,開發者便展示了《風暴英雄》的影片,而在這裏像Jim Raynor和Nova等英雄將對抗Kerrigan和《暗黑破壞神》。

Chris Metzen說道:“讓Nova出現在《風暴英雄》中是很簡單的事。我記得當影片開始播放時,Nova出現並開始戲弄Kerrigan時,整個房間瞬間沸騰了起來。”

Metzen本身便非常喜歡Nova,他是這麼描述Nova一天的冒險的,“這絕對是我們夢想做的事。”Chris Sigaty也表示認同,他說Nova是一個非常吸引人且複雜的角色。但是該開發者還是警告玩家不要期待Nova的全新故事能夠填補《星際爭霸:幽靈》所創造的空缺。暴雪表示他們不會再從最初的故事中提取任何內容。

Sigaty在提及《Nova的祕密行動》時說道:“我們專注於一個更加內在的故事,並且擁有較爲黑暗的氛圍。到目前爲止我們一直專注於銀行上的衝突以及銀河故事。而現在我們想要探索一些更加接地氣的內容。”

Nova(from polygon)

Nova(from polygon)

但是最重要的是,來自《Nova的祕密行動》中的內容並不是關於Nova本身。暴雪表示《星際爭霸2》還未完成,該公司仍計劃去探索之前從未嘗試過的方法。對於Nova還有很多可挖掘的故事,或者他們也可以轉向《星際爭霸》宇宙中的其他角色。從內部看來,暴雪仍會繼續維持《星際爭霸2》的團隊。

對於暴雪來說,轉向更頻繁的內容便是一大改變。他們是先從《風暴英雄》開始這樣的改變,即這款遊戲每隔幾周便會推出一些新內容。

Sigaty說道:“這完全,且根本改變了我們的工作方式。我們意識到了完成一個特定的英雄圖像需要花費多長時間以及我們需要進行多少次迭代才能將英雄安置於一個適當的未知數—-而這與現在的《星際爭霸2》所經歷的過程是完全一樣的。”

在團隊完成《虛空之遺》的同時,他們也仍致力於《星際爭霸2》的全新內容。而這種全新轉變的部分內容便包括從不可預期的來源(如好萊塢)和電視世界中獲取靈感。Sigaty便表示《權力遊戲》便帶給了他們許多內容靈感。

Sigaty在提及遊戲時說道:“這就像是一種奢侈的老方法,但是我認爲它能夠讓我們更出色地完成這項工作。這對於我們來說就是一種改變。”

“我們將發行我們一年又一年所創造的內容。我們將看到這會帶來怎樣的結果。而這也將帶給作爲開發者的我們不同的激勵作用。”

根據Waugh,暴雪宣稱在《Nova的祕密行動》之後,《星際爭霸》的內容將由科幻小說作家Timothy Zahn進行編寫。他表示故事的方向還未100%確定,但這卻能夠讓人們預測到這款遊戲之後的發展趨向。

《星際爭霸》的未來將會更加廣闊。隨着11月10日《虛空之遺》的發行,暴雪將能夠探索策略領域以外更廣闊的遊戲世界—-不管是方法還是遊戲類型。

等到《虛空之遺》完成時,這個發展了多年的神話故事也將回到原點。而影響着該系列遊戲的巨大沖突也將被終結。這也將再次爲暴雪創造一個全新的遊戲空間。Metzen說道,儘管現在他不再親自參與項目的製作,但是在暴雪中人們還是對《星際爭霸》的發展感到興奮。

Metzen說道:“這就像是在開闊的高速公路上行駛一樣。說實話,從《星際爭霸1》以來,我們好像一直都拖着這些巨大的理念棚車在行走,並且在很久以前我們便創造了一個巨大的理念。我們將使用許多內容去講述一個完整的故事。而現在,我們完成了這一任務了。那接下來要做什麼呢?”

對於Metzen來說,《星際爭霸》是他最終想要回歸的地方。他仍然會去思考這個遊戲世界。

Metzen表示,他還是想繼續在這系列遊戲中呈現更多理念,他認爲:“它還可以繼續向前發展。”

“現在的我們覺得《星際爭霸》擁有無限的可能性。”

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

STARCRAFT: THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

by Megan Farokhmanesh

Back in the ‘90s, Chris Metzen had an idea for a new game. For the still-blooming Blizzard Entertainment, these were formative years. There was Warcraft as of 1994, but there was no World of Warcraft. There was talk about doing more real-time strategy, as the company was arguably getting good at it, and a keen interest in heading into space.

Senior VP of Story and Franchise Development Metzen, along with present-day VP of Art and Cinematic Development, Nick Carpenter, was working on concepts for something new. It was a sci-fi, fantasy-driven epic — a story told in a far-out universe with a huge world and different factions. It was “badass,” says Metzen.

It was … space vampires.

“The rest of the team was like, ‘I dunno man, space vampires are pretty wack,’” Metzen says. “‘We want to do something a little broader’.”

Bloodlines, which Metzen wouldn’t talk about publicly until the 2013 release of coffee table book, The Art of Blizzard Entertainment, folded into the seams of Blizzard’s future titles — mostly World of Warcraft. Metzen, and ultimately Blizzard, decided to pursue a new RTS project. Much of the game’s concept focused on three distinct races; finding balance between these three would define its personality. What are their cultures? How do they relate to one another in battle? What are their fighting styles? How do they respawn their units?

These were the broad questions that Bloodlines had so desperately lacked. Blizzard christened the newborn project StarCraft — with some slight reservations about that name.

“StarCraft?” Metzen says of his reaction at the time. “Really? Warcraft, StarCraft?

“I was not into it at the time. I didn’t like Diablo either, in my own space. But ain’t it funny how, over time, words become powerful? They just take on their own identity. I can’t imagine it not being StarCraft now.”

The history of StarCraft is a long one, spanning a 17-year saga of multiple games, expansions within the universe and at least one major canned project. With StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void, Blizzard wraps up the sprawling story of Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan, and a trilogy that saw its first release in 2010.

But Blizzard’s time within the StarCraft universe — and, more specifically, StarCraft 2 — is hardly finished. The heavy lifting of seeing a story through to the end is over. Now it’s time for Blizzard to play.

The Chris Metzen of 2015 is a little wiser, a lot older and much calmer than the kid who came up with Bloodlines. He’s an elder statesman of Blizzard, he jokes, and a far cry from the writer he was when he joined the company in 1994.

Metzen describes himself back then as pretty average, as far as writers go. “I still am,” he insists — the kind of writer who fought hard to get so many characters and details into final products. He was young and hungry, a 19-year-old kid “running hot and fast” to prove himself. He wanted to make his friends proud, and maybe get his dad off his back about his unconventional career path.

“When we developed the first StarCraft I was a writer in the video games industry,” Metzen recalls. “What the hell [was] a writer doing in the video games industry at the time? There was no precedent for that.

“I had everything to prove. The team felt like that too.”

Then, the team was small by Blizzard’s standards today, with maybe around 50 people. It was a close-knit community. On Thursdays, a shifting group of anywhere from 10 to 20 people would gather at Patsy’s, a local Irish pub, to sing karaoke. The singing itself might have been bad — and, according to those who were there, it sometimes was — but it was a chance for people to hang out. Talk. Relax.

Metzen recalls that it was in these early days when he met Chris Sigaty, who now serves as StarCraft’s executive producer. Sigaty was the lead tester on StarCraft and fresh out of the navy. At the time, he had the “high and tight” look about him, Metzen says. With Sigaty over in the QA department, the two didn’t get much time together. Eventually, they’d work together on WarCraft 3 and bond over music.

Metzen describes Sigaty as a “metal god,” and for a moment, the image fits, if only for the long, rocker hair that seems better fitted for a stage than a game developer. But the illusion can’t hold up to Sigaty in motion today, a man who speaks in soft, soothing tones and sits with his hands neatly folded. His tone is slow and measured, exactly like that of a patient dad — perhaps because he is one.

Sigaty, too, traveled a long road to get here. He stumbled into his first StarCraft job as a 20-something. One summer during his scholarship days at USC, he took a testing job to earn some extra cash. The self-described super nerd found himself enthralled with the gaming space. Despite having no formal training and an unrelated college major, he rerouted his goals to find a better career fit there.

QA wasn’t an easy gig. Some nights he’d wind up sleeping on the floor at the office trying to keep up with the fast pace of game development.

“I remember it being a whirlwind,” Sigaty says. “It was a very different time.”

Metzen echoes this sentiment, but in a slightly different way. Blizzard was an easy ship to steer, he says. Once they’d settled on a direction, off they went.

“Back then, ‘Hey, let’s make a space game!’ It was about that simple,” says Metzen. “It was such a purer time, such a simpler time.”

Metzen describes the early days as “Donkey Kong Country.” That is to say, it was an era in video games when stories didn’t play the sort of role they do today. Growing up as a kid, Metzen tore through D&D books and tales from the Marvel universe. He ached to dig into deep ideas, big ones that people would be drawn into. Once the team started cultivating the seeds of StarCraft, that feeling only intensified.

The core concept of StarCraft came together pretty quickly. Its focus on three races — “one’s psychic, one’s creepy and one’s high-tech,” Metzen says — formed the ancient Protoss, human Terrans and insectoid Zerg.

“What galvanized everybody around it was, I think everyone saw very quickly what kind of game we could make,” Metzen says. “‘That sounds rad. That sounds like the next step for us, for sure,’ in terms of what we were ready to build and would match our abilities at the time.”

Of course StarCraft wasn’t Blizzard’s first real-time strategy game, but it was a step into more complex territory. It bumped up the Warcraft standard of two races to three. Characters within those races were different from what players had seen before, with each race having its own sort of strategy and play style. It was something new and bold for the company.

Unfortunately, fans didn’t exactly see it that way at first.

StarCraft signaled Blizzard’s move away from Warcraft’s fantasy world. Following the launch of Warcraft 2, the studio had a choice to make. It could continue on to Warcraft 3, as many expected, or it could try something different within the realm of RTS games.

In StarCraft’s first life, however, Blizzard used the same engine it used for the Warcraft games with different art. When the team packed up an early version of the game to take to E3 in 1996, fans weren’t impressed, recalls Blizzard CEO and Co-Founder Mike Morhaime.

“We showed this game, and everyone looked at it and said, ‘Oh, that’s like orcs in space.’ It sort of wasn’t the reaction we were hoping for.”

With bruised egos, Blizzard went back to planning. The game’s engine needed work, enhancements, and the team needed to rethink what a space epic RTS would look like. A Warcraft facelift wasn’t going to cut it.

The StarCraft series has since become defined by the relationship between leads Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan, but in the beginning, that dynamic just didn’t exist. Chris Metzen originally envisioned Raynor as a space cowboy that was “more space than cowboy.” Kerrigan’s backstory is famously on the lighter side. Blizzard named her for figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in a nod to her rival, Tonya Harding — the athlete notorious for hiring her husband to break Kerrigan’s leg. In this case, however, the joke was against competitor Command & Conquer and its character Tanya.

“It sounds ridiculous to say this out loud because it’s so uncool,” Metzen says of the explanation.

“At the time it was the big figure-skating to-do with Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. So we’ll just name ours Kerrigan, after the girl who gets her knee beat in. We thought, aw, that’s so funny! It’s so stupid.”

Kerrigan became the covert, psychic warrior to Raynor’s space cowboy. As Metzen played with the dynamic between the two, he began to dig out the early bones that would help structure the series.

“It’s funny all these years later, especially given the breadth of StarCraft 2, that their relationship, that dynamic between them, really defined a lot of it for me over time,” Metzen says. “The heart of StarCraft, really. But it wasn’t necessarily a first big idea. We found it along the highway. Which I would say is often really true about ideas that come to define these games and their narratives. You find it along the way. You don’t always start with the big idea. It shapes over time as the game shapes over time.”

The big ideas, like Kerrigan’s evolution into the Queen of Blades, came later.

“I grew up reading a lot of Thor — which has a Shakespearean component to the language — back from those Stan Lee days, or the Walt Simonson days, my favorite,” Metzen says. “I gave the Zerg campaign a Shakespeare meets Old Testament kind of vibe. But I needed that that human-like character down the line, and it was toward the end of the Terran campaign like, whoa, what if she becomes — again, we stumbled on those connector points.”

StarCraft finally launched in 1998, following much impatience from fans. A group within the StarCraft community began writing fan fiction about waiting for the game, coupled with wild ideas on the state of the game.

“They came up with these conspiracy theories about how the game was really done,” Morhaime says, “but me and some other people were holding on to the game just because we had these sinister plans or whatever. They called themselves [Operation] Can’t Wait Any Longer. They kinda staked out our building and started taking pictures of how many cars were in the parking lot at night, coming up with theories.”

Morhaime, in recalling these antics, seems surprisingly chill about fans creeping on the company lot. The story is told with affection, which perhaps explains Blizzard’s decision to make “operation cwal” a cheat code in the original StarCraft. But Blizzard, by then, had already earned a reputation for taking its time. If Warcraft put the company on the map, then it was Diablo that established Blizzard as one that emphasized polish — which remains part of the developer’s DNA even today.

When StarCraft launched, its contribution to the company manifested in a different way. It was the title that took Blizzard global, and it was Blizzard’s first esport. The game took off in Korea.

“At its peak, in Korea, where esports grew and led the world, there were three cable channels broadcasting StarCraft 24/7,” says Morhaime. “That was both awesome and something that we hadn’t necessarily predicted, forecast.

“Today StarCraft: Brood War, [essentially] the original version of StarCraft, is still one of the most popular, most played games in Korea. It was a huge wake-up call to us, just how much interest there was globally in playing Blizzard games. Every game after StarCraft we’ve localized into Korean.”

One of Blizzard’s core goals today is to think globally — to think about treating players around the world “like first-class Blizzard citizens,” Morhaime says.

Korean fans, who helped ignite that push, learned this lesson firsthand in 2007.

EARLY STRUGGLES

In 2012, former VP of R&D Patrick Wyatt — who would later leave the company to found ArenaNet, creator of Guild Wars — posted a series of blog posts detailing road bumps in developing StarCraft 1.

In an interview with Polygon, he talked about the company’s early direction with StarCraft: a game he says was initially envisioned as a year-long project. The team was instructed to prepare something for E3 in 1996, he says. The result “wasn’t that impressive.” Although Blizzard didn’t get “slammed” for their game, thanks to a lack of social media, he says, internally, the team was rattled. He pins some of this uneasiness on a competitor’s game: Ion Storm’s Dominion: Storm over Gift 3.

“[Dominion Storm] was doing so many more ambitious things than our game,” he says. “We’d made our reputation in doing games that were groundbreaking … in our space, we were making really ambitious games.

“And here was this StarCraft game we were doing, and it was incredibly pedestrian. It was done because our parent company felt we needed to keep cranking out products, not because we felt this incredible love for the game. It was done for business reasons rather than the reason that a lot of us had joined the industry, because we wanted to make incredible, awesome games.”

Mike Morhaime, in response to Wyatt’s comments for this story, echoes that StarCraft was originally planned for a year-long development cycle, and that it ultimately did take longer. He pushes back, however, against the idea Blizzard conceived StarCraft as a filler project.

“StarCraft has been one of our key pillars since the beginning,” he says. “All of us are huge sci-fi fans and always wanted to create a game built in that genre. … We had realized it was more important to make a great game rather than try to hit a specific release window, so we took our time with StarCraft and really built out the world, the three unique races, and the gameplay until it was at the quality and polish bar we had set for ourselves.”

Blizzard did, in fact, eventually correct its course, but changes to StarCraft wouldn’t come swiftly; first, Blizzard had to ship Diablo. When work resumed on StarCraft, Wyatt says the team was exhausted from a long, intense crunch to finish Diablo. Much of StarCraft had to be redone — Wyatt estimated they would toss 90 to 95 percent of it in favor of replacement systems. The crunch started all over again, and though Wyatt is proud of the work he did at Blizzard, he says in retrospect, “we were just working way too damn hard on this thing.”

“‘Sacrifices are necessary,’” he says of the thinking at the time. “We had all been roped into this idea that we just had to get it done. We were kind of powerless to be more reasonable about the whole process … We felt passionately about building this game. We wanted it to be awesome, but at the same time there was just an enormous amount of pressure that was coming down.”

Wyatt left the company in 2000, and even by then, he says Blizzard had begun to change. The frantic need to ship games was replaced with a desire to take as long as it needed to make it epic.

“It really wasn’t until getting our butts kicked for StarCraft that I think we really internalized that lesson across the whole company,” he says.

“I can’t remember how many years ago it was that we started StarCraft 2,” says Chris Metzen. “Ten years? Good god.”

By the time of StarCraft 2’s announcement in 2007, the landscape was vastly different than the first time around. StarCraft itself was a hit, as was its expansion pack, Brood War. Blizzard’s lineup had grown massively with the addition of Warcraft 2 and 3, Diablo 2 and its big head-turner, World of Warcraft. This time, when StarCraft reappeared for a sequel at the Blizzard Entertainment Worldwide Invitational in South Korea, the crowds weren’t asking about Warcraft.

The event in Seoul was nothing short of spectacular. When Morhaime took the stage to usher in the announcement, the crowd was already screaming with excitement. A trailer for the game unfolded in the dark, and the yells quieted as Raynor appeared. He spoke, and again the stadium exploded with cheers and whoops, escalating as the words “StarCraft 2″ faded in.

The then and now differences of StarCraft — and Blizzard as a company — extended beyond an excited crowd or a list of released games. Blizzard knew who it was, what it wanted to do and where it wanted to spend its time. It was confident in its ability to design, write, code and create a bigger game.

“Our aspirations were much higher in coming back to StarCraft,” Metzen says. “Instead of the screen with the portraits yelling at each other, I wanted it to be living. I wanted to be in the scene. Some would argue that we took it too far, photographs on the bulletin boards and the jukeboxes and all that stuff. But we were very different developers. … It pushed us to think bigger and be more farsighted about the product we wanted to build.

“StarCraft 2 was a much more robust narrative than anything we had tried before. And so when you ask what had changed — everything. Everything. We wanted to just build the biggest, craziest space opera we could. That’s what we tried to do.”

Fans would soon learn just how robust StarCraft 2 would be. At Blizzcon in 2008, Blizzard revealed that StarCraft 2 would be a trilogy in itself — three parts, each focused on a different race.

StarCraft 2 didn’t start that way. As Blizzard penned out the sprawling narrative, it realized that packing it into a single game had nightmare potential in dramatic delays and clutter. The solution was to split it, Metzen says, and give each race room to breathe.

Players weren’t thrilled about the news, to put it lightly. They grouched on sites like Kotaku and GameSpot with concerns about money, accusations of greed and disappointment at the extended wait.

Chris Sigaty says that StarCraft 2 has worked out the way the team wanted, but at the time, it “definitely” heard that feedback. He points to expectations set by the first game, in which players had every story for every race right away, as part of the cause.

“We did our best to include some of those things, but some people have certainly given us that feedback,” Sigaty says. “I wish it was there all at once. The thing is, we feel like at this point StarCraft 2 would have shipped about now. It could have had all that, but it would have played out differently.”

“In developing these fictions for games, you gotta remember, people just want to feel powerful and effective.”

Whether or not Blizzard would consider a drastic split again is undecided. Sigaty says it would have to be on a case-by-case basis and dependent on what the company hopes to achieve with that game.

“That was a big deal for us,” he says. “It would probably be a big deal to us again — not just rinse and repeat, but ‘what are we trying to achieve with this next product,’ whatever it is?”

Reflecting back on StarCraft 2’s first installment, Wings of Liberty, Metzen views it with a mix of pride and a healthy dose of writer’s self-loathing. To get ready for Legacy of the Void, he popped in Wings of Liberty just a few weeks ago to play the campaign again. The nostalgia trip came with a few bruises.

“I was like, oof, over and over again, oh my God, this sounded so good at the time,” Metzen says. “Oh my God, it’s terrible.”

Among those storylines that didn’t make the cut was a serious “down and out” drinking problem for Raynor. The missions Metzen wanted showed Raynor screwing up in some way, even after players successfully achieved their goal. People would end up hurt, but eventually, Raynor would overcome his personal demons and find redemption.

“At the time, the team was just like, ‘Why? It’s unnecessary,’” Metzen says. “‘I just wanna see things nuked! I want to feel badass right out of the gate.’ That’s perfectly valid. If I were writing a novel about it, it might have been great.

“But in developing these fictions for games, you gotta remember, people just want to feel powerful and effective. If the first X minutes of your gameplay, the first X missions in a narrative wave, if you just feel kinda cruddy and icky and low, you’re not gonna stick with it. You’re not gonna enjoy it or bring out this heroic thing that we were really chasing, for the most part, in the first place.”

Despite whatever clumsiness remains, he says, he’s still happy for the work he put in. Writing for games isn’t easy, and working on your craft requires putting your heart out there again and again.

“It’s just writers, right,” he says. “We’re always like, oh, God, why did that sound like such a good idea at the time? But at the same time, as crude as things can look in hindsight, I’m super proud of it too. … It all started somewhere. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to be perfect. What is perfect? We want to build these things as best we can.

“You aren’t afforded the ability to be all that precious. You gotta push passionately.”

Wings of Liberty is home to many themes and stories that Metzen felt passionately about when it was made. Sometimes that makes it harder to reflect on.

“Looking back at the writing stuff over time, there’s stuff that I’m super embarrassed by,” Metzen says. “Whether it was just bad writing, or there were ideas that were really important to me at the time — but I look back and I feel exposed, chasing themes or story moments that meant a lot to me at the time. But for every one of those, I’m equally proud of having taken the step, taken a stand, clumsy as it all may have been. It was real. It was pure art at the time.”

When Legacy of the Void launches on Nov. 10, it will complete the three-faction experience that Blizzard has always envisioned for the series. This is the Protoss chapter of StarCraft 2, focusing specifically on Brood War’s favorite, Artanis, as its lead. It’s a resolution to many of the series’ big questions as well as its long, arching story.

“For the Protoss, these themes that will play out in Legacy were always there from the beginning,” Chris Metzen says. “In many ways, it shaped the whole overarching story of StarCraft 2. There is a dark force in the universe that may have manipulated these events long ago, and it’s going to have to be dealt with. Our heroes are going to have to sacrifice a lot to deal with it. That was always the core, even when it was all just one storyline many years ago.”

Metzen was the leading force behind the original StarCraft, but his role in StarCraft 2 has heavily diminished since Wings of Liberty. A shift in his job at the company led to more responsibility, more departments to handle and less time to be the man behind the keyboard.

Much of the groundwork on Wings of Liberty was done, but it was Andy Chambers who finished the title. Director of Story and Creative Development James Waugh served as the lead writer on Legacy of the Void, and Metzen’s influence was more general, only providing the plot beats.

Waugh, who came on as a senior story developer in 2008, never aspired to be a video game writer. He came from the film industry, where he worked for about a decade as a development executive and screenwriter. His relationship to StarCraft, however, can be traced back to his senior year of college, when he picked up a copy of the first game. Waugh went home to play his new game — and then spent the next hour engrossed in the game’s manual, which featured pages upon pages of lore penned by Metzen.

Waugh, during his film days, always harbored a love of games. He was interested in translating properties like StarCraft onto the big screen. Eventually, he landed a job at Blizzard working with several different properties; his first venture into StarCraft development coincided with his job as a writer on Wings of Liberty.

“Did I initially aspire to be a video game writer?” he says. “I didn’t even know it was a plausible career path when I first left graduate school. I think the industry changed in a lot of ways, and video games became a great storytelling vehicle. I ended up going in that direction.”

Waugh, too, is stunned at his path from poring over a video game manual to closing out the epic’s final chapter. Today, he describes himself as a torchbearer of the narrative, a person who leads the charge in crafting the series’ world and characters.

In writing Legacy of the Void, Waugh and Blizzard faced an interesting challenge. In both Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm, Raynor and Kerrigan provided a human lens to observe the narrative through. Legacy of the Void is purposefully absent of that human angle, says Waugh, because Blizzard didn’t want to rob players of their Protoss experience.

“It was really finding a fine line of making these characters absolutely relatable to us as humans playing this game,” Waugh says, “and finding the kind of commonalities and metaphors and story arcs that relate to our experience — while not making them feel human. We still had to find ways to speak to the fact that this is an ancient race that is very different than us, but at the end of the day they’re also a metaphor for an aspect of humanity.”

Legacy of the Void’s story is largely about the divide between “rugged individualism” and “overcollectivism,” Waugh says, and a struggle to find the balance between the two. For Artanis, who acts as the game’s lead, Legacy of the Void will be about the burden of leadership.

“It sounds great to be a leader, and it sounds great to be all powerful and unite these various Protoss factions,” Waugh says, “but the reality of dealing with the potential loss and this burden of that is pretty heavy. I think that is completely relatable for humans.”

Artanis has his work cut out for him between guiding his people and dealing with the game’s villain, the terrible and powerful Amon. Amon, who’s been at least hinted at as far back as Brood War, has been part of the plan before StarCraft 2 began, says Waugh.

“It’s very much a Lucifer story on some level,” Waugh says of Amon. “It’s a character that had the opportunity to become a great being, and then realized he didn’t like that; at the end of the day, he was part of this ancient, infinite cycle. He realizes that that’s not what he wants, he wants to shatter that cycle. He wants to break everything. He feels lied to. In his mind, he’s the hero of his own story.”

Amon was a tough villain to craft; after all, all-powerful beings tend to be boring when the most interesting thing about them is their power. In early readings he felt a little like a one-note character, Waugh says. Internally, the team knew what his motivations were. In the game, they weren’t as easily readable.

“I really think that your protagonist is only as good as your antagonist,” Waugh says. “In many ways, Amon is kind of the thematic inverse of Artanis. Where Artanis kind of takes on the burden and realizes that there is a lot of flaws in what is the world, that there’s a way to work with them and improve them, Amon decides to shatter it all.

“I think the real answer there is finding, at the end of the day, the humanity of this dark god. Why he does what he does.”

How successful Blizzard will be at playing out Amon’s role, or even Artanis’, remains to be seen. Blizzard, however, is hardly slowing down. As Legacy of the Void comes to a close, the developer is turning its attention to new opportunities.

Blizzard has echoed its statements many times that Legacy of the Void will bring a resolution to the ongoing story of StarCraft. What it hasn’t said until now, however, is that the game marks new blood for the series, too: story-driven DLC. The first, a set of three-act, three-mission packs, will star Nova, the psychic Terran who was set to star in the canceled StarCraft: Ghost and later appeared in Wings of Liberty.

Blizzard calls it StarCraft 2: Nova Covert Ops. James Waugh is acting as the content’s story director, while Valerie Watrous is on point for writing. Waugh says the goal is to separate Nova from Kerrigan, as fans have always drawn similarities between the two.

“We see [Nova] as a very distinct character and incredibly different,” he says. “With Nova, we always find ourselves in stories about what it means to be a good soldier. … She’s an assassin for the military, and sometimes that gets messy.

“This game is really about choice, which really speaks to the theme of who Nova is, and I think by the time we get through this game, we’re going to put Nova in a more empowered position than where we’ve seen her in the past.”

Despite never getting her own game, Nova has a soft spot in the hearts of fans. In 2013, at BlizzCon, the developer showed off a cinematic for the franchise mashup title Heroes of the Storm that threw heroes like Jim Raynor and Nova against the likes of Kerrigan and Diablo.

“It seemed like a slam dunk to have Nova be in Heroes of the Storm,” Chris Metzen says. “I remember being in the room when that video played and she shows up, and she’s goofing on Kerrigan. The room just went up.”

Metzen has a fondness of his own for Nova, describing adventures she might have one day as “definitely stuff we daydream about.” His sentiments are echoed by Chris Sigaty, who calls Nova a compelling, complex character. Still, the developer warns that players shouldn’t expect Nova’s new story to fill the hole left by StarCraft: Ghost. Blizzard says it pulled nothing from that original story, which would have followed Nova’s adventures.

“We’re focusing on a story that’s a little more intimate, a little darker in tone,” Sigaty says of Nova Covert Ops. “We’ve been so focused on the galactic conflict [in StarCraft] and the galactic story. We’d like to explore something a little bit closer to home.”

But the most important takeaway from Nova Covert Ops isn’t about Nova herself. It’s a message from Blizzard that StarCraft 2 is not done, and the company plans to still explore the franchise in ways it hasn’t before. There’s room to dig into more tales from Nova, or to move to other characters within the StarCraft universe. Internally, Blizzard will continue to keep the StarCraft 2 team at work.

The shift to more frequent content is a big change for Blizzard — “Alien,” says Sigaty. It started with Heroes of the Storm, a game that gets new content every few weeks.

“It’s completely, fundamentally changed how we work,” Sigaty says. “An awareness of how long it takes to get a specific Heroes artwork done, the amount of iteration we tend to do to get a hero in a great place — it’s exactly the same story now hitting StarCraft 2.”

While the team finished up Legacy of the Void, it’s also been working on StarCraft 2’s new content. Part of this new shift involves drawing inspiration from unexpected sources — Hollywood, Sigaty says, and the television world. He name-drops Game of Thrones as one of many shows that deliver great content often.

“It’s sort of luxury, the old way,” Sigaty says of making games. “Now that luxury is gone, I think it makes us better at doing this, ultimately. But it’s a change for us.

“We’re going to be releasing the same amount of content that we would build in a year over a year. We’ll see how that goes, see what that’s like. It puts a different urge on our developers.”

Notably, Blizzard’s previously announced StarCraft novels being penned by sci-fi and fantasy author Timothy Zahn will likely take place after Nova Covert Ops, according to Waugh. The direction of that story isn’t 100 percent planned out, he says, but could offer a look at where the franchise might go.

StarCraft’s future is broader than it’s ever been. With Legacy of the Void launching Nov. 10, Blizzard has the chance to explore the game’s universe in ways outside of the strategy realm — any avenue, any game genre, Sigaty says. It’s the company’s Star Wars, he adds; its sci-fi universe.

By the time Legacy of the Void wraps up, the mythology that’s been at play for years will come full circle. The big, resounding conflict that’s defined the series will find resolution. And as it does, it will create new space for Blizzard to play in once again. Metzen says that, while he’s not close to the project at the moment, there’s a lot of excitement within Blizzard about where StarCraft is heading.

“It’s almost a sense of open highway ahead,” Metzen says. “Honestly, since StarCraft 1, it’s almost like pulling these big idea boxcars behind you, having built such a big idea so long ago. It was going to take a lot of content to tell the full story. And now that it’s done, it’s kind of like, whew. All right. What now?”

For Metzen, StarCraft is a place he eventually hopes to return to. He still thinks about its universe a lot. He thinks about it even more in times like these, when the series prepares to pivot once again.

“It could have a lot of life ahead,” Metzen says, adding that he wants to play around with ideas for the series for years.

“It feels like StarCraft has infinite possibility now.” (source:polygon)