IMO first trilogy’s story could be improved

I’ve been replaying the campaigns and I noticed that the writing doesn’t hold up compared to when I first played two decades ago.

In Episode 1, the zerg and protoss are treated like plot contrivances more than anything else. The zerg invade worlds, the protoss glass them, was rinse repeat. Their agency doesn’t matter, only that of the terran cast, making their actions seem contrived.

The Comfederacy is a wasted opportunity IMO. The wiki gives a bunch of lore, but the game doesn’t explain enough about them to care before they get shanked by Mengsk.

Mengsk himself feels pretty shallow, since his turn to the dark side comes out of nowhere and feels like a last minute choice by the writer to contrive cheap soap opera drama. IMO It doesn’t seem that hard to have added a political subplot where he felt he needed to dispose of bleeding heart liberals in the SoK would would prevent him from making the decisions to save humanity. He doesn’t need to be correct, but reducing him to a caricature villain feels like a waste.

The zerg in particular feel like a giant plot convenience. The zerg conveniently follow Mengsk’s emitters, conveniently steamroll the Confederacy for him to replace, conveniently steamroll the protoss, and conveniently leave after capturing Kerry once they served their purpose in the narrative.

Episodes 2 and 3 feel pretty weak, like the writer didn’t care for the alien characters as much. QoB takes the spotlight from the zerg, whose culture and characters outside of her is never explored (I don’t care about Amon/Duran, everyone knows that’s a retcon). The protoss culture is never explained, not unless you read the wiki that explains they fought a galactic war for millions of years. In that case, the Conclave’s fear of the dark templar seems perfectly reasonable even if the dark templar are actually cheaters who somehow maintain peace without a khala (how do they manage that, anyway? Meditation like jedi? Do they have to worry about the dark side?). Then the zerg and protoss cultures are destroyed at the end, so any world building potential is gone forever.

IMO, the plotting feels disjointed, key plot points feel lazy and contrived (not outright plot holes, just seem bizarre wasteful choices by the writer), and the world building is wasted. I would have liked to see the world building, politics, cultures, characters, etc explored a lot more than they were. I constant found myself asking why I should care about these characters because the writing didn’t do enough to detail them beyond stereotypes like space outlaw, evil overlord, and elf paladin. I would have liked something more like the Magistrate teaming up with Tassadar to fight off the Confederacy, zerg, and Conclave on Mar Sara. I would have liked something like the Taldarim showing up as villains while the Conclave were the heroes fighting them. The sky’s the limit.

Overall my criticism stems from the story not utilizing its premise nearly as well as I think it could. Three races fighting for dominance is a premise that could go in infinite directions, so I was frustrated by the very restricted execution in the first trilogy which I feel wastes a lot of opportunities for storytelling, characterization, and world building. A lot of that may have to due with SC1’s apparently tumultuous development and the limitations of the 90s (just compare the archives of the 90s Starcraft website in Wayback Machine, it changed hugely over development), but that’s not a problem for us in the here and now. StarCraft is old enough now that it could receive a reboot spinoff to explore possibilities disallowed by the narrative choices of the canon, and if not an official spin-off we the fans are free to write fanfiction campaigns or something. Perhaps making the zerg genuinely villains devoted to their loving Overmind rather than innocent space orcs enslaved by the mad whims of QoB and Amon, or a protoss Conclave who is competent, heroic yet flawed, and ruling a vast galactic empire, or a Confederacy with more depth that that survives for more than ten missions dedicated to killing them.

Don’t get me wrong. The gameplay is still great aside from a lack of QoL improvements (so Mass Recall is my only recourse), but the story doesn’t impress me. It’s not terrible—don’t get me wrong, it’s better written than plenty of big budget Hollywood flicks full of plot holes (low bar, I know, sorry)—but I think after a dozen more drafts it could be a lot better.

What do you think?

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I don’t have a problem with the Zerg following the Emitters to be honest, I think that concept should’ve been built more upon if anything else. but I do agree with a lot of the rest, lots of missed opportunities Mengsk starts off strong, then turns into a mustache twirler for no reason by Mission 10 and stays that way forever.

The Protoss Empire feels a lot smaller than it should even though they allegedly had control of 1/8th of the entire galaxy, all the starting governments fall too quickly , there’s not enough animosity between T and P, and by brood war there’s so much Kerrigan worship trash that its barely even a story anymore. (don’t even get me started on the vomit pile that is SC2)

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It’s a game story. Nothing’s perfect. It was mainly made around melee gameplay.

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Not understanding motivation of unknown alien species which doesn’t try to contact you with anything but glass cannons is perfectly normal, especially since those motivations are more than developed when the own perspective of those species unfolds.

They literally glassed a planet full of civilians with nukes, which player would know if he red manual (or payed attention to Mengsk’s lines), which is an attribute that can be attached to any game of 90s and before.

So him ordering to launch a Zerg attack on Confederate forces and then on Confederate capital world didn’t feel like it was dark thing to do? Well then, leaving Kerrigan behind shouldn’t either. Although even before going into details I would argue that vanilla SC doesn’t have a concept of dark/light side, it’s a matter of perspective - clearly bad thing from Raynor’s perspective, acceptable losses from Mengsk’s.

Explained in manual and partially by Overmind’s lines - although he doesn’t state the reasons clearly and openly, he heavily implies them.

Which Mengsk along with Duke did on purpose with Emitters

SoK steamrolled the Protoss, Zerg steamrolled SoK

Once they have completed their objective, as stated by the Overmind not as much as a mission later.

So that is why Kerrigan has actual lines in 4 missions and 3 briefings in total, while Overmind represents his goals and ideas for 9 briefings and about half of the total number of missions.

Or the manual

Khala didn’t actually help that much in this regard in mission 7 onwards. In fact, there’s nothing in vanilla game or it’s manual to indicate Khala has any actual manifestation like in LotV - it’s even contradicted by the manual which has the line “His theory, known as the Khala, or ‘Path of Ascension’…”.

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I don’t think it makes a lot of strategic sense, when the zerg could be harvesting population centers in mass. If the zerg get everything they need from a single ghost and leave (ignoring the fact that they have absurd ease winning here), that defeats the purpose of the premise playing them up as warring with humanity for domination. They should need to more or less devour humanity to keep the premise going, if we’re talking in-universe justifications for the franchise existing out-of-universe. (I operate from the dark scifi POV that a zerg victory means everyone dies, whereas zerg loss means zerg are exterminated. It just seems the best to make the zerg threatening.)

I would’ve liked him being an anti-hero or anti-villain. Hence my suggestion that he would use enslaved zerg on strategic targets instead of free zerg and he thinks betraying the moralistic faction is justified because morality is a luxury when aliens are invading.

Particularly given all the world building that went into them. Seems like a waste.

Yep. Protoss commit genocide and terrans don’t seem to notice. I found Raynor joining Tassadar ridiculous in canon. I would’ve preferred if Tassadar offered an alliance on Mar Sara!

Apparently the story went through changes during development.

Yes, but nowadays Blizzard acts really pretentiously about their stories.

The zerg never clearly explain their goals and were clearly subjected to rewrites that make their plot confusing. This is before BW and SC2 retcon them.

My problem with the zerg is that they are treated as a lazy contrivance. They steamroll all opposition, conveniently do Mengsk’s work for him, then leave when they get Kerry. Feels wasteful to me.

I would have wanted to see the invasion of terrans represented across the campaigns, not discarded after episode 1.

Plenty never read the manual. (Also, I said that isn’t a limitation today, when reboots/rewrites/fanfiction are relevant.) furthermore, you could argue that the Confederacy isn’t a monolithic block. There could be plenty of member states who disagree with the imperialism and genocide, and there could be plenty of propaganda making the Confederacy seem worse than they are. That’s precisely the sort of politics you could explore in the story.

He doesn’t have to be a villain to justify extreme acts when humanity is under attack by genocidal aliens. His actions seems suicidal since he’s selling out humanity to aliens (according to wiki, Confederacy knew this was a problem already), but that sort of incompetence could be fixed by rewrites.

Yes, but the zerg still don’t have to worry about logistics. They always follow Mengsk and they always win. That feels contrived and wasteful. Seeing the zerg struggle for victory would make for a more interesting story IMO. Episode 2 is easily the weakest story for this and other reasons.

It’s a boring objective that defeats the point of the premise. If the zerg are no longer motivated to invade terrans after episode 1, then you broke the premise of the three sides fighting. That’s my problem.

Much of which involves the Chrysalis (Kerry). We don’t get much insight or characterization from the zerg outside of that. They’re a wasted opportunity.

Again, most never read it. This stuff needs explanation and exploration in the game stories.

So either they are cliche or they are not allowed to exist?
Zerg primary target were always the Protoss, everything else is means to an end. Terrans are not the only faction in this story to have relevance, and universe doesn’t spin around humanity unlike certain other franchises.

The Overmind states it clearly in the mission 8 that he has been targeting the Protoss for a long time, and in mission 9 - that he plans on assimilating them, since they are, by his definition, “the strongest known species”. It is also explained in manual as to why did the Zerg come to Terran doorstep, as well as partially implied by the Overmind himself. Im not sure how clearer can their goals be described, except for expositioning it which would be terrible.

Again, this is not their objective and has never been. If you don’t like that their role is not cliche bug race that wants to eat humans, then call it a thing you don’t like, not a thing that is bad.

Most did, at least in 90s, since that was the only actual way to learn anything about the game back then.

The game has not been released today, the game has been released 20 years ago.

By definition of a term - no, but Blizzard has always been bad with naming (see Terran Dominion which is not an actual dominion). Manual clearly indicates the entity that was responsible for destruction of Korhal as “the Confederate government”.

Or there couldn’t, since the Confederacy is a totalitarian regime which glassed the last planet which was trying that sort of thing. I bet it’s much less encouraging to try and denounce a government which can vaporize population of your entire planet with a single strike. Regardless of specifics, though, you’re arguing for the story being not the way you would like, which is not the same as it being bad.

… But leaving behind a lieutenant who is currently being attacked by overwhelming enemy force and who’s division will be most likely wiped out in the minute or so, which turns an attempt of rescue into extrime risk likely to lead only to more casulties, makes him a villain?

The Zerg fail to immidiatelly eliminate Saran settlements and fail to overrun the extraction zone, fail to eliminate Norad II despite taking it down, need to be defended from the Protoss by SoK. Later on they’re getting annihilated by the combined force of Protoss and Terran forces on Aiur, and losing the key objective of defense - the Overmind. I wouldn’t call that an “always win” situation. Then again, having better AI in place for both Confederacy and Zerg would do much better as to why Zerg are superior (larger numbers, ability to constantly reinforce, superior reaction time) over the Confederate forces.

Oh yeah, so cliche of “the bugs want to eat humanity because that was in Starship Troopers and now we must put that in every scifi franchise” is much more interesting.

The three sides are still fighting - Terrans are counterattacking the Zerg, then join the Protoss while the latter defend their home planet from the Zerg invasion, the act that was their actual goal all along.

The first half, at most.

If SC was released like 10 years later - perhaps that would be a valid thing to say (although considering that the practice proves otherwise - how did exploration in the game stories work out for SC2, exactly?), but you’re talking about late 90s. Fallout 2 (released in the same year) had the manual with story premise, Baldur’s Gate had a manual, even Half Life had a manual (this one tried explaining most of the stuff in the game itself, which resulted into a bunch of half-cutscene episodes where you can move around but that about as much as you get for gameplay). It’s easy to claim that stuff should be explained in the game itself from position of the year 2019.

What I mean is that the premise is based around the three races fighting. So we need an in-universe justification to keep them fighting.

Ergo, the zerg should be trying to effectively exterminate the terrans rather than leave after capturing one girl. Not neatly solve everything in Episode 1.

You could stretch that out for an entire franchise rather than neatly solving it in the first game. That’s why the sequels became so bizarre.

Again, my problem is that the game breezes through this in episode 1 when it could drive the franchise indefinitely. The sequels we got suffered as a result.

I’m talking about how it could improved today. I don’t care about anything else.

I never said it was bad. Improvable, certainly.

I never said so, but everybody else does. That’s why I think he needs a POV section.

Great explanation, but I would like to see the zerg POV in question.

We could have evolution missions a la SC2 where the zerg do more interesting things like hunt for a mutation on a planet to create a adaptation for a circumstance. Or zerg politics.

Only Raynor does that, and he contributes nothing of note.

Under a silly excuse like “Mengsk had nightmares.”

If you a want a better explanation of the sort of ideas I care to see, then read ToxicDefiler’s “StarCraft: Enumerate” pitch. https://us.battle.net/forums/en/sc2/topic/17606004934

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Half of the player base (what’s left of it anyway) would eat you alive for putting the words “improved” and “today” into same sentence.

I think not. There’s been so many retcons in all their games that it really doesn’t matter anymore.

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Eh, considering their only reason for even interacting with the Terrans to begin with IS for their psionic potential I disagree, not to mention clearly the Zerg weren’t hurting for basic biomass knowing how massive they were as a force.

I do agree with you on the second part regarding warring with Humanity and should have more than one reason to do so, but in the universe we got, them chasing around the ghost signals does make sense.

We pretty much agree on everything else.

the Universe needed to be a lot grander and less pigeonholed.

I’m talking about story, not gameplay. The majority of fans are in it for the gameplay. Which is good gameplay, so I’m annoyed the story isn’t of similar quality.

I guess I agree. There have been so many retcons that I cannot bring myself to care about the canon lore much. I’m certainly not looking forward to any future stories set in any Blizzard franchise.

What I mean is that these two could be linked. Perhaps the zerg need to consume humanity to extinction to get sufficient research data. Maybe one ghost isn’t enough to work with. We don’t have clear concise rules in-universe for how psychic powers are supposed to work, so the writers just invent new powers on the fly. Seems a good enough justification to me for the zerg to have evolution missions where they target specific populations for specific psychic mutations.

But being able to study other human stuff, like tech, and create biological replica is a neat idea too. If mecha zerg exist, then the reverse should to. Also, the fact that humans can create mecha zerg in the first place (and in a matter of years according to the lore) should make them near equals to the xel’naga and zerg proto-geneticists, which surely should be a reason for the zerg to eat them all.

Not that I expect consistency or reason from the canon, but I can dream. This thread is about fanfiction dreaming more than anything else I suppose.

I think we disagree on “grander.” The canon is simultaneously grand (saving teh universe) and “pigeonholed” (Raynor and Kerry personally save teh universe like fantasy epic heroes, rather than a bunch of scifi armies waging horrible war). I think what is more accurate to our intent is “darker” and “grittier.” Like 40k lite or something. Not focus on epic heroes but focus on non-epic heroes. I don’t know how to articulate it well.

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Before the StarCraft Wiki was even made, everything you needed to know about the history of Terran, Zerg and Protoss was written exclusively in the Game Manual, search for the StarCraft Manual PDF on the old ftp Blizzard website if you are more interested about it.

That’s why the game never really explain a lot of the past to you, it’s because the game devs have expected you to read it before you even start the campaign. This was their way of conveying the plot in all of their games up to even WarCraft III and Classic World of WarCraft, these games had a huge voluminous lore at in the small paper books you were given inside the game box alongside the CD-Key and the dics.

And this is how Blizzard always worked in 90’s. I mean, you never had youtube back then, smartphones, so physical items were much more important. Reading a book from the game you spent 60 dollars for in the 90’s was actually one of the most entertaining thing you could do while preparing for the game installation, which also took time. So don’t be too arrogant about game manuals, saying that “nobody read them”. No, you’re wrong. If you cared about the game story, you read them. If you cared only about gameplay, then you never even had any reason to complain about the storyline in the first place.

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I agree with @Garn. StarCraft is a game of the 90s. '98 precisely.
Developing a new story based on the three races would be much better than making an alternative story that replaces the original one. The original story is fine. I think the Zerg could be a bit smarter, but that’s just me.
StarCraft universe is big enough to develop lots of stories without creating contradictions among them.

First off consider that if you owned Starcraft 1 originally it came with a game manual full of story & lore and background for setting up the setting. You’re kind of expected to read that if you’re interested in the story.
Is that bad story telling? Yeah probably.
Is that just how games did things back then? Yes.

We don’t know what the motives of the Zerg & Protoss are so yeah, it seems that way, you don’t find out their motivations until later on, when you play as them, so the reasons for why the Zerg & Protoss are a mystery to you because they do not explain themselves to you as a Terran Magistrate/Commander and why would they?

They get set up well enough as a bunch of bastards who couldn’t care less about regular folks, they’re “bad guys” if you wanted to know more about the Confederacy and the Guild Wars that preceded their dominance in the Koprulu Sector you needed to read the stories inside the Starcraft Game Manual. That’s where all the info on the Wiki comes from (supplemented with books written since then).

Mengsk is a fascist, he drapes himself in the trappings of a populist revolution but as soon as power is within his grasp he drops it to maintain that power, there’s a historical precedent for this. It may not be as “deep” as you want but it’s a story told over a handful of RTS missions and I think it does it well enough, Mengsk’s heel turn isn’t nearly as unrealistic as you may think.

The reason the Zerg are attracted to Psi Emmiters is well established in the game manual, and in the actual Terran & Zerg campaign. They were hunting for powerful Terran Psionics to assimilate and the psi-emitters produce the same energy emissions as Terran Ghosts but on a larger scale.

The Zerg don’t have a culture they’re a gestalt hive mind, all the character and personality they have you see entirely within the mission briefings, the Cerebrates, QoB and the Overmind are the only beings in the Zerg gestalt with higher consciousness.

Wtfareyoutalkingabout

Again you’re expected to have read the story in the game manual… Literally something to do while the game is installing back in 1998.
And the Protoss Culture is pretty well shown, they’re noble hoity toity types they value tradition and order and don’t take kindly to anyone disrupting the status-quo.

I’m getting the feeling you just want massive lore dumps, not like… An actual story.
And your comment on the whole “No Khala no society”, you sound like the kind of person who spouts “Human nature tho”.

TL;DR this is a pretty bad take, SC1’s story isn’t rock solid or even particularly mind blowing but you’ve got a very poor understanding of story telling & world building.
Not to mention a poor understanding of SC’s story in general, both as it was then and how it is now.

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So this is the reason why I never found anything. In my BestSeller versions there whas only this technical thing instead of any description of the game.