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Author Topic: Anybody know Starcraft?  (Read 2017 times)

BoxCrayonTales

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Anybody know Starcraft?
« on: December 27, 2019, 06:29:54 AM »
I played this franchise off and on over the last two decades. My thoughts may be summed as follows: great gameplay, great artwork, abysmal storytelling.

Any other fans here?

Omega

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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2020, 01:22:37 AM »
I had more fun with Total Annihilation.

Antiquation!

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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2020, 02:47:56 PM »
Quote from: Omega;1118354
I had more fun with Total Annihilation.

Same. Fantastic game, I loved the scale involved. Shame my computer at the time gawked any time my masses of Peewees would open fire... I had a lot of fun with Close Combat too although that is decidedly a very different style of gameplay.

Anyhow, with regards to StarCraft I like the concept and a lot of the unit designs, but I was never good at the click economy thing (even though the gameplay itself is fairly slick). I prefer slightly slower-paced strategy. I do have to agree the story is total nonsense as far as SC goes, I could never make heads nor tails of it.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 02:53:37 PM by Antiquation! »
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Spinachcat

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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2020, 11:20:22 PM »
I love StarCraft. Huge fan of getting to play a 40k RTS! Eldar vs. Marines vs. Tyranids? What's not to love?

I was okay with the story, but I don't expect much from video games. I liked the character arcs with Kerrigan and Arcturus, but the entire story was just an excuse for team up missions. My only major issue with StarCraft was the hero units. You had to babysit them like fragile toddlers, and if they wandered off, they got blasted so quickly and you lost the mission.

BTW, was Total Annihilation turn based? I remember the 40k games of the SC era were turn based (and fun too).

Doom

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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2020, 11:41:58 PM »
Quote from: Omega;1118354
I had more fun with Total Annihilation.


You, me, and like 2 other guys. That game was just so awesome, and superior to StarCraft in pretty much every way but colorful splodies.

For Spinach, TA was a RTS but actually made some sort of sense in-universe. You needed energy and metal to build everything, and all you built was machines. The whole game was centered around your Commander, basically a sentient robot--he dies, you lose.

Thing was, you had jillions of different units. A wide array of constructor bots, dozens of tank types, also aircraft and naval units...a ridiculous variety of units, I'm not even coming close to describing all the options. You could build walls and barricades, exploit terrain, your units even gained experience. The game was a full decade ahead of its time.

What killed it? Greyscale graphics, for the most part. It was still about the only RTS game that played great solitaire because you had so many options. I even attended the TA championships at E3 one year, with the winner basically building a bunch of energy to matter converters and gifting them to the other player, who then found himself unable to power his disintegrator gun while being swarmed by mini-tanks. Good times.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2020, 11:48:18 PM by Doom »
(taken during hurricane winds)

A nice education blog.

Doom

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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2020, 11:50:02 PM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1117482
I played this franchise off and on over the last two decades. My thoughts may be summed as follows: great gameplay, great artwork, abysmal storytelling.

Any other fans here?

I'd go with great artwork, good storytelling (on the curve at least, where "abysmal" was slightly above average), and weak gameplay (again, on the curve...most everyone played SC, but it really seemed like nearly every other RTS had more interesting gameplay).
(taken during hurricane winds)

A nice education blog.

BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2020, 08:10:07 AM »
Quote from: Antiquation!;1118406
I do have to agree the story is total nonsense as far as SC goes, I could never make heads nor tails of it.
I have a love-hate relationship with the story. When I read the SC1 manual two decades ago, and when I reread it today, I find myself hyped and inspired by the world building and plot hooks. Sure, it's fairly shallow, cliche, etc but it's not outright bad. A good writer could tell amazing military scifi stories with that premise.

The story of the first game felt like it was written by a different writer working from a different draft of the story. It did not feel like an organic or satisfying followup to the plot hooks in the manual. It also shredded the world building presented in the manual rather than building on it, which felt like an insulting slap in the face. On its own merits, it was pretty trite. The writing was very shallow, as in it was literally only a few paragraphs of dialogue in missions briefings and players were seemingly expected to fill in the blanks in their head. The alien characters were especially underdeveloped and the writer seemed not to know how to handle them, preferring to focus on the humans even when their presence did not feel organic.

The Brood War expansion story displayed a dramatic drop in quality. The script was full of bad writing: plot holes, macguffins, deus ex machinas, mary sue, blatantly idiotic behavior, interesting story threads that the writer severed carelessly, etc.

SC2 was just as bad or worse than Brood War. The most annoying part was that it had some interesting ideas, like the missions dealing with terran rebellion, zerg evolution, or protoss politics. Unfortunately these were overshadowed by a terrible love story involving space cowboy and bug girl fighting the space devil.

The story is pretty much radioactive as far as fandoms go. Most people who cared for the storytelling jumped ship when it became clear the writing was awful, and those few who remain are either oblivious to the bad writing or unable to do more than nonconstructively complain about it. I had a bunch of flame wars with these sorts of annoying people. Where before I was happy to just dismiss the bad writing and focus on something constructive, the flame wars really soured my relationship with this franchise.

Quote from: Spinachcat;1118436
I love StarCraft. Huge fan of getting to play a 40k RTS! Eldar vs. Marines vs. Tyranids? What's not to love?
I don't find that comparison particularly accurate. The SC armies don't neatly map to 40k armies on a 1:1 basis.

The protoss are a mix of eldar, astartes, necrons, and tau. The terrans are based on space westerns and cyberpunk, with no resemblance to 40k. The zerg are a mix of tyranids and nurgle demons.

Well, at least that's the case circa SC1/BW multiplayer.

In the games' campaigns' story, all that world building is shredded and the politics are replaced by a handful of insane epic fantasy heroes twisting the universe to their deranged whims. The terrans are reduced to a plucky rebel hero fighting a trite evil emperor, the protoss are reduced to damsels in distress constantly needing rescue by deus ex machina, and the zerg are reduced to the pets of a psychotic succubus with daddy/boyfriend issues.

Quote from: Spinachcat;1118436
I was okay with the story, but I don't expect much from video games. I liked the character arcs with Kerrigan and Arcturus, but the entire story was just an excuse for team up missions.
I thought the character arcs were pretty bad. You know when people said that the Star Wars prequels were ruined by, among other things, the Anakin/Padme romance stealing the spotlight from other more interesting plots? SC is even worse about that.

Blizzard introduced a bunch of political actors with interesting backgrounds and plenty of room for exploration, then ignores them or destroys them.

I found Arcturus to be yet another trite and bland evil overlord. I was far more interested in the Confederacy and what their politics were like than I ever was in anything to do with the Dominion.

Same for Kerrigan. I found the Overmind and cerebrates far more interesting.

The protoss suffered a similar problem. We get introduced to this Star Wars-esque light/dark conflict only for it to be subverted when the dark protoss turn out not to be villains, but then the conflict is quickly resolved and discarded in favor of turning the protoss into damsels in distress that constantly need rescuing.

The manual introduces this whole idea where the terrans are invaded by zerg and protoss, creating a massive clusterf**k war. The games completely botch the execution in favor of absurd soap opera dynamics and lazy space magic.

Quote from: Doom;1118442
I'd go with great artwork, good storytelling (on the curve at least, where "abysmal" was slightly above average), and weak gameplay (again, on the curve...most everyone played SC, but it really seemed like nearly every other RTS had more interesting gameplay).


Even in terms of video game storytelling SC was never more than average.

Aside from what I said above about Blizzard introducing interesting ideas and botching the execution, SC also suffers from trying to shoehorn epic fantasy heroes into a military scifi setting.

This article "Total War: Great Man History" explains the basics of my complaints.

Essentially, I was expecting SC to be a fairly believable take on interstellar warfare, politics, economics, philosophy, etc. Instead I get this absurd soap opera where a handful of lunatics bend the entire universe to their whims regardless of how much sense it would make in a remotely realistic world.

Antiquation!

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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2020, 12:04:52 PM »
Quote from: Doom;1118440
Thing was, you had jillions of different units. A wide array of constructor bots, dozens of tank types, also aircraft and naval units...a ridiculous variety of units, I'm not even coming close to describing all the options. You could build walls and barricades, exploit terrain, your units even gained experience. The game was a full decade ahead of its time.
I loved those spider-bot things that could scale mountain ridges and such. The fact that you could focus almost entirely on naval forces or air superiority as a tactic was goddamned brilliant. Sometimes for a fun way to end a game I would just send my commander into a densely populated base and make him self-destruct in that massive explosion, which I always thought was a neat option to have.

Best RTS I've ever played. I think you've inspired me to reinstall it actually.

Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1118460
The alien characters were especially underdeveloped and the writer seemed not to know how to handle them, preferring to focus on the humans even when their presence did not feel organic.

The Brood War expansion story displayed a dramatic drop in quality. The script was full of bad writing: plot holes, macguffins, deus ex machinas, mary sue, blatantly idiotic behavior, interesting story threads that the writer severed carelessly, etc.

Yep. The alien stories felt utterly shoehorned in, and the hero characters (and their stories) are utter tripe. The Protoss, despite being a really cool concept for an alien race, got shat on. Kerrigan is probably the singularly worst part of the entire series. Brood War was exactly the thing that killed any interest I had in the SC story; I briefly played SC2 but I paid mercilessly little attention to the narrative and I never finished any of the campaigns. At least the cutscenes look cool...
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wolfhillrpg

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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2020, 08:25:29 PM »
Spent many days being a space-marine general.  Kerrigan story line was great!  Protoss were fun to play and the Zerg were always a pain to play against.  But really is there any beating Dune?

Omega

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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2020, 01:04:05 AM »
Personal favourites are...

Roadwar 2000: This is an odd older one as it is a vehicle strategy game and not in the style of the usual isometric or top downs. But was alot of fun to explore and grow my armada of various cars, trucks and freakish recruits.

Abomination: The Nemesis Project: A really interesting post apoc strategy game with a lovecraftian bio-horror twist.  

Warzone 2100: Another fun little post apoc strategy game. Not as robust as TA. But it played well.

Antiquation!

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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2020, 11:12:11 AM »
Quote from: wolfhillrpg;1118539
But really is there any beating Dune?
Cool it with the war stories, grandpa. ;)
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BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2020, 08:15:03 AM »
Quote from: Antiquation!;1118479
Yep. The alien stories felt utterly shoehorned in, and the hero characters (and their stories) are utter tripe. The Protoss, despite being a really cool concept for an alien race, got shat on. Kerrigan is probably the singularly worst part of the entire series. Brood War was exactly the thing that killed any interest I had in the SC story; I briefly played SC2 but I paid mercilessly little attention to the narrative and I never finished any of the campaigns. At least the cutscenes look cool...


Thank you! You have no idea how frustrating it is to debate this stuff with starcraft story fans. 99% of starcraft fans don't care for the story at all. Most of those who cared about quality story left the fandom years ago. Most of those remaining have very strange ideas of what constitutes good storytelling.

Quote from: wolfhillrpg;1118539
Kerrigan story line was great!


I have no idea why people keep thinking this.

I have several rebuttals to that:

https://superior-realities.com/2014/05/02/starcraft-im-just-going-to-say-it/ is a review of BW that points out the numerous writing problems.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12618357/1/Birth-of-a-Queen is a fanfic adaptation/rewrite of Episode 2 that points out the numerous ways that Kerry is detrimental to the story. After twenty years of Kerry Sue worship, I found it an extremely cathartic read.

In fact, according to interviews Kerry was only added to the Episode 2 campaign because the writer thought the zerg characters were boring and was too lazy to make them interesting in their own right.

Antiquation!

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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2020, 10:51:31 AM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1118666
Kerry Sue

LMAO! :p Never heard that before, I'll have to remember that one. Nice links by the way, great summary in the first article! I wonder if they'll ever 'reboot' Starcraft and try again with a clean slate...
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 10:59:23 AM by Antiquation! »
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BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2020, 03:01:06 PM »
Quote from: Antiquation!;1118671
LMAO! :p Never heard that before, I'll have to remember that one.
You're welcome!

Quote from: Antiquation!;1118671
Nice links by the way, great summary in the first article!
That's the only critical review of BW I could find. I tried to find a similar summary for SC1, but none seem to exist.

Quote from: Antiquation!;1118671
I wonder if they'll ever 'reboot' Starcraft and try again with a clean slate...
I doubt it. Every game is basically a soft reboot anyway since Blizzard doesn't seem to care about continuity at all. This results in the overarching story being a complete mess.

Even if they reboot it, Blizz would keep making the same mistakes. Overwatch doesn't have a continuous story or really much of anything besides the most shallow character biographies, but somehow they still managed to contradict themselves several times.

Warcraft is the worst of the lot since it received the most attention. It has a sprawling backstory that makes no sense due to continuous retcons, mistakes, and writers with very different ideas how to approach the story.

Antiquation!

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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2020, 03:28:30 PM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1118701
I doubt it. Every game is basically a soft reboot anyway since Blizzard doesn't seem to care about continuity at all. This results in the overarching story being a complete mess.

Even if they reboot it, Blizz would keep making the same mistakes. Overwatch doesn't have a continuous story or really much of anything besides the most shallow character biographies, but somehow they still managed to contradict themselves several times.

Warcraft is the worst of the lot since it received the most attention. It has a sprawling backstory that makes no sense due to continuous retcons, mistakes, and writers with very different ideas how to approach the story.

Unfortunately you're probably right. You know, it makes me wonder if those die-hard Blizzard fanatics maybe just enjoy these big, sprawling morasses of crapola that Blizzard calls 'lore'? Warcraft is a goddamned travesty; I remember trying to read one of the novels (can't remember the title) and I couldn't even finish it due to all the recursive nonsense, I even enjoyed the Terminator novelizations more than that pile of endless self-referential trash. I miss when it was still just a cute little RTS with cartoony looking orcs, I could never get into WoW (and from what I understand, it's added even more nonsense "lore" to the Warcraft universe?).

I'm unsure of how Overwatch characters are as popular as they are, it's like a form of idol worship for some people and as you noted, they're cardboard cutout stereotypes with little backstory.
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