Should StarCraft II Have Mini-Campaigns?
Blizzard Entertainment fans waited nigh three years between the release date of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and the expansion: Heart of the Swarm. In contrast, World of Warcraft players experience several major content patches throughout the lifespan of an expansion.
For example, the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria expansion has seen so far 4 major content patches, and with no new expansion announcements until BlizzCon, and considering a 6-month beta testing, it is unknown if a patch 5.5 might hit the live servers before the next expansion launches:
- Patch 5.1: Landfall
- Patch 5.2: The Isle of Thunder
- Patch 5.3: Escalation
- Patch 5.4: Siege of Orgrimmar
So the question is, why don’t StarCraft II players have major content patches or additions to the single-player during the 2-3 years time-frame until the next expansion?
That’s a very good question actually. A technically proper answer is that StarCraft II is not an MMO and there is no monthly subscription to justify the manpower and resources. The StarCraft II Team is busy iterating ideas at the creative story and concept art level, the 3D modelers spend a long time with models and animations, the cinematics team does its time-consuming magic, and later the mission maps get created and balanced. Beta testing and further iteration and balance. Then the difficulty-modes. Lot of work.
In short, it’s a long process to get a StarCraft II expansion ironed out and ready for beta testing.
It’s no secret now that Blizzard Entertainment created a small team of developers dedicated exclusively to develop small video games … Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
Thus, something I would like to see for StarCraft II and future StarCraft RTS games is the creation of a small team of developers to expand the StarCraft mythos.
Back in 2009, I interviewed Chris Metzen (VP of Creative Development) during the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty single-player press event held at Blizzard’s Headquarters. I pitched several questions at Chris Metzen about StarCraft II and the StarCraft printed-media such as novels, manga, and comics.
From the pages of Christie Golden’s StarCraft: Dark Templar, Book 1, players experienced the Tal’drim. The Reporter Lockwell and the Dark Voice Amon came from the StarCraft: Frontline manga. The War Pigs mercenaries players hire came from the StarCraft Comics by Simon Furman.
One way or another, the printed-media meshed somewhat with the two StarCraft II episodes, but in some cases at a very minimal fraction.
There are so many awesome StarCraft stories and plots in the novels, the manga, and the comics. Add to that the website short stories and the excitingly breathtaking Project Blackstone transmedia.
Why aren’t these stories brought into StarCraft II? It escapes me. It’s been 4 years since that interview with Chris Metzen. Yet my mind keeps soaring on that thought.
Anyone who played old-school StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War will remember the mini-campaign titled StarCraft: Enslavers. This mini-campaign consisted of 4 maps with a cool story deemed canon. One of the maps had a choice A or choice B, similar to the Nova/Gabriel Tosh mission in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.
Personally, I’d create a small team only focused on pumping out at least two or three mini-campaigns a year whether for StarCraft II, or future RTS/RPG games.
The Creative Team could spotlight some of those cool plots from the manga, the novels, the comics, Project Blackstone and the online short stories in these mini-campaigns.
- Colin Phash
- Project Blackstone
- Gestalt Zero
- Michael Liberty/Lockwell (before or after Arcturus’ death)
- Ghost Academy
- Jake Ramsey and Rosemary Dahl
- The War Pigs
- Gabriel Tosh (before, during, or after SC2)
- Lio Travski (after joining the datastream. Fun infiltration missions into Terran or Protoss buildings)
- Ariel Hanson in Haven
A good opportunity to introduce new non-playable races too as local enemies of certain planets like Safe Haven. Maybe borrow some random elements from Diablo III so that each time the same maps have different quests for replayability.
These mini-campaign packs could have new addons, backgrounds, tiles — that way map makers would like to obtain these mini-campaign packs too to create maps for the StarCraft II Arcade. New portraits, decals, skins and animations exclusive to mini-campaign owners.
The mini-campaigns could be purchased as a DLC through the Battle.net Launcher twice or three times a year. That way by the time the next episode is launched there are at least 6-9 mini-campaigns between expansions or sequels.