Pandygo crashes on Blizzplanet

Written by Andy Go on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Articles, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, Uncategorized, World of Warcraft News

Greetings everyone, my name is Andy “Pandy” Go, I am very happy and thrilled that I am now part of the Blizzplanet Team. I have always been a loyal fan to Blizzplanet ever since the website started back in 2003. I have always been a huge Blizzard fan from Starcraft to Diablo to Warcaft and now Hearthstone.

I hope to provide you all the in-depth information and latest news of all Blizzard Games, and mainly Hearthstone.

starcraft
What it means to be a true blizzard fan..

Review: Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4 - Homecoming

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Products News, Starcraft 2, StarCraft 2 News, Starcraft Manga Reviews

Tokyopop provided a copy of Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4 for review. I have been awaiting this volume for months with a lot of enthusiasm because Chris Metzen is the writer of one of the stories. It’s titled HOMECOMING. Basically it is a backstory tie-in with Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. We were invited to play the Single Player back on July 17, and fans could play the single player demo at Blizzcon 2009. Those who were able to may have experienced and interacted with Jim Raynor at the Joey Ray’s Bar in Mar Sara the first three missions.

The story in this manga starts with Jim Raynor crossing the streets of Mar Sara on his Vulture hovercraft unit and arrives to a ruined house. On the ground there’s a secret vault that opens up after he enters the password. It contained, within, a box that held his Marshall badge, a photo of the Heaven’s Devils with Tychus Findlay in it, the Heaven’s Devils insignia, and more importantly … his wedding ring. You can see all of this in our recent preview scans.

The story is very nicely told shifting from the present to the past, back and forth. We get to see flashes of Jim Raynor’s past with his pregnant wife, then back to the present as Raynor browses through his box of memories. The artwork is great, except for some inconsistencies between young Raynor and old Raynor. And a bit of a puzzle … why is Jim Raynor getting letters from the Confederates, instead of email or a video transmission? If Jim Raynor is a Marshall in the story, why is he not bald-shaved following military protocol like we met him in Starcraft. Oddities in continuity. Constructive criticism aside, let’s move on to the juicy highlights of this story.

SPOILER ALERT

There is a fast-forward scene with his child playing, and a conversation with his wife about their future together. The Confederates sent a letter to Jim Raynor to inform him that his child’s tests revealed some potential psi-abilities and want to train him off-world.

Jim Raynor opposed that decision, but his wife wanted the child to serve their people and sorta have a brighter future than his dad … did that stung his pride as a backwater Marshall. Shortly after the Confederates took the child off-world, Raynor was informed that his child tragically died in an accident. Year, right. Those dirty backstabbing treacherous lying @#$%. Overall, I enjoyed the short story … I see some interesting potential twists in the mind of a man of ideas: Chris Metzen. Did Jim Raynor’s child truly died? Did the Confederates secretly trained the child into a Ghost? If so, after the Arcturus built the Terran Dominion and took over the Ghost Program … what could have been of him?

I’m not sure if I am reading the signals correctly, but here is my take on this:

A. An unknown brand-new character

B. Agent Devon Starke (Ghost # 25876)

C. Is he among the Starcraft Ghost: Academy cadets?

C. Drools …. protoss/human hybrid: Gestalt Zero (former human)

I see some drama coming our way throughout the three episodes of StarCraft II. The manga story by Chris Metzen wraps up at the Joey Ray’s Bar where we see how the Mar Sara Marshal badge ends up strapped to the wall in-game, and a report by Kate Lockwell plays in the background. Here we see Raynor taking his first glass of alcohol, and we learn why he stubbornly persists on his fight against Arcturus and his Terran Dominion.

The story was too short, and could have explored other aspects of Jim Raynor’s past, such as a more in-depth view of the Heaven’s Devils team, and those outlaw stuff Raynor did in his young years prior to marrying. At least just a mention. I guess we will have to find out on April 6, 2010 when Pocket Books launches Starcraft: Heaven’s Devils by William C. Dietz.

A little backstory or mention of the Zerg invasion, the destruction of the infested Command Center that got him arrested by the Confederates, his liberation by Arcturus Mengsk and other stuff could have served to stretch the story a bit longer than what we got, but I am optimistic that Chris Metzen’s story had two specific goals: to see what the ghosts tormenting Jim Raynor are, and my personal interpretation of a possible plot hanging in the air … did the Confederates say the truth about Raynor’s son? Did he truly die? Will his son play an important role in the game, and later climax revealing out of nowhere X character is his son?

This manga doesn’t really answer any of those questions. As far as I read, Jim Raynor did never see a corpse. He simply read a letter saying so. He took it for granted to be true. And we know you should never trust a Confederate, as they manipulate the info for their own deceptive and secret agenda. Will this plot find out its way into any of the three episodes of Starcraft II? Or in a Starcraft II novel maybe? In a Starcraft: Ghost game? Hmm .. that’s worth a thought. More on the next Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4 stories as I read them. For now, get your hands on this final volume of the Starcraft: Frontline series, and if you can, collect the other four volumes. They have very nice plots that tie-in with the single player — as you can hear straight from Chris Metzen in our video interview.

Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Books and Single Player Lore Synch

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Printed Media and Single Player Lore Integration

During my visit to the Blizzard Entertainment offices, I had the opportunity to be among the first few mortals beyond Blizzard developers to be able to play and experience the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player back on July 20, 2009.

In summary, it was simply awesome.  Not just as the player who enjoys RTS games in single-player mode and enjoys to go through the whole storyline, but also as the lore-nerd.  That sounds redundant, but I will explain how different both terms are.

The latter means much more than just the single player.  It is no secret to fans who have followed my news reports over the past seven years that I am a hardcore collector of all Blizzard games licensed products such as novels, mangas and most recently subscriber to the Starcraft comic book.

If you are among the fans who have never read a Starcraft novel or one of the Starcraft: Frontline manga you will play through the single player shrugging at many unknown characters, and wondering what certain objects or symbols’ meaning is.  You will probably overlook them, and discard them as you go through the missions.

However, if you are a lore-nerd such as me, who have read most of the Starcraft novels and manga, every step of yours through the missions will be filled with awe and drool.  You will be analyzing every bit of info and details in each mission and most importantly you will recognize them and understand how much work and passion the developers have put into making your printed media lore knowledge and the single player missions be seemlessly one and the same—integrated as one flowing continuity of the wholesome that comprehends the Starcraft universe.

No … I am not smoking anything, in fact I have never smoked or done any of the other stuff.  I’m sober, maybe drunk with excitement and euphoria, but nothing beyond that. Chris Metzen told me the single player stories and ideas came to be first. And from there, it branched out into the novels and manga.  This is a work of ten years of jammin’ ideas in the making integrating both media as time goes to make everyone’s experience much more rewarding.  I played through six missions of the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player at a room within Blizzard Entertainment campus in Irvine.  And my lore-nerd spider-sense tingled the whole ride.

That means, I stopped many times to look at something and after a quick glance I had a pay off.  I could recognize certain details from the stuff I have read in the novels and manga.

For example, in the very first encounter with Jim Raynor, you are in Mar Sara at the Joey Ray’s Bar.  On the bulletin board by the wall is a piece of newspaper pinned to it.  You can click the newspaper and the view zooms in to let you read the news report.  There you see a photo of Jim Raynor carrying an orphan girl through a fire.

The news says that the Terran Dominion forces are retreating from the fringe-worlds, recalled by Emperor Mengsk to protect the core-worlds.  All the fringe-worlds are abandoned without military support, risking to be overrun by the renewed zerg invasion.  Jim Raynor heard the call for help through a mayday transmission and decided to rescue all these people aboard the Hyperion.  Eight hundred civilians to be exact.  Where the heck did my lore-nerd spider sense tingled with that? Meteor Station. If you haven’t read the Starcraft mangas the location where this heroics took place will mean nothing to you—you will overlook it and move forward.

To us lore-nerds this will ring a bell.  Meteor Station [Kel-Morian Mining Post].  The only place to my knowledge that this place is ever mentioned is in the short story titled Last Call by manga-writer Grace Randolph.  This short story may be found in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 3.

In this story, a female singer who used to work in Tarsonis lived the horror of the Zerg invasion triggered by Mengsk when he ordered Sarah Kerrigan to bring the psi-emitter to Tarsonis to lure the zerg upon the throneworld of the Confederacy.

A zerg queen somehow implanted a parasite in her cheek, allowing her to live unharmed beyond the disfigured cheek.  Few years fast-forward, Starry now sings at Meteor Station in a remote fringe-world. She thinks she came here to forget her past, and the nightmares that torments her ever since.  However, she is unknowingly serving a purpose for Kerrigan the Queen of Blades. She is unaware of it.

The Kel-Morian Combine has unearthed a Xel’Naga artifact during an excavation drill.  The Terran Dominion has shown interest in purchasing this artifact from the Kel-Morian before they sell it to the black market.  For this matter, the Dominion sends an ambassador to meet a Kel-Morian ambassador at Meteor Station.

Separately, Starry beds both of them, unknowingly extracting critical and classified info from both men.  Shortly after, the Zerg ambushes both ambassadors and steal the artifact.  The Dominion found Starry, and questioned her about the zerg, the whereabouts of the artifact and the deaths of both ambassadors.  The Dominion asked the doctors if she was infested.  The scanners did not detect anything. An inner-voice is heard within Starry, and we see a closeup of her infested brain.  “We evolve. The next stage of evolution has been successful.”

Pretty nice story—apologies for spoiling it.  So now that you know the relevance of Meteor Station, when you get to play the single player and read on the bulletin board’s newspaper the name of this location—you will go: “Ohhhh … aha!”  It’s a priceless feeling.

Now you have to wonder.  If Starry returned to sing at Meteor Station, and Jim Raynor just rescued 800 citizens from there—- didn’t Raynor just get a zerg-parasited-spy aboard the Hyperion? One that allows Kerrigan to listen to anything said near her? Hmmm …

From the few missions I played, I didn’t get to see Starry aboard the Hyperion, but ultimately it still makes you wonder what has been her fate after the short story, and how that could mean a world of trouble to Jim Raynor if Kerrigan’s next zerg evolution can effectively cloak zerg parasites from Terran scanners, and spy upon the Dominion and Raynor’s Raiders with terran hosts that aren’t even aware they are serving as an instrument of remote espionage.

You can find Jim Raynor’s Marshal badge from his old days at the Mar Sara backwater pinned to the cantina wall.  You will interact a lot with Tychus Findlay and Jim Raynor who talk about their old days before he was a Marshal; and find out a lot about Raynor’s past in Warcraft Legends Vol. 5 which has a story about Raynor by Chris Metzen and in the upcoming Starcraft: Heaven’s Devils by writer William C. Dietz, [due December 1, 2009].

Most of your entire missions are about earning credits through mercenary jobs and to retrieve Xel’Naga artifacts.  All of these artifacts are a plot you will recognize from Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy by Christie Golden.  According to Chris Metzen, there is much more to the artifacts you are gathering throughout the campaign, intimately tied to the Xel’Naga’s return plot.

The next two missions set in Mar Sara do not offer much of a backstory lore reference from the licensed printed products, but once Captain Matt Horner arrives to extract Jim Raynor and Tychus Findlay aboard the Hyperion, you will notice a few interesting lore bits implemented in the game from the novels and manga.

For instance, take a look at this up-to-date screenshot of the Hyperion’s Bridge.  And compare it with the bridge screenshot shown at Blizzcon 2007 [a couple of years ago].  The bridge got a complete graphic overhaul.  It looks more detailed now, and you will notice these black wolf heads on the Star Map console and all around the ceiling.

A fan that has never read any of the novels, will just see some meh-don’t-care-wolf heads there, and ignore them.  A lore-nerd like myself will simply drool and say: “OMG, I know what that means!!!”. And one memory will trigger another, and you will connect the lore references laid hidden here and there.

You know … the Hyperion battlecruiser used to belong to Arcturus Mengsk in the classic Starcraft (1998).  Jim Raynor stole it after Mengsk abandoned Sara Kerrigan to die to the Zerg and defected the Sons of Korhal. That’s an important backstory info—the Hyperion was formerly Mengsk’s.

The next dot comes in the shape of these black wolf heads in the Bridge.  If you have read Starcraft: I, Mengsk by writer Graham McNeill—you already know that this book is divided into three parts which explore three generations of Mengsk: Angus, Arcturus and Valerian.

From this book, you will learn that the Mengsk family’s crest is a … wolf insignia.  See how small a detail the developers integrated into the game? Considering they went through all the trouble of overhauling the bridge’s graphics to add this lore reference, it’s amazing.  Wait till you hear about other major stuff.

When you play through the mission Tooth and Nail set in the protoss shrine-world Monlyth, you will see these protoss are tagged as Tal’drim. To fans who never read the novels, that’s meaningless.  A random name.  Inconsequential. Let’s just pew-pew them to kingdom-come. Right?

To lore-nerd fans this will be a major loregasm.  Though these Tal’drim don’t offer any sign to be the same as the ones in Aiur, they are the same tribe. So we will have to find out throughout the three episodes of Starcraft II who these guys are and how they got there.  Monlyth has been abandoned for centuries, and we don’t know exactly how long these Tal’drim have been in Monlyth.  Whether they are the same people, who somehow managed to leave Aiur to reach this place, or not.  That’s vague, I know.  But you know very well, I will spill the beans—so you better not mind spoilers.

After the invasion of Aiur, the very first Protoss mission in Starcraft: Brood War is about Zeratul finding other Aiur protoss and to rally them toward the Warpgate to escape Aiur.  Remember that mission?  Jim Raynor and Fenix show up and stay behind to protect the Warpgate while you move your units toward the Warpgate.  Its destination is Shakuras.

Many protoss were able to escape and reached Shakuras. As they teleported to the other side, the warpgate’s coordinates to Shakuras were locked out to prevent any zerg from reaching Shakuras.  However, there were still many Protoss left behind in Aiur who still lived and survived.  Artanis knew about them, and still left them behind thinking it was much more important to ensure no zerg would follow them through the warpgate.

The surviving protoss defended themselves from the Zerg for the past years in a ruined Aiur, and their faith in the Khala remained strong.  But they kept losing more protoss to the zerg’s attacks day by day.  Other survivors however grew tired of fighting the zerg and their faith in the Khala was severed.  These felt anger and despair.  Their fellow protoss had abandoned them in Aiur, left to die and rot to the zerg.

The Tal’drim tribe felt again the memory of the day the Xel’Naga abandoned them, when they felt unworthy and blamed each other for that back then. They felt the same now that their fellow protoss abandoned them by closing the way to Shakuras.  The leader of the Tal’drim decided they would no longer believe in the Khala.  He rallied other surviving protoss to follow him to the forbidden caverns of Aiur to seek shelter and technology to survive the zerg.  The Tal’drim are in a mental state similar to that of the Aeon of Strife, before Khas thought them the Khala.

Those who did not follow the Tal’drim, remained in the jungles and other ruins for shelter, and fought bravely the zerg day by day. Their faith in the Khala stronger than ever. These renamed themselves the Shel’na Kry’ha [“Those who endure”].  While the Tal’drim renamed themselves to “The Forged”.

The Khala heretics [The Forged / Tal’drim] entered the forbidden caverns beneath Aiur, where the Xel’Naga chambers hide many secrets.  There they found a patron that protected them from the zerg.  Their patron was Dark Archon Ulrezaj [from the Enslavers: Dark Vengeance campaign mission in Starcraft: Brood War—you might remember the Schezar’s Scavengers too]

These Tal’drim known as the Forge use a drug named Sundrop, provided by Ulrezaj.  It inhibits the Khala, and blocks them from the other protoss tribes. You will learn a lot about the Tal’drim in Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy, book two: Shadow Hunters by Christie Golden.  You can watch my video interview with Christie [Book Revue, Huntington, New York - June 13] for further details on this trilogy.

Now we find the Tal’drim in the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player in a remote shrine-world that is not Aiur.  How did they get here?  Are they the Forged, or were they already in Monlyth unaware of what happened to the Forged in Aiur?  I asked Chris Metzen during my visit to Blizzard Entertainment’s headquarter [on July 20, 2009] if these Tal’drim are also influenced by Dark Archon Ulrezaj.  His response was kinda cryptic, and all he could really say is that we will see the Tal’drim’s motives play out throughout the single player and it sounded like we will keep seeing the Tal’drim throughout the next two episodes [Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void]—you can watch the video interview with Chris Metzen here.

Another reference from the Tokyopop manga merchandise can be seen throughout all the single player.  Blizzard introduced a new character named Reporter Kate Lockwell.  She reports for the UNN news network. She is neutral on her coverage of the Terran Dominion and rebel affairs.

Fans who do not read any of this merchandise stuff prior to the game will just see a random reporter with no backstory to her.  Lore-nerds however will be excited to see Kate Lockwell in the flesh integrated into the game each time you visit the Cantina Room to learn the latest news from the interactive TV screen. After any mission ends, you can head to the Cantina Room and click to the TV screen.  It will play a different news report by Kate Lockwell each time you complete a mission.  Very nice.

Kate Lockwell has been in a few of the manga short stories such as Newsworthy by manga-writer Grace Randolph [Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 2] and War-Torn by the same manga-writer [Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 3].



Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 1

Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 2

Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 3

In Newsworthy, she comes aboard a battlecruiser to report the lifestyle of the Dominion marines, and why other youth should join the marines.  They are portrayed as heroes who protect the Dominion core-worlds from alien threat (zerg and protoss).  However, she soon finds out that Emperor Mengsk and the Dominion forces are hiding many info from the news media and the public eye.  These past four years the Terran Dominion hasn’t gone offworld to fight the zerg nor the protoss.  All this time they have been salvaging Confederate properties and resources, disowning legally acquired property, and killing Terrans who spread bad propaganda against Mengsk, or that may have ties with the rebels who support Jim Raynor and Michael Liberty.

Reporter Kate Lockwell found out there were prisoners aboard the battlecruiser after a mission she was not allowed to partake for her news coverage, and to her shock a storage room was full of corpses from the mysterious mission the Dominion forces were sent to. She took video footage of this storage room, and was threatened by the captain to give up the CD copies to him, and shoots her.  At this point, Michael Liberty and his rebels aboard the battlecruiser and Lockwell gives him the video footage to report it through the clandestine communication channels.

In the meantime, Lockwell was rescued by the Dominion and continues reporting what the Dominion wishes her to report.  She pretends to be a neutral reporter, but in reality she knows the truth and knows what Jim Raynor and other rebels are doing is rightful.

In the manga short story War-Torn we learn about the telepath boy Colin Phash—son of Dominion senator Corbin Phash—who is hunted down by the Dominion after finding that the senator had held info about his son’s psionic potential.  Both are hunted down throughout the fringe-worlds.  The Senator asked the Umojan Protectorate Minister Jorgensen to offer asylum to him and his boy.  However, the boy is captured by the Dominion.  We see Reporter Kate Lockwell announcing his capture and revealing to the public what the Dominion wants the public to know (lies).

It’s awesome to see this character [Kate Lockwell] in the single player informing players of the current status after our missions. It feels like players are part of a breathing-universe while playing through the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player that integrates the licensed products and the game lore as one and the same strongly rooted in a flowing continuity.

We will see Colin Phash branch out into the upcoming Tokyopop manga Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1 [January 1, 2010]. Metzen said during our interview there are no plans any time soon to include Colin Phash to the single player—however, between you and me, I smell the Starcraft: Ghost game rebirth somewhere in the depths of some triple-neosteel-plated vault within the Blizzard campus.

Regardless, two characters from the Starcraft: Ghost series will appear in the Single Player: the Terran Dominion ghost November Annabella Terra also known as Nova from Starcraft: Ghost Nova by Keith R.A. DeCandido. Also known as the main character of the postponed FPS game. She will make a cameo in one of the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player missions—according to Chris Metzen.

The other character from this series is Gabriel Tosh who appears onscreen in the Mission Briefing computer at the Hyperion’s Bridge Room.  He offers you a mercenary mission titled “Mining Your Own Business” in planet Redstone III—known as the lava world.  He seems to know his share of info about the Terran Guild Wars and the Kel-Morian Combine and Umojan Protectorate history from what I could read in the single player hands-on.

The lore-nerd spider-sense in me tingled wildly when I read the name of this guy.  The reason?  He is one of the students in the academy where Nova studied and will appear in the Tokyopop manga titled Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1 [January 1, 2010].  We will see a younger self in this new manga series.  However, we will also find Gabriel Tosh in the upcoming Pocket Books novel titled Starcraft: Ghost Spectres [March 30, 2010].

We will learn a lot of backstory lore about Gabriel Tosh and Nova in these merchandise.  Additionally, Nova will appear in the Starcraft comic book published by Wildstorm Comics from famous-writer [of The Transformers] Simon Furman—as revealed during the San Diego Comic Con 2009, a few days ago.

During my interview with Chris Metzen a few weeks ago at the Blizzard campus, I asked him if the War Pigs mercenaries would be among the mercenaries we hire from Mr. Graven Hill at the Cantina Room in the Hyperion.  The War Pigs are the main characters of the Starcraft comic book by Wildstorm Comics.  Metzen said there are no plans to add them to Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, but they will have them in mind for any of the other two episodes [Heart of the Swarm or Legacy of the Void].  We will eventually see the War Pigs in the next episodes of the single player.

So keep your eyes peeled and subscribe to the comic book to absorb all the new lore these guys have to offer by no less than Simon Furman.  In the first arc, they are sent by Arcturus Mengsk to kill Jim Raynor.  They have been hunting him down through the Kropulu.  What I am wondering is if the zerg has started invading the fringe-worlds once more after four years of hiatus—could this mean the War Pigs will be surrounded like General Duke and be saved by the man they are sent to kill?

That would be very interesting if they join the rebels, and eventually show up in the single player.  Before wrapping up, for those who have missed it, Chris Metzen wrote a short story based on Jim Raynor which will be published in the upcoming Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4 [Sept 29, 2009] which may offer some extra backstory to digest in preparation for the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player.  Enough of my musings and speculations—the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is full of fun to play, but it gives me that extra kick in the brain to see all this lore from the novels, manga and comic book integrated into the core of the single player.  I LOVE YOU, BLIZZARD !!!

I also wish to thank Chris Metzen for inviting me to this single player event, as well as Shon Damron, CW, Karune, and Bob Colayco. I also wish to add it is amazing to see Robert Clotworthy back in action as our beloved voice of Jim Raynor. Thus, thanks to the Starcraft community who signed our petition to Blizzard to reconsider the reprisal of the voice that’s dear to us. Rock on!

Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Chris Metzen Interview

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Products News, BlizzCon, BlizzCon 2009, BlizzPlanet Articles, Interviews, Starcraft 2, Starcraft 2 Articles, StarCraft 2 News

Hi, I am Medievaldragon. I had the opportunity to visit the Blizzard Entertainment Headquarters to play the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player campaign. I barely played through six missions, but I can tell you it was an AWESOME experience from a lore nerd point of view.

After hours playing the game, I asked Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s senior vice-president of Creative Design many questions about the single player and its relevance with the printed media such as the novels, manga and comic book. Here is our interview coverage with Chris Metzen.

TRANSCRIPThttp://www.blizzplanet.com/blog/comments/

Blizzard Quote:
I was playing the single player, and I saw something very interesting.  The mission is titled Tooth and Nail.  It is set in the protoss shrine-world Monlyth.  I noticed these protoss are the Tal’drim tribe, which is interesting because this is the name of the tribe in Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy by Christie Golden—shown in book two: Shadow Hunters.

The Tal’drim in this book are however known as The Forged.  They were among the protoss who were abandoned and left behind during the Invasion of Aiur.  Most of the protoss evacuated through the warpgate to reach Shakuras, and to avoid zerg from reaching Shakuras, they sealed the gateway leaving behind many protoss to their own fate.

Jim Raynor and Fenix stayed behind to make sure the Zerg wouldn’t reach the gateway.  These protoss survivors were deeply affected emotionally reliving their abandonment by the Xel’Naga, left behind to despair. Their faith in the Khala was affected, and they eventually rejected the sanctity of the Khala.

The Tal’drim survived thanks to a mysterious patron who protected them from the Zerg, deep in the forbidden caverns of Aiur.  This patron granted the Tal’drim known as The Forged a special drug named Sundrop which inhibits chemically the Khala without cutting off their head appendages.  In short, the Tal’drim are effectively blocked from their psychic commonality with the other protoss survivors in Aiur known as Those who endure, and are unable to read their thoughts.  It’s as if the Tal’drim had devolved to be like those protoss from before the Aeon of Strife, before the Khala was taught by Khas.

My question to you is, Are these other Tal’drim protoss in Monlyth also under the influence of Dark Archon Ulrezaj?

Metzen: How do I answer that.  Are the Tal’darim influenced by Ulrezaj?.  That’s still playing out.  To some degree it’s the same group, but the group might be larger than what you saw in SHADOW HUNTERS specifically.

In the first two missions set in Mar Sara, players have access to the Joey Ray’s Bar and can interact with Jim Raynor who is drinking.  There is a piece of newspaper attached to the bulletin board on the wall and you can interact with it. It says the Zerg has returned to invade the fringe-worlds and Emperor Arcturus has recalled the Terran Dominion forces to return to the core-worlds, leaving the fringe-worlds to fend on their own.

Jim Raynor heard the call for help, and rescued 800 civilians, including an orphan girl,  from a place known as Meteor Station – a Kelmorian Mining Post.  The lore fan-spider-sense in me tingled wildly. This is quite interesting, because the only place the fans have ever heard of this place: Meteor Station, was in the short story by Grace Randolph titled Last Call.  This short story is from the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 3 by Tokyopop.  Are we going to meet some of these characters, locations and plots from the mangas in the Single Player?

Metzen I think in general with the novels we’ve been doing recently with Christie Golden and definitely a lot of the manga short stories we’re definitely trying to season the game and the ancillary fiction with as much ideas, either in cross-pollinated ideas as possible.  We always like taking little hooks from one thing or another and translating into those different medium stories.  It just feels a little more contiguous ultimately.  It’s kind of interesting that these names and these ideas are being leveraged across the board.

So I think with the Tal’drim specifically there is definitely a tie there to the events happening in the Dark Templar trilogy but it’ll probably play itself out on a much longer basis.

I am definitely loving all these lore references found throughout my single player hands-on experience,  While in the Hyperion, I visited the Cantina Room and met Mr. Graven Hill, the local black market pirate.  Jim Raynor can hire different Kel-Morian mercenaries from him to help you in some of the tough missions for a price.  This really excites me for a very good reason.  I am a subscriber of the Starcraft comic book by Wildstorm comics.

As it stands, in the comic book, the War Pigs are working for the Terran Dominion, and they have been ordered to hunt down and kill Jim Raynor. However, I am guessing that at some point if the Terran Dominion abandons the War Pigs to the Zerg like they did with General Duke, and Sarah Kerrigan, and like they are doing in the present with the fringe-worlds, the War Pigs might take a turn and join the rebels as mercenaries. Are we going to eventually hire the War Pigs in Starcraft II at the Cantina?

Metzen: Interesting, will we meet the War Pigs in StarCraft 2?  I think, as it stands, they don’t make an appearance in Wings of Liberty specifically.  But we’ll keep it in mind, because we’ve been enjoying where the comic series has been going and there’s potentially a lot of rich characterization there so we’ll see down the road.

During my tour through Blizzard’s Starcraft II offices I saw on the wall a poster of various character animation portraits that will be used in the game’s interface. I saw Starcraft: Ghost’s Nova’s portrait.  I also saw Gabriel Tosh in the mission titled Mining Your Own Business set in the planet Redstone III.  I am psyched to see this character too because he is going to appear in the Pocket Books novel titled STARCRAFT: GHOST SPECTRES by Keith DeCandido on sale March 30, 2010 and he also appears in the Tokyopop manga titled STARCRAFT: GHOST ACADEMY on sale January 1, 2010.

I also saw Reporter Kate Lockwell in the single player, a character that also appears in the STARCRAFT: FRONTLINE manga.  Are we going to see Nova and Colin Phash (the telepath boy)? This boy was introduced in the short story War-Torn in the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 2 and 3, and has been confirmed to appear in Starcraft: Ghost Academy too.  Since we are seeing Gabriel Tosh from that manga in the game, are we going to see Colin Phash in the single player?

Metzen: I’m not as sure about Phash making an appearance in the game specifically but I think we’ve said before Nova’s certainly a character that is near and dear to us and we’ve got plans for her [in] the Ghost Academy manga and the upcoming novels Spectres as well.  So, yea, we’ve worked a little cameo of Nova in but I’d had to give away exactly how she plays into the story. It’s pretty cool [and] it’ll feel worthy for those fans of the character that never actually got to play her in her own title.

During my single player hands on experience I read in a piece of newspaper the name Michael Liberty.  That really intrigued me.  This is the same reporter who debuted in the Pocket Books novel Starcraft: Liberty by Jeff Grubb.  He has made a few cameos in Starcraft: Queen of Blades by Aaron Rosenberg and in the Tokyopop manga short story titled Newsworthy by Grace Randolph in the Starcraft: Frontline Volume 2.  Are we going to see Michael Liberty reporting news from the rebels’ side through clandestine broadcasts on the TV screen at the Cantina Room?

Metzen: I think Liberty actually does not show up in this campaign.  We had talked about it a lot earlier on but because he’s so extreme in his views where he’s so anti-government that we needed leverage, we kind of needed to create a new reporter that was a little more even in the kind of stories that she could report.  But I still hold out hope that we’re going to get Liberty in because he’s potentially a really cool character to use.

There is an interesting concept played out through the short story Do No Harm by Josh Elder.  A Terran Dominion scientist has been capturing Protoss and experimenting with their DNA to create a Human-Protoss hybrid prototype.  There have been other previous prototypes, but this one in particular is pretty strong and uses Ghost technology to stealth. The Terran Dominion plans to create an army of these hybrids to protect the core-worlds.  Are we going to see a follow-up of this play out into the Single Player? This guy is pretty much the Rexxar of Starcraft.

Metzen: I think that one, for now, is kind more of a one-off.  I don’t think there’s any plans to follow up on that theme anytime soon in terms of the game itself, in terms of the game story.  But I dig that story a lot that I think it’s more of just a really cool story by itself.

I remember you said in Blizzcon 2007, there were plans to add a planet encyclopedia into the Star Map where players could have the opportunity to learn some lore about each planet. Is that still the plan?  I didn’t get to see much of that in the single player build I just played.

Based on the build that you guys have been playing today we’ve pulled back a degree of that.  Most of that was a design decision, a UI decision, [where] we wanted the interface to be as clean as possible.  The current iteration is very much the one we’re running with barring some minor changes that could happen, but I think we’ve pulled a little bit more away from the grinding Encyclopedia Galactica idea that you were talking about.  It just didn’t take the shape that we were anticipating.

In this instance I think “less is more”.  We’ve still got a lot of lore based on a lot of the planets and their histories and their unique environments and things like that so a lot of that does inform the story and then per some of the blue screens or whatever there’s some data there that gives you a sense of the context of each planet but it probably won’t take as grand a shape as some of the things we were chasing earlier on.

In Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy, book three: Twilight we learn that Zeratul has been moving from place to place these past four years using the Xel’Naga gateways that are revealed to be spread all across the galaxy. Jake Ramsey and Zamara were stranded in a snowy planet for example, before entering the coordinates to reach a tropical planet where they find Zeratul’s ship.  Is it me, or are there breadcrumbs in the novel hinting that we will explore other star systems in the single player by using these Xel’Naga gateways?

Metzen: I think at some point it’s reasonable that we’ll use those Xel’Naga gates and explore the unexplored.  It’s hard to answer in terms of giving anything away for StarCraft II but we wouldn’t have built them [laughter] if we weren’t going to use them.

That’s interesting.  You know, I don’t know off the top of my head.  I don’t think I’m the guy to answer that one. [coughs, I’m not authorized to ...]

The Snipers?

Metzen: Right.

[we all laugh—this is a joke between Metzen and I referenced back to our previous video interview during the New York Comic Con 2009 (February) when I asked him about Gilneas. They have big plans for Gilneas, but he couldn’t say anymore because there were snipers on the roof that you know ... would shoot him. As he said this, he was looking at the roof—the snipers referring to Blizzard Public Relations Department.]

What has been your personal experience trying to cram up all this lore from the novels, the manga and the comic book into the single player as one solid integrated continuity of the Starcraft universe? We know that you had to split the Starcraft II single player game into three separate episodes: Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void to fit all the lore.

Metzen: Right.  How do I respond.  I think we haven’t gone out of our way to cram all the lore from comics and all that stuff into the game.  Really we’ve been building the game’s story for so long that things like the Dark Templar trilogy or all the things you see in the manga really have just kind of organically spun out of what we were building anyway.

The trick to StarCraft II now being in these three installments is that there was a lot to play with in the first place.  We had 10 years worth of expectations and stories we wanted to chase and arcs of these characters that we wanted to explore.  So we came packing with a lot of ideas, and the idea of separating each of these chapters into their own boxed product essentially allows us to really round out each race’s stories without having to throw a bunch of stuff out.

We actually get to say everything [that] we set out to say in terms of story and we’re very proud of how Wings of Liberty has come off and I love the ending.  I can’t talk about it, obviously, but I really love Raynor’s arc and I feel everything [that] we wanted to engineer into his great journey – in his way, his redemption for what he feels are past mistakes – I really feel that we got all that in there.

While it might start on a bit of a lower note, this is not necessarily a super human guy at the height of his game at the start of the game, he definitely finds his feet very quickly and becomes the man we need and expect him to be over the process of Wings of Liberty.  It’s just been very cool to see all that come together and have all the other Ancillary lore really inform the story as its taking shape as well.

Special thanks to Chris Metzen, Shon Damron, CW, Karune and Bob Colayco for inviting me to this single player press event.  And to Troglodyte from StarcraftWire.net for compiling the transcript.

Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 20

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

This screenshot is from the mission “The Evacuation of Aria”.  In this map you need to escort 50 civilians all along the road toward the hangar site—seen in this screenshot—where you can see three Hercules-class dropships awaiting civilians for extraction.  The zerg is overrunning the colony and needs to be taken offworld asap.  You will see a cargo truck appear near your base approximately every 5 minutes or less.  Dr. Hanson will contact you to inform you their next truck is ready to be escorted to the hangar.  Each truck contains 10 civilians.  If the truck is destroyed, 10 civilians will spawn where the truck was destroyed.

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Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 19

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Here you can see the dig site where the Terran Dominion forces are attempting to extract a Xel’Naga artifact offworld.  The sights are amazing.  It shows how much detail Blizzard is putting to make our single player experience be worth the wait. This image is from mission # 2: The Dig.  It’s located in Mar Sara.

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Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 18

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

I assume the object the Raynor’s Raiders are reaching in this screenshot is one of the Protoss relics needed to complete 12/12 relics for the Xeno Research Project that grants you gain + 1 armor to all vehicles.  This bonus mission objective can be obtained aboard the Hyperion at the Lab Room.  This screenshot is from planet Monlyth for the mission: “Tooth and Nail”.  The enemy in this mission is the Protoss Tal’drim tribe.

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Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 17

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

In the mission: “Tooth and Nail”, you arrive to the Protoss shrine-world Monlyth.  It was abandoned centuries ago, but the Tal’drim tribe is here for mysterious reasons.  Your mission is to retrieve a Xel’Naga artifact guarded by them.  For the lore-nerds out there, the Tal’drim tribe is the same shown in Starcraft: The Dark Templar, Shadow Hunters by Christie Golden.  Except those were left behind during the Invasion of Aiur and have survived by allying with a patron who turned out to be Dark Archon Ulrezaj.  He gave them a drug named Sundrop which inhibits the Khala artificially without cutting their head-appendages.  Those other Tal’drim named themselves The Forged.

I asked Chris Metzen during our video interview on July 20, 2009—see the video on the main article page—if these Tal’drim are also under the influence of Dark Archon Ulrezaj—he didn’t confirm nor deny. He will let us find out as we play the single player.  However, here I present to you Exhibit A … this screenshot will show you what I saw while playing the single player myself at Blizzard’s headquarters.  These are supposed to be Aiur protoss—yet here you can see they are using a Stalker—which is Dark Templar technology.  Aiur protoss are supposed to use Dragoons.  So in a sense this basically answered my question partially.  The only way these Tal’drim could use Dark Templar technology is if Dark Archon Ulrezaj provided it. Rest my case.

For example, in the novel we are told that The Forged are stranded in Aiur, and have Ulrezaj as their patron—however, we find out later on that Zamara’s assassination attempt before Jake Ramsey found her in the Xel’Naga temple was from Ulrezaj’s lackeys—but if the Forged were supposedly stranded in Aiur, who were these protoss who chased her in the first place?  Probably these guys. (report by detective Medievaldragon—this is assumption of course)

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Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 16

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Here you can see the lava in all its awesome splendor all the way up to where the yellow minerals used to be.  All buildings and units get intense hot—we have never seen this special effects in any RTS game where even the hue of units and buildings gets an intense reddish aura about it.  Sheesh, I can even feel the sweat running down by looking at that.

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Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 15

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

The single player mission “Mining Your Own Business” in planet Redstone III is one of the most fun maps due to the special effects and mechanics.  You must mine a certain amount of minerals while getting assaulted by the zerg and evading the lava.  This is a lava world.  Send your SCVs to mine from the yellow minerals down the ramp.  However, when the Adjutant warns everyone to leave the perimeter and to move up the ramp—you should do so immediately. You have a a few seconds to do so.

The lava can be seen far down below the canyon, however—the lava will rise in real-time all the way up to the ramp. Anything caught by the lava is instantly destroyed.  Wait until the lava subsides back down the canyon.  On another note, this mission is given by Gabriel Tosh—who we will find in the upcoming Starcraft: Ghost Spectres (Pocket Books, 2010) and Starcraft: Ghost Academy (Tokyopop, 2010).

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Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 14

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Here we have a close-up look at the Cantina Room’s Juke Box and TV screen.  In here Kate Lockwell is reporting on the Zerg invasion onto the Dominion fringe-worlds.  You can see the boots hanging on the cables to the left, and on the right—I can see Jim Raynor’s Marshal badge from his days before the Zerg invasion to Mar Sara a few years ago.

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Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 13

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

This is the Cantina Room within the Hyperion battlecruiser.  There are many things here to sink your eye-teeth in.  First, the guy on the far left is Mr. Graven Hill (or Mr. Hill).  He is the guy you should visit often to hire Mercenaries. When click on his laptop, you get access to the Mercenary Interface which lists all the available mercenary types.  You can interact with the Juke Box strapped to the ceiling-computer to play Country music.  You can also click on the TV screen to watch the latest report from Kate Lockwell.  You should watch the TV often because after every mission she talks about the current status after your actions, or things the Terran Dominion responded to your actions or plans to do.  A lore source for lore fans—so it’s optional.

Something funny about the TV screen is the note taped onto it, which says: “Don’t shoot the screen.”—probably a reminder so that Raynor doesn’t shoot at the screen when Arcturus Mengsk is talking on the news.  There are two nice easter eggs in the Cantina Room: The holographic dancer on the top dances exactly like the World of Warcraft night elf female (which in turn is a dance from french singer Aliz

Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 12

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

In this image, you can see the Lab Room inside the Hyperion.  You are greeted by the young scientist Steltman.  At first glance you wouldn’t notice, but the object floating in front of Jim Raynor seems to be one of the Xel’Naga artifacts.  The Lab is an alternate source for bonus upgrades only available through the Xeno Research Project.  You must click on the console in front of Jim Raynor to access this interface.  There you can see available projects which give you bonus mission objectives such as retrieving 12 protoss relics from any of the missions to obtain +1 armor to all your vehicles; or kill 4 Brutalisk (Zerg mutants) to gain bonus weapon damage; or 4 chrysalis to gain infantry +1 damage.  This is a place you would want to check out as soon as it becomes available through you somewhere after mission # 3: Zero Hour.

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Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 10

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

After the third mission (Zero Hour) and its posterior cinematics end, your view is shift inside the Hyperior at the Bridge.  You can see Captain Matt Horder, Jim Raynor and Tychus Findlay in this screenshot.  One thing to note in this screenshot is how much the bridge has evolved from what we saw at Blizzcon 2007.  This is a totally overhauled design, and those lore-nerds out there like myself will notice a lore reference in the new design of the Hyperion.  For example, the Hyperion was formerly owned by Arcturus Mengsk, right?  So it should still have decoration suited for its former owner, right?

In Starcraft: I, Mengsk, it is mentioned that the Mengsk family’s emblem is the Wolf.  You can see throughout the Hyperion’s bridge many wolf heads on the decoration across the walls near the ceiling.

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Starcraft II Single Player Hands On: Screenshots # 8

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Starcraft 2, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

This is the third mission in the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player.  It’s titled Zero Hour.  You must hold out 20 minutes until extraction.  In the meantime, the Zerg has arrived lured somehow by the Xel’Naga artifact.  At the end of the 20 minutes, Captain Matt Horner arrives aboard the Hyperion battlecruiser to rescue Jim Raynor, Tychus Findlay and the Raynor’s Raiders.

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