StarCraft (series)

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StarCraft
StarCraft Logo.png
Official logo of the franchise
Genres Real-time strategy
Developers Blizzard Entertainment
Publishers Blizzard Entertainment
Creators Chris Metzen
James Phinney
Platforms Windows/Mac PCs,
Nintendo 64
First release StarCraft
March 31, 1998
Latest release StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
March 12, 2013

StarCraft is a military science fiction media franchise created by Chris Metzen and James Phinney, and owned by Blizzard Entertainment. The series centers on a galactic struggle for dominance between three species—the adaptable and mobile Terrans, the insectoid Zerg, and the enigmatic Protoss—in a distant part of the Milky Way galaxy known as the Koprulu Sector at the beginning of the 26th century. The series debuted with the video game StarCraft in 1998. Since then it has grown to include a number of other games as well as eight novelizations, two Amazing Stories articles, a board game, and other licensed merchandise such as collectible statues and toys.

Blizzard Entertainment began planning StarCraft in 1995, with a development team led by Metzen and Phinney. The game debuted at E3 1996, and uses a modified Warcraft II game engine. StarCraft also marked the creation of Blizzard Entertainment's film department; the game introduced high quality cinematics integral to the storyline of the series. Most of the original development team for StarCraft returned to work on the game's official expansion pack, Brood War; the game's development began shortly after StarCraft was released. In 2001, StarCraft: Ghost began development under Nihilistic Software. Unlike the previous real-time strategy games in the series, Ghost was to be a stealth-action game. After three years of development, work on the game was postponed in 2004. Development of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty began in 2003; the game was later announced on May 19, 2007 and was released on July 27, 2010. The StarCraft II franchise continued with the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm expansion, which was released on March 12, 2013. The third planned StarCraft II installment is titled StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, and is currently in development.

The original game and its official expansion have been praised as one of the benchmark real-time strategy games of its time. The series has gathered a solid following around the world, particularly in South Korea, where professional players and teams participate in matches, earn sponsorships, and compete in televised matches.[1] As of May 31, 2007, StarCraft and Brood War have sold almost 10 million copies combined.[2] In addition, the series was awarded a star on the Walk of Game in 2006,[3] and holds four Guinness World Records in the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition of 2008.[4]

Story[edit]

The story focuses on the activities of the three species in a part of the Milky Way known as the Koprulu Sector. Millennia before any of the events of the games, a species known as the Xel'Naga genetically engineered the Protoss and later the Zerg in attempts to create pure beings.[5][6] These experiments backfire and the Xel'Naga are largely destroyed by the Zerg.[6] Centuries before the beginning of StarCraft in 2499, the hardline international government of Earth, the United Earth Directorate (UED), commissions a colonization program as part of a solution to overpopulation. However, the computers automating the colony ships malfunction, propelling the Terran colonists far off course to the edge of Protoss space.[7] Out of contact with Earth, they form various factions to maintain their interests. Intrigued by the behavior and mentality of the Terrans, the Protoss remain hidden to examine the humans, while protecting them from other threats without their knowledge. However, the Zerg target the Terrans for assimilation to harness their psionic potential,[6] forcing the Protoss to destroy tainted Terran colonies to contain the Zerg infestation.[8]

StarCraft begins just days after the first of these attacks, where the predominant Terran government, the Confederacy of Man, falls into a state of panic as it comes under attack by both the Zerg and the Protoss, in addition to increasing rebel activity led by Arcturus Mengsk against its rule. The Confederacy eventually succumbs to Mengsk's rebels when they use Confederate technology to lure the Zerg into attacking the Confederate capital, Tarsonis. In the consequent power vacuum, Mengsk crowns himself emperor of a new Terran Dominion. However, during the assault on Tarsonis, Mengsk allows the Zerg to capture and infest his psychic second-in-command, Sarah Kerrigan. This betrayal prompts Mengsk's other commander, Jim Raynor, to desert him with a small army. Having retreated with Kerrigan to their primary hive clusters, the Zerg are assaulted by Protoss forces commanded by Tassadar and the dark templar Zeratul. Through assassinating a Zerg cerebrate, Zeratul inadvertently allows the Overmind to learn the location of the Protoss homeworld, Aiur. The Overmind quickly launches an invasion to assimilate the Protoss and gain genetic perfection. Pursued by his own people as a heretic for siding with the dark templar, Tassadar returns with Zeratul to Aiur and with the assistance of Raynor and the templar Fenix, Tassadar launches an attack on the Overmind and ultimately sacrifices himself to kill the creature.[8]

In Brood War, the Protoss are now led by Zeratul and Artanis. They begin to evacuate the surviving population of Aiur to the dark templar homeworld of Shakuras under a fragile alliance between the two untrusting branches of the Protoss. On the Shakuras, they are misled by Kerrigan into attacking the Zerg to advance Kerrigan's quest to securing power over the Zerg. This deception comes after she reveals that a new Overmind has entered incubation. Meanwhile, Earth decides to take action in the sector, sending a fleet to conquer the Terran Dominion and capture the new Overmind. Although successfully taking the Dominion capital Korhal and enslaving the Overmind, the UED's efforts to capture Mengsk are thwarted by a double agent working for Kerrigan, Samir Duran. Kerrigan, allying with Mengsk, Fenix and Raynor, launches a campaign against the UED, recapturing Korhal. However, she turns against her allies; Fenix and Duke both perish in the ensuing attacks. Kerrigan later blackmails Zeratul into killing the new Overmind, giving her full control over the entire Zerg Swarm. After defeating a retaliatory attack by the Protoss, Dominion and the UED, consequently destroying the last of the UED fleet, Kerrigan and her Zerg broods become the dominant power in the sector.[9]

Games[edit]

Games and dates released
Date Game
1998 StarCraft
1998 StarCraft: Insurrection
1998 StarCraft: Brood War
2010 StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
2013 StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

The StarCraft series includes a core set of titles which carry the main storyline. These games were released in chronological order, with each new title following on from the events that are depicted in the previous title. A full second game, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, was released on July 27, 2010, taking place four years after the end of Brood War. Two expansions, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void, were planned from the beginning; the former was released on March 12, 2013.

All the games in the main series are real-time strategy games,[10][11][12] where the player views the events as a military commander for each of the three species. In addition, two spin-off titles have been released; these are authorized expansion packs to the original which focus on other characters and settings based at the same time as the main storyline.[13] Like the main series, these two titles are also real-time strategy games. A spin-off, StarCraft: Ghost, which was to be a third person action-stealth game was in development, but has been placed on indefinite hiatus.[14]

Main series[edit]

StarCraft, released for Windows on March 31, 1998,[15] is the first video game in the StarCraft series. A science fiction real-time strategy game, StarCraft is set in a distant sector of the Milky Way galaxy. A Mac OS version of the game was released by Blizzard Entertainment in March 1999. A Nintendo 64 port including StarCraft, Brood War and a new secret mission "Resurrection IV"[16] was released in the United States on June 13, 2000.[17] The game's story revolves around the appearance of two alien races in Terran space, and each race's attempts to survive and adapt over the others. The player assumes three roles through the course of the three campaigns: a Confederate colonial governor who becomes a revolutionary commander, a Zerg cerebrate pushing forward the species' doctrine of assimilation, and a Protoss fleet executor tasked with defending the Protoss from the Zerg. StarCraft soon gained critical acclaim, winning numerous awards,[18] including being labelled "the best real-time strategy game ever made" and being ranked the seventh best game of all time by IGN in both 2003 and 2005,[19][20] and the eleventh best game in 2007.[21]

StarCraft: Brood War is the official expansion pack for StarCraft, developed by Blizzard Entertainment and Saffire. Released for Windows and Mac OS in the United States on November 30, 1998,[11] the expansion directly continues the events of StarCraft. The expansion's story continues only days after the conclusion of the original game. It starts with the Protoss' struggle to ensure the survival of their species and continues with the intervention of the United Earth Directorate into local Terran affairs. The livelihood of both the Protoss and the previously silent Earth government is then threatened by the ever-increasing power of Sarah Kerrigan and her Zerg broods. In addition, the expansion introduces new features and improvements. A total of seven new units with different functions and abilities are included, the artificial intelligence behavior was modified, new graphical tilesets for terrain were added and the game's level editor received improved scripting tools to facilitate cut scenes with the in-game engine. The expansion received critical praise for fixing various balance issues with the original game,[22] development attention on par with that of a full game[23] and for continuing with single player campaigns that were heavily story-driven.[24]

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is the official sequel to StarCraft released for Windows and Mac OS X by Blizzard Entertainment on July 27, 2010. The game was announced at the Worldwide Invitational in South Korea on May 19, 2007 with a pre-rendered cinematic cut scene trailer and a gameplay demonstration of the Protoss.[25][26] Further demonstrations regarding the game's new features have been showcased at subsequent Blizzcons and other games conventions.[27] The game incorporates a new 3D graphics engine and adds new features such as the Havok physics engine.[28] StarCraft II also incorporates DirectX 10 level effects.[29] Originally envisioned as a single game, StarCraft II was split into three parts during development, one for focusing on each race. The base game, Wings of Liberty, follows the Terrans, while two expansion packs, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void are to be released to complement Wings of Liberty after release and further the story from the views of the Zerg and Protoss, respectively.[30][31][32] The story of Wings of Liberty continues from four years after the conclusion of Brood War, and revolves around Jim Raynor's struggles against the Terran Dominion.[33]

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is an expansion pack to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and was released on March 12, 2013. It is part two of the planned StarCraft II trilogy. The expansion includes additional units and multiplayer changes from Wings of Liberty, as well as a continuing campaign focusing on the Zerg race. It spans 27 missions and is scheduled to be followed by part three of the planned Starcraft II trilogy, StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void.

Spin-off titles[edit]

The success of StarCraft has spurred the creation of two authorized add-on titles to StarCraft, as well as a deviation into genres other than real-time strategy. Insurrection was the first add-on pack released for StarCraft. Although developed and published by Aztech New Media, it is authorized by Blizzard Entertainment.[13] It was released for the PC on July 31, 1998.[34] The expansion's story focuses on a Confederate colony during the course of the first campaign of StarCraft. As in StarCraft, the player takes control of each race in three separate campaigns. In the first campaign, Terran colonists attempt to defend themselves from the Zerg invasion of the sector as well as from a rising insurgency. The second campaign has the player directing a Protoss task force sent to clear the Zerg infestation of the colony by any means necessary. In the final campaign the player assumes the role of a Zerg cerebrate, whose goal is to crush all opposition on the surface. The expansion contains 30 new campaign missions and over 100 new multiplayer maps,[35] although it does not include new content such as units and graphical terrain tilesets.[13] Insurrection was criticized by reviewers for lacking the quality of the original game[35] and it is not widely available. Although the add-on is authorized by Blizzard Entertainment, they offer no comment on support or availability of the game.[13]

Retribution is the second of the two authorized add-on packs released for StarCraft. The add-on was developed by Stardock and published by WizardWorks Software.[13] It was released for the PC in late 1998. The game is set during the second campaign in StarCraft, revolving around the acquisition of a crystal of immense power connected to the Xel'Naga. Divided into three campaigns, the player assumes the roles of a Protoss fleet executor, the commander of a Dominion task force and a Zerg cerebrate, all tasked with retrieving the crystal from a Dominion colony and getting it off the planet as quickly as possible. As with its predecessor, Retribution does not include any new gameplay features beyond its single player campaigns and an abundance of multiplayer levels. The add-on was not received with critical support, and instead was regarded as average but at least challenging.[36] Retribution is not widely available, and Blizzard Entertainment offers no comment regarding support or the availability of Retribution despite authorizing the add-on.[13]

StarCraft: Ghost is a tactical stealth game for consoles developed under supervision of Blizzard Entertainment. Announced in 2002,[37] the game was constantly delayed due to various issues, most notably including a change of development team from Nihilistic Software to Swingin' Ape Studios in July 2004.[38] As updates for the game became less frequent and the graphics and game mechanics more outdated, suspicion began to grow that Blizzard would cancel the game.[39] On March 24, 2006, Blizzard indefinitely postponed the game's development.[40] The story of the game is based around Nova, a psychic assassin in the employ of the Terran Dominion. Although frequently used as an example of development hell, Blizzard Entertainment's Rob Pardo has indicated that he would like the game to be completed in the future,[41] and Blizzard Entertainment refuses to list the game as having been canceled.[42]

Development[edit]

Chris Metzen, along with James Phinney, led the design of StarCraft and created the series' fictional universe.

Blizzard Entertainment began planning development on StarCraft in 1995, shortly after the beginning of development for Diablo.[43] The development was led by Chris Metzen and James Phinney, who also created the game's fictional universe.[44][45] Using the Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness game engine as a base, StarCraft made its debut at E3 1996.[46] The game's success led to the development of two authorized add-ons, which were both released in 1998. However, neither of the two add-ons were particularly well received by critics. StarCraft also marked the debut of Blizzard Entertainment's film department.[47] Previously, cinematic cut scenes were seen as simply gap fillers that often deviated from the game, but with StarCraft and later Brood War introducing high quality cinematics integral to the storyline of the series, Blizzard Entertainment is cited as having changed this perception and became one of the first game companies to raise the standard regarding such cut scenes.[47]

StarCraft's success also inspired third-party developer Microstar Software to release an unauthorized add-on, entitled Stellar Forces, in May 1998. Blizzard Entertainment consequently filed a lawsuit against Microstar for selling the add-on, arguing that as the product was unauthorized and created using StarCraft's level editing software, it was a breach of the end user license agreement.[48]

We believe that we must aggressively combat the sale and distribution of unauthorized add-ons associated with our properties. In our opinion, Stellar Forces meets neither Blizzard's standards nor our customers' expectations. As gamers ourselves, we feel obligated to prevent the sale of unauthorized add-on products that do not add value to the StarCraft experience.

—Blizzard Entertainment[48]

In November 1998, Blizzard Entertainment won the court case against Microstar Software. In the settlement, Microstar agreed to pay an undisclosed amount in punitive damages and to destroy all remaining copies of Stellar Forces in its possession, as well as to formally apologize to Blizzard Entertainment.[49]

After the release of the first two add-on packs, Blizzard Entertainment announced the official expansion pack to StarCraft, entitled Brood War.[50] Most of the team at Blizzard Entertainment responsible for StarCraft returned to work on Brood War. Development on Brood War began shortly after StarCraft's release, and Blizzard Entertainment were assisted by members of Saffire, who were contracted for a variety of tasks consisting of programming and design for levels, visuals and audio effects.[51]

In 2001, StarCraft: Ghost began development under Nihilistic Software,[52] with the aim of releasing the game for the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube during late 2003. Unlike previous real-time strategy StarCraft titles, Ghost was to be a tactical third-person action game. Although the press was positive about the video game console direction taken by Ghost,[53] the game was consistently delayed, and during the third quarter of 2004, Nihilistic Software discontinued their work with the project.[54] Blizzard stated that Nihilistic Software had completed the tasks it had been contracted for and that the game would be delivered on time.[55] StarCraft II was announced on May 19, 2007, nearly a decade after the original, at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Seoul, South Korea.[25][26] StarCraft II was being developed, under the codename Medusa,[56] for concurrent release on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X. Blizzard announced a release date for July 27, 2010.[2] Development on the game began in 2003, shortly after Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne was released.[57]

Adaptations[edit]

Further information: List of StarCraft media

Novelizations[edit]

The StarCraft Archive cover

The StarCraft series is supported by eight novelizations, with at least two more in the works, all published by Simon & Schuster. At BlizzCon 2007, Chris Metzen stated that he hoped to novelize the entirety of StarCraft and Brood War into a definitive text-based story. The first novel, StarCraft: Uprising, was written by Micky Neilson,[58] a Blizzard Entertainment employee, and originally released only as an e-book in December 2000.[58] The novel follows the origins of the character Sarah Kerrigan. The second novel, entitled StarCraft: Liberty's Crusade, serves as an adaptation of the first campaign of StarCraft, following on a journalist following a number of the key Terran characters in the series. Written by Jeff Grubb and published in March 2001,[59] it was the first StarCraft novel to be released in paperback.[59] StarCraft: Shadow of the Xel'Naga, published in July 2001[60] is the third novel, written by Kevin Anderson under the pseudonym Gabriel Mesta.[60] It serves as a link between StarCraft and Brood War. The fantasy author Tracy Hickman was brought in to write the fourth novel,[61] StarCraft: Speed of Darkness, which was published in June 2002.[61] Speed of Darkness is written from the viewpoint of a Confederate marine during the early stages of StarCraft. The first four novels, including the e-book Uprising, were later re-released as a single anthology entitled The StarCraft Archive in November 2007.[62]

A fifth novel entitled StarCraft: Queen of Blades was published in June 2006.[63] Written by Aaron S. Rosenberg,[63] it is a novelization of the second campaign in StarCraft from the perspective of Jim Raynor. This was followed in November 2006[64] by StarCraft Ghost: Nova, a book focusing on the early origins of the character of Nova from the postponed StarCraft: Ghost game. Written by Keith R.A. DeCandido,[64] the novel was meant to accompany the release of StarCraft: Ghost, but was continued despite the postponement of the game. In 2007 Christie Golden, an author whose previous work included novels in Blizzard's Warcraft series,[65] was brought in to write a trilogy entitled the StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga.[66][67] The trilogy acts as a link between StarCraft and its sequel StarCraft II. The first installment, Firstborn being published in May 2007[66] and Shadow Hunters, the second novel, being published in November 2007.[67] The final part of the trilogy, Twilight was released in June 2009.[68] I, Mengsk was publish in 2009, a novel that was written by Graham McNeill[69] which focuses on the origins of the characters in the Mengsk family. Last January 2010[70] Keith R.A. DeCandido and David Gerrold authored the "StarCraft: Ghost Academy" to elaborate the training of Nova as an espionage agent and in September 2011, Simon & Schuster published the "StarCraft Ghost: Spectres"[71] as a sequel to the novel "StarCraft Ghost: Nova".

In addition to these, Blizzard Entertainment authorized two short stories in Amazing Stories magazine, entitled StarCraft: Revelations and StarCraft: Hybrid.[72] Revelations was authored by series creator Chris Metzen and Sam Moore, a Blizzard employee, and was featured on the cover of the 1999 spring edition with art by Blizzard's art director Samwise Didier.[72] Hybrid was written by Micky Neilson and again was accompanied by artwork by Didier; the short story was published in the spring edition of 2000.[73] At New York Comic-Con in 2008, TokyoPop announced that they would be producing a number of StarCraft graphic novels. Two series were announced: StarCraft: Frontline, which will be a series of short story anthologies, and Ghost Academy, which will be written by Keith R.A. DeCandido and follow several characters, such as Nova, during their training as the psychic assassins called "ghosts".[74] A further graphic novel set for a 2009 release, produced by Wildstorm and DC Comics, was revealed in October 2008.[75]

Merchandise[edit]

A number of action figures and collectable statues based upon the characters and units in StarCraft have been produced by ToyCom.[76][77] A number of model kits, made by Academy Hobby Model Kits, were also produced, displaying 1/30 scale versions of the marine[78] and the hydralisk.[79] In addition, Blizzard Entertainment teamed up with Fantasy Flight Games to create a board game based in the StarCraft universe.[80] Blizzard Entertainment also licensed Wizards of the Coast to produce an Alternity based game entitled StarCraft Adventures.[81]

Reception and cultural impact[edit]

Aggregate review scores
As of June 3, 2013.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
StarCraft (PC) 92.85%[82]
(N64) 77.12%[83]
(PC) 88[84]
(N64) 80[85]
Insurrection 48%[86]
Retribution [87]
StarCraft: Brood War 95%[88]
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty 92.44%[89] 93[90]
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm 86.39%[91] 86[92]
A StarCraft match in South Korea, televised by MBCGame

The StarCraft series has been a commercial success. After its release, StarCraft became the best-selling PC game for that year, selling over 1.5 million copies worldwide.[93] In the next decade, StarCraft sold over 9.5 million copies across the globe, with 4.5 million of these being sold in South Korea.[94] Since the initial release of StarCraft, Blizzard Entertainment reported that its Battle.net online multiplayer service grew by 800 percent.[95] StarCraft remains one of the most popular online games in the world.[96][97][98] After its release, StarCraft rapidly grew in popularity in South Korea, establishing a successful pro-gaming scene.[99] Pro-gamers in South Korea are niche media celebrities and StarCraft games broadcast over three television channels dedicated to gaming.[100] StarCraft has won numerous Game of the Year awards,[101] is often described as one of the best real-time strategy games made,[102] and is widely credited with popularizing the use of distinct and unique sides—as opposed to sides of equal ability and strength—in real-time strategy games.[19]

Although Insurrection and Retribution were not particularly well received,[86] StarCraft: Brood War generally received very positive reviews, with an aggregate GameRankings score of 95.00%.[88] The magazine PC Zone gave Brood War a short but flattering review, describing it as having "definitely been worth the wait" and also drew note to the cinematic cut scenes, stating that they "actually feel like part of the story rather than an afterthought."[103] IGN stated that Brood War's enhancements were "enough to enrich the core gameplay without losing the flavor"[104] while GameSpot noted that the expansion was developed with the same level of care as the full game.[105]

The release of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty performed very well commercially and critically, selling 1.8 million copies within the first forty eight hours of release, which breaks the record of best selling strategy game in the history of the gaming industry. It received very positive reviews with an aggregate GameRankings score of 93%, and was nominated as the "Best PC Game of 2010" on Gamespot.[106] This success continued with the release of the first expansion pack, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, which had a GameRankings aggregate score of 86%. The expansion pack sold 1.1 million copies within the first two days of its release on March 12, 2013, and was the best-selling PC game in that quarter.[107] Since the release of StarCraft II a number of tournaments have been hosted in Korea and elsewhere, such as the GOMTV Global StarCraft II League (GSL).[108]

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