The storyline to the Protoss campaign was designed with a handful of goals in mind.
- Create a distinctly Protoss story while wrapping up the trilogy story threads. The campaign designers really wanted to explore what it means to be a Protoss. The story would be guided by prominent themes and core values within Protoss lore. Even though there are a lot of story lines to wrap up from the SC2 story, the designers wanted to ensure that the camera was focused on the struggles of the Protoss and do them justice.
- Create an epic end times scenario for players to stand against. Amon and his plans to destroy the galaxy have been discussed/hinted at since the Brood War campaign, and really came to prominence in the WoL/HotS campaigns. The designers wanted to create a truly epic scenario for the players to stand against that lived up to a scenario 7+ years in the making.
- Fulfill the fantasy of playing Protosss. The designers commented that every single mission and storyling in the campaign was filtered through the lens of being a Protoss.
A driving question during development was the question 'who are the Protoss?'. Much of the exploration of the Protoss lore has been done through a human lens (i.e. how human characters have interacted with the Protoss). So the real identity of the Protoss still needed to be nailed down. So the designers sat down and developed what they saw as the key traits of what it means to be Protoss.
- Ancient, noble race -- The Protoss such an ancient race that they consider themselves the first born. At their peak, the Protoss empire stretched across the Koprulu sector and stood at the height of evolutionary achievement. A recurring theme from the panel was that Blizzard view the Protoss as a kind of 'Space Samurai' and the kind of noble warrior that this notion implies. The Protoss hold honor in the highest regard, have a strict code of conduct and feel a strong responsibility to live in accordance with this code. This was a permeating fact that all campaign teams used to inspire their work.
- The Khala -- The Khala is a sacred energy field which unifies all Protoss thought and emotion. The entire Protoss civilization and, indeed, their history (Aeon of Strife) revolves around the Khala in some way. To Blizzard, the Khala represented a way that they could play with the ideas of collectivism (through Aiur Protoss) and individualism (through Dark Templar) and trying to find a balance between the two (SC1/BW campaign). The designers promise that these themes will certainly surface again.
- High tech -- Being an ancient race, the Protoss have had plenty of time to develop weapons of war and advanced technology even to the extent of time manipulation. The designers wanted to ensure that these incredible weapons of war were featured prominently throughout the campaign.
- Small numbers -- after eons of strife and sacrifice, the Protoss are dwindling in number. So in contrast to the infinite hordes of Zerg, each Protoss warrior is a rare and precious army of one. The Legacy of the Void is a story about a small band of Protoss warrior who dare to stand against seemingly limitless numbers. To the design team, this was quintessentially Protoss.
The Storyline (James Waugh)
With the design philosophies in mind, we can now discuss the story. The first question that needs settling is: what exactly have the Protoss been up to across the course of SC2 so far? At the end of Starcraft: Brood War, the Protoss high templar were forced to flee Aiur and become refugees living amongst their Dark Templar brethren.
The Dark Templar were once outcasts due to their separation from the Khala and the Aeon of Strife. This is seen through their ritualistic severing of their nerve cords which connects the Protoss to the Khala. This shapes their deep belief in their feeling of individuality.
The events of Starcraft 1 have created a strange new era where two very separate Protoss cultures have collided and are trying to coexist. As one might expect, age of tensions begin to emerge once the imminent threat of a Zerg invasion is neutralised (end of the Protoss SC1 campaign). This 'united' Protoss group now goes by the name of Daelaam (pronounced 'day-larm') and has chosen Artanis as it's leader -- the Hierarch of the Daelaam (recall, Artanis was the hero from Starcraft 1). In order to keep the Daelaam from imploding from these pressures, he is able to unite them through the one thing that both cultures can rally behind -- the reclamation of Aiur from the Zerg.
To do this he sets out to build 'The Golden Armada', the greatest Protoss war fleet ever constructed. He then leads the Armada back to Aiur to reclaim it from the Zerg and rebuild a new Protoss society from the remains of the old. This is where the campaign of Legacy of the Void begins. The first few missions will be the reclaiming of Aiur.
Zeratul, of course, will serve a prominent role in the campaign. He will return to provide additional prophecies to Artanis and advise him on various courses of action. The designers note that all this time Zeratul has been right -- Amon, the fallen Xel'Naga has returned, hell bent on setting the galaxy ablaze and remaking it as he sees fit. Bringing about the culmination of a plan millions of years in the making.
Legacy of the Void is the story about what happens with Amon's plan collides with Artanis' reclamation of Aiur. So after starting out with a D-Day style of invasion, with the full might of the Golden Armada behind you, Amon makes his presence known. Amon corrupts the one thing that defines the Protoss culture; the Khala. From there he unleashes his legions of hybrids revealing their true purpose.
Artanis and his small band of brethren must do the unthinkable, and severe their nerve cords and disconnect themselves from the Khala's light. The then flee Aiur once again on a massive ancient arkship called the Spear of Adun. The Spear of Adun will serve as this games Hyperion or Leviathan. The Spear of Adun is one of three remaining great arkships built for the purpose of sustaining the Protoss race should they near extinction. These massive ships carry an entire civilization on board and can manufacture new units. Many Zealots from long ago sacrificed themselves and were put in stasis only to be awoken should the darkest times come. Thus as Artanis escapes from Aiur he is literally taking the remains of the Daelaam with him on a journey across the galaxy.
The Spear of Adun
You will play as Artantis as he journeys the galaxy to reunite disparate factions of the Protoss, such as the Tal'Darim, Nerazim and the Purifiers, and forge a new culture without the Khala. Ultimately, you will retake their homeworld of Aiur and challenge Amon. This is a campaign that will force Protoss to change everything they know, in order to preserve their civilization and defeat an ancient evil.
Level Design (Jason Huck)
The goal for the level design for LotV was not just to introduce new mechanics and whatnot, but to really capture the essence of playing Protoss. Much like the Samurai, the Protoss have a strong code of honor and justice and strive for glory in battle. Across the course of this game the player will take the Protoss across the galaxy righting wrongs and smiting Amon's evil when it surfaces.
Sometime after leaving Aiur, Artanis decides to visit Korhal (on the advice of Zeratul). Unfortunately, the Terran there are under attack from a new Terran faction called the Shadow Core and the Protoss must come to their aid. The mission highlighted by the design team was one called 'Sky Shield' which takes place on an orbiting platform that is plummeting down to Korhal due to the work of the Shadow Core. They have destroyed several atmospheric stabilizers and you must go around and reactivate them to stop the descent. The level has a timer, and more time is added for each stabilizer brought back online.
New mission mechanics in LotV include a movable base mechanic. One mission is set where your base is on a movable platform and you must move your base around (using a direction pad in the top right) to harvest the scarce minerals available on the map.
The Movable Base Mechanic
Campaign Art (Allen Dilling)
Some screenshots from the panel.
Challenges: What does a Protoss city look like? How do you sell a D-Day invasion type theme through the design?
Challenges: hugely dynamic environment (terrain blows up, fire recedes as more stabilizers are turned on)
Challenges: What is a Dark Templar city?
Challenges: Homeworld of the Tal'Darim, how to make different from other Protoss, height/depth further than any other palette
Challenges: Homeworld of the Purifiers (ancient robotic race created by the Protoss only to be forgotten), how to make different?
Story Art (Justin Thavirat)
As always, the Blizzard cinematics are impressive and in this case distinctly Protoss. We will link any videos that we find that are posted! In the mean time, screenshots!
Spear of Adun
Ancient Zealots in Stasis
Karax and Artanis
The Celestial Array
Some model specifics:
Artanis: white tint to a classic Protoss armor, distinctive backplate and enlarges shoulder pads to really bring out the fact that he is the leader of the Daelaam.
Zeratul: same feeling as earlier games, ragged/rough design and contrasts heavily with Artanis.
Vorazun: (Matriarch of the Dark Templar) traditional Persian influences on a Dark Templar model
Karax: (Engineer on Spear of Adun, adviser to Artanis), severed nerve cords have been augmented with cybernetic arms.
Rohana: (Preserver; stores the collective memory of the Protoss from the Khala), splayed out nerve cords represent the deep connection to the Khala
Rooms within the Spear of Adun:
War Council (customization room). Unlocked units will appear in the background. In this picture it is a Colossus.
The Bridge (command center of the ship). Background reflects the current location of the ship. In this case it is Korhal. Middle object is the Celestial Array.
Celestial Array (located in the Bridge) is how you choose mission arcs.
Solar Core, LotV unique mechanic
Campaign Mechanics (Matt Morris)
Matt dedicated the first section of his talk to discussing how 'what is the fantasy?' motivated how his team approached the design of campaign mechanics. The Terran and Zerg campaigns were focused around earning credits/assimilating organisms respectively in order to fulfill their fantasies specific to the themes of the race. The question for the Protoss was 'how do you make the most technologically advanced race in the galaxy more powerful?'. Recall that this game is about Artanis going out into the stars to reunite various Protoss factions and rediscover ancient technology. That is the fantasy the team drew on when coming up with the customization mechanics.
Each unit will have three alternate versions which by design will aim to be of similar power levels, but suited to different scenarios. The designs are inspired by the faction the unit was acquired from. The example cited was the Aiur Zealot vs the 'New' Aiur Zealot. The Aiur Zealot is the classic Zealot. The New Aiur Zealot comes from those awakened from the Spear of Adun and the weapons they were placed in stasis with. (Basically grants Zealots AoE damage and spin around while charging).
A second campaign mechanic was inspired by the destruction of Char Sara. In Starcraft 1 the Protoss destroy Char Sara using incredible warships. This kind of power was something the design team wanted to include in the campaign. The Spear of Adun will serve as that weapon. The customization of this weapon will take place in the Solar Core. As you collect energy from completing side quests you can power up this weapon to unlock various abilities to add to the weapon. At present it will be impossible to max out/unlock all the attributes for the Spear of Adun so the player must make decisions as to which abilities they want to use.
Upgrade screen for Solar Core
A menu at the top of the screen will be used to activate these abilities.
A time freeze ability has just been used
The follow series are some screenshots from the Solar Core being activated for the first time.
Allied Commanders (Matt Morris)
- Objective based co-op experience
- Pick a commander from your favorite race
- Unlock units and abilities as you progress
- Open-ended progression experience versus AI
Little more was revealed about this, however this seems like mini-campaign missions that can be played cooperatively. It will lack the cinematic from he campaign but will include campaign only units. Open ended seems to imply that this will be in ongoing development even after release, also this wasn't confirmed.
Questions and Answers
To be transcribed.