In anticipation of Legacy of the Void's release next month, Blizzard has announced a significant refresh to the StarCraft II user interface. The updates will be released with the forthcoming Patch 3.0 for all instances of StarCraft II, including Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and even the Starter Edition. The overall goal of the revisions was to create a more social experience in the client and the specific areas of focus were a direct result of community feedback. The update provides extensive improvements to the Arcade, the chat system, and the menus throughout the client, including the introduction of additional hotkeys.
One of the most impactful changes is that the menu navigation is has been localized entirely within the top-left corner of the screen. The Arcade menu has been completely overhauled, placing map info directly in the menu screen and moving 'Open Games' to be the default module. Accordingly, the 'Open Games' list is now quicker and easier to browse. Chat now has a permanent space along the right side of the player's screen and the interface has been designed so that it will never interfere with the new menu navigation. Blizzard has eliminated the multi-window regime from the previous design and instead has streamlined the chat experience into one chat window with multiple conversation tabs. To learn more about all of the changes, you can read Blizzard's announcement post and watch a summary video below:
Overhauling the UI To ensure this new chat system would work well with the rest of the UI, it became clear we would have to redesign the rest of the game’s screens so we meticulously overhauled the spacing, format, and content of every section. In order to give our content more space, we moved the navigation, sub-navigation, and the party panel to the top of the screen. With this extra room, we saw an opportunity to inlay new 3D scenes into every screen to further bring the StarCraft universe to life in the UI.
As an homage to the nostalgia that has persisted for more than seventeen years, Blizzard redesigned the StarCraft II campaign menu in the style of the original StarCraft and Brood War menus. While we are delighted by the throwback, technically, Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void represent episodes 7, 8, and 9, in the StarCraft saga. Blizzard likely wishes to avoid the resulting confusion from new players to the franchise and view the StarCraft II campaigns as a standalone trilogy. However, we would love to see an alternative naming convention the respects the continuity of the story line. Better yet, having placeholder menus for the older campaigns that open short summaries and have links to the StarCraft and Brood War game clients would be an excellent gateway mechanic to entice a new generation to experience the original source material.
The Redesigned StarCraft II Campaign Menu
The Original StarCraft Campaign Menu
The StarCraft: Brood War Campaign Menu
The new interface design appears to inspired by minimalist design principles and due to the resulting simplicity, it possesses a clean modern aesthetic. By streamlining the menu and chat systems, Blizzard has addressed many of the longstanding original user interface issues that have caused vocal and widespread concern throughout the community since the introduction of Battle.net 2.0. The community has responded positively to the portions of the refresh previewed and, perhaps more importantly, to this example of Blizzard's willingness to invest in fundamental revisions to existing systems. Many in the community have noted and celebrated the similarities between the changes inherent in this revamp and the original Battle.net features found in Brood War, perhaps proving that great gameplay wasn't Brood War's only legacy. A perfect mix of new and old, Blizzard has always been forthright about their iterative process and this redesign is a perfect example of the goodwill and success that results that come from that strong commitment to game's ecosystem. These adjustments to the UI have the potential to drastically improve both current and future fans' StarCraft experiences.
While no specific date has been announced for Patch 3.0, luckily fans do not have long to wait, the update will be coming before Legacy of the Void's launch on November 10, 2015.
As Blizzard's James Waugh, Director of Story Development & Lead Writer for StarCraft II, recently announced at TwitchCon, there are five new StarCraft lore short stories currently in production. Today, Blizzard announced the release schedule for all five stories.
Blizzard has been slowly producing lore focused StarCraft short stories by various authors for several years now. The heaviest concentration of new material has consistently been released to build up hype leading up to the game launches and relevantly, these newest stories will all be published before Legacy of the Void drops on November 10, 2015. These Protoss-centric stories will likely endeavor to illustrate specific moments in their history, flesh out their culture and motivations in more detail, and act as a bridge between the previous games and what is to come in LotV. The last story, The Exit, by Danny McAleese was published on July 1, 2014.
Hopefully, these novellas will breathe some fresh air into the StarCraft lore and provide some great contextual clues for what is to come in Legacy of the Void. Check back after each short story's release for a brief summary and our review.
Today during Blizzard's TwitchCon presentation, James Waugh, Director of Story Development & Lead Writer of Legacy of the Void, and Matt Morris, Legacy of the Void Lead Campaign Designer, revealed the full version of the animated short, StarCraft Reclamation teased at the WCS Season 3 Premier League Finals in Kraków, Poland on September 13. You can watch the reveal here.
The feature acts as a prequel to the beautiful Legacy of the Void opening cinematic that was also released at the WCS Season 3 finals a few weeks ago. Reclamation takes place on the eve of the Protoss' Golden Armada attempt to retake Aiur from the Zerg. In it, Artanis, Tassadar's protege and the Protoss Hierarch, contemplates his decision to invade Aiur and the typical burdens of leadership.
Artanis and Kaldaris
The short opens with Artanis contemplating the future in solitude. When Artanis' old friend, Khaldaris, the one-eyed Protoss Zealot featured in the intro cinematic, comes looking for him, Artanis shares his uncertainty of their current course. Lamenting the diminished number of Protoss that remain, he questions the wisdom of spending more lives to retake a relic of his race's past.
When challenged by his old friend, Kaldaris, the one-eyed Protoss Zealot featured in the intro cinematic, Kaldaris reminds him that there has been light throughout the darkness. He points out that Khas, the Protoss who introduced the Khala to the Protoss - thus ending the Aeon of Strife, forged order from the chaos. Kaldalis believes that retaking Aiur represents a new beginning for a united Protoss. He argues, that remaking Aiur as it could have been - how it could be - is worth dying for. He believes in it so much that he has volunteered to lead the vanguard and one of the first to step back on Aiur's sacred soil. He expects to perish in the attempt and in doing so provide a future for his people. Kaldaris epitomizes the ideal Protoss warrior and he is ultimately successful in convincing Artanis that Aiur is worth fighting for - it is worth dying for.
The short is elegantly animated, well scripted, and exquisitely voiced. It hits most of the major notes that many fans were hoping for, and ties-in wonderfully with the Protoss ethos. It is a compelling intro to all of the themes and Protoss characteristics that Blizzard has been saying they want to include in Legacy of the Void. If the material we have seen so far is any indication of Legacy of the Void's campaign story and dialogue, it could very well be the best of the trilogy - by far. Our only complaints regarding Reclamation revolve around missing references to Fenix, Tassadar, and Adun. Those warriors represent the very best of the Protoss, and all three, directly or indirectly, were major influences on Artanis. It would have been nice to have seen them included in Artanis' recollection. He has lost much and their deeds are as much a reflection of the Protoss as they are of who Artanis has become. However, Reclamation does do all of the right things and it is a wonderful tool to hype Legacy of the Void. As Blizzard continues to explore new ways to effectively continue the StarCraft story, short vignettes like this are, in our opinion, an excellent option - more, please.
Blizzard recently announced a new partnership with Random House LLC to publish new novels set in Blizzard's various universes. While only novels for Warcraft and StarCraft were disclosed, the announcement did hint that there may be future plans for tales set in Blizzard's other IPs.
This new publishing line will launch in March 2016 with the novel World of Warcraft: Illidan by William King, followed by an original StarCraft novel by New York Times bestselling author Timothy Zahn.
This announcement marks the first true StarCraft novel since Heart of the Swarm's 2012 Flashpoint by Christie Golden. However, several other short stories have continued to be published on Battle.net in the intervening years. The most recent of which was The Exit by Danny McAleese. Not only do expanded universe projects benefit the fans, they also provide yet another means for players to become engaged in the universe. For people already invested, additional transmedia works reinforce that loyalty and passion. Perhaps it is most fitting for StarCraft branded projects that they form and maintain such a unique and powerful symbiotic relationship. Abathur would likely approve of the elegant efficiency.
It appears that the StarCraft novel by Timothy Zahn will provide Blizzard an opportunity to push the story forward, past the StarCraft II game trilogy and focus on the aftermath of the Koprulu Sector as we have known it so far. Utilizing novels, with their limitless potential for world building, seems to be a good move by Blizzard to bridge the gap between the current story and whatever is next. Hopefully, the novel(s) will be long enough to provide serious depth, mature story lines, compelling characters. One of the developers once told us that the novels give the Blizzard the opportunity to illustrate a particular aspect of the story definitively. With fidelity to that vision and high caliber writing, quality StarCraft lore could live on beyond the games for years to come.
Today, Blizzard released details of each of the in-game goodies included with the purchase of either a physical or virtual BlizzCon 2015 ticket. Similar to prior years, the items will unlock shortly after BlizzCon begins and players will receive at least one in-game reward for each of Blizzard's current flagship games. BlizzCon 2015 will take place in Anaheim, California November 6-7, 2015. While tickets to attend the two-day convention have been sold out for some time, the virtual ticket is available for $39.99.
World of Warcraft - Murkadin Pet
After consuming the shin bone of Gul'dan, this fiesty demon hunter was caged for 10,000 years by his brother Murkfurion. Now he’s ready to unleash his finfernal rage in pet battles across Azeroth!
Heroes of the Storm - Nexus Battle Beast Mount
Teams will tremble and Cores will crumble when you storm into combat astride the mighty Nexus Battle Beast!
Hearthstone - Blizzard 2015 Card Back
Hearthstone on phones, Tavern Brawls, Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and more—a very cool year, indeed.
StarCraft II - Portraits
Show off your status as a galactic BlizzConquerer with a pair of Legacy of the Void–themed portraits invoking the mysteries of the Xel’Naga and the power of the Spear of Adun.
Diablo III - BlizzCon Pennant, Pet, and Portrait
A trio of treasures awaits! Fly the colors of the BlizzCon crusade with an all-new pennant, and mrglgllglgll the demonic hordes with your Murkgoblin pet and portrait.*
The StarCraft rewards are a little underwhelming. Something BlizzCon themed would have been preferable. For example, a special BlizzCon inspired unit skin, ala the 2014 & 2015 BlizzCon Heroes of the Storm mounts, or a unique Allied Commander mission, would have been exceptional. We will just have to console ourselves with all of the new campaign, features, UI, modes, units, and skins coming with Legacy of the Void's imminent release.
A few months ago Blizzard announced the StarCraft Field Manual, a standalone reference book focused on the lore of the various units, races, and notable characters in the StarCraft universe. Published by Insight Editions, the book has been designed as a standard issue field guide for Terran Marines. Battle worn, the primer includes "handwritten" annotations from its previous owner that provide practical and humorous commentary on the manual's content.
The book includes details on both old and new units, general overviews of the races, as well as a wealth of original illustrations and charts. The StarCraft Field Manual follows the blueprint first utilized by Blizzard in the 2011 Diablo: Book of Cain and the 2013 Diablo: Book of Tyreal. Similar in design, the source books are all are written in-universe and expand on the game's world from a particular point of view.
Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft saga has captivated millions of players worldwide since its initial release in 1998. A genre-defining military strategy and sci-fi adventure, gamers are drawn to StarCraft’s iconic central characters, Sarah Kerrigan and Jim Raynor, and its thrilling storyline chronicling the battle between the scrappy Terrans, mystifying Protoss, and terrifying Zerg swarm.
Published in anticipation of the latest expansion, Legacy of the Void, StarCraft Field Manual draws on more than a decade’s worth of lore to create an all-encompassing collector’s item for fans, filling in every detail of the game’s extensive tech, races, and units.
A visually distinctive, in-world overview of the entire StarCraft franchise, this unique book unveils new details about the wide range of combat forces and technology employed by each of the three primary races within the game universe. A definitive field-guide, original illustrations pair with an engaging narrative that showcases all of the vital statistics, origins, lore, and other interesting facts that have emerged in each expansion.
Lore fans have been waiting years for additional, definitive, detailed lore. This product promises to be enrich our understanding of the StarCraft universe and provide an impressive amount of content for fans to draw on.
One extremely cool and interesting detail about the field manual is that Robear, a StarCraft Legacy community member, actually designed and drew the unit scale charts included in the finished field manual. What started as one fan's passion project is actually being published in a canon StarCraft lore compendium. If you're interested in learning more, you can check out the nearly four year evolution of the project here. Robear has our congratulations and our sincerest gratitude for his devotion to the StarCraft lore and community.
The hardcover StarCraft Field Manual will retail for $39.99 and will be available November 17, 2015 - one week after Legacy of the Void launches. However, a special edition of the book will be included in the physical Legacy of the Void Collector's Edition.
James Waugh, Blizzard's Director of Story Development & Lead Writer for StarCraft II, will be signing copies of the StarCraft Field Manual at the 2015 New York Comic Con (October 8-11, 2015). If you have the opportunity to attend the signing, we highly recommend it. We've had the pleasure of discussing StarCraft with Mr. Waugh several times and it is clear he has true passion for the lore.
As November 10th draws ever closer, and any new information regarding Legacy of the Void is only fueling the hype. In one week, fans will have another opportunity to learn about the Protoss expansion. On Friday, September 25 Blizzard will broadcast an exclusive Legacy of the Void presentation at Twitch.tv's inaugural convention, TwitchCon. Blizzard has announced that during its TwitchCon event, the following Legacy of the Void information will be divulged:
All new Legacy of the Void video features
New details surrounding the co-op missions gameplay mode
A rundown on what’s to come from the game developers
If you're interested in checking out the new information, here are the event details:
Time: Friday, September 25 at 11:15 A.M PDT Stream:twitch.tv/twitch Where: Kappa Theater
TwitchCon is the streaming site's first ever convention celebrating the streamers and viewers that power the massive broadcasting site. A select number of exhibitions and special events, such as the Battle of the CEOs, will be taking place throughout the weekend. The event runs from September 25-26, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
StarCraft Legacy will be covering the event; so if you're unable to attend the event at the Kappa Theater or watch the live broadcast, check back here to see all of the new information announced with commentary.
During the premiere of the StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void cinematic at the WCS Season 3 Premier League Finals in Kraków, Poland, Chris Sigaty, Lead Producer of StarCraft II, teased fans with the announcement of StarCraft Reclamation. Dropping later this month, Reclamation, a short animated feature in the strain of the Warlords of Draenor: Lords of War animated series, will tell the story of the Protoss leading up to the invasion of Aiur.
The Lords of War animated series debuted in the weeks leading up to the release of Word of Warcraft's fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Animated in a dark, raw, manga style not usually associated with Blizzard's games, the series served as an introduction to various characters featured in the impending game. Unusually, but welcomed, the series almost exclusively focused on the lore and backstory. Overall, the shorts proved to be a popular and effective way to expand the lore outside of the games.
In the past several years, Blizzard has been experimenting with different types of transmedia campaigns to add depth to their worlds. For example, leading up to the launch of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard published StarCraft: Project Blackstone, a lore focused event delivered via Twitter and a secret "classified" website. While the campaign was well coordinated and presented an unusual perspective in the StarCraft universe, until the project was declassified, it provided difficult to consume. In the current climate of visual media dominance, the shorts have provided another avenue for Blizzard to explore - both creatively and efficiently. Aside from the games themselves and various novels published over the years, there have been relatively few lore focused events or products. Hopefully, Reclamation will be successful and will confirm that the fan base is both ready and willing to support larger lore focused projects.
Based on the teaser trailer, it appears that Reclamation, will provide additional insight into pivotal moments in the Protoss' history, such as the Aeon of Strife, the coming of Adun, and the severing of the Dark Templar's nerve cords, or it will illustrate the great struggles of the past that now repeat themselves as Artanis tries to reunite the tribes in Legacy of the Void. Either way, the information presented will likely complement the final campaign's story.