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The BlizzCon 2008 Gameplay Panel was presented by Rob Pardo with Dustin Browder and Chris Metzen in reserve to answer questions.

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The largest news to come out of the gameplay panel was the announcement of two new games - StarCraft II is now being developed as a trilogy. The working titles, which are now trademarked by Blizzard, are as follows:

The Terran Campaign: Wings of Liberty

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The Zerg Campaign: Heart of the Swarm

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The Protoss Campaign: Legacy of the Void

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First Rob began talking about StarCraft II’s new approach to RTS single-player:
  • Emphasize player choice i.e. the ability to choose missions, technology and interact with characters.
  • Have varied and interesting missions by trying to avoid sameness and making single player as unique as possible. The goal is to have a gimmick for every mission. Some units in single player will not be in multiplayer.
  • Have a sense of geography i.e. know the major players, factions and planets. Immerse the player into StarCraft universe.

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Each campaign is approximately 26-30 missions if the player does everything. The ending is set, but the middle has branches. There are more branching missions and some Easter-egg missions. The meta-game mechanics are different in each campaign.

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  • Terran: Player is a mercenary/rebel leader playing as Jim Raynor.
  • Zerg: Playing as Kerrigan. More to do with making her powerful – sort of like an RPG.
  • Protoss: More diplomacy i.e. rallying the tribes. It is still up for debate who the actual player-character is.

Pardo also showed us a typical mission outline diagram with fake mission names:

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Each campaign will feature its own mini-campaign. Wings of Liberty will include a Protoss mini-campaign that centers around Zeratul. Zeratul’s story threads all the way through the campaigns and focuses on the greater threat. It is a great way to allow players to play another race within the campaign.

The Terran Campaign

You will be playing as Jim Raynor and deciding who he is going to be. Jim Raynor’s friends and environment will depend on whether you decide to go save a colony under attack by Zerg or go raid for artifacts or credits. New characters will be introduced depending on the choices you make i.e. if you rescue the colonists, Dr. Hanson will board your ship.

The campaign starts on Mar Sara. Since that's where it all began, it’s an appropriate place to start StarCraft II. Jim hasn't had a lot of luck – he’s fighting a losing battle trying to take down Mengsk – however, he has more resources than you are led to believe.

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Tychus Findlay is a character who has a history with Raynor. The first part of the Terran campaign takes place on a Mar Sara bar area. The bar area is very interactive, the player can mess around with many different things: the jukebox turns the music on/off, the bulletin board shows different postings i.e. “wanted” ads and the Heaven's Devils banner, and the player can talk to the other characters that are in the space. The interactive map also shows things that have changed:

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Transcript:


Tychus: You know, for the most wanted man in the sector, you ain’t that hard to find. I had to see it for myself - little Jimmy Raynor, the peoples’ hero.
Raynor: Tychus Findlay. Nice suit.
Tychus: Pays to be prepared.
Raynor: I heard they put you on ice? Life sentence. What, did they give you time off for good behavior?
Tychus: That’s right buddy, I’m a model citizen now.
Raynor: So to what do I owe the pleasure?
Tychus: Just a friendly business proposition? Do you even know what the Dominion are doing out here?
Raynor: I’m guessing you’re about to tell me.
Tychus: Digging up alien artifacts old buddy. Your boy Mengsk has gone crazy for them. But I have a contact who’ll pay top-dollar for every artifact we…liberate from the Dominion.
Raynor: I guess I can hardly pass that up now, can I Tychus?
Tychus: Partners then. 60-40.
Raynor: 70-30. My way…..Feels like old times already.
Tychus: Old times…
Raynor: I’m curious - but how’d you get out?
Tychus: Well, I busted out of my cryo-freezer while they were transporting me to New Folsam. Oh…I must have killed at least a dozen guards with my bare hands.
Raynor: Yeah, I’ve heard this one before, but you’ve left out the part where you walked on water and made off with the warden’s daughter.
Tychus: Don’t get uppity with me, boy. I heard all about you becoming a big-time freedom fighter while I was away. What happened Jimmy, the war for truth & justice get too much for you?
Raynor: I ain’t licked yet Tychus. And I promise you, Mengsk is going down one way or another. Meantime just remember you need me one hell of a lot more than I need you.
Tychus: Hehehe. You ain’t changed a bit.
Raynor: So who’s your mysterious buyer Tychus. Who are we supposed to hand this alien artifact over to?
Tychus: A bunch of eggheads I ran into called the Moebius Foundation.
Raynor: Moebius? They’re a legitimate research group. Why the hell are they talking to you?
Tychus: Soon as your boy Mengsk made it illegal to trade alien goods, they got desperate….and you know me Jimmy, I am a great patron of the sciences.
News Anchor: Recent reports of growing unrest on Mar Sara took a dangerous new turn today. Kate Lockwell is on the scene.
Kate Lockwell: Just hours ago, insurgents raided this Dominion facility. Dominion security control has informed us that the base was neutralizing dangerous bio-weapons left over from the last war. Strictly as a precautionary measure, martial law has been declared as the hunt for the missing weapons begins. This is Kate Lockwell of UNN, reporting from Mar Sara.

Mission: Zero-Hour
  • Hold out until extraction.
  • 5 million credits.

Raynor: I’ve got transport coming to pick us up. All we gotta do is sit tight.
Tychus: Don’t sound too hard…I figure, we earned ourselves a little R&R.
Adjutant: Incoming transmission . Commander, I’m detecting a massive concentration of Zerg bio-signatures landing at the abandoned dig site. Given their current course, the Zerg will overrun this location within the hour.
Tychus: I swear man, I didn’t know nothing about no Zerg.
Raynor: Hell, we gotta hold out long enough for extraction. If we man the Bunkers, and hold those two bridges as long as we can, we just might stand a chance. We’re gonna have a real fight on our hands here.
Tychus: I’ve been in plenty of holdouts before.
Raynor: Not against the Zerg you haven’t.

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In the armory the player can customize his force. Spells and abilities need to be purchased i.e. Stim Packs and a Bunker capacity upgrade. Matt Horner is Raynor's first mate - he's the one that lets you know what is going on with the ship, with the missions, news, etc. The Star Map shows all the worlds and your choices of missions. Things may open up depending on which missions you choose and in which order. Mission screens show the portrait of the character that brings the mission to the table. You can get involved in the story to any degree you want, or you can simply fly through the missions at your leisure.

Gabriel Tosh is a mysterious character. He went to the Ghost Academy during the same time as Kerrigan. In the story you will have a choice whether to save colonists on the planet Agria, or whether to retrieve another alien artifact on the planet Monlyth – a Protoss world with fanatics who stayed behind.

Transcript:

Raynor: Take your time Matt – no rush.
Horner: Cavalry’s arrived, anyone still alive down there?
Raynor: Good to see you Matt, welcome to the party.
Horner: Glad we made it in time sir, now let’s get you guys out of there.
---
Tychus: Damn Jimmy, you’ve been holding out on me.
Raynor: Cutting it pretty close there Matt.
Horner: Never left you hanging before sir.
Raynor: Fair enough. Just get us the hell out of here.
Horner: All hands brace for warp-jump on my mark….mark.
Raynor: What the hell happened? We ain’t seen the Zerg in years. Why attack Mar Sara now?
Horner: It’s not just Mar Sara…you need to see this.
News Anchor: …Zerg swarm launched a full-scale attack spread throughout all outer-rim planets. Sustained heavy casualties in the billions.
Kate Lockwell: Minutes ago the Zerg attacked a Dominion military research facility…
Tychus: Sweet mother mercy…
Kate Lockwell: New exclusive video footage confirms…the Queen of Blades is in fact leading the swarm.
Horner: We always knew she’d be back – but what’s she after?
Raynor: She’s come to finish the job.
---
Tosh: I see the Queen of Blades out in the world again.
Raynor: How much do you know about Kerrigan, Tosh?
Tosh: I had some…friends in the Ghost Academy. That girl was a legend even before she disappeared from the program. There’s a few that know the truth – how the Queen of Blades came to be.
Raynor: She’s a creature of pure rage now.
Tosh: Oh yes, it’s her or us man. If we don’t kill her, she’ll slaughter us all.
---
Raynor: Just how bad is it man?
Horner: Zerg attacks are being reported all over the sector, but the biggest push is against the Dominion core worlds.
Raynor: How’s that bastard Mengsk responding?
Horner: He’s pulled the fleet back to protect his main resource centers, leaving the fringe worlds to fend for themselves. He’s a real man of the people.
---
Raynor: What's the general status Matt?
Horner: We've picked up a distress call from the planet Agria. There's a colony there under attack by the Zerg. Your convict buddy Tychus, lined up another mission retrieving an artifact. It’s on a world called Monlyth, but you’d best ask him for the details.
Tychus: The Moebius boys think there's another artifact on some world called Monlyth. Supposedly there's Protoss guarding it - fanatics that stayed on after the rest of them bugged out. Don't get all sentimental thinking these Protoss buddies of yours, because they ain't.

Mission: Queen's Gambit
  • Secure the artifact.
  • 7 million credits.

-----
Dr. Hanson: Any ship receiving this transmission – the Zerg are invading Agria. The Dominion have abandoned us here; we’re just a small farming colony. We’ve got to evacuate before we’re overun. If you can hear this message, please help us.

Mission: Savior
  • Evacuate colonists
  • 7 million credits.

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Next, Blizzard gave us some insight into the cinematic development process. Each cinematic begins with a rough mock-up. The following mock-up of Kerrigan’s dream of her betrayal at the hands of Arcturus was meant to be a full-blown pre-rendered cinematic:

Finally the audience was shown what Rob Pardo aptly referred to as “the coolest part of this panel” - a segment from the introduction cinematic of the Terran Campaign Wings of Liberty:

The BlizzCon 2008 StarCraft II Gameplay panel revealed a slew of information about the Terran single-player story mode. With the shattering announcement of the StarCraft II trilogy, StarCraft II's longevity has been assured for three more years.

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This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2008 feature article.

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