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Was the SC1 story really as good as we remember?

Discussion in 'StarCraft I & II' started by BoxCrayonTales, Jul 22, 2020.

  1. BoxCrayonTales

    BoxCrayonTales

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    So I played Starcraft in the early 2000s and I loved it. Then I went on a hiatus for many years. I got interested again around the time that LotV released.

    I heard a lot about how the SC2 story was awful and betrayed the original. When I refreshed my memory of the SC1 plot, I was astonished for reasons you might not believe.

    SC1's plot isn't as good as I remember, and I'm certainly not sure that SC2 is significantly worse in overall quality. I don't think, critically speaking, that SC1 has a good story.

    There's a youtube playlist by Pr0nogo that does some general review, but I like to keep myself focused on the story as distinct from the gameplay.

    I think a good way to illustrate what I dislike with the setting and story is to compare the blurb on the official website circa 2000 with the story primer circa 2020.

    Blizzard introduces this huge interstellar war setting where the Confederate nations are dealing with resource shortages, civil strife, and defending themselves against an invasion by two dangerous alien races with extensive histories and cultures. The best story they could think to tell with it was about... Queen Kerry?

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    Until Brood War, StarCraft's story+the background in the manual is pretty solid. From Brood War onward, loads of plotholes and retcons, sadly.
    Well, that's pretty shortsighted right now. But StarCraft is more of a space opera like Star Wars than actual or hard science-fiction.
     
  3. BoxCrayonTales

    BoxCrayonTales

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    The let's play I linked is far less charitable than you are, to put it lightly.
     
  4. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    I don't have time to listen to hours of blah blah.
     
  5. BoxCrayonTales

    BoxCrayonTales

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    Most of it is criticizing showing not telling, the production feeling very slapdash, lots of information being assumed but not explained, Kerry being treated as a messiah even though it makes little sense for the zerg to elevate single units above the billions of others they rely on, etc.

    Fans seem to like SC1 for its gritty military elements, not space opera. It's not clearly a space opera, either. Nor does that explain other flaws in the storytelling. The RTS genre is a terrible fit for space opera anyway: the RTS genre is clearly best suited for military fiction because it revolves around military engagements.

    The plot relies on questionable plot devices like the psi-emitter in episode 1, kerry in episode 2, and dark templar in episode 3. These feel very lazy and unrealistic to me.

    I don't think SC1 did a good job of showcasing the storytelling capability of the IP. What I especially don't like is that it introduces major political actors like the Confederate nations, Overmind/cerebrate hierarchy, and Protoss Empire tribes, only to totally bulldoze them all by the end of the game and leave nothing substantial for sequels to build off. I think the focus on Raynor and Kerry ultimately did more to harm the franchise's integrity than help it.

    I'm sorry if I can't answer better, there's pretty much zero critical analysis of SC1 that I could find anywhere on the internet. Which really should be very telling on its own, I would think.
     
  6. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    What information? The backstory in the manual tells you all you need. Heck you don't even need it if you want everything to be more mysterious. What you'd expect the characters to break the 4th wall and tell the player everything they know or think of?
    As for Kerrigan, the idea was that the Overmind was experimenting as the zerg had no psionics able creatures aside from minor competent ones as the Overmind itself and the Cerebrates. However, in what war and combat was concerned it could not match that of the protoss. Thus, the Overmind needed to make sure Kerrigan would be a potential candidate for further such experiments, maybe even larvae mutations and evolution to psionic capable zerg.
    Kerrigan was not fully free-minded but maybe had more going than Cerebrates and this might have intrigued the Overmind to let her do things in her own mind, to see what would happen next. Remember that the zerg assimilated the xel'naga monitoring their progress and did not get more psionic potential than interstellar travel via wormholes and Cerebrate creation and reincarnation. And to the Overmind's surprise, the protoss could not be assimilated into their fold at least not the way the zerg needed them to so that they could have defense against and means to use psionics.
    You're right. StarCraft II is more space opera.
    Games in general cannot follow a precise or perfect narrative since gameplay is a major factor or game changer in storytelling. Games can't work as movies or books for example. They borrow stuff from but ultimately, they're games.
    Well, the author(s) made use of some deus ex machina (of course not as big as the Xel'Naga temple and some others in Brood War). However, they also made some rules. Terran can do something to disturb the zerg (otherwise the terran would have stood no chance in all this conflict since Ghosts were not as powerful as protoss Templar and neither had any means to take control of some zerg away from the Ov or Cerebrates), protoss can't be assimilated and can cause a great deal of damage to the zerg but via the Dark Templar (also, the narrative that it was the DT who were needed to do it in the end and not the Khala), and Kerrigan, I've explained a bit above.
    No one is saying that the story is perfect, Nobel prize worthy or whatever. But it's one of the best in video games, especially RTS.

    What you call lazy can be said about many things even in A Song of Ice and Fire, like dragonglass/Valyrian steel destroying white walkers in one hit or white walkers needing to be burned or they will raise or the properties of reanimation of those following the lord of the light, Daeneys not being affected by fire and able to tame dragons as innate abilities (sure, she raised them but she wasn't living alone with them and stuff) and others.

    Or to get more familiar, Warcraft III. The Lich King not being able to move but being very powerful acting like Red Alert 2's Yuri without a huge antenna, Sylvanas breaking free of Ner'zhul's control even after regaining power (well, in WoW). And many more. Don't have the time now to think thoroughly.

    I mean even the Dune series. A dude came from another planet and became the leader of people who weren't able to surpass their tribalism and traditions and so he basically educated them, brought the Bene Gesserit ways and elevated them further with the spice. I mean sure, it's symbolism and all that but I'm saying, if you want to nitpick, you'll find these "lazy" things in most stories, especially fantasy and science-fiction ones.
    Compared to the cheesy Hollywood-esque dialogue of SCII or the almost one liners of Warcraft III, I'd say what's there looks like actual dialogue. Also, mission briefings which basically depict how army higher ups would discuss tactics and whatnot. Of course, it's not just that because they also had to put story elements in there otherwise people would have gotten bored by actual strategy talk.
    I'm not sure they actually planned to do sequels to the game. You can pretty much see it with Diablo III, it's a retcon cluster. StarCraft II as well but at least, I remember it to be less a pain to connect the stories than with Diablo.
    Well, to be frank the love stuff with Kerri and Jimmy came in SCII. There was something going on in the first game but it wasn't that obvious or at least the focus.
    About bulldozing the protoss tribes. I disagree. I mean, the idea was that the protoss obviously didn't stand a chance against the vast numbers of the zerg and that also with Kerrigan's help who had the special powers the zerg needed (they didn't quite expand properly on this one to be honest). That's where the Dark Templar became important and the prejudicial elder society (conclave) was abolished as a result of the civil war and the zerg invasion ending with the unification of the protoss factions. Also, consider gameplay reasons. Campaigns were usually made to prepare you for the game/melee so PvP, ZvZ and TvT were a pretty much must.
    Yes, as mentioned, Brood War has the most issues of the two since indeed, the focus was too much on Kerrigan that became a total lunatic although not under the Ov anymore and the Amon shenanigans came so much later as a sort of comic book narrative as with Duran and his experiments: "I serve a far greater powah!"
    Don't think too much on it. It's a game, not 1984.
     
  7. BoxCrayonTales

    BoxCrayonTales

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    Below is my response to your post. I decided to put it in a spoiler since I realized that it would probably be more constructive to provide an explanation of an alternate plot rather than criticize the existing one.

    A lot of players didn't read the manual. There are inconsistencies between the manual and the game. This makes it more confusing than helpful.

    The zerg compose trillions of creatures. The Overmind treats Kerry as a messiah. This is completely absurd. Pr0nogo criticizes this in his video specifically.

    Oh yes!

    Despite its apparently importance to the lore, this plot point of "the determinant" is never adequately explained. We know nothing of xel'naga and zerg psionics or how terran and protoss psionics compare. Metzen just throws it around to justify whatever he needed at the time, like why the zerg invaded Terran space or why Kerry is a "demigoddess".

    What we should have seen were evolution missions where the zerg abducted large numbers of psychics and experimented with various psychic mutation to create new and improved breeds. Not one twenty-something mary sue based on Metzen's wife.

    I assume you're talking about the psi-emitter? How it affects the zerg is never explained because it's a lazy plot device. It was never a weapon. That's my point. It is lazily inserted to justify Mengsk taking over the sector, then forgotten because it's no longer convenient.

    The zerg being overpowered is a result of bad writing and could have been dropped. Make ghosts as powerful as protoss. Let terrans win against zerg forces. Let the terrans develop anti-zerg tech. Enslave zerg through cyborg implants like the Cerberus skin in SC2. Anything!

    Metzen arbitrarily wrote the zerg as overpowered, then introduced a deux ex machina (dark templar) to defeat the zerg. This is completely unnecessary. The zerg don't need to be invincible in the first place, nor do the cerebrates need space magic immortality bullshit. The protoss have fleets of planet-glassers!

    Honestly, the invasion of Aiur wasn't even necessary in the first place. I would have vastly preferred seeing the protoss POV of the invasion of Terran space. After episode 1, the terran presence felt completely unnecessary. The protoss have an empire of hundreds maybe thousands of worlds according to the manual (their decline was a retcon added later, originally they were still rising out of a dark age), and you can't possibly do that galactic war justice in ten missions.

    Video games have terrible standards to start with. As Pr0nogo's analysis shows, it's still terrible even then. I suggest you watch it because it goes into far more detail than I ever can.

    That's not what I meant. My criticism is aimed squarely at Metzen making Raynor and Kerry the main characters of the entire universe, at the expense of the rest of the setting and its overall integrity.

    Rather than address every point individually (some of these I've already addressed above, like the ZvP conflict), I'll provide an example of what I think the campaigns should have told.

    The campaigns all should have been limited to the planet Mar Sara, using it as a microcosm of the sector at large. Each campaign would tell that race's side of the battle over the planet. The terran Magistrate would defend against zerg, rebels, etc. The zerg would attack cities, process psychics, etc. The protoss would have a schism between those who wish to help the terrans survive and those who consider their deaths collateral damage in the pest control.



    As you can see, I have huge reservations regarding the starcraft story. If you're interested, ToxicDefiler over on the Blizzard forums wrote a treatment for a rewrite of the SC1 plot a few years ago. I don't agree with everything in it (ask me for more details if interested), but I think it's a big step in the right direction.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
  8. Power107

    Power107

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    Colloquial language (especially in WoL), retcons, one-liners and the lack of plot twists make sc2 story worse imo
    There were nonsensical plot events in BW such as the UED using the same tech as the Confederacy (which could be a result of low budget) but Kerrigan killing Amon is much more nonsensical than this.
    Amon annihilated most of the Xelnaga but Kerrigan kills him within seconds. That's more illogical to me. The retcons also make it worse than SC1. I can't remember any retcon from sc1.
    Also if you count the number of plot twists, foreshadowing, and other key features then you will see that Sc1 has a way better story. The main reason I didn't like sc2 story was that it had fewer plot twists, dramatic moments, and mysteries than sc1.
    Kerry is also unique. Remember, no other zerg creature used to be a ghost before. Hence out of trillions, only 1 zerg (Kerrigan) had psionic powers.
    Deus ex machina is when something suddenly appears to end the conflict rapidly. The dark templar didn't suddenly appear out of nowhere and they also didn't end the conflict rapidly. Have a look at the ending of 'Lord of the Flies' to understand what a deus ex machina looks like.
    I disagree. Star Wars Episodes IV and V were not limited to a single planet yet even today they are the best Star Wars movies according to the user scores on metacritic and RottenTomatoes.
    Write a short story that is better than the Queen Kerry plot. Let's see how good you are.
    You can say the same for Star Wars where Luke and Anakin are the main characters of the universe.
    And what about The Matrix?
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  9. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    That's a vague sentence. Examples needed.
    Not at all, as mentioned before. Kerrigan was a psionics strand experiment. That does not impede the Overmind to do what it wanted, get a foothold on Aiur. As you could see, the zerg were relentless even with the obvious weaknesses against the protoss.
    We're not supposed to. It's like with humanity's gods and alien conspiracies in real life, enigmas, mysteries, stories, whatever.
    You are asking for unnecessary details. The StarCraft story isn't about those details. It's about narratives for each of the three races, narratives that are linked.
    It's mentioned in the manual why the zerg invaded terran space before having a full assault on the protoss.
    Read the "chapter" called The Determinant in the manual under the zerg main title/header. Also read Humanity and the Coming of the Zerg and The Beginning of the End from the protoss section.
    What's that got to do with Kerri's "xel'naga" transformation?
    Also, StarCraft II is another story. As I already wrote, it has retconned much of the original lore.
    Maybe, although, Ghosts are not as frequent as Templar. Protoss have an innate, no, characteristic thing for psionics (they telepathy is psionics, the Khala is based on it) unlike the terran which only through luck get some mind-synapse geniuses like Kerri, Nova or Tosh. Sure, we see more Ghosts in the original campaigns on later levels but that's mostly due to gameplay.
    What I'm saying is that they basically had luck catching Kerrigan. Also, the protoss became aware of the zerg before they started their tests on the terran colonies that got purged by the super carriers (purifiers). The Overmind knew it would have been risky to start a whole terran worlds infestation partly due to the terran resistance and most importantly because the protoss were on their tail and they were not a joke like the terran. So, breeding Kerrigan was ideal. As you saw, it was a long experiment. It required a lot of stuff, the chrysalis that sent psionic impulses and basically notified protoss and terran (ghosts) alike of something going on. I mean, you might think that the zerg could pinpoint the location of some hundred ghots, steal them somehow and suddenly run away. Well, that would still have had repercussions.
    It's dangerous. The idea was that Mengsk used Tarsonis' (Confederacy's) own stuff to his advantage. I think they wanted to make it clear in the precursor missions that the psi emitter was found to have an effect on the zerg. Mengsk had no use for it anymore. The sector was his. He couldn't have used it on the protoss because they were already known by the Ov and the zerg had learnt a great deal after being brought to Tarsonis, not getting fooled again by such a psionic frequency otherwise the protoss could have eliminated the zerg easily with such tactics.
    Fanfiction and hypotheses are something else.
    The point was that the terran were a struggling race amidst a galactic conflict between two major forces. If the protoss would not be, the zerg would have won or the story would have been just another Starship Troopers. If the zerg were not and the protoss were the evil dudes, it would have been boring too. The more, the merrier. StarCraft follows the trend of the first Warcraft games with none of the factions winning, all losing something in the process, albeit a bit more advantages to the zerg since Brood War had to come and even with the introduction of the UED, the zerg still won. As I mentioned before, Brood War is quite messy.
    Well, I liked Chris Metzen's rules on this. What you're saying is subjective really.
    As mentioned before, the point of the Dark Templar was that their usefulness and eventually success was what brought the tribes back together, of course with the intermediate Tassadar. Eventually it was both the Khala and Nerazim that defeated the Overmind through a sacrifice. It's symbolical, as fiction should be generally regarded. It's not mathematics.
    There was nothing special about the races if all of them could simply die by bullets or lasers. It's what makes zerg special, the hivemind, the reincarnation of cerebrates and their invulnerability to normal/non-psionic (albeit special type) damage. The protoss in total telepathic communion, and their stronger derivative the Nerazim, individual Jedi monk like entities. The latter (especially Dark Archons) are much more powerful than High Templar and their Archons in that not only do they use the powers around them (Void) but also those of the mind (from within).
    The manual does not mention that those worlds were heavily populated by the protoss. They took on the role of the xel'naga to monitor other races so it's safe to say that Aiur and maybe some other few were actually populated by them and not just merely colonized or under surveillance. Also, the game/resources didn't allow for such expanded universe things. Funny, neither did SCII :D
    If they were on so many planets, then the terran would have found out about them sooner.
    Ah well, that's still more SCII than the first one. Well, Chris Metzen probably wanted a sort of space cowboy story. Also, being human, maybe it felt more comfortable. Regardless, the whole story is not centered around these two characters only. Maybe they get most attention, especially Kerrigan but in the end, without the others, things don't really make sense.
    Take the first made Star Wars movies for instance, it's not really about science-fiction and philosophy but more a symbolic representation of human relationships, mainly father-son one.
    Rewriting of stories works when it is truly needed. In this case it is not. As mentioned, nothing is truly perfect and you are expecting too much from a video game.
    I'd change a few things mainly in Brood War and mostly in StarCraft II but all in all, things are pretty OK as a whole.
     
  10. BoxCrayonTales

    BoxCrayonTales

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    Clearly we're never going to agree on anything.

    I'll put it simply: I don't like the Starcraft story at all, I never will like it, I don't understand the mindset of anyone who does like it, and I'll never ever be able to adequately explain why I dislike it to anyone who does like it no matter how many times I try. Every single time I've tried to discuss this civilly with Starcraft fans has degenerated into flame wars. Clearly I don't belong in this fandom, but I have nowhere else to go.

    I don't know how to explain it, but I'll try again. StarCraft 1 is an interpersonal drama falsely dressed up like a war story, and I don't like that. I don't want space messiahs, I just want to see the Confederate nations vs Overmind zerg broods vs Protoss Empire tribes. Dark, gritty, military science fiction in the vein of, idk, Tiberian Sun or whatever.

    I wish there was ONE game in the entire universe that had the stuff I liked about Starcraft (Confederacy, Overmind, Protoss Empire) without the stuff I disliked (Raynor, Mengsk, Kerry), but there isn't. I have nobody to discuss my interests with. I've spent years and years trying to find a game like Starcraft but without the story that I utterly despise. That really sucks for me.

    Does any of that make sense to you or do I need to repeat myself?
     
  11. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    Well, I'm saying I like it. No one's obligated to like or dislike it. But liking it has nothing to do with it being objectively bad overall, which it isn't.
    I think I've been as civilized as I could be. If I don't agree, it doesn't mean I'm not civilized.
    Then you're playing the wrong game friend. StarCraft was all about science and mysticism and whatnot from the beginning. It's what's special about it and Chris Metzen made one of the best combinations out there.
    If you want more hard science-fiction games, try the Dark Reign series. Others you could try are Dark Colony, Warzone 2100 although I'm not entirely familiar with their stories or how good they are. Oh and you could try the Homeworld series but the gameplay is very different than for these others.
    Well, like Red Alert, C&C it's a bit like a satire, more of a humorous play on military fiction. Oh, by the way, you could try the Dune RTS games: Dune II, Dune 2000 (which is pretty much a remake) and Emperor Battle for Dune (this last one never appealed to me).
    You've expressed your opinions. I did mine. I'm sorry if I misunderstood the point of the thread, that you were actually searching for something rather than asking what others thought about the game's story...
     
  12. BoxCrayonTales

    BoxCrayonTales

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    I'm sorry too. This is a sore point for me and I often lose control of my emotions.

    I got interested in Starcraft because I expected it was going to be a dark, gritty, military scifi. Not superheroes or interpersonal drama or whatever.

    I don't have anything against psychic powers. I just don't like how they were used by Metzen. I despise Kerry and wished that the zerg were experimenting on large numbers of people instead, because I love body horror and stuff like that.

    I already tried all the games I could possibly have tried. I specifically want the Confederate nations vs Overmind swarms vs Protoss Empire tribes. Nothing else besides SC hits those, and only if you ignore the plot of the games and only go by the classic battle.net website descriptions. (Atrox, Natrolis, and StarFront come close, but those aren't available on Steam or GOG and don't have communities I discuss my interests with.)

    I just want Starcraft except gritty, realistic (even accounting for psychic powers), and without inane interpersonal drama distracting from the whole war thing. ToxicDefiler's pitch was a lot closer to how I wished SC had gone, and I'm am extremely frustrated that there are no games like it in the entire universe.

    Engaging with Starcraft fandom is just a pain for me because nobody seems to share my tastes.

    (I have a similar problem with Warcraft, but that's already addressed by the multiple rewrites floating around... or playing Warhammer Fantasy, I guess. I'm quite partial to a specific rewrite name "Retrocraft" because it's written as a straight military fantasy.)




    Basically, these quotes illustrate what I liked about Starcraft.




    I am really frustrated because I can't find any game or community that suits my tastes.

    All I want is the game I expected from those quotes. Dark, gritty, violent... no superheroes or space gods.

    I don't know what to do.
     
  13. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    Well that's more StarCraft II though.
    Ugh, play the Resident Evil series, zombie related games, horror games in general (Amnesia: The Dark Descent, for example)?
    Try making a custom campaign edit or something? Sure, it won't be full voiced and whatnot unless you find voice actors and stuff but still, you could have the game your way then, that if you're into modding and stuff.
    Well, we're only on Earth and not even delving in the multiverse theory yet.
    Well the idea of being a fan of something is to love what it is not what it could have been. The latter isn't really fandom but more of a criticdom or something.
    I think you should just take it easy and find things you actually enjoy instead of hunting for ghosts.
     
  14. Power107

    Power107

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    Yes, I can clearly see that your tastes are much different than mine. Maybe you will like the story of CnC Generals as it is focused on factions instead of characters.
    Starcraft fans start flame wars with you because:
    The way in which you criticize Sc1 story is too harsh:
    1 - calling Dark Templar 'deus ex machina' is exaggerated. Deus ex machina takes place at the time of ending and it's considered very illogical as the protagonist is saved due to unnecessary luck. Dark Templar cant de deus ex machina mainly because they struggled against the zerg and they don't appear moments before the ending to halt the conflict.
    2 - you say that its absurd for the Overmind to treat Kerrigan in a special way because there were billions of other zergs without realizing that Kerrigan is the only known female zerg (maybe?) + she is the only zerg who had psionics.
    TLDR; Sc fans don't tolerate you because you are extremely biased against Sc1 story. You are making up plot holes by yourself which did not exist, hence they think that you are a troll.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  15. BoxCrayonTales

    BoxCrayonTales

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    There's no point when I have vastly different tastes from the rest of the community. Everybody else just worships at the altar of Kerry.

    Too harsh? Those plot points contributed to what I consider the decay of the zerg as a concept. Under the Overmind and cerebrates, the zerg were a galactic space monster dedicated to devouring all their path and open to a lot of cultural exploration. Under Kerry, they're pets.

    You guys know how you dislike SC2 because you feel it's a betrayal of SC1? I feel the same way about SC1 as compared to the premise I originally fell in love with. The SC1 manual is decent if barebones and in need of proofreading, but the SC1 game script feels like it set out to bulldoze that setting in favor of interpersonal drama.

    I have tried for years without success.

    Starcraft let me down and I can't get over it. I can't. I feel like I'm living in a never-ending nightmare.
     
  16. Power107

    Power107

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    Yes, its too harsh because it is criticism for the sake of criticism. Kerry just replaced the overmind as the leader of the zerg, they were still chaotic under her command. I don't know why you think they become 'pets' under the leadership of Kerrigan. Major or minor changes to factions, empires, and states also happen in the real world such as:
    Germany -> Nazi Germany -> East and West Germany -> Germany.
    I think that changes in factions and characters made the sc 1 story realistic.
    Wrong comparison. Sc2 retconned sc1 while sc1 didn't retcon the manual.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  17. BoxCrayonTales

    BoxCrayonTales

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    You're not going to convince me to stop despising the story. Don't even bother to try. You just make me more upset.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
  18. Shar Dundred

    Shar Dundred

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    If you are not interested in the opinions of others, why discuss it in the first place?
    This is a forum. When you make a post, there is going to be someone who disagrees and will also point it out.
    If you cannot respect their opinion and then start flame wars over such tiny things, it is not their fault.

    Edit: I see you edited your post. My point still stands.
     
  19. BoxCrayonTales

    BoxCrayonTales

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    I'm sorry. I'm having another depressive episode.

    What I liked about Starcraft is not what anybody else here liked about it, clearly. I don't like any of the interpersonal drama revolving around Kerry, Raynor, Mengsk, and whoever else. I like military science fiction in the vein of Starship Troopers or Tiberian Sun. I like investing in nation-states and factions and institutions in my RTS games.

    As much as I would like to forget Starcraft ever existed, I can't get over it. I can't stop thinking about it and I hate that. I wish that there was some other other game with the same three-sided premise but without Metzen's writing that I despise. It's tormenting me every day and I hate it.
     
  20. stein123

    stein123

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    You should go to a psychologist instead to a forum if this is serious.