In part six of our continuing series, Brian Kindregan, co-lead writer of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and lead writer of Heart of the Swarm, answers more of the community’s most burning lore questions.
Question: Are you planning to extend or add to the Tal'darim and their story in the coming expansions? Will they even be present in them?
Answer: Oh, you'll be hearing from the Tal'darim. An interesting note about them: I've seen people reference the fact that they are the Protoss who fell victim to Ulrezaj on Aiur. But no one has pointed out that the Tal'darim in Wings seem to have been around for a long time—much longer than the refugees on Aiur.
The Tal'darim in the Dark Templar trilogy are actually not a faction; they are a cult of drug-addicted Protoss looking for a cause. But their defining feature is that they chose to leave the community of Protoss on Aiur. So they took their name ("the Forged") from an ancient sect that parted ways with the Aiur Protoss. That ancient sect is the Tal'darim you meet in Wings—a full faction.
We didn't go into the difference in the game because Jim Raynor would not have known about the Tal'darim in the Dark Templar trilogy, and so would not have been discussing them. Also, many players would not be aware of that group either.
Question: Will you ever release a neat little booklet with the expanded lore of StarCraft similar to the one that shipped with StarCraft 1/Brood War? It seems like rich manuals are dead...
Answer: Something like Book of Cain? I think that would be awesome. Not my call... but I'd buy a copy!
Question: Why do Protoss limit how they use their own technology? I realized that they did this in the campaign, when Stetmann was using their tech to make automated harvesters and he said there were so many possibilities that the Protoss hadn't explored.
Answer: Yes, Stetmann was puzzled by the Protoss. They are very different from humans. Much older, and with more scars on their collective psyche. Humans are scrappy folk. The Protoss are more afraid of what they could do with their technology than other races are.
Question: Why did Kerrigan go after the xel'naga artifacts? Will they play a role in the future?
Answer: Well, they were pretty dangerous to the Queen of Blades, as we've seen. Raynor and Moebius used them to rob her of her power. If I were the leader of the Swarm, I'd have gone after them too!
Question: How are the new Protoss ships being built? I guess at a shipyard of some kind, but where? I thought their entire infrastructure was destroyed in Brood War. Where did these Void Rays, nearly the size of battlecruisers, come from?
Answer: Their infrastructure took a big hit, for sure. But they're tenacious, those Protoss. Plus, they have production facilities on more than one planet.
Also, the Protoss have vast inventories of equipment stored in many places. This is why they are always warping units in rather than building them!
Question: Is Swann actually supposed to have invented the Thor?
Answer: Yep! Of course, he was refining a design that'd had millions of credits' worth of R&D poured into it. Maybe refining is too generous; he was making it cheaper. Raynor's Raiders have to be careful with their resources. So the Thor may have been "improved" from the Odin… but if I had to bet on a 1-on-1 fight between an Odin and a Thor… guess where I'd put my money?
Now, there is a lore contradiction out there. We messed up on something. In Frontline Vol. 1, in the story "Thundergod," we showed a Dominion Thor operating on Mar Sara in 2502. This kind of thing can happen: two internal teams are feverishly working at the same time to get content out to the community, and communication breaks down. Everybody at Blizzard is very unhappy when this happens, as we take our worlds seriously and try to make them as consistent as possible. Wait! Maybe that particular Thor fell through a mini-time warp and… No, no, we just messed up.
Question: I understand that Zerg live under one hivemind, but do they have any form of individuality? In a StarCraft manga book (the first one), a Zergling killed another Zergling. Why is that?
Answer: Cerebrates, broodmothers, queens, and overlords/overseers all have sapience, the ability to act with appropriate judgment (although queens and overlords/seers are severely limited in their mental flexibility). All other Zerg are sentient—i.e., able to feel physical sensation. Sentience means that they can react to stimuli, but not necessarily form a plan of action. So a Zergling can operate on its own at the lowest level. If it is not under the control of the hive-mind, it will attack anything near it. We refer to any Zerg in this state as a “feral Zerg”. It can move and fight, but it won't be creating a battle strategy anytime soon.
Question: Have you (Blizzard) ever revised the lore of the game after it came out? Like Jim's age. According to the lore, he is in his mid-30s right now, even though he looks a lot older.
Answer: We haven't knowingly done that. As more content is added to a given universe, by different teams, there is always the danger of unintentionally contradicting existing lore. But we have never intentionally done it. When something goes out the door at Blizzard—in a game, a novel, a manga, or anything other than mods or the table-top RPG—it's canon. This can be quite unwieldy; someone may have made a decision 12 years ago that was a well-reasoned, smart choice back then, but boxes us in today… but that's the hazard of game writing. We have to find a way to live with it and still tell our story.
Sometimes there is an area where we haven't established exactly what happened, and we have room to define it at need. When we do this, some think that we've "retconned" it, but it's only retconning if we actively contradict known lore, not if we elaborate on something that was not defined.
Jim's old-man appearance wasn't the result of us changing lore; it was simply that we were trying to find a way to reflect the incredible experiences—and horrors—this man has undergone. I agree that he came out looking far older than his years. So we didn't change his age, but we did miss the mark.
If you’re looking for more lore, here’s part 1 of our StarCraft II Creative Development Q&A, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5. We’ll have many more answers to your burning questions in the weeks to come.