Monday, October 26, 2015

Drama of the Week: Kerrigan Would Kill Over The New UI

Ever since we first started to see screenshots and concept art for Heart of the Swarm, I began to assume that Kerrigan's human model was a placeholder or somehow unfinished. She was just way, way too sexy, with baffling proportions and overly revealing "armor." Much to my dismay, that really was the official depiction. With the latest patch in StarCraft, the update for Legacy of the Void, the new central protagonist, Artanis, you can see that Blizzard really went all out to portray him as an incredible warrior. I really wished that Kerrigan had gotten the same treatment. This article was published in issue 32. Also, the initial title was "A Sex Object’s Objection."

Drama of the Week: Kerrigan Response to the New UI: It’s Still Missing SomethingBy: Mike Harrell 

StarCraft II players rejoiced this week with the implementation of patch 3.0, the precursor to the release of Legacy of the Void. The user experience for the entire menu system has been updated, and almost everything is just what the players have been asking for. Visually dynamic screens? Yes. Awesome new campaign selection screen that harkens back to StarCraft and Brood War? Oh, yes. Even the Arcade, which many players have all but given up on, was given a wondrous new “Join” page, which lists all of the games will open lobbies to join.  

More than anything, however, that new startup screen with Artanis charging out from the cliffs and laying some Zerglings low is 100% A+ 10/10 awesome StarCraft. It’s exactly what the game needed. When the player starts up the game, they’re greeted with the opportunity to gaze upon Artanis’ noble visage and peer into his fathomless eyes, followed by the new, beautiful “Space Clouds” screen, which effectively transports the player into another place and time. And then the player sees Artanis, leader of the Protoss, exert his majestic strength on the Zerg pestilence. Oh yeah baby, IT’S STARCRAFT TIME! 

Kerrigan Speaks Out 

There is, however, one person who is not impressed by the changes. Sarah “The Queen of Blades” Kerrigan is pissed, and she will not stew in silence. 

“The very nicest thing I can think to say about Artanis’ ‘glory jump’ is to encourage each person that was involved in the production to make sure your will is current and your life insurance premium is paid up,” growled a livid Kerrigan in our last communication. That’s right, the self-proclaimed “Queen Bitch of the Universe” is on the warpath, and it’s over the disparity in her and Artanis’ portrayals in the StarCraft title screen.    

“I can’t believe the difference,” Kerrigan continued. “Blizzard must have spent millions on the set, robotics, and post-effects required for Artanis to make that ‘jump.’ Seriously, they build a mountain, a bunch of robotic Zerglings, and add charge and shield effects to make him look like some kind of hero (as if that were possible for a Protoss). The last time I heard of Artanis, he was running around an abandoned Xel’Naga temple in his underwear because his home planet had been completely ravaged. Meanwhile, I was conquering the rest of the sector, and single-handedly defeated the United Earth Directorate. What has Artanis done?” 

Artanis Is Just Hype 

Kerrigan is correct on that point. As far as we can tell, Zeratul has been the driving force behind the Protoss’ relevance in the continuing narrative of the Koprulu Sector. It was Zeratul that led Raynor to the artifacts and convinced him not to kill Kerrigan when he got the chance. It was Zeratul that led Kerrigan to reclaim her lost power. I’d be willing to put down money it’s Zeratul that convinces the Protoss to stop screwing around and do something about Amon.  

Artanis has accomplished buying new clothes and turning a blind eye as the Tal’darim resurrected a dead god (that wants to kill us all). Hardly the kind of governance that merits the most awe-inspiring in-game animation to date. 

With violet bioluminescence flaring in her eyes, Kerrigan began to seethe, “I’ve been the death of billions across this sector, and I will be for billions more before I’m done. I can create life with my psionic ability alone. I have fought for and won my freedom again and again, from the Confederacy, from Mengsk, from the Overmind, from the UED, and now from an actual god. And how does Blizzard portray me? They recreate footage from my most vulnerable moments, when my strength had been taken from me, put me in some kind of bodypaint with LED’s glued to it, and have me stand around and flex. What a waste!” 

Kerrigan: The Ultimate Show of Force 

A waste indeed! If Blizzard was looking for an impressive show of strength and lethality, there is no better specimen than Sarah Kerrigan. As a Terran ghost she was a flawless assassin, and as the Queen of Blades she has become the single most dangerous and influential force in the known universe. It seems like she would be pretty hard to overlook in any kind of objective appraisal. 

I said this to Kerrigan and regretted it immediately. She stiffened and with terrible calmness she began to murmur, “The reason is that they fear me. I’m the only protagonist (or whatever) in this entire story that is actually dangerous without $50 million worth of equipment. In the blink of an eye, I could stop your heart with my mind, slit your throat with my wings, or transform you into discount hamburger meat by way of a 70-foot-tall Ultralisk. Blizzard sought to marginalize me due to my sex and usher me along out of view once my story was ‘over.’ I will not be forgotten so easily. They will know that I am I capable of more than walking in asinine chitinous heels and having breasts and a thighgap. Through their stinging tears and stifled sobs they will know the horrifying might of The Swarm.” 

Enfranchise The Players 

Putting aside the lust for murder, Kerrigan is right. If this new UI is the new StarCraft, all its heroes should be given equal treatment. Currently our heroes are represented as “Slayer Artanis,” “Had Some Work Done Barbie: Kerrigan,” and “Raynor’s Rear Bumper” (although it could easily be interpreted as Matt Horner’s bumper). Where is the equal opportunity in displays of power?  

We need a few more title screens added, featuring each hero (and villain!?) displaying their strengths and abilities in equally-inspiring fashion. It will be immersive and inspiring for players of all types. If it’s good for the player, it’s good for the game. Let’s get it done.

I really enjoyed writing this one. The way that Blizzard has portrayed Kerrigan in StarCraft II is such an incredible disservice. She was never meant to be sexy. She's powerful, dangerous, and ruthless. I hate that she reappeared in StarCraft II with hot air balloons on her chest. It felt good to finally get to get it out on paper (so to speak). Also, this is more or less the first time that I've attempted to think about what a fictitious character would say and do and write it down, as opposed to just referencing something and hoping for a laugh from the reader. I feel like it came out pretty good.

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