StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void lead designer on mission packs and closing the book on a saga

There's a sense of finality coming with the release of StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. To learn more about what's coming to the game, including mission packs, co-op, and also to touch on the story itself, Shacknews caught up to lead level designer Matt Morris.

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With all of the excitement of this year's Blizzcon, it's easy to forget that next week will mark the end of a major Blizzard story. Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void will bring the main Starcraft II story to an end. Looking into the face of lead level designer Matt Morris, it's easy to see this as a bittersweet moment for him. While he's excited to see the fruits of his labor hit a wide audience of fans and RTS newcomers alike, there looked to be a sense of sadness that the epic story was about to come to a close.

Shacknews spoke to Morris during Blizzcon to learn more about Legacy of the Void, the goal of the new mission packs, the major addition of co-op, and look back at some of the key story moments of the Starcraft II saga.

Shacknews: This is it! Tuesday is the big day! What was the biggest goal for the team going into Legacy of the Void?

Matt Morris, Lead Level Designer: For us, though I don't want to speak necessarily for all of the various departments on the Starcraft II team, but the group I was working, from the get-go, I was trying to hash out the storyline. We always had big picture ideas to how this story would end. But now that we're in it and we're starting to talk out the details, the biggest challenge was that we don't end on a note that leaves people dissatisfied. We've had some very good fans over the years, going back to Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm. And though this is a standalone product and we could get new customers in there, but for the fans, we really wanted to make sure that this ending, everything we've built up to, is very satisfying.

Shacknews: On that note, everyone has their favorite character and for some, that favorite character is Nova. People were happy to see the Starcraft mission packs, reminding some people of the Starcraft Ghost project. What made you want to give Nova her own mission pack?

Morris: I don't know if there was ever necessarily a tipping point. I think Nova is just a character that jumps out to people, because from the history, from Ghost. Even internally, we were really hoping for that game. We loved it and it was unfortunate that we couldn't continue to move forward. But even from Wings of LIberty and Heart of the Swarm, she started making appearances. Internally, we were just looking for a way to tell a Nova story. Obviously, we're not going to go back and tell that Nova Ghost story, because the timeline is after Legacy of the Void. We didn't even know we were going to do Starcraft II when Ghost was coming out. So it's going to be a different story, but it's really going to be a personal story as to who is this complicated character and what's she all about?

Shacknews: Is this going to be purely story content or are there going to be multiplayer units that come along with these missions?

Morris: You never know. There's nothing designed at the moment, speaking towards that way. Everyone at this point, moving forward, is going to be more community-oriented. We really want to embrace community feedback and we really want to be in the position to react quickly. So if there is a new unit that comes out of the idea of creating these Nova missions, [senior game designer] David Kim has already talked about the meta, as it goes forward, we want to make sure it's fresh and that means introducing new units. So nothing planned, but you never know.

Shacknews: What areas is the team looking to in the future for mission pack content and what other stories are you looking to tell, especially since Legacy of the Void is looking to close the book on the Starcraft II story?

Morris: We just made the announcement of covert ops and that's our focus. We know in the back of our head, we want to do more. We do want to do new mission packs, but if you look up on our whiteboard, there's eight different characters up there and we don't know at this point which would be the next one. I think a lot of that will come from the community as we move forward with these mission packs. I think the fans are really good about letting us know how they feel, what they like and what they don't like. I wouldn't be surprised if we went out and asked "Hey, what would you guys like to see?" and make it a collaborative effort between the team and the community.

Shacknews: Even though the story is ending, it's clear that the team is going to be supporting Legacy of the Void for a long time. What else can fans expect to see after launch?

Morris: More co-op missions. We have co-op coming to StarCraft II for the very first time. We plan to continue to support that moving forward. There's various ways that we want to support this. The first one is to add more missions, getting more scenarios for players to fill will make it feel fresh for the players. But in addition to that, we want to have more Commanders. At launch, we're going to have six Commanders and today, we announced that our seventh Commander is going to be a Protoss Commander, a guy named Phase-Smith Kerax, someone you'll learn more about through the Legacy of the Void campaign.

Shacknews: What was the main design goal with co-op missions?

Morris: One of the conversations that we'd hear a lot over the years is that "I love StarCraft, but multiplayer is scary. I'll play the campaign, but I won't jump on Battle.net." So we kept on thinking, there's this huge audience for StarCraft. They love the campaign, but then they disappear. We wanted this to be a mode that felt very familiar to a campaign player. That's why these missions will have the mechanics and a lot of the objectives you'll see in the campaigns, and we brought them over so you and a friend can share that same experience. We have all this content between three games now, all the systems that we've put in with the army customization, the mercs from Wings of Liberty, the Zerg mutations, the Protoss factions, there's just so much content we've built for StarCraft II and we just thought… how do we help players want to stay in multiplayer and have fun with their friends? So it's just a merge of both of them.

Shacknews: Lastly, there's a great sense of finality to the story. What is the main aspect of StarCraft lore that you hope players will remember the most?

Morris: That's a tricky one. On a personal level, what I think fans will take away when they think back at StarCraft II, there's two stories that are going on. There's this complicated relationship between Kerrigan and Jim, going all the way back to StarCraft. I think that'll probably end up at the forefront. Kerrigan and Jim Raynor are very iconic with StarCraft II.

And then the other side of the story that we didn't touch and kind of held back a little bit in Wings of Liberty, but there's something else going on in the universe. In Heart of the Swarm, it ramps up. In Legacy of the Void, it's front of the stage. There's this huge galactic war. We wanted to remind everyone that this is sci-fi. This isn't just battles on a planet. These are battles for planets! So we're pushing that with Legacy of the Void. I want people to remember Jim and Kerrigan, but also, when they walk away, I want them to remember this massive, galactic strategy game, which you haven't really seen since the 80s, where you see something very strategic and very macro-level, instead of trying to tell little stories. So there's a little of both, I'm hoping there.


StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void will arrive on PC on November 10.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
    • reply
      November 8, 2015 7:25 AM

      This is fantastic! I'm excited that they are looking to throw the non hardcore multiplayer audience a bone. I love SC2 multiplayer, but I like the campaign even more.

      Good little article! I'll be in the minority playing this over F4, and now I'm really excited!

      • reply
        November 8, 2015 11:54 AM

        Same here man. on all points. I love Fallout too but this comes first. I mean Starcraft has been one my favorite games for ages.

        Gonna beat Legacy then I'm going back in for a full playthrough of hte entire story. I've decided to play it on hard but no saving to avoid andy disaster just gonna roll with punches.

    • reply
      November 8, 2015 11:53 AM

      Man this sound so great. Co-op missions sound so much fun.

      The campaign sounds sweet. I've wanted to retake aiur since the send of SC1.

      So ready for my favorite race and the campaign. UNF indeed.