So What’s Christie Golden Doing?

/equip_tinfoil_hat

So I’m possibly reading too much into something small, but I stumbled across a rather intriguing story last night. It seems Christie Golden has suddenly moved to California so that she can work at Blizzard’s main offices for a secret project that will last until October.

The Emerald Dream in World of WarcraftI’ve been a pretty big fan of Christie Golden’s for a while now, as both an author and a person. She’s written a number of excellent tie-in novels for Blizzard’s various games, and I have had enough sporadic contact with her over the years to determine she is a pretty excellent person. Therefore, the news of her doing more work with Blizzard excites me.

But what’s really intriguing is the question of just what she’s doing there. While I’m not an expert, I have done some research on the process for how authors produce tie-in novels for Blizzard, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t normally require actually working at the Blizzard offices for months. Why would it?

Again, I might be jumping the gun, but my mind has turned to the possibility that she may be writing an entire game. It would explain why she needs to be in close proximity to the development team(s).

But what game?

Christie Golden has the most history with the Warcraft universe, but I’m not sure things quite add up for her to be working on WoW. It seems a bit early for them to be designing the plot of the next expansion in detail, and the continuous nature of WoW’s story doesn’t mesh with the temporary nature of her job at Blizzard.

Given she is in theory only there for a few months, I would think she’d be working on something with a clear beginning, middle, and end. A game that can be finished.

The Spear of Adun's Solar Core in StarCraft II: Legacy of the VoidThe only other Blizzard franchise she’s worked on in the past is StarCraft, so perhaps she could be writing a new mission pack. Blizzard’s said they were moving on from story content for StarCraft II, but they could always change their minds.

However, I see no reason she must be limited to franchises she’s already worked on.

We do know something is in the works regarding Diablo, though whether it’s an expansion, Diablo IV, or some kind of spin-off is anyone’s guess. I have a little bit of trouble picturing someone as sweet as Christie Golden working on a series that’s basically all torture and brimstone, but then I remember how dark some of her past writing has gotten, and it doesn’t seem quite as far-fetched.

The possibility that really intrigues me, though, is that she could be working on Overwatch, either a story mode within the current game or entirely new title in the same universe that focuses on story instead of PvP. There’s clearly a strong desire for such, and the Overwatch universe seems the perfect fit for her emotive, character-driven style of writing.

Regardless, I hope it is a new game she’s working on, because any game written by Christie Golden is a game I want to play.

StarCraft: 3.13 and Fenix Impressions

“I fear no enemy, for the Khala is my strength. I fear not death, for our strength is eternal.”

Fenix's Praetor suit in StarCraft II co-opAfter a minor content drought, StarCraft II has come roaring back with a big update to co-op. The star attraction is a new commander, Fenix.

Well, sort of. It’s not really Fenix; it’s Talandar. But the name “Fenix” is more recognized, so I guess it makes sense that’s what they went with, even if it gives us lore fans eye twitches. Either way, he still captures the essence of the OG Protoss badass.

I had hoped for Selendis next, but I can’t say I’m heartbroken by Fenix. A proper Purifier commander without Karax’s baggage is very welcome.

He’s got some interesting mechanics, too. His theme is around downloading AI consciousnesses between various bodies, which confirms with certainty that Purifiers are Protoss Cylons.

Fenix himself can swap between three bodies at will. Each has their own unique stats and abilities, but they only regenerate health and energy when they aren’t deployed, so you have to swap them out regularly.

Probably a good thing, too, because otherwise I’d never use anything but the Dragoon body. That thing’s damage is nuts.

The army of Fenix in StarCraft II co-opFenix can also call upon AI champions based on the personas of legendary heroes from throughout Protoss history. The champion will inhabit the body of one your units, greatly increasing their stats and granting new abilities. If a champion is killed, it will transfer to another unit of the same time at no cost. So you basically can’t ever lose them.

Each of these is an actual character from within the lore, though some are sufficiently obscure even I barely know who they are. The biggest name is probably Kaldalis, the Ahkundelar champion featured in Reclamation and the Legacy of the Void cinematic.

Unfortunately, they didn’t bring back any of the original voice actors, so Kaldalis, for example, still sounds like a regular Zealot. I realize it’d be a lot of investment for just one commander, but it would have been cool.

They did put a lot of work into his visuals, though. Not only does he have all-new Purifier skins for all his buildings and units, but even a unique UI, which is a first.

I’m still pretty low level, but my initial impressions of Fenix are positive. He’s not as overpowered as he seemed from the initial previews, but he is pretty strong. Like Nova, he’s very versatile, with many viable builds and no obvious weaknesses.

Fenix's Purifiers assault the enemy in StarCraft II co-opSimilarly, he’s probably not going to be my favourite commander, but he is pretty fun. He has a lot of my favourite Protoss units that were either missing or consigned to Karax: Adepts, Scouts, Colossi, Carriers.

I’m sure it’s not the most efficient strategy, but I’ve been having a lot of fun just going for mass infantry. I love the aesthetics of the Protoss warriors (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) heroically charging into battle with Fenix at their head.

My only real concern is that Fenix may be the last Protoss commander to be added. I can’t really imagine what’s left to do with the race at this point, which is a shame because I still want to see Selendis get some love.

Scythe of Amon:

Patch 3.13 also included a surprise new co-op map, Scythe of Amon.

The map’s been getting a lot of criticism for being so similar to Rifts to Korhal, which it definitely is. Go around, kill Void Shards Slivers, and beat the time limit. The bonus objective is an escort mission, with all the annoyance that entails, which doesn’t help, either.

The new Scythe of Amon map in StarCraft II co-opThat said, there are a few things that make it a bit more interesting than Rifts to Korhal. The time limit is tighter, making it more challenging. You have more choice in what order to tackle the objectives in. You have enemy forces of all three races. The Slivers have more diverse and deadly attacks to avoid.

So really it’s an improved version of Rifts to Korhal. If Rifts didn’t already exist, it probably would have been received much better.

It’s very pretty, too. The lighting and rain effects are gorgeous.

The colours, children!

Finally, Blizzard has at long last enabled custom team colours in co-op. It’s the same system as in ladder, meaning it requires some tinkering in the depths of the options menu and then hitting a button next to the mini-map in-game to work, and your ally won’t see what you’ve picked, but it’s still a lot better than just being blue or orange every single game.

I’ve been trying to find the best colour for every commander. I highly recommend white for Fenix. It looks fantastic with the Purifier skins.