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.

Where Does StarCraft Go from Here?

The StarCraft II trilogy has now wrapped up, and Blizzard doesn’t seem to have any immediate plans for more stories in-game. For better or for worse, though, Blizzard doesn’t let any of their franchises lie fallow forever, so sooner or later the StarCraft story is going to start moving forward again.

The fathomless depths of spaceI have to wonder, though, where does it go from here? Both StarCraft games formed a pretty coherent story arc, all building to the conclusion in Legacy of the Void, and now that arc is finally over. For the first time, we’re in uncharted waters with no clear indication of where to go next.

Still, there are some possibilities. Obviously, there will be spoilers for the StarCraft story to date here.

Rogue elements:

Even if the main factions of each race — the Swarm, the Dominion, and the Daelaam — manage to stay on mostly friendly terms, there’s still the potential for rogue elements from within each race to cause trouble.

I definitely think this is the intended role of the Tal’darim. They’re a readily available bunch of nasty Protoss for the player to beat on, and they serve that role well.

Terran society, as well, offers plenty of opportunity for further conflict. It’s just human nature; we’re a fractious bunch. We’ve already seen that with the Defenders of Man in Covert Ops, and there’s also the potential for renewed conflict with the Kel-Morian Combine or even the Umojan Protectorate, though the latter is a bit of a stretch.

The Zerg are theoretically homogeneous, but there’s still the possibility of feral broods wandering the cosmos, mindlessly consuming all in their path, and there’s Dehaka and the Primals to consider. Their loyalty to the Swarm was always tenuous at best, and they have no code beyond the desire to feed and grow stronger.

The Tal'darim Death Fleet in StarCraft IIThis is the safest route. It won’t radically change the feel of the StarCraft universe, and it’s a logical evolution of the current story. It doesn’t lend itself well to the kind of epic story-telling we’re used to from Blizzard, though. The Tal’darim are scary, but they’ll never equal Amon.

Other aliens:

One of the interesting things about StarCraft is that it’s clearly established there are many intelligent races in the galaxy beyond the big three and the Xel’naga, but we just never see them. The only species beyond the majors even mentioned by name is the Kalathi, and we know next to nothing about them.

If Blizzard were to introduce new aliens into the StarCraft universe, it could be in the form of an entirely new playable faction in all areas of the game, or maybe just something that only appears in campaigns and/or other story-telling mediums (like novels).

I think my preference would be the latter. I loved it when Warcraft went from two playable factions to four, and the sheer ballsiness of adding new playable races would be exciting, but at this point the traditional StarCraft triad is so entrenched and iconic I’m not sure it should change.

But if they’re just a story-telling element, it could be interesting. There’s no limit to what Blizzard could come up with, so from that perspective the prospect of new aliens has the most potential of all the ways to continue StarCraft’s story.

The Spear of Adun approaches a planet in StarCraft II: Legacy of the VoidEarth:

Then there’s the United Earth Directorate to consider. Their last attempt to conquer the Koprulu Sector ended very badly, but there’s no guarantee they won’t try again.

For my part, though, I rather like that Earth is some distant, unknown thing in the StarCraft universe, and I’m not sure I’d want to jeopardize that.

Actually, I would like to see what Earth is like in the StarCraft universe, but I’d like to see it in some spin-off that’s unrelated to events in the Koprulu Sector. Let the two realms stay separate.

Amon’s legacy:

Legacy of the Void wrapped up the main story very well, but one thing it did leave a bit unanswered is what became of Amon’s armies after his defeat.

Of course, the simple answer is that they were destroyed, and I’m sure that’s true… but were they totally wiped out?

Moebius Corps and the feral Zerg broods were just mindless tools, so I don’t imagine they’re still kicking… but what of the Hybrids? Was every last one of them eliminated?

A vault within the depths of Ulnar in StarCraft II: Legacy of the VoidAnd what of the Tal’darim? Surely some must have remained loyal to Amon in their hearts, even if they dared not speak out against Alarak openly.

Amon is gone for good, but the horrors he unleashed may not be so easily caged.

Continuing with Amon’s legacy is of course the most predictable route, and it risks simply rehashing Legacy of the Void… but tell me the thought of a lone Hybrid lurking in the dark places of the universe and plotting its vengeance doesn’t give you chills just a little bit.

The WoW route:

Everyone just starts fighting again because reasons.

Not a great option, but it wouldn’t be quite as illogical as the transition between Warcraft III and World of Warcraft was, at least.

* * *

Those are the possibilities that immediately come to mind for me. It’s entirely possible there are some I over-looked. You could also combine elements of the above. Maybe a heretofore unknown alien race conquers Earth, and the survivors are forced to seek refuge with their cousins in the Koprulu Sector. Maybe a surviving Hybrid stumbles upon the Kalathi and uses their hatred of the Protoss to turn them into an army.

Do you have any theories for where StarCraft can go from here?