Hi StarCraft Fans,
We have all pondered on the questions about the Xel’Naga, the Hybrids and the 4th Race. The truth is if anyone decides to make a 4th race based on those names, there would not be much to start with. All units and structures have to be designed from scratch, as is the race concept as a whole. Personally I don’t think any of these names describes a race that can be made for multiplayer game in a similar fashion to the Protoss, Terran and Zerg. Not in terms of variety of building and structures. Further more, any attempt to guess the storyline will be in vain as StarCraft II will be coming out and who can stand up to Blizzard in that.
So is there anything else left to expand into a 4th race without tampering with the storyline and keeping the looks and feel as cannon as possible?
A famous Chinese game suggest not. We have all played the simple hand game of the leaf, the stone and the scissors. One always beats one of the others. So, is really “3” the magical number of game balance? Three races, no more?
Of course not. Whether you will win or not does not depend on the fact which race you will chose to play with. Further more Blizzard has shown us trough StarCraft 2 that game balance can be achieved with any type of unit one can dream of as long as the unit has a specific weakness the players can exploit.
Despite the fact that every race possessed so many different capabilities, there are a few words that will describe the overall race strength. Strength players must exploit strategically.
Zerg: Speed, Numbers
Protoss: Power, Strength
Terran: Mobility, Range
But what about covertness, surprise. What about a race that does not rely on its strength, or its numbers, or its capabilities, but rather on Asymmetric Warfare. A race that overall strength is Survivability?
Any person familiar with the StarCraft story line will find 2 general contradictions.
1. Why do the UED has Confederate like technology and not some different Earth made units and buildings? Ok, they introduced the Medic and the Valqurie, but that’s it.
2. Why do the Dark Templar have only one 3 units? The Corsair, The DT itself and the Dark Archon. And just like the UED, why would they use Protoss like structures?
While the there is no more info on the UED besides this speculative question, there could be some info on the Dark Templar. We have seen recently some pretty cool Dark Templar designs made its way into StarCraft 2: The Tempest, the Stalker and the not so cool Soul Hunter. Notice how the Silver like material used to make them distinguish from the golden like alloy used by the Protoss on Aiur.
That makes for total of 5 official units so far. See the picture.
But how about buildings. Do the Dark templar have any unique buildings?
Perhaps. With that questions in my head, I went to search in the StarCraft Map Editor.
Has anyone noticed how many building-like doodads we have on the Shakuras twilight map set? These doodats look great and with a little imagination, one can almost see their Aiur equivalent. We have a total of 8 such native buildings.
So what happened? Did Blizzard embarked on making a 4th race with Brood War, but ultimately canceled it and left some of the work in Map Editor?
It’s possible, seeing their recent comments about how they are going to include all created but unused units in the StarCraft 2 map editor.
I always thought that the Dark Templar had more that just Corsairs. And as they lived apart from their Aiur brethren for centuries, it made sense to have different gameplay, units and buildings.
The Dark Templar use another type of energy source. The Void, while the High Templar on Aiur specialize in the Psionic energy. This difference comes from how they see themselves. While the High Templar see themselves as race with one mind trough the teachings of Khala, the Dark Templar have continued to explore their Psychic abilities individually.
So you might say that the Pylon structure exemplifies the Protoss on Aiur. It shares energy and knowledge from a single source.
The Dark templar will logically use similar structures that reflect their individual philosophy.
All the books that have come out so far have suggested that the StarCraft universe is bigger and richer than displayed in the game.
The Dark Templar Trilogy book shows there is much to explore in this area. The Book, “Queen of Blades” also tell us a lot about Dark Templar abilities, way of live, even a dark vessel that acts as a transport for them. This Dark shuttle apparently possesses cloaking ability too.
Now, I know that creating a playable race is more that story and graphics. Its gameplay. So, we need a tech tree, we need some ideas as how this race is going to be different, cool to play, justifying its creation.
Here is the concept of the Building/Unit tech tree of the Dark Templar tribe as I see them in their height on Shakuras just before the Zerg came.
I would like to shed some more light on what you see in that diagram.
I chose the Twilight map as background. You will notice unifying effect of the similar colours used. That is the silver like alloy specifically used by the Dark Templar. The names are derived from the word Void and their function. The tech tree as a whole is based on the Protoss tech tree with some elements borrowed from the Zerg tech tree.
There are 3 additional stone buildings borrowed from the Aiur type tile sets. There is one very good reason why would the DT have them. These Temples are ancient structures dated from before the DT got expelled from Aiur. I decided that they would like to build something that reminds them of home.
Another reason to use them is because of the 2 additional units I added: The Acolyte and the Dark Zealot. I wanted to implement physical/mental training as a way of building units. It had to be different than the other 3 methods used: Warping, Morphing and Equipping.
The second major concept I came up with is the implementation of the Void idea in providing supply limit. We just had to have more individual behavior with the structures too. So every structure has its own Void crystal that provides it with power and adds a little supply. Every structure.
A third concept I was hoping will make this race distinct is if we had the workers were able to become Warriors too and keep their ability to gather and build.
Another concept I thinks might be worth exploring is team building or the completion of a certain build project by several units simultaneously. While it may seam that having units with so many abilities is an unfair advantage, finding the balance between how many do I send to gather, how many to build and how many to fight may be very tough indeed.
You will notice, there is a lot of merging going on. I figured that DT as people exhibit different psyche in different age and if there were to be merged at young age the result would be different then if they are fully trained DT. If you merge 2 workers, you get a unit that will dedicate its live to gathering resources. However if you merge two warriors, like the Zealots, you get a being that will increase the effectiveness of others.
Merging/linking was an easy way to get some more units into the game by using familiar concepts to ad needed abilities to balance this race
Also while merging increases the efficiency of a particular unit in a certain role, it limits it versatility. Once the merge is complete, there is no going back, and the merged units cannot be trained in anything else.
Here are two new approaches to building structures too.
The Workers could use their energy blades to fuse any encountered material into solid piece and then cut it into blocks with the blade. As such, all stone structures will not require minerals or vespen gas to be completed. Naturally the more Workers you set to the same project, the faster it gets done.
High tech structures might not be warped, instead, the workers may utilize special holographic material projectors that build the structure in layers time. Overall , while Dark Templar are versatile, you will need more workers per building then the Terran if it were to be completed at the same time.
Yet another Idea I hoped to bring uniqueness to this race is the ability to upgrade units by sending them to certain building for training or new equipment. You can still train the unit from a certain building from scratch, but you can also upgrade some existing units to the same status for less time. Example. Instead of building Dark Zealots, you can upgrade your Acolytes to that status.
And starting with the structures, I would like to address everything on that tech tree individually.
This is your starting structure, and like the Nexus you can train your Acolytes here. The structure is upgradeable to Dark Temple. I figured there are few building that are more spiritual and religious and made primarily of stone. Those buildings can be repairable. The others high tech ones cannot, just like the Protoss ones.
This building has two purposes. First, it’s the DT analog to the Protoss Extractor. It also uses some of the gas for high enery experiments. As such most researches regarding shields and use and storage of energy are done here. One exeption is the Tempest unique shield upgrade. Some upgrades become available only after the ability to field a certain unit in battle are met.
Similar to the Terran Armory for it can research all armor and weapon upgrades but no shilds. In adition it can fit the Void Pillars with powerful energy globe to create a formidable defensive structure.
It’s a temple dedicated to studying the powers that come from the Void. In particular the energy blades. In short, Acolytes receive the weapons implants and become Dark Zealots and learn how to channel their energy trough them.
So while initially you can only build Dark Zealots and upgrade acolytes. Maybe later when you build the Dark Temple, you can also train Dark Templar from here.
This looks like a robotic facility to me. I suggest that here the infantry units get merged with a certain exoskeleton permanently. So you can send in either a Acolyte, a Dark Zealot or a Dark Templar and create either a Stalker or a Soul hunter. You can also build Stalkers and Soul Hunters here from scratch for more time and recourses. Why also not have 2 rally points, one for each unit?
This is not a high tech building, rather a structure that channels the Void around it. It gives certain knowledge and enables various types of merges between the templar. You must have as many Archonaries as merging you want to handle at the same time, to justify building more. So, if you want to merge 12 Dark Templar into 6 Dark Archons at the same time, you will need 6 Archonaries. I think it’s a neat idea how to use a stupid stone structure from the doodats.
Citadel of Adun
Adun is just as much hero to the Dark Templar ( he saved them) as he is to the Protoss on Aiur. So I leave the building unchanged. However it researches the sneak ability of the dark zealots and acolytes as well as the blink ability of the Stalkers . This Sneak ability requires a special void amplifier that enables these units to cloak themselves prior to a battle for a short time. Dark Templar later learn how to master this ability full time on their own.
The original building looked like a flying unit placed on a pedestal for display, I figured that it’s how it will look like when a ship is completed.
The StarPad is like an open shipyard and produces all 3 types of flying craft. Corsair, Tempest and Intruder. What is interesting is that the ships are build on the StarPad and can be attacked by ranged troops before they are completed. While construction is underway, the ship slowly speeds so the holographic mater projectors can look at it from every angle.
It might be cool if you can send your Acolytes, Dark Zealots or Dark Templar to get in the StarPad and to be the crew. This way you can cut down on build time and cost of producing the crafts.
Analogous to the fleet beacon as it provides upgrades to the Corsair and the Tempest.
Speed boost for the Tempest along with additional interceptors and Super Corsair mode trough linking for the Corsair along with Disruption Web spell.
Similar function to the arbiter tribunal. It has the Cloaking ability of the Shuttle as a research. As well as Speed upgrade or additional capacity upgrade.
Here you can train all 3 variation of the DT infantry: Acolytes, Dark Zealots and Dark Templar. There are 3 Rally points, one for each unit.
Unlike th Pilons, it provides only 4 Supply and does not power other buildings. The stricture, however has a bigger sight range and smaller attack area.
Analogous function to the Protoss photon cannon though weaker. It has an energy globe which can double as a detector. However it can only act as a detector or as a weapon at any one time. The player can swich the modes of the structure trough a special button.
Dark Void Ray
This upgrade adds two more modes of operation. It can switch between self cloaking and area cloaking, when it will cloak nearby units/buildings, while itself being visible. Every Void Ray had to be upgraded individually. So now the players will have 4 butons in each building and only one can be active at any one time. Self cloaking, area cloaking, detector and defensive weapon. A skilled player can mount a very elusive attack/defense with several of these buildings.
Some info on the units now.
These are like DT that have passed only basic training. They have equipment suitable for mining and building. You can upgrade them to Dark Zealots or Dark Templar by sending them to the Voidonary or the Dark Temple respectively. Acolytes will have the ability to merge creating the Priest unit.
Just like on Aiur there is a sort of a social evolution and the high Templar are the highest level, on Shakuras, we start with acolytes and then we have the Dark Zealots. I personally see them similar looking to the Zealots with weaker armor and shield – 50/80 and one blade blades with 15 damage. Dark Zealots will have the ability to merge creating the Spirit unit.
While the Dark templar have seldom shown this (as has Kerrigan her psionic storm ability) but they can summon a lightning bold out of Void energies to do maximum damage to single unit. Similary to the Dark Archon, it might require a lot of enery and they might end up loosing their shield. The attack will take time, so faster enemies can escape, same as the Psionic storm feom the High Templar. This ability is trained at the Archonary.
Apart from that new ability I do not see the need to change that unit.
Created by an archon type of merging, this creature is a very specialized Worker. The Priest can gather more at one time and build faster. It cannot be upgraded or used for other roles, though.
Because the Exiles do not have heavy ground units, the merged Spirit of the two Dark Zealots has dedicated his existence to supporting his brethren in battle. It might not be able to fight directly but will have some very useful abilities. Because its an energy being, it might be able to recharge the shields of friendly Protoss. Also it will have a special detector spell. When activated, the unit will stop moving or fighting and will focus to telepathically project the location of the hidden enemy units in the area. This will be an automated ability. It can be overridden by a move command. The detection range will not be as great though and the unit can get under attack while at it.
I have always thought that Dark means using dark enery and that meant black. Apart from the visual appearance, I do not see any reason to change this mighty unit.
Stalker and Soul Hunters
The only two units with medium range ground to air capability.
Because there is no other unit with light air to ground attack I see the Corsair now firing the same way at ground targets too. In addition can have a linking mode. Similar to merging, as you will need two Corsairs to accomplish it. The Difference is that the process is reversible.
The Corsair will again feature the disruption web ability but to me it function should be different. The web like energy will interfere with the electronic/mind equipment of the enemy detectors and render them useless. It will also interfere with weapons targeting to the point where they can be used at only point blacn range. However the web might also render some cloaked ground units visible including its own DT moving under it.
Made from two linked Corsairs it is the DT close guarded secret. Essentially a heavy fighter with twice the hit points, shield and attack damage but half the fire rate, acceleration and maneuverability.The link between the two ships is created by the stored energy otherwise used to create the disruption web. Skilled players will only link the ships just before battle to maximize available link time.
Many people thought it was a cool unit and I think it is fare to assume that the Dark Templar had their version of the Carrier, just as they had their version of the Dragoon and the Archon.
I however see a lot if engine fairings in the design which make it perfect for a Speed Boost special ability that will allow PRO players to interact with it in a similar way as they do with the Stalker. Distance traveled in Speed boost will generally be higher.
Anyone recognize this as the doodad from the twilight map in the StarCraft map editor or the Xel’Naga Warcruiser from the Defenders of the Khala mod. Whether is was a lost unit or not, when I look at it I see the Dark Vessel described in the novel The Queen of Blades. If we make it true to the story it should have upgrades such as cloaking, and high capacity cargo hold for up to 8-12 Dark Templar. No weapons though. And while cloaking the ship might not cost energy, it can lower its speed considerably to make up for the added advantage in secrecy. I also see this unit be upgradable to a late game detector to act as a complex support unit for large fleets, or heavy scout.
The Exiles as a race might need a couple more units or Buildings to be on the level with the other 3 Races.
I see this update as a patch to Brood War as I would like to play the Brood War Protoss missions both with the Protoss and later with the Exiles as we explore Shakuras to its fullest.
With so much unused graphics and now few unused units developed for StarCraft II I had this suggestion for Blizzard. While we wait for Starcraft II, how about one patch for Brood War that adds another race like The Exiles? Nothing fancy like the Xel'Naga or the Hybrids or some fan made up fiction, just something that would enrich the game without having to jump ahead in the storyline or design a race from scratch.
I hope the StarCraft community will appreciate these ideas.