Numerous critics have heralded StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty’s campaign as the greatest thing since sliced bread. While I personally think that’s going to far – sliced meat? – the campaign was one of the most entertaining experiences of the summer. As is Blizzard’s wont, the company borrowed numerous ideas from previous titles, gave them the old Blizzard spit-shine polish and claimed the outcome as its own. I call this method “Butterfly Development.” Ideologically, it’s simple. Blizzard takes a caterpillar of an idea, puts it and its developers in a cocoon for a few months (years), and a beautiful butterfly pops out.
One of the ideas that Blizzard introduced its fanbase to is choice, specifically moral dilemmas. Any gamer can tell you that difficult decisions have been around for some time, epitomized by Lionhead Studios and BioWare products, but it’s never entered Blizzard’s project to any substantial degree. Richard Bartle pointed out Blizzard’s folly in Wrath of the Lich King with “The Art of Persuasion.” This was a crucial juncture in a player’s career. Blizzard could have forced us to ponder our actions as we made a difficult choice. Instead, nearly everyone went ahead and zapped the Beryl Sorcerer into submissions because that was the only way we’d receive experience. Blizzard learned its lesson for SC2, delivering two clearly defined dilemmas. Once again, the company failed to make them memorable because there’s no long-lasting impact. Just a means to an end.