Iconic real-time strategy game Starcraft II has its own Saturday morning cartoon of sorts, StarCrafts. YouTube channel CarbotAnimations produces the fan series, which offers farcical animated sketches of events in competitive Starcraft play. This episode, for example, is a goof on a Terran method of attack vs. the Zerg faction:
StarCrafts has proved wildly successful, earning the majority of CarbotAnimations’ 11 million views. Now its creators want to take the idea to the next step: completely modding Starcraft II (SCII) multiplayer into the cutesy roly-poly graphics of the show. In a surprising twist, the mod will be completely free to play via the Starcraft Arcade, which requires only a download of the free SCII starter client. “We would love to see new players discover [SCII],” reads the mod’s Indiegogo page. Of course, there is a significant cost associated with such a large undertaking, especially considering that neither Blizzard nor any other outside investor is contributing dollars. The team is asking for $70,000 in total to cover six animators, with a one-year development cycle.
One interesting detail is that CarbotAnimations states, explicitly, that they see the mod as a sweetener for players who have soured on SCII’s multiplayer experience - considered to be one of the most individually demanding. “We would love to see casual players get back into the game!” they write (emphasis theirs), noting that it can be a stressful experience. “This mod will give a little less grey hairs in your life and a little more laughs.” They are not the first to note the unusual difficulty of the online competitive world, which, although a hobby for all but a few dozen professional teams, can often be emotionally and psychologically taxing for hobbyists. Efforts to blunt the rough edges continue to evolve, but they are not without detractors, and there is much unexplored territory in the discussion. Perhaps the Starcrafts mod can help.
The Starcrafts mod campaign has a number of stretch goals, summarized below. With six days elapsed and roughly $25,000 raised so far, the campaign has thirty left to reach for a story mode, better animations, and more. Of particular interest is Starcrafts Plus, a game mode that will translate the cartoon's slapstick - marines falling down cliffs, zerglings bouncing off forcefields - into brand new game mechanics, with the idea of making matches more fun to play. A tech demo is live for interested players.
Starcrafts has been an unprecedented success in fan creation. Do you think the mod could be the same?