[Update: Aside from the changes Team Eleven Eleven announced (mentioned below), I also came across an MIT – SC2VN event page where it looks like they also made changes to some character appearances and in-game interfaces.] 😀
A visual novel on StarCraft and eSports? Yup, you read that right!
While visual novels commonly revolve around themes like drama, family, adventure, science fiction, and horror, a small group of developers called Team Eleven Eleven has risen up to challenge the norm by creating the first-ever eSports visual novel.
SC2VN demo game menu
Aptly named SC2VN, the game tells the story of Mach, an aspiring professional gamer who traveled alone to South Korea in the hopes of breaking into the fiercely competitive StarCraft II scene. While tirelessly striving to be recognized, Mach must also deal with trials real life professional gamers know all too well, including an uncertain career, finances, family acceptance, and the pressure to maintain one’s title.
The game focuses heavily on choice, allowing players to decide who their rivals, practice partners, and romantic interests will be. Players will also get to choose which team houses Mach will stay in and which in-game strategies to use during ladder and tournament matches.
Being a fan of StarCraft since those good old Brood War days, I was very excited when I first heard the news. The game had been successfully funded on Kickstarter last October 2013, amassing a total of $8000 in funding during its 30-day campaign. According to Kickstarter updates, it’s slated for release in August/ early September.
I recently gave the SC2VN demo a try myself. It was pretty short, but it showed just how promising the game was. The team put a great effort into creating a very cogent replica of the Korean StarCraft II scene back in 2011, and you could tell that the game was made by people who know the StarCraft and eSports world well (they even included and poked fun at a few real-life pros in the demo).
Team Eleven Eleven did reveal in an interview with eSports Max a few days ago that they’ve decided to stay away from portraying real-life people in the game, to avoid garnering negative reactions from players with regards to these pro characters’ portrayals. Other developments not included in the demo are the options to choose Mach’s StarCraft race and gender (yes, you can play as a girl in this game!).
The male & female versions of Mach
Nonetheless, I couldn’t resist writing on my SC2VN demo experience. Here are some of my thoughts on the demo, just remember to take note of the aforementioned changes. 😉 (I’ll be referring to Mach as a HE since you play a dude in the demo)
The game opens with Mach’s devastating loss in a Code A qualifier match. The inner monologue takes a lot out of you, since we all know how painful it is to lose after putting tons of effort into hours of training.
While most visual novels revolve primarily around dialogue and interaction choices, SC2VN also allows its players to decide the fate of Mach in-game. I love the fact that they came up with this idea. It wouldn’t be necessary in most VNs but in a StarCraft VN it makes the experience way more authentic (and stressful at times)!
After a soul-searching walk around the streets of Seoul (heh heh.. heh), Mach winds up in an overcrowded PC gaming cafe. His confusion regarding the large amount of people quickly fades when he realizes that he’s chanced upon a weekly pro-gamer tournament/ gathering.
Players also see the matches play out based on the strategic choices they’ve made. The authentic, panic-driven narration and fitting battle music make watching the in-game scenes so much more fun.
Mach meets three pro-gamers at the cafe – Rae, MC, and MarineKing. Here’s a screenshot of MC being his classic Bosstoss self. There was another hilarious moment where his fellow pro-gamers teased him with his old “Suicidetoss” nickname.
You can only imagine my frustration when the demo ended right when the three pro-gamers agreed to practice with Mach!
There is definitely a lot to love about this demo. One of my favorite aspects of the game is the character art, especially because MarineKing’s laughing pose is simply adorable.
The music and sound effects also blend perfectly with every scene, creating a more immersive experience for the player. A favorite example of mine would be during the opening scene at the Code A qualifiers – where the sound of other players typing frantically around Mach accompany his depressing monologue.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the full game. Aside from it being free to download and play, Team Eleven Eleven also said that StarCraft commentator and personality Sean “Day” Plott will be lending his voice to the game.
Overall, fans of StarCraft and eSports will definitely appreciate this initiative. While some aspects of the final game may differ substantially from the demo, there’s still no reason we can’t enjoy it. Unfortunately all I can give is a rough preview, and playing the demo yourself is way more fun.
So what are you waiting for? As Mach says, it’s time to “shake out all those LAN jitters” and try it out now! 🙂
Demo Download | SC2VN Kickstarter Page