|This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's popular or we can't be bothered to delete it.|
StarCraft is Real Time Strategy video game, made by Blizzard. Despite being THE most balanced asymmetrical RTS ever and the South Korean national religion, StarCraft is most famous in neckbeard society for the "It's all stolen from WH40K" holy war.
Long story short, there are rumors, denied by both Blizzard and GW, that StarCraft was initially developed as a WH40K game, until GW for some retarded reason rescinded their permission to use the 40K universe (like they don't want a part of the bazillion tons of money Blizzard tend to earn for their games). /v/ tends to accuse GW of stealing Blizzard's ideas, which sounds silly at first, until you see the current Tyranid design. Prior to SC, the nids looked very different, as in, they looked even sillier than the Space Marines do now.... until you then realize that the Zerg also looked really different pre-Starcraft 2, looking more bizzare and alien like the original Tyranid designs, whereas Starcraft 2 made the new Zerg very Nid-like (As the new Tyranid aesthetic had been established before Starcraft 2 was even announced officially), with things like segmented carapaces and draconic features in the new bugs, whereas the old Zerg were generally even more insectoid than the Tyranids of the time (Who were more giger-esque, rather then the weird dragon-dino-bugs we have now). /b/tards tend to laugh at both /v/ and /tg/ and troll them to generate even more delicious copypasta.
To be fair, there is a lot in common between the Starcraft and 40k universes; but if you remove your fanboy glasses it's obviously because both settings are shameless rip-offs of the entire sci-fi genre with less then 0.1% original content - it's not like there weren't human space marines, ravenous, rapidly adaptable bug monsters, and psychic alien warriors before 40K. Deep inside your heart you know it to be true.
Besides, anyone who takes the time to play both games will immediately notice that the actual rules and gameplay are radically different, even when ignoring the fact that one is a video game and one is a tabletop game. StarCraft is very much based around the collecting and spending of resources, shifting army compositions, microing individual units, scouting, etc. 40k on the other hand has you pick out your army before a game even starts, uses randomized elements (dice), and most of the decision making is in how you position your units and engage the enemy. Yes, there is overlap, but a lot of that is simply because they're both strategy games. There is also a huge emphasis on scouting and counter-scouting in StarCraft, where gathering and denying information and outright deceiving your opponent makes or breaks matches, while in 40K like only two armies even have the ability to hide anything (and it's only a minor details, like whether your Deathwing deep strikes turn one or two), and denying your opponent any information is against the rules. Regardless of whether Blizzard ripped off GW, or GW ripped off Blizzard, or both, the actual gameplay experiences are quite distinct.
TL;DR: If you're a fan of 40k or SC, stop bitching about all that "stolen" shit. Doing it marks you as a fool, and by doing it you make all your fellow fans look retarded. 40k is a blatant Mega crossover fanfic, 90% ripped off from Dune, Foundation, Doom, Alien, Starship Troopers, Star Wars, 1984, Event Horizon, H.P. Lovecraft, Anime about Mecha and so on, all pasted straight onto Warhammer Fantasy anyway. Recent studies show that people are unconsciously "inspired" by things far more than we know and that it's possible to plant and predict "original" ideas from people down to pretty detailed levels, all the while they think they just came up with a new idea. So next time you want to complain, try to remember the last time YOU had a truly original good idea, and not one heavily influenced by the media you enjoy.
The Story in Brief
Starcraft takes place in the Koprulu sector, a distant part of the galaxy where abandoned human colonies
are disrupted from their usual routine of civil war and internecine piracy find new ways to continue with their usual routine of civil war and internecine piracy by the sudden attack of a race of alien lizard-bugs that take over and mutate planets to suit their needs, determined to infest the galaxy. Things only get worse when a bunch of stuffy psychic aliens show up, determined to destroy the aforementioned lizard-bugs - and not caring much if they kill humans in the process. Havoc ensues.
Humans in the Koprulu sector were originally a bunch of criminals and undesirables shot out into space by the United Earth Directorate with the excuse of being sent to colonize new alien worlds. The fleet went off-course and ended up in the Koprulu sector, where they have made the best of things since then.
Terrans are the "jack of all trades" of the three factions. They use a combination of specialized power armor suits, tanks, fliers and mecha in battle, and are the only faction whose vanilla trooper is a ranged fighter rather than a melee fighter. Terrans are the absolute champions in turtling up and defending, and tend to have great counter-attack and drop tools, but on the other hand their defense is reliant almost entirely on units, which means they must leave parts of their armies at home if there is harass threat, while other factions can just spam defensive buildings. Their core buildings can actually take off and fly to new terrain to move the entire base, though they are slow as molasses. Their unique racial tactic is to launch base-annihilating mini-nuke missiles with the aid of a Ghost or Specter, a telepathic invisible sniper rifle-wielding super-commando.
In the original Starcraft, you play as a planetary magistrate assigned to the remote world of Mar Sara. There, with the help of local Marshall James "Jim" Raynor, you encounter the first attack of the Zerg, and witness nearby planet Chau Sara being Exterminatused by the Protoss fleet for being infested with Zergs; in your flight to escape the planet before the Zerg devour all humans, you are abandoned by the ruling Terran government, the Confederacy. This leads to you allying with the rebel group known as the Sons of Korhal, and turning on the Confederacy... only for the Sons' leader, Arcturus Mengsk, to backstab you by using the Zerg as a living weapon to overthrow the Confederacy, proclaim himself Emperor Mengsk of "The Terran Dominion", and turn against you. Raynor swears revenge and turns on Mengsk.
In the expansion, Brood War, you play as a ranking captain in the United Earth Directorate fleet, subordinated to Admiral Gerald DuGalle, sent to investigate what became of the lost colonists and bring them back under Directorate control and pacify the Zerg and the Protoss. The mission was partially successful until the Terran colonists, Protoss and Zerg formed a desperate alliance and defeated the UED. You and the rest of the UED expedition force are ultimately wiped out to the last man by Kerrigan in the final episode of Brood War.
In the Terran-focused sequel, Wings of Liberty, you play as James "Jim" Raynor, leader of Raynor's Raiders. They're a rebellion group that seeks to bring down the Dominion and destroy the Queen of Blades (or well..sort of. Despite Jim swearing he'll kill Kerrigan in Brood War after betraying and killing his Protoss buddy Fenix, he now downgraded to saving her instead. This is mainly due to the lack of any other alive zerg characters in the setting). Because Blizzard loves introducing Cheese, the player gets access to lots of campaign exclusive stuff like stronger versions of each unit and campaign exclusive upgrades.
A race of alien space-locusts armed with biological weaponry, the Zerg travel from world to world, killing all independent life and assimilating its genetic code in order to produce new strains and species of Zerg, all in hope of achieving genetic perfection. In their wake, they infest worlds, terraforming them to sustain the Zerg's constant expansion of its terrible Swarm. Individually sentient, but linked by a crude telepathic network, all Zerg are bound to the will of a singular sapient will, who use this hive-mind to enforce their dominance and command their legions as extensions of themselves.
It was eventually revealed though, that the Overmind's actions were not solely to OMNOMNOM delicious genetic information of the protoss like their voracious cousins, but as his way of opposing a Xel'Naga named Amon by creating a force powerful enough to resist them. This all culminated with the creation of Kerrigan, one who could freely control the Zerg like the Overmind. It should be noted that he still wanted the zerg to eat everything, but not if it means Amon will just take control of them and dispose of them afterwords. The Overmind "tricked" the protoss into killing him to get Amon out of the zerg hive-mind.
Zerg are the "fast 'n' flimsy" faction; cheap to get up and running, very easy to spam units for, but the absolute squishiest of the three factions. Zergs rely on drowning enemies under wave after wave of cheap, quick-moving troops, expending their resources faster than any other faction because they're certain to die anyway. Unlike Terrans or Protoss, Zergs grow their bases quite slowly, as they have to sacrifice basic workers to create new buildings, and they can only grow buildings on a specialized, slowly-growing terrain mat they produce called "The Creep". On the other hand as their base buildings are very cheap compared to other factions, and also double as their unit-production buildings (with all others being "unlocks" for certain units or upgrades), Zergs are encouraged to expand faster and wider, generally having more resource-harvesting bases. This also corresponds to their ability to switch their army production from one composition to another in almost an instant, while for example if Terran wishes to start producing mechs instead of massed infantry he need to build a lot of factories first, which takes resources and most importantly time.
In the original Starcraft, and Brood War, you play as a Cerebrate; a massive psionic maggot-thing that is second in the Zerg's mental hierarchy only to the Overmind itself. You are charged with protecting and serving the Overmind's latest and greatest creation; the Queen of Blades, a human Ghost (psychic assassin) captured and assimilated into the Swarm as a unique and deadly agent. When the Overmind is destroyed at the end of the first game, in Brood War, you play the only Cerebrate to remain loyal to the Queen of Blades, helping her in her quest to take total dominion over the Swarm - up to and including destroying an attempt to create a second Overmind. The campaign ends with you taking back Char and kicking the collective asses of the Dominion, the UED, and Protoss off the planet.
In the Zerg-focused sequel, Heart of the Swarm, you play as Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, and only surviving zerg character from sc1 (duran was something else) who voluntarily rejoins the Swarm to destroy the Dominion and to prepare for the coming of Amon. Kerrigan can be customized with different abilities which makes her really broken, and if she dies she can just be brought back at a hive cluster. All your units, non-campaign exclusive at least, have options for campaign exclusive abilities, and you'll get the option of one campaign exclusive upgrade for each of the main units.
Highly advanced psychic warriors, the Protoss are an ancient and highly technologically advanced race, possessing access to teleportation tech, forcefields, cybernetic exo-suits, robots and energy weapons. They are divided into two primary factions: the Khalai and the Nerazim, but derogatively called by the Khalai as "Dark Templars". The difference is more cultural than anything: Khalai draw their psychic energy from "The Khala", the collective mental energy subconsciously produced by all Protoss, which they mentally tap into and use for communication or psionic energy storms. Nerazim abandoned the Protoss homeworld of Aiur generations ago over their belief that the Kala was unnatural, and brought the risk of reducing Protoss to mindless drones in a great mental hive. Metaphorically and literally severing themselves from the Khala, they are instead able to tap into "the darkness between the stars", allowing for more shadowy psi-powers like invisibility and teleportation. Khalai generally tend to be lawful stupid, full of self-righteousness, glory, honor, noble sacrifice and burning heretics, while Nerazim are more pragmatic, cynical and bro-tier, if a bit sinister. The sequel introduces a third faction, the Tal'darim, who left Auir before the invention of Khala and thus have no external source to empower their psychic powers - they compensate by using psychic drugs and taking power from their subordinates. They worship Xel'Naga and built an insane society based on social Darwinism and strict hierarchy - think Dark Eldar or Sith Order with more straightforwardness and less backstabbing.
Protoss are the "slow 'n' tough" faction; they're extremely expensive and slow to produce, but they can take a hell of a beating, thanks to all their units and buildings coming with forcefields as standard (for example in direct confrontations their basic warrior the Zealot in both games will win against its counterparts the Marine and the Zergling if equal resources are put into them, not taking into account other supports). They fall between Terrans and Zerg when it comes to base building; uniquely, they teleport their buildings into place so they need fewer builders, but they need established power-grids, otherwise their buildings won't work. This also gives them a key infrastructure weakness, as it means you can cause buildings to stop working if you destroy the (conveniently fragile) generators powering them. Protoss armies tend to be "deathballs" relying on a single concentrated fist brutally plowing through the enemy defenses, while casually soaking up incoming damage, although vulnerable to being simultaneously attacked from multiple directions or being outmaneuvered, with enemy armies bypassing said deathball and attacking the Protoss base directly.
In the original Starcraft, you play as a Khalai Executor (A Templar commander) seeking to defend Aiur, the Protoss homeworld, from the coming Zerg invasion. Things go not as planned by the end of the campaign due to internal strife.
In the Brood War, you play as an Executor seeking to help the Protoss survive after they have been driven from Aiur by relocating them to the Dark Templar world of Shakuras, which is more problematic than it sounds due to the fact that Khalai Templars see the Dark Templars as heretical outcasts (although the Dark Templars themselves were more than welcoming of their holier-than-thou brethren). If you thought the first campaign was filled with political dissent since Tassadar's shenanigans, this has as much, if not more intra-species conflict.
In the Protoss-focused sequel, Legacy of the Void, you play as Artanis (the Tassadar fanboy) reuniting all the Protoss groups, retaking Aiur, blowing up Shakuras cause fuck you and making the preparations for the final showdown against Amon. Easily the darkest of Starcraft II's campaigns with about the first half being mostly pyrrhic victories against Amon, till Artanis goes on the offensive and starts getting some real, a bit costly victories.
Like Heart of the Swarm, you get variants for units. This varies from what you get normally to lots of campaign exclusive units, which includes lots of OP stuff like cloaked warriors that can comeback if killed. But the real fun comes from this giant ship called the Spear of Adun that can do anything from kill enemies with giant guns or giant lasers, to automatically constructing an additional pylon wherever you want and warp your army straight to it.
A highly advanced alien race... and the cause of all this misery. See, they helped shape the Protoss into the powerful psykers they are today, and then got booted off of Aiur. They then created the Zerg, and got eaten for it - but one of them survived (though he died too, he was just revived). Amon secretly manipulated the Overmind into seeking out the Protoss, and serves as the big bad of the Starcraft II trilogy, with his plans to create an army of Zerg/Protoss hybrids and then annihilate all life (and energy, rendering everything dark and still) in the galaxy, so he can start over from scratch.
The background revealed that the Xel'Naga always wanted the Protoss and Zerg to meet and merge and form into the new Xel'Naga, it turns out the Protoss didn't kick them off Aiur they were just done with them. Amon's just an asshole who messed up the Zerg before they were done. In addition, the Xel'Naga never really put Terrans into account, in part because they never directly toyed around with humanity (since they developed psychic powers through mutation during spess travel, rather convenient) and in Amon's case grossly underestimated mankind throwing a wrench into his plans. Terrans also make the perfect slaves to build the machines that create the Hybrid.