Sunday, October 17, 2010

This Week's Obsession: Starcraft 2

For the past few years, the video games I love, like the TV shows I watch, have been whittled away to a few core favourites. For video games, that meant little puzzle games on the iPhone and the Sims for long train rides (or lazy Saturday mornings). 

Dave, a fan of the original Starcraft ten years ago, bought the long-awaited new version over the summer to check it out. I played the original Starcraft too, and never really liked it because I was more interested in playing the real-time strategy genre like I'd play Sim City (look at how I've arranged my structures! I have this main road, and then the courtyard here for my armies to gather!). Pro tip: you don't win often when you play RTS as if you're playing Sim City. In Sim City you have no challengers (but a "protect the civilians" aspect would be an interesting twist to Starcraft). 

Starcraft 2 (top) compared to Sim City 2000 (bottom).
Perhaps it should have been obvious that the gameplay dynamics
would be different. 

I played Starcraft 2 when I spent a week at Dave's over the summer and decided to buy my own copy shortly thereafter. We've been playing online together quite a bit since then, but I haven't gotten much better. Being bad at something, in my opinion, is more a reflection of whether or not you're practicing correctly than of any innate talent and somewhere along the line I decided I wanted to be passably good at Starcraft. Good enough to not be ashamed to play with random partners over the internet - a major component of the game (playing against the computer is notoriously boring after a few rounds). I just wasn't too sure how I should work to improve.

Jason, Dave and I played a 3v3 against the computer over thanksgiving weekend, and the two of them started talking about something called "Funday Monday" - some famous webcaster guy gives the community of Starcraft 2 players an arbitrary rule, and they submit games showing the hilarious results of following this rule (example: in a 3v3 or 4v4, your team must all announce the single attack unit you will be building to your opponents and teammates).

There is a world out there that I did not even know existed. 

My first observation: the internet and social media change network gaming SO MUCH. Young(er) Liz sucked at Starcraft and was using a crappy strategy and didn't know where to turn. Old(er) Liz can watch example games at high levels with commentary, have access to thousands of opinions on what is a good way/bad way to approach specific tactical problems at various levels of gameplay, and get a sense of what indicates that you're messing up (I like having lots of unspent money in the game, it makes me feel fiscally responsible, but apparently it also means that my army is weaker than it should be...). 

Also, this guy is really funny, and a very good "e-sports caster".

While this week has also been a week of midterm writing, grading, webCT-minding, sadly, it's been Banshee rushes that haunt my dreams.

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