StarCraft changed my life
November 19, 2011 12:25 AM   Subscribe

StarCraft changed my life.
posted by Avenger50 (87 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
First thought when beginning the article: "If he doesn't give a shout-out to 'H-to-the-usky Husky' then I'm gonna!" Sure enough, there it is.

He's been mentioned here on the Blue before, but Husky's Starcraft videos are a great primer on how to get into at least appreciating the competitive "sports-like" feeling of the game. To the uninitiated, it may seem at first to resemble some kind of Monty Python sketch where they do play-by-play of things like novel writing or chess, but once you get into it a bit, it becomes totally accessible and, umm...appreciatable?
posted by ShutterBun at 12:50 AM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's a great bit of feature writing there. Perfectly lucid, fair, honest reporting that gives you a glimpse into a fascinating subculture.

Also -- MLG providence is all weekend long.

You can watch 2 streams for free, but if you pay extra, there's 4 streams, which is complete starcraft overdose.
posted by empath at 12:58 AM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, how to watch starcraft.
posted by empath at 12:59 AM on November 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


StarCraft changed ate my life.
posted by markkraft at 1:13 AM on November 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I love how he uses analogies to equally obscure games and movie bits to explain things in Starcraft. Thankfully I am nerdy enough to get both, even if I didn't already understand Starcraft.
posted by JauntyFedora at 1:44 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most people that watch StarCraft spend more time watching professional matches than playing it (if at all).
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:16 AM on November 19, 2011


I spent many hours watching Husky's youtube channel with headphones on while cradling and patting a small baby who WOULD NOT SLEEP ANY OTHER WAY, and it's shockingly addictive. I can only imagine how much fun it'd be to watch on giant screens at the pub, but I don't see Barcraft coming to Canberra any time soon.

Most people that watch StarCraft spend more time watching professional matches than playing it (if at all).

Yeah, I certainly have no intention of ever playing it. Partly because I'd have to buy a new computer, but also partly because I know I'd lose patience with the amount of unnecessary but deliberately engineered micromanagement required to do well. Things like having to remember to get each of your queens to lay eggs every 40 seconds. At least you can apparently select more than 16 units at once this time.

It's a hell of a lot of fun to watch, though.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:31 AM on November 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I take issue with his statement that Starcraft is as hard as Go, and his saying that Starcraft is also too complicated for AI to master.

Sure, the AI that comes packaged with the game is easily beatable. But that is deliberately so. The AI included in the game isn't meant to be good, doesn't need to be good. All it needs to do is die in style, just hard enough to give the player some satisfaction out of winning.

Computers can come up with far more efficient strategies than humans can, using genetic algorithms to breed faster builds than any human could come up with, and they can employ effectively unlimited APM to, for example, abuse the fact that Wraiths have range 5 against Hydralisks with range 4 and kill them all without taking any damage.

For games like Starcraft it's probably trivial to come up with an AI that could defeat any human player, but there probably just isn't any point to it. I'd say the same would be for nearly any other game - take any first person shooter team game, for example, and have 4 AI controlled enemies with 100% perfect aim and instant reaction time, their bullets hitting you in the face the moment the first shootable pixel appears around the corner.
posted by xdvesper at 2:57 AM on November 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I spent many hours watching Husky's youtube channel with headphones on while cradling and patting a small baby who WOULD NOT SLEEP ANY OTHER WAY, and it's shockingly addictive.


Wow! At first I was going to be annoyed that something stupid like video games allowed a kid at 24 to have 80 million subscribers, but then I realized how bizarrely talented he is at doing what he does. Yeah, that was oddly entertaining to watch. I wish MLS had a sportscaster that could function like Husky - that is, get me excited even though I have no idea what's going on.
posted by midmarch snowman at 3:16 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


StarCraft changed my life.

I don't play or even tangentially follow Starcraft, but Day[9] Daily #100 was a great watch. It's
posted by clearly at 3:20 AM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


For games like Starcraft it's probably trivial to come up with an AI that could defeat any human player, but there probably just isn't any point to it. I'd say the same would be for nearly any other game - take any first person shooter team game, for example, and have 4 AI controlled enemies with 100% perfect aim and instant reaction time, their bullets hitting you in the face the moment the first shootable pixel appears around the corner.

Well, it depends whether the AI is allowed priviledged access to the internal data of the game. An FPS AI that was forced to use the same 'inputs' as humans - i.e. it had to watch the video stream and figure out what was happening from that, rather than just being able to look up the position of everything behind the scenes, would do much worse.
posted by memebake at 3:28 AM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that was oddly entertaining to watch.

Seriously, I highly recommend watching MLG this weekend. When they're casting in front of a huge crowd with $100k+ dollars on the line, the excitement is electric. Especially since there are so many rivalries and stories going on behind the scenes.

I'm still rooting for my zerg-brother Destiny, even though I know he won't make it more than 3 rounds in the winners bracket..
posted by empath at 3:29 AM on November 19, 2011


Well, it depends whether the AI is allowed priviledged access to the internal data of the game. An FPS AI that was forced to use the same 'inputs' as humans - i.e. it had to watch the video stream and figure out what was happening from that, rather than just being able to look up the position of everything behind the scenes, would do much worse.

That's, ironically, how some of the current SC2 AIs do work. They don't have access to the "behind the scenes' data that is going on. They intercept the directX stream to the video-card, and figure out supply values, mineral count, position of units on the screen, etc, everything that is being drawn to the screen is fair game for them.
posted by xdvesper at 3:51 AM on November 19, 2011


abuse the fact that Wraiths have range 5 against Hydralisks with range 4 and kill them all without taking any damage.

That's map exploitation (via water), not AI or gameplay imbalance. I think a small squad of Mutalisks or a nicely sized flotilla of cheap-ass Scourge could knock them out, or at least give them pause.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:52 AM on November 19, 2011


The basic story line for MLG tomorrow and Sunday is going to be Koreans vs Foreigners (everyone who isn't Korean is 'foreign' in Starcraft).

The 'great white hopes', as it were are: Idra, the bad boy American, his former arch-rival and now team-mate Huk, from Canada, the somewhat surly Naniwa, from Sweden, and fan-favorite White-Ra from the Ukraine, and Stephano from France..

The favorites from Korea are going to be DongRaeGu, MMA, Nestea, MVP, and Bomber, though any of them could take the whole thing. The sentimental korean favorite is always Boxer, who was the first Starcraft superstar in Korea and is called the Emperor Terran -- he's basically the Rocky of Starcraft -- a former world champ past his prime, but everyone wants him to win anyway. There are also some bad-boys like MC.

There are also a lot of fan favorites and 'personalities' in the lower tiers, too, like Destiny and Sheth and Catz that are popular streamers and coaches and who engage with fans directly a lot.
posted by empath at 3:57 AM on November 19, 2011


I worked for a man who claims that had he not snapped his Starcraft disc in half he would not have finished college. I am wont to believe him in these matters.
posted by tmt at 4:23 AM on November 19, 2011


I wish MLS had a sportscaster that could function like Husky - that is, get me excited even though I have no idea what's going on.

It's interesting you mention this. At least one major league sport - American football - deliberately blocks this level of understanding out of fear the fans would learn too much.
posted by srboisvert at 4:51 AM on November 19, 2011 [18 favorites]


You can't see the whole starcraft map at a time, either.

Hell, part of the fun of watching it is watching the casters try to keep up with everything that's going on by clicking around the map. It's almost like they're a third player.
posted by empath at 5:09 AM on November 19, 2011


I'm still rooting for my zerg-brother Destiny, even though I know he won't make it more than 3 rounds in the winners bracket..
Destiny is apparently already in the losers bracket.

For those of you not familiar, Destiny is widely regarded as the funniest and most entertaining professional Starcraft streamer. He's incredibly inappropriate but hilarious and is also known for his heavy use of infestors (his other videos are here).
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:40 AM on November 19, 2011


That's map exploitation (via water), not AI or gameplay imbalance. I think a small squad of Mutalisks or a nicely sized flotilla of cheap-ass Scourge could knock them out, or at least give them pause.

I take it you didn't watch the video I linked. If you can replicate that level of control - dancing 20 wraiths at a distance of 5 from hydras so they can take shots, but not a single step closer so they get counterfire - you should be winning all the starcraft tournaments already.

Another example - starcraft 2 AI for marine splitting vs banelings - perfect control with zero losses

The fact is, humans will never be better than machines at playing these games, simply because we can't input 1000 commands to the computer per second.

Empath, the SC2 AI's under development only "see" what is drawn to the screen by the videocard - it only sees what humans see as well. It can't see the whole map at once. However, it can cycle through all visible parts of the map at 0.01 seconds per map segment if it wanted to, which humans can't do. Again, my point, unless you deliberately handicap the AI by limiting how many actions per second it can input, and limiteing how fast it can process a screenful of data (a fast human can visually "get" a screen in half a second, but an AI can do it in 0.01 seconds and move on), AIs will beat humans every single time.
posted by xdvesper at 6:08 AM on November 19, 2011


"It's interesting you mention this. At least one major league sport - American football - deliberately blocks this level of understanding out of fear the fans would learn too much."

Actually, one of the best things about actually going to the game (I follow college American Football so that's a possibility on my... ahem.. salary) is getting a view on the entire field on passing plays. Shame it's not available, I'd assumed it was because teams didn't want opposing coaches to be able to dissect their playbook. If it's true its because of fear of fan scrutiny then that's kinda nuts.
posted by midmarch snowman at 6:16 AM on November 19, 2011


sports fans really and truly scare me. I don't understand them

As the finals neared, the bar filled to near bursting. We witnessed so many amazing games! But just as good as the tournament on the screen was the camaraderie.

I chatted with people I'd never met before

Congratulations, you figured out the appeal of sports. A bunch of random people collectively responding to something. Hugging and high total strangers. Getting drunk and arguing strategy. Celebrating and commiserating together.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:19 AM on November 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm glad that the Starcraft universe, like the EVE universe, exists, but I can't imagine participating in it. I already experience, with some regularity, a minor feeling of loss every time I hear about and miss some sort of epic event in one of these fictional universes - and when I think about how many universes exist, it's just downhill from there. I'm happy that the cultural output of humanity to date has been so varied and so interesting, but the occasional compulsion I feel to UNDERSTAND ALL THE THINGS can be a real time and energy suck. I guess this is yet another example of the paradox of choice / analysis paralysis, and that in turn leads to thinking about the varying types of cognition across species that will never be discovered and catalogued in my lifetime, and then that's just back to square 1 for me.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:35 AM on November 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Link to one of the SC2 AI's we've been talking about.
posted by Axle at 6:35 AM on November 19, 2011


I take it you didn't watch the video I linked. If you can replicate that level of control - dancing 20 wraiths at a distance of 5 from hydras so they can take shots, but not a single step closer so they get counterfire - you should be winning all the starcraft tournaments already.

Yeah, but if there were no water there, the Hydras could simply close sacrifice and close distance while a trio of Guardians or a swarm of Mutalisks built up. One way or another the Wraiths would either find themselves pushed into a corner or retreating due to the sheer expense of keeping them out there.

Your video demonstrated awesome macro, but the only thing "abusive" about it was the fact that there was a body of water handy to provide the Wraiths with a safe haven from ground-to-air attacks.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:39 AM on November 19, 2011


Hugging and high total strangers.

Metafilter?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:40 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


humans will never be better than machines at playing these games, simply because we can't input 1000 commands to the computer per second.

Kinda depends on the game. Starcraft is heavily dependent on macro (rapid-fire commands) but there is sort of a built-in buffer: Pretty much everything (other than troop movements) is dependent on cooldowns. So long as a computer is "playing by the rules," they are beholden to cooldowns as much as a human player.

In short: there's kind of a "finite number of useful commands per second" in Starcraft.

Where a computer can really challenge a human, I think, is in strategic targeting. For example, allocating just the right amount of units to fire on the enemy's weakest unit, and prioritizing their fire in such a way that it maximizes offensive output vs. personell risk (all the while considering unit cost & remaining resources) to a mathematical certainty. So it's less about the number of physical commands per second as it is the number of "considerations taken" per second.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:50 AM on November 19, 2011


(quote) As the finals neared, the bar filled to near bursting. We witnessed so many amazing games! But just as good as the tournament on the screen was the camaraderie.

I chatted with people I'd never met before (end quote)

Congratulations, you figured out the appeal of sports.


I think I get what you're saying, but really, that's not the "appeal of sports." That is the net result of people's enthusiasm for a sport or a team. If cheering and camaraderie were the appeal, there would be little need to go to all of the trouble of staging such elaborate spectacles to see who can get a ball from point A to point B the most times.

I suspect that the true appeal of any competition is something more along the lines of "knowing what it took to get there" and appreciating the achievements of those who did it. Physical sports depend an awful lot on innate physical ability, (which can be alienating) strategy which is often invisible or at least unapparent to the average viewer, and sheer luck. (the ball bounces funny for everyone sooner or later) Academic, ahem, "geeky" types tend to reject such esoteric notions of competition, I think, and instead prefer hard & fast rules with little or no luck. They enjoy dramatic conflict, but on even (physical) terms. When the playing field is level, and neither side enjoys a physical or demonstrable advantage over the other, the strategy is the only thing left, and it's on full display.

So while I agree that cheering, high-fiving, and rooting for your favorite is pretty much universally appealing, it's not exactly correct to say "if you like doing that, you should love football, cuz we have all that, too!" But yeah, if you wanted to draw a parallel like "hey video game fans, that's exactly how we sports fans feel!" then you're probably closer to the mark. It's not that the appeal is the same, it's just that people tend to express their enthusiasm for competition in similar ways.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:22 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


For a sub-culture who has fought so hard for legitimacy ("E-sports are sports! They ARE athletes! World Cyber Games! It's on TV in Korea") it just seems totally bizarre to try to distance yourselves from... sports when it comes to the viewing experience and the reaction it creates. I mean this article was framed in a way where it started with him talking about how walking by sports bars fills him with a sense of dread at the sounds of soccer hooligans cheering and booing and chest-bumping and *GASP* eye-contact and ends with him at a sports bar, watching a video game, chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! with a bunch of strangers and shouting bits of strategy advice like "Get Dark Templar!" and "Focus fire the Ghosts!" Pretty much as arbitrary and equivalent to shouting "Go for 2!", "Don't steal second" and "why would you challenge that catch" as we watch "who can get a ball from point A to point B the most times."

I say this as someone who was pretty deep into the competitive Quake 3 TDM scene in my teens, BTW. I've rearranged my schedule and stayed up until weird hours to watch two Swedish teams play, or a tournament in Russia. I even used to write for an eSports website (ShackES).

So yes, to your point, the "true appeal of sports" is in fact simulated tribal warfare, not community camaraderie (which is the result of appreciating said simulated tribal warfare). In this way perhaps StarCraft 2 IS the ultimate sport. Simulated tribal warfare where you root for your fellow Zerg or Protoss etc.

Sports is sports.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:51 AM on November 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


If only someone would invent a thing that could bridge the gap between fantasy baseball (which "real" sports fans love) and video games (which geeks love).
posted by ShutterBun at 8:03 AM on November 19, 2011


Starcraft is more than just any other sport, though. It's most similar to poker. At high levels, the game is fundamentally about information asymmetry as the core game mechanic.

Many sports do not have this mechanic at all (such as golf), and most others information assymetry plays out in seconds (fake outs in basketball). Starcraft and Poker's incomplete information is different than chess, as both players see the board at all times with chess. With Starcraft, as well as poker, you have opportunities to increase and decrease you opponent's information -- Starcraft relies on scouting and denying scouts to see what your opponent is doing, and poker relies on things such as bet sizing. The difference of starcraft with poker, of course, is there is close to zero randomness inherent in the game mechanics.

I think the main reason Starcraft is so fun to watch is the same reason Poker is so fun to watch (even if you don't play either), there's a certain voyeuristic fun that people derive from incomplete information revealing itself. It's really fun to see casted games where you can see what both players are doing (while the players themselves are in the dark), it's a little of voyeuristic gossiping that makes it so addictive -- we know things the player doesn't and we can see the blowups that result from this lack of knowledge.

That's also why successful high-level Starcraft players focus on the same thing as four-star military generals: logistics (mining and production) and intelligence (scouting).

It's a cerebral information game like poker, but also with ADD-level speed and excitement. It's an incredible spectator sport, do try watching the live MLG live stream this weekend.
posted by amuseDetachment at 8:24 AM on November 19, 2011 [13 favorites]


Great article, thanks. I've generally been skeptical of the "e-sports" label, but hanging out in a bar with other fans and watching the game sounds like a lot of fun. I went so far as to figure out there's no BarCraft event in the SF Bay Area this weekend for MLG Providence. Too bad.

Here's info on watching this weekend's Providence tournament online. It starts today in about 15 minutes, I think. This reddit guide for watching looks useful.

Two things I don't understand.. Is the best video source right at the main page? I don't see any sign of a TV broadcast. And are the broadcasts live, or soon after the game?
posted by Nelson at 8:28 AM on November 19, 2011


Very interesting post and discussion, thanks!
posted by carter at 8:31 AM on November 19, 2011


I take issue with his statement that Starcraft is as hard as Go, and his saying that Starcraft is also too complicated for AI to master.

Sure, the AI that comes packaged with the game is easily beatable. But that is deliberately so. The AI included in the game isn't meant to be good, doesn't need to be good. All it needs to do is die in style, just hard enough to give the player some satisfaction out of winning.

Computers can come up with far more efficient strategies than humans can, using genetic algorithms to breed faster builds than any human could come up with, and they can employ effectively unlimited APM to, for example, abuse the fact that Wraiths have range 5 against Hydralisks with range 4 and kill them all without taking any damage.
I think in order to really test it, you would have to limit the APM of a computer opponent. So the machine would actually have to plan out what it does rather then responding instantly thousands of times a second.

I mean it's like having a human vs. robot football game, where you make the robot weigh 10,000 pounds.
Another example - starcraft 2 AI for marine splitting vs banelings - perfect control with zero losses
Dude, high level Koreans can do stuff close to that. I don't remember the exact games but during the recent TGS tournament that husky and day[9] cast some of the top terrains were doing stuff like that, using tons of marines and relying on their ability to split to avoid bailing hits. It was pretty amazing, and totally changes the dynamic of the game

In fact, all you have to do is scroll back in the video you linked too to see IMMvp (one of the top players I was thinking of)
I'm glad that the Starcraft universe, like the EVE universe, exists, but I can't imagine participating in it. I already experience, with some regularity, a minor feeling of loss every time I hear about and miss some sort of epic event in one of these fictional universes - and when I think about how many universes exist, it's just downhill from there.
The 'events' you hear about aren't really in the 'starcraft universe' It's a game like chess, each game starts with a fresh board, and you play until you win.
posted by delmoi at 9:16 AM on November 19, 2011


The 'events' you hear about aren't really in the 'starcraft universe' It's a game like chess, each game starts with a fresh board, and you play until you win.

Right (I used to play SC 1), maybe "universe" wasn't the right term in something like Starcraft where continuity is separate from multiplayer gameplay...I was thinking more about the community and progression of events and times when everyone interested in the game was all tuned into the same thing.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:26 AM on November 19, 2011


Also, nearly all Starcraft professional early-game and mid-game build orders (what to build and when) are derived from this genetic algorithm application. The players may have a general idea what they want and a generally good build, but they make sure it's the tightest possible by running a genetic fitness algorithm on their computers overnight. So a pure computer AI doesn't have that much of an advantage when it comes to build orders. Late game build orders are never planned out, because there's far too many variations and strategies and things go awry.
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:35 AM on November 19, 2011


information asymmetry and scouting

This is also incredibly important in EVE. The very first thing you do when planning a war is determine the enemy's timezone.

Last time we fought a war, strategists in my alliance discovered that the opposing alliance used a particular third-party provider for their voice comms. This Teamspeak provider had a web page that published realtime participant counts for all their chatrooms. Sort of like a "look how popular we are" marketing page.

Using this information, we were able launch attacks when they had no one present to defend. When they formed up a gang to challenge us, we would know how many ships the had before they even undocked. At every major battle, we had 30 minutes to an hour of advance warning.
posted by ryanrs at 9:41 AM on November 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


Haha yeah, it's pretty funny how quickly EVE Online went from ostensibly a MMORPG to an industrial espionage game at the highest levels of play.

The difference with starcraft, other than time/scale/participants/etc., is that in Starcraft the spectators have perfect information, while the players do not. EVE is much more fun to play than watch (albeit the time commitment looks intense from my vantage point as an outsider). It's still fun to read about simply due to its ridiculousness and industrial spy stories.

Like EVE, other sports such as football also do not give spectators priveledged perfect information, you do not know what plays a team will do an hour from now. Nor can the opposing team feasibly discover this information without metagaming them (play their personal tendencies, which merely restrict the scope of possibilities, not guarantee actions).
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:56 AM on November 19, 2011


That was an interesting and well written article. Thanks for posting it!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:02 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Starcraft is fucking awesome. End of story.
posted by H. Roark at 11:08 AM on November 19, 2011


i'm sorry. I can't make myself empathise with anyone who would support Idra over Boxer.
posted by silence at 11:46 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't make myself empathise with anyone who would support Idra over Boxer.

Any zerg > any terran.
posted by empath at 11:51 AM on November 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Spent a little time watching the feed, got really pumped, and started downloading the demo of starcraft 2. Spent a little bit more time watching and realized that I don't want to play, would rather just watch.

I havn't played a blizzard game since warcraft 3, but I did enjoy that one quite a bit. Me and my coworker had a C+C red alert throw down a little while back, but it wasn't really doing it for me. He is my manager though, so maybe it just says something about our positions that he would enjoy that, while I enjoy twitch games that require doing the same actions over and over.

Just 30 more mins until the demo finishes downloading, then will give it a stab.
posted by jonbro at 11:51 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If a top professional could be compared to LeBron James, I'm your four-year-old niece. Sure, I can dribble the ball (kind of), and I made a couple baskets one time when my dad lifted me to the rim, but while I'm playing with the same equipment, I'm essentially playing a different game. I own the exact same copy of StarCraft II that Stephano owns, but I can't make it sing.

And I'm your menopausal maiden aunt.

I now default to leisurely death matches in Age of Empires for a break in between work.
posted by infini at 12:29 PM on November 19, 2011


He talks a bit about how well-balanced Starcraft is, and how that's led to its phenomenal longevity, so I'm just curious (I barely understand the game)...

If it's so well-balanced, why are the Protoss so under-represented. I mean, they're not totally absent, but it feels like damn near everyone is Terran or Zerg. Are the Protoss strategies simply not as well-developed? Am I wrong in my assumptions? What's the deal?
posted by Navelgazer at 12:32 PM on November 19, 2011


Full disclosure: I work for Twitch.
Someone once told me that watching Starcraft is like 80-90% of the enjoyment of playing a game without any of the stress, and that rings true to me. You can enjoy the higher level strategy and the social aspect without worrying about game mechanics. I was introduced to the streaming scene when I read a MetaFilter post about Husky when the game was in beta. It's always a bit surreal to read SC2 posts on the blue :)
posted by yaymukund at 12:39 PM on November 19, 2011


Interesting, just finished exploring the Verge - seems like an updated change from the usual Engadget/Gizmodo/VentureBeat stuff
posted by infini at 12:59 PM on November 19, 2011


The Nerds Will Inherit The Earth.
posted by LoudMusic at 1:01 PM on November 19, 2011


Empath, the SC2 AI's under development only "see" what is drawn to the screen by the videocard - it only sees what humans see as well.

This is not true. The video card sees vastly more than what is displayed on screen. This is significant though less an issue in top-down games, but in FPS games it's crazy - seeing through several layers of walls, being able to identify geometry at the pixel level, etc.

Even in a top down game, depending on the game and engine, an ai could to see through fog of war, zoom out the map whole still being able to ”see” details, be impervious to cloak FX, etc.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:08 PM on November 19, 2011


Actually, I didn't mean to say that ai like you describe are not under development, (even though I effectively said just that), I mean that access to the video card is extremely privileged access that human players do not get.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:12 PM on November 19, 2011


I'm looking forward to the day where actual combat is streamed into bars and restaurants for the pleasure of patrons.
posted by Renoroc at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2011


I'm looking forward to the day where actual combat is streamed into bars and restaurants for the pleasure of patrons.

Some sports bars offer MMA matches. Some sports bars offer SC matches. You're already living in the future :)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:48 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If it's so well-balanced, why are the Protoss so under-represented.

There's a protoss balance problem, but they're working on it. You're still talking about a percent disadvantage, though.
posted by empath at 2:52 PM on November 19, 2011


All this talk of Husky (who is great, I agree) and no love for HD? HDStarcraft? He might not have the nerd cred and celebrity that Husky has but I personally think he has a more solid understanding of SC2 tactics and he also gets some great co-commentators on board.
posted by adrianhon at 4:22 PM on November 19, 2011


Damn all this talk makes me want to bust out my old Total Annihillation cds or maybe buy a computer fast enough to run Supreme Commander at a reasonable rate.

All this talk of SC being Go or Chess...its definitely Chess, there's a finite amount of resources availabe on a map. TA had unlimited resources, you were only limited by your rate of production. SC is much more tactical with regard to its troops, whereas TA was more about pure economics and relative rates of production.

This Supreme Commander ninja friend of mine would fight these huge battles that would ultimately leave him managing things in a completely zoomed out mode...automated mining and production loops and patrols and all that. So in his zoomed out mode he'd be just pushing around his dots to attack the formations of enemy dots...

That's Go.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:47 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Winners bracket quarter finals right now.

Naniwa vs Nestea, Huk vs Hero are the games to watch.
posted by empath at 5:57 PM on November 19, 2011


Idra is a dick. Nothing else to say. He has bad manners, and doesn't play all that well. He is, not Korean, so he gets lots of love for that.

Protoss, are seriously UP. EMP from the terrans will decimate 'toss, as will the 1-1-1- build. Mutalisks can make it very hard for toss to do anything versus Zerg. Protoss have their strengths but they pale in comparison to what the other races have.

As a 48 year old 'toss player, my only hope is to someday, get out of Bronze league. But it's a fun game. My APM will never be decent though...
posted by Windopaene at 6:05 PM on November 19, 2011


As a 48 year old 'toss player, my only hope is to someday, get out of Bronze league.

Protoss being slightly UP isn't what's keeping you in bronze league, though. It really only matters at the highest, highest levels.

I play zerg as my main and can still do alright in gold league with toss, and I have no idea what i'm doing.
posted by empath at 6:12 PM on November 19, 2011


No what's keeping me in Bronze league is the fact that I am a pretty weak player AND I play the weakest race, the one that is least able to handle certain easy builds from Terran or Zerg. Marine all-in? Mass Mutas? I'm dead. My micro is non-existant, and my macro is sub-par. My two-gate zealot rush with cannon follow up is pretty decent though :)

But I'm just too slow and to weak with my multi-tasking to win consistently.

Still, it's pretty damned fun...
posted by Windopaene at 7:01 PM on November 19, 2011


In bronze league, just build stalkers and colossi and nothing but. Focus on always building probes, and always producing units and never getting supply blocked. Expand when you are spending all the money you can on units and still have money left over. If you still have money after expanding, build more gateways. In bronze league, the strategy to beat every other strategy is 'more stalkers'. I'm not kidding. There's no chance that anybody in bronze league is good enough to beat anybody who knows how to consistently spend all their money on units. It doesn't matter what race you're playing.

Don't ever attack your opponent's base, just defend. If anything, just wait for him to build a third base and then kill it. You'll find that you'll just start walking over people eventually. I used this exact strategy when i was trying to help my bronze league terran friend get better vs toss, and it was almost embarrassing how badly I beat him. Forget strategy in bronze league, build more units and you are guaranteed to get into silver.
posted by empath at 7:18 PM on November 19, 2011


I will give it a shot. I generally beat my opponents macro, (looking at the unspent resources after the match), but can't stop the MMM/drops/1-1-1 or mass muta preventing expansion. If I don't win early my win percentage is very low...
posted by Windopaene at 7:26 PM on November 19, 2011


If you're spending all your money, then chances are the problem is that you are stopping making probes. You should basically never stop making them unless you have like 80-90 of them on 3+ bases. You should actually be chronoboosting them for most of the game.

If you're losing to drops, just keep stalkers close to home. You don't really need a ton of them out on the map, just one at each tower, one at the front of your opponents base so you know when they're moving out.

Also, at bronze level, one or two cannon at each expansion should be able to deal with muta play, but one thing to keep in mind is that if you're basically at even skill with your opponent, and he's got enough mutas to wreck your main base, then chances are you can win a base trade. If he killed all your workers before you could respond, just go all in on his main and hope you kill his base before his mutas can finish yours off. They take forever to kill buildings compared to zealots and stalkers.
posted by empath at 7:48 PM on November 19, 2011


Also, at bronze level, one or two cannon at each expansion should be able to deal with muta play, but one thing to keep in mind is that if you're basically at even skill with your opponent, and he's got enough mutas to wreck your main base, then chances are you can win a base trade.

The complexity of SC2 is that at different levels, every situation will pan out differently. For the time being, it seems that heavy muta-ling play in ZvP and forcing base trades is really effective in the pro-level; this strategy, however, won't work with lower league players who are not comfortable with base trading and will just throw everything away by 1a-ing their weaker melee units into a head-on fight.

There was a great vod of Destiny being coached by combatex and he reluctantly went mass hatch, mass spine, mass muta into base racing (and then tech-switching to roaches to counter Archons), and it was super effective. And Destiny has admitted to being “completely lost” in ZvP.

In short: I love this game because there are so many strategies and ways to play. The evolution of strategy in this game isn't even scratching the surface of what's potentially out there.

Oh, Terran imba. Protoss imba ('cause when they whine, they get their wish in the latest patch). Zerg tears for life.
posted by skidknee at 8:15 PM on November 19, 2011


I'm glad that the Starcraft universe, like the EVE universe, exists, but I can't imagine participating in it. I already experience, with some regularity, a minor feeling of loss every time I hear about and miss some sort of epic event in one of these fictional universes - and when I think about how many universes exist, it's just downhill from there. I'm happy that the cultural output of humanity to date has been so varied and so interesting, but the occasional compulsion I feel to UNDERSTAND ALL THE THINGS can be a real time and energy suck. I guess this is yet another example of the paradox of choice / analysis paralysis, and that in turn leads to thinking about the varying types of cognition across species that will never be discovered and catalogued in my lifetime, and then that's just back to square 1 for me.

This makes no sense to me. We're not talking about the Starcraft universe. This isn't an MMO.

It's a competitive game, like chess.
posted by unigolyn at 8:46 PM on November 19, 2011


Yeah, I think the Starcraft universe is a pile of wank and I could care less about the story, but the game is brilliant.
posted by empath at 9:34 PM on November 19, 2011


I'm glad that the Starcraft universe, like the EVE universe, exists, but I can't imagine participating in it.

I'm fairly sure that "Starcraft universe" here refers to the hundreds upon hundreds of players, strategies, and events that comprise the Starcraft competitive circuit, just as "EVE universe" refers to the emergent situations created by thousands of players in EVE. That EVE is an MMO is immaterial.
posted by lumensimus at 10:19 PM on November 19, 2011


EVE being an MMO is not immaterial at all. All those emergent situations happen in virtual space (pun not intended), and are facilitated by this virtual space.

Competitive gaming is no more a universe than competitive running, or competitive ball kicking are universes. The Starcraft software is the digital equivalent of a chessboard or a basketball court.
posted by unigolyn at 10:53 PM on November 19, 2011


OK cool, I can be obsessed with this for a day or two. Watching feeds from yesterday, I've noticed that a lot of players wear both earbuds and cans. What's up with that?
posted by 7segment at 1:25 AM on November 20, 2011


So they can't hear the crowd or commentators. They have music playing in the ear buds and then noise cancelling headphones on over that.
posted by empath at 2:19 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still rooting for my zerg-brother Destiny, even though I know he won't make it more than 3 rounds in the winners bracket..

Well, if it makes you feel better, at least one of his past losses at an MLG tournament has been to a fellow MeFi. :)

In real life, he's a remarkably amiable guy, and hanging around him at live tournaments has always been a pleasure. He and I have a good bit of history, for a while in the past some avid viewers of his stream viewed me as nothing more than a cheesy, cannon-and-carrier-loving pariah.

I'm quite excited to see how this weekend's tournament in Providence ends up. I can't help but root for my fellow brotoss players NaNiWa and HuK!
posted by Slurgi at 4:31 AM on November 20, 2011


brotoss
posted by Nelson at 8:02 AM on November 20, 2011


I get the 'fun to watch games with new pals,' but I'm not getting the 'changed my life.'
posted by theora55 at 9:38 AM on November 20, 2011


Read this thread, got the demo, played it, had fun. Having a ton more fun watching the live stream. Don't know if it is going to change my life, but it is certainly enjoyable.
posted by jonbro at 10:02 AM on November 20, 2011


jonbro, does the demo even allow online play? The campaign is really not what this game is about.
posted by H. Roark at 10:44 AM on November 20, 2011


I think that you can play online, but only in the custom matches. I played the AI in multiplayer a little bit, but it only allows you to set the AI up to easy. You can only play terran, and I think there is only a small set of maps that you can play on. I might be wrong about the maps though.

I am truthfully very scared to play an online game, but I may give it a shot after dinner. Don't really want to watch the loser bracket though.
posted by jonbro at 11:03 AM on November 20, 2011


Wait, I lied, the loser bracket is awesome as well.
posted by jonbro at 12:02 PM on November 20, 2011


Yeah, the "loser" bracket today is filled with the top 32 players in the world, still.
posted by empath at 12:05 PM on November 20, 2011


Finals of MLG right now. First two games were amazing. If Leenock wins the next one, it goes to a best of seven. If Naniwa wins, he's the champ and wins $50,000
posted by empath at 5:13 PM on November 20, 2011


Wow, I was rooting for my protoss brother Naniwa (I wish I could force field half as good as he can), but I am incredibly impressed with Leenock for pulling that out. Talk about your underdog story.
posted by internet!Hannah at 6:23 PM on November 20, 2011


Leenock had a perfect counter to Naniwa's forge fast expand opening. He must have studied it. Naniwa was kind of dumb for doing the exact same opening every single game, even though he knew Leenock was going to Roach all-in him.
posted by empath at 6:40 PM on November 20, 2011


Due to various circumstances at I won't go into here, I'm currently at Chao's Bar, in Seattle, watching Starcraft.

I am totally, completely lost.

I have a feeling that this is what my friends feel when I wibble at them endlessly about soccer.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:46 PM on November 20, 2011


Alright, so I knew this world existed, but it took this post to bring me into it. It didn't change my life, and I'm as lost as anyone on that onus of the article, but thanks, Avenger50, for the post. This tournament was utterly compelling. Thanks also empath for the info.

I watched the last rounds before the final, and regretted having to abandon the latter to meet my friends for MLS cup. Tell you what, too. If MLS play keeps up like it did tonight, that's a mistake I won't repeat.
posted by 7segment at 10:56 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


7segment, I actually was watching the MLS Cup - and I got so bored that I left during halftime. Then, I went to watch Starcraft at a neighboring bar.

The Starcraft was much more enjoyable.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:20 PM on November 20, 2011


I originally read on Kotaku about some graduate students who studied why people watched Starcraft, but I thought the original paper was quite a nice read as well. Here is the direct link

It also argues that information asymmetry plays a big role in making the game enjoyable to watch, as noted earlier here by amuseDetachment and ryanrs.
posted by tasty at 1:59 AM on November 21, 2011


Most people that watch StarCraft spend more time watching professional matches than playing it (if at all).

That's like me and poker. While the game itself is fun, it's even more fun watching the best of the best have at it.
posted by Theta States at 11:16 AM on November 21, 2011


jonbro, does the demo even allow online play? The campaign is really not what this game is about.
The single player campaign is a great tutorial for the mechanics though. You start out just moving guys around, shooting at stuff. Then you graduate to making marines out of barracks, then gradually move on to using all the tools in the Terran arsenal. For someone with zero experience it would probably be helpful.
posted by delmoi at 6:13 AM on November 22, 2011


The demo allows terran-only online custom games with a limited selection of maps, but you can play as much as you want. No ladder, though.
posted by empath at 6:56 AM on November 22, 2011


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