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Archive for the ‘Starcraft 2’ Category

Sc2 Challenge: Revising my goals

Things have been somewhat quieter on the Starcraft front lately. I’m still playing, still trying to improve but life has been eating at my time a lot as you probably have noticed already. But, I’ve been less and it’s not only because of Real Life. Some decisions have been made regarding my commitment to Sc2 and I had think carefully about my approach.

Warning signs

MMO addiction was a popular topic a while back especially with WoW and Everquest, like a deadly diseased that was going around destroying lives, careers and families. Of course it was all blown out of proportion but it was still a real thing and quite a few people have come out saying that their playing was interfering in negative ways with their lives.

And without realising, I was starting to fall into some of those patterns. I was spending way too much time obessing about the game, thinking about how to improve, how to beat certain matchups, etc… etc… Most of my free time was devoted to the game.

The wake-up call came late last week when I nearly didn’t sleep at all for an entire night because I was laying awake thinking about the details of the Terran vs Zerg matchup and despite all my efforts I simply couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Re-evaluating

I don’t believe in knee-jerks reactions like swearing off Sc2 forever on the spot because it was getting out of hand. I find that often these kind of decisions miss the entire point of why it was happening in the first place.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out why I was so stressed out about the game and winning, I was putting too much pressure on myself  simply because I wanted to reach Platinum league. Not because I put much value in my ranking by itself but because I had that set as a goal and usualy I reach my goals and anything else would be a failure…. I don’t like to fail much.

But no matter how I turned it around, it always came back to the same thing. Getting to that damn league was not doing any good for me and I couldn’t continue going at it the same way. Also, my most important goal was to enjoy myself playing and not be stressed and trying to get to Plat at all cost was doing the exact opposite.

New goals

I love playing Sc2. Always did and I’ll probably keep loving it for a long time. I do still want to improve myself but getting to an arbitrary league or ranking should not be my goal. So I’m adjusting my goals.

First and most important I still want to enjoy myself playing the game. That hasn’t changed. Second, I’ll content myself with simply improving myself. It will be at my own rate and if I feel like doing something else a certain night it’s perfectly fine. But on the whole, I’ll still try to pick new tricks here and there.

For the past few days I’ve been playing without the pressure of achieving a ranking and I have to say it’s done wonders. I stopped worrying about it all the time and I enjoy my time more when I’m actually in the game.  I don’t know how long that will last but I can see myself playing this way for a long time.

 

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Yesterday Starcraft Universe released after months of work and a lot of speculation on whether or not it would see the light of day. Reviews have been positive for the most part and if you can be patient with some of the technical difficulties I’m pretty sure it will grow to be a top mod.

For those wondering, Starcraft Universe is a mod for Starcraft 2 that aims to be the unofficial Starcraft MMO and I spent some time playing it yesterday.

First of all I want to congratulate the team that worked on SCU. The end result is impressive looking and for the most part it has all the right bells and whistles a classic MMO needs. It has quests, dungeons, raids, guilds, crafting, etc… One important thing is missing though and that is a world to explore but I’ll get to it soon.

In essence, playing SCU is kinda like playing a version of WoW where everything is instanced and in dungeons/raids. Imagine WoW with only a few cities to act as hubs and then it’s off to run instances all the time. You know that quest in Elwynn Forest where you have to go kill Goldtooth in a mine? Well now it’s an instance and Goldtooth has some boss mechanics.

Each mission in SCU has various difficulties that you have to unlock one after the other and that’s pretty much how the game goes. I guess the closest comparison I can make would be DDO online at launch where there was one city acting as hub and everything else was instanced.

Do we need exploration?

If anything SCU made me think about whether or not needing an actual world to explore was really a necessity. I mean, DDO does pretty well considering and it has more or less the same structure so I guess already have my answer that there’s a group of gamer out there that doesn’t need much world exploration in their games.

But then again DDO is at best a niche game and some people have pointed out that the lack of world was the reason the game was held back. Others have said it’s the quality of the game itself so in the end I suppose the question remains. Do MMO really need exploration to be succesful.  If Blizzard had made DDO, would it have become a hit like WoW or would it have suffered the same fate…

I’m curious, could you see yourself playing an MMO without a world to explore? I know personally I’d find it difficult to stay interested but maybe it’s only me.

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Sc2 challenge update and other things

After three weeks of Sc2 I ‘m slowly getting in the groove of things. I play a few matches most days with some practice and even if I don’t always feel like I’m making a ton of progress I know I am so it’s all good. I’m ranked 7 in my division and seem to be able to hold my own up there, I’m facing gold opponents nearly all the time and I get a few silvers here and there and I can usually beat them without much trouble. I haven’t seen any platinum opponents yet but I’m suspecting it won’t be long before I face them if things keep going like they are. Long story short, I just need to keep at it.

The MMO front is pretty quiet. I log in quickly most days and do a few things but I’m usually not staying very long. It’s not that I’m bored or tired of WoW, just that lately I get distracted by other shiny stuff. In fact if I go by past years, I tend to have a slump right around this time and it picks back up a few weeks later.

So that’s it for me, hope you guys are enjoying yourselves.

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Second week of my 2013 Sc2 challenge and what was bound to happen happened, I met my first wall. It’s not big surprise really and I had read multiple people talking about how the general flow of improving oneself in Sc2 goes. You read some new strat or valuable insight, you apply it, see rapid gains for a little while and then you reach your next plateau.

So right now I’m solidly placed in gold, hovering between rank 20 and 10 of my league depending on the results of my latest games. Sometimes I have good days where I win more than I lose and others I have bad days like yesterday where I lose four games in a row. Like I said, it’s nothing surprising and it’s only indicative that I’m pretty much where I belong according to my current skill.

I believe in the plan

Macro is still my main focus even if I’m not feeling a lot of progress on that front lately. I’m still practicing the same build I was from a week ago and even if I know I did make some progress on that front I would have liked more. I come within inches of meeting the deadlines most games but I’m still not quite there and I still have some games where I forget about doing some critical step. I think I need to rewatch the guides and practice a bit more solo to get back on schedule on that particular front and not be sidetracked.

On the good news side of things, I’m seeing more and more mid-game, late-game scenarios and I feel like I’m doing better at countering the various builds even if I don’t always get the win in the end. Where before I would be crushed by the first wave of banelings/roach, now it takes five or six of them to finish me off.

In the end, I know I’m improving and I just have to stick with it until I can make it to the next step.

 

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Some more Starcraft 2 today as it’s time to do my first week report about my progress. Last week I gave myself the challenge to improve my Sc2 during 2013. To achieve that I have two precise goals, the first was to be less stressed when playing and the second was to reach Platinum league, which is a step higher than my previous highest placement back at the game launch.

The plan

Saying you want to improve at Sc2 without a plan is a risky business. I tried that once, failed miserably and most experienced players who talk about improvement point out that you’re more likely to end up frustrated than seeing progress. Sure… some people have improved  by just playing lots of game but in my case I needed to be a bit smarter about it.

So I searched high and low for threads and videos about how to improve and I ran into a problem. Everyone was talking about Macro but no one was really explaining how to improve it. Sure there was talks of copying builds and always making workers but I didn’t find it to be super useful. If you’re wondering, Macro is your ability to build a strong economy and keep doing it all game long. It’s about gathering resources and spending them well.

But I eventually lucked out and found some videos from a high level player who explained the why’s and how of how to improve Macro along with defining set goals. Telling me I need to have 50 workers by the 10 minute mark is way more useful to me than just saying “build more workers”.

So I decided to trust his method and for the past week I’ve been working on improving my macro to the exclusion of all else. I’m not focusing on making the right counters or fine movement of my units.I just do my best to hit my Macro targets and trust that will be enough to give me a victory.

Goal progress

So at the beginning of last week I was placed in Silver league and starting a new online match made my heart pound as if I was going to wrestle with a 400 pounds bear. On the stress side there’s been huge improvement. I still get pretty pumped while playing but I don’t have the same dread I used to have.  Having a plan to follow so I can improve myself and set goals helps a lot with the whole stress aspect.

And as for the league progress…. this happened yesterday.

promotion2

Back in gold! To say I was surprised is putting it very mildly. I expected this to take a few weeks at least especially since I was beating silver opponents but struggled against the gold ones when I was put against them. Still, I’ll take it as a sign that working on my Macro was the right move to make!

So a lot less stress and one league closer to my goal. I’d say that was an excellent week.

Bonus content!

Special mention to my opponent from Monday night and apologies for forgetting his name. The guy was playing his very first online game of Sc2 (I checked his match history) and was one of the nicest opponent I had for the entire week. He didn’t talk at first so I went about the game as hardcore as I could be and when I marched up to his base I utterly crushed him. Then he started asking me questions about how I managed to have so much stuff and admitted to it being his first game.

We chatted a while and I tried to help him as best I could but I felt so bad for him. I truly wish him the best and I hope he doesn’t give up. Multiplayer could use more nice opponents.

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I hope you’ll forgive my fanboyism this time again but Blizzard just released the opening cinematic to Heart of the Swarm. Let’s just say that with my recent commitment to improving at Sc2 this couldn’t have come at a better moment.

Gotta hand it to Blizzard, they know how to make a good video.

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My challenge for 2013

It’s no secret that I like hard games. Not those that are hard because of bugs or poor gameplay but those that are designed to be challenging. With my Resident Evil marathon over which included a few hard games I find myself looking for a new challenge.

I thought about doing a Final Fantasy marathon but quite honestly I don’t think I could survive it. Not only is there a lot of games but the time each need would probably drive me nuts before the end. Maybe someday I will but the Final Fantasy marathon won’t be happening soon. Besides the Final Fantasy games are not that hard to begin with.

The solution presented itself to me last week and it doesn’t seem to be going away so I think I’m going to go ahead with it.

My challenge for 2013 is to be better at Starcraft 2. Simple as that.

Long time readers know that it’s not first attempt at this and that I stopped the previous times after getting real discouraged. It is my hope however that I learned from my previous mistakes and that I will do better this time.

First order of business is defining that goal further because being better at Starcraft 2 is such a vague thing and can change depending on the person. I’ve thought long and hard about this and there’s really two things I want to achieve.

First and most important I want to be able to play a ladder game without being stressed out. I tend to get super stressed out when I play ladder and that needs to go away. It might not seem directly related to improving but  I know that playing stressed out is not helping my game and that if I improve some it will help be less stressed.

Second I want to get to Platinum league. I need a concrete goal to achieve and I think that is a reasonable one. Back when the game launched I got to gold with protoss but since then the skill level has increased tremendously and getting to platinum would be a way to tell I improved.

So that’s my game challenge for 2013. Instead of beating a computer I’ll try to be better at defeating other human players. I’ll be doing updates from time to time here to let you guys know how it’s going.

 

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