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A Year of Starcraft II

Monthly Archives: July 2011

MLG

I didn’t play yesterday and instead watched what was left of MLG last night when I got home from work.  I really enjoyed it and I was getting excited as I was watching the games.  Sitting on the edge of my chair, cheering on Idra (Idra playing with Day9 casting makes me strangely giddy) and then Huk (that Jaedong guy was scary good, but I think Huk was just off those games from tiredness).  I am actually currently watching the VOD of today’s matches and trying to write this update.  I am officially scared of hellions and nukes.  But seriously, these tournaments are awesome.    It’s made me want to figure out a way to use an old HTPC I have as a stream box so I can watch these tournaments and streams on my TV.  I already envision a Yo Dawg scenario where I’m playing SC2 with a match on the television.

I played tonight and it was more of the same.  I am continuing to work on spending my minerals, which did slip a bit today.  But overall my game sense, I guess you would call it, is growing, which allows me to play a bit smarter.  Not much else to report and I want to get back to watching a few matches.  I promise after MLG is done I will go back to doing in depth posts.

Goodnight and GLHF.

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Coming Along

So it seems that my macro is coming along nicely (Stream split because of internet drop.  1 & 2).  Focusing on spending has really improved my game.  Also, my mechanics have reached a point where I’m not thinking about what I’m doing as I’m doing it.  By that I mean, hotkeys and control groups are so much second nature to me now.  I think that this is behind my recent jump in APM.  I know it doesn’t really matter when I don’t know to build lings or roaches in a certain situation, but it feels good to have reached a level of competency on something and have concrete evidence.  I have, though, lost a bit of my habit of watching the mini-map, so that goes back on the list.  It really seems like it will take a while to get everything to work all at the same time.

A kind of weird occurrence happened today/yesterday.  An opponent from last night (the guy who I played in the replay I posted yesterday) found both the blog and stream.  I guess I knew this was going to happen at some point, what with Reddit’s gargantuan reach, but it’s strange.  It makes me wonder if I’m supposed to let other players know I’m streaming.  On a pro gamer’s level, it’s pretty much a guarantee that their games will be streamed by one or both of the players and seen by a bunch of people, but someone in bronze or silver is not expecting it.  I guess it doesn’t really matter.  There’s no real pressure for them if they don’t know it, that’s all on me.  I was just wondering if there is some kind of etiquette involved.

Equipment wise, I went ahead and ordered a new monitor.  I really wanted a new LED LCD monitor, as my monitor is, I think, 5 years old and doesn’t compare to the newer ones out there.  I am planning on keeping it and seeing if I can run them both so I can have the stream and music, and probably Reddit, on an alternate screen while playing.  It should be interesting trying to figure that out.  I’m hoping for plug and play, but don’t think it’s going to work out like that.

I once again missed my off day this week, so I’m thinking about taking it this weekend to watch MLG.  I don’t know that I will, but if I don’t stream a day this weekend, that’s the reason.  I could call it research and just not play all weekend, but that’s not cool and I don’t think I could even not play all weekend.  I’m addicted and need at least a few games a day.

Goodnight and GLHF.

 

A Quick Update

I spent too much time on reddit post gaming, so I’m not going to do a big write up tonight.

All in all, it was a good night.  I continued to work on spending my minerals, and it’s paying off.  I did a little better in ZvZ too, although apparently I could’ve done better.  I’m still at a point where I don’t know what everything I see means, or what I should do to respond to what I know.  I suppose that just playing and playing will lead to being better at this.

One of the games, a very long one vs. a Terran, was a lot of back and forth and some of the stream watchers wanted to see the replay, so here it is.  I was surprised to see that my APM was 85 at the end of that game.  My hands weren’t though.  I’ve been forgetting to stretch, but won’t anymore after tonight’s apm heavy play.

Also, there was a request for a playlist.  I joined Spotify, thanks to a commenter’s suggestion here, and have found a crapload of dubstep.  One playlist in particular I keep listening to:  TOO Much Dubstep – Updated July 2011  Pretty much everything dubstep you’ve heard on my stream for the past week or two is from this playlist.

Time for some much needed sleep.

Goodnight and GLHR (Goodluck!  Hi Reddit!)

 

Climbing Back Up

I knew last night that the season started today, but when I sat down to play tonight, I had completely forgotten about it.  I was nervous again.  I don’t normally have what I’ve seen referred to on Screddit as Ladder Anxiety, but throw some consequences on a game and I get all jittery.  The game went well and I placed Silver.  It was really just a straight game vs. Terran, with the only weird thing being my opponent’s large group of reapers.  Freaked me out for a bit, but I had popped his wall off already and had lings and mutas taking down his base, so I just kept at it and took him down.

For the placement game, and the rest I played tonight, I was simply trying to focus on spending my minerals.  In a comment on yesterday’s blog, Joakim (the swedish dude with good advice) said I was focusing on my little “tricks” too much and instead should just be spending my minerals constantly.   The comment really stuck with me, and reminded me a lot of Razer’s advice.  He was right and tonight that’s what I did.  Forget specific builds, forget little tricks to try and out think my opponents, instead I would just spend.  I need to know how to do this, I need to keep my minerals low.

I’d say it worked pretty well.  I had a good night, and for the most part kept my minerals a lot lower than I normally do.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a specific time or composition to shoot for, I had to keep myself building, teching and upgrading to get rid of those minerals. And that meant I had what I needed to win.  Usually.

I’m going to keep working on this.  I know I can improve.  I still sit on a lot of gas at the moment (heh) and I need to get rid of it.  I guess that means that once I have more than two gases going, I need to start pumping the units that use up that gas, as it can’t all be used in upgrades.

Thanks to all the well-wishers tonight.  It amazes me that Screddit is still interested in my little experiment, but it’s awesome.  I’m having a lot of fun and glad I can share it.

Goodnight and GLHR.

 

 

 

 

First Days Back

As if a looooong day back at work after over a week’s vacation wasn’t enough, today’s SC2 matches did not go well.  I didn’t lose them all; it didn’t go that horribly.  However, everything seemed off.

For some reason, I keep going back to the Spanishiwa build.  I know it doesn’t work well for me (for the most part), but it’s stuck there in the back of my head.  I can get the open down, up to around 40 supply.  Then I’m lost.  I don’t throw down enough spines, I float gargantuan amounts of minerals, I don’t tech up quick enough.  When my opponent is slow or turtle-ing, it all evens out for me and I can pull out a win, even with some late-early or early-mid (lol) aggression.  But an early push, or a heavy mid push, and I’m done.   So, I’m telling myself once again, I’m just going to drop it for now.

What I’d like to do, and I know I’m probably not mechanically or macro-ly at the best point to do this right now, is have a set build, that is not the Spanishiwa, for each match-up.  I think this will take the guess work out of my mid-game, give me something to focus on and practice a lot, and help me progress overall.  I’m not talking 7RR or 6-pool, but something that will get me into late game, and allows me to begin working on specific timings.  I will be looking on TL and any suggestions you, faithful readers, may have are welcomed. I’m not going to do this immediately, but familiarize myself with what’s out there.  Perhaps even give each build I’m curious about a full day of play next week.  Actually, that sounds like a good plan.

For now, I will return to the way I have been playing:  14 pool, 14 gas, and maybe 18 hatch.  I had a moment tonight where I could’ve done this, but the first inject was finishing so I didn’t put it down.  I thought about it, but wasn’t sure which was worse, having to wait on using that larvae or expand later.  It would help later in the game, and I would have had a larger army to fend off the push that killed me, but I’m not sure if it would have actually worked out that way.  So, now, after writing this out, I think tomorrow I will try the 18 hatch on all of my games and see if I can make it work.  At least this way I’m working on my own build.  Refining, as it were.

On another note, I changed my stream to include mature themes.  I was semi-actively avoiding music with profanities because of not having that setting on Justin.tv, but got annoyed with having to switch songs when I noticed.  I’m not sure anyone cares, but I figured I’d put it in here.

Goodnight and GLHR.

 

Also, An Interview

I was wondering why my blog got so much traffic the other day, and after some searching (Y U NO SEND ME EMAIL?), I found out an interview I had done is up over at the wellplayed.com forums. In the interest of keeping things updated, I figured I’d point on over to it, here.

As a little side note, I initially had a few requests about interviews and hosting my blog on other Starcraft II sites.  The blog hosting I wasn’t into for the simple fact that I didn’t want anyone thinking I was plugging something or someone I wasn’t (I also couldn’t really vouch for something I knew nothing about when I had first started) and that I didn’t want to try and make money off of this year.  It seemed to kind of obfuscate the point of the year to try and make money off of it.  So, I didn’t really go along with it.  Also, most of them seemed kind of tangential (TIL that’s not spelled like genitals) to the actual SC2 hobby.  Interview wise, I didn’t like the idea of talking about myself.  I actually turned this guy down originally, but felt bad about it.  He seems like a genuinely nice person trying to get a few credits in and was excited about my year, so I went along with it.  It is really well written and I hope to see more from him in the future.

No, Bro (Or, 100 Wins)

I got a couple of comments on the last blog post about where I’ve been, even one slighting my age and how I work in retail because I can’t follow through with anything.  I may not have posted on here in nine days, or streamed in a few, but I have been playing constantly.  Obviously, I haven’t been on the last three days (like I put in the blog post that was commented on) as I was on a mini-vacation after playing through the last three of my “off” days.  I wasn’t exactly pissed about the comment, but annoyed.  I am aware that I suck at life and that a great deal of that has to do with my not following through with things.  But that’s what this year is about , following through with something.  I haven’t given up.  I’m still working at.  I’m sorry if I didn’t make it clear what was going on, but I’m still here.

About the missing blog posts:  This is really the most difficult part of the year.  It wasn’t a stipulation of success, and I originally said I would do it semi-daily as a way for those of you out there to check up on me.  I have been doing it regularly for the most part, but the last week or so has been a little taxing AFK, so I decided to stop for a bit.  Getting to sleep before 4am, usually, was better than 5am or later after finishing a blog post.  I am throwing myself back into it tomorrow, so daily posts will return.

I finally made it to 100 wins on Thursday night.  This had became my new goal before my vacation after I realized that the leader of my league had 1600+ points and there was no way I could best that in four days, even with my bonus pool. It felt great to hit this milestone, and while playing mostly silvers, with some high bronzes thrown in.  My mechanics are getting better, APM is hovering around 65, which is up from around 45, and the wins are a lot more satisfying.

I have been trying to make myself tech up quicker, and farther, while still playing without a specific build order.  I worked on the Ice Fisher (or Spanishiwa) build for a few days with a coach, but didn’t think it worked well where I’m at and vs. the opponents I face.  I can see the benefits, and will most likely return to it later, but playing more of a counter game has worked well for me.  Generally speaking, this means lings/banes, with mutas and, later, broodlords vs Terran, and ling/roach, corruptor (screw you, Collossi) and broodlord vs. Protoss.  Zerg is more of a crap shoot right now.  I will play an earlier pool and generally base what I do on what I’m facing.  Vs. a faster zerg (like quick mutas) this results in losses if I don’t pay enough attention.

I’d like to go ahead and have particular builds, but need to do more research to figure out what the best for each race would be for where I’m at right now.  I think I’m ready, and will start looking in the next week.  I foresee a lot of TL browsing.

I’ll most likely play tonight, so look for a stream later if you’re interested.

Goodnight and GLHF.

Hot Streak

I won five in a row in tonight’s games and earned the achievement.  It feels good to have actual proof of the improvement.  Although one game didn’t really count (a guy who was drinking quit after I GGed- whether he was just being nice, as he was talking to me afterward and going over the game, or drunk I don’t know), there is a noticeable improvement in my play.  My APM is up, my general game knowledge is helping me in picking units to build and I don’t have to quit after a semi-successful push from my opponent.  In a couple of games tonight, I was harassed but continued to build and just macro until I had enough units to kill off my opponent.

Scouting is a big area that needs improvement.  I know it’s coming up in my list of goals, probably after focusing on units, but the watchers on my stream were continually stressing how important it is that I know what’s going on.  A couple of things that I had been taught before but forgot to do (lost in the noise of everything I’m learning), I will now make it a point to do constantly: a ling outside of opponent’s base so I know when they’re pushing (and replacing it after a push kills it), and a suicide overlord around six minutes to keep myself abreast of where their tech is going.  When I do these incidentally, I can respond a lot quicker and generally do better in a game.  So now I will make it a point to do them.

My main goal tonight was to focus on supply and being sure I wasn’t blocked.  It did not go well, despite the wins.  I’m not sure why this is so difficult for me to focus on.  It’s right there in the top right corner of the screen.  But with tapping, building, teching, droning, scouting, defending, attacking, and everything going on, it’s slipping through the cracks.  For a while there when I was first focusing on it, I got into the habit of checking every time I injected with a Queen.  I stopped checking sometime, but will go back to this.  I did it in the last game and did better with supply but still was blocked a couple of times.

I received my new CPU cooler the other day and installed it.  Wow, did that help.  I no longer have to keep an eye on the temperatures, as it keeps my CPU under 55 even in game, streaming with music playing.  And that’s only a couple of days in, apparently the Arctic Silver 5 I used with it needs a while to break in and work optimally.  So, computer wise, I’m all good.

Speaking of music, I have recently started listening to dubstep while playing (recommended to me by r/starcraft) and it is great to play games to.  I have had a few requests for a playlist, but am not sure how to actually do that.  I put Foobar on random, letting it play all of the different stuff I have downloaded.  I got some of it from Beatport, but blanched at buying more than twenty songs or so at $2-2.50 a song for as much music as I like to have.  Generally, I will just download as much as I can find of specific music off of usenet (broke the first rule there), but dubstep is a lot harder to find.  And I don’t want to take the time to rip 200 songs off of Youtube.  I’m tempted to torrent some, but haven’t done any of that in years due to all the problems associated with it.  I guess I’ll just keep looking, which is fun most of the time, but the quality is very spotty.

A note on days off:  I have played on the last two days off and will play next Tuesday also.  I did this without really thinking about it the first day, but the last day off I played to kind of game the system I have set up.  Next weekend I will be going away, so I will not be playing for Friday, the 22nd through Sunday, the 24th.  I’m sure I will be reading and watching videos while away, but didn’t want anyone to think I had shrugged off my commitment.  So, by playing on my days off, I am trying to make up for those days that I will be gone.  I hope no one begrudges me a few days off.  It is mostly to just get out of town for a while and see some family.

So, tomorrow I will be continuing to focus on supply.  I have a list of specific supply points to build overlords at for the first 60 or so supply and will play with it in front of me. Hopefully this encourages me to constantly check where I’m at in supply.

Goodnight and GLHR.

 

Reflections On A Month Of Starcraft II

I’ve been trying to write this post for a few days.  I’m sorry about the delay.  I’m actually, as of now, three days over a month.  Writing this blog, without a doubt, has been the most difficult part of the month.  It is hard to put into words what I’m experiencing in a way that’s not boring as hell.  And it takes upwards of an hour to write, so most nights I’m still working on it past 4am after playing all night.  In the interest of keeping myself sane and getting sleep, I’ve decided to alternate days with blog posts straight about what I’ve been doing and the next day a replay that I go over briefly to illustrate what I was thinking in a game and how I think I can improve.

On the actual Starcraft side of things, I’m having a blast.  There’s so much to the game, that I have yet to find myself bored.  I even skipped last week’s day off because I wasn’t thinking about it and simply wanted to play.  All of my in-game friends and those who watch the stream have been nothing but helpful.  I am actually surprised.  People told me that posting my character code was a bad idea and that I would be spammed or trolled.  But only a little bit of stream troll chatter is all I’ve seen of it.  And even that was kind of eh.  I’m almost disappointed.

There are a number of people who I’ve played games with and are a big part of making every night I play a blast.  Espera is a great 2v2 partner and always there with a word of encouragement on the stream and in game.  Lucidburrito (one of my favorite names) is another who’s always watching the stream and helping and playing in the couple of 1v1 observer matches I’ve played.  OSJP has also been a lot of help with practice games and tips as I’m playing.  RNA, Combust, Lykkin, Justice, Skitzor, HTMC, Krispy and a lot of other people have helped and played with me over the month.  I thank all of you for making this an incredibly easy and fun month.

Razer, my coach, has been the biggest help by far.  Since I began playing online, he has been online almost constantly watching my stream and giving me tips as I go and telling me what I missed on my goals.  His progression of things to work on and teach me has worked better than I could have hoped.  After only working on mechanics and macro for a few weeks, I believe I’m headed out of bronze (I’ve begun playing silvers and golds).  I was sorry to hear today that he won’t be on as much in the future, and  it feels strange to say this about someone I met online only recently, but honestly this makes me sad.  To celebrate with or knock me back down when I thought I was hot shit, and just someone to talk to, Razer was always there.  He’s not gone completely, but I just wanted to say how much his help and friendship has meant.

All of this is just part of what I’ve gotten out of letting Reddit pick my hobby for a year.  I also feel excitement about something again.  Even if I’ve not had a good day, I’m looking forward to playing.  Not just to play a game and escape, but to improve and work at it.  I’ve had to hold myself back from trying to learn everything all at once and instead focus on my goals.  Here is the passion I was looking for.  Like I said originally, I wanted to focus on something and luckily the thing chosen was exactly what I needed.

In the last week, I finally got a new desk and chair.  I’m playing in a correct position and my hands don’t hurt after playing for hours.  I have also ordered a new CPU cooler, which should cool the computer down a lot.  A headset with mic is next.  I was going to just buy a crappy one, but decided against it and want a nicer wireless headset with mic, hoping it makes the dubstep I’ve been listening to sound even better.  Also on the to purchase list: a mechanical keyboard (everyone talking about click heaven has convinced me), perhaps a new monitor (not sure if I really need one), and a Starcraft II poster to complete the battle center I’ve got going.

Looking forward, I hope to keep progressing steadily.  I could put a goal out there, like Masters by the end of the year, but I don’t know if it would help or hurt.  Putting a final destination doesn’t seem like it would do much other than to make me feel bad if I failed to accomplish it, but there’s always a possibility it would spur me to work harder.   I will at least continue to work hard and try for this.  If nothing else, I can say I tried.  As it is, at the end of the year I’m sure I will keep playing.

Goodnight and GLHR.

 

Progression

In all they hype I felt for Starcraft II after Monday night, I completely forgot Tuesday was my off day.  I ended up streaming for two hours, and then played some 2v2 for a bit after.  I didn’t finish until about 4am so I forwent the posting yesterday.  Tonight, I got home early and played for another four hours or so, streaming about 1.  Both nights, I felt more together and focused.  Even the games I lost, I knew what had happened and what I did wrong.  And the games I won, I won with better macro and mechanics.  It feels good to know that if I lose a bunch of units, I know I’m not done in the game and I can come back and win.  This happened a couple of times tonight.

In one game, here’s the replay, I held off a cannon rush and then held off his five gate push later.  It wasn’t exactly a tour de force, but I felt good responding as quickly as I did and being able to fend for myself in a game I felt behind in.  Looking at the replay, you can tell I pulled another Idra and GGed maybe not when I had a win, but when I wasn’t behind like I thought I was.  He pulled back to expand, and I had ample time and minerals to do the same and at least build up to hold off another attack. Other than that, I should have had a roach warren up too.  Having roaches would have helped hold off the attack and I think position me better for later in the game.

Goal wise, I was watching the minimap a lot in that game.  I saw his first push heading over and moved my lings and banes to attack.  I didn’t, however, retake the watchtower after that ling had died.  This would have let me see the next attack coming sooner.  Control grouping my army, though, was done throughout the game.  This is something that’s taken a lot of focus to get down (especially using the eggs and ctrl-clicking them to not add larvae to my control groups), and it feels really good to finally be getting it right.  Moving that group to hold off his first attack, for instance, was a lot quicker with a control group up, instead of boxing and telling to attack.  On setting up my bases, I feel really good.  I didn’t oversaturate in this game (something I’ve done in others).  I still have a bad habit of pulling one drone to make the gas, instead of boxing them and shift building, even when I do two.  That’s something I will be working on.

The only changes to tomorrow’s goals are dropping watching the minimap (not stopping doing it, but it’s something I’m doing consistently and can move on from) and returning to using all of my available larvae as soon as it pops.  I’ve lost focus on this and it’s very obvious in my late game.

As a little update, I finally ordered a desk and chair and it will be here Friday.  I’m looking forward to having a better playing position, as my hand is beginning to hurt or feel rubbery after hours of play.  Stretching helps a lot, but leaning back in a recliner with my keyboard in my lap is not good for my arms.  It also makes hitting control and 1 awkward and slow.

Until tomorrow, GLHF.