redditpickedmyhobby

A Year of Starcraft II

A Final Update

I’m sorry it took me so long to update this, to let everyone know how the year ended. It was pretty surprising to see that people still check from time to time, and I appreciate that.  The couple comments calling for updates made me feel progressively worse until I finally am sitting down to write this out.  I need to put it out there, this does need closure, and if it’s not all about Starcraft, it is about me, LeTemps, and this past year. So, warning: personal shit incoming.  I’ll try not to whine. (Please forgive the overly generalized next few paragraphs, I was trying not to give too many details and may have gone too far in my vagueness.)

My life took several turns at the end of my year of Starcraft II, mostly for worse, and it was all I could do to keep myself going day to day. Which is itself something I learned from this year: just keep going.  Even if nothing seems to be working, if you suck horribly, keep trying.  If it doesn’t work out, you’ll at least have a little bit more experience in what doesn’t work.

I have never been good at interacting with people on more than a superficial level.  If it goes further than that, into an honest to god relationship (either friendship or romance), I tend to read too much and too far into things.  I will swing between over-dependence and avoidance.  It is something I have talked to professionals about but not something I’ve ever been able to get a real handle on.

As this year came to a close, I found myself in a position that I have been in many times over my life, but to a degree that I had never before experienced.  As things took a turn for the worse, I was in a horrible depression and couldn’t figure out what to do.  There was no way to just suck it up and keep going, at least none I could see. It was a very low time, probably the lowest I have ever been.  I finally just decided to move, and was gone within a month.

It all seems stupid now.  I mean, it doesn’t hurt any less, but I don’t think about it as often.  I’m getting situated in my new area, trying to start over and working on myself as much as I can force myself to.  Starcraft kind of faded into the background.  I’ll watch the occasional stream, catch a few matches from a tournament when I can, and play very infrequently.  It did not turn out to be a crazy lifelong passion.  It feels bad to say that.  I think maybe I let some people down.  But it did accomplish my original goal of getting me to commit to something for longer than a month.  There was a success, not as much of one as I hoped, but still I think the year was worthwhile.  I don’t look on it as wasted time or effort.

I am tempted to do this all over again, asking reddit for another hobby to commit to for a year.  Half of me screams yes, the other half is moaning complaints and just wants to sit around watching TV, surfing reddit and playing whatever the latest video game is.  The whole “Reddit Pick My Hobby” was a good idea.  It did force me outside of my comfort zone, into a mini-spotlight where I had to come through.  I enjoyed it and feel like I have a skill set now that I would never have had if I had not done it.

The blog was something I screwed up on, it was more work than I realized forcing myself to sit down and write something of substance (which may have been my problem, poring over a blog post for two hours after hours of play).  The blog was also kind of a side-thought originally, a way to prove progress on something, but turned into what people really followed.  I don’t think I got over 10 stream viewers at a time after that first month.  I don’t blame you, I couldn’t watch myself play those mind-numbingly slow bronze games either.

I’d like to illustrate my point though, on my own personal weirdness with finding things that interest me, picking them up and then putting them back down again shortly.  In the last two months, with not much to occupy my time other than work, I have been through trying to learn programming, making my own video game, and writing a novel (this is a bi-monthly occurring interest that pains me each time it comes up and gets left by the wayside).  I think I’m stating this to remind myself that yes, I may have done one thing for a year, but now I am back to my old ways.  I am not cured, as it were.  Pretty sad that I don’t know what else to do but ask Reddit to pick something for me.

It seems I am looking to be great at something.  I believe that’s what is at the heart of all of this searching.  And what every book about writing says, “You must apply ass to chair and write.” works for pretty much everything.  Effort is what is required, not some innate talent that is waiting to be discovered.  But I have no ability to force myself to do this without some kind of external pressure.

Anyways…

I started in Gold, went down to bronze when I stopped doing the seven roach rush and tried to learn how to actually play, and ended my year in Platinum.  I really did like the game, the people, the scene, and enjoyed almost all of the time spent working to get better.   I was introduced to dubstep, K-pop (shudder), Xsplit, twitch.tv, Day9, cheesing, micro, macro, e-sports, drama with the accompanying pitchforks, mechanical keyboards,  a thousand memes, basically a whole culture I didn’t know existed.  It was frustrating and glorious.  It was Starcraft II.

I thank each of you who read, watched, chatted, helped, coached, and messaged me weird shit. For the final time:

GLHR.

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15 responses to “A Final Update

  1. HTMC August 29, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Sorry to hear about your personal troubles, but I’m super glad you stuck it out, and additionally glad it proved to be a rewarding experience. Best of luck in the future, and I wish I could offer you better advice, but I sincerely hope things will work out for you. Cheers, mate.

  2. C August 29, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I believe your post will ring true with many people. We all have troubles sticking with one thing for a long time. I know I do. I’m a dreamer by nature and tend to follow the shiny from one thing to the next. It takes great effort to just sit down and do it. I think the solution is to find that one thing that makes you so damn giddy that you can’t contain yourself. Don’t worry about becoming a great programmer as a goal but instead find that thing that makes you so happy that becoming a great programmer is a side effect. I am trying to find that giddy thing right now – it probably is creating a game.

    You may have somewhat failed at your goal of doing Starcraft for a year but I think you have succeeded in growing as a person which is much more valuable.

    I would recommend that you continue with this blog. There are people out there that are interested in you and what you are upto – even if it is only digital interest. Folks care.

  3. Sam August 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Good luck with the future man! I really enjoyed reading your posts, and watching your progress. I hope things go smoothly for you 😀

  4. John Mathews August 30, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Well done for getting into Platinum! I think you achieved a lot last year, and it doesn’t really matter that you didn’t reach every target. You’ll get to where you want to be eventually, because you’ve already learnt so much. I hope your new location helps. Try not to worry. All the best.

  5. Separation of author identity and content has its advantages! August 31, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Glad you’re getting out of the depressive period. It’s still awesome that you stuck with something for a longer period. The fact that it didn’t become an awesome lifelong passion is ok – it just wasn’t meant to be, and it took a few months to be certain. The positive side is that you now demonstrated to yourself that (if you decide on it) you can sustain effort on a project for multiple months.

    You can now use this skill on other projects. I would try the ones that leave a permanent mark on completion – e.g. programming, writing a video game, writing a novel. The other type of projects would be the ones where you achieve results (e.g. getting to a certain weight / muscle mass / skill in Starcraft 2 / etc) – the problem with those is that you have to actively maintain the achieved result, which ain’t easy till you’ve developed very good self discipline.

    Also, it would make sense to try projects that don’t have too large of a distance between effort and reward (but still have a tasty enough reward at the end). Another thing – it’s ideal if later projects can reuse the results from previous ones. If it’s in the same field – even better.

    For example:
    * you build your own website via Django (reinventing the common blog).
    * Later you extend it with schmansy stuff like HTML5/JS-heavy custom UIs to visualize several of the hobbies that you take on from time to time (a-la Trello, but more graph-y).
    * Later you start adding some timelogging (a-la Toggl), so you can figure out where you’re spending most of your time
    * now add some fancier attributes to the Trello-like part, so you can start implementing enterprise-grade project management stuff into your self-development (oh god the bullshit-marketing-speak is getting to me). Stuff like
    + “if I continue catching up with math via khanacademy, it’ll take me 1-2 months of fun videos, followed by some ‘math for CS guys’ open courses, followed by doing a couple of algorithm-heavy projects. This will allow me to get a high-paying algo-related programming job and oh god I know a guy who does this and wants to kill himself” and
    + “if I start with those hand grip strength trainer things, continue with a pull-up bar and graduate to noob-level rock-climbing within X months, I can expand my social circle in a more outdoorsy direction. But I hate physical activity”

    Ya’know, cost/benefit analysis of the tree of life choices you can make. A sort of a life organizer or even decision support system. Hell, run a few half-year cycles of that, monitor + blog the positive/negative changes in lifestyle and if the results are encouraging (non-negative and make you feel like you’re catching a few more opportunities you would’ve missed), tweak and improve the website and try to make it usable for someone else. Later package it (open-source, perhaps even offer the thing as SaaS + an option (and instructions) for a trivial self-hosted install on a <$7/mo VPS) and try to slowly plug it in self-help places (whole bunch of subreddits for that), where you think it will actually help someone. Ideally it picks up speed and creates a following that starts using it. There ya go, you contributed visibly to humanity and improved the life of several folk in the same bind as you (or in worse situations).

    Of course, that's a best-case scenario.

  6. Dravenos September 2, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    congrats on finishing your year Temps! I’m sure there were a lot of highs, and lows, but that’s life. It was awesome to catch your stream when I could man, I did enjoy watching it <3.

  7. George September 8, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    This is wonderfully written. It’s so honest and personal. I watched your stream a couple times and there were usually 3-5 people there with me. You even played a few games with me when I asked for it! Well, for whatever unfortunate situations or negative feelings you may have, people’s advice can only help so much and life happens; that’s all. I sincerely hope for the best for you on whatever dreams and endeavors you may and will have. Sometimes it helps to just sit down and think about what’s important in your life and having that as your motivation and fuel. Don’t quit. Also I’m interested in reading your novel.

  8. Robust_Grains September 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Even though your popularity waned towards the end, you’re still part of this community. I am quite fascinated that someone who didn’t know anything about Starcraft can occupy themselves with it for an ENTIRE YEAR and still enjoy it. I’m glad you gleaned the esports “culture” from this experience.

    GLHR, LeTemps

  9. JMAY September 9, 2012 at 2:07 am

    You may not believe me but I can guarantee you that you caught the hearts of many SC2 nerds out there! I am one of them and I am actually inspired by you. Not because you played SC2 for a whole year but because you committed into something for a whole year. If this was the 17th century you will be considered a noble man of his words.
    Not many people have the ability to commit and have the will power to stay focus for such a long time. I am inspired to do the same and pick up a hobby one of these day. Maybe I will dust off the old Violin I gave up on in the attic. Whatever it may be just know this, you inspired me and im sure many others to just get up and commit to something.
    You may not have had many viewers, or many comments here but each time you blog about your progress you have hundreds of people upvoting your thread to the top of the list in r/starcraft.
    I pray for you and for happiness and perhaps finally finding a life long passion that you will be great in! GLHR!

  10. pasv September 9, 2012 at 2:27 am

    “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”- Bruce Lee

    I have a personal challenge for you.

    After getting annoyed with the overall mechanics of zerg and being in a very similar situation to yourself (albeit not moving, I’m stuck here until I finish school (CS), whenever that is…). I stopped playing completely for a few months, just bored of the game and being stuck in plat. I switched to protoss, and found changing races really breathes new life into the passion you may have had for the game. I urge you to switch races! The game will change! The roles of being decisive in comparison to being the reactive player (more like playing white in chess) feels damn good, but sucks balls in the first 50ish games figuring out how to hold off X units or X timing.

    Spam out games where you quit in the first 30 seconds to drop your rating down to the lowest of silver (NOT BRONZE! (bronze has too much cheese to learn a race well, but still worth the training)). Then try to master 1 build per matchup, but be sure to keep 1 in 5 games just pure experimentation/fun. Because your league doesn’t matter. It’s all about fun and improving.. If you’re too solid about it, it may stop being fun, then why the fuck do we play this game? Hard work is hard, sure. But this game is just about enjoying yourself as it is developing mental skills. Lets just not forget about one or the other…

    As for programming, fuck, what do I know? I’m still a noob too! The only fun thing I can think to do in programming is learning python and trying to automate things you do daily or wish to do daily and keep repeating until your sick of it. Games are complicated beasts and your targets make take several months or years to see a workable project.. Start small, enter from the shallow into the deep. Use github, publish frequently and watch your commits.. feels pretty good. Even if no one forks your repo or follows your projects. Just the fact you’ve got webdocumented progress is something that you can build your confidence on.. And something that will actually get your jobs. Be warned tho, it’s kind of demotivating to see you havent had a commit in 3 months.. This may in turn actually motivate you to keep posting code. Post for every new feature, every new idea (even if it hasn’t been debugged yet). If you get bored of working on your own code, try using github to fork someone else’s project (this is basically copying an existing open source program into a new variation that you can commit to and work on as if it were your own project!). This allows you to work with a larger code base, and see more results without dedicating the months of development it may require to get started on something.

    Motivation is a bitch man. Depression is beatable though (at least temporarily). There are highs and lows and the important thing is to recognize the fact change is inevitable, if you’re in a good situation, be wary of the fact it will end, and when you’re in a shitty mood remember it will eventually flip back into a good one (although sometimes it can seem as though it wont). If you’re in a state of complete apathy towards everything (yes, been there) just start making small decisions. Decide on doing one thing at a time and work up to larger goals, comparison is the bane of all our existence. We compare ourselves to Linus Torvalds, Alan Cox, HD Moore. In sc2 we wanna be like creatorprime or HuK, but following your own path is sooo much more important. If you follow your own path to its consummation I guarantee at least one person (ideally at least yourself!) will want to be like you. Want to be like yourself. This is fucking hard, and I can’t tell you it’s worth it yet, because I’m trying to figure this shit out myself.

    Good luck to you mang, GLHF!

  11. Jos September 9, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Please pick an outdoor teamsport,(soccer, hocky, rowing etc.) for your next commitment, it helped me so much when I was low.

  12. Wout September 9, 2012 at 4:43 am

    I hope things turn out well for you. I’m glad you found SC2 enjoyable even if it didn’t turn out to be a lifelong passion. I kind of feel the same way, watching the occasional tournament games, but not playing much at all. All the best to you in the future whatever you choose to do!

  13. Tyler September 9, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Comments on reddit:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/zkxgp/letemps_one_year_with_starcraft/

    I too think the next hobby should be a physical activity which forces you to meet people. Like a team sport.

  14. mike September 9, 2012 at 5:55 am

    This blog post made me really happy. Good luck for the future man, whatever you do I’m sure you’l succeed

  15. Alan Pham September 9, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Good work on doing it all the way through and hope you really enjoyed the community!
    Hope all the best for you with the problems that you have faced.
    GLHF ❤

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