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A Year of Starcraft II

Category Archives: Computer

Scouting and Patience

I spent some time today on scouting, as that is what I’m working on this week.  It actually seems to be going well.  In particular, in a game vs. Zerg I continued to poke and prod with lings (okay, I took out an expansion which is attacking, but it was there and looked so easily grabbed), used overlords, overseers and changelings.  I knew pretty much what was coming at all times.  I still lost, though.  I had too little gas to deal with the giant ball of mutas he had at the end.  I think I wasted the gas on ultras and also took my fourth’s gas way too late.  I’m not going to worry about the loss, though, because the scouting was good.

I also had a chance today to play a couple of games against OnYourWifi (link is to his stream), another redditor.  He was kind enough to give me a few games and some tips (he’s in diamond league).  I can’t say I did great (I didn’t), but it was fun and he gave me some things to work on.  Most importantly, I think, was having patience in game.  I wasn’t doing the heavy scout/no attack in those games, but I might as well have been.  I spotted his push and then just sent each wave of units in to die.  Had I waited, letting him slowly work his way to my base and then attacked en masse, it would have been a much better engagement for me.  Another good point was my penchant for just making units to feel safe.  It is nerve wracking for me to just sit there with a few units, waiting for attacks, so I make a few units each round of larvae.  This is cutting into my drone output and has to stop.  Scouting should help me feel safer, I believe, so this is part of that.  Also, I needed to take more bases.  This is, I think, part of that nervousness of not knowing what’s coming.  So, as I’m scouting, and when I have the minerals, I need to expand.  OnYourWifi was saying that some master’s Zerg will have a third by 9 minutes vs. Terran.  Crazy quick, maybe, but at least a good benchmark to keep in mind.

I’ve started learning some of the timings, and continue to work on my notebook.  I think it’s going to be a constant thing I have to go back to, to get all the timings memorized and know what to look for.  Not a quick glance and I’m good thing, but a good long while of studying.  And then the metagame will change and I’ll have to learn what else could be coming and when.  It’s actually pretty cool, because I like that kind of game.  I’ve always been looking for a game that’s deeper, that I can figure things out on.  I guess I should’ve been playing RTSs sooner.

I finally purchased a mechanical keyboard and it came in today.  I have to say it is pretty damn nice.  The clickety-clackety (and that’s exactly the sound now as I type) is addictive.  I went with the SteelSeries 6Gv2  and I’m liking it.  I was actually kind of confused as to which keyboard to purchase and kept putting it off.  I knew I wanted one, but they are kind of expensive and I didn’t exactly need one.  But as soon as the spacebar on my old keyboard started sticking, I knew it was time.  After looking at a bunch of keyboards, I finally just went with this one because, honestly, it’s the one Idra uses.  That is such a fanboy statement, I’m kind of embarrassed to say it.  It’s actually the first time I can think of where I purchased something based on someone else’s use.  Kind of strange, but, hey, I can always say I’m supporting a Starcraft sponsor.

That’s it for now.  I just wanted to point out, 3 blogs in a row.  I’m trying to make myself do this more.  I know I let it slide, and that sucked, so I’m working at it.

Goodnight and GLHR.

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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.

 

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.

 

Gold!

I was placed in the Gold League!  Here’s the video from justin.tv.

Stream-wise everything went smoothly, although at first I had the webpage running in the background, and someone had to tell me to turn it off.  I was trying to keep it open so I could read the chat later, but no worries.  I was surprised there was very little lag (I remember one stutter), and my processor stayed below 60C so all in all a good first try at streaming.  I was told that there were a lot of viewers, over 200 at one point.  It did not help that I was told this in game, as it made my hands shake even more than they already were.  The support and interest boggles my freaking mind.

Game-wise, I know I  didn’t do great.  I also don’t know if I will last long in gold.  It was just very cool to get placed there.  As soon as the screen came up and I read it, I was stunned.  If you watch the video, my mouse even stops moving all together for a bit.  Then I let out a “Hell Yeah” and circled it with my mouse. Like Day9 said to, I celebrated my victory and I like to think some of you celebrated with me.  But I will keep what I did wrong in mind.

I won’t go into detail on the matches, there is a video of it, but I will point out what I thought were my biggest mistakes.  The most annoying for me: I KEPT forgetting to set my worker rally to the minerals.  I don’t know if it was the nerves or what, but that has never happened to me before.  Certainly not in three games in a row.  I raged a bit every time I noticed it.  Also, my macro is still very far off.  I was missing injects (although not as many as I used to) and, if the first push didn’t succeed, was generally behind on everything because my focus had gone to the attack instead of keeping up with the macro.  I had been working on the stutter step with the roaches the past two nights and had gotten it down pretty good.  I think I like doing it too much, if that’s possible. But while doing it, I completely forget about tapping to check injects or building.

This brings me to the build.  I started with this roach rush build two days ago.  It fit well with what I was looking for: something easy to remember, an attack point to shoot for, and it seemed to work well.  I won’t be sticking with it, though.  My main “tutor” has another, more zen guideline for Zerg that focuses on learning how to adapt and play a better Zerg game.  I guess I was initially overwhelmed with having to do everything he suggested and so jumped at the first strict build I was given.  I know the roach build works, but it is a bit cheesy, and it doesn’t give me much room to grow or learn.  By that I mean, if that first push works, the game is over and I didn’t learn anything.  If it fails, I’m kinda screwed and have to pull something else out of my ass.  The last match vs. the Terran really highlights this point.

I won’t completely abandon it, but it won’t be the build I do over and over again.  I will instead focus on keeping my macro going which includes expanding and building what units I discover I need with scouting.  This will probably come with a lot of losses, but I think I will be better for it over the long run.  I could probably go pretty far with the roach build, but at the end I’ll just be stuck doing one thing well and not be very good at much else.  The point of this year is not just to win, but to learn something and have fun doing it.

It was pretty goddamn fun to win though.

After the placement, there were a number of people online talking to me and we started an impromptu pick up game on the betting Metalopolis map.  A fun time was had by all.  There was even talk of having a King of the Hill match like this every Friday.  I for one would love that.   It was great to see how others play and have some fun while doing it.  There was cheese, some interesting builds (the Queen Swarm, ahhh!), and a bunch of “Holy Crap” moments.  I think it would also be pretty cool if I stream a match like this.  So, those of you there tonight, and anyone else who wants to play, let’s do it.  Let me know what you think time wise and how to work it, I’ve never done anything like this before.

Goodnight and GLHF.

Closer and Closer

After taking two days off from this blog, it’s hard to get going again (and think of a title).  Where to start?

Monday I was itching to play a few games.  I decided to try the practice league.  Big mistake.  Everyone had told me to stay away from it, but I didn’t understand the hate for it until I tried.  Jesus Christ, is that a slow game.  And the rocks blocking the ramp!  It drove me crazy almost immediately.  My opponent was also playing Zerg, and was I guess used to the practice league because he was sufficiently turtled with a bunch of spine crawlers and happily making mutalisks.  Before anything else. I GGed and left.  I can understand the point of the practice league, but it seems a lot slower than even the campaign.  I won’t be going back.  The rest of that night I played a couple games with a few higher level players, just to have some fun.  I lost but still did pretty good and got a few nice attacks in.  I then watched the finals of Dreamhuk, I mean Dreamhack.  I am really enjoying watching the Starcraft II games.  If nothing else, after this year is up I will have a new sport to watch.

Tuesday was my day off.  I received the video card (Finally!) and my new computer is up and running and Starcraft II looks great at Ultra settings.  However, I do think I may need an aftermarket heat-sink and coolant as the processor seems to run a bit hot.  Not horribly hot, but more than my Google-fu leads me to believe is normal (around 50-55C in a game, 40-48C idling).  I tried re-seating the heat-sink, which seemed a little loose, but it didn’t change much, maybe a few degrees cooler.  I think I should be fine for now, but I have added that to my to purchase list.  I also spent about 4 hours last night playing around with Rainmeter trying for a nice Starcraft desktop, but couldn’t make anything look like I wanted it to.

Tonight I started trying to set up everything so I could stream my placement matches.  It is exciting to be getting closer and closer to finally playing some ladder matches.  The guide I was using worked up to a point, but the audio part of FMLE would not work.  It wouldn’t recognize that there was an audio “device” on my computer and I could not figure out how to fix it.  As it was getting late, I wanted to start playing some so that I could be sure finish my two hours.  I will keep trying to figure out the programs, so I can hopefully stream Friday night.

Tonight I played a few games with a higher level player who was helping me get some build timings down.  Specifically a 5 minute roach attack build.  I think I like this more than the heavy ling builds.  It doesn’t work well against early attacks, but I should be scouting for those and change my build accordingly.  This build allows for that and I like having a specific time to do that first attack, something to work towards.  I can then branch out to whatever build I think is necessary for the matchup.

Like I said, I will try to stream the placement matches on Friday night.  I’m going to work on the streaming programs now, and tomorrow if necessary.  Hopefully the streaming will be interesting enough for those of you losing interest in my rambling posts.  Goodnight and GLHF.

Slogging Through

All of those who have told me to just build marines and whatever unit is introduced in the campaign missions were completely right.  For four missions now, I’ve done this.  Maybe throw in a few siege tanks (because they’re fun) and a few medics, but that’s the build.  If I do this, keep the macro up, and generally just keep building until 200/200, the missions are a lot easier.  Yesterday, I did the train mission and the one with the mercenary chick you have to get minerals for.  Today, I finished the Odin mission and the attack on the TV station mission.

Doing all this, though, feels like a grind.  I keep thinking about the online play.  It’s calling to me.  Now that I’m close to finishing the campaign, I can see the online games on the horizon, and it’s hard to keep playing the campaign.  I am going to keep going, but the enthusiasm for the campaign is starting to wane.  This is also why I don’t necessarily feel like writing a blow-by-blow of all four missions.

Computer wise, the new card is on the way.  I went with a different manufacturer (EVGA instead of ASUS) but still a GTX 460.  It was the card mentioned in the Team Liquid build I was referred to when building, so it’s a 1gb instead of 768mb (I’ve no idea what that means for video cards really).  Looking for the card, I couldn’t help but wonder how there can be so many GTX 460s?  It’s all confusing as hell.

On a completely unrelated to anything note, how fast does an idea/joke move nowadays?  I mean, the falcon thing started online like two months ago, and now it’s already being used in at least two separate commercials that I’m aware of.  Is 4chan where the advertising guys hang out now for ideas?  Or is falconry simply a trending topic in the psyche of the US at the moment? (I hate myself for writing that sentence, but I’m going to leave it.)  The insurance company commercial where the guy gets a falcon was just on, and it struck me as strange.  /end weird aside

I’m going to finish one more mission tonight and keep pushing to finish, hopefully by Tuesday.

A FULL Night of Starcraft II

I have finally begun playing Starcraft II, and for more than 20 minutes.  My mac can play the game, with the additional memory and at low settings.  I am returning the graphics card I bought, and will be purchasing another next week.  Hopefully that is the problem (I’m 90% sure it is).

So, I played for almost three hours (minus a small break) and I have to say it is a very fun game but I don’t understand much of the story.  It seems that I would have to know a lot of the lore to know what’s going on.  But I only played the first four missions, so maybe I’m just not far enough in.  The rest of the time I played a few games vs. the AI on Medium (I was told Easy and Very Easy are a joke).  Four games, to be exact.  One as each of the races and an extra of Protoss.  I lost the first two (I played as Protoss and Zerg) and won the last two (Terran and Protoss).

I think I’m beginning to understand what everyone was saying about how much of the game is macro.  Once I’m about five minutes or so into the game, I don’t know what’s going on.  I just blindly build shit, trying to send out a force if I have what I think might be enough to kill some of the opponent.  And I don’t really know what to build yet.

I remembered hearing about a Protoss Deathball on r/starcraft, so I made my own with a bunch of stalkers and void rays plus some zealots thrown in there and sent that out on the last game.  It was cool to watch my little army destroy the enemy Terrans.  I had also realized how much extra cash I had available at the end of the other games, so I was trying to keep up building units and buildings so that I didn’t have too much money just sitting there. But after five minutes, like I was saying, I lost focus and couldn’t keep up.  I laughingly kept building probes, which turned into more money, which I spent building more probes.  But I won, and thought it was a good game to end on.  I learned a little bit and had fun doing it.

Zerg… Zerg is confusing as hell.  It took me way too long to figure out that I had to change the larvae into the different units.  And how do you keep clicking on those little things when other units start to stack on top of them?  I think I built my first zergling at around four minutes.  I also wish I had known that the overlords were the “supply”.  I made one to go check out the enemy (like I had seen almost all Zerg players do on the streams I have watched) and then forgot about supply until all of the sudden I couldn’t make anything.  I don’t think it helped that the AI played Zerg also on that game.  It was over quickly.

I believe I won as Terran simply because I had been playing it all night in the campaign.   I knew what to make (in the beginning) and grabbed some bunkers to keep my base locked down, which destroyed the AI’s Protoss force that was sent.  I even made some tanks, but didn’t realize I had to research something to get the siege bit (or even what it did, really).  Then I had to figure out which building did that research.  By then, the army I had sent out had already arrived at the enemy base and taken out the little Protoss defense left.  I don’t know what I did right there, other than build those bunkers.  It was probably the longest of these games, and I never even expanded.  I had the new base unit sitting in my main base for about the last minute of the game (I was trying to figure out how to make it fly and move it to an expansion like I had seen the pros do in MLG).

As of tonight, I would say I’ll be playing either Terran or Protoss when I move on to the multi, unless I can somehow figure Zerg out and it is as fun as it looks.  Tomorrow I will play a few more missions of the campaign, then move to the AI games.  I think I’ll just play on random, forcing myself to at least get used to all the races.

I also wanted to say thanks to everyone who expressed their support in the comments here and in the game.  It was very cool to have twenty or so people pop up as I was playing with GLHFs  and offers of games.  Sorry if I didn’t respond quickly enough to all of you, I couldn’t figure out how to pause the game and chat at the same time.  I thank all of you for the advice and help, and look forward to playing, and maybe beating, you in the coming year.

TL;DR:  Herp, Derp, Starcraft II.

Shit Happens

And it always seems to happen to me.

As I got to the end of the second mission, maybe 20 minutes of game time in my first session of Starcraft II, I was presented with a kind of honking noise and white checkers across the screen.  I shut down the computer, let it sit for a bit and restarted.  And at the BIOS splash page I could tell something was wrong.  White lines across even that screen.  I turned it off again and checked everything.  Connections were fine, I even moved the graphics card to another slot.  There’s still something wrong.  Booting up into windows presents a screen with white lines about half an inch long and half an inch apart up and down the screen. They move as I move the cursor around.

Googling gets me these two results: one and two.  And the fact that the GTX 460 I got was an open box leads me to believe I should just return the card and get something else (as one of the posters in the link says his was an intermittent issue that he couldn’t replicate on demand, perhaps that is why my card was returned in the first place).

One option I am going to try, to at least get some game time in, is add some memory to the mac I am on now.  I think this might help me at least play the single player on low settings for a week or two until I can send this card in and get a new card.  I think I can get a hold of the memory tomorrow, so hopefully I will be back playing by then.

As promised, a picture of my horrible cable management on the first iteration of my so far ill fated build is here.

If anyone can point to something else that may be wrong, I will pretty much try anything (I will say that I cannot put it into another computer, as I don’t have another one around to try).

I am now going to watch some Day9 and streams for an hour and a half to at least try to fulfill the first day of my year of Starcraft II.

EDIT:  I was told to find out the temperatures of the computer and the processor cores are at 47, 48, 45 and 41 C respectively.

Almost There… But Not Quite

As I opened the multiple boxes of computer parts, my plan to blog and take pictures as I worked flew out the window.  A kind of frenzied “Fuck it, we’ll do it live,” feeling overtook me and I dove in.  I’m glad I didn’t document the build; it was not a pretty sight. (I may put up one picture tomorrow, just to show the horrible cable management.  Seriously horrible.)

Building the computer was a lot more difficult than I remembered.  Two and a half hours of placing a part, unsure googling to make sure I was doing it right, and reading through three different manuals and I thought I was done.  I only needed to connect an old DVD drive from the last computer I built.  Yeah, well…  I wish I would’ve known that newer motherboards don’t come with that particular connection anymore.  I laughed, I thought about throwing stuff, then I just went to fucking Walmart for the drive.

Now I’m sitting here waiting for Windows to install, hoping everything works right and I can play some Starcraft II today. I think I’ve got a long night ahead of me.

One More Day

Wow, I’m getting nervous.  The combination of watching MLG and reading r/starcraft has gotten me a bit frazzled.  There is so much more to this game than I realized.  I’m going to try not to worry about it all and just have fun playing the single player this first week.  It will at least give me some clue as to how the controls and different units work.  From there, I think I will jump into the multiplayer around the 12th.

Only about half of the parts came in today for the computer, so it looks like I’ll be building all night tomorrow after work.  I would really like to have the computer up and ready for Wednesday.  I have also come to the conclusion that I’ll need a proper desk to really play this game the way it is supposed to be played.  As of now, I have a small table with my computer on it and a recliner for a chair.  I keep my keyboard on my lap and my mouse on a little table to the side of the recliner.  While comfortable, I don’t think that will work for this game.  I’ve been meaning to get a proper desk for some time, but it’s always been a pain to find a comfortable desk due to height issues (I’m 6’3″).  I’m thinking of this desk and this chair (free shipping is a big plus on these types of things), but am unsure how they would work height wise just from the specs.  As a last resort, I’ll hit Walmart (even though I hate it) to see if they have anything there.  The desk will have to wait until late next week, though.

That’s enough fretting for one night, I’m going to go watch some Day9.

You know, I believe that even without the game, I may already be spending two hours or more a day learning about Starcraft II.  What did you people at r/starcraft start?