How I Came to own Starcraft 2

By Shamus
on May 23, 2013
Filed under:
Video Games

In case you didn’t listen to the podcast last week, I’ll tell the story again only with more personal rambling, poorly-justified digressions, and editorializing asides. After all, that’s what makes me a guy who has trouble getting to the point professional writer.

I had decided not to get Starcraft 2. I was really into Starcraft back in the day, but I was into LAN games, the campaign, and fights against AI. I know that’s not “real” Starcraft to most players, but it’s what I liked. When Blizzard pulled the whole game online for Starcraft 2, they were obviously focusing the game around the one thing I didn’t like or care about: PvP ladder matches.

I knew if I got the game that sooner or later I’d be unable to log in to play campaign mode. I knew that when that happened, I’d want to rant about it. And I knew that when I did, I’d just get a line of jackasses telling me that I’m enjoying videogames wrong. LOL! Nobody plays the story missions! The campaign mode clearly exists for no reason and nobody is ever expected to play it, and if you’re not on the ladders and you’re not in the pro league then you’re a dumb noob who should shut up. To be fair, this type of behavior is not unique to Starcraft. Pretty much any game with a strong PvP component is going to have a lot of rageboys who react with hostility to any kind of critical commentary or analysis. It’s not the Starcraft community, it’s just the competitive culture. You get the same thing around sports fandom.

starcraft2_1.jpg

This is one of the reasons I really like Pro Starcraft player / analyst / commenter Day[9]. His tagline of “Be a Better Gamer” works with the gameplay advice he offers in his show, but it also works in the more holistic sense of being a better human being who plays videogames. His positive attitude, friendly persona, and love for the game are magnificent things in a realm normally filled with anger, bickering, smack talk, and alpha male posturing. The guy is a gentleman and the Starcraft 2 community is very lucky to have him.

But anyway. I decided to give Starcraft 2 a pass. I knew it would rub me the wrong way, I knew fans would try to claim my complaints were invalid, and I knew how that argument would play out. There was no reason to spend sixty dollars to get on that particular merry-go-round.

But!

Last week I was watching Starcraft 2 matches with my son. Specifically, we were watching BRONZE LEAGUE HEROES from Husky Starcraft.


Link (YouTube)

BRONZE LEAGUE HEROES is a series where pro commentator Husky covers bronze league games. (That’s the lowest rung of the Starcraft PvP ladder.) Imagine if you picked up a random selection of casual football fans, dressed them up like NFL players, ran them out on the field in a major stadium, and gave the game proper NFL television coverage. Imagine how hilarious it would be to have Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw trying to announce a game where players sometimes ran the wrong way, forgot what down it was, lined up in bizarre formations, attempted field goals the moment they took possession, and left players standing around doing nothing while a play was taking place.

Husky does a good job of celebrating the absurdity of the play without descending into insults and snark. Instead of saying, “Can you believe how stupid these people are?” he gives us, “Can you believe that crazy thing that really happened?” He’s genuinely celebrating the game and the players, even if their play is really, really ridiculous. That’s a tough line to walk and Husky walks it really well. The result is a lighthearted show where you can laugh at absurd play and hilarious misfortune.

My son and I were watching the show and laughing ourselves breathless at the shenanigans when Issac turned to me and said, “Dad, wouldn’t it be cool if we could play together?”

Well then.

starcraft2_2.jpg

I might be pouting about how Starcraft 2 turned out, but I’d never miss a chance to play a game with my son. He’s got a competitive streak in him, and so we don’t actually have a lot of games in common. He’s into PvP games and unforgiving 2D platformers. I was originally surprised that the apple had fallen so far from the tree, but in retrospect it’s not all that different from the stuff I played at his age. (He’s eleven.) Of course, when I was his age brutal and unforgiving games were the only thing that existed, since it was 1982 and we didn’t have the technology to do anything more interesting than reflex challenges yet. Still.

But we have RTS games in common. (He’s also into Rise of Nations.) When he said he wanted to play Starcraft II with me that became more important than arguments over DRM, Blizzard, online requirements, DLC, Activision, or any of the other stuff I’m always on about.

And so we played Starcraft 2 together. And it was a blast. Back in Broodwar, he favored Terran and I tended to play Zerg. In Starcraft 2, we both play Protoss.

Sadly, we’re kind of stuck playing 1v1. His little laptop isn’t quite up to the job and it really struggles on the small maps. Moving up to 4 or 6 player maps is out of the question.

starcraft2_3.jpg

Starcraft 2 itself is kind of a jerk about this. I always have this icon in the corner, “Issac is slowing down the game.” Yes, I know, you judgmental popup. Sod off.

I still haven’t ventured online, not even to play co-op against AI. I just hate playing with strangers. It’s like reading YouTube comments. Sure, some are good, but it’s rarely worth wading through the sea of drooling illiterate ragemonkeys to find those few gems.

But Issac and I enjoy the game together. And that’s pretty cool.

But since I own the game, I might as well indulge the nitpicks:

  1. We’re just playing the base game right now. No point in one of us picking up the Heart of the Swarm expansion unless the other one does, and it doesn’t seem worth $80 for a few new units in our games. Once again, note how this DRM has the effect of delaying or prohibiting a purchase. If it worked like a regular game, I’d buy one copy and we’d take turns with it, but since it’s tied to a login I don’t want to get the expansion just for one of us. Here is another lost or delayed sale that’s impossible for Blizzard to measure or count.
  2. Logging in to play campaign mode is stupid and dumb and I don’t care what anyone says about the “true experience” of Starcraft. Whatever. Oh, and thanks SO much Blizzard for making me type in my password every single time and not giving me a “Remember password” button. I’m seriously considering changing the password to something simple because I’m tired of entering a complex password. Realize that this hassle on MY part is to save them effort on THEIR part. Blizzard is plagued with account theft headaches, so the easy thing for them is to offload a bunch of security hassle onto all players.
  3. When you begin a multiplayer game, there’s this stupid, pointless countdown and I have no idea what it’s for. It’s freaking ten seconds. The other players can’t abort or do anything, so what’s the wait for? It’s there even if I’m playing against AI. Why do we have a ten-second countdown just before a loading screen?!?
  4. There’s a very easy to reproduce crash. If I alt-tab away from the game while at the end-of-game results screen, the game will crash when I tab back. I only mention this because it has such awesome synergy with the “retype your password every time you launch the game” design choice.

It’s a wonderful game. Tons of depth. Amazing polish. Lots of content. Accessible to newcomers and offering endless challenge for the hardcore. But the intrusion of multiplayer hassles into single-player experiences is as annoying as ever.

I will never “get used to” this sort of thing. But I will put up with it for Issac.

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A Hundred!2020204Many comments. 164, if you're a stickler

From the Archives:

  1. Vagrant says:

    Your twitter link to Husky ultimately lead me to purchasing Starcraft 2. Bronze League Heroes makes the game seem fun and lively and almost none of the people in the videos are assholes.

    • kdansky says:

      SC2 has a much lesser number of assholes online than DOTA, for example. The higher barrier of entry keeps the people with anger issues out.

      • Dirigible says:

        Having played both, I can tell you it’s because in Starcraft, you can’t blame anyone else but yourself for your loss. Angry DotA players always think it’s anyone’s problem but themselves. Getting angry at your opponent for being “cheap” is much less sustainable.

        Unfortunately, that isolation worked against it – SC2’s base game, Wings of Liberty, was a terribly lonely place to play online because of how poorly the community functions were implemented, so all my friends (and eventually me) abandoned it for DotA 2. I think most of them still purchased HotS for the campaign, but I don’t have that kind of money. They still play DotA more, since that’s where everyone is now,but I heard that they improved the community features for the expansion.

        • Scampi says:

          The chances of having a nice game with someone trying the possibilities are way better when playing without a team-kind of sad to think that lots of the hate within these games derives from being roped to other guys and being responsible for victory or defeat together instead of knowing there’s nothing else to blame but being bad at something.
          I remember my low level ladder games in WC3 as some of the more civilized experiences, where I’d have some minor banter, strategy discussions and friendly conversation, while the same would seemingly disappear or be replaced by angry and annoyed flaming and frustrated griefing as soon as I’d go
          a)up the ladder and the pressure to win rose
          b) play DotA with a band of strangers, all planning to “pwn some noobs”, finding out that not everybody would care about individual deaths too much and instead be original and unconventional to find efficient ways of playing apparently badly designed heroes to high effect
          c)try to enjoy some team ladder games with a friend. Not that we’d be overly abusive towards each other, but we were really different in skill and strategic insight. He was amazing at micro management, but tended to be thrown off his game when encountering unusual strategies, while I’d pride myself on elaborate counterstrategies, executing them poorly due to low APM – when playing 1v1, he usually won (years later I realized some of my micro-weaknesses back then came from some bad mouse settings-will never find out if that was game deciding…). Makes for hilarious conflict in a team, right? Especially since we were rooms apart and able to yell at each other personally…

          • Dirigible says:

            Ladder Anxiety is actually what pushed me the final distance to swap games – I got up to Silver league then broke both arms. My Starcraft skills suffered immensely in the 6 weeks I couldn’t play, and I couldn’t stand sliding so far back when I’d just reached a milestone.

            Also, Valve is taking great strides in improving the community, with the ability to report or mute abusive players.

        • James says:

          on the subject of the campaign, it is very very good, despite the annoyances of the always on crap its well worth playing through, not only is the story good, but it actually teaches you mechanics and has cameos from now defunct units.

          also the Arcade is where its at, the mini-games there alone are often worth getting at least WoL(wings of liberty) imho

          • Cody says:

            Honestly I think campaign probably makes you a worse terran player for the first few games just because there are units in multiplayer that you may have never used in single player, and a ton of units in single player you may have relied on that was never in multiplayer. Though it does a great job (probably better then the first game did) of teaching you the basics and what to do.

          • Dirigible says:

            For context, the Arcade did not exist for 90% of the lifetime of WoL, there simply wasn’t really any support for community maps at all.

    • Mike Shikle says:

      Same! To be honest though I think I’ll just download some of the mods that move away from the RTS side of the game and more towards either Dota like 5v5s or the SC Universe mod which is basically World of Starcraft.

      I love the world and the design and the campaign but I’m so bad at RTS games >.>

  2. As a 20 something that grew up playing games with my father, I always cherish hearing stories about this. Keep up the good work Shamus!

    • Humanoid says:

      It’s odd, my dad got me into gaming somehow, but I have no recollection of him ever playing a single game, let alone playing together with him. Just the standard 80s PC which had the standard sort of games of that CGA era – Winter Games, Pitstop II, Alley Cat, Space Invaders, Tetris, etc. Maybe they were just bundled software, or maybe I’ll just need to face up to the reality that my dad is a filthy software pirate who just hoarded random software.

      • I grew up watching Dad play games, I sat on his lap as he played Prince of Persia, and he introduced me to the basic educational titles from the early 90’s (back when those were good).
        Eventually, I learnt to play games like Quake and Starcraft alongside him – and then against him. I still remember losing every Starcraft match I played against him in those early days….they were some good times.

        Hearing Dad say that he no longer had time for games was one of the more heartbreaking experiences of my life…

        • Irridium says:

          I got into games by playing DOOM with my dad. I’d sit on his lap and we’d take turns moving/shooting. Must have been… 4 or 5, I think.

          Good times.

          And while I may have been a bit “young” for the game, don’t worry. I rarely played the game on my own. Mainly because all the monsters scared me too much. Whenever I did play I had my dad turn them all off so I could just explore the game.

  3. Borislav says:

    Well, I’ve always wanted to hear your thoughts on SC2. I personally love the game, I used to play it a lot with my friends, we’d do 3v3, 4v4 vs random people and it was pretty fun.
    I haven’t played that much 1v1, I used to be a bit anxious about it (there is such a thing as ladder anxiety, I think Husky has another series with that title).
    I also love watching GSL, it just amazing how good the players are.
    On HotS: it’s a pretty good expansion I’d say, the campaign was quite different from WoL and the new units are quite fun.
    Also, they’ve addressed nitpick number 3, now the timer is down to 3 seconds.

  4. TightByte says:

    An interesting read. Glad it turned out well; I can’t imagine a worse fate than swallowing pride and principle in order to get at some quality time with a loved one, and then having the game not deliver on that promise.

    That said, what resonates with me the strongest in what you wrote is this lack of a sale that Blizzard is completely blind to. I purchased everything they created up to and including Warcraft III, but none of their excretions after that point in time have agreed with me on moral grounds, and whilst I care enough about it to speak my mind, there’s no way to get Blizzard to notice. For all the publishing industry’s frothing at the mouth over “lost sales” due to piracy, it’d be nice if they could somehow be taught to develop a metric to track the people who would have bought the game if it didn’t come with a slick coating of DRM/activation/online-always crud.

    • Felblood says:

      I think the last game I bought, with non-steam DRM, was Sacred 2.

      This is not a coincidence. The publishers of Sacred 2 can fall in a well and die, even all these years later.

      EDIT: Actually, I did buy two Stardock games, which has been an even better experience than with Steam. It’s nice to have a small portion of my collection that I can play even when the cable goes out, which is just often enough to be a factor, even if the interface, sales and selection aren’t on par with Valve’s offerings.

      Too bad being bought out by Gamestop has bottomed out my once mighty trust level in the platform, or I might think about buying from them again.

  5. Conrad says:

    You can actually upgrade one account to Heart of the Swarm and then take turns playing. Heart of the Swarm players can still play multiplayer games with regular Wings of Liberty players.

  6. Lanthanide says:

    Here you go Shamus, one of the silliest Starcraft 2 games ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND6xpaw-KBA

  7. Scampi says:

    Right now, I’m afraid that kind of stuff might happen when I have kids:-P
    I really hate being unfaithful towards my principles and just won’t buy games that force me into registering online to play.
    I had a few years when I was into online play and I really got pissed of by each and every single community I had to put up with. My reaction was to retreat into LAN play and single player games. Happened to be just the time when devs decided to try and force me back into the annoying wasp hive. It takes just too long to find proper players to play with where the in-game chat is not flooded with insults-and not the “good” kind (is there a good kind? I think they are good, if they are creative and possibly something that might make everybody-including the insulted guy laugh. I might a claim that insults may be funny if they are smart enough. It makes for some witty back and forth). Battle banter is one thing-but that’s just the internet in a nutshell to me.
    On a sidenote: I’m really glad the net still has a few civilized places to be around, like here. Most “serious” news sites and other forums I ever registered with were inhabited by the mentioned ragers.

    • Raygereio says:

      Right now, I’m afraid that kind of stuff might happen when I have kids:-P
      I really hate being unfaithful towards my principles and just won’t buy games that force me into registering online to play.

      Think of it as being faithful to something else that’s way more important then silly things like DRM and whatnot: Your kid who wants the two of you to have fun together.

      • Scampi says:

        Well…the problem is, I have that feeling that it will feel like dumping radioactive waste into my yard to build my child a sandbox:-/
        Kind of hard to not think of that if that’s how you feel about it, isn’t it? W/e-will still take some time and who knows how I feel about it then?

      • Eathanu says:

        That’s the problem with parents: Principled until it affects their children.

  8. Steve says:

    The campaign mode is great too. It’s one instance where the inclusion of an achievement system adds a lot of challenge and nuance to the game.

    • Raygereio says:

      How do the achievements do that?

      • Steve says:

        They add replay value by challenging you to do thing which are not necessary to complete the mission. A couple examples:

        -Not losing units to certain challenges in the mission
        -Destroy certain enemy forces (as opposed to just surviving them)
        -Complete the mission within a certain time

        At times it’s difficult or impossible to do all the achievements for a mission in one go, but they vary considerably by mission, so it’s not repetitive. For me personally, it kept the missions exciting for me as I played each mission 2-3 times to try to get them all.

        • Raygereio says:

          Yeah, I can see that. I generally don’t really care about any sort of achievements, but I’ll admit that the challenge-variety can be neat.
          They can make you feel rewarded for doing accomplishing something difficult, or set certain goals for you that force you to change you playstyle.

          They are certainly better then the silly “you played the game now have an achievement” sort.

          • Steve says:

            Agreed. IMO SC2 is a rare example of achievements done right. I can think of lots of other games (*ahem* Minecraft) where they did not add anything.

            • Ithilanor says:

              Well, Minecraft uses Achievements as a way to guide new players wthout having to look up everything on the wiki. They’re more like guideposts than anything.

          • Humanoid says:

            That other big Blizzard product does achievements that encourage playing differently too, but I feel that was to its detriment, in context of the actual “massively-multiplayer” portion of it. Not sure how it played out in the broader community, but in my own experience it tended to create schizms between players who wanted to collect them all, and those who wanted to just get on with playing “normally”.

            As a result, I’m pretty firmly against the notion of achievements in any co-operative multiplayer context, since by its very nature, it undermines the “co-operative” element of the gameplay by creating disparate and sometimes outright opposing goals. Sure, compromises had always been necessary prior, but for the most part it was a matter of differing opinions on how best to achieve a common goal. No longer.

            I could well argue that the achievement system was a primary (de)motivator as I quit a couple years later.

        • Zekiel says:

          I do like the idea of the SC2 achievements (though not enough to actually go out of my way to try to get them, but still).

          But I always found it odd that in the campaign, the game doesn’t tell you about the achievements until you’ve finished the mission. So you might have achieved one by accident, but you can’t aim for it until you replay the mission. Maybe that’s the point – to give bigger motivation to replays.

          (Of course it might also be that there is a way to learn about achievements in-mission and I’ve just missed it)

          • Bubble181 says:

            You can look up the achievements as soon as the mission starts in the menu. They can sometimes be a bit spoilerish (“Don’t let any of the 5 waves of enemies get through” or “kill Vader before Palpatine joins the fight”), so I understand them not laying them out beforehand.

        • swenson says:

          Those are the kind of achievements I enjoy in games. Like Portal’s achievements–you really have to work at and plan them! To me, they’re a lot more interesting than “kill 1 bajillion enemies”, “use power X 8 billion times”, “play a round on all of these maps”, etc. (I am looking at YOU, Mass Effect.)

        • ehlijen says:

          I remember when they called those ‘secondary objectives’ or ‘secret/bonus objectives’. Never did manage to get all the arm Tatoos in TIE fighter…

  9. Goggalor says:

    I bought Wings of the Swarm after watching the video you put up a few weeks ago. I liked the single-player campaign very much. It is doing a good job of introducing the units to a newbie like me, and there’s a surprising variety of mission types in there, eg. stealth missions with a single Zergling larva, escort quests, surgical strike missions and so on, as well as the two bases at opposite corners of a map fights I’d been expecting.

    The only complaint I have is that most missions can be won by forming a large group of whatever unit you have just unlocked, but I guess that’s acceptable as the single-player campaigns are acting as an extended tutorial.

    • Rilias says:

      The drawback of this being that units actually behave substantially different in the single player campaign as opposed to the rest of the game. I was a bit surprised by this design choice actually, as it teaches you “wrong” unit mechanics and thus does you a disservice in giving wrong impressions of how the mechanics work in non-campaign play.

      examples include:
      No queen larva induce in campaign
      Higher larva production to compensate for this
      autoheal on queens
      creep tumor costs no energy but has cooldown
      vipers have anti air attack (also you can choose not to get vipers at all)

      Add to this the many very nice upgrades you can get for your units and you really get used to strategies that simply don’t work outside of the campaign. I played a lot with deep tunneling Swarm Hosts for example. Their high mobility from Deep Tunneling is exactly what actual Swarm Hosts do not have in multiplayer and your opponent will punish you for ignoring this.

      • Aldowyn says:

        You don’t really get to practice with Terran or Protoss units like you did the non-terran units in Wings of Liberty, either. I play Terran in multiplayer and I’m having to figure out ‘what the heck is a hellbat and how do I use it’ all by myself :(

      • Goggalor says:

        Hmm. I’ve been assuming I needed to complete the campaign before I started to look at multiplayer, but maybe I’m doing myself a disservice. I’ll go and get hammered by the AI a few times before I take on any real people —don’t want to end up on Bronze League Heroes!

        Thanks for letting me know. As a Starcraft newbie, I agree that’s a very strange design decision.

  10. Shishberg says:

    I read that last paragraph and felt compelled to go and give my twelve-day-old son a hug.

    With a bit of luck, StarCraft III will come out at about the right time…

  11. Shamus – apologies for off topic post, but you need to see this:

    http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/careers/posting.html?id=130005W

    Requirements

    Fluency in C / C++
    A minimum of 5 years’ game programming experience
    Strong data structures, logic, distributed systems and algorithm skills, as well as a broad understanding of game systems
    Experience with gameplay systems such as AI, combat, or path finding
    Self-motivation and willingness to participate in many areas of game development
    Excellent verbal and written communication skills
    Passion for video games

    Pluses

    Experience with at least one shipped title, preferably an MMORPG
    Computer science, mathematics, physics, or related degree
    Prior development working with client / server game systems

    • Galad says:

      +1 – maybe when Blizzard goes “Shut up, take my money and start working for me!” over Shamus, he’d be able to fix these multiplayer annoyances in a singleplayer game ;)

    • MelTorefas says:

      Good gravy, I would LOVE to see Shamus working for Blizzard. This is a thing that needs to happen!

    • Lanthanide says:

      Job is located in California, where Shamus is not.

      I think he could probably get a job at Valve if he wanted (it’s been discussed before), but doesn’t want to move away from family.

    • Humanoid says:

      Then in 2025, we’ll see another series of blog posts entitled “The Other Twelve-Year Mistake”.

      Besides, we now have Ruts as the resident video game developer.

      Ooo, hang on. Ruts is 12. The twelve-year old mistake. It’s all starting to come together now: Shamus regrets fathering Rutskarn twelve years ago.

  12. Smejki says:

    Shamus, you CAN play Starcraft 2 (campaign) in OFFLINE mode. You have to be offline to be given the option to play that way (unplug your cable and see). Only difference is that achievements don’t work.

    • Zekiel says:

      Oh and you can only do it for 30 days before you have to go online and prove you’ve not turned into a pirate. Definitely not a hassle at all.

    • Zukhramm says:

      What? I have to disconnect my internet to play offline? That is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever hear.

      • MelTorefas says:

        Technically if you block SC2’s outbound in your firewall, you can also play offline that way. But yes, it is completely ridiculous.

      • Thomas says:

        The only way to play any DD launcher games offline is to disconnect your internet. If playing online has no negative consequences, it’s not that dumb because there isn’t any particular reason why someone with working internet would want it off, and the reasons that do exist are extreme enough that unplugging a cable isn’t that terrible. In the same way the only way to play DD launcher games offline is to disconnect your internet

        • Zukhramm says:

          I don’t know what DD launcher is, but I should not need to motivate why I want to play online.

          • Tizzy says:

            Agreed. The assumption seems to be: the only reason why you would want to play offline is when you are physically barred from being online.

            Gotta love these preseumptuous software devs who think they get to decide what should and shouldn’t be part of OUR internet traffic. Never mind if your connection is spotty, or if you need your bandwidth for more important things.

  13. X2-Eliah says:

    Hm. I was gonna post something along the lines of “eh, I dislike all rts game like this so I don’t see what’s the appeal of a talk-over of a match nurf nurf nurf”… I watched the huskyvid you included, and, er, it was enjoyable to watch.

    I still have no idea how SC2 actually works, gameplay wise, and where husky was looking to find out where the players did things wrong, but it was enjoyable to watch, and really didn’t feel overmuch like a dissing/mocking thing. To be fair, it’sall down to the commentary though – play just that game video without sound, and I’d call it the most unintelligible and boring progression of pixels ever.

    So.

    Er.

    Forgot my point.
    Anyway.
    I found that bronze league vid interesting – far far FAR more interesting to watch than any “pro” match. Both in terms of commentary and stuff on screen.

    • Tizzy says:

      If you have at least a vague idea of how the game works, pro matches are nice to watch as well. The strategy and tactics really shine through then, especially with the help of a good commenter. On the other hand, it is really difficult to appreciate how mind-blowingly difficult it is to get all your little soldiers and buildings to do all this stuff using only a keyboard and a mouse. When RTSes are finally controlled by brainwaves, I think we’ll be in for some really mind blowing pro games…

  14. Zekiel says:

    Shamus, does this mean we going to get your thoughts on the Wings of Liberty campaign at some point? Seems to me that it is ripe for your plot-dissection abilities.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      I’d love to see Reginald Raynor and Sarah Cuftbert run through the campaign of all three parts to the game on Spoiler Warning as well.

      • Indy says:

        I get the feeling that an RTS is not really able to support the zany, drug-filled antics that Spoiler Warning is known for. Anything isometric or top-down would just feel too detached.

        But the story is great to poke fun at. “I helped this guy get some crystals and now he’s sharing my bunk? What the hell is this?”

  15. Factoid says:

    Starcraft is one of those games that I like in principle, but am terrible at. I would never buy it just so I could get my ass handed to me online, and I’m not going to buy it just for a short single-player campaign that’s only 2/3rd complete right now.

    I might buy the game when the 3rd campaign is released and blizzard (hopefully) offers some kind of discounted pack for the whole game.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The campaign of wings of liberty is anything but short.It has 30 missions,all of which have a bunch of optional things in there,plus the various upgrades for all the units.Heart of the swarm campaign,yeah its a bit shorter,mostly due to how quick you can rush every mission(a zerg campaign focused on rushing?How unexpected).

      But yeah,if you arent going to go for any of the challenges and skirmishes,waiting for the protoss expansion is a sensible way to do it.

      • Aldowyn says:

        I’m sure there will be a starcraft II battlechest for maybe $60 when Legacy of the Void comes out, yeah. Looking forward to it actually, I like the Protoss…

        But yeah, they’re full RTS campaigns, and those aren’t that short. (Although WoL did seem longer. Meh.)

        • Tizzy says:

          When you see how much he battlechests for SC1+BW and WC3 retail for these days (more than I got them for 10 years ago), I think you may need to wait a while before we reach that price point…

  16. swenson says:

    “the sea of drooling illiterate ragemonkeys”

    Just a head’s up, I plan to steal this quote and pass it off as my own for the rest of my life, because it is a brilliant way to describe Youtube commenters.

  17. Solid Jake says:

    “He’s also into Rise of Nations.”

    Literally stopped reading right there just so I could come down and comment that your son has impeccable taste.

  18. Rack says:

    Interestingly my response to those videos is the exact opposite of yours. Which is to say I own Starcraft 2 and they demonstrate to me why I don’t play it. This is at or above the level I am capable of playing at but these games are determined by either knowledge of arcane rules, unit relations and keyboard shortcuts or hyperfast reactions. Strategy never gets a look in.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Strategy never gets a look in.”

      Im always amused when I see something like this.How is knowing build orders,various openers and proper times to switch from micromanagement to macromanagement not strategy?

      • Flakey says:

        Daemian because everything you just mentioned are tactics, not strategy.

        • pkt-zer0 says:

          So, if having an overarching plan for the course of a match is not “strategy”, then what is it that you would consider strategy in this context?

          On a related note, as a guy who enjoys RTS and fighting games, I find it a bit of a shame that people dismiss the strategy aspect of a game on the basis that it has an execution component as well. No, it’s not a pure strategy game then, but it’s interesting in its own right. I like both X-COM and Starcraft, one’s not a substitute for the other.

          • Flakey says:

            “So, if having an overarching plan for the course of a match is not “strategy””

            you just defined the essence of strategy there, but everything you mentioned earlier was tactics. There is an element of strategy involved in Starcraft, but games like star craft really should be labelled real time tactical games, because tactics are greatly more important to the game than strategy is.

            • Rack says:

              I would be entirely happy if tactics or strategy got a look in, but what you are talking about is rote memorisation. There’s no decision making involved just if X then.Y.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                So?Take any other place where strategy is involved(war,team sports,chess),and if you are doing it seriously,most of the time you will just study possible outcomes and memorize the best solutions to them.That doesnt make it any less strategic.

                • Zukhramm says:

                  Makes it less not-boring though.

                • Rack says:

                  Actually it does make it less strategic, it’s a problem with Chess but vastly worse in Starcraft. Good, should I say actual strategy games make the decision space large enough that such memorisation is difficult to impossible. Starcraft entirely eliminates the decision space from minute 1.

                  • Humanoid says:

                    Chess should have cultural, diplomatic, and transcendence victory conditions.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Thats just wrong.Look at the pro matches in starcrafts and youll never see a single strategy being used that dominates everything.If there was no decision making involved,but just blind repetition,why would they always scout their enemies and tweak their unit compositions accordingly?Why would they study their opponents and their preferred play styles to try and anticipate how to best counter them?What you said is akin to “there is no strategy in war because it is all just blind repetition of training men,producing weapons,and then utilizing it to defeat your enemy”.

                    • Rack says:

                      I should probably clarify that I’m talking about bronze league, at silver and up you can start introducing some creativity. The counter to X is Y but the counter to Y is Z and the counter to Z is A. I can start building Y and A or I can build a unit that is strong against X and Z and pretend to build Y.

                      In bronze league however on the off chance I know the counter to x I should just build it, odds are my opponent won’t know how to counter that. Or the fight is going to be decided by who is building scvs and supply depots fastest anyway. Or I won’t press the correct button to make my units attack and they’ll just commit suicide. Or I won’t find out where my opponent spawned and my economy will crash while I’m focussing on finding him.

                      At higher levels I think strategy will come into play, though even then you spend the majority of your time doing rote uninteresting tasks. It’s that wall that Blizzard put in front of the strategy that makes me dislike Starcraft 2.

                    • Thomas says:

                      It’s still wrong though. At Bronze league you can still play smart or good, and if you play smart with proper timings, and transitions and builds that synergise, then you smash up bronze league and immediately go up ranks. It’s not like Bronze League is a confined space

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      If you think there is no strategy in bronze league,you should go and watch when cheese fails.Some of those counters are damn impressive.For example,this one.That series really shows how relying on just a single thing and repeating it ad nauseum is obviously not that impressive or powerful as it may seem on the surface.

                    • Rack says:

                      Yeah, when I said Bronze I was referring to that early level of play when you can’t manage all the basic actions the game demands of you, you don’t know all the unit counters and you can’t move quickly enough to do anything against a well managed economy. Players like that in bronze league just add another layer of games in which I’d just be steamrolled before I manage to build a single unit. At the level of apm and unit knowledge I can manage strategy is a complete non-issue.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Ah,that.Thats why on the rare occasions that I do play an rts against a human its against a friend.Much more relaxed that way.

                  • Felblood says:

                    So, ultimately, your complaint is that the game takes too long to learn?

                    I’m not taking the piss here; I’m just trying to spell this out is simplest possible terms, so we can all act like we are participating in the same conversation. Thus far, that hasn’t seemed to be happening.

                    Also, that video link is a work of mad genius.

                    • Rack says:

                      It’s quite hard to specify this in the simplest terms without losing a lot of the meaning. The major problem and the one that’s easiest to explain is that it has a terrible interface. It takes an enormous amount of time to do the simplest things. If you can’t move insanely quickly this is literally all you can do.

            • pkt-zer0 says:

              @Flakey: I am a distinct entity from Daemian, actually. :P

              Anyway, I understood build orders in the broader sense (given that the next bullet point was ‘openings’): as a bunch of goals you want to hit at specific points in the game, with various adaptations given your opponents moves. As for the emphasis on tactics, I’m not really seeing that. Straight up countering the other guy’s strategy, regardless of how well he executes his, is still something that happens. Something like Ground Control would be more along the lines of what I’d consider real-time tactics. There you have just a dozen, and making the most out of them is the majority of the game; unlike in SC, where you send your units off into battle, and they die by the dozens.

              @Rack: Well, yeah, if you’ve successfully solved the game, it would boil down to a flowchart. But for SC, it’s hard to know what the optimal strategy is, harder still to account for your opponent’s choices, and impossible to perfectly execute your plan. For me, personally, the game is far from solved, and making hard decisions under extreme pressure is the part I enjoy the most about it.

        • Bearded Dork says:

          That’s backwards actually. Strategy is an overarching plan to accomplish a series of goals under conditions of uncertainty. (ie. build order in a RTS)

          Whereas a tactic is a plan to overcome a specific obstacle or objective under specific conditions. (Ie. maneuvers in a first person shooter, or orders in a game like Final Fantasy Tactics)

          Source: 15 year Combat Arms veteran of the U.S. Army.

    • Humanoid says:

      Regardless of the technical definitions of strategy versus tactics, I’d love to try an RTS where units are completely autonomous, and where micromanagement is not only unnecessary, but indeed disallowed. Where commands are as high-level as “go scout north” and your scout would do that, then come back and report upon completion, with no interaction possible in the intervening time. You could order a squad (platoon, battallion, whatever, I can’t distinguish between any of these terms) to circle around and attack an enemy encampment from that hill over there, and from then on all actions taken would be down to the officers down the chain of command, you have no further involvement.

      I sort of play existing RTSes that way – build a bunch of units, waypoint them into the enemy base, then go back to managing my economy. It works about as well as you’d expect.

      EDIT: Tangentially, this brings me to my one big disappointment about the Sims franchise. I’d love it if the “free will” functionality had a level that made your sims completely autonomous, and indeed impossible to direct. The player would only ever be able to intervene by making environmental changes.

      I guess I’m really talking about a SimTown, except that the actual SimTown was a kids’ game, a version of SimCity where nothing you did really mattered. Kind of like the new SimCity…..

      • Syal says:

        I’ve thought about that kind of strategy game too; sort of a Crusader Kings model where all the character have their personalities, but without a world map and you only know what’s happening through hearsay.

        The player would only ever be able to intervene by making environmental changes.

        So, a Sims version of Lemming.

      • Rack says:

        That’s the sort of game I’d like to play. Supreme Commander 2 is sort of a bit like that but battles still end up with units swarming around my base and me being unable to even vaguely point my own in the right direction.

        My other ideal is where base building is largely automated and I just focus on my army. Dawn of War 2 is similar to that but unfortunately it didn’t hit the unit balance and most of the winning strategies are somewhat degenerate. I’d like to play a real time strategy game but so far there hasn’t been one I have the dexterity to play.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Well rise of nations and empire earth give you a pause button when playing against a computer,so high dexterity is not that important.Eliminating it completely against a human opponent though,only happens in turn based games.

          As for less micro management…well homeworld had somewhat smart units where you could let them do their thing most of the time.

        • RCN says:

          Did you try Supreme Commander 1? It has more emphasis on the bases building with lots of structures. Supreme Commander 2 tone down the strategy in order to make the game more like Starcraft…

          @Humanoid:

          I also prefer more strategy games like this. Sins of a Solar Empires and Supreme Commander allow you to queue a gigantic amount of actions (in the case of Supreme Commander even contextual actions) and leave them to play out.

          Heck, right now in Forged Alliance Forever (the community made client for Supreme Commander) I’m losing my games in the macro. And that’s awesome. I hate to lose in strategy games because the other guy is better at making units dance.

          • Fleaman says:

            Supreme Commander is great for macro-oriented players, because your armies are VERY LARGE and their brains are VERY SMALL. Any attempt to micro your robots will result in extreme robot foot-dragging as they shift very slowly and passive-aggressively to your new orders. On the other hand, it’s possible to queue up a very high number of orders (of quite some complexity, for example mixing Move and Attack-Move orders in a queue), automate your robot-production, and automate your robot-production to produce robots ready with a queue containing a very high number of quite complex orders.

            My favorite thing is that if you click on a robot, you can see its orders graphically, and you can actually move around and delete the waypoints and such without having to generate a whole new set of orders from scratch.

      • Bubble181 says:

        If you like this sort ofthing, I very heartily recommend Majesty (and Majesty 2) – it’s in a fantasy world, and you’re the King, but aal units are autonomous heroes.
        You can try to entice them with reward flags (200 gold pieces for whoever kills me this Big Rat! and that sort of thing), but mostly the heroes go their own way. Different types of heroes have different AI behaviour (rogues, elves, dwarves, Warriors of Chaos – I’m sure you can imagine their different behaviour).

        A tad repetitive if you play Majesty and Majesty 2 back-to-back, but very enjoyable.

      • Fleaman says:

        In other words, “Macro: The Game”.

        I’ve just started playing Dawn of Discovery (or Anno 1404). It’s essentially Age of Empires Basebuilding Tycoon; much heavier on the economy than the military, but what you’re saying reminds me of it.

        I am spending ludicrous amounts of time with this game.

  19. Cybron says:

    Day9 seems like a fun guy.

    I don’t follow starcraft at all, but I do follow Magic: The Gathering. And in some sort of weird promotional thing, Day9 received an invite to a recent top level tournament. He apparently plays the game and has a large fanbase who watches his streams, so I guess they saw a chance to score some new viewers (and it worked, they had a 4k viewer spike when he showed up).

    His play was pretty poor, but he was fun to listen to, at least.

  20. Galad says:

    I often load up embedded videos from Facebook/wherever, to Youtube, just to see the top comments..since, you know, youtube is not being stupid about it and is usually digging up the gems from the sea of comments.

    I also started watching Starcraft videos . I tried playing Starcraft 1 recently and knew it wasn’t for me, but I still enjoy watching the videos, even if usually I have just barely an inkling of what’s happening, gameplay-wise.

  21. Phrozenflame500 says:

    I normally never like RTS games, and I’m mostly not into Pro Gaming, so I’ve never touched Starcraft at all. But I’ve been looking into it more, part because it looks interesting and partly because I felt the same way about the TBS and JRPG genres until I was proved wrong by X-Com and Persona respectively. Really my only hesitation is the DRM.

    Also, I’ve never looked at HuskyStarcraft before but this BRONZE LEAGUE HEROS thing looks like the greatest thing ever. Shame there’s not a version for a competitive game more up my alley, like TF2.

  22. Omobono says:

    About your alt-tab bug: have you tried switching your display mode to Windowed(Fullscreen)? It should solve all problems with alt-tabbing with no drop in performance (or no noticeable one anyway), unless your bug is a particular esoteric one.

    • Humanoid says:

      I assume it’s a combination of heuristics and random sampling, so often it’s just pure luck. Earlier this week I had three consecutive comments fall in the moderation queue.

      As far as I know, the post itself remains visible to you until the edit timer runs out, at which point it disappears but is still in the queue, to reappear once the boss rubberstamps it.

      • Humanoid says:

        Blarghrarr, responded to the wrong post, meant to be for the pyramid beneath this one.

        So for relevance in this pyramid, I add: Hey, I didn’t know Starcraft was done with Gamebryo!

  23. Scampi says:

    A question that still bothers me: what exactly can get a post moderated out? Earlier today I tried to write a post about my experiences playing online. I thought it wasn’t specifically offensive but for some reason the thing got completely swallowed up and disappeared. I’d like to know how to prevent being moderated…happened a few times in the past already and I don’t ever know the reason.

  24. pkt-zer0 says:

    A few disagreeing, non-ragey thoughts:
    – What bothers me about complaints on the removal LAN is that people most often seem to ignore the legal wrestling with KeSPA and Haofeng leading up to it. In that context, lack of LAN might be the lesser evil.
    – The online populace, at least on the EU server, isn’t all that bad in my experience. Out of a few hundred matches, I’ve only met 3 people who raged, with one of them apologizing afterwards.
    – Rise of Legends > Rise of Nations. Clockwork spiders are superior.

    • Ithilanor says:

      Could you elaborate on the legal wresting with regards to removing LAN capability? I’d like to hear how that would cause legal issues..

      • pkt-zer0 says:

        Here’s this, or this for some reading material. You’ll find plenty elsewhere if you google.

        Short version: Blizzard lost a lawsuit against Haofang on the basis that the software itself did nothing to stop them from offering multiplayer to pirates. Similar deal with KeSPA, who claimed the game was public domain, so they were free to do whatever they wanted with it. Being unable to enforce control over its IP through litigation, Blizzard built these measures into the software instead.

        • Ithilanor says:

          …Huh. Well, that’s informative, so thanks! I didn’t know there was such an issue with LAN capability leading to piracy; given that, I can see why Blizzard took it out.

      • evilmrhenry says:

        Looks like a “fake lan” program.

  25. Randy says:

    Nice to see you playing with your son!. Hope mine will do the same when he grows older.

    Sadly, it won’t be StarCraft. SC2 without the LAN mode and the stupid DRM on top doesn’t deserve the name. And Activision Blizzard is nothing more than the old blizz bastardized.

    I’ll keep playing the old Brood War, and Company of Heroes 1.6. Both are great and have no DRM. Sad that some stupid suit had to mangle things in Relic after the expansions.

  26. Dev Null says:

    I had decided not to buy SC2 for most of the same reasons… and then my wife bought it becuase she thought it sounded like fun, and I’m gonna not play games with her out of pique?

    I… actually enjoyed the single-player story campaign quite a lot. Didn’t finish it mind, because ooh look shiny thing, but I enjoyed it. Might even have to give it another go if I ever escape from the clutches of XCOM.

  27. Otters34 says:

    That is heartwarming. Thanks Mr. Young for telling us the full story about how you and Isaac got ot play Starcraft 2 together! It reminds me of years ago when me, my brothers and our Dad would play hysterical Age of Empires 2 games over LAN. It’s great to have those kinds of experiences, especially when young.

  28. DaveMc says:

    You know what Blizzard should do? They should drop ads on top of all that footage, and collect the proceeds. That way they’ll be rolling in money, and never have to worry about people accidentally promoting their games and generating sales without their permission.

    • swenson says:

      And if someone is already monetizing their Starcraft videos, Blizzard could take all of their ad money and not give them any cut at all. That’s fair, isn’t it?

  29. AyeGill says:

    I bought starcraft II a while ago, played a couple of matches and most of the campaign, before I realized i was absolute shit at it. I sorta stopped enjoying it once I reached the point in the campaign where I couldn’t get any further. But this BRONZE LEAGUE HEROES thing is absolutely hilarious. I’ll definitely be watching that.

    • It reminds me of a rainy day when gym class was canceled and the basketball courts were being re-surfaced, so they made us watch “highight” tapes of HS football games.

      They were hysterical. I’d rather have that on TV than the NFL just for entertainment value. For one, maybe the revenue could actually go to education (don’t get me started on college coach salaries) but every fan could probably at one point or another in the game claim that they could have done better than Player X and have an outside chance of being correct.

  30. Scerro says:

    Isaac shouldn’t be getting that terrible of framerates. On full low settings, the game looks halfway decent and doesn’t take that much power, unless you’re getting to full unit cap every game.

    Get his driver updated, and make sure the settings (especially shader) is set to low.

    Also, I bought the game at release, went through the campaign, and really thought the 60$ I paid for the beast was worth it in terms of time I put into it. It’s my second game I’ve paid for at full retail price, and probably the last.

    Anyways, I’ve held off on getting HotS, but I think you can make a clan if you buy it. If anyone else in the group has HotS, you can find people to play by making a twenty sided group.

    The best solution is probably to make a TwentySided chatroom, and then just set to auto-join when you’re on. Announce that, and then people in the room can join and try and find matches on their own from there. Voila, non-random internet people games!

    • Indy says:

      I suspect Isaac’s laptop is like mine, maybe a bit better. When I run SC2, I’m using 80%+ CPU and 75%+ RAM on completely low settings with the drivers fully updated. The framerate’s not that great. The fan is going full blast but the computer will burn itself off after about twenty minutes playing it unless the room temperature is below 8°C. All in all, what I have is not a great gaming computer. And there are a lot of other not-that-great computers out there.

    • Humanoid says:

      If it’s a thermal throttling problem, then a cooling pad might be a reasonably cheap solution.

  31. Adam says:

    “I will never ‘get used to’ this sort of thing. But I will put up with it for Isaac.”

    Probably the cutest, most heartwarming sentences you’ve ever typed for this website.

  32. Muspel says:

    So, I’m kind of curious– how do you decide which games your kids get to play? Do they have an allowance? Do they have to clear every game with you? Do you buy games that you think they’ll enjoy for them?

    • Shamus says:

      It’s a combination of these. My kids choose their own games for the most part. (I’ve never had a situation where one of them chose a game I thought they shouldn’t play.) They save up gifts and money from odd jobs to fund their games.

  33. Cannibalguppy says:

    Hey Shamus i have a laptop im looking to get rid of, it has an I5 cpu and 630m GPU and an SSD. I dont need it and its not worth that much here so i cannot be bothered to sell it. But if you can pay the transport i will gladly send it to you so your son gets a better laptop. It most definetly runs SC 2 quite well.

    • Scerro says:

      That’s not a worthless laptop… That’s the sort of thing I’ve been looking for recently.

      If he doesn’t want it, I’d be super interested.

      • Cannibalguppy says:

        Sure. Its worthless for me as i dont need it for my job and for gaming i got a rig that uses 2 watercooled gtx 680 :P and i have a 660ti lan pc. NO IM NOT RICH BUT I AM NORWEGIAN AND I LOVE PCS.

        And in norway i could maybe sell it for 200-300$ bucks and that does not justify the effort. I’d rather just give it away and never care about it anymore :P

        I really hope Shamus sees this and takes it seriously. Because i would love to give it to a person that has meant so much to me.

    • Shamus says:

      Thanks. I’ll email you.

  34. Joe Cool says:

    Double-plus like. We’ll put up with any amount of developer BS for a chance to play with our sons, won’t we?

    My three-year-old has just discovered Minecraft, and I’m counting down the days until he’s old enough to play together with me.

  35. Spammy says:

    That really warms my heart, Shamus. When I was growing up I never had someone to play video games with. My parents were both born before gaming was ever a thing, I could never play with any of my siblings, and my friends down the street only had Game Boys like me, but like me they didn’t have the link cables. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and had not just a halfway decent computer but also a halfway decent internet connection that I could start getting into multiplayer.

    So I think that your son is incredibly lucky to be able to play video games with his dad, and I hope that if I ever have kids I have the same opportunity.

  36. Zukhramm says:

    Accessible to newcomers

    I’d love to hear more about this. In my experience with RTS this is what always happens: Play online, be completely annihilated in two minutes and then never touch multiplayer again.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      You have to go through 3 (or was it 5?) potentially unfair placement matches before the matchmaking system has a good idea of your skill level, but afterwards it’s very, very good at providing opponents of equal skill level.

      It’s not as if you have to jump straight into matchmaking, either. You have tons of in-game help pages, an online game guide, challenge missions focusing on specific skills, training missions using a limited set of units and warning you about slips in production, matches with AI buddies, matches against AI enemies, unranked matches with nothing at stake… and possibly other stuff I’m forgetting.

  37. Phantos says:

    “Mom, Dad… I play Protoss.”

    *GASP!*

    “IN THIS HOUSE, WE ZERG-RUSH!!”

  38. Scerro says:

    On second inspection, you can make a clan with just WoL.

    Just hit the button to the left of menu once you’re logged in, hit the create button and go through the brief form.

  39. Sam says:

    I think the countdown is for people who aren’t paying attention to the lobby so they know the game is starting. For example, if you go look at achievements or other custom gametypes or the records of other players in your game.

  40. Kian says:

    I’m shocked that you would show a full SC2 match on your site Shamus. Don’t you know that replays are even worse than Let’s Plays? A Let’s Play video will rarely run the whole length of a video game, while a replay lets you get the full gaming experience. In fact, it let’s you experience the game from the perspective of AT LEAST TWO players. It’s like you stole the game TWICE! You shame us (hee hee! That’s punny :) ).

  41. JPH says:

    Basically all I know about Day9 is that he’s been on Felicia Day’s Youtube channel Geek&Sundry multiple times in the past, eg. he co-starred on an episode of her show The Flog. Seems like a cool dude.

    I’d be up for online matches any time. I can sometimes be described as a ragemonkey, but I’m mostly literate and don’t drool as often as I used to!

    EDIT: I just noticed that it’s really hard to spot hyperlinks on blue-background comments. See if you can spot mine!

  42. Kevin Wagner says:

    From what I understand you can play the campaign offline, maybe its like steam where it saves your last login for a set period of time but I do remember playing the campaign when my connection was definitely out.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      you still need an Battle.net account or you won’t be able to do anything involvin non-terran units.
      You also need to be logged in to play “properly”. Otherwise you have to pick one of three “guest” accounts which will be able to play the campagin and will even remember your progress, but there are none of the other offline capabilities SC1 had, like custom games against AI and the like. It’s the campaign and only the campaign (and you still need the Battle.net account in order to activate the game once before this works)

  43. Radagast says:

    Hey Shamus, did you see the EPIC game Husky posted recently? It’s not a Bronze League Heroes game, it’s a Pro game and quite possibly the best game ever…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND6xpaw-KBA

  44. When I was a kid, we didn’t have Starcraft. We had Mattel Electronics’ “Head to Head Football.”

    My dad’s LEDs kicked the stuffing out of my LEDs.

  45. Humanoid says:

    Shamus, you mentioned he’s into Rise of Nations – tried playing that instead of SC2 to get around the framerate issue?

    Anyway, reading about the cost of entry with the expansion and all reminded me of the old “multiplayer spawn” (or equivalent, I think that was what Total Annihilation called it) system that was the norm those days. Only one copy of the game required for every three (usually) players in a game. My last RTS was Age of Empires 2 which fortunately had this approach, and to this day I still sporadically play it with my siblings.

    My approach to the genre is very much like Shamus’ – co-op multiplayer against the AI. Unfortunately though, the AI in that game is rather poorly written, not in the sense that it’s bad at the game (though it is), but in the sense that it’s very inefficient and tends to lag out games played over the Internet (no problems on 100Mbit LAN back in the day). So when I moved out interstate, it became a pretty big choke on the plain old ADSL1 both sides were connected at.

    Even today with ADSL2 it still has the occasional fit, requiring a save and reload, with collective a population cap aimed at about 600. (100 each 3v3, or 150 each 2v2) Unfortunately we can’t come to an agreement about learning a new game as a substitute, probably too much nostalgia attached to it now. Maybe one day when we all have fibre connections….

  46. Chauzuoy says:

    Neither of my parents were gamers (and I’ve completely lost track of how I picked up the hobby), but they made the effort. I still remember playing Rollercoaster Tycoon with my Mom when I was little. I’d build ridiculous and crazy coasters while she helped with all the “actually making things work” parts. You’re making cherished childhood memories here, Shamus.

    • Fleaman says:

      Roller Coaster Tycoon is an amazing game to come back to after ten years and an education, by the way. There was a day in college where a roommate suddenly said “Hey! I found Roller Coaster Tycoon!” and then four engineer undergrads played Roller Coaster Tycoon for the next two weeks.

  47. Zak McKracken says:

    Wow.
    You just summed up my own experience with the game rather neatly
    (And actually if I had a blog this would have been a post in it):

    I drooled over the first demos, then read about the DRM and decided not to get it.
    Then I started watching Husky and eventually Day[9], and then I started watchin them a lot. Then my little brother got the game (and OMFG is it cool… except for the always-on stuff). Then I had that discussion with him, him being the guy who played SC1 on ladder and me with the DRM anxiety. Me wanting just friendly LAN play, him telling me I’m playing it wrong if I’m not on ladder and these days everything is online so shut up and eat your Sauerkraut.
    … and about a year later some friends give me the game as a birthday present. I actually wouldn’t have bought it but I was pretty happy of not having to but still getting to play it. Except first I had a very busy time and didn’t allow myself to even install it.
    When I eventually did, after 4 months, it simply told me the CD key was already taken and now move on. I contacted support and they said unless I sent them a copy of my passport, a foto of the original packaging and the original receipt (max 1 month old) I was screwed.

    Problem 1: I didn’t have the receipt of course, it was a present!
    Problem 2: Probably neither does my friend who bought it. Why would you keep this thing lying around?
    Problem 3: Anyway, it’s 4 months old now, so screw it
    Problem 4: Of course I did not make a Battle.net account using my real name! Why would I give away proper private data in order to be allowed to play a properly purchased game! My name is none of their business!
    Problem 5: By this time I was so softened up that I would probably have scanned and mailed them my private teenage diary … :(
    So I did ask for the receipt, the guy did find it, I gave them my real name (and the support guy, who went by a pseudonym himself, had no problem with the false name on the acount), and they did accept the too-old copy of the receipt, although they did ask a few extra questions.

    … am I supposed to feel thankful now? I surely did, which is very very weird.
    It did take two days for me to sober up and at least send Blizzard a mail detailing how this whole desaster is their DRM’s fault. I don’t think anyone read it, but you gotta at least say your opinion if you have one.

    Anyway. Just a month later my shiny new computer broke, and now I’m in a three-month-old support nightmare with the vendor. At least I can just install and run it on the laptop, right? Sadly, as of may, its hard drive is broken, so … no SC2 for me still :(

    I will say, though, that at least in the lower leagues, in 2v2 or 3v3, I have seen absolutely zero impolite behaviour. There’s the occasional joke, the mandatory glhf and gg, but that’s about it. I only did play with (not against!) family though, so maybe if you’re paired with an overzealous partner, that might be different.

    I’m currently 2v2 silver and 3v3 gold (but only because of aforementioned little brother), never played 1v1 ladder. I’d love to risk a game with (probably rather not against) you, Shamus, if I ever get a functioning computer again…

  48. krellen says:

    Slightly tangential, but since you were consistent, Shamus, I have to ask: your son’s name is spelled ‘Issac’, not the more traditional ‘Isaac’?

  49. My friends and I were pretty rabid SC1 players, but we always preferred playing co-op versus the AI. We also liked very long games, so we tended to use the maps that had unlimited or very high resources (looking at you, big game hunters unlimited resource map). We all bought SC2 and we all pretty much powered through the single player campaign (of the base game) almost immediately. Then we sat down and started up our normal co-op vs AI games and realized right away that starcraft two was not built for us. We prefer long games, but SC2 is built for very fast multiplayer games. Most units don’t have much in the way of defense, and the buildings and units that allowed us to “turtle in” were either staggeringly downgraded in hitpoints and armor, or didn’t exist anymore at all. The zerg units (I prefer zerg to everything else) are all significantly weaker than sc1, requiring you to rush if you expect to win, zerg can no longer really compete in a long game. (they weren’t great at it in SC1 either but its way worse in SC2)

    Essentially the game is geared toward fast, competitive multiplayer, the kind of thing that the ladder kids enjoy. And that’s fine, but we were all pretty disappointed, and none of us bought the expansion. I think we all uninstalled the game in a few weeks.

  50. Tizzy says:

    One thing that Shamus neglected to mention about Husky’s Bronze League Heroes, it’s that the series is a great place to learn how to play 1v1. Most of the games you’ll see commented on youtube are grandmaster-level games, which are gorgeous to watch, but will never teach you the basics. Husky’s commentary is very good at pointing out, in a very positive way: don’t do this because … do that instead.

    Very valuable.

  51. Deadpool says:

    Now I’ll be the first to admit that while my skill in TURN based strategy games may be the thing of legends (or, slightly less exaggerated, pretty good) my skill in REAL time Strategy might be pathetic enough to make even Husky start sounding like LAGTV…

    Still, if you ever feel like venturing into the online co op vs AI thing, I’d be happy to join you… You have my email.

    • Irridium says:

      My skill in both boils down to “if the AI is set on brain-damaged chimpanzee mode, I might have a chance. Maybe.”

      Yet I still love both genres. Not quite sure why.

      • Deadpool says:

        I cut my teeth on Tactics Ogre… Sure, I put a whole in a wall trying to save Harborym, but everything after that becomes WAY more manageable… Most turn based strategy games since have been relatively simple.

        I can finish RTS campaigns just fine, but I am AWFUL in actual matches…

  52. Wedge says:

    Hey Shamus, Blizz just announced that they’ve brought back multiplayer spawning for SC2: http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/blog/10145834

    It works for HotS as well, so if you wanted to play HotS with your son you only need to buy one copy now!

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