Small Bites & an Announcement!

Things are starting to wind down for me. I’ve been extremely active with my studies and things are coming to a close. Because of this I’ve been absent from the blog and think I want to start contributing something more than just rants and ramblings. From time to time I plan on making a post relevant to a community I participate in and today I’ll make a post to address an issue I’ve been seeing frequently on http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft2_class

Starcraft2_class is a small subreddit on the site with about 1,400 readers. Its single purpose is for more experienced and skilled players to coach and advise more novice players on the game. As a fairly seasoned player myself I find that I like to spend time coaching others and providing advice on how they can improve their game.

So, what is the topic? Well from the title I’m sure you can guess: Biting off more than you can chew. What I mean to address is an issue in novice players that I’m seeing very frequently that they most often aren’t aware of. The issue stems from players dreaming of reaching the high stars but forget that the path to obtain greatness is one small baby step at a time.

These players watch Day[9] like a religion and have subscribed to every professional tournament streamed online to date. They often follow Idra, Psy, Jinro or Destiny like a cult but all still share the fundamental problem of dreaming too big for what they can obtain (at least at this time).

These players recognize what needs to be done. And that’s the fundamental issue. I don’t want to go too far and say they know too much but it almost comes across as that. They realize the importance of creep spread, saturating bases, maintaining map control scouting your opponent’s movements, teching at a right pace and managing their economy properly but they simply can’t do it all.

They spend a solid phase of their game working their army positioning all the while forgetting entirely to scout the map or expand their vision. They’ll vigorously watch for the larva pop only to neglect the overlord buzzing through the opponent base and once it dies see nothing but partial structures.

And how does one solve this? One step at a time.

It is awesome that players realize everything that needs to be done but it means nothing when you do all of them poorly. If you’re so concerned with your creep spread that you forget to inject larva or research +1 weapons for your roaches you’ve still lost no matter how nice that spread gets.

If you’re a player you feel is guilty of this issue then its better for you to get out there and play some games rather than watch more pro replays. You can keep ramming all the knowledge you want into your head but it will not solve the issue that you don’t have the muscle memory or mechanics to execute it.

I want to stress the importance of practice in this game. More players I see are getting concerned with their rating and it is off setting to them. They abstain from the game to watch professional players and get advice from Mr. Plott but neglect to execute it themselves. I fear it is a mental issue where they believe they’ll get better without actually playing and can return to a shiny Platinum or Diamond rating and once they fail to achieve this are unsettled even further.

So yes, the answer is as cheesy as the 6 pool but the solution is to go play some games. Focus on one thing at a time and don’t get worked up over small details. Broad Strokes (like Day[9] says) are more important than minute details.

But Stank, what’s the announcement?

This is actually unrelated but something I’m quite proud of. I started this post by saying my studies are winding down. What that means is I’ll be entering the workforce ripe with knowledge and ready to get put in my place. I feel however that I have lots to share in the Programming community and have registered a domain to contain these factoids. So, in the future look towards http://www.pro-graham.com for programming blogging, advice, tips and stories. My first post will be regarding a small game AI I wrote for a class this semester. I stand by my work in saying I’ve written the most advanced Battleship AI to date. Such a minor achievement but fun never-the-less.

Handling Team Games In Starcraft

Yo, im loving the team games.

Best case scenario is taking down 3 more skillful players with 3 less skilled players with excellent decision making. And team work. The underdogs on top!

Imagine the 3 players on a team as a single organism. Characteristics of successful organisms are ones with vision, knowledge, strength, speed, and position.

Terrans need to be in the right position.
Zergs need to be everywhere quickly.
Protoss needs to have strength.

But these things are interchangeable with different units from each race. So this really is not what matters. What matters is how you execute on what information you are given.

A successful organism is able to see what his opponent is doing. The most important thing in war is being able to defend anything. Vision makes the correct defense.

The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.”

When attacking… “Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.

In other words, attacking is good, but when the targets are poor, the defender wins. Workers, pylons, pieces of tech, command centers. I feel that if given the time, a snipe of a command center is better than the time taken to kill the workers. I could be wrong tho, I haven’t done the math.

Vision of the opponents gives you the information to strike the most critical places. You are able to see the weaknesses. Usually I will just use intuition because I feel the opponent is weak. This works sometimes, other times I lead to disaster.

Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

I have noticed that when a team is given scouting information, they are much more comfortable, and confident. In 1v1’s if I am feeling uneasy, I just send a probe out to death, to see what they have. With the information I get, I regain the comfort and confidence.

In team games when you scout the opponent really good, they know it, and it even affects their teams confidence. They feel figured out and exposed. They sink into a defensive position. A fighter who has a sudden loss of vision will most likely fall into the futile position, otherwise hurl themselves into desperation attacks, which most likely ends them. Been there. ~_^

Grinding the Present Moment

Just dropping some little bombs. I don’t have any bunker busters at the moment.

Mental noise: I keep noticing how much noise there is in my head. Whenever I notice it, it disappears. This is a type of meditation that anyone can practice throughout the day. It’s important to note that having silence in your head does not make you a zombie. It makes you relaxed but more alert. Carrying a head full of noise does the opposite: it makes you tense and distracted. Being tense and distracted puts limits on what you can accomplish.

Grinding the present: I find it useful to remind myself that the present moment is the only place where anything gets done.

Free will & spontaneity: Back in the day, I busted some philosophy speed-runs with Shuba and his kin. The conclusion was that free will does not exist. Our brain is a calculator that solves problems by choosing the best option according to what we value. For example, a person who values standing out in a crowd is more likely to dress in unusual clothes, but their decisions are still made according to an underlying process which they have no control over. If you ask them why they are wearing a sombrero in February, they might tell you they are a free spirit when it comes to fashion. If free will does not exist, then they are simply bound by differently-assigned variables, and the sombrero is the end result of these different values.

This might sound like a depressing perspective on life, one which paints humans as souls imprisoned within robotic shells. Each human pursues whatever comes naturally to them; what is natural for one person is different for the next. Committing crimes comes naturally to some people. After waking up in jail, their brain might re-assign certain values and a “new person” may emerge from a brain that previously valued drugs and money above all else.

This is what I really wanted to discuss: does a person actually emerge from their thoughts? Your thoughts are a reflection of your values, which are not consciously controlled, and so the self which emerges from our thoughts is also uncontrolled. This artificial self is sometimes called the ego. It exists as an interface between the brain and the outside world. It is a structure of repetitive thoughts. When a person’s values change, their thoughts change, and so the ego changes; a “new person” emerges with a new purpose in life.

“Free will doesn’t exist?! You can’t take my freedom!”
The point is that (1) not only does free will not exist, but (2) there was never a self to “possess” free will in the first place.

” … First you take my freedom, and now you’re saying I don’t even exist?!”
Your true identity is inseparable from you because it is you. It cannot be taken away. The ego, on the other hand, is just a thought which disappears every night when you go to bed. The ego’s structure appears rock solid because it is so repetitive. When we examine this repetitive structure, however, we see that it is just mental noise. How could mental noise ever hope to have free will?

When illusions like the ego and free will are washed away, what’s left is real freedom – the selfless and perfect way of the universe.

World-building 101: Yo, enough of this pansy-ass philosophical mumbo-jumbo. Let’s get back into the real world so we can start building fake worlds. This is a new branch of learning for me, so it’s not really World-building 101. It’s more like World-building for Pre-schoolers. I’ve already put this project on hold so I can finish some older stuff, but I thought it’d be fun to post some noobfoolery in action.

(1) First, I used everyone’s favorite artsy program to make a 400 x 400 pixel masterpiece. Within moments, my phone was ringing off the hook. Every major art institute in North America was trying to throw scholarships my way, and I hadn’t even uploaded the mother yet.

Actually, I didn’t have a phone while making this.

(2) Next, I used Torque 3D’s terrain builder to upload my image as a texture. I slapped that beast down on top of some sand.

When creating worlds, it is important to nod your head to sick beats.

(3) Torque 3D has a default player character that you can use to explore right away.

Dude, you said we were going on a magical adventure… and now this?

The grass is the only thing that I created in that screenshot. It was a fun first step, and I’m looking forward to more advanced stuff like programming in TorqueScript and rendering my own 3D models.

Back to the grindstone.

KiWiKaKi Shows How To Use A Mothership

I have been watching a lot of Protoss vs Zerg lately. I get sick when i see the same ole gateway unit struggle. Micro battles seem to be a coin flip to determine the winner. It usually depends on whether the toss can hit force-fields right or not. I don’t like gateway play because it just looks like a constant struggle for the toss.

I like watching a game with a forge expand, and stargates. Whenever toss does this build it seems like they are rarely under pressure. It was the same story with sc1, protoss air shuts down map control – the passive vision of the overlords.

Check out this game: KiWiKaKi vs Lalush

The protoss can harass without committing any units.

The late game of this replay is awesome. Kiwi uses a combination of speed voids, phoenixes, and colossi. The voids are mobile enough to hit an expo before the zerg can engage him. And once the zerg engages him, he uses the motherships recall ability, transporting them safely back to his main army.

Extremely effective. I will also add that protoss air can be upgraded way faster than zerg air, which is why it is difficult for a group of mutas to destroy a group of voids and phoenixes.

Hard Counter Expand

What the hey, talk some shit about Starcraft games.

I got rolled by a terran and HE says “gg”, Rahhhh!…, i hate that shit. because he didnt even scout me, it’s like he is just playing by himself… how could that be a gg? so I told him off, and left.

So then I played a zerg on scrap station, which was more interactive. He opened with roaches and I scouted the den, so I put down a robo, got some stalkers and my immortal barely popped in time to finish the roaches off, they prolly took out 6-10 probes too. I also put down a stargate when my immortal was building. He could have scouted it with his roaches, I am unsure if he saw it.

He also took out my cybernetics core, my warpgate research wasn’t ready.

So then I built an addition immortal, and eventually went straight to his base with a warp prism with 2 immortals, and a +1 air attack VoidBANKS. This little cost effective troop took out his main with ease, I had to target down the spire before it popped.

Meanwhile at his expo, he manages to get up the hydralisk den, I get there in time to kill a couple queens, he still has a good drone count.

I set up my expo. and put down my cybernetics core (lol bad), put down like 6 gateways and researched warpgates, I had no ground army so I harassed with the void to keep him at his base.

So then it works out and I crushed his hydra push with speed zealots. Then I continued to harass with a void, got dark templar and pushed with the combined zealots and it caught him off guard!

Summary: Force hydras and expand, speedlots > slow hydras, next tech you choose is the game breaker.

I think you need to go stargate against zerg, especially one who knows how to use banelings. they just dominate ground so much.

Side note: added captcha comments so bots don’t post comments.

That’s Halo, don’t worry

My mind is fried. Seriously. It is so far up my own ass at this moment that I think I need to step back and discuss something a little more light hearted than coding. Surely if you follow SC2 pro gaming in the least you heard about Huk doing an extraordinary rush against Select at MLG in Washington D.C. (I’ll apologise for the video’s voice-over. I linked the video with my sound off). I mean, it sort of is the latest little meme surrounding the scene right now. What you may not be familiar with is how it is being perceived by the fans and other players. I personally want to touch on what Idra has said in response, “It was absolutely idiotic.” And I agree with him.

I mean, Idra is sort of infamous already for his “trollish” attitude towards other players and we’ve all come to terms with it by now. But this comment of his sparked a minor debate between me and other individuals over at Reddit. So why do I agree with him?

Gimmicky/flashy play is not interesting to watch in a competitive environment. It certainly has its place but Huk essentially threw the game with that tech build. Why is it entertaining to observe someone, in all intents and purposes, give up? Sure, there was an off chance that the Mothership pulled through and swung the game in his favour but what were the chances? Incredibly low if you can assume that Select wasn’t going to do something equally stupid.

I equate the scenario to a professional sports team marching onto the field and doing a dance while one player attempts to sneak the puck/ball behind the other team’s defence. Sure, if you manage to completely stun the opponent the strategy might work, but there’s a very slim chance of that occurring.

His choice to go so far off the groomed path didn’t provide any form of innovation to the competitive scene. People speak of the event now as if it was revolutionary; something that changed the way professionals will view the match-up in games to come. Will it? Fuck no! This will be a softly spoken event in a month’s time only being revisited for a short period when they match up against each other again later.

Like I said previously, I took part in a debate on Reddit regarding this topic and seemed to be on the minority. What do you think?

In the rear with the gear

We’re operational?

That’s good I suppose. Big thanks to Shuba for setting up the Blog, hope to fill it with revolutionary ideas in the time to come.

I really like this and will try provide content updates on my software projects, gaming ideas as well as some art I can provide. To start things off I’ll simply state that I’m in the home stretch of my Bachelors of Applied Science and Engineering, a.k.a. Software Systems Engineering. I should be done by spring next year and tuned for a life of code and development. In the mean time I’ll post code snippets regarding my assignments and links to stuff I have done to help out current/future students. On top of that I’m an avid Paintball player and casual gamer playing Starcraft 2, Minecraft, Fallout 3 and numerous other games at the moment. I play for my universities CSL team for SC2 but we’ve yet to play a game 🙂

Oh, almost forgot, here’s a small in-browser, java based Battleship game that I constructed with a partner in a software class last year. It’s hosted on her website. Hope you enjoy.

-Capn out