Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Reading: Revisiting the Starcraft

starcraft01 When Charge Shot!!! first launched as a video games-only enterprise, I embarked on a very specific, very personal mission:  I was going to win ten games of Starcraft.

Blizzard’s ten-year-old real-time strategy game was still being played by thousands of extremely dedicated, way-too-talented amateur warlords who knew more about the ins and outs of Zerg rushing than I’ll ever know about anything ever.  But I was determined to prove my worth on the battlefield before the eventual release of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.  I dove into pitched battles, scrounged for resources under heavy artillery fire, and got taunted by opponents in awe of my noobness.

The recent release of Starcraft II has me feeling nostalgic for the original, so I’ve culled a few passages from my favorite moments of the feature.  And who knows?  Maybe there’ll be cause for it’s return.

Entry One - “Are U A Comp?

My first skirmish ended with the tattered bodies of my army strewn about the battlefield like the unloved contents of a discarded toy chest.  It also left my teammates questioning my humanity.

I never recovered from this early rush, but I did manage to take down an enemy zealot with just five drones. It’s the little things, y’know? Another force of zerglings plowed through my shrub of a tech tree and descended on my vulnerable Nexus. My teammate cried out, “WTF ALLY? ARE U A COMP?” I’m not sure what he meant, since I’m sure a computer would’ve done much better than I did.

Entry Three - “Join Me And Together We Can Rule The Galaxy

I had two matches to report this time.  One: another loss so pitiful I ran from it so fast I neglected to save a replay.  The other: my first win!  Thanks to some amazing allies and a last minute alliance shift, victory was attained.  No thanks to me of course.

In moments we were looting White’s base like it was a Wal-Mart during a blackout. His few defenses put a dent in our forces, however, allowing his buddy Orange to swoop in and mop up our squad before moving on to my base, which was, as usual, defenseless. With my troops depleted, Orange ravaged my base unabated. I was under siege for a good minute or two before my ally Blue stepped in with a force of hydralisks (which are basically just the bastard children of the Cobra Commander and Scorpion) and flushed out the invading force. Two of my valiant probes escaped the carnage and started up a base in the south while my remaining buildings suffered repeated attacks from Red’s cloaked lurkers. It was like my own personal Battle of Britain, if Britain had sent two of their best ironworkers to rebuild the army in Iceland.

Entry Eight - “Going Solo, or Rubbing My Nose In It

After numerous forays into team play, I decided to try my hand at some one-on-one, mano-a-mano (or girlo) combat.  Needless to say, it didn’t end well.

Just as the writing on the wall starts to come into focus, he stops.  Withdraws.  A hearty “WTF?” sounds in my brain.  His troops soon lay waste to my joke of an expansion base.  (Can your expansion base even qualify as a joke when your headquarters is asfunny a joke as there is?)  He’s toying with me now; he’s a cat batting at a dead mouse.  I poke my head out from under the sand, sending a few zerglings out for recon.  They die just outside my base.  He’s erected more than a few photon cannons on my front door.  Now I’m under house arrest.

Entry Nine – “Perfect Strangers”

The original run of ended without much fanfare, just plain fatigue.  That doesn’t mean the last entry wasn’t another perfect little window into the bizarre culture of the People Who Play A Decade-Old PC Game.  The topic this time: friendship.

I was playing in a room labeled “3v3 noobs only.”  While my years of Starcraft experience might make me look like Gary Sheffield or Jamie Moyer asking to play Little League, I think my subpar win/loss record certainly qualifies me to participate.  I could tell people hadn’t been around the block because of what I saw filling the pregame lobby: chatter.  People were joking about their last effort to launch a game getting timed out.  Two members of the opposing team were clearly friends; they shared a clan designator in their handle.  I don’t know what their tag [dG] stood for (Dolce & Gabbana Hello?), but it seemed more significant than a pair I recently saw on Xbox Live: Crumppy and Stumppy Johnson.  If you’ve ever stumbled across a halfway-decent, capable-of-conversing-normally human in an online arena, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s an oasis in a desert of Dew-fueled cybersports.

The Future

I wouldn’t be surprised if returns, given how much I’m having online with my Charge Shot!!! cohorts.  Hopefully I’ll have enough downtime between stomping computers and getting stomped by people to report from the frontlines.