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Author Topic: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!  (Read 6915 times)

worstje

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Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« on: March 28, 2011, 11:13:09 AM »
First of all, mouser is making me post this. He is sick of me spamming Starcraft 2 games to him in IRC to sate his growing Starcraft 2 addiction. :tellme: Therefore, all blame should go to him, and all praise should go to me (and of course the wonderful people casting the games I am linking to.)

What is this post about?

This post is to introduce you to the world of watching video game commentaries -- specifically commentaries on the game Starcraft 2.

Screenshot - 3_28_2011 , 11_24_38 AM_thumb.png

Starcraft 2 is a game pretty much everyone will have heard of at this point, being one of the highest selling PC games in recent history. Most people think of it in a terms of playing the game only... but that is by far limiting the potential of the game and your own enjoyment. For example, take popular sports such as soccer, basket ball, baseball, hockey... there are as many people who enjoy watching those games as there are people who enjoy playing them.

Computer games are no different. Personally, I enjoy watching Starcraft far more than I enjoy playing it. The same goes for a lot of other computer games. Sadly, in the western world few people have considered this, thus the concept of esports gets next to no attention outside its own niche. But it can be different: for example, take Korea where they have had two TV channels airing live Starcraft tournaments on TV for at least a decade!

Thus consider this my feeble attempt of introducing DonationCoder to the concept of esports, although I will only focus on Starcraft videos and perhaps at a later stage Starcraft tournaments. There's a lot of fun to be had watching this stuff and it deserves sharing. :) Skip to the bottom of this posts for the actual videos!

I don't understand crap of what I am seeing. Help!

That's basically how it starts out. :) Allow me to give a basic description of things you will see and/or hear. Many casters explain basic stuff as well, but there isn't always time, or they just goof off a little instead. Don't let the wall of text below scare you: a lot of it might be over-explained and may make more sense after seeing a game or two. Images make up thousands of words, after all.

Introduction

Starcraft players can pick one of three races. Two players can play eachother playing the same race, meaning there is a total of six different matchups: TvT, TvP, TvZ, PvZ, PvP, ZvZ. A game ends when a player leaves the game, or when a players final building is destroyed. (The game is not necessarily played 1v1, but it is what most competitive and/or casted games are played as.)

Terrans are the human race with metal-looking buildings that can take off into the air and fly and generally look pretty human. They have units like marines, marauders, vikings (jet fighters), tanks and the far more scifi-like thor (mecha robot) and battlecruiser.
Protoss are the alien 'tech' race with the futuristic golden-tinted buildings that have an 'electric' theme going on. They have a lot of robot-like units like stalkers, immortals and the War-of-the-World-style Colossus, but also rely on a fair few melee units. They are the only race to have a unit of which only one can exist at a time: the Mothership.
Zerg are the alien organic race which are the most unique in playstyle. Their bases hatch eggs which are hatched by queens, eggs morph into units, and generally are the weakest race. Their strength lies in their ability to adapt, and the ability to overpower if their opponent does not apply pressure to them.

All races need to make workers (harvesters), which are responsible for the gathering of minerals (primary resource), gathering of vespene gas (secondary resource) and the building of new buildings. However, the amount of units one can have is limited by ones 'supply' (third resource), which is provided by different mechanics for different races.

A game consists out of at most three periods:
  • the early game during which initial resources are gathered, basic defenses put in place, and an initial tactic is set up.
  • the mid game where more advanced technology begins to happen. This is where the first sizeable armies start to clash or circle one another, and where more advanced tech begins to play a role.
  • the late game where most tech has been researched, minerals and gas are running low, and every single unit really starts to count.

Differences between races

Unique to Starcraft is that not only do the buildings, unit and technology trees differ for the races, but also their general 'state of being and becoming'. It is a bit hard to explain in a single sentence, so I will describe the basic differences below. There are bound to be faults and mistakes, but the point is to keep it simple for the beginning Starcraft watcher.

Terran units are either biological or mechanical, and both hae something considered health, but the method of replenishing it differs. For biological units, the Medivac is the only way to heal them, whereas mechanical units require the Terran worker unit (the SCV) to perform such repairs. In order to build buildings, the SCV needs to build the entire building, allowing an opponent to destroy the SCV and have a building stuck in an incomplete state till it is finished. Units are created in queues from production buildings, from which the units will have to leave and go to the battle field or whatever other place desired. Supply is created by building supply depots, buildings which can be lowered into the ground. Production buildings can be extended with either a Reactor (allows advanced units) or Techlab (doubles production capability), which in conjunction with the flying ability of buildings means very dynamic ability to create units as a Terran sees fit.

Protoss units consist out of two parts: health and shields. Shields regenerate very quickly on their own once outside of combat. Health cannot be regained. The Protoss worker unit (the Probe) is thus incapable of anything but the three most basic tasks listed above. However, when it builds buildings, it only needs to 'place' them: they build themselves, allowing the Probe to go its merry way for other things. Supply is created through Pylons, which emit an energy field which Protoss buildings require in order to function. Protoss unit production happens in queues just like the Terran, however once Warp Gate has been researched, units from the Gateway building ONLY (which produces the most basic units) can be warped straight to any place with an energy field (which Pylons give off).

Zerg units and buildings are all biological, with health that regenerates slowly on its own (although Queens can transfuse units to heal them too). Their hatcheries create larvae from time to time on their own, although Queens can inject new larvae and boost the production of those. All units are created off those larvae (which one can generally think of as a fourth resource): harvesters (the Drone) but also military units. In other words: hatcheries are the only production building for the Zerg. In order to create a building, the drone mutates into the building, meaning one drone can only ever create a single building. Buildings can only be created on the creep, which is basically purple goo. Zerg units get a speed bonus on creep, buildings lose health if the creep is removed. Creep spreads naturally from creep tumors which are laid down by Queens, although overlords can spew a temporary creep as well (which disappears as soon as the overlord stops dropping it). Supply for the Zerg comes from Overlords, which are basically slowly flying blimps. Buildings serve for 'research' purposes only, and since they are alive, they just as ordinary units morph into higher tier units (examples: larvae->drone->Spire building->Greater Spire building, or larvae->corruptor->broodlords). Larvae have an advantage when used properly however: 15 larvae can become 15 roaches, whereas a Terran would need 15 barracks in order to create 15 marauders at the same time. This is why the strength of the Zerg is said to lie in reacting to their opponent.

Commonly used terms

Macro: this is the art of managing your general economy. Keeping your harvesters busy, making sure to always use as much of your resources as you can (unused resources are a waste!), researching technology, making sure you are not hitting your supply cap, etc.
Micro: the wonderful miracle of managing single or small groups of units to make them so much more than they would without your attention. For example, marine scoot-and-shoot can save them from banelings, marauders kiting zealots with their slow ability, zerglings properly surrounding an army so they cannot run away, Protoss voidrays maintaining their charge (which makes them far more destructive) by shooting something for a brief second during a lull in combat, etc.
Gold / High yield: There minerals are more concentrated, allowing a worker to take more of it per harvesting run.
MULE: Terran unit which can be called down to aid in mineral mining (and sometimes repairing). Breaks on its own, but while it works it is as good as 5 SCVs, making them the foremost reason why Terrans are so difficult to defeat: as long as their Orbital Command has energy, they can easily get new mineral income while another race would have easily lost.
Mineral line: This refers to the arc of minerals the workers mine from. Sometimes it is used to refer to the space between these minerals and the command center/hatchery/nexus as well.
Supply / 'Food': units take up a certain amount of this. If you are capped (by reaching your cap or the maximum), you cannot create new ones. 'Food' is the Warcraft term for a similar mechanic and is also used a lot.
Speedlings: Zerglings with the speed upgrade.
Cracklings: Zerglings with speed and attack upgrades.
Laggership: A nickname for the Mothership unit. This because it and its cloaking field are graphically intensive, and whenever it is just created it tends to lag the game for a noticeable moment.
Archon Toilet: Mothership casts a vortex on an enemy army, Protoss sends in some Archons, and when things come out, the splash eviscerates the entire army in a matter of seconds. This has been removed / 'balanced' in Patch 1.3 due to it being deemed too strong.
Bio-ball: Marine-marauder combination.
MMM army: Marine-marauder-medivac army.
Spine (crawler): This zerg 'building' can walk around, but not attack while it does. When it has rooted itself though, it is a very nasty and deadly tentacle that hits ground units.
Spore (crawler): This zerg 'building' can walk around, but not attack while it does. When it has rooted itself though, it is a very nasty cannon that does considerable damage to air units.
PF: Planetary Fortress. This is one of the two upgrades from the Command Center.
Orbital / OC: Orbital Command. This is one of the two upgrades from the Command Center.
Storm: the ability of the High Templar which blankets an area in an electric storm.
Contaminate: Overseers (upgraded overlords) can cast this spell and pause what a building is doing for like 15 seconds.
Blue Flame: Refers to the upgrade for (or the upgraded) Hellion unit, where its flame thrower is no longer yellow but blue - essentially making them toasters on wheels. It is amongst the worst things a Terran can bestow upon his enemies mineral line.
Kiting: Continually withdrawing a faster unit with a large range while a slower unit with a smaller range tries to catch up to attack it, effectively keeping the first unit from ever being hit by the latter. Marauders and their Concussive shells upgrade (which slows down the enemy) are usually the ones to do this, while Protoss zealots tend to be the victim (as they are melee units).
Scoot-and-shoot: There refers to marine micro. Like kiting, it is where a (group of) marines continually withdraws and turns around to shoot the enemy. One could say it is the same thing as kiting, but imo the defining difference is that marine scoot-and-shoot does not make them immortal. Faster units catch up and are able to do damage just fine: the movement serves the purpose of minimizing enemy attack ability (killing as many green exploding banelings mainly) and avoiding getting the marines surrounded by zerglings at the same time.
Tanking: Taking the hits so other (more fragile) units do not. This allows the latter to do more damage. Protoss Zealots, Zerg roaches and Terran marauders are most often used for these purposes.
Focus Fire: By means of micro ordering units to attack a specific unit instead of letting the AI pick whatever unit it wants (usually an enemy unit attacking the unit already). This is often used to snipe buildings and strong units.
Snipe: Using focus firing to quickly destroy something before the enemy can respond (by sending in their army, withdrawing the attacked unit, etc). This is often associated with guerilla warfare.
Drop: Using a flying unit to 'drop' land units in enemy territory. This usually happens near a mineral line or in a quiet corner of a base. Terrans do this with Medivacs, Zerg can use Overlords with the proper upgrades, and Protoss occasionally do it using Warp Prisms.

Link repository

The way this works is simple: I post a link, and briefly my thoughts to go with it. Only games I really enjoyed or I thought had something special to offer will find a place on this list. There's many more average games that get cast, but they are in general easy to find and the point is to showcase the most enjoyable stuff. If it is a part of a series, I'll usually only post the first game; videos linked usually have links to the next game in the series.

Mouser-feeding

These are games in no particular order, with crappy review descriptions on my part, and so forth. They were pretty much me going 'oh, check this out' in IRC but looking at the descriptions after collecting them all, they kind of sound crappy. Nevertheless, I got mouser hooked using them, so use and abuse as you will. They are in no particular chronological order, and the descriptions may not make too much sense several months after the fact.

KiwiKaki vs PainUser - PvT - Terminous : Epic game with Carriers and Battlecruisers.
IdrA vs Ace - PvZ - IEM - Lost Temple : Epic game involving Idra the Macro Machine Kraken and a player I've never heard of.
IdrA vs. MorroW - G3 : the chase at around 04:20 made me giggle; decent series overall.
TheLittleOne vs ZeeRax - PvP - Shakuras Plateau : Totally wacky PvP. Definitely worth watching; it has the Master of Random Race TheLittleLone (aka LiquidTLO) versus another very good Protoss. Their strategies were nuts.
Ace vs Tarson - Game 1 - PvT - IEM - Shakuras Plateau : More games involving that epic nobody I linked a game about.
[HD-Asia] "I Want All Women Over" : Check this cast out
[Z]ROOTCatz vs [T]FXOmOoNan : Not super awesome, but it does a bit more pointing out of very bad choices the various players make
Homestory Cup #1 - Round 1 - mouzHasu [P] vs [T] LiquidTLO - G1 : Ending is predictable, but some very epic battles a la david and goliath.
=^.^= KiWiKaKi [P] vs [Z] CatZ : Really amusing game. Very non-standard, but very amusing non the less.
Mondragon vs Kas - Game 1 of 7 - TvZ - Metalopolis : First game of a 7 game series. I am currently on the third game but seems like the series is worth a watch.
[HD-Asia] ChiTaPrime v ZiZon : decent game, but kind of disappointed me.
KawaiiRice vs Vadar - PvT - Lost Temple : epic game with a very nice showdown at the end
HD Starcraft 2 Huk v MoonGlade g1 : First game of a best-of-5 series. First two games are average, last 3 games are epic.
[HD-Asia] PvZ NEXSickness v sSsHello : The ending of this game has some epic micro (=unit management) that borders on overpowered - but then again, it's kinda the Zergs fault.
GSL CREVASSE 1v1 P1 : New map (designed for GSL tournament) with an ultra long game, and this game is particularly refreshing and continuously keeping both sides on their toes. I can def. recommend you watch it. Pretty damn long tho.
AtheneWins (KiwiKaki???) vs LuckyFish - PvZ - Shakuras Plateau : Decent game, awesome example of an archon toilet.
SeleCT vs. TLO g1 : First game of a best-of-3. It is what one would call an interesting TvT slugfest.
LOOPY SC2 CAST : Commentating is a bit odd as the desc says, but the game is decent enough. I liked the tactics in this one, but it isn't a super game.
SC2 - vileHasHe[T] vs [Z]Destiny : A map I don't know, game is decent but again nothing super special imo
iNcontroL vs. drewbie Showmatch Game 1! : First game of a bo7. I think it ended up as a pretty epic series.
[HD] PvZ LiquidHayprO v EtdYinHulu : On the scale of Suck to Super, it rates as Moderately Epic.
1v1 on GSL Terminus between two Asians : Nydus Worms are such sexy things.
HD Starcraft 2 WhiteRa v Goody g1 : First game of a super short series (all pretty short games), but they're all quite entertaining.
HuK vs WhiteRa - PvP OF BALLERNESS - Lost Temple : Epic Protoss slugfest between two Protoss Juggernauts.

More recent chronological doodah listing

These are the more recent ones which will have the newer stuff at the bottom.

TheLittleOne vs ZeeRax - PvP - Shakuras Plateau : Totally wacky PvP. Definitely worth watching; it has the Master of Random Race TheLittleLone (aka LiquidTLO) versus another very good Protoss. Their strategies were nuts.
Ace vs Tarson - Game 1 - PvT - IEM : More games involving that epic nobody I linked a game about.
Haypro vs Artist - TvZ - Lost Temple : Decent game, but one battle in particular was especially awesome.
TT1 vs Tgun - PvZ - Xel'Naga Caverns : Epic game is epic beyond epic.
mOOnGLaDe vs Slayers Alicia on Metalopolis : This game has the best use of terrain and forcefields I've seen in a _long_ time.
HD Starcraft 2 Hannibal.Prime v oGs.cezanne g3 : Omfg. This is one of the closest games I've seen in quite some time. I can remember only one... wait, two of its kind that were comparable. Epic TvZ.
BabyKnight vs biGs on Metalopolis (PvZ) : First half of video has crappy quality, lots of FPS issues and pretty boring. Second half is epic and of better quality.
[HD-KR] PvT Masters - RvnJubei v LEESUHUN Starcraft 2 : Some old-fashioned nuke-mindfuck-play with interesting results.
HD Starcraft 2 Dimaga v Goody g2 : Terran Mech vs expansion addicted zerg results in rather interesting play.
DarkForce vs BratOK : 40 minute long TvZ with like 3-4 tactics I have never seen before. Very excellent game.
TLO vs Goody : First game of what is a really promising series (game 2 is even more epic). TLO vs Goody with unusual tactics. :-)
Huk vs zerg : A very standard game that starts out slow and does not have any shenanigans, but the first clash of the armies shows some really near-magical micro.
Zenio vs Socke: Best-of-3. g1 shows Zerg tenacity well, g2 shows a very different playing style, g3 is pretty standard.
:Thmbsup: [HD-KR] PvT HannibalPrime v SeedSG: Best-of-3; g1 is decent, g2 is meh, g3 is quite entertaining
:Thmbsup: MouzMana vs Dimaga: Best-of-1. No crazy hijinks, but a very decent game showing a longterm (macro-style) PvZ.
:Thmbsup: Catz vs Spanshwa - ZvZ - Shattered Temple: Best-of-1. While an unusually played ZvZ, it is still one big macro-fest.
:Thmbsup: TheLittleOne vs Hasu: Best-of-3. g1 is decent, shows a varied one-base play; g2 is average with a tactic that simply does not work out for one of the players, g3 is less predictable than it appears.
:Thmbsup: MorroW vs Losira - ZvP on Tal Darim Altar: Best-of-1. Epic game between pro-gamers that play in Korea. Starts out hilarious and promises to be a boring game, but it ends up as a total hoot due to the skill of the players involved. Must-watch.
:Thmbsup: MorroW vs mini - ZvT on Typhon Peaks: Best-of-1. Great game full of funny moments. The outcome becomes apparent about halfway through, but this one you watch for the execution alone.

Questions?

Feel free to ask below, and I'll try my best to answer whatever questions I can.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 05:30:06 PM by worstje »

mouser

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2011, 11:29:21 AM »
worstje got me hooked on watching these games -- i just think it's so cool that video games have evolved to a point where people now watch games and give commentary of the unfolding gameplay.. very cool stuff -- though be prepared to be absolutely confused beyond belief.

worstje

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 11:33:50 AM »
You make me write this hellish thing and now you are scaring people away with 'be prepared to be absolutely confused'? ;D

I think that if you've ever played a realtime strategy game, Starcraft will at least not completely befuzzle you as to the goals and gameplay. It's like watching ice-hockey for the first time if you only know basketball or soccer: it has some goals, it has a ball-like thing people kick around, there's two opposing sides... it only gets confusing once you really try to keep an eye on the tactics as opposed just looking the ball/puck go from person to person.

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2011, 11:40:54 AM »
Confused and overwhelmed, but in a fun way -- like watching a bunch of science fiction planet of the apes monkeys playing 10 dimensional chess.

cranioscopical

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2011, 12:49:29 PM »
like watching a bunch of science fiction planet of the apes monkeys playing 10 dimensional chess.

??∞


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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2011, 05:14:27 PM »
worstje got me hooked on watching these games -- i just think it's so cool that video games have evolved to a point where people now watch games and give commentary of the unfolding gameplay.. very cool stuff -- though be prepared to be absolutely confused beyond belief.

It's been on TV for a long time in Korea... and... get this... there is an entire channel that plays StarCraft 24/7.
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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2011, 05:37:30 PM »
Commonly used terms

Micro: the wonderful miracle of managing single or small groups of units to make them so much more than they would without your attention. For example, marine scoot-and-shoot can save them from banelings, marauders kiting zealots with their slow ability, zerglings properly surrounding an army so they cannot run away, Protoss voidrays maintaining their charge (which makes them far more destructive) by shooting something for a brief second during a lull in combat, etc.

What is scoot-and-shoot? What is kiting?

No fair introducing confusing jargon while explaining commonly used jargon.


worstje

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2011, 10:39:51 PM »
Hah, fair enough. I intended to include those, but I guess it slipped my mind.

Kiting: Continually withdrawing a faster unit with a large range while a slower unit with a smaller range tries to catch up to attack it, effectively keeping the first unit from ever being hit by the latter. Marauders and their Concussive shells upgrade (which slows down the enemy) are usually the ones to do this, while Protoss zealots tend to be the victim (as they are melee units).
Scoot-and-shoot: There refers to marine micro. Like kiting, it is where a (group of) marines continually withdraws and turns around to shoot the enemy. One could say it is the same thing as kiting, but imo the defining difference is that marine scoot-and-shoot does not make them immortal. Faster units catch up and are able to do damage just fine: the movement serves the purpose of minimizing enemy attack ability (killing as many green exploding banelings mainly) and avoiding getting the marines surrounded by zerglings at the same time.

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2011, 11:20:10 PM »
nice work, worstje.. :up: didn't realise how in-depth is the Starcraft-watching industry. makes video games almost like a spectator sport.

worstje

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2011, 11:22:29 PM »
My point is that it is a spectator sport already: the spectators simply haven't found the game yet. ;D

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2011, 11:31:41 PM »
Thanks for the collection. Watching these SC2 game vids on full 1080p is certainly a joy in life!! :D

I recently downloaded the big GSL collection (4 seaons) on demonoid.me, but I reckon I probably should finish watching the vids on your list first.  :Thmbsup:
Get my apps in Android Market! Go droids go! :)


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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2011, 01:41:15 PM »
This shows up in my twitter feed today with a good timing : http://www.sc-replay.com/
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worstje

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2011, 02:11:24 PM »
Yeah, I know of such sites. :) Casters use sites like those to get the games they cast, if they aren't sent to them by their viewers who want to see a game in specific cast.

However, those replays are ingame and without commentary (obviously) and as such mostly meant for players to learn and study. If you are into playing, I think it is a great resource, but I don't think it is a suitable resource for the couch potato experience I am 'selling' here: people watching Starcraft II as a spectator sport.

Thanks for the link though!

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2011, 05:31:18 PM »
Just a bump so people know I am still posting here. The last two games I added (I mark new games with the :Thmbsup: icon in the topic start) are especially entertaining and very recommended to watch.

Added:
MorroW vs Losira - ZvP on Tal Darim Altar: Best-of-1. Epic game between pro-gamers that play in Korea. Starts out hilarious and promises to be a boring game, but it ends up as a total hoot due to the skill of the players involved. Must-watch.
MorroW vs mini - ZvT on Typhon Peaks: Best-of-1. Great game full of funny moments. The outcome becomes apparent about halfway through, but this one you watch for the execution alone.

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Re: Starcraft II: the couch-potato experience!
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2011, 11:39:20 PM »
MorroW vs Losira - ZvP on Tal Darim Altar: Best-of-1. Epic game between pro-gamers that play in Korea. Starts out hilarious and promises to be a boring game, but it ends up as a total hoot due to the skill of the players involved. Must-watch.
MorroW vs mini - ZvT on Typhon Peaks: Best-of-1. Great game full of funny moments. The outcome becomes apparent about halfway through, but this one you watch for the execution alone.

Those were really fun. Thanks!