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The Starcraft 2 beta and what it means to me


Ever since the release of Dune II back in '92, Real-time strategy has emerged as one of the most popular genres on the PC market. It was a genial formula that still stands tall to this day. You collect resources in order to advance your technology and train soldiers that you lead into combat. My personal introduction to this genre came much later with the release of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun in 1999.

I played through big parts of the single player but I soon found that skirmish battles against the AI was where it's really at. In this mode I would build a huge base with exactly one of every building in the tech-tree and fill it up with walls and defensive turrets. Then I'd decide upon one unit of my choosing and slowly mine resources until I have enough to mass up a huge amount of them. Once this was finished, they'd move out towards the enemy base where I micromanage them to focus their attacks on one building at a time. In case I failed to achieve victory, I'd return to my base where my workers had continued mining while my attention was on the battle. By now there would usually be a huge amount of resources in the bank which I'd then use to start building up a new army. This has been my strategy ever since the beginning and still is my strategy today.

Anyone with somewhat of an RTS brain must have realised one thing at this point: the fact that I am a total n00b. While I'm busy waiting for all buildings to complete and my single harvester to bring me more money, anyone but an AI opponent would come wipe the floor with me a million times over. If you're ever playing a two Vs. two online and your ally's name is Metallion, you might as well type in GG and leave the game because you have no chance of winning. Although I did finish all six single-player campaigns of Starcraft: Brood War and played a few games in the Command & Conquer series, I have accepted my failure and real-time strategy has become a genre that I respect but steer clear of at all times.

After reading this introduction you must be wondering what a guy like me could possibly get from Starcraft 2. The answer lies in Blizzard's promotional campaign for the game. When I saw the first teaser trailer and the terran marine muttered "Damn, it's about time!", even I couldn't help but get excited. Although I had no plans to ever play the game myself, I was intrigued by it and followed any news on its development. First came the introduction of the Protoss race and a showcase of how each unit fared against other units with an explanation why. In my unknowing eyes, the army size had always been the number one deciding factor and this new look at it was cool.

Then the battle reports followed. In order to showcase the new game, two players faced off in a multi-player battle while a commentator offered insight into the strategies available to them. They hid their tech from each other, played out their units' advantages and carefully timed all of their attacks and the construction of new bases. This wasn't cool... This was fucking awesome! For me, the game of Starcraft and its impending sequel had become a spectator sport.

I watched all three battle reports and enjoyed every second of it. I wanted more! At this point I started scouring the internet for the professional Starcraft scene and I found it in a way more accessible condition than I could have ever hoped. As I watched more and more games and listened to the commentators' explanations, I gradually learned the concept of build orders and proper micromanagement. Most of all, I was amazed at how players have kept refining and even coming up with new strategies for a game that has already been out for twelve years.

With my new found insight into viable strategies and Starcraft 2 entering its beta stage, one question is whether I'm going to give the RTS genre another chance. No, I am not or at least not as a player. Though there isn't a professional scene for it yet, Many of the English commentators shifted their focus. They have received beta keys from Blizzard and now dedicate their time to covering the new game's feel. When I look at the comments on their videos, I see gamers full of envy, wishing they had a key of their own. I am different from them.

In the original Starcraft, I arrived a decade after the game was established and retrospectively learned about viable strategies and important players like Boxer, Nal_Ra, JulyZerg and so on. Where Starcraft 2 is concerned, I am witnessing the birth of a new professional gaming stage. I see new build orders first hand as players invent them and will see the new great players rise and fall. Even though there is no pro scene yet, the Starcraft 2 beta does seem to have a few of its own characters already.

For starters there is David Kim. Until recently, he has firmly held a win-rate of over ninety percent. As he has admitted in an interview, this is because he is a balance designer at Blizzard and has played the game more than anyone else in the world at this time. His win rate has already dwindled down to somewhere around seventy percent as other players gain more experience but still. If you're going to make a name for yourself, this is the guy you'll want to beat!

Then there's IdrA. This is an American pro gamer and one of the very few non Korean players currently active in a professional Starcraft team. He has openly stated that he plans to switch to Starcraft 2 as soon as he can and is already practising in the beta. He's actually one of the most colourful characters around with his shameless bad manners and an ego that is much larger than his results. Whenever he loses, you can expect him to tell his opponent exactly what he thinks about him. IdrA is the villain of Starcraft. You can either love or hate him but you can't deny the drama and entertainment value he brings to the game.

As Starcraft 2 draws closer to completion, I hope to see a vivid colourful professional scene unfold. It would be great to see current top players like Flash, Bisu and Jaedong make the transition and return in the new game. Whether or not they will do this, will be up to them and their teams but one thing is for sure. I will be watching and cheering from the front lines!

Late update:

Here's one of the best Starcraft 2 games I have seen so far. It could be interesting for future players as well. Keep in mind that this is still beta footage and balancing patches are released on a daily bases.

You might also want to have a look at Husky's meet videos. He briefly introduces every unit and every building the Starcraft 2 races are equipped with.

Meet the Terran

Meet the Protoss

Meet the Zerg
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About Metallionone of us since 4:11 AM on 10.14.2009

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Who am I you ask? Well I guess my story starts some time around the early eighties. As my apartment had strangely gotten a lot smaller over the last months, I thought it would be a good idea to redecorate it. I was leaning back in my sofa, going through the new Ikea catalog when I was suddenly hit by a massive earthquake. As much as I tried to hold my ground, I was propelled head first into that strange tunnel at my front door. I had been wondering where that leads but never had the courage to check it out.

After a long and bumpy ride, I finally stuck my head out the other end and saw daylight. Before I had a chance to adjust to my new environment, a big man wearing some kind of a lab coat and face mask grabbed hold of me. He was a despicable man really. Not only did he cut my food supply line, he also held me upside down in the air and slapped me right on the butt! What did I ever do to him?! Just when I was about to stick it to him, my attention was averted to this tired looking lady lying on a bed nearby.

It was very strange. Do you know that feeling when you meet somebody for the first time, yet you feel like you have known each other all along? I had this feeling when I saw her. That's when it occurred to me. This woman must be my landlady and I had been neglecting my rent for a few months after all. I could understand that she was upset but still... She had no right to turn me over to that sadistic bull in his white coat! I thought that me and her were going to have a long and personal conversation but right now, I just wanted to take a shower. That tunnel I had just been through wasn't all that clean after all.

Fortunately this other lady dressed in white was a lot nicer than her butt-slapping friend. She most kindly helped me clean myself and then handed me some warm, although not very fashionable garments. She carried me over to my landlady and I prepared to negotiate the rent but instead, my landlady threw me a warm smile and pressed me against her breast so lovingly that I melted like snow to the sun. She and her equally loving husband took me to their home where they had a room prepared with a bed in exactly my size and all kinds of lovely little things to play with. It's like they had been planning to take me in all along.

I didn't quite understand the strange language both of them spoke but yet I figured out that her name was Mom and crying meant "Food please", "Hug me" and "Clean me" all at the same time. The temperature wasn't as constant as my previous home but still, this was some service! Anyway, I would wander around this place for the time being while gradually learning to speak their language. It would take seven years before I really found out what my purpose here was.

One fine morning, Mom brought me to a supermarket and I saw a little mustached guy jumping around on a TV. That was my first encounter with the Nintendo Entertainment System! This thing blew my mind in so many ways! I had heard of princesses being kidnapped by dragons before but where's the prince to save her? No, there is no prince! This time it's a fat Italian plumber with a mustache who gets to be the hero! Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Power to the common man! Not only that but rather than simply hear his tale, I could actually help him in his quest. Though Mom seemed quite unimpressed, I knew I had witnessed a miracle and it would leave a mark on my life for years to come.

I'd often get into fights with Mom after that. She wanted me to go outside and play with my friends but what did she know? After all, all of my friends were living in similar warm nests, receiving the same service from two other persons who were somehow all named Mom and Dad. No, my purpose in life was bigger than that. As much fun as playing with my friends was, If I did that then who would save princess Peach, liberate the kingdom of Hyrule and smite the evil king Dedede? I just couldn't ignore the sorrow of the weak!

It wasn't until another seven years or so that I would see what a fool I had been. Up until now, I had been carrying the weight of the world on my own shoulders while completely ignoring the help others could have offered. I was determined to never close my eyes to the value of friendship again! Especially in these dark times. I was barely finished helping Dr. Freeman escape the resonance cascade alive when bands of terrorists attacked and dragged his scientist colleagues off to cs_assault. This was too much for just me to handle. This time I needed help!

Anyone who doesn't believe in the kindness of strangers is a moron. I mean sure, strangers aren't always nice. I've been told that I SuX0rz and have been called a n00b a million times but even then, it's worth it. As it so happens, it were these very strangers that padded me on the back and reassuringly shouted "Lock and Load!" before we stormed the big garage and got every single scientist out while making a fair buck in the process. Unfortunately our happiness was short lived as a new batch of terrorists arrived and we were right back where we started. Rather than sigh over the shortness of our victory, we bought ourselves a new pack of heavy guns and rushed in once more. No matter how many times the terrorists came back, we'd bring them to justice!

Time went on and the terrorists got more and more violent. Now they didn't only take hostages any more but also planted bombs and tried to assassinate seemingly random VIPs. Our combined efforts were no longer enough. We needed more coordination. We needed a plan! We had to Look at the map and devise a clever strategy. As much as I tried this, people were joining and leaving our counter-terrorist squad with every tick of the clock. Some of them even switched sides to join the terrorists. I engaged in conversation with several of the better fighters. We decided to join together regularly and learn how to fight as one. You could even go as far as to call us a counter-strike clan! For years we battled the forces of evil and shed much blood until I finally left the front as I heard of another land in need.

So many years ago I had liberated the town of Tristram from Diablo, the lord of terror. The hero I helped out at the time had drilled the dark lord's soul stone right into his own forehead. What an idiot! Needless to say, Diablo soon overpowered this weak excuse for a savior and continued to live on, inhabiting the former hero's body. "Man", I thought. "I've gone through all of this before, I'm not doing it again or at least... Not alone!" Fortunately my plea for help didn't leave me waiting as several friends showed up and we entered a new clan to smite that demon once and for all! After taking care of business in the chaos sanctuary, laying waste to Baal, the lord of destruction and even single handedly obliterating several acres of murderous cows, it was time to put my swords and bows to rest once more.

Since that time, my clan based activity has settled down and I remain to fight on the side of good with smaller bands of friends while every now and then fondly remembering those good old days. Most of all, I tend to leave the real action up to others as I watch from the sidelines. Especially a Korean man named Jaedong shows particular excellence in leading the Zerg to victory against the evil Protoss at general Bisu's command and admiral Flash' corrupted Terran whom I wish all to be infested for greater good.

I thank you for taking the time to read about my life. Perhaps our paths may once cross in the endless online battlefields and until then, luck be with you.