Engi Census

Playing the Steam free game of the weekend, I have come to wonder: how many games have an Engineer that builds a turret; how many games have an Engineer that does not build a turret; and how many games have a non-Engineer that builds a turret. (I think I will avoid counting Warhammer Online’s Magus and units/classes that “summon” rather than “build.” I’m unclear whether the Raven builds, summons, or do we count “deploy”?) Was there some first game that set the standard that Engineer = build a sentry gun? It feels like engineers and self-directed turrets have become a standard game item, but perhaps exploring some examples will reverse this. I keep finding near-hits, where perhaps they consciously avoided calling the turret-builder an Engineer in recent games. I wonder if non-builder Engineers are also intentional aversions? Inventory below the break, please contribute in the comments.

Edit: let’s see what happens if we add in enemies that do the same, some of which may mirror heroes. Continue reading Engi Census

When Cheese Fails

On the non-MMO online gaming front, one of my friends is all about competitive StarCraft 2, to the degree of having his favorite commentators when he is watching replays. He recently introduced me to a StarCraft 2 replay comedy series, When Cheese Fails 101.

Cheese” is a technical term in StarCraft, referring to an early, all-out offense that will secure either victory or failure in a few minutes. Successful cheese wipes out the enemy or so cripples his/her early economy that the rest of the game is clean-up. When cheese fails, the attacker’s economy is crippled, having thrown all his/her resources at an early attack instead of long-term investment.

When Cheese Fails is a series about games in which … yeah. We all love to see lamers lose, but the better games have something special. Sometimes the cheeser fails to execute or follow-through. Sometimes the other player engages in masterful micromanagement that counters the early rush at very low cost. And some of them have such great surprises that I will not spoil it by even suggesting (although you may use spoilers in the comments). The true hilarity may not be fully apparent until the commentary after the game.

I recommend Episode 8 as one of their better games. Come for the cheese, stay for the pleasant Canadian accents.

: Zubon

More Unthinking Play

Anything you do in real time will benefit from repetition. If you need to consciously think about what you are doing, you may not have time to do it at all. If you can do it, you are performing suboptimally and probably focusing on your specific actions rather than incorporating them into a larger strategy.

When I started playing StarCraft II, I would refer to a friend who was jockeying to get into a diamond league, saying, “I don’t want to be that good.” Which is to say, I do not want to engage in the planning and repetition required to be that good. I am still thinking about my build order and looking around to see where ramps are on this map, rather than just building automatically and knowing the terrain.

You can think about only so many things at one time. If you think of your build order as a series of five steps, which you are working on while setting up your economy, you have about exhausted your mental resources. If you have played 1000 games and can subsume all of that under one mental unit of “Reaper rush,” you have lots of active attention available for strategizing and scouting. If you need to flip through three buildings and mouse-over some icons to find the research you want, you have lost time that your opponent has spent micromanaging his units. For him, it is practically Pavlovian to respond to the sound of an upgrade finishing and start the next level.

My early multi-player games were a series of constant re-discoveries of what things from the single-player campaign do not exist in multi-player play. I may not have played Zerg or Protoss as much, but at least I do not need to un-learn things to play those races. Except Scouts and Guardians from SC1, I miss those.

: Zubon