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Yes, I Still Have a Blog

March 23rd, 2010

It was mentioned to me yesterday that my blog is tragically stale… and not just that I haven’t posted since November. It’s time to liven things up with some fresh content and, perhaps, some fresh means of communication. I’d like to get my Twitter feed up and my Yelp reviews posted. Something to give the place that lived in feel even when I’m not posting as regularly as I like. But, before the redecoration, let me get to the first important topic of 2010… it is both timely and pressing.

Star Craft 2: Beta

Yes, I was given a beta key for Star Craft 2. Back in high school I remember how envious I felt of the kids who were selected to be in the first Star Craft beta. It seemed like such a wondrous thing getting to play the game months before everyone else… to give feedback directly to the minds at Blizzard. I have been monitoring Star Crafts 2’s development since I first moved to Santa Cruz more than three years ago, checking the website and discussing it with friends. As much as I can be a “groupie” for a game, I was of Star Craft 2. And here was to be my great opportunity! I remember walking home the night I got the notification email with such a spring in my step. Here we, four weeks later, and how many times have I played?! Four times. Yes, four.

Sure, I’ve played against the pathetic AI a bunch of times, but in terms of actually one-on-one play I have clocked only four games. Oh, and on a related point, I lost each of those matches. So I ask myself, why? Why, when I am among the select few on the whole planet afforded an opportunity to play this game, am I not taking advantage of it?

I think there are several answers to the question that are all working in concert.

  1. I am not good at Star Craft. In truth, I never have been. Back in the day, when I played in high school and college, I wasn’t good. Turns out 10 years with zero practice doesn’t make you any better. Which isn’t to say I’m bad. I can follow build orders, survey, and defend myself quite well. But when it comes to actually going on the offense… closing the deal, as they say… I just never had it.
  2. I enjoy Star Craft as a social experience. Even when I used to play the original, I was exclusively playing against friends. Whether at LAN parties or in the dorms, Star Craft was about playing around with friends. With the beta, it’s all anonymous match-ups. Recently all the beta participants were issued keys to give to friends, which I’m hopeful means I’ll have someone to play with in a more social capacity… but it’s still not quite the same as Big Game Hunters with a bunch of players you know.
  3. No access to the single player campaign. The point of the beta is to test the balance and battle.net matching services. As such, things like the single player campaign or a challenging AI are off-limits. Being cut off from the single player elements really brought home to me how much I enjoyed the solo play. I think what I really enjoy is overcoming a more developed computer player in different scenarios. With battle.net games, it’s the same every time… equal footing, same maps. It’s just a race to accomplish the same goal… and it turns out I don’t know how to accomplish that goal.

Now, this isn’t to say it’s a bad game. It is, in fact, an amazing game. The controls are responsive, the graphics are detailed, and the number of unit/strategy combinations are staggering. When the final games comes out, I have no doubt I will buy a copy in minutes after its release… and once I have a copy, I will play the solo campaign from beginning to end. Until that time, I shall continue to be really bad at the battle.net games and perhaps, someday, play enough of them to where I am actually placed in a league and start building a truly impressive number of defeats.

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