Thursday, May 6, 2010

A memory long lost

Gnome did me a great favour yesterday - he sent me a beta key to Starcraft 2.  All hail Gnome!

I logged on late last night when the download finished and started up a game.  I got thrown into a newbie game with a few other people and my partner was utterly useless while my opponents were not and I lost quickly.  My mind kept me up late grinding away the the circumstances, going over the battle and what had gone wrong.  How could I be better?  What must I do next time?  I had that familiar feeling of loss and depression that comes from a pvp defeat followed by the burning determination to crush my enemies when next I get the chance.

I remember this feeling from the past.  I recall furious clicking, the rush of a perfectly executed assault and the way the world just melts away.  In particular I still remember specific games, the exact gambits I used, the units at play and the way the battles unfolded in the original Starcraft.  For many people that would be surprising since they would not expect to be able to recall specific video game battles 8-10 years later, particularly among the 4 thousand or so battles I participated in.

I remember starting a game and after 30 minutes or so of play some friends came over to my house including Hobo.  15 minutes later he looked at my screen and saw that my partner's base had just been smashed and I was facing two skilled opponents.  He said to me, "Just give up dude, you can't win."  I don't know whether he intended that statement to utterly cement my determination to beat this terrible situation or not but I do know that my immediate response was an internal "NEVER!"

I expect I will recall the details of the game for decades to come.  For those who know about such things it involved 300 spider mines and a daring 'empty overlords into the enemy base' maneuver and 60 minutes after Hobo's declaration of my inevitable defeat my enemies were smoking ruins.  That thrill, that feeling of utter joy that I experienced in that and other games is incredible.  It is not so much that my opponents were defeated but rather that I played at a level that must be close to perfection.  That sense of total absorption in a fiendishly difficult contest is something I long for.

Back when I first heard that Starcraft 2 was coming out I said that when it launched I would either need to give up my job, my wife or sleep on that day.  These days I have a daughter to fit in too... this could get ugly.


  1. I seem to recall one night watching you perform a defense tower assault on your enemies, building protoss cannons in a huge line across the entire map until they finally got in range of the enemy base.

  2. That is another one of the games etched into my memory. I believe I started it at midnight or so thinking it would be a quick 3 people vs. 5 computers game and I ended up winning at around 5 or 6 in the morning after both of my friends ditched immediately. 5v1 is rough, but it is winnable. Very, very slowly winnable.

  3. I've been reading from people who have dedicated their lives to StarCraft that that sort of thing is a lot less likely now. The claim is that it's a lot harder to come back in SC2 than it was in SC1. Who knows if that's actually true.

  4. From my first impressions I would agree. That said, in my second game with Hobo as my partner we were in a rough situation with lots of enemies attacking our main base when he disconnected. Both the enemies said 'gg' to me and said it was unfortunate for me. So I cleaned out our bases of their troops and beat them both at the same time even though I didn't know that I could control Hobo's few remaining forces at that point. It felt *good*. Of course this wouldn't work against real professionals, but still!