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Starcraft 2

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
May 27, 2007 23:30

Well I crawled out of my sick bed on Saturday to see two things; the first was the F.a.Cup Final which was a HUGE disappointment, the second to see what new game Blizzard were unveiling. I don't think any of us were really surprised it was Starcraft2, apart from maybe the lunatics that believed it would be an MMO.
It is supposed to be a new game or an expansion pack? Where is the 4th race? I really hope they announce one later on but when considering it I thought well it could be hard to think of a truly original race and units that doesn't look like any of the current 3. Protoss = Future, Terran = Present, Zerg = Past in terms of fighting style/technology so where do you think they could slide in a new race? (no, it won’t be “imba night elf”, whiners)

I played Starcraft online for 2 years before moving onto Warcraft3, I got Reign of Chaos a couple of months after it was released and I remember all the whines from Starcraft players when clan members "betrayed" them. "Go play with your magic, your orcs and your little “heroes”" I remember one clan member said. There were several reasons why Starcrafters did not like Warcrafter.
Heroes: Most people did not like the idea of “Heroes” when Warcraft3 came out, seemed too much like Diablo meets Starcraft.
Hp: They did not like that it took so long to kill one unit, in Starcraft the equivalent to a Warcraft3 footman or ghoul was a marine for the Terrans and a tank in Siege Mode (sacrifice mobility to increase attack damage, range and add splash) could kill maybe 5-10 marines in one shot?
Magic/Fantasy: I mean men like “guns n stuff”, destruction, carnage and blood. Warcraft3 when it came out seemed like a happy RTS, lots of pretty colours, the units even made funny noises (they did in Starcraft, well they made noises, not necessarily funny).
I think Blizzard will realise this and continue to keep the two games separate, they did that with Warcraft2 -> Starcraft ->Warcraft3 and the step back to Starcraft2 should be no different. Although when I moved to Warcraft3 it was easy, if you had played Starcraft it was so quick to pick up. Warcraft3 just added small things like being able to put multiple buildings in one group or a map ping that you thought “yeah we really needed that on Starcraft”. I hope Starcraft2 will live up to expectations but will it “Kill Wc3?”, I highly doubt it, it will take time to become balanced for instance and its still not released for another 1-2 years probably!
Although I think that like me, other old fans will suddenly think about maybe just playing a little Starcraft in the next year or so just to get a feel for it again so the Starcraft community could build in anticipation of the Sc2 release.
What do you all think?

Why Pro-Gamers are so Good

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
May 16, 2007 02:57

Maly's Game Theory
First Entry
I’ve been interested in the theory of games for quite a long time now, over the last 2 university degrees I have used any essay project to research & learn about computer games. On the one hand it makes you appreciate games more but on the other hand it destroys the magic of games however it is still an interesting subject none the less. I decided that with my spare time now after finishing University I could perhaps share my knowledge, if people are interested I might even try to turn it into a feature! *gasp* Do not worry I’ll try to keep it interesting and not make it seem like your reading an essay ;)
Where to start? I thought I’d start with what I found the most interesting which is a very brief overview of why we find computer games fun and also part of the reason why “pro-gamers” are THAT good.
The answer to both these question is patterns. The human brain is a massive consumer of patterns, and is just so happens that computer games are full of extremely interesting patterns for us to eat up! However our brain basically fills in the spaces, so much that we don’t even realize all the work that it is doing!
Why don’t we realise it? According to experts it is because we are not really “conscious”, in fact we do most things on auto-pilot. Ever seen a Warcraft 3 player live? Everything is happening so quickly you sometimes think he must be faking it. Or perhaps you’ve seen SK|Spawn react with lightning speed, and you think how is he THAT quick?
The reason some pro-gamers are so good is because of a concept called “chunking”. If I asked you to think about what you did this morning, you’d probably list getting up, crawling into the bathroom, perhaps even washing? Then you would get dressed, hopefully eat some breakfast (most important meal of the day!) and then got on your PC ready to read E-Sports news. Now that seems quite detailed but when you got dressed which order did you do it in? Did you put your T-shirt on first? Which sock did you put on first? Now this is when you have to work your brain to remember but you could probably remember in the end (especially if you have a photographic memory)
The reason for this is because this is a routine, something you do everyday, you’ve done it so much you do not even think about it anymore. The whole routine has been “chunked” in other words it has been broken down and grouped into pieces, when you are asked to think about it in more detail that’s when you actually have to work your brain and turn it off auto-pilot.
Computer Games are no different, the first time you play a first person shooter it may feel a little strange especially if you never played one before. However if you decide to keep trying and don’t give up then you will start to notice patterns. When you press the up arrow or W the player moves forward, when you press fire the gun will fire. These may seem “obvious” but to someone who is new to games this is a new pattern, we as gamers have already mastered these patterns and “chunked” them. As we grow with experience we move onto master more complex patterns, however this is not enough for us to be able to master the game.
Ever tried to mirror a strategy or tactic on Counter-Strike or Warcraft3 only to find you can’t manage to be as successful despite copying the winning team or player? The reason for this is because you are only exposing yourself to the patterns, in order to be successful you must chunk them efficiently and to do so you must practise them over and over until they become a routine and you can “chunk” them.
Yep, the professional gamers weren’t kidding when they said “practise practise practise”! Basically in order for us to improve we must learn to master patterns. The fun and enjoyment comes from us being faced with patterns that are not too simple that we can master them instantly and not too complex that we can not understand them. Online gamers become more proficient in games because of the competition but also because online games are more of a routine than the single player, we learn to master it quicker and more efficiently in order to survive.
This is just a small start! It’s a big a topic but I’ll see if people are interested in learning more or perhaps for me to go into greater detail!

The Victory of Defeat

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Jun 23, 2006 00:18

“Some will tell you that sport is all about winning. Have nothing to do with such people” Barnes 2006
Winning is not the only thing in gaming. There is also losing, for example. Losing is one of the most important things in gaming and people do it all the time in their thousands. You can lose unfairly, impressively, humiliatingly, stupidly. You can lose by a frag, a hero, an item, a power-up, a shotgun, a rifle, on points. You can be owned, raped or decimated off the map. You can be beaten and hang up your mouse, throw your keyboard, make a new account, swear at yourself, your opponent, change to a different game; you can be beaten and still take a lot of positives from this.
Take ESWC for example. If we add up all the competitors from the various disciplines it begins with 550 competitors. After the first initial group stage 377, more than three quarters, are already losers. That’s 377 supposed top national “e-athletes” out of the game. Owned, beaten, stuffed. Second-best. Once the finals have been played the number of losers has risen to 535. How can winning possibly be the only thing when so many in gaming obviously not doing so? Steve Archibald a famous Scottish professional footballer famously said that "team spirit is an illusion only glimpsed in victory." the idea that winning is the only thing is the same kind of illusion, when your winning you believe that is all that is important.
The idea of losing is commonly repressed. In the build-up to the World Cup for example it’s all about anticipation. In gaming, even voyeuristically, anticipation is the starting point. The fantasy of the unfulfilled potential of the players is arguably the most exciting aspect. In anticipation, we are all champions. The national team we follow and support are always unbeatable in our minds, that is, until they are beaten.
Defeat is the gaming or sporting experience that dare not speak its name. Defeat is the thing that keeps us interested; for when victory is assured, where is the joy? A match that is not “balanced” brings no pleasure to the winner. Victories are hollow, meaningless without a challenge. Victory is not glorious without the possibility of defeat. Even when teams or individuals dominate for a sustained period of time, we know that defeat will get them in the end, complacency, lack of motivation or simply lost their touch will end the streak sooner or later. It always does - Spirit_Moon, Fatal1ty, Grubby, SK Sweden, Winz are but a few examples.
Without defeat there is no victory. Without losers there is no winner. We glorify the winners; and we do so while repressing the thought that every winner floats high on success on the tears of the losers. We should be forever grateful to every loser, to every opponent defeated, without them there is no competitive gaming.
We the gifted few who follow the competitive gaming scene are hooked on the twists and turns of the narrative, the ever changing cast of heroes and villains, who’s hot, who’s not and the thrilling alternations of victory and defeat. It is the unexpected victory that is always the sweetest, when the underdog overcomes the odds against him like LoSt CaUsE. They are so sweet because they come so close to defeat.
Let’s look towards the ESWC, the world cup and all the tournaments that await us. Some fellow Englishmen hope to see our nation triumphant at the World Cup or at ESWC whether it’s 2GD in Quake 4, srs.demuslim in Warcraft 3 or 4 Kings in Counter-Strike, but versus the superior competition in all the departments the chances look slim. Does that mean we won’t bother to follow the tournaments? With a massively reduced prospect of our team coming out victorious, is there no point in watching?
Certainly not! We will switch on and watch the World Cup in our millions or follow ESWC coverage whether it be shoutcast, live video stream, replays or articles, following every score and as the tournaments go on, from naïve optimism to total despair. We will watch believing even knowing our team or player will be defeated. That they will join the long list of losers. We will watch just waiting for that moment where they meet defeat and when it does we shall react with appropriate disappoint and disbelief.
We are obsessed as with defeat as we are victory. Competitive gaming would be not gaming without misery, without despair, without hopelessness, without its twists and turns. Victory is for the naïve, the blind for it’s in defeat that the true spirit of a skilled gamer or team is uncovered.

WC3L Qualifiers - make or break?

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Apr 28, 2006 01:41

I remember an admin recently talking to me saying that wc3l qualifiers* was "make or break" for potential clans. It's stuck in my mind so much I decided to write this blog about it.
You'd think surely if they dont manage to qualify they will have at least attracted enough attention but that in itself is what stabs themselves in the heart. If a clan has managed to gather together enough skilled players to think they have a shot at qualifying for the next season I would advise clan organisers to think very carefully about it.
Wc3L is undoubtably the most prestigious clan league on Warcraft 3 and for most clans it would be the epitomy of the success they dream of. Players will not have to beg or abuse the AMM in order to compete against the top tier players, they will have a chance week in week out for 11 weeks to play versus top clans. If they manage to survive their first season they will be able to attract in stars from teams that got relegated or steal them from the weaker teams, survival of the fittest only the strong survive. Once you bring your team into the wc3l qualifiers your players are then on the market, because there is a good chance that if you lose, your star players could be whipped away by a qualifying team.
"No way man, my clan members would never leave me, we've been together for years". I remember talking to Narkoman**, I asked him how did you manage to create a successful clan, what's the secret? He told me it took him years of hard work and a goal of creating a great clan, it's a process of elimination he said, you have to continiously kick the weaker members and recruit stronger ones. He told me he had lost many friends because of it but that is what is required if you really want to be a successful Warcraft 3 clan.
Surely not, that's heartless but maybe that's why so many Warcraft 3 clans bite the dust, not enough loyalty and friendship. LanFan is a prime example of the cruel Warcraft 3 world, ransacked after a series of awful results it decided to remove all it's korean players and stick with an all European lineup. A week later it loses Satiini, and then proceeds to fall apart with a final score in the wc3l as season IX draws to a close of eleven clan wars, zero wins.
Greed is what also kills clans, once individuals taste the fame and attention the wc3l and it's qualifiers give them, if their clan falters, they won't stay to help it back up. Disgusting? maybe. It's the same in football, small teams will bring up talent through their ranks with aspirations of sucess and glory, Wayne Rooney and Everton for instance, but once the going gets tough the temptations for a brighter and more successful future are irresistable.
Maybe a little greed is required though in order to become a great player because mostly likely if a team-mate was in the same situation he'd take it and expect you to praise and congratulate him. I've heard and seen many tales of spite as a clan member joins a more sucessful clan abandoning his clan members who thought his loyalty was indisputable.
The secrets to keeping your clan together through the wc3l qualifiers is to make sure you don't let the weakest link of your clans destroy the chance of qualification for the others. Skill is not the only thing you need to survive the qualifications, mentality and loyalty is what will ensure that once the dust settles your clan is still standing strong, qualification spot or not.
It is a harsh reality one has come to accept in the Warcraft 3 world but be careful who you recruit, most upcoming talent doesn't care for your clan, just his own gratification. Your clan is nothing but a means to an end for these kind of players. If you decide to try to go for the wc3l qualifiers you better make sure your team is loyal till the end, because if you fail, you will be destroyed.
*Warcraft 3 League, the most successful Warcraft Clan league
** Former leader and creator of clan Incredible team action.

WCG is coming.. are we excited?!

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Nov 7, 2009 15:14

I will be at WCG 2009 which draws very near, are we all as excited as usual?!
I certainly am! Last year was great fun in Cologne. Carmac and I had a rockclimbing race, managed to unearth a huge cock-up by the WC3 admins when they put the wrong player through to the playoffs (Nightwolf was put through instead of the Mexican Raspot) courtesy of a tip from Jos "Zerter" Bueyvoets [credit where its due].

I witnessed a wicked semi-final match between Moon and TeD as well as a gripping final of Grubby vs Moon. This time I'm looking forward to see if Fly can go all the way in the WCG, 3rd at estars, 1st at IEM Chengdu, 1st at WCG China. Also Koreans getting closer to that gold medal, Moon + Lyn + Who all could have a shot!

As for Counter-Strike no SK Gaming :( but at least we have Tyloo for entertainment who could definately push for a spot in the finals given their shape. WCG is always a bit of a hit n miss with a single elimination playoffs,but with Tyloo and WeMadeFox on site, they could certainly kill off a top team if they are on form.

I will be at the event for SK Gaming, spending a few days prior to the event travelling Chengdu with my wife and checking out a few pandas before WCG2009 begins. Our son will be well taken care of by his Chinese grandparents in our absence. I work as a full-time English teacher here in China, so I had to move all my lessons next week to the following week, which means 40 hours of teaching when I get back but its worth it!

However, with so many events in the year is WCG really as prestigious this year as it was the last? If you think about it from a competitive point of view it has less top teams, less matches per team/player and is more luck based especially with the playoff tree. Although it is the tournament that attracts the most media attention, so swings and roundabouts.

What about you, is WCG still the biggest tournament of the year for you? What are you looking forward to?

[photo from WCG2008!]

Maly moves to China - Part III

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Jun 1, 2009 08:05

Roasting at the WC3L tournament, riding a waterrollercoaster and owning Affentod from ESL just some of the highlights this time!
Maly Goes to China Part III - The Warcraft3 entry

Aaaaaaaaaah, the WC3L Season XV in Warcraft3, my first Chinese tournament. I managed to succesfully get on the right train and find my seat, feeling quite proud of myself, I sat down next to a lady and what I assume was her son.

After seeing me, they had a little whisper between each other and then the mother brought out face masks out of her handbag, ah swine flu, apparently only White people have it! I considered mentioning I’d just got back from Mexico, but I decided to just do some fake coughs just to get them worried a bit.

ImageGiven the fact I’d never been to Beijing before, I managed to get Wufan, the Editor-in-Chief of (A popular Chinese website) to pick me up. After managing to get to the hotel (extremely high quality) and grabbing some food he offered to take me to the Blizzard College eSports tournament, going down in Beijing University.

What was funny is that many girls were dressed up as if they were going on a date, obviously their boyfriends had tricked them into thinking they were going out to dinner maybe!

Hopefully you’ve already read my article about Sky and perhaps seen some of the videos I uploaded from the event, and of course looked at the gallery! I was treated extremely well, in particular by Candy the PR manager from Chinese Esports Athletics (CEA, they produce a magazine in China called eSports) , the company who also helped organised the event as well as Wufan of course! In comparison to the WC3L where if a problem arose it was normally answered with a “yea, we know, it sucks”, not a “yea I’ll see if I can fix it”, it was nice to be welcomed!

The WC3L

ImageThe interviews I managed to do at WC3L seem reasonably popular, I interviewed Shy and FoCuS right after they won the final but the confusion over my questions made me decide to perhaps not post it. Hopefully you have all seen the “FoV fails to interview TH000” which was my personal favourite. What made it more amusing was the other people watching on the side such as Hasuobs giggling away, and FoV’s face as TH000 keeps talking in answer to the first question.

Quote of the tournament has to be Lucifron though, I chatted to the various players when I had the chance to and when I asked Lucifron, “why do you not play other races?”, his answer was “Because other races don’t have Blademaster”!!! Classic stuff, shame he didnt say it on camera.

The heat in Beijing was unbearable, if you think about it I’m sitting on a wooden bench for 12 hours a day in 30+ degree weather, with very little wind. Luckily one of the rides nearby was a water one (the reason why some of the girls in the gallery are completely wet), so each day I went on it once and it would keep me cool for about 3-4 hours. The last time was probably the best, after finishing the coverage of the WC3L, myself and the other ESL admins including Baschi, went on the water-rollercoaster.

ImageAffentod from the ESL refused to be daring and jump the queue and ended up boarding the boat by himself after we had just finished our run. We then went over to the observation deck, where you can watch your friends go down the main slide and there is a place to put money in to start another water gun to squirt people afterwards!

After some frantic trying to ask people for coins I managed to get some change and then as we saw Affentod completely soaked after the big splash, put the money in to start the water gun. To be fair he took it like a man.

In the evening was the player party, in a popular bar in Beijing, myself and Nik from Mousesports challenged Baschi and Affentod to a game of pool. It was essentially noob warz, as we all have little or no experience at playing pool, but Baschi despite being poor at actually playing the game, seems to know all the rules. I guess that is why he’s an admin not a player ;) I asked Shy if he was any good at playing pool, he answered “No, but I am better than you guys, it is like watching human towers.”

After I went home early to get some rest but ended up wandering the streets of Beijing with Kaltlicht the CEO of WICKED eSports, in an effort to stay awake and find food before the Champions League Final kick off at 3am. One shop had an interesting combination of biscuits, ice creams and condoms, with two young girls behind the counter at 1:30am in the morning. We just settled for the biscuits and headed back to watch the final.

It proved horribly dissapointing and not worth staying awake until 5 am for as my team Manchester United lost 2-0 to Barcelona and Baschi collected 100 yuen (10 euros) off me for winning the bet. It’s a hard life, but it was a good few days.

Maly moves to China

Maly moves to China Part I
Maly moves to China Part II
Part IV coming next!

Maly moves to China - Part II

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
May 22, 2009 11:34

Goldfish in a keyring, a Moon keyboard and why I feel guilty when the Chinese shop assistants always try to help.
Settling in nicely so far, I've actually uploaded an album this time with pictures from the first week in China. Really crazy stuff so far, I finally feel I'm experiencing life as it should be, busy. China is an extremely busy country, for most of my life I've lived in relatively quiet places but finally honking car horns at 7 am is suddenly a great thing to hear. It makes you feel alive!

So much to write about but I think I'll try to group them into some short topics, remember to check out my album!

Service - Excellent in China

When you come to China, the first thing you will notice Service in China is excellent, if I'm being honest. You walk into a shop and all you hear is "Guang Lin, Guang Lin" which means welcome. At times it verges on a physical version of the Microsoft paperclip, when they try to assist in telling you which toilet paper or toothpaste is best, but hey at least they are here to help!

Although one thing I've noticed is there are lot of people doing jobs that do not need to exist, for example in Da-Run-Fa, a popular superstore there is someone who literally stands at the end of the moving escalator and her job is to pull your trolley off it and onto the floor.

Now apparently it is to help speed up peoples shopping but she's not putting her heart into it, not even a proper pull! China seems to know how to take initiative, to find a way of making money no matter the background. I've seen old men stop people from throwing their last drop of drink to drink it themselves and then squash the bottle and put it away in their bag in the hope of finding someone to sell it to at a later date. Its all just so different, but in a great way.

The hard thing to get used to is because Chinese are so friendly and pro-active in wanting to help you when you are shopping, I feel horribly guilty when you actually dont want to buy what they are selling. Its apparently normal and they are accustomed to it but I still feel the pain inside for them. I'll have to toughen up otherwise I will be feeling guilty a lot.

IT Market - My Heaven

ImageThe IT market was the highlight so far this week, hundreds of little shops selling all the technology you could imagine, RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP. It is such a stupid stereotype that people believe China is behind in the times, I've always not made up my own opinion until I see something for myself and all i can say is EUROPE needs to catch up!!!

Cameras, mp3s, computers, screens, dvds, psps, macbooks, webcams, you could find literally anything. For me the best bit was finding steelseries products, I found the Moon mousemat for only 17 euros and the fnatic one too. Also found Mr Xiaofeng "Sky" Li on a gaming keyboard. To find eSports products just in a regular shop was just a great feeling. Damn I really want that Moon mousemat!

Information and technology is so accessible here, there is always the dispute over piracy, but I think its great. I think if you look at it from the point of view of it is making education and information reachable for the masses, it can only be viewed as a positive thing. 70% of China's population is rural, they would never be able to afford the western prices. I just felt pain for all the times I paid 20 euros for a dvd I only watched once...

When we entered the software area, as we reached the top of the stairs 3 women thrust a list of software written on cardboard, of all the software, games, dvds they had in stock. Of course I had to have a look...

The whole point is you are supposed to bargain in these mini-shops but since I'm a foreigner the prices I think take a very sharp increase when they notice me. My wife and I are going to guerilla style and split up so she can buy the products I like at the Chinese prices, not the foreigner ones!!!

This is probably a book already, more to come soon. Comment if you are enjoying it so far! Also check out the album:

View my China Gallery

Maly moves to China - Part I

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
May 18, 2009 00:23

Massage from a blind man, seeing a turtle guillotined just some of the highlights so far in China.
A 25 hour journey including a 10 hour flight and a 5 hour drive from Beijing to Jinan and we arrived at my and my son's new home, and my wife's hometown. I'll be here for the foreseeable future unless I suddenly can not take the staring and open mouths anymore, and I hope to be bring coverage of Asian events to SK (finally!).

Jinan is quite a big city, boasting 6 million people, its about a 1 hour flight from beijing or a three hour train journey. Jinan is not a very international city which was the reason for me seeing no other foreigners at all practically. Aside from a group of four indians when I went to the hairdressers, who saw me as they passed then walked back to give me a polite wave (YES, THERE ARE MORE LIKE ME!)

The supermarket was the highlight so far, a massive place with several assistants on each aisle to help you choose the products you want. Also when you walk in 6 women bow at the same time to say welcome, which was a bit unnerving! I'm all for a bit of service but they seemed quite robotic and emotionless. The girls on each aisle dont smile or move, they just.. well.. stand there. Even my wife thought it was a bit strange, apparently its only a recent thing!

However, the shock so far was the turtles. Saw them in the fresh food area swimming about and thought they were to be bought as pets. Then I saw a queue of people and the head of a turtle which had just been cut off still moving while its body was being squeezed to get the blood out! Waa! I'm going to have to get used to this kind of stuff.

My wife made a good point that in the West we only eat the good bits of the animal but waste the rest, in other words actually wasting more food. I managed to find some food I recognised, my aim was Weetabix but I settled for Frosties and some Chinese Red bull (which does not taste as good).

People selling food off the pavement, 3 people riding one motorbike, China seems very free despite what people say. Rules seem to be not taken seriously, everyone just does their thing. I love it!! :D

I"m quite used to Chinese food as we eat it at home in UK most days but still nice to have something you're comfortable with as I'm not someone that can eat meat for breakfast like the Germans.

To finish the first day off I watched the finals of the Sudiman Cup in Badminton, China vs Korea in singles, (China always wins basically). It made me think why does eSPorts not have instant replays of pro moves, we still need to work on that.

I then went to have a massage from a blind guy in the area where we live. The sentence no pain no gain never had more significance as I was trying to control myself to not scream when the bloke would suddenly literally stab me with his hands. However, it was very good!!!

Ronaldo strike versus Porto - Godlike

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Apr 16, 2009 00:13

The goal that put Man Utd through to the semi-final of the Champions League, godlike!

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