My journey with StarCraft

I was inspired to write this blog by fact that Starcraft: Remastered will be released soon, podcast by Incontrol who talks about his life in Evil Genius as Starfact player, commentator and personality and I want to write a post for last 3 years about my  view on game industry and e-sport from viewer who watched games but does not have time to play it.  This post will be about my experience as a spectator of e-sport game which will contain an answer to the question “Why you watching other’s people playing the game” and “Why you watching e-sport”?

 

IN THE BEGINNING …

I discovered Starcraft in an internet cafe just before brood war expansion was released.

      I wasted many hours and spent a fortune to play single player campaign.  I was impressed with the storyline, one of the most amazing cut scenes I have ever seen in the game. I remember until today when I saw other guy playing a campaign where Terrans were under siege by zerg and they need to survive for some time. It was a hard mission for me as I was constantly attacked and I barely won. What stunned me and it is a reason why I still remember is when I saw the guy playing Starcraft for the first time and he maybe built 2 bunkers and he won … without hassle as zergs sent 1 hydralisk per minute. I had on of the biggest WTF face expression. I guess these days I will shout on Twitter how this game is imba! I played some multiplayer games too. I even won 2 vs 2 … even if I had 1 zealot and 1 pylon left on field :). It was a great fun.

    Anyway, this is NOT a blog entry about grandpa sharing experience when he was young, so it summary I had a great time with this game and I consider as one of my favourite game of all my life. (XCOM: Enemy Unknown is my favourite).

 STARCRAFT REBORN BY YOUTUBE

Life moved on and I forgot about Starcraft. A few years later when I was preparing to exams and I needed “5 minutes” break and I discover a YouTube channel  (Klazart, VioleTAK or Moletrap) where some guys made a commentary of Starcraft tournament in South Korea. I was shocked because :

  • An ancient game is not dead.
  • Playing Starcraft in South Korea is a big thing.
  • There are many tournaments.
  • They stream it on TV!

Here, I have an advice for people who looking for 5 minutes break in the middle night during preparation to exams on next day at 9 am. Do not use Social Media or content making website where you can discover as it will make surviving at exam … much more challenging.

Anyway, back to the topic. I started watching all matches with commentaries created by Cholera, Klazart, Moletrap, Tasteless with Little Susie and during Starcraft 2 era Husky, Incontrol and Day9 (more about Starcraft 2 later).

I still remember watching finals where Moletrap did his commentary from the car on the university campus which makes Cholera and other laughs. It shows the passion of these people to create content about things that they care about it. It was amazing. I felt really sad when each of them decided to retire.

Watching Starcraft became my hobby. Yes, it is correct. For me, watching game’s tournament was my way to relax after work and exams. It is like being a football fan. You can play for fun and still watching professional matches.  In fact, there is no difference between watching football and e-sport like Starcraft.

STARCRAFT 2 ERA

Blizzard announced that Starcraft 2 will be released in 3 parts. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and 2 expansions StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. In the beginning, it sounds like release the same things 3 times and cash-in on people but then I realized that it can be a good idea as it will help re-shape game in each major release like Brood War changed original Starcraft. As it turns out, it exceeded my expectations because each release has an epic single game campaign and good impact on multiplayer. I decided to play all 3 campaigns at once and I am planning to buy at some point in near future.

During Starcraft 2 era I enjoyed commentary by Husky, StarcraftHD, Day9 and  Incontrol.  My favourite player was White-Ra because of his good heart personality. I also support TLO, White-Ra and all polish players.

Unfortunately, at some point, I got busy in real life (got married, change job and so on) and at the same time Starcraft 2 pass his peak time, lost momentum and start dropping in terms of quantity and quality of the tournaments which makes back to watch tournaments more and more difficult over time.

LEGACY OF THE STARCRAFT

Personally, it is sad to see that popularity of Starcraft is going down so sharply but Starcraft exists for 20 years and it must happen sooner or later. I think Blizzard did a great job to keep the game for so long even if some mistakes and slow response to game’s needs may speed up this process of fading out of this game.

On a side note. One of the big advantages of being e-sport player than sport is that players can switch games if things go wrong over time. Something that is almost impossible in normal sport).

In my personal opinion, Starcraft and Korean scene were one of the main factors to popularize e-sport and create professional e-sport in the world. Thanks to other games I think e-sport will grow rapidly and one of the games will match the level of popularity as football. Speaking of football.  Unfortunately, mistakes like corruption, match fixing and drugs appear in Starcraft too. However, I will discuss this subject in the future blog entry.

Thanks to the internet we as a society is under revolution from the industrial age into the digital age where information and content is a value, not goods. It allows e-sport and games like Starcraft to create digital content by people can share their passion with others from all over the world. They didn’t need big media but they need the digital platform like YouTube and Twitch (known as Justin.tv). It creates internet based shows like “State Of The Game” by JP and channels like Day9Tv and much more.

From my point of view, everything during a time of early days of Starcraft and e-sport was amazing and I have hoped that e-sport learnt from mistakes made by sports organisations. Unfortunately, real life was a bit different.  I didn’ know about dirty politics between Kaspa, Blizzard and so on. As mentioned before there were incidents with match fixing. Sadly innocent time is over. In my opinion, it will go in the same as football where the game industry will control everything. Again a subject that is worth its own blog entry.

If you are interested in the history of Starcraft’s e-sport history from various perspectives then I suggest you watch:

WHY I WATCH OTHER PEOPLE PLAY GAMES?

WHY I WATCH E-SPORT TOURNAMENT?

Many people didn’t understand why I watch other people playing games or watch e-sport. How I explain them this? Other people enjoy to watch sport, tv series or play the radio in the background while they are doing something else. I am doing the same but I watch e-sport tournament or watch somebody play game in the background while I am doing my things. Simple. As time goes more and more people will do the same.

SUMMARY

As you can see,  Starcraft contribution to the game industry and e-sport is massive. I just briefly mention a few of them.

Big money brings great shows but it kills the spirit. Is it bad? No. It is great an e-sport is a booming industry now and who knows maybe my son will be part of this some day. These days e-sport is growing rapidly and a digital-sport becoming as popular as the physical sport with all good and very bad things.

I think I was lucky as I enjoy the best part of e-sport when it was in incubation. When ordinary people did commentary full of passion and players plays for being the best player. It creates many spectacular moments which I am grateful for.

I was an anonymous viewer who enjoys watching all these shows, thanks to commentators like:

  • Cholera
  • Klazart
  • Moletrap
  • Tasteless
  • Little Susie
  • Husky
  •  and a few more who I should mention but I forgot.

and players like:

  • Boxer
  • Flash
  • Bisu
  • Stork
  • Day9
  • White-Ra
  • Firebat
  •  and a few more who I should mention but I forgot.

It will be great to meet these commentators and players someday and say in person…

THANK YOU

I hope all of you who I mentioned (or should mention but I don’t remember) somehow find this page, read and know somebody in this world appreciates what you did.

Anyway, I am looking forward to playing a Starcraft: Remastered to enjoy a campaign for fun.

Image source: http://www.blizzard.com (Official press resouces)

Laptop HP Pavilion 14-al119na review.

This is not a professional review. This is more daily experience with using this laptop.

If you do not bother to read the whole article, then this is a main take away points:

GOOD

  1. Cheap
  2. Good 14″ Spec for money
  3. Speakers
BAD

  1. Glossy screen
  2. No backlight on keyboard
Summary:

   It is a pragmatic choice if you want reasonably priced 13-14” secondary laptop for a commute, lightweight work, learning or medium distance travelling. Don’t buy this laptop if are surrounding for fashion police or hipster developers. If you good spec for money then you should choose 15.6” laptops or looking to spend £700 at least.

 

STORY

    I needed an Ultrabook as my tablet is a great device for content consumption but for the simple content creation and practice some development skills failed. I tried Nexus9 with keyboard and …it didn’t work for me. I needed a device that I can use during my commute on Tube and as a secondary device while I am trying to survive as being a super father at home.  I didn’t want to spend a fortune as I assume this laptop will be murdered by my son someday during his “crash tests” of all items that he can grab or drop.

 

MY EXPECTATION:

    I want to use this laptop to practice programming skills, write blogs and be able to use as my travel laptop. I decided that laptop should have:

  • 13-14” screen with low resolution
  • Core i3 minimum. Prefer i5
  • 8GB RAM,
  • 128GB SDD (minimum 256GB will be perfect)
  • Decent battery life
  • lightweight

    Problem is that ultrabook is designed for hipster developers so it must be expensive and offer spec that it is pointless for most of them. Is it any budget ultrabook?  I did research and it turns there are not too many choices for the budget ultrabook. Best choice turns out to be HP. However, I don’t like this brand but in this price range, it was a most pragmatic choice. Anyway. It looks like a most valuable option.

This is specification:

Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-7100U CPU @ 2.40GHz

RAM 8 GB

SDD 128GB (Samsung MZNTY128HDHP-000H1)

GPU Intel(R) HD Graphics 620

WiFi Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless-AC 3168

Sound Realtek with some B&O tunning.

Cost £400

In shortcut, not a good spec for 15.6” laptop but for 13-14” is not too bad.

 

FIRST IMPRESSION

    It came with the small package. It has just essentials. I will skip unboxing as you can find sponsored videos when people are much more orgasmic about the process of unboxing. Believe me seeing a middle aged fat guy cutting his finger during the process is …boring. Anyway.

    I read some complaints about battery but this one was enough to hold whole day but I use from time to time and I used for playing music, videos online and install few important apps and enjoying endless Windows Updates.

    Laptop looks quite decent outside but cheap when you open and when you touch you feel … cheated. Everything works. Typing on the keyboard is great. The touchpad is usable. The screen is good but it is glossy so I see my ugly face instead of the screen on sunny days. Overall, I was happy with the choice.

 

Screen

    It is a 14″ Screen with resolution 1366 x 768 pixels and it is perfect. I know, having a screen that is less than 4k is considered as a disadvantage, but for me, it is the ideal resolution for content creation and consumption and development.

There is a one big problem Glossy screen. It is great for narcissist person, but I am not one of them, so it is annoying to see my face on screen while I am developing. Glossy screen and battery saver change your screen to mirror. You can see your face, but you cannot see what you are typing. I am not sure what is the purpose of glossy screen apart of collecting your fingerprints and make it impossible to see anything during the sunny day while the laptop is in battery saver mode.

    The image is sharp and colours look nice but vertical view range is not good enough as I usually most adjust it.  

Keyboard

    The keyboard is OK. Key layout for this size of the keyboard is quite good. There are only 3 problems with it. 2 major and 1 minor.

  1. The Enter button is very small and it is a problem for me as a person who hit Enter all the time.
  2. The pause button is put in weird place (fn+right shift).It was difficult to find at first, but I used this button rarely, so it is not a problem.
  3. Up/Down arrows are tiny and cause some problems during development.

    Most weird thing is that there is enough space for one more column for keys which will solve all these problems. Overall, it is good enough keyboard to type but you can find much better one.

TOUCHPAD

    The touchpad is usable but not comfortable.  Moving pointer on the touchpad is quite good. It is smooth. Buttons work a bit better than on my Asus laptop but it still quite annoying to use. Left clicks works, usually. Right clicks can be tricky to trigger on many occasion. It works, but it depends on its mood. Overall, you can survive without using a mouse but it will be an unpleasant experience. 

 

BATTERY

    As I mentioned in the first impression there is concern about average battery life. With limited choices in this price range, it is hard for me to define an average and good battery. My aim was to have a battery that lasts for 5 hours of developing and listening music in background and laptop seems can holder even longer on battery saver mode. If you planning fly Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Auckland and your seat socket doesn’t work then, unfortunately, you are screwed, but for a bit shorter … like  5 hours journeys should be OK. 

 

MUSIC

    Let’s face it. This laptop is not for DJs who want play drum and bass from laptop’s speaker. However, the sound quality is great for their size. If you don’t  expect to experience a brainquake from bass then you should be happy. B&O did a great job with this speakers. For background noise, play songs to a baby or listen to the podcast at room is perfect. For teenagers who want share, they passion to dubstep in public is a bad option.

 

MY DAILY EXPERIENCE WITH Laptop HP Pavilion 14-al119na

  • I was surprised that fan works all the time. When I was exploring ‘rich’ configuration possibilities in BIOS (as I looked can you set this CPU in specific mode), I discover option “fan always on” is enabled. If you disabled, fan works when CPU gets hot. When you disabled “fan always on”, the laptop is very quiet. I have no idea what was the reason behind it, but so far laptop temperature is good.
  • Some people complain that it WiFi doesn’t support AC standard. Is it a problem? Not really. This laptop wasn’t designed with best possible performance in mind. It was designed to be cheap ultrabook and this cut seems to be reasonable. If you need ac-standard, then … it is not a laptop for you. Most funny thing is I check my laptop. It supports AC.
  • People moan on the internet that Ethernet doesn’t support gigabit standard. Many portable laptops do not have this port at all because it is not needed in wireless communication times. Another thing is it should not be a problem for me as with 128GB SSD there is unlikely that you will flood this drive with many data. I think it is good that it has a port at all.
  • I saw on the internet complaining about a lack of DVD-ROM. It should NOT have one. Ultrabook is designed to work on the move and the n digital age. This is no retro machine to support ancient technologies like CD-ROM, floppy disk and N64 cartridges. DVD-ROM is just waste of space and increases cost and weight.
  • Bluetooth works. I connect my headphones, ‘no name’ speakers’ and everything seems to work.
  • The battery is good enough for my 3 hours commute plus 1 hour spent at the coffee place and spend some time at home on doing various things.
  • It doesn’t have a keyboard with backlight which is especially useful in ultrabook.
  • Performance seems to be ok for my need playing video, having browsers with many tabs and running various CPU intense tasks. My unit tests running around twice longer than tests on my Asus laptop or worse. Performance can be sluggish on rare occasion on battery save mode.
  • Windows didn’t crash.
  • If you looking value for money, then buying 15’ish” laptop is a better idea.

 

SUMMARY

    It is weird for me to say about HP laptops but this is quite a decent laptop for my requirements in this price. I am happy with the choice.  It seems is good enough to handle browser with many tabs and developing a medium sized project without any hiccups.