Back In My Day :@
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
The Third Resource
The third resource is an old concept. You got your minerals. You got your gas. You got your concentration too.
Today I played a bunch of games. I had a lot of fun. After the sun went down I decided to just watch some replays (I have difficulty playing in the dark, and don't like unnatural light).
(I didn't think this would be hard to type... It didn't even cross my mind. But my hand actually hurts from playing more StarCraft than I have in a long time)
In any case, while watching my old replays I noticed something striking. The way I spend my concentration now is totally different from the way I spent my concentration back then. It wasn't wrong what I did back then, it was just totally different. I look like a different player. Frankly, I look like a smarter player.
The Macro Age
We live in the macro age. There have always been players who focused more on macro than anything else, but even if they wanted to there wasn't enough macro to do to put all of your concentration into it. These days perfect macro takes more concentration than most people have in total.
Did you see Day9's Funday Monday where he told everyone they have to expand every 5 minutes on the minute?
Sure, he revised it from 4 minutes, but that is still pathetic compared to the macro in BroodWar today. If you only have 4 bases 20 minutes into the game, you are just bad. Having 3 bases before 10 minutes is not uncommon with most maps (regardless of race).
This isn't putting SC2 down or anything, I am just being silly to make a point. The point being that it is possible to spend all of your concentration on macro alone. There is just so much to do now and it happens so fast, and if you're not doing it you feel like you're falling behind a player that is. That's how freaking tough this game has gotten.
The Scouting Age
Allow me to go back in time a million years, to before there was even an accessible proscene. Way, way before, when I was first taking melee seriously, there was a time when scouting was the most important aspect of BroodWar. The standard response in a help thread wasn't "You didn't make a enough units," it was "you didn't react to your opponent well enough," or "you didn't have good intel." Okay, maybe it wasn't exactly like that, since people have always had a million ideas about how to play StarCraft, but it was for me. You could have endless theorycraft about "If you do that, I'll just do this," "well if you do that, I'll just do this" ... And the conclusion was that whoever knew what their opponent was doing better was obviously going to win.
I will tell you right now that I come from the Tsunami school of thought for BroodWar. I didn't know Tsunami. Tsunami wasn't even part of the scene by the time I started taking melee seriously. But when I wanted to beat the people in the StarEdit.net melee mapping forum, and back up all the crap I had to say, Tsunami's Guide to Zerg was my bible. I don't mean I quoted from it. I mean I played the people from the forum and used the guide to give myself an edge that I shouldn't have had.
Before I started playing melee, I was a pure micro player. My favourite UMS was micro wars, so I had some good reason to believe I was good at StarCraft. Micro and tactics were what I brought with me, but Tsunami gave me scouting.
There used to be a time when if you asked 'what's a good build?' or 'what do I get?' (and I'm not making it up this time) the response was 'any build that goes beyond 14 or so supply is worthless, because it means you're not reacting to your opponent.'
Everything I did when I was first learning StarCraft was related to scouting. It's where nearly all of my concentration went, except when I had to micro. My overlord placement was phenomenal, I had lings patrolling key parts of the map, I sometimes burrow linged, and I parasited basically every game. I followed Tsunami's major rule that 'You must sacrifice an ovie to scout his base at least every 5 minutes.' Scouting came before efficiency. Before the lives of your army. Scouting is what allows you to flank. Scouting is what gives you time to run your drones from a shuttle, or hide them from incoming vultures.
Do you know at this time I was a 70-85ish apm player? I was never, EVER caught off guard by a drop. I was never guessing if I could attack or not. I knew how big his army was, I knew if I could win, and if I didn't think I could win I just stalled. That's proper Zerg play.
FLASH, WHAT'S HAPPENING?!
I don't play often anymore, because I like playing a series with the same player, so ladder doesn't offer that. For the last year or so I can't deny that 80% of my games have just been me dicking around against a computer.
Did you know that there's no reason to scout a computer?
It suits The Macro Age, really. You do your own thing and you try to make as much shit as you can. That's kind of fun in and of itself. But it's strange too. When I looked at my replays today I saw myself doing things I don't do at all anymore. Shift clicking ovies around the map to make them look like they're going somewhere. Making sure I have almost all of the map in sight. Moving my army a lot, without attacking. It's hard to believe I forgot all that, but when you haven't played in awhile and you're spending 100% of your concentration on macro and a few big attacks, you don't even notice they're gone. But they're important. They're the reason so many stupid players catch me off guard. All I'm thinking is 'okay, whoever macros and micros better will win. That's the only way to win. Don't forget to snipe templar. Don't forget to do other random thing.' It's so strange to realise that's how I've started playing. Just thinking because I don't play enough to climb the ladder, all I need to do to win is make more shit because I know I can. But there's no class in that.
What the Hell Did You Just Read?
Honestly, I didn't intend this to be such a personal history of my play, and I apologise if it was dull. What I really wanted to get at was how we spend the concentration resource. Whether we are just spending it to make units, or whether we are spending to make our units do things that aren't just 'attack the enemy.' Do we even notice all the ways we can spend our concentration?
Remember a Manifesto7 RWA: EpisodeFrench is a really smart player. He thinks about the game while playing, which most people forget to do in the middle of the action.
I remember wanting to be that kind of player :O
And today I was, so yay me I didn't do the same things I used to do, but I finally started thinking instead of just recalling truisms of StarCraft that don't make for special games.
BACK IN MY DAY HATCHERIES COST 350 MINERALS AND THOSE PATCHES WERE REALLY FAR AWAY AND STUPIDLY PLACED!