Category Archives: Gaming

StarCraft 2 & winning

Despite my earlier whining about being in the Bronze League of the StarCraft 2 (SC2) ladder, it really does mean that you mostly play other bronze leaguers and recently this has meant that I have been winning.  Fortunately I played my qualification rounds pre-LAN party and I sucked it up.  During the LAN my play improved quite a bit and since the LAN party I am pretty sure that I have lost one 1v1 game while improving my record to 13-8.  That only loss was against a zerg player who took advantage of my building mis-placement to run about twelve zerglings in and ruin my economy right away – oops.

Yesterday was a big day in that  it was the first time since qualifying I played someone from the Silver League, one step up.  The guy was ranked 11th in his league ladder after we played, I don’t know if he was ranked higher previous to that.  Anyway, the game took about ten minutes longer (twice as long!) than a bronze league one, but I still won in the end.  Yay me – I guess.  I am afraid that if I win a few more, it might bump me up a league and I’ll be fighting better players all the time.  Not only is this more time consuming but I am at peace with the fact that I like winning more than I like being super challenged.  I’d rather be 10-1 with the flexibility to make mistakes and not always be on my A-game vs 5-6 and being “challenged.”

Sometimes the easy win feels good 🙂




September 25th came and went, and StarCraft 2 was played into the ground.

The details of what went down:

Star Craft 2 LAN – Cost will be $15 per cash at the door – this includes pizza (supper/dinner), pop, beer, water, snacks, etc. If you want something really special, please let me know.

There will be Mountain Dew (reg & diet), Coke (reg & diet), etc. and a cooler available if you must bring your own.

Iowa folks, feel free to come up Friday night/Saturday morning and crash where ever there is space for you =) Everyone else – come as early as 1 PM to start setting up if you want. Optimally space for 8-12 – we’ll see how well my home internet connection handles it (hey, it is supposedly a business level service 😉 Planning on having folks sit in two completely separate areas so strategy etc can be discussed openly for the best experience.

Bring your LAN gear – PC, Monitor, keyboard, mouse, ethernet cable, power cables, headphones and optimally a microphone. For the love of all that is holy, if you need a DVI to VGA dongle to make your monitor work, bring it! =D

Have SC2 installed when you come or $60 ready for Blizzard. Either way, have the foresight to setup a account ahead of time. If you want to get the rust off, there is a fairly regular group that plays from ~9-11 PM Thursday nights, ping me for more detail. For those that are concerned and/or curious , I am hoping to still do a “real” NATLAN this winter featuring games where we shoot each other over and over for hours on end.

That should be enough details, eh?


Starcraft 2 – Dune 2k all over again

Over the years, Real Time Strategy games (RTS) have always attracted me, but usually only through the single player campaign.  Often times, I even get board of that and never really finish them completely, alternate campaigns that start you back at “you gain one new unit permission!” have little appeal for me.  One game roped me into competitive online play, Dune 2000.

Dune 2000 wasn’t a phenomenal game by any reach of the imagination and bore much in common with Command and Conquer.  On the ol’ dial up and the original family Gateway (Windows 98SE, Celeron 300, 3GB hard drive, 64MB of ram and a screaming for the time 12MB Voodoo2 graphics card) I would play into the wee hours of the morning during high school.  There was a ladder and typically I was in the middle, the highlight of my experience there was a dramatic victory over the 13th ranked player that I could bore you with the details sometime.  By far, that has to be the most played RTS game for me, ever.

I enjoyed the original Starcraft, but to be honest I was late to the party, the game looked old and I never finished Brood Wars, the expansion.  As for multilayer, I played against other real people exactly one time in a ranked match where I obliterated some random internet guy (kid?) who accused me of cheating with a good amount of profanity thrown in.  This was a good way to start – and a good way to end.

A big reason for me shying away from the online multilayer aspect of RTS games is the intensity that the one on one matches bring to the table.  As some of you may know, I like to play games competitively, sometimes to a fault.  I know better, but often times my brain equates fun with winning and that drives me while playing.  Out in the rest of the world, people are really good at these RTS games and playing against them can be a lesson in futility and frustration if you allow it to be.   In Dune 2000, I got to the point where I had a “build order” and a strategy, and played it enough that I just knew what the other player was up to frequently by what units I would see early in the game.  It probably helped that I was in the game playing/learning highpoint of my life, being 15 or so.

Out comes Star Craft 2.  I’ll admit I got caught up in the hype of it, and like Diablo 2 it was purchased Day 1 of its general availability.  Heck, the collectors edition is currently on my desk, complete with its thumb drive containing all of SC1 amongst other nifty things.   Anyway, for the first time really, I knew a bunch of people who had also purchased it and were playing as a group regularly (Thursday night, 9PM for those interested) and this helped take the edge off of playing online.  Dan T. played a 2v2 online match with me versus the great unknown, and thus scary, others on the Internet.

Emboldened by this, I played through the prerequisite five placement matches on the SC2 ladder (there is a very robust, continuous ranking system in place online)  and manage to win one and lose four very tense matches.  This got me placed into the “Bronze” league.  The bottom one out of five.  Which is fine, really, because I thought that meant I would play only against other Bronze level players.  Wrong.  You get automagically placed against anyone looking to play, and that can include Diamond players, way up there at the tippy top.  The type of gamers who play SC2 as a job.  Suffice to say, I lost three more matches and then, finally winning one.  This was a good time to wrap up my play for a while.

In the meantime I started watching Day9 daily over lunch after reading an article at Ars.  In the comments of the article, his feed was mentioned as one that focused on improvement over entertainment value.  I have found that true – and have one my last two ladder matches pretty convincingly against folks that I was “slightly favored” over.  Terminology and lingo have also been valuable information gleaned from his daily broadcasts.

In closing, I promise to the people coming to the LAN party that I am not going to 2 gate-Robo into 2 base 8-gate and rush you with speed Zealots every game.  Unless I start losing. 😛

And if you know what that means, I am sure you’ll be able to neutralize it 🙂


Unexpectedly Great Games

Yep, those are all guns... and the suit is her hair, which she uses to summon giant, boss eating demons. No joke.

Every once in a while you find something that is just unexpectedly interesting and fun.  A long while back , Penny Arcade mentioned a game they were super stoked about, Bayonetta.   I mentally bookmarked it and went about with my life, per the usual.  Fast forward a few months, and I had the opportunity to not only get some solid gaming time in, which is somewhat abnormal, but also some quality xbox 360 gaming time.

So off to Metacritic I went, very sure there would be many games I would want.  Well, it seems that the 360 has many shooters which rate highly like Halo 3 but I only play those games with a mouse and keyboard.   Its also fair to say that Grand Theft Auto games are exactly my cup of tea.  Other games like Bioshock and Fall Out3 I have already played on PC.  Which leaves… action adventure games?  Tops was this Bayonetta game, so off I went to a local Gamestop and traded in some games I was never going to play again (Sonic?  Ugh!) and picked it up used for $35.

What a great purchase!  I put a solid ten hours or so in over the weekend, and they were all awesome.  I enjoyed fighting games like Soul Calibur and this is like a fusion of that and Mario Galaxy – levels that don’t always make sense and crazy combo physical combat with plenty of blood and sexual references thrown in.  Even better is that the game is still plugging along even after that much play time with several more chapters to be completed.  Its one of those games where you tell yourself “one more chapter” and an hour and a half later you are telling yourself the same thing.

Watch this YouTube trailer – that pop music is the *actual* game music.  The boss battles are their own levels as the bosses take up nearly the whole screen.  There is a ton of stuff to collect and challenge levels sprinkled throughout.   This review really sums it up for me – a big plus is that it showcases the 360 hardware by running great and not slowing down.  I enabled vsync to get rid of the screen tearing on my ghetto LCD monitor setup.

Some things about the game annoy me.  The insta-death push button events that punish you (and your level score) with death and the choice to continue are not are irritating.  Being able to replay previous chapters to earn better scores or farm more crafting components both help to overcome this annoyance.

All that said, are there more games like this lurking out there?  Anything you’ve played in the last couple years or so that just shouldn’t be missed?


Poster Needed

So awesome.

So awesome. has some  fantastic artwork.  The problem is, who can wear these t-shirts all the time?  They fit me like crap, too, with there “athletic” sizing.   How many people buying t-shirts online really conform to an “athletic” sizing model?  🙂  To that end, we need posters of these awesome cultural statements.  Join me in bombarding them with emails so we can display this sort of things pinned to our cube walls or framed in our family rooms.  You know you want to.

I already sent my email.  Send yours to: Woot Member Services <> Some person actually wrote me a response saying they were too little as business to handle that but it was something they might consider. If they get enough emails, maybe they will consider it right now…


Free (pay what you want) Game Pack

The games, etc.

The games, etc.

You should head over over to Wolfire games ( and pick up some of the best indie games made in the last year or so.  These are real games that can be had off of Steam as well, the would probably cost you over $100 seperately.  Known as the humble bundle, this has gotten some pretty great press.

I paid $20 and skewed it to the charities that can optionally be supported (its a 50/50 split otherwise.)

Pay what you want, get some good games and feel good about supporting the indie developer community and charities.  It is a win all the way around!

Only about a day left as I post it, so if you are thinking about it pay now and thank yourself later 🙂


NATLAN 2010, a success!

Sean brought a functional network in a box, Dave cooked up some tasty supper, friends old & new brought their boxes and I brought the dedicated servers and fun was had by all!

Check out the Event & Schedule page to see what gaming goodness went down and what people won.

Then look at some pictures we took; more should be posted shortly.

What’s next?  A “Ten Man LAN” in the upcoming months to rock out some Left 4 Dead 2?

Stay tuned 🙂


Setting up the Internet CS:S Server

This was very helpful information:

Call this entry CSS1

it should be like so

Check the enable box
Service name: CSS1
Incoming ports: 27020 – 27039
Destination IP Address: “Your Internal IP here, for example”
*Destination ports: 27020 – 27039
Port type: Check TCP

Press submit

Now we need to create another, this time call it CSS2:

Check the enable box
Service name: CSS2
Incoming ports: 1200 – 1200
Destination IP Address: “Your Internal IP here, for example”
*Destination ports: 1200 – 1200
Port type: Check UDP

Press submit

Now we must make a final one, we will call it CSS3:

Check the enable box
Service name: CSS3
Incoming ports: 27000 – 27015
Destination IP Address: “Your Internal IP here, for example”
*Destination ports: 27000 – 27015
Port type: Check UDP

Courtesy of FPSBanana, a site that seems to live on in Google’s cache.

Server config generator is here…

The server is up, by the way 🙂


Mass Effect 2 + Chuck?

Great news if you like Chuck and the actress that plays Sarah Walker, one Yvonne Strahovski.  She does the voice acting for the character “Miranda” in the game.  Evidently she served as the actual character model as well.  Pretty cool – and if we learned anything from Mass Effect, it’s that the lead character can get a little freaky with his crew mates.  Here’s to hoping 😉

Looks pretty close to me...

Looks pretty close to me...

Mass Effect 2 is sounding better all the time!


Mass Effect 2 Launched, crap…

I’ve been really enjoying Mass Effect, the only issue being the free time sink that the game is to play.  I’ve logged twenty two hours of play time so far, which is likely enough time to have blasted through the main campaign but I am the type of player who just cannot ignore the side missions.

The truth is that the game is truly epic and has a attention to detail that is second to none.  Realistically, the only issues I have had so far are around inventory management which is fairly awful even compared to Fallout 3 (no hotkey to open the inventory directly?  you have to open the inventory to switch weapons?) and just grotesque after having played a dungeon crawler like Torchlight where inventory management is a constant mini-game in of itself.

Evidently Mass Effect 2 fixed these issues, but I am pledging not to read about it until I finish the first one.  I am not going to buy the game until at least its first price cut anyway, but knowing that there is a better game out there I could be playing will crush my desire to finish this one.  After 22 hours, I need to have some closure.

If you play Mass Effect 2, please don’t tell me about it for a couple weeks 🙂