It's dangerous to go alone! Take this.

Hey folks, I've started a blog about my experiences with Code Year over at blogspot, but in the interest of having people maybe actually read it, I'll be posting it here as well. Since I've got no real prior experience with coding, this should be fun. Anyway, without further ado:

I'm a nerd. I've long known this fact, and don't really try to hide it. Hell, when I was in high school I ate lunch in the Latin room with other kids from my Latin class. I was clearly already beyond all hope even then. So it may come as no big surprise that I really like video games...always have. I remember our family getting an NES and spending way too much time with it. For the longest time, as far as I was concerned, that Mario/Duck Hunt cart could have been soldered into the damn system and I would have been perfectly fine; but there's only so much of your life you can lose to trying to shoot that snarky dog every time you miss a duck.

Then I discovered Final Fantasy. I don't even want to know how many hours I sank into that game. The numbers. I think it was the numbers. Keeping track of all those stats, watching damage numbers fly by with message speed turned up to the max, leveling up, class changes, it was as if someone had wired directly into my brain's reward system. That's probably what got the snowball rolling. After that I was always looking for something new to play.

There was even a time when I thought I would program games. I was always good at math and a relatively logical person. I dabbled in programming on my TI-83, but once a classmate taught me how to crash it, that's basically all I ever did. So I never got around to learning to program, maybe because where I went to school growing up Keyboarding was about as high tech as we got. Also, I've always been terrible at self-motivating, and playing video games was, for 15 year old me, infinitely more exciting than learning how for-loops work.

But it's a new year, I'm a responsible adult I guess, and resolutions and blah blah blah. Usually I don't even bother, but this year I heard about Codecademy and the whole Code Year initiative. "That's really neat," I thought. "I can totally do that. Besides, it'll look good on a resume right?" So I started dabbling in the first few lessons up on the site, and that's when it hit me:

"Oh man! I could write a program that calculates my students' grades and automatically drops the specified number of lowest assignments!" I spent a good 10 or 20 minutes being genuinely excited about this prospect before this next epiphany:

"Shit I'm old...and boring..."

So screw that (for now), I have a new resolution. I'm doing Code Year and by the end I will have made my own game. Sure it'll be small, probably without art or sound design, just some kind of text based game; but hey, it'll be mine. Going from essentially no experience to something I can get other people to admit is a game, regardless of its quality, should be totally doable...right? So I guess that's what this blog will be about...mostly. I also reserve the right to make posts about just whatever the hell appeals to me at the time, but I'll do my best to keep it interesting and not stray too far.

Blog (with fancy pictures) also available here.


Updated Starcraft 2 Multiplayer impressions

So Starcraft 2 has obviously been out in the wild for a while now, and now that my review has been featured on the front page (woot!), I thought I'd give some updated multiplayer impressions.  In short, I've been sucked in, and I did indeed end up buying a new rig so that I could get better performance.  But the real point I want to make is that the multiplayer system that Blizzard has put in place for this game seems to work.  I'm usually skeptical of matchmaking systems in general, and that wasn't exactly helped initially when I beat a Protoss opponent rushing to void rays in the silver league and came out rank 10 platinum.   I didn't play a game for a day after that because I was certain I'd just get destroyed by the competition.  
Turns out...that's not the case.  At least for the time being, Platinum league seems completely manageable for a casual player like myself.  I've watched some tutorials (I can highly recommend  ForceSC2Strategy as well as day[9] and the like for those of you looking for some good info on improving your game) and learned some hotkeys.  That along with getting a general sense of counters and standard strategies has been more than enough to make me feel competitive in Platinum league.   Apparently there's still a significant skill gap even between a lot of upper diamond league players and the pros, which is understandable.  After all, this game has a much larger audience than the first, so it just makes sense that there will be a lot more "good but not great" players filling up the leagues, and that's exactly the category I like to think I fit into. 
There's been a lot of complaining about Terran's being overpowered in the current game build (and as a Terran player, I don't disagree), but honestly, even in the upper platinum league, general player skill is still the biggest determining factor.  Starcraft is an intensely macro focused game (by that I mean economy/base-building), and the best advice I can give to newer players who may be struggling in bronze and silver leagues is never stop building workers.  Mo' money, mo' units.  Until you get into the higher leagues you can really get away with minimal micro (army control) as long as your macro is good.  Hotkey your production buildings (I have all my unit-production buildings set to 1 and all my command centers set to 2) and get used to periodically switching back to queue up a new set of units.  It's really much better to only have one or two units queued up at once so that you don't have money tied up in units that won't be out on the field for another 5 minutes.  Instead, use that money to build an expansion or grab some unit upgrades.  You want to keep your unspent resources as low as possible, but you also want them to be doing something for you right now, not 5 minutes from now when that 5th siege tank you queued up finally pops out.  
Anyway, I guess the whole point is, even for a guy who never really got hardcore into SC1 multiplayer back in the day, Blizzard has found a way to make SC2 all that much more appealing. They've streamlined enough that I don't feel like I'm completely clueless as to how anything in the game works, and even though it's only been a few weeks since the game came out, I've definitely gotten my $60 worth.  It's a shame school's starting back up :)