Page 1

July/August 2013 JUL/AUG 2013

VOL 2 ISS 3

A DAY[9] TO REMEMBER Maki and Massages with Sean Plott

glhfmag.com

1

GLHFMAG.COM


TM

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

This is Valerie, our GLHF mascot. You might recognize her from our last issue. She keeps us going. Hi, Valerie.

EXECUTIVE STAFF EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER

Ali Vira

“Make no mistake, guys: it’s hard to produce a polished product,” Ben “MrBitter” told me in an interview last month. I can only agree.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Ryan Kelly COMMUNITY MANAGER

William Dahlstrom CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Ryan Boye

002 Good Luck Have Fun

Whether it was organizing one of the largest pubstomps in North America (p. 40) or spending an afternoon tagging along with Sean “Day[9]” Plott (p. 26), I’ve become intimately acquainted with the old adage about the devil being in the details. Fortunately I’ve had help, both from GLHF’s superfluously talented staff (without whom there would be no magazine), and from people like neuroscientist Paul Reber (p. 6) and professional StarCraft caster Axeltoss (p. 36), who continue to broaden and develop the kinds of discourse surrounding eSports. One thing that Day[9] shared with me (that didn’t make it into the final article, unfortunately) was his concern for eSports community on a local level. He told me, “It used to be that people would drive from Arizona to California to attend a $50 LAN. Because that’s how much fun it is to compete, that’s how much fun it is to be part of that community experience.” But as events like the GLHF pubstomp, LANHAMMER, and

others are showing, there is a huge nascent community willing to support these events, large and in person. Please consider supporting organizations like the Ignite Gaming Lounge in Chicago (p. 22), One Nation Of Gamers (ONOG), SoCal eSports, or whatever group is operating in your area. No organization nearby? I have it on authority that any of those just mentioned would be happy to give you tips on how to start your own. Vibrant local communities are the key to eSports’ future, and if you see me at the next event in the Bay Area, come say hi. That’s what it’s all about. Until then,

Ryan Kelly Editor-In-Chief

ART DIRECTOR

Joey Everett BUSINESS MANAGER

R. Sterling Snead STAFF EDITORS Don Tam Dr. Paul Reber Matt Filbert Creighton D. Olsen

LEAD DESIGNER

CONTRIBUTORS Alex Rodriguez Dr. Paul Reber Don Tam Creighton D. Olsen Ryan Kelly

ILLUSTRATORS

MARKETING Tom Swanson ADVERTISING R. Sterling Snead

Nicholas Davies DESIGNERS Becky Margraf

Tim Blann Joey Everett CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Hampus Andersson Erik Kristianson Helena Kristiansson Shelby Li Becky Margraf Richard Stanway

GLHF Magazine is a community-run magazine developed by an international team of StarCraft enthusiasts. We definitely couldn’t produce this magazine without the amazing community of fans and professionals willing to lend us their time and expertise, so special thanks to all who help us produce a magazine we’re proud of. Entire publication copyright 2013 GLHF Magazine LLC. All rights reserved; Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Products and screenshots found in these pages are trade names, or trademarks, of their respective companies. If you’re interested in contributing content to future issues, please contact ryan.kelly@glhfmag.com. For information about advertising, please contact sterling@glhfmag.com. The typefaces used in this publication are Crimson Text (Sebastian Kosch), Roboto (Christian Robertson), and Inconsolata (Raph Levien).


CONTENTS JUL/AUG 2013

026 A DAY[9] TO REMEMBER GLHF gets personal with

Sean Day[9] Plott on a lunch

FEATURES 012 A Dash of Bitters 026 A Day[9] To Remember

date of maki and massages

EDITORIALS 006  This Is Your Brain On Stimpacks Doctor of Neuroscience Paul

036 Positive Contact, Negative Space Axeltoss speaks out on negativ-

012

ity in the eSports community and how to foster constructive discussion online

A DASH OF BITTERS MrBitter discusses the future of @NASLtv, the metagame, and co-caster Gretorp’s unfortunate run-in with a creepy-crawly

COMMUNITY 022 Local Spotlight on Chicago  We take a look at Chicago’s

thriving eSports community 040 GLHF TI3 Pubstomp in SF  GLHF Sponsors the largest TI3

Pubstomp in North America

GUIDEBOOK 018 Strategic Cartography

Good Luck Have Fun

We get advice from top tier

mapmakers on how to build your own competitive StarCraft map

006

022

ON THE COVER

Illustration by Tim Blann

DAY[9] PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF HAMPUS ANDERSSON; MRBITTER PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF RICHARD STANWAY

004

Reber examines the nature of skill learning in StarCraft


006

Good Luck Have Fun


007

July/August 2013

EDITORIAL

This Is Your Brain On Stimpacks By Dr. Paul Reber

to the highest level of play in StarCraft 2 is practice, practice and more practice. Korean players in the Kespa teamhouses are rumored to play 10-14 hours a day improving and refining their mechanics.  But what are we actually learning when we practice? One of the curious things about learning from practice is that you can’t describe exactly what you’ve learned from it.  If you could, you could probably give better advice to your bronze-league buddies than to offer useless platitudes like “make more SCV’s,” “scout” and “don’t get supply blocked.”  You’ve practiced, you’ve gotten better and yet somehow when you are asked about how you do it, you find yourself saying, “Here, let me show you,” instead of explaining what to do.

EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT THE SECRET

Riffing on an old joke, we might imagine the poor lost nerd in Seoul asking a passer-by, “How do I get to the GOM Gangam Studio?” To which the answer is, of course, “Practice!”

glhfmag.com

Illustrations by Joey Everett


008 Good Luck Have Fun

This is because most of what you learn from practice is based on implicit learning, which is a different type of memory that depends on different neural processes than our normal conscious memory for facts and events. When we think of “memory,” we generally think about memory for events or facts.  Or we think about memory failures like, “Who was that Zerg player who expanded to Innovation’s natural the other day and then got pwned hard?”  You watched it, remember seeing Innovation getting knocked around early but then somehow miraculously stay even on supply before turning it around and do the Innovationcrush thing—but the Zerg player’s name is somehow not coming to mind (it was Savage).  That kind of explicit memory depends on a brain system that is built around the medial temporal lobe (including a structure

known as the hippocampus). Damage to this system causes the neurological amnesia that is seen in Alzheimer’s disease and can occur after a heart attack or stroke. This memory deficit is not the kind of “amnesia” popular on the soap operas where somebody gets hit on the head and forgets who they are—that doesn’t actually occur neurologically.  After brain damage to the medial temporal lobe memory system, patients remember events from long ago just fine, but they can no longer learn new things (people, events, facts).  If you are looking for a popular media description of real-world amnesia, the movies Memento and Fifty First Dates are good examples.  New information just doesn’t get in, or only gets in occasionally if the memory deficit is mild.  Learning from practice does not depend on explicit memory.  In fact, patients with severe memory deficits still get better from


July/August 2013

So it all sounds great, right? Just practice and your brain rewires itself to make you into a noob-crushing

practice because the neural processes that lead to implicit learning continue to operate even after a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. Implicit learning supports skill learning via changes in neural organization that you can’t verbally describe and of which you are not even really consciously aware.  You practice and you feel your performance getting faster, more fluid, more accurate and efficient.  In StarCraft, your APM goes up but you can’t explain exactly why. It just feels easier. This kind of learning happens throughout the brain.  Motor sequences get better and you fluidly execute sequences of keystrokes.  Your perceptual system also improves so that you are quicker to spot game elements and flashes on the minimap. Decision making becomes more effective as well as you re-encounter situations with similar challenges to deal with.  Each of

these kinds of learning are based on changes in connections among cortical areas within perceptual areas, motor areas and in highlevel association cortex as well. The locations are different, but the result is the same—faster, better, but you can’t say why (“here, let me show you”). So it all sounds great, right?  Just practice and your brain rewires itself to make you into a noob-crushing StarCraft 2 monster.  What could go wrong?  Well, one of the biggest challenges in practice-driven skill learning is that implicit learning is notoriously inflexible.  That means what you learn is often extremely specific to exactly what you practice.  If you practice the wrong thing, a build order that isn’t very good, for example, you’ll just get good at executing something not very useful.  This type of learning is closely related to habit learning and sadly, your brain learns bad habits just

glhfmag.com

PHOTOGRAPH BY BECKY MARGRAF/GLHFMAG

009

StarCraft II monster.


010 Good Luck Have Fun

as quickly as it learns good habits. overshadowing. As a result, it will be rare An important idea in the development of to solve complex decision-level problems or expertise is not just practice but deliberate counter-build order designs in the flow of a practice and this is where the importance of game.  During the play, you are relying on coaching comes in, including self-coaching your implicit skill knowledge.  Conscious by watching your replays.  You want to avoid problem solving will tend to shut that down, hammering out really smooth execution of so you’ll want to do it in post-game review, a flawed strategy because your brain learns by watching your replays or better yet, with those bad habits from practice just as easily a coach. as good ones.  If you practice a mistake in The fact that these two types of skill your build order repeatedly, you’ll get really knowledge are separate in your brain is good at building with that mistake.  These also why being a good coach does not albad habits are hard to iron out because they ways mean being a great player.  Knowing require you to guide your actions with top- how to guide practice is a different thing down deliberate conthan using practice trol that will make your to drive yourself to play feel awkward until the highest level of The neural systems you practice the corperformance.  Ever that support learning rect sequence back into wonder why the top a strong habit.  Come athletes in the world from practice and the up with an improved in sports like golf neural systems used action sequence or and tennis still have in coming up with decision making procoaches for their mecess and you can guide chanics?  That’s why. important strategic your practice to get The inflexibility improvements are more out of your repof implicit learning separate from each etitions.  Coming up is also why changing with these improveyour key bindings is other in your brain. ments takes conscious so disruptive.  A lot problem solving that is of your motor skills separate from the implicit learning of prac- were tied to sequences associated with those tice.  These improvements won’t generally keys and some of that isn’t transferring over impact you right away, but by guiding your to a new set of key bindings.  You aren’t practice, you refine and hone the most accu- starting over completely.  Your perceptual rate sequences into fluidly executed habits. and decision making skills are still intact, The neural systems that support learning which puts you in a weird state: you know from practice and the neural systems used exactly what you want to do, but your finin coming up with important strategic im- gers are fumbling and you feel like a mess.  It provements are separate from each other in takes time to train the new motor sequences your brain.  Importantly, while they both and bring yourself back up to where you play critical roles in skill learning, it is dif- were.  If you’ve improved your key setup, ficult or impossible to use them both at the then you will start realizing the benefits of same time.  If you are thinking too hard new motor sequences that can be executed about how to solve a problem consciously, even more effectively once you’ve regained you actually interfere with smooth prac- the habits, but it won’t show up right away. tice-based execution in an effect known as It is also worth being aware that


Paul Reber is an Associate Professor and head of the Brain, Behavior and Cognition Program at Northwestern University.

July/August 2013 011

training” effects in which the key idea is that the learning that occurs in the game transfers to real-world experiences outside the game. The how, when and why of these brain training effects is an active area of basic science research in learning and memory and there is a lot of interest in what kinds of brain training might come from off-the-shelf video games like StarCraft 2. The road to the GOM Gangam Studio (or WCS) is indeed paved with practice.  It can be frustrating because you won’t always feel that you are making big gains and the more you practice, the subtler the gains are.  Watching your replays or getting opinions from friends, clanmates or a coach is an important part of guiding your practice in the right direction.  Then you just sit down and hammer it out until it is firmly wired into the fundamental neural organization of your brain.  Then you win.

glhfmag.com

practice-driven learning operates in a way we describe as “negatively accelerated” or as log-linear with the number of practice repetitions. That is, each time you repeat a sequence you are learning from, you gain a little bit less than you learned last time.  You learn the most from the first few repetitions but it starts taking longer and longer to get the same gains again.  One estimate is that it takes around 50 repetitions of a sequence to establish it as something like a habit.  But there is no upper bound on learning.  Even after 10,000 hours of practice, you are gaining with more repetitions—just not very much each subsequent time. The learning processes here are generally described in terms of sequences of motor actions, but the same process occurs with perception. Practice playing Starcraft 2 undoubtedly shapes your perceptual systems so that you more quickly recognize the patterns of colors and units on the screen.  Try talking to a friend who plays a lot of Dota and you’ll very likely experience the same thing for one another’s games: so much flashy stuff on the screen you can’t even tell what is going on.  In your game, you’ve practiced watching so much that you can parse the screen easily and fluidly.  You might not even understand what is so hard and think your noob-to-StarCraft friend is just being dense.  But she or he hasn’t trained their perceptual system yet, so you might have to give some descriptive casting support. In addition to perception, the way we shape our perception by what we pay attention to changes with practice.  How we look around the world and how quickly we can pick up changes, especially in the periphery, are known to be affected by videogame play in general.  There is good evidence from studies of FPS players that attention-shifting processes important for those games affect processing that can be measured outside the game.  This is actually some of the best evidence of “brain


A DASH OF BITTERS DON TAM & RYAN KELLY

RICHARD STANWAY


FOR

HIS

APPROACHABILITY

AND

HIS

professionalism, Ben “MrBitter” Nichols enjoys a large fan base and is a popular fixture among StarCraft casters. He can be seen regularly casting premier games for the WCS America. Nichols took a break from his busy production schedule to offer up some wisdom about the state of StarCraft, the future role of NASL, and what it takes to create the polished product that NASL is known for. GLHF Are we going to see another season of

will address those in whatever capacity we’re able to. Right now these are the two projects that we’re most focused on. Will NASL be operating WCS NA for the foreseeable

July/August 2013

KNOWN

future?

Yes, we’re certainly going to be covering the next season. Although there’s always a possibility that Blizzard may say, “Hey guys, we’re tired of working with you, you suck.” We hope that doesn’t happen, and we’re trying hard to do the job justice so it doesn’t.

NASL?

What plans do you have for covering other games? There were some rumors of NASL Dota 2 coverage.

Yeah, we looked really closely at Dota for a long time, and may or may not have been talking to somebody who, if we had hired them, may or may not have led us down a different path than the one we’re on now. But that obviously did not come to pass and we’re doing other things. Right now our two things are StarCraft and World of Tanks. And it’s really important that I continue to maintain that there is a clear separation between the two. There is some overlap between the two—you will see some of the same faces on a World of Tanks broadcast as a StarCraft 2 broadcast, but logistically we have folks that are dedicated to one or the other. Right now our plans are to continue to put on the best StarCraft show that we can and the best World of Tanks show that we can. And when other opportunities come up, we

There was speculation that WCS was a resource drain to MLG, and that they didn’t have the operation required to make daily casts of the quality that you do. What makes NASL a better organization to

First of all, I would never say that we’re a better organization to do it. MLG does a phenomenal job. I might say that MLG’s greatest strength is not their day to day broadcast, but their ability to put on big events. That said, it’s really hard to make money producing StarCraft content. There’s a few people out there who have figured out a way to do it, but I don’t know that there’s a single organizer that would sit down and say, “Oh yeah, we’re very happy with our business model.” So we’re trying as hard as we can to be cost effective. And I guess the way we achieve that is to make sure that the people working here are wearing many hats. That’s why you do sometimes see the same faces on multiple broadcasts. eSports business is a really competitive one. You have to take on quite a bit to maintain yourself in this space.

013

run this tournament?

My compliments, you guys make it look easy. Do you think there will ever be a regional finals in Canada?

I think that there are a lot of phenomenal locations that we would love to host a regional

glhfmag.com

Maybe? A lot of it depends on how WCS continues to develop and whether there are any big changes to be made. I would love to host another season of NASL, it is of course our baby. But right now we are all hands on deck with WCS and with our production of World of Tanks, which is another thing we spend a lot of time on.


final, and I assure you that we had good experiences in Canada and dealing with Canadians. We would be foolish not to consider that option in the future. Could you walk us through a typical StarCraft cast at the studio there? How many people are off camera making the magic happen when you’re doing one of your casts?

What has been your favorite series to cast so far in the run up to the offline portion?

Watching Hyun play was delightful, cause he wins in a way that’s overbearing. Also preface all of it with my huge Zerg bias. Seeing Scarlett continue to be impressive is really, really fun cause she’s the embodiment of a foreign hopeful that we still cling to. And I have to give a huge shoutout to Jim, the Chinese Protoss player. Not because his games were exciting, but because they were so onesided. He was in a group with Nestea, Ryung, and Major and he managed to go 4-0 in that group in the span of about 18 minutes. [He’s] my favorite to be top 4 at the global final.

014 Good Luck Have Fun

I would be delighted to, because those guys don’t get enough credit. We have a team of six to seven pre and post-production people, including artists and editors, that help us create some of the fun content that we’ve become known for. We also have [people] behind the cameras, switching and directing, and a production manager; we have a tech- Who has been eliminated that you’ve been most nical director, we have a graphics operator surprised about? along with a line producer. So in total there Snute was eliminated and that really bummed are probably 11-12 people you never ever see, me out. It surprised me. It was very surpriswho have to be present to make the broadcast ing to see Nestea go out in the first round. happen. And of course you have the people Who else were the big surprises? (To Dan on camera. The Gretorps and the Frodans “Frodan” Chou) Dan, what were your surprises and the Rotterdams and the MrBitters, who for people getting eliminated from WCS NA? are talking about the games, but there is a Oh, DUH! HerO! Captain America, winner great deal that goes into the actual produc- of Season 1! That’s one that I don’t think tion. Make no mistake, guys: It’s hard to anyone saw coming. And there are many produce a polished product. I think the Bliz- more, of course. There have been so many zard people that are running the production games it’s hard to keep track of them all. out of their studios are doing a huge job—a tremendous job—because that’s literally one You are no longer producing your eSports show technical director, one audio engineer, and “The Pulse.” Are any plans on bringing that back? one producer - 5 or 6 people at the Blizzard You know, I would love to bring it back. “The studios who are also doing a very good job. Pulse” is a big standalone production that we They’re doing it with fewer people and not were working on at the time when there the same resources that we have here in our weren’t any other things happening among studios. They’re doing a hell of a job. I think our production team. Lots of things were they’re putting out a great show. A huge happening in our front office as they were shoutout to Clint and Nita and Cammy and getting prepared to pick up WCS and World Sato and to the new guy whose name I forgot. of Tanks. But at the time production didn’t have as much to do, so we focused on doing We’re just going to run that as is. that. And workflow wise, putting “The Pulse” (laughs) Um... together is a lot harder than putting together


get your ass over here!” So I think that’s a fun solution and makes a lot of sense in Europe and Korea, but it’s harder to execute here in North America because we are so spread out. I think it’s a complex problem, and it’s one that doesn’t have easy or necessarily affordable solutions. Make no mistake guys, when you put a big event on, travel is one of the biggest expenses.

July/August 2013

a broadcast for WCS or World of Tanks. I would love to bring it back, but it would require an entirely separate budget, and right now all of our resources are going toward producing these two leagues. If there are any sponsors out there who want to see it come back: Hey guys, give me a call! But for now it’s on the shelf until a new need arises.

As we speak, the scheduling conflicts among the

players within the NA scene?

three regional tournaments and the International 3

I’ve been pretty vocal in my support of cre- are exploding across the Internet. What can you tell ating opportunities for non-Korean play- us about that? ers. We’ve sort of reached the point in the I knew this was going to be an issue for a lifespan of StarCraft where Koreans are just long time, because I was one of the guys beabove and beyond hind the scenes and where the nonsaw this coming Koreans ever have and said, “Aw, nuts! been. You actually This is a problem. have separation We should try to within Korea—of avoid this weekend the best Koreans, if possible.” But the and then the nottruth of the matter quite-the-best-Kois if we’re going to reans, and then the fit enough WCS’s “The Pulse” (#thePULSE) is a live show anchored Code B Koreans in before BlizzCon, by the entire NASL cast that reports (and argues) who are still better we can’t really push about the latest topics, news, and upsets in eSthan the rest of the it later. And if we’re ports. (See nasl.tv/p/thepulse for episodes.) world. So we’ve got going to continue 3 tiers of Korean players that crush every- to provide a consistent and fair storyline to one else outside of Korea. So region locking the players, we can’t really push it earlier. So is an oft-talked about solution to that, and we were in this weird situation where there I am a proponent for it because I want my weren’t a lot of options—it was the weekend local heroes to be able to compete and create that was available. So I can understand why opportunities for themselves. And I think it’s some people are saying, “Why did you make important to the eSports industry as a whole. this decision?” I think perhaps a better solution, and one On the other hand, all the data that I’ve that I’ve been giving more thought to recent- ever seen suggests that on big event weekly, is the notion of pushing the competition ends, when there are just more people to be mostly offline, period. That way it’s not watching eSports period, it actually pushes saying, “Hey you’re not allowed to participate,” concurrency numbers up. Now, I’ve obviousbut it’s also saying, “If you want to, you better ly never had a chance to look at something

glhfmag.com

possible over-representation of Korean and Asian

015

What is your take on region locking in WCS and the


Do you have any predictions on the way the metagame might evolve between now and the start of WCS S3?

Good Luck Have Fun

The game has become so complex and players have gotten so good; watching StarCraft is more fun than it has ever been. And it’s a shame because I have less time to watch StarCraft now than I ever had. But when I sit down and cast a WCS match, it’s the most fun experience for me, because the level has become so unbelievably high. So if I had to make a prediction about the meta, it’d be that we’re about to see the most epic StarCraft ever shown, because players are good at every phase of the game now. They’re good in the early game, they’re good in the midgame, they’re good in the lategame. So we’re going to see games that are epic three times over.

What unit or ability that you don’t see now would you desperately want to see?

That’s also so hard to answer because in general we’re seeing such unit diversity in the games. We have Protoss games where they’re casting Force Fields and Feedbacks and dropping Storms. Ravens are becoming pretty damned standard these days in certain matchups. I guess the infestor is going away a little bit and the viper is starting to have its time in the sun. A couple of weeks ago my answer would’ve been the viper and Blinding Cloud but now we’re starting to see more and more of that as well. Maybe I’d like to see more use of Neural Parasite. Would you care to share any embarrassing details of your co-casters that we could put into print?

Sure, sure! I’ve got a fun one that happened just the other day. One day last week we finished up a broadcast and came back to our bullpen area to have our postmortem discussions—this is what went well, this is what we need to work on. And we were also doing some construction in the building, knocking down walls and expanding our space. So the surrounding insect life has been a little bit angry at us. We’re finding bugs in places we’re not used to finding bugs. So we’re having our little discussion, and our producer is standing in front of the room talking, and then he just stops talking. He just has this look of horror on his face. So I look and follow his line of sight and I see something skittering across Gretorp’s chest. Like, “The fuck is that?!” And the producer here goes, “What is that big ass bug running across your chest?!” Of course Gretorp jumps up immediately and is like, “What are you talking about?” He turns around, and I see it run down his back and up his shorts. It goes down his pant leg and into his pant leg. This freaks me the fuck out, as far as I can tell it’s a big ass Black Wid-

ILLUSTRATION BY TIM BLANN

016

on the level of the International versus other streams, because this is the Superbowl of Dota 2, so who knows what’s actually going to happen. But in the past, say NASL Season 3/Season 4, when we would make a regular broadcast in competition with a Dreamhack, Dreamhack would crush us, but our regular season broadcast numbers would be higher than they were 3 days prior when we weren’t competing with anybody, simply because there were more people watching StarCraft. So that’s kind of an interesting and unique phenomenon that no one’s talking about online. I’m not really that worried about viewership. If I have a single concern at all it’s that it might make it difficult to drive people to my offline events. But I’m still very confident that there’s enough enthusiasm for StarCraft, certainly in Southern California where we have a big BarCraft scene. And we’re going to have a great showing, a great time, and a great WCS.


July/August 2013 017

ow, I don’t know what it was. I’m like, “It’s in your pants! It’s in your pants! There’s a fucking spider in your pants!” And at first, Andre [Gretorp] is looking at me like I’m trolling him. Then the fear sets in, and he realizes: There might be a spider on his junk. And he starts doing this funny Gretorp dance and he’s like wiggling all over, saying “I’m going to take them off! I’m going to take them off!” And so he just takes off his pants and runs out of the room. And that was the end of our production meeting. So that was my most recent fun story. That’s what goes on behind the scenes here.

glhfmag.com

“It’s in your pants! It’s in your pants! There’s a fucking spider in your pants!” And at first, Gretorp is looking at me like I’m trolling him. Then the fear sets in, and he realizes: There might be a spider on his junk.


GUIDEBOOK

Strategic Cartography

Creating our universe: Mapmaking in StarCraft 2 By Creighton Olsen 018

In StarCraft 2, the map shapes our actions from the second the loading screen vanishes until we get or give the GG. SOME PLAYERS KNOW THE BASIC PROPERTIES

Good Luck Have Fun

of every map: rush distance, main and natural space, and attack paths. Yet as a player base, we continue to complain about stagnation and perceived poor balance in the current map pool. Our game has one of the finest map editing tools in the business right now, so what’s preventing you from creating the next great WCS or GSL map? Once you’ve read this article, the answer will be “nothing”. Assisting me with my research and providing some fantastic interviews for this article were three members of the ESV Mapmaking team. I worked with Travis “IronmanSC” Rinker (creator of ESV Ohana), Justin “Newsunshine” Miller, and Alec “Timetwister22” Cooper (creator of ESV Guardian). With their assistance I’ve collected everything you need to

know to get out there and start generating your own awesome maps. FUELED UP AND READY TO GO: GETTING STARTED

So you’ve never made a 2-player competition style map for StarCraft 2 before? No problem. Have you ever played SimCity, Rollercoaster Tycoon, or even Minecraft? That’s how all of the mapmakers I interviewed got started. Not by researching, calculating and meticulously designing, but by goofing around in the level editor of a game they loved. As IronManSC put it: “It [the Warcraft II map editor] just seemed really fun placing blocks of trees, castle walls, and footmen everywhere, but it was only for the looks. It was just something I enjoyed on my own personal time, like building a giant Lego castle and feeling proud of myself.”


July/August 2013 019

The first thing to cultivate is a spirit of openended exploration. Messing around with the editor sans a clear goal is a great way to familiarize yourself with the mechanics that will benefit more serious ventures later. Some mapmakers don’t open the editor with much preparation at all. I asked the guys if they scribbled down drawings or ran calculations on rush distances and air attack paths before they even opened the mapmaker. From each mapmaker, the unified response was “nope.” Something as simple as a new idea for a wide-open main

“Sometimes I’ll draw things out, and sometimes I’ll have an initial idea before I start. But for the most part, ideas just come as I go. I keep a list of all these minor ideas and concepts, so I try to mix and match them. See what could have potential, and how I would go about executing such ideas and concepts in the best possible way. Overall, it is mostly trial and error. Sometimes I may have the greatest idea ever, but then come to find out it won’t work once it’s in the editor. As a result, it becomes difficult to come up with solid ideas outside of the editor.” TimeTwister22

glhfmag.com

A competitive map requires a balance of elements: resources, high and low terrain, and strategic areas of contention.


020

or an interesting ramp placement was usually enough incentive for them to get into the editor and mess around. Just like completing a homework assignment (or an article for a StarCraft 2 magazine), the hardest part is getting started! Every StarCraft 2 game starts in the main base. The main is usually placed near the corner of a map and contains the standard 8 mineral patches and 2 vespene geysers. Main bases can be a variety of sizes, but be sure to provide enough space for at least the initial production facilities for Terran and Protoss players and the Zerg’s tech buildings. Creating a tiny main will encourage expansion at the cost of low early game aggression. From your main base on the high ground, you’ll want to place a narrow ramp to the natural expansion.

anything wrong with macro games, but a map that provides only macro games simply isn’t versatile enough for tournament play. According to our experts, the #1 mistake most mapmakers make is scale. Be sure that your map isn’t too big. Check your map for excessive airspace around the sides and expansive battlefields in the middle of the map. For a 2 player map, we recommend starting at 128x128, for 4 player maps, 144x144 is a good starting place. Do you have your unbuildable tiles placed correctly on your main ramps? Unbuildable tiles are placed in front of the ramp that goes from the main to the natural. These tiles prevent those sneaky Protoss from blocking you in with Pylons, so be sure to place them to balance out your map. The unbuildable tile was actually the subject of quite a bit of controversy in the mapmaking community. Before the tile, mapmakers used a neutral supply depot, which was a visually confusing, suboptimal choice. And speaking of ramps, are your ramps facing a cardinal direction? If so, go back and

SETTING DOWN THE BROAD STROKES

Good Luck Have Fun

Once you’ve got your basic features in place and are familiar with the tool, it’s time to get serious. There are several items that should be on your mental checklist for every map. How is the rush distance by land and by air? If your map is too big, the limitations on early game aggression will render it unplayable. A map with no options for early aggression will consistently produce stale, predictable macro games. Not that there’s

Fun fact: The only current major map where you can find cardinal ramps are the ramps to the third on Neo Planet S.


For background on the unbuildable tile, check out the initial Battle.net discussion here: us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/4175548611

to get your map into the GSL or WCS. Your best bet is to simply release the map and hope that a tournament organizer notices it. That’s why TeamLiquid’s mapmaking contest has historically been a huge boon to the foreign mapmaking scene. Allowing for a structured contest that can guarantee use of a community map is a massive opportunity for all mapmakers - if you don’t currently follow the TLMC, please be sure to check it out on TeamLiquid.net and lend your voice.

July/August 2013

fix that immediately! Ramps that face in any of the four cardinal directions make normal wall-off configurations impossible. On any main or natural ramp (or choke if you have a flat natural) that is normally blocked by buildings of any race, you’ll need to align it diagonally. In fact, Blizzard has actually recommended to a few of our mapmakers that they try not to make their maps aligned in the cardinal directions for ease of play.

“I DO THINK THE TILESET DOES HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH

To get the mechanics and visuals of a map polished, playtesting is an invaluable resource. Find a group of testers and ask them to play games on this map. A dedicated group of friends and acquaintances who can try to break the map for weeks or months will help you tweak the individual parts of your map to make it more friendly for all races. One misplaced ramp can make Blink play way too strong, just as a single cliff can create invincible siege tanks. Once the map is appropriately tested and polished, it’s time to release it. Unfortunately, there is no official process

THERE SEEMS TO BE A COMMON ANTIPATHY WITHIN THE COMMUNITY FOR DARK MAPS, AS MANY JUST DON’T LIKE THE “FEEL” OF PLAYING IN A DARKER

021

Beyond the mental checklist, you have to ask yourself if your map feels good. This may seem like a silly distinction, but if you’re hoping that other people will spend hours of their life staring at this thing, you want it to feel like an interesting experience. Be sure to explore your options with tilesets, doodads, and scenery. One of the reasons maps like Ohana, Cloud Kingdom, and even Metalopolis were so long-lasting was their notable style and unique flair. Plus, there are now animals called the Artosilope and the Tastelope you can drop into your maps!

HOW PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT A MAP.

SETTING.” TIMETWISTER22 Blizzard hosts the TLMC every few months, so keep a weather eye on the forums for your chance to enter and win your map a spot on the ladder! The StarCraft Editor is one of the most powerful editors in any game and can be intimidating, but these tips from the ESV Mapmaking team should help you make your map a little more professional. Special thanks to the whole team over at ESV- their input and responses to my questions were invaluable in the generation of this guide. If you haven’t heard of or visited ESV before, find them on TeamLiquid.net and look for their maps online. glhfmag.com

LET’S GET INTO THE FIGHT: FINAL TOUCHES


COMMUNITY

022

Local Spotlight on Chicago Gaming By Dr. Paul Reber Images by Ignite Gaming Lounge IT’S SATURDAY MORNING AND I’M IN THE MINIVAN

Good Luck Have Fun

driving into Chicago from the ‘burbs in Evanston. I’m with my son, Twitchy (a.k.a. Jacob), and we’re headed to Ignite Gaming Lounge for the June Ignition StarCraft Open. We’ve been to a couple of these tournaments before and they are full of Masters and GM players; I’m planning just to watch. As a Platinum-level player, I wouldn’t be around long and wouldn’t want to take a spot from a real contender. Twitchy is hoping to play because he’s good enough to win a game or two, but he’ll have to start on the waiting list because the 32 spots filled up fast when the tournament was announced on TeamLiquid. Even as a Masters player, he doesn’t hold any illusions that he’s going


BUT THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE CHICAGO SCENE IS MEGAN “SILVARE” THALER, IGNITE’S COMMUNITY MANAGER. SHE HAS BEEN ORGANIZING ESPORTS EVENTS SINCE THE SUMMER OF 2011, OPENING WITH A SALVO OF BARCRAFTS AT CRAVIN’ CHICAGO WINGS. of trying to get everybody set up. Unlike Seoul, where there is a big PC Bang scene, there isn’t really a “gaming room” culture in the US. But places like Ignite can be the center of a local eSports scene and coming here allows us to not only indulge our hobby but also gets us out of the house. A tournament like today’s will bring us down to Ignite, braving a drive into the city. But as StarCraft 2 players, we haven’t gone to Ignite often just to play. As many have noted before, SC2 is not an intrinsically social game. A good practice session is usually grinding out a series of 1v1’s on the ladder. For me that means being comfortable at home with my equipment, chair and fridge. But having left that comfort zone, I soon realized that there is a regional SC2 scene in the Chicago area, and it’s been great fun to see other players and fans face to face. There is also something amazing about standing behind a GM-level player to see truly high APM at work.

July/August 2013 023

Ignite is the American version of one of Korea’s “PC Bangs,” a gaming room with lots of computers (and a few consoles) where you can play videogames in the same room with your friends. Being at Ignite is like being at a LAN party—only without the hassle

But the heart and soul of the Chicago scene is Megan “Silvare” Thaler, Ignite’s Community Manager. She has been organizing eSports events since the Summer of 2011, opening with a salvo of barcrafts at Cravin’ Chicago Wings. The tremendous turnout from the community, along with the StarCraft-themed menu (including spicy mutalisk wings), filled the restaurant beyond capacity. Following that with tournaments in the suburbs, it wasn’t long before she found a position at Ignite Gaming Lounge, where she organizes events for many different gaming communities. That means she knows everybody, runs regularly sold-out SC2 (and other) tournaments, and boasts a SteelSeries partnership that provides a lot of prizes and goodies at all of Ignite’s events. With her experience, events run smoothly and fairly. On the Saturday of the tournament, Megan even arranged for a viewing party with a big screen and chairs so that we could keep an eye on MLG Anaheim as it played out. No event is without its mishap. The very first series was somewhat disrupted by a group learning experience involving the intricacies of Blizzard’s whitelist/blacklist IP policy, but it provided a great opportunity to get to know the organizers and some of the local pro-level players. Kevin ‘qxc’ O’Reilly was there and I was able to chat with him about this then-recent trip to Korea, his all-kill LG-IM in the GSTL, and his move from team FXO to Complexity. As a SC2 father, it was interesting to hear him talk about the promise he made to his dad to finish college strong that Fall, even though it disrupted his gaming career. He doesn’t live in the Chicago area any more, but we support him whole-heartedly as a “local guy” wherever we see him playing. We have also gotten to known some of the skilled Chicago-area players who are not yet at the pro level, like Everize, who won this tournament. He has been a regular

glhfmag.com

to come out on top. In our previous trips down to Ignite, we’ve gotten to know some of the stronger Chicago-area players.


024 Good Luck Have Fun

GM-level contender in the local scene, and attended some MLG’s. He plays Terran, like me, and it is always fun to stand behind him and watch his hands fly around the keyboard. In the finals, it was Everize beating a local kid, Hyper, in an extended series rematch from the lower bracket. Hyper is young but has been doing well at the Ignite tournaments and improving notably. The other day I turned on the HomeStory Cup Qualifier stream and got to see Hyper up against Desrow in the first round, playing for a chance to go to Take’s house in Germany. It didn’t go very well; I think maybe his nerves got the better of him, but he was in there swinging all the same. And he recently made GM, so maybe we’ll have another local guy to root for in prolevel events. When we first saw Hyper playing at Ignite, my son was playing at around a similar level. But Hyper kept practicing while Twitchy didn’t have that urge to grind out practice games and ended up playing more Dota 2 and custom SC2 games. On any given day, that’s what you’ll see more of at Ignite—gamers playing the more social games, MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota2. It makes sense since those games depend on 5-person teams that play better when sitting in the same room. SC2 is more solitary, with communication limited to times between games, like when I ask Twitchy, “What am I supposed to do about all those swarm hosts?” And he says, “I dunno, try dropping hellbats on everything.” Then we go back to playing. Out of curiosity, we also headed down to Ignite a couple of weeks ago for a Dota 2 tournament during Dreamhack. That also filled the room—16 teams tried to sign up, but there was only room for 8 because Dota2 requires so many chairs. There was also a good viewing screen to watch Dreamhack’s Dota2 tournament or our local matches, both of which drew a lively response from the crowd. We’ll be back down for the

SC2 IS MORE SOLITARY, WITH COMMUNICATION LIMITED TO TIMES BETWEEN GAMES, LIKE WHEN I ASK TWITCHY, “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ABOUT ALL THOSE SWARM HOSTS?” AND HE SAYS, “I DUNNO, TRY DROPPING HELLBATS ON EVERYTHING.”


July/August 2013 025

able to get up to eat, come back to my seat, alt-tab over to Reddit to see what other people are saying about the game. If I’m going to go out, it would be ideal to have a 2-3 hour broadcast tightly packed with games, highlights, interviews. That’s going to happen more as events like WCS are developed and improved. And I’m looking forward to making that a part of staying in contact with our local scene, beyond even the chance to play in tournaments. A gaming lounge is a great place to find and connect with a local group of SC2 players and eSports fans. Look for one in your area, and if you are lucky enough to have one, make the trip. You’ll be doing your part to grow the eSports community.

glhfmag.com

upcoming Dota 2 tournament, August 1718, set to run over 2 days to be able to accommodate 16 teams this time. I look forward to the day when we’re regularly heading down to a place like Ignite to watch the finals of major tournaments with other fans, the same way sports fans do. So far, it feels like the big SC2 tournaments have yet to figure out how to maximize the barcraft experience yet. The final day of an MLG or Dreamhack runs to considerable length and it’s hard to figure out the exact timing of the finals to make an event of it. The GSL in Seoul does this very well, but it’s hard to get out to a barcraft for a 3am finals—although Megan has run a sold out barcraft for GSL at Ignite in the wee hours of the morning. I can keep an eye on 12 hours of tournament play at home but I do that by being


D9 ARTICLE BY RYAN KELLY ILLUSTRATIONS BY TIM BLANN


THAT WAS THE BEST MASSAGE OF MY LIFE.

028 Good Luck Have Fun

I want to donate money to charity, or be kind to a small animal or something.” Sean “Day[9]” Plott is riffing with the clerk at the massage parlor where we’ve spent the last hour allowing the cares of the world to be rubbed from our shoulders. The massage parlor is called “Therapeia,” and Plott has several amusing solutions for how to pronounce this. This is not the way I imagined this day would turn out, not by a wide margin, but in my short acquaintance with the prolific caster, eSports personality, and professional gamer, I’ve learned to accept the odd curveball. We met two hours earlier at a sushi restaurant in San Francisco’s Japantown. The restaurant is located in a shopping center filled with Japanese shops selling plates and souvenirs, a corner stuffed with colorful photo booths, and a plethora of Japanese restaurants outfitted with glass-case exhibits featuring plastic recreations of the food served within. It’s something of a maze, and I’m worried that Plott, who doesn’t own a cell phone, won’t be able to find the restaurant. When I check outside and see him walking down the sidewalk, I find a larger man than I had expected. Hale and healthy at 27, Plott has a bearish charm and a couple inches above the six foot mark. When we go inside, the cramped quarters of the restaurant make the effect more pronounced. Sitting directly to his left means the distinctions between our personal space are largely philosophical, a state which bothers Plott not in the slightest. The restaurant is a kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurant with a twist; instead of filing past on a conveyor belt like luggage in an airport, the dishes float by on miniature boats set adrift on a moat that surrounds the sushi bar. Prices are determined by the color of the plate, and the staff adroitly calculates totals based on


July/August 2013 029 glhfmag.com

the dishes stacked in front of patrons. Plott ibly at ease, and makes no attempt to show knows the score instinctively, and snags himself as anything other than what he is. I rolls and sashimi while we talk. warm to the conversation, aided by more of I had caught him live-streaming the day Plott’s jokes and another hot sake. before, playing the Hearthstone beta, BlizI ask about his background in comedy. zard’s upcoming competitive online card “When I was a kid, I wanted to be funny but game. “Normally I stop [playing] at five I wasn’t. I was the most not funny person o’clock,” he tells me, “because I can’t handle in America.” He snags a piece of sushi as playing for much longer than that. But I it floats past and takes a moment to was played straight till seven, went to dinner, eloquent on its flavor before returning to came back and played it till three in the the question. “My brother Nick [“Tastemorning. And I got up today and played it. less”] was actually very funny, since the 5th I can’t wait to go play it tonight.” or 6th grade. He could make adults laugh His enthusiasm for the game is perhaps really hard, and I said, ‘I want to be that.’ So to be expected, combining, as I would watch stand-up comedy it does, two key elements: routines, and just memorize Blizzard’s imaginative them. Not just what they universes, of which said, but the intona“When I was a Plott has always been tion, and I would try a famous admirer, mimic it exactly. kid, I wanted to be toThen and the addicI’d go to school tive mechanics of and just repeat this funny but I wasn’t. Magic: The Gatherthing that I had ing, of which Plott no idea why it was I was the most not has endless praise. funny. I would just He tells me he’s been repeat it and people funny person in playing M:tG since would laugh, and I childhood, but only went, ‘Huh.’ America.” seriously for the past two “And then later this years. I ask what kind of weird thing would happen stats a Day[9] card would have. where I would be in a social set“It would probably be something really ting and someone would say something bad. Overcosted. It would be three black and a punch line to another joke that I’d and one colorless, so you had to commit memorized a long time ago would pop into black. When you play it, it says draw [a] my head and I’d say it, and people would card, then exile it. It’s a 1/3, so it just sort laugh. I still didn’t know why.” of sits there and makes you regret having it Self-improvement and positivity are in your deck. And then you smell bad until themes common to all of Plott’s enterprises. end of turn.” Posters on the forums at day9.tv are as This is typical Plott: he’s got a punch likely to make comments about self-care line for nearly everything. His humor and techniques as they are about the current demeanor are disarming. He is simultane- StarCraft meta. This is something Plott is ously calm and energetic, and his energy proud to have cultivated, “I think the tragis infectious. Whereas I feel awkward and edy of our generation, and especially the as though I must be careful to put my best Internet, is that they define themselves not foot forward, Plott is obviously and vis- by what they like, but by what they don’t


Believe it or not, I actually like StarCraft. I like the strategy of it, I like the problems of it, I like how clean and elegant and objective it is. I love the fact 030

that it’s not anything external that caused a win or a loss. [...] I love that completeness of the system. Two people from completely different backgrounds can play. There’s real beauty in that.

Good Luck Have Fun


July/August 2013 031

2013 where Zerg player Lee “Life” Seung Hyun dominated the Winter bracket.

glhfmag.com

BECKY MARGRAF/GLHFMAG.COM

Day[9] casting at MLG Dallas


PLOTT’S PLAYLIST Mount Kimbie

Boards of Canada

Chris Clark

032 Good Luck Have Fun

like. No one is ever like, ‘I love this kind of music. And here is my favorite animal.’ I mean, I love birds and corgis. I want a corgi, and I want him to befriend a bird. I want them to play games where the bird is flying around with a ball, and the dog is chasing it—gently, because he knows it’s a bird and that’s a fragile thing. “But the negativity just depresses me. It’s so easy. It’s so fleeting. You get a little rush of endorphins and you can say, ‘I’m better. I won. Ha. Ha.’ And then one minute later, it’s gone. But I can look at corgi photos and corgis make me happy. There’s music I like, and there’s comics that I like, and they make me happy. Why don’t more people do that?” When I try to pay for our lunch, Plott refuses to hear of it. I try to insist along the lines that the magazine has given me money for the sole purpose of entertaining one Mr. Sean Plott, but he parries expertly with an offer I have trouble refusing. “Let’s get massages. You want a massage? I’ll pay for lunch and then we can get massages.” I get the feeling that with Plott a day’s well laid plans might often spin tangentially into adventure, and that no one is better equipped for this than Plott himself, with his supernatural ease in all weather. I agree to a massage, but first I steer him toward the corner of the shopping center where I had seen the Japanese photo booths.

!!!

Blue Sky Black Death

On our way Plott outlines his feelings about massage: “The best. This is the first day in over a month that I haven’t had to work. I’m ready for some massage.” I ask if massages are the secret to his laid-back attitude or why he seems so comfortable on camera. “Sometimes you’ve just got to say, ‘Screw it.’ I don’t have the energy to be anyone but myself. That happened very early in the Daily [Plott’s daily livestreamed program]. I was like, ‘Ok, let’s make sure that we’re staying on topic, let’s focus on the presentation of it, as a good presenter should.’ “And it was just exhausting to try. Trying takes so much energy. So after a while I was just like, ‘Ok, I’m not going to try. I’m just going to be the way I am.’ And not only did the quality of the show improve as a result, because then you come across as a human instead of a robot trying not to step outside the seven rules, but it’s also just more fun.” In addition to Plott’s approachable analysis and game knowledge, The Day[9] Daily episodes are known to showcase his sense of humor, which is often punctuated by sudden non-sequitur punch lines and an admirable willingness to appear silly (“I think the meaning of life is to be silly,” he tells me later). This impromptu wackiness also makes Plott the single best photo booth participant known to man.


Ryan Kelly and staff photographer Shelby Li in a Japanese photo booth.

July/August 2013 033 glhfmag.com

ABOVE Plott gets friendly with editor-in-chief

Japanese photo booths differ from their Western counterparts in that the interiors are considerably larger, and there is a green screen hanging behind, from which various background effects may be achieved. Possibly the most entertaining aspect of the experience is at the end, where everyone gathers around a nearby screen and adorns the photos with a generous smattering of cartoon hearts, stars, bows, shoes, ice cream cones, and whatever else seems outside the bounds of good taste. The difficulty in all photo booths, East or West, is being able to spontaneously do something amusing several times in a row. Plott has no difficulties with this, and without hesitation assumes the role of photo booth commander. “Get in here and let me hug you!” he cries, and then “Now grab my boobies!” When we go to the screen to add the adornments, he chivvies us mercilessly: “More hearts! Faster! Stars and sparkles!” When we finally get the print, I am surprised that it somehow managed to capture the whirlwind mania of the experience. We leave the shopping center and walk toward the nearest massage parlor that I can find on my phone. As we walk, I ask Plott about what it was like early in his career, working without the support and viewership that he now enjoys. He says, “The greatest authors are not the people who love getting a New York Times bestseller. They are the people who like writing sentences. It’s the smallest atomic act of writing. Great musicians don’t play music because of that fantasy of being the #1 record bestseller. Most of them just play music! And that’s why I did it then, and that’s why I do it now. Believe it or not, I actually like StarCraft. I like the strategy of it, I like the problems of it, I like how clean and elegant and objective it is. I love the fact that it’s not anything external that caused a win or a loss. Not


034 Good Luck Have Funk

Plott meets fans and signs a myriad of their belongings in Jรถnkรถping, Sweden at DreamHack Summer 2011.


July/August 2013 035

ferent rooms and I am lying facedown in readiness for a tattooed man named Peter to rearrange my spine, I find myself thinking about Plott’s obvious comfort at being inside his own skin. It’s a state that many people have difficulty achieving; as we go from one circumstance to the next, we play different roles, try on different hats. I have serious difficulty imagining Plott behaving any differently toward a loan officer than he would toward an old friend he met on the street. And maybe that’s the secret of his success, and why he attracts viewers in such staggering droves. Maybe Day[9] stands for something. By just being who he is, and being so good at being who he is, he’s a model of self-acceptance for a culture of gamers that feels ashamed to be gamers. Watching a Day[9] Daily isn’t a chance to witness a spectacle of skyrocketing fame, it’s a chance to hang out with a friend that speaks your language, your goofball gaming buddy that talks about games the way you always wanted to talk about games. His enthusiasm for his viewers and for what he does is unfeigned. My train of thought is lost as Peter disassembles and reassembles various portions of my neck and back. When I finally emerge and find Plott he looks a bit dazed. “I feel great,” he says, grinning. “How are you?”

glhfmag.com

LEFT: HAMPUS ANDERSSON/HAMPUSANDERSSON.SE / ABOVE: HELENA KRISTIANSSON/ESPORTPHOTO.COM

your height, your genetics, your socioeconomic position, your ethnicity, your upbringing, none of it. You just get in the game and that’s it. That’s all that goes on in the game. I love that completeness of the system. Two people from completely different backgrounds can play. There’s real beauty in that.” Our first attempt at massage leads us to a Shiatsu massage establishment that won’t have openings for several hours. Our second venture leads us to Therapeia, a cavernous, commodious citadel of massage. Inside, someone leads us through dim corridors past individual massage rooms that have signs hung on the doors proclaiming words like, “Peace,” and “Purity,” and the air has an underlying scent of herbs. I tell Plott that my experiences with massage are limited in the extreme, but he reassures me, “Massages are the best. I get one once every whenever I can.” We arrive in a waiting area, and while chatting we discover that we have a mutual propensity to talk to ourselves. “In isolation I talk to myself pretty frequently,” Plott tells me. “I think it’s weird not to talk to yourself, to be honest. To be like, ‘No, I am not allowed to make noise out of my mouth unless there is someone else present to hear it.’ That’s silly. Why would you not talk to yourself? Why would you not listen to yourself say a sentence and think, ‘Is that how I want the intonation of that sentence to be? How would I do it differently?’ Singers sing to themselves, why don’t speakers speak to themselves?” I can only agree, but more than the statement itself, it is Plott’s assured delivery that is so compelling. As we are led to dif-


EDITORIAL

Positive Contact, Negative Space 036

By Alex “Axeltoss” Rodriguez “MY FIRST CAST! FEEDBACK APPRECIATED.

Alex “Axeltoss” Rodriguez is a StarCraft II player and commentator. Having studied Communications and Journalism at Texas A&M, Axeltoss has been able to combine his goals in education with a long and experienced StarCraft casting career in both live and online events. //

Liquipedia

Good Luck Have Fun

BELOW

Axeltoss’s first post still lives on

Reddit. Sadly, the original link is now broken.

(Not high templar related)” was the title of the first Reddit thread I ever submitted. It was a few days after purchasing a microphone from Best Buy, near the end of my sophomore year at Texas A&M. It received 9 upvotes and 4 down votes and was my entry into the world of “popular” opinion and the StarCraft community. Quite a bit has changed since then. I am living in a new city referred to as York, I made a tough decision to forego university for a bit, and I have seen and experienced shocking, amazing, inspiring, and terrible things related to competitive gaming and the scene surrounding it. Writing this brief history down seems a bit silly to me, but I feel it is necessary to mention what experience I have had,


LAST MONTH

YESTERDAY

Reddit had

Reddit powered

unique visitors

active communities

5,685

hailing from over

consisting of over

different countries

logged in Redditors

177

2,356,386

viewing a total of

casting over

pages

votes

4,692,494,641

17,965,629

So what does this mean? It means that over a very short amount of time, any one person has the ability to reach millions of people.

037

67,328,706

July/August 2013

STATS AT A GLANCE ( AUG 25, 2013 )

glhfmag.com

LEFT: YOUTUBE AXELTOSS - MLG ANAHEIM 2013 / RIGHT: KEVIN CHANG/TEAM LIQUID

and hopefully introduce myself a bit to an audience who may be unfamiliar with me. I’m simply a college kid who skipped class and didn’t hang out with friends in order to commentate StarCraft 2 for fun. The purpose of this article is not to bore the audience with an autobiography, but to put some thoughts out there, encourage discussion, and examine some intriguing trends in an ever-evolving scene. This article is a continuation and evolution of some thoughts I have made public in the past on TL and in public discussion: the topic of negativity, the hivemind mentality of Reddit, and the dangers of continuous threats on the integrity of a growing scene. The power of Reddit and the upvote is a fascinating science and phenomenon. A League of Legends thread was at the top of r/all in about 4 minutes after the stream went down during an event. Glancing at www.Reddit.com/about at the moment of writing, it is reported that last month Reddit had 67,328,706 unique visitors. So how many people saw that post? Especially those who have never heard of eSports or League of Legends? I could break numbers down much further, but the point is simply to present the power that exists in a popular Reddit thread and to theorize about the potential reach which I believe is, well, a lot. So what does this mean? It means that over a very short amount of time, any one person has the ability to reach millions of people. That is absolutely incredible. You do not have to be president, you do not have to be a famous reporter, you do not have to be a university professor, you do not have to pitch to different newspapers and scholarly journals. You do not need to spend years in a dark cave somewhere contemplating the future, arduously recording ingenious thoughts with chalk on a insect-infested wall. All you have to do is type on your keyboard or take a picture or record a video and submit to a website and cross your fingers...


038 Good Luck Have Fun

and if it doesn’t work, you can try again. While this does sound pretty awesome, and it is, it also presents plenty of dangers. Since a popular thread has the potential to grow incredibly fast and reach an incredible amount of people, inaccurate or non-factual information has the ability to achieve potentially undesirable effects. Someone could potentially fabricate an idea or event and simply make it sound real, and within minutes and without a responding voice this idea could erupt into a communally understood truth. That is the most extreme example. A more likely example would involve the tone of a piece, or the attitude. The attitude we have all seen and experienced, the fiery dragon that has the ability to launch out of nowhere and claim a few lives before retreating back to its deep dark hole: the pitchforking, negative hivemind. Everyone is going to have their own opinion on the role of this phenomenon and can decide whether or not to contribute. If you are reading this, you have probably contributed to it in the past. Up-and-coming commentators have been fired based on this, players wrongly accused of cheating, tournaments and individuals completely

shunned. Those are just a few of the examples. A rule was actually implemented on r/starcraft to avoid the more negative aspects of this. Personally, I won’t say what is right and wrong. But I will mention my opinion on the matter, and how I approach Reddit and these threads, and how I wish others would too. It all starts with the initial eyes. The initial attention given to these threads. The initial attitude and tone of the post at hand. Each of us essentially has a responsibility as either a submitter, voter, and/or commenter to ensure the content presented and consumed is accurate and fair to all parties at hand. This means presenting ideas constructively and not having a biased tone. The importance of this is exponentiated if a popular community member is submitting. People will upvote based on simply the name of someone. If the idea presented is an unfair tone or overly negative, after those initial upvotes there is no going back. Who knows who will see these threads and what reaction they will have. Let’s discuss this a bit more. A popular negative opinion arises and is presented to the community. Naturally, the pitchforks start coming out. The vocal minority gets


Alex “Axeltoss” Rodriguez’s opinions, though excellent, do not necessarily represent the views of his employers.

July/August 2013 039

All the tools are in front of us to extend our reach while embracing newcomers. I would encourage others to utilize these tools and not be shy with ideas, while also properly and fairly examining both sides to every story. It is not too much effort, and it is worth it when considering the potential benefits of a constructive and united community. I do not expect to change everyone’s mind. I do not expect to change a community’s mindset. All I hope is to promote a bit of discussion and ideally not waste your time. If just one person decides to change their mentality and encourage more constructiveness in their submitting and commenting, if one more person truly considers every side of a story before lending an upvote or downvote to a particular thread or before mentioning something they read to a friend, if one person is now inspired to analyze their situation and to recognize how they can make an impact on the growing scene that we all love, then these words will be worth something. I am no exception. This is the mentality I have had throughout my exploration into eSports since stumbling upon one of Husky’s Youtube videos two and a half years ago, and there is no way in hell I will ever stop. It has never been more possible to have influence and pursue your passion. From a simple upvote to a good idea, you have the ability to truly make a difference. Rather than pointing and complaining, consider theorizing and contemplating, commenting and being constructive. Resigning a situation as helpless benefits no cause. Instead identify what you want, what you have the capability to do, and be willing to lend or accept a hand to reach that undetermined next step, a step that could be defined by you.

glhfmag.com

behind it and the idea starts accumulating momentum. No one has a clue if anything will change based on this idea but pitchforks are fun. As this idea gets more and more eyeballs and attention, the silent majority observes and absorbs the information. The negativity and “end of the world” mindset starts turning people off. Perhaps it gets so popular that individuals who haven’t the slightest idea of what eSports or video games are stumble upon it and are immediately turned off. At the end of the day, nothing changes, and fresh, innocent explorers are turned away. This is just an example, but it has happened in the past. What’s the alternative? Having a plan and presenting it properly and constructively is the best option and decreases variability in reaction. This way after those initial upvotes happen, the construct and idea is much more clear to those who might be outside of the loop, those who might be stumbling on whatever news is happening at a particular time. Those with influence, also, will be more likely to absorb the idea at hand. Those who have the ability to change things might actually listen. The idea that something must be negative to become popular needs to go away. Drama and pitchforks are exciting. It is natural to want to see blood and feel like you’ve made an impact. Overall, though, how beneficial is this mindset to the overall scene? Especially if nothing ends up changing? Probably not that beneficial. This is why I personally choose not to contribute to threads that are one-sided, that do not present every side and every case, threads that simply highlight the negatives and don’t stop to consider the other side and potential positives. This idea that we as a community are helpless, useless, and powerless also needs to go away. We know we can have an impact. We know we can make a difference. We are not at a point where it is necessary to light everything on fire so that we can be seen.


COMMUNITY

040

GLHF TI3 Pubstomp in San Francisco By Ryan Kelly Images by Erik Kristianson

WHEN I SAW THE DOZENS OF PEOPLE GATHERED

Good Luck Have Fun

outside the Dear Mom bar in San Francisco’s Mission District, an hour before the bar was even due to open, I knew that I had found my people. Or rather, they had found me, since I was the one that had organized the San Francisco TI3 Pubstomp, presented by GLHF Magazine. I muttered a brief prayer regarding the continued functionality of the projectors and wireless network, and then the doors were unlocked. The International is the annual premier event for Dota 2, and arguably the greatest eSports event known to man. Valve sent me no less than 150 pounds of promotional items (pint glasses, posters, inflatable donkey couriers); it was all gone within minutes, as eager fans poured through the doors.

I can only say that the event was a roaring success. Many new friends were made, teammates found, and voices made hoarse, until we finally were able to celebrate a new world champion. Thankfully, the projectors and the TVs made it through the day. We lacked a sound system that could overcome the noise of the crowd, but stuffed cheek to jowl with


July/August 2013 041

Event organiser and GLHF Magazine Editor-InChief Ryan Kelly handing out SteelSeries swag to the lucky winners.

will never forget the sense of community, the buzz of the crowd, or how proud I was to see two strangers become fast friends over a shared love of eSports. Connect with us to stay tuned for future GLHF events via facebook.com/glhfmag or on Twitter at @GLHFmag.

glhfmag.com

several hundred others, I think it hardly mattered. There was a running punctuation of screams and howls, of delight and anguish, and one only had to listen to any of a dozen neighbors to hear cogent analysis and debate. As the event organizer, it fell on me to run a raffle for items that had been generously donated by SteelSeries. The coveted items included 5 limited edition Kana mouses, and 10 Dota 2 QcK+ mousepads (which are large enough to double as a yoga mat). The logistics of the situation required that I administer the competition while perched atop a barrel. I hope that it is not the last time I am able to stand on a barrel and shout at a crowd, although as I brandished the merchandise to the fervent hopeful, I did feel a bit like a crazed prophet of the Old Testament variety. I can only say that the event was a roaring success. Many new friends were made, teammates found, and voices made hoarse, until we finally were able to celebrate a new world champion. Organizing this pubstomp was a fantastic amount of hard work, but I


TM

STAY TUNED, THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET INTERESTING. NEXT ISSUE OCT 2013

WWW.GLHFMAG.COM

@GLHFMAG

FACEBOOK.COM/GLHFMAG

Profile for GLHF Magazine

GLHF Magazine Issue #6  

Allow the trained nerd chefs at GLHF to dazzle you with StarCraft content so fresh, you’d swear it was edible. In this issue Ryan Kelly serv...

GLHF Magazine Issue #6  

Allow the trained nerd chefs at GLHF to dazzle you with StarCraft content so fresh, you’d swear it was edible. In this issue Ryan Kelly serv...

Profile for glhfmag
Advertisement