Friday, August 05, 2005

Fellowship of 419 part 6: Enter Starcraft

The picture on the left belong to Tossgirl, a Terran player. She can kick my ass any time in SC.

Note: Names may have been changed to protect the innocent who do not want their parents to know they spent their whole uni life playing Starcraft.

I had been a long time fan of fighting games. The appeal to me are that fighting games are like janken/paper-scissors-rock combined with chess. To win, one needs mind games + execution + strategy + reflexes.

I really went fighting game crazy when Street Fighter II finally landed on Megadrive. I spent tons of hours on the game with NiGHTs and Nick. Then came King of Fighters 94 and KTS got into it as well. Years later, I came to Melb and met Ben who became my sensei in KOF97 and spent lots of coins at the uni arcade. After that I met Elvis and KTS came to Melb. The four of us spent at least one night a week playing KOF for over 2 years.

What does all this have to do with Starcraft (SC)? When I went back home in end of 98, my friends were crazy about SC and were eagerly awaiting the expansion pack Brood War. I didn't bother with the game then. I had played Command and Conquer against KTS before (when M'sia had flat rate phone connections) and to me it was all about building as many tanks as possible and rushing. The big RTS (real-time-strategy) b4 SC, Total Annihilation did not impress me.

Kv was a big fan of this RTS game called Starcraft, having learned the game from his friend Roger and was playing on bnet. What impressed me was that Kv said that nothing in SC was 'tian sia wu di' (invincible in heaven and earth). That everything in the game had a counter and it was up to reflexes and planning. This intrigued me because it was exactly what I enjoyed about fighting games. Furthermore, he said that the 3 races were very different but balanced. The only one thing I didn't enjoy about Sc were the long battles.

I remember the first time I played SC. It was at a cybercafe next to Charlton's. I had no idea how to play and the only thing I remember was him telling me to build seige tanks. I don't remember much about the beginning of 419's obsession with SC.

I remember Kv teaching us basic build orders and the marines+medics+tanks push. If I'm not mistaken me, NiGHTs, Yc and John can be considered students of Kv. Druggy,Pipboy and AvatarStormbringer were already familiar with the game.

We played lots of 3 on 3s or 4 on 4s because we only knew the basics and it was the best way to learn the game while having fun. Mostly, it involved tons of rushing and teching to invisible units. We learned how to protect ourselves from rushes by 2 armies and got very familiar with early Starcraft game. We would play 3/4 games of Sc and then switch to 1 hour of CS.

Later I got to know Fish who turned not only played b-ball but was also a SC player! Then Psibeing joined the fellowship of 419 and Avatar moved into 419. 419 then acquired broadband and had 6 computers on lan. Pipboy also had 3 computers at his place.

That was the golden period of SC in 419. Everyday, there would be 1 on 1 or 2 on 2 Sc battles to happening. Yc got for us cheap original Sc cds from China and we went on bnet. We had enough ppl that we could swap teams when playing 2 on 2 or 3 on 3s. Members living outside 419 would stop by to have games or watch the latest replays. We'd spend countless hours discussing strategies and tactics. We'd watch replays of Korean pros and try to learn their stuff. For years, we ate, breathed and lived Sc.

Starcraft is truly the greatest RTS of all time. I mean they even broadcast Sc matches on Korean tv and pros there thrive on winnings and sponsorships. The game has such a high learning curve because there are so many variables and despite having so many variables and 3 very distinct races, the game is super balanced. Even when we started SC way back in 2001 the game was still on version 1.06 or something like that. Sc is a visually exciting game to watch because its like watching a chess game with more action. You can see what the competitors are going for and predict the outcome of skirmishes. Korean Sc leagues are still going and this year at the world Cyber Games in Singapore they're still playing Sc.

Down the line Ghostroc became the last member to join the fellowship. Unfortunately, all good things must come to and end so at the end of 2003/early 2004 Kv, NiGHTs, Psibeing, Fish and Avatar left Melbourne. The fellowship still continued and we played a lot of 1 on 1s and 2 on 2s. Pipboy left middle of 2004 and and Druggy just left, signalling the breaking of the fellowship.

I'm writing the chronicles of 419 not to mourn its loss but to celebrate the brotherhood and good times that can never again be achieved. May we all meet on bnet again someday.

Coming soon: scandalous SC profiles of 419 members. What dark and terrible secrets will Akiramike reveal?

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