Thursday, September 13, 2012

This is a narrative about a man who wanted to show his prowess as a wingman...

...even if it was against my will. No this has nothing really to do with Starcraft, but I had so many people asking for this story, I said "screw it" and typed it up. Enjoy the painful awkwardness that is to ensue.

Cue that soft, sweet, romantic music that is actually just screaming “f*** you” subtly in the background. This is one of those stories that you hear about happening to your friend’s friends and always think, “Dang, that guy is so lucky.” Well, being in that situation myself now, I don’t necessarily feel all that lucky. I mean, it’s not really bad, persay, but it has definitely caught me off guard at an interesting time.
Now before I actually tell you this story, I want to establish something. I would almost bet money that you saw this document and thought, “Really? An entire word document? I think that is a bit much Ben…” I did try texting this story to someone earlier, and after about 16 pages of text, I gave up and called them to tell the rest of the story. If you really want to enjoy this, just go through it. Not sold? Okay, here’s the TL;DR. You’re call whether to keep going.
·        Me: Did that all seriously happen?
·        Keegan: Yes
·        Me: This all just seriously just happened?
·        Keegan: Yes you have a date Friday with the girl you deemed hot. Wouldn’t lie to ya.
·        Keegan: You’re welcome Felix J
Let’s be honest, the fact that I have a date is strange enough. (Yes, take a moment to laugh, screw you too.) But life is all about the story. So, enough stalling, time for me to really start typing.
I have been going to Pie Wednesday in such a devout manner that I have not missed a single Wednesday that I have been in town for for four years. I freaking love me some pie. That aside, I naturally know the waiting staff pretty well by face, if not by name. So when Keegan leaned over to me and asked, “is she new?” I knew the answer.
“The girl is the bright green shirt? Ya she is.” It was pretty hard to miss her. She was pretty tall for a girl, wearing a neon green shirt, and standing right at the front next to the counter.
“Do you think she’s cute?”
“Ya, she is pretty cute.” And folks, if you know Keegan… well, that was all he needed to hear.
The next hour consisted of what I am fairly certain is treading the legal line of torture. Everyone at the table would take part in talking loudly about the cute waitress Ben liked as waiters passed by our table, including a couple of times said cute waitress passed by the table. Martina, our weekly Pie waitress, was waaay too amused by all this, and Keegan made sure to that she knew exactly what was going on. The most awkward point of this part of the story was when my ex-girlfriend started joining in on all of this. I’m not a blusher, but I would be lying if I tried to tell you that most of my evening wasn’t spent with my beat red face in my hands. I was laughing, but still embarrassed.
This story wouldn’t be a good story if it ended right there. In fact, it would have probably been for the best if it had. That, of course, is not the case. I had an evening commitment to make, not to mention my face was about to set alight, so I figured it was a decent time to leave. But first things first! I had drank a lot of coffee.
And a quick segue*. That was an amazing piss. For those of you who don’t know me all that well, coffee is my cigarettes and alcohol. It’s my anti-depressant, it’s my relaxation pill, my pain medication. Life has been weird as it is, but when you stack a night like I was having on top, I was needing a lot of my meds. Coffee in, coffee out. And out. And out. And like a responsible citizen, I washed my hands afterward, having to wait in line behind a father and his four young boys. Now you may be wondering, why this is so important, why must I continue to ramble on about my glorious piss? Because it bought the Pie table time. To be more specific, it gave Keegan the time he needed to take care of business.
While I was merrily relieving myself, Keegan was chatting up a storm with the hostess, Taylor.
Wait, did I say chatting? I meant plotting. Definitely meant plotting.
I come out of the bathroom feeling better and a little bit cleaner, and do a quick scan of the are—OH CRAP WHERE’S KEEGAN AND ADAM!? Taylor is shooting me these really funny encouraging looks, and nodding her head towards the cute waitress. I have to wrap around near the front counter to get my bill from the table, and as I pass by, Taylor says, “You should totally do it.”
And I felt my face flush. “What the fuck happened?” I asked Adam when I got back to the table.
“I’ll tell you in the car.” He responds.
“No seriously, what the fuck is going on.” I look over at Keegan and the kid is practically bouncing. The smile he was wearing probably ripped some sort of muscle in his face.
“Just talk to her,” he says. “Ask her out, there’s nothing wrong with that!”
At this point I am thinking that dine and dash is a pretty viable option, seeing as cute waitress is standing, you guessed it! Right at the front. Right next to where Keegan was talking to Taylor, right next to Taylor when she was encouraging me to “totally do it.” But I know Village Inn pretty well- again, 4 years. And there is only one viable exit that won’t get me kicked out of the restaurant. That exit, of course, is right out the front door, past Taylor, escorted by Keegan, right past cute waitress girl.
I walk up to the front counter head down with that desperate, “don’t look don’t look don’t look” attitude, but like we all know at this point, this doesn’t work, because Keegan is on a mission, and he now has support from another employee. As I am paying I get multiple more encouragements from Taylor, who is speaking loudly enough for cute waitress girl to hear, who is now a little curious as to what is going on.
I am now really close to leaving. I am soooo close. I was trying to get out so much that I accidentally tipped Martina twice, but if it got me out faster, I really didn’t care. I turn away from the counter, I take my first step towards the door…
“Just ask her!” Apparently Keegan decided enough was enough with the subtleties.
Another couple steps towards the door.
“Seriously, you should do it!” Taylor this time. Cute waitress girl is about 3 feet behind and to my left. At this point, there is no denying what exactly is going on, and it was only going to be a few seconds before cute waitress pieced it all together, because she was the only one who seemed to not know what was going on, and there was a super embarrassed, exceedingly handsome, dashing young man walking towards the door (I lol’ed writing that part. Needed some stress relief here, this story isn’t done yet.)
I turn around to face everyone all at once- Taylor, Keegan, Adam right behind him, and of course, cute waitress. Ashley. Her name tag says Ashley.
“I think we’ll give you two some alone time.” Keegan and Adam walk out. This will be the first time in the night that my jaw drops and that befuddled, “ahh… uhh…” sound comes out of my mouth. Ashley, the cute waitress, now has the perfect “wtf?” face on and timidly asks, “Whaaat’s going on…?”
Well, all bets are off now. I just walk out, I look like an ass. I stay for more than 10 seconds, I’ll sound like an ass. Your call, Ben…
“Apparently our friends are trying to hook us up.” A simple, blanket statement. Smart, right?
“Ya…” Several awkward seconds pass. Taylor now has the same muscle ripping smile Keegan had.
Oh crap, my brain is starting to engage. GTFO!!! “You have a nice day. Maybe I’ll see you around,” I said with a small smile, and with a nod of my head I’m off.
This should be the end of the story. Ashley won’t work any more Wednesdays, I don’t have time to go to Village Inn on any other normal day of the week, and by the time that random happenstance kicked in, Ashley would have forgotten me.
But by now you know that, had that been the end of this story, it wouldn’t have made a very good tale except for that, “Ya, I almost asked a waitress out one time, but I blew it” story that you tell a couple years from now over a couple of drinks with the guys.
               That is not the end of this story though. Because after I left, more plans were hatched, for Keegan hadn’t left yet. I am driving down the interstate and I get a call from Keegan.
“Hey, what program are you in at UNO right now?”
“Well, I am technically in the vocal performance program right now.” Then the brain kicks in. CRAP! “Why do you—“
“So he’s in the voc-“*click. Phone hangs up.
I turn to Adam. “What the fuck just happened.” He just starts laughing. The phone is plugged in to the car, so he hears everything. “Seriously, what the fuck is going on??”
Another minute of this ensues before I get another call from Keegan.
“What are you doing Friday night?”
“I… I work until 8…”
“Perfect, you’ve got a dinner at 8:30 at Cheddars! Can you make that?”
My jaw drops. I try to vocalize, but everything comes out in sputters and derps.
Cue Wingman #2 of the night: Adam. “Yes! Yes he can!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yup!” Adam replies. I try to say something, but am overlapped by, “Hush Ben, I’m speaking for you.” (For those of you who may know the reference, think Team4Star.)
“Alright, don’t stand her up! Have fun!” *click*
Speechless. Absolutely, utterly speechless.
Again, the story could have ended here, and now it would have been a fairly worthy story. But no, there is a little more yet. The reason I was driving was because I was going to UNO for something. Adam was with me. So syllogistically speaking (think the transitive property in math): I am driving, Adam is with me, Adam is not driving, Adam doesn’t have his car with him. Adam’s car is at Village Inn still, and I have to take him back to get it.
Well, let’s think nothing of it, eh? It’s no problem. Adam is coming to the apartment afterward to play some good ol’ classic Halo, and we’re pretty stoked. So we get to Village Inn and we both hop out of the car because we’re in the middle of a conversation. Walking towards his car, he looks over and says, “Hey, isn’t that Ashley?”
Okay, that’s just too perfect. I call BS on him. “No, really,” he continues. “She’s washing the doors. Look it’s opening now!” Village Inn is lined with windows, and it’s entrance is two sets of glass doors. I look over and…
“OH SHIT!” I dive back over to my car and hop in. I can already hear Adam laughing as he grabs a piece of paper, writes down my name and number, and gives it to her.
And that, for the most part, is all the story I have for you. We’ve been texting back and forth for a bit now. She added me on Facebook, which gave me a chance to find out as much as possible before a potential date. And I have, for all intents and purposes, a blind date with my waitress. Normally that implies you don’t know who you’re going with, but I think this situation is close enough.
Let’s say that again. I, Benedict “Coffeebreak” Rasmussen, the introverted nerd, who spends his free time programming and, not playing video games, but talking in-depth about them, have a blind date.
Considering I literally choke when talking to girls I already know… well, this should be interesting.
Of course, more details to follow if the date goes through.

*I now realize the irony of taking a line to inform the audience of a segue. Segue: Move without interruption from one… scene to another.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Problems of Viewership: A call to arms!

If any of you were to actually meet me sometime, I would hope I would not come across as a conceited prick. I strive not to be just that, actually! This does however create a slight problem with getting my name out there, though.
As any of my regulars know, I took a very extended break from the Coffeecast due to a lack of time, between college, moving into an apartment, and working to pay said apartment bills. Now that I am getting back into this whole casting scene, I am seeing more than ever the difficulty of getting people to recognize my show as a legitimate source of entertainment. (*Pause to refill my coffee) So I have been spending a lot of time thinking (generally that time comes in the wee hours of night when I should be sleeping but am just not tired). So I have come up with a few categories to help myself out a bit. Things you guys can help with, too!

  • Advertising
    • In this category, I am thinking of things such as posts when my show goes live, links over to my youtube channel, special events. As of now, I only advertise on Reddit because, to be honest, I have no idea what other sites to use or how to use them. I suppose I should jump on TeamLiquid, and I think somebody mentioned WellPlayed?
    • In the area of special events, I want to do another tournament style of play. The problem with a 1's tourney, though is that you get a lot of no shows that kill your bracket system, and Spawn will just win in the end because he's stupid good. Here's where you guys come in!
      • I want to do a customs tournament where we'll play a few different custom games. I'll have a unique scoring system for each game, and whoever comes out on top gets the prize. I want the names of some good custom games out there!
    • If you have any ideas as to sites I could advertise on, I would appreciate that as well!
  • Community
    • One thing I have tried to emphasize for the Coffeecast is the importance of the community. I have tried to keep my cast well-mannered (punishing those who get too out of hand... Pure, Sleeper, you guys know which time I am talking about ; ). I have also wanted to keep the content revolving around you guys in a couple of ways.
      • Amateur Attack: A friendly, non-competitive way to get some games cast. Different from some of the bigger casts, like Playhem's BSG and Zeek's dailies, in the fact that I cast every game played in a non-tournament setting, which takes a lot of pressure off of the players.
      • User interactive games: Remember when I played Riven and Myst on stream? One big reason I chose those is the fact that while I played through, I could ask the stream viewers for input or help when I really got stuck. And you know what? It was a stream viewer that helped me beat Riven after 7 years of torture.
    • So keeping these ideas in mind, I want to encourage even more viewer participation, as well as a closer connection between the casters, being myself and Sleepercells, and the viewers / players. I want to make it so that when somebody comes to the Coffeecast, they keep returning to the Coffeecast.
      • The Turnover Rate: As stated above, the only place that I really go to advertise is Reddit. People coming in from Reddit tend to come for one, maybe two shows, and then never be heard from again. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule- Freakboy, who has been an incredible moderator for me, came from Reddit. None-the-less, I want to find a way to take this turnover rate and turn it to a more positive number than 1:10.
      • Greater Viewer input: I want to have the viewers have even more power over what they see and do at the Coffeecast. One thing I would like to do is have a small group of 5 or 6 people act as "community managers" in a sense. With this group I would have a meeting once every two weeks or so to talk about... well, whatever is at hand. An upcoming tournament, ideas for new or improved content, things that just aren't working out.
  • Casts
    • This somewhat links to the interactivity of the viewers stated above. Like I have said, I have been doing my best to center my content around viewers (such as when I entertained the hell out of my viewers by playing Amnesia...)
      • Amateur Attack: Just like above. Take the viewers in from the audience and give them a chance to be casted like the pro players (though with a bit worse of commentary than the pro players get ; )
      • Guest Casting: I'll be honest, this is something that I have begun to steer away from, for a few reasons. 1) Casting is not easy, and any new caster just has to grind and grind away at some games until they get past that awkward stage of not knowing what to say. Guest casting does not give new casters the amount of practice they need to ever overcome that feeling. So, when new people come to the cast and hear, "uh.... well... a, uh... a Pylon was made on 9 supply... or 10, ya, 10", it leaves a pretty bad impression.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Coffeebreak's Top 5 Games

**DISCLAIMER**: Before you read this (aka, breeze over the bolded game titles and disagree), keep in mind that these are my top 5 games, not the top 5 ever created. These are games that I loved, that I found extremely entertaining, and I will always remember. Please leave comments with your favorites though too!
So I finally have my little desk area set up back at home (just in time to settle in before I move out again!) and am ready to jump back into gaming after being out of it for a little bit. I came across a nice little package called The Humble Indie Bundle ( ) is a great way to give a bit to charity and get a little back. Quick details on that:
  • Pay what you want
  • Receive downloadable copies of up to 5 games and their corresponding sound tracks
  • Copies can be used via steam or just download them from the site
  • You choose how the money you spend is distributed between charity, the game developers, and tipping the people that make this happen
One of the games on that list is Amnesia: The Dark Descent. For those of you who watched me play this game, you got some awesome laughs as I tried not to cry, and you know that I have great admiration for this game. Now I decided to, for some reason, download the soundtrack to Amnesia and just kind of... you know... torture myself by listening to it. And this is what spurred my brain into writing a list of my top games I've played. More on that later down the list. Let's get started!

A portion of the main island in Myst: Exile
5. Myst series (developed by Cyan) 
Not too long ago, I embarked on a great journey through the lands of Riven, where the D'ni's world was decaying, and a bunch of other places, which I shall not name, for I don't know where my notebook with all my notes about the game went.
The Myst series (I played the first three, the latter two of which, Riven and Myst: Exile on stream) is an adventure game that places puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty in front of you to solve, with the ultimate goal of "simply" figuring them all out. Please note the quotations around "simply", because while this is the overall goal, there is seriously nothing easy about it. If you don't like to think hard, and you don't have the patience of a freaking stone, Myst is not the game for you.
For those of us that love a good challenge, though, and like a little thinking where you just sit back and wonder, what the fu?, Myst is an absolutely stellar game. It places a small emphasis on the storyline itself, and leaves the player to read books of 30+ pages to really learn what's going on. Okay, that part sounds kind of boring, right? Well, the bastards at Cyan put necessary fucking clues in these books. That's right, you have to not only think, but spend hours of your gameplay reading to really figure the game out.
Myst: Masterpiece Edition (released in the earlier 1990's)
The most important aspect of this game is to take lots and lots of notes. By the end of my two play through's I had accumulated ~12 pages of notes, diagrams, and thoughts along the way. Without the notes, there is literally no way for you to beat this game.
The last point I want to mention is the beautiful environment of the game. This isn't a WASD movement thing. You point. You click. You're given a new frame.
That's right folks! Myst 1 and Riven are 100% still frame shots, which is how they achieved the graphics levels they did in the 90's and earlier 2000's. Myst: Exile was there first game to feature a full 360 degree environment (they later went back and recreated Myst 1 with a 360 degree environment).
Still interested at all? Probably not. But hey, for $6, you can't really go wrong! Just give it a shot, I promise you'll love it! You can buy all three games on Steam.
Killing Diablo in Hell

4. Diablo II (developed by Blizzard)
The Diablo trilogy has had pretty interesting developments, considering that they are all related games. Diablo I is almost completely different that Diablo II, and Diablo II is pretty different from Diablo III. Let's just think of the basics for a moment here. The essence of an RPG, whether it is Dragon Age, Skyrim, or Diablo, is its leveling system. Blizzard overhauled the leveling system in each game, and this is the main reason why I singled Diablo II out from its predecessor and its... uh... foredecessor.
Diablo II, as many of you know, is a birds-eye- view RPG based on you, the hero of varying classes, killing demons from the Bible as many ways as possible.
And for those of you about to say something, yes, the main bosses are from the bible- Andarial, Duriel, Mephisto, Diablo (aka Satan), Baal, Belial, and Azmodan.
Looking through the inventory screen
As you progress through the game, you encounter hundreds of different demons, pick up magical items of varying types and power, and level up your character. Each class has three different skill trees, and around 10 different skills / tree that you can put up to 20 points in to (you get a single point per level). You also have your 4 main attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Vitality (Constitution), and Engery (for mana).
The overall goal is simple. Get super powerful, kill the three Prime Evils, play the game on a harder difficulty. Rinse and repeat.
Diablo II and III are available for purchase and download via Blizzard's site
Mass Effect 2: This time, it's not Mass Effect 1

3. Mass Effect Trilogy (developed by Bioware)
I have a good mind to completely eliminate this game from my list for two reasons: how bad the ending was, and because you are forced to use EA's Steam knockoff Origin to download and play the full series. However, it is a testament to the game's gameplay and story line that it remains here (seriously, the ending was that bad that Mass Effect was almost excluded from the list).
Mass Effect takes place a few hundred years in the future. Humans have discovered Faster Than Light (FTL) travel, and now are rapidly expanding around the Milky Way, much to the dismay of the rest of the inhabitants of the galaxy (most of which are somewhat-ish friendly). When an unknown threat begins to attack human colonies, it's up to Commander Shepard to kill absolutely everything that moves.
Pulling up the power and weapons screen temporarily pauses the Mass Effect game, allowing you to strategize 

This is another game whose leveling system changes throughout each game, but this time I feel it was for the better. The weapon system changes, too, as well as some basic gameplay mechanics, but every change they made improved the game.
WOAH! Stop there, Coffee. What the hell? Game developers don't keep the good and toss the bad.
No! Seriously! Hang the phone up, no need to call the local psych ward. Bioware... listens to their consumers... that just feels weird coming off the tongue when talking about a game developer. This is proved by their reaction to the end of ME3, but no spoilers here. I'mma shutup now.
The games are all available for electronic purchase and download via the Origin client, found here:
What. The fuck. Is that.

2. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (developed by Frictional Games)
Amnesia and I have this weird love-hate relationship. Let's talk about Amnesia itself a little bit, then we can talk about all the girly emotional feels this game gives me.
Amnesia is a survival-horror game. And by that, I mean you are surviving by not dying of a heart attack caused by pure horror. In Amnesia, you get no weapons- if something wants you dead, you run and hide somewhere. The game has both elements of causation and unpredictability- that is to say that some things are scripted to happen, some things are not, which adds a good chunk of replay-ability to the game.
Upon the first start-up of the game, you get some notes from the developers saying some of the above, as well as advising you to allow yourself to be taken in by the game. So don't pick this game up and say, "ya right, let's see how scary this really is." You are supposed to be absorbed and let the game take you, and the gods at Frictional Games made sure to give you the resources to be absorbed.
Frictional games went where no developer had gone before. The lead developer said that it frustrated him that there were no good survival-horror games, so he created one. To do this, he needed to find something no on had done to date. Some games, perfect their weapon systems, so games look at the leveling, some games the graphics... Amnesia took the atmosphere.
In Amnesia, there is constant background noises there solely to freak you the hell out. AND IT WORKS! Ya, it sounds like it would get tedious after a bit, but it never fades to the back of your mind- it is always freaking there. Just earlier today I was listening to soundtrack to Amnesia (got it when I bought the Humble Indie Bundle) and I started having a minor panic attack thinking about the game.
That was the moment I realized that this was one of the best games created. It was very close to being the number 1 slot. That's right, ignore my disclaimer this one time and read the next sentence. Amnesia is one of the all-time best games created. Bam, I said it. Let the game do the talking.
Amnesia is available through Steam at
Here are the highlights of my live-stream play-through. And if I may say... it's pretty freaking funny. 
This game... it's only a little bit different from Amnesia.

1. Starcraft 1 & 2 (developed by Blizzard)
Well, I bet none of you saw this one coming! Blizzard has a perfect track record in my mind- they haven't made a single bad game, and that is pretty freaking impressive (I can't think of a bad Bioware game either, come to think of it.) Starcraft 2 is a birds-eye-view Real-Time Strategy (RTS) that forces you to think quickly. A lot of the time it is described as a fast paced chess game. 
I have very little to say here.
To win a game (in multiplayer, which is what the game is designed around), you must gather resources, create an army, and destroy your opponent. This is actual about as simple as playing Myst, though, as the game features an extremely in-depth knowledge curve, consisting of what order you build units and buildings, the counters to every unit in the game, knowledge of common times for you enemy to attack, and more. Of the 5 games on this list, Starcraft is the only game played professionally for large sums of cash. I'm actually not going to go too far into Starcraft, as most of you probably know exactly what it is.
You can purchase Starcraft and Starcraft II at
And, for the hell of it, a link to a recent cast of mine.

That was long, but hey, it was fun to write out! I plan to have a follow up post of honorable mentions (much shorter than this!), as well as a video in the future showing a little gameplay of each game said above. Please leave a comment with your favorite games and a little justification- I'm really curious!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Software Issues (cont) and Rolling Random (rage)

::EDIT:: Everybody should watch for me on Facebook and Twitter (links at the end) and tune in for the NeSPA SC2 tournament that Sleepercells and myself will be casting live! April 18 and 19 will be the online seeding rounds, and April 21 we will be at the venue in Lincoln to cast the event!

The Software Woes Continue
So as many of you may know, I had to take an extended leave from Starcraft 2 casting (and subsequently Starcraft 2 itself) due to a nasty issue with my broadcasting software, Xsplit. Xsplit, until very recently, has been in a Public Beta for quite some time now, and the last version of Xsplit before the official release severely jacked things up. There was a major bug in Public Beta 7.0 that cause massive and frequent CPU (aka processing) spikes up to 100%, which cause nasty lag spikes in-game. Because this affected my CPU, this also hampered my ability to cast pro games offline, as the lag spikes were still present. Public Beta 7.0 was pulled, and days later, Beta 7.1 was released. Public Beta 7.1 was the fix to 7.0 that worked for about 75% of Xsplit users.
I was part of the 25%.
And for some completely unknown and baffling reason, even when rolling back to the previously effective Beta 6, the lag spikes persisted. This is the problem that forced me to play other games, for a time, including Riven, Myst: Exile, and Alien Swarm, among a few others. I greatly enjoyed my time playing these games with you guys, and will likely continue to do so on the side. Thanks for sticking it out with me, and I am excited to move forward with the C0ffeecast and the growing community that you are all contributing to : ).

Random Rage
I am sitting at my computer desk in my dorm, relaxing and sipping my coffee. I can't help but reflect on the interesting set of events that occurred last night while I played random on my alternate account (technically my father's, who does not currently play SC2, but may someday!) First and foremost, I want to thank those of you who joined me last night, played your own off races or main races, and helped me begin picking up the mechanics of both Zerg and Terran. There are no doubts in my mind that, between my two off races, Terran is by far the better one. I feel like I understand the underlying concepts of both, but, just as my Protoss play, I am working with my execution, which will come with practice!
Through last night I played 10 games as Random: 6 Terran, 3 Zerg, 1 Protoss.
I had some great practice games with my friends from the chat, and learned quite a bit! As Terran, I confirmed that you really can win most games by just making marines and tanks (LOL!), as that is all I ever did (never having to face a Protoss opponent). I knew that, while playing races I was less experienced with, I would have to confine my goals a bit, and remove the "let's just win" goal. So to start, here are my goals I set throughout the night, my starting goals in normal text, revisions / additions to existing goals are italicized, and new goals at the end are bold:

  • Terran
    • Macro hard: I want a quick 2nd base, and a decent 3rd (~10 - 11:00)
    • Watch the minerals! The Protoss rule of 4 production facilities / base does not apply to the other races. Drop extra Barracks, get another factory or Starport.
    • Mirror the old Thorzain style: quick 2-2 bio, supported by +1 mech.
    • Don't forget infantry upgrades (aka Stim), and don't overstim / stim too early
    • Watch the CC energy. Mostly Mules, and a scan doesn't hurt anyone if you have plenty of SCV's
  • Zerg
    • Larva injects are the most important of the 3 macro mechanics of Starcraft.
    • Larva injects during combat are even more important to help resupply your army in a lengthy fight
    • Creep spread in a non-ZvZ game is ultra important for defense and vision
    • Map awareness: scout the 3rd, hold the towers, Overlords in place to scout for drops
    • Macro mode: drone harder that Nestea himself. Take that macro risk
    • Macro mode: take a quick third (4 - 6:00), saturate, then worry about teching
    • Macro Hatch once on 3-base. So many resources!
A quick conclusion to this entry. I have played ~150 ladder games and Protoss, my main race, on my main account, Coffeebreak. It took me 150 games ladder, and probably about another 250 custom and 2's (I have ladder anxiety, shutup!) to finally reach Diamond league. 2.5 years of (totally worth it!) work. In my 5 placement matches as Random... I placed diamond, beating players with well over 1000 ladder wins (I think my main account in somewhere around 450...) as my off races. 2 things for that:
  1. They should be freaking ashamed of themselves!
  2. I can't believe that in 5 games as Random, I achieved what took me ~400 games as Protoss...
This entry has already been longer than I thought it would be, and I have more thoughts, so perhaps I will continue writing about my Random exploits in future blogs!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tournaments and Mass Gates

Keeping Up with the Scene
I am sitting here with my morning coffee (yes, there is a reason I am named "Coffeebreak") and I start to worry about keeping up with the scene. I'll be honest, as much as I revere people like Tastosis, Husky, and especially Day[9], I am intimidated by them. This especially is true in the area of tournaments. I am an extremely avid MLG watcher, but for some reason, when it comes to the NASL, IPL, GSL... I may have watched two hours of it in the past year. I know that I am not the most up-to-date on the scene, and it shows when I try to cast an IPL bo3 series that turns out to not only be a bo5, but the Grand Finals. I suppose I am a little unsure of how to keep up with the scene, and it really freaks me out as someone who is trying to claw my way up the ladder...

Protoss vs Terran: The Midgame
I was watching a Day[9] Daily yesterday about the PvT midgame, and how it is so difficult for Protoss to survive Terran's multi-pronged attacks and massive stim bio-ball up the middle. Since I know you all don't watch the Daily (and even I don't as rigorously as I used / want to), I wanted to discuss a little bit Day[9]'s concept of limiting the attacks of your opponent. We say this a lot in SKMC vs EGPuma (a series that I actually casted). MC opened up the games many times with this 3-Gate timing attack off of 2-base that featured a lot of Sentries. For brevity's sake, I will cut to the point and say that the point of this attack was not necessarily to win, but to do some damage and weaken the opponents army.
In the mid-game, Terrans have a tendency to drop the main and the third at the same time, or drop the third, force the army to be pulled, then push their main bio-ball down the throat of the 'Toss. Even with Blink (an essential upgrade for holding against drops) it can be difficult to be in 2-3 places at once. So good Protoss players started to look not only at holding against those drops, but what they could do before that to prevent it.
First of all, the 3-Gate timing is pure brilliance. In the early game, Terran players like to build up a nice little bio-ball to defend against Protoss aggression, which they later use to pummel the Protoss with aggression of their own. With this timing attack by the Protoss, the Terran is forced to trade armies or lose extra buildings / SCV's. Without this army in the mid-game, they can not afford to do 3-pronged aggression, because they simply do not have the numbers. They can drop or they can push the front. Doing both would result in no damage as their army would just be too small.
The second piece of importance is Warp Gate count / use. We see MC and Naniwa with many Warp Gates, 8+, and then not do anything with them. This, of course, is on purpose, as these high level players aren't just "forgetting" Warp Gate cycles. 1) By not using these Warp Gates, they can tech and upgrade like mad because they have a lot of extra resources. 2) By not using these Warp Gates constantly, when a drop occurs, they suddenly have 4 - 8 units instantly to defend while they can get a portion of their army in position to defend against the drop.
And with that, welcome to and abrupt ending.

Day[9] Daily #432:
C0ffeeCast: SKMC vs EGPuma:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Scheduling Timings

Schedules (The "I'm venting" section)
Probably the biggest problem I have been having in my attempts to climb in views is having a set schedule. I am an out-of-state college student studying Information Technology (using computer systems to improve business, mainly), and well as a vocal performer, exercise enthusiast, and would-be outdoorsman. My schedule is constantly changing based on deadlines for classes, weekends spent at home, and things as simple as a nice day to go rock climbing. For those of you who have stuck around since the beginning in November of 2011, you know my schedule has changed a lot. There was even a couple weeks where I was streaming 6 days straight! Unfortunately, time just does not permit such anymore, and even with cutting back to two, my days are always on the verge of chaos. Without a set schedule, it is difficult to pull consistent viewers, aka ones who keep coming back. Just a thought to keep in mind.


The following concept of Dynamic Timings, rather than Static (based on supply) is mainly based for the younger players out there. You more experienced players, prepare to bring on the "duh" factor, but calm your jets, I'm trying to look out for everyone!

What are Dynamic Timings?
When going through build orders, you will normally find your timings based on supply. At 9/10 supply build your Pylon. 13/18, your Gateway, etc... But what do you do when that build is thrown off. Let's say you're a Terran player do a 1 Rax Factory expansion and when you lift your Barracks and Factory off to get the Reactor for the Hellions, 8 Zerglings stream into your base. Not the biggest deal in the world, but you had to make a couple extra Marines and Hellions to clean up the mess. Look up at your supply and you are 10 supply ahead of where you are supposed to be. You're probably thinking, crap! I am so far behind right now! I can't imagine where my opponent must be!
Well quit your worrying! Your supply is thrown off, but it doesn't mean your timings have to be. Day[9] has been moving away from expressing timings solely in supply (which I consider a "static" timing), and alternatively has been looking at comparisons ("dynamic" timings). Let's take another example, this time from WhiteRa's Carrier rush I analyzed a few weeks ago (1).

Extended Example of Dynamic Timings
This build is anything but standard and safe. It requires a minimalistic ground army and virtually no defense until 11:00 when your Carriers are finished. If we look at the static timing for the opening, the Gateway should come around 17/18, and your first two Assimilaters around 22. Let's say you are Forge Fast Expanding and your Zerg opponent 10 Pool's you. In response, you throw down a couple of extra Cannons and keep pumping out Probes. Pretty quickly that 10 Pool is defeated and you get ready to go back to your strategy when you notice, crap! I'm already at 20 supply and everything is shot to hell! Time to go Dark Tem- STOP! Seriously, f*** Dark Templar... just no. No. Go back and look at the way I summarized the build order;

- 2 gas after Gateway
- 3rd gas @ ~50% Cybernetics Core completion.

These are based on Dynamic Timings. Those Zerglings got into your base? No problem! Just build the 2 gases after the Gateway. They hit with a second attack and delay your Cybernetics Core? Don't worry! When the Cyber Core is halfway finished, lay your next gas.

Alternate Examples
Other examples of Dynamic Timings could be, When I have 2 Siege Tanks, I'm going to push or, Once I have 10 Mutalisks, I'll start harassing. These are better than saying, I will attack at 8 minutes, regardless, because if you only have one Tank and no Siege Mode, you could find yourself in a world of hurt.

As stated above, this may seem obvious to you higher level players. The reason why this is an important point for lower level players is the mental aspect to the game. Lower level players are going to be less refined in their play, and thus be flustered more easily. They are not going to understand as well what to do when their build is thrown off. That is the reason I wanted to write about this- I was there at one point, and I understand.

  1. WhiteRa's Carrier Rush Analysis 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Broadcasting and Mutalisk Defense

So it has been a while since I last wrote a blog (and to be specific, my only post thus far). I have been keeping myself extremely busy with the site, new cast times, and casting for alternative functions. I figured that the blog may be a nice way to begin an expansion to a new horizon of the C0ffeeCast, so I hope to continue updating this blog. I want to write about all things Starcraft: an upcoming patch, an issue I have, a player I like. However, I want to have some sort of focus on the techniques and complications of casting, and as an amateur caster, there are a lot of complications!

Woes of Broadcasting
So I want this post to be a bit about the quality of the video, not the caster. I have had many a'problems with my broadcasting software, XSplit Broadcaster, ranging from misconfiguration, confusion of controls, and software bugs. There have been times that I have hit the broadcast button, XSplit will give me the go ahead, and 10 minutes into the cast the chat is asking why I haven't gone live yet. This is by infuriating, by all means, but I have to give the most frustrating award to the configuration and properties of channels. I don't know how many times I have looked up VBV Max Bitrate and VBV Buffer- I just do not understand them. Once when I was streaming for a tournament not of my own, the audience was discussing how I needed to change some settings a certain way, so I did.
I have no idea how it affected anything.
And the audio encoding likely frustrates me even more. I don't know what the hell the problem is, but when I do live recordings at 44.100 KHz 16-bit Stereo with a bitrate of 128000, my voice is fairly much clear. When I do a local recording at a bitrate of 320000 I get the mushiest, crappiest sound to come out of a mic, and it just sounds plain flat out unprofessional, and that is something I will not tolerate. It's something I am working on, but I am fairly much just blindly changing settings.

An Annoying State of PvZ
So I don't know how far down the leagues this strategy has descended. Personally, I haven't felt the effects yet (thatnkfully : p), and I am around the low Diamond level right now. However, in the upper Diamonds and professionals, a base race trend is starting to occur in PvZ, but it tends to be a little one-sided. Zergs are doing a mass Muta style- we're talking 40+ Mutalisks- and making 60 or so Spine Crawlers back home to defend. The Protoss player is slowly whittled away while the Zerg sits back and picks a little here, and a little there. Eventually, unable to establish a fourth base, due to the Mutalisks, the Protoss is forced into a base race situation. Unfortunately for the 'Toss'es out there, Spine Crawlers count as structures. The Mutalisks are able to roll around the Protoss base taking out tech and production alike, and the Protoss player loses the majority of his army to the Spine Crawlers. I have heard many complaints (and not just from Sleepercells) about this strategy, so I wanted to break it down a little bit to help counter it. These are going to be basic concepts, and may make it sound like I am being condescending, but so many Protoss players don't play a modern PvZ style or simply do not have the concept of anti-Mutalisk down. Just review your last PvZ and tell me if you did all of these things.
Scout Constantly
And I don't just mean that Probe at the beginning of the game. Scout the 3rd around the 4 minute mark. Not there? Check again at 6:00, 8:00, until you find it. Then deny it. If you can't deny it, harass it- force Zerglings / Roaches. Have that Observer scouting around the main and natural looking for tech. Get destroyed by a Spore Crawler? Make another. Be vigilant. With a Chronoboost, it's only ~22 seconds of lost Robotics time.
::EDIT:: It has been brought to my attention this nasty Mutalisk starts out as a 2-base Mutalisk harass build, where the Muta's should come around the 10:00 mark. If you aren't seeing a third by 7:00 or so, start thinking about cannoning up and getting blink, keeping in mind you have ~2 minutes until you need to start doing those things. An extra cannon at the front may not hurt, in-case of a roach all-in, too. Zerglings at the front of their base indicates Mutalisks or Infesters. Thanks Sleepercells : )
Deny Bases
This is one of those "duh" factors, but you would be surprised how many Protoss's let their Zerg opponents hit 4 or even 5 bases unopposed. Mutalisks are not cheap. Stop the opponent from getting gas, and you stop the opponent from getting a flock of deadly malformed geese. And again, at the very least, harass the bases. Have a forward Pylon somewhere and warp in 4 Zealots and set them to attack the Hatchery or Drones. Bring Blink Stalkers up, kill an expo, and run like hell. Even if you can only do a bit of damage to it, do that damage and come back later to finish the job! You're throwing your opponent off their game.
Split Your Army
Once you see a Spire (which is probably the most popular tech for Zerg at this stage of ZvP, beginning to overtake the Infester route), get a few Stalkers and a couple Cannons at each mineral line, and seriously, get Blink as fast as humanely possible. Blink is one of those great upgrades that is amazing to have at any point in the game. Cut a single Colossus to get this upgrade, or skip one High Templar. That easy. Make sure your Stalkers are on a different hotkey than your normal army- these units can not afford to be clogged up by Zealots when trying to get up a ramp to defend.
Phoenix Will Not be Enough
Phoenix are super amazing counters to Mutalisks... in small numbers. Once that Muta count hits 15 or so, you just will not be able to produce enough Phoenix to counter (and the +2 range upgrade is sort of a joke, it seems). If you went a Stargate opening, however, having some Phoenix around will help a ton with your early Muta defense until you can get Blink and Storm up. Whiiiich just so happens to be my next point...
Storm is the Ultimate Defense vs Mutalisks
Storm does 80 damage, or 10 ever half second ( Without good micro, you are still guaranteed to do at least 10 damage to every Mutalisk. With bad micro, you can reduce every Mutalisk to at least half of their health, be there 15 Mutalisks or 40. It forces the Zerg to turn around for a moment or abandon ship all together. This is time to get the bulk of your forces in position to defend.

::EDIT:: An excellent Day[9] Daily (#415) about stopping Mutalisks.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Stormy Start

You know what? Casting is harder than I originally thought it would be. I always knew it would be kind of difficult, but now that I have worked out the rough spots (i.e. not saying "uh" after every sentence, filling awkward time gaps... actually calling units by the right name instead of calling immortals roaches and calling roaches those things engaging en masse), it's become much more difficult to refine. I think all my guest casters would agree- it's not just as simple as sitting down and spewing out some words.

That is one thing I will be focusing on in the future of this blog- overcoming the setbacks of becoming a caster, some of the difficulties surrounding it, and probably some tips and tricks you pick up just over time.

Another thing I want to be talking about is the game itself, especially in regards to the metagame (and maybe an occasional statement on balance). For those of you who do not know, the metagame can be best described as the current state of the game. What do Terrans usually do against a Protoss opponent? Why do Zergs find mass roach so appealing? Whatever happened to super drop aggressive Terran play (and why was it put to the back-burner?). These are all examples of the metagame.

To add some actual meat to this post (mmm... steak.), I wanted to speak briefly of the usage of psi storm in PvT. I know that a lot of lower level Terran players complain of the difficulty of dealing with psi storm. It does a massive amount of damage in an area of effect (80 dmg, 1.5 radius... think the new radius of EMP), and fairly much neutralizes improperly controlled bio armies. However, Terran bio-balls are very quick and can decrease the effectiveness of storms by simply storm-dodging- running outside the radius of the storm. Now High Templars can obviously cast more storms, and yes, it will force the Terran player to retreat. But if they fall back, recoup their losses and attack again quickly, the Templar simply will not have enough energy to storm.
Okay, so storm-dodging isn't as simple as moving backwards. You have to anticipate where the storms will be dropped next and not move there, as well as not being where you are now, or where the Protoss army is. So I always recommend EMP. A couple of ghosts in your army (which, with the current metagame, should be in your army anyways vs a Protoss opponent) with Mobius Reactor will do the trick rather quickly. Drain the energy of the High Templar with the added bonus of removing 1/3 of the HP of the surrounding units and your army will quickly roll over the Protoss army, or at least force him to retreat.
Still think that's too hard? Bitch, please! Quit your whining and play a real race.