For the Swarm: fighting the mental war

My strategy paid off.

But now I am facing the biggest hindrance so far. I like winning, and I like being in top 8 platinum. I like the star next to my name. I love the idea of playing against diamond and being promoted there.

What does that do? Maybe for some this would be motivation enough to learn more and improve. For me this destroys the very core that makes me play good: being calm. As soon as my ranks rise up I suddenly am obsessed with winning. I start to stress, my fingers more tense, I misclick, I add all hatcheries to queen control group and all queens to hatchery control group. This happens right in the middle of a series of important injections and my queens are for some reason walking across the map towards each other, as if suddenly starting realization of some ancient plan to high five. I send lings into banelings, I ignore terran units and let them go wherever.

Sure, I can make this go away. I can start spreading creep instead of doing anything else and dropping so low in rank I don't care anymore. But then I will start playing good again and the history will repeat itself. As far as I can see this will never go away. I have to find a way to stop caring about rank. But how is it possible if I find it so much fun?

For The Swarm

Heart of The Swarm is out, and thus begins my second journey into fighting for the Swarm. I have had a 1,5 year break from Starcraft.

Now I know I have grown as a person. What can I expect to come out of that, which affects my performance for the better when slaying enemies for the swarm?

I like to think that I have acquired or revealed in myself ...ancient...zerg...qualities...

I am no longer that afraid to hurt my ego. I am less afraid to make a fool of myself, and less afraid to wonder what people may think about me. This should affect my fear of loosing on ladder. Positively.

I have a better understanding of strategy from a variety of other games I have played. This should help me think outside the box and have a better overview of the meta-game.

I have a better keyboard. Buttons more visible and easier to smash.

I have discovered coffee with a ton of sugar which keeps me awake and concentrated after long days of work. That's when my laddering is happening.

I have learned to note one thing I should do better after each match, no matter win or loose.

My previous seasons kept me in top 8 of Platinum league as long as I was playing actively (at least 3 long macro games each day).

And the result is:

The Scratches Director's Cut Experience


The place I have been to shouldn't be mentioned so banally as in a simple blog post. It's not something one would want to disrespect. I will attempt to give a brief anonymous description, in hope of not wronging the ..uh.. let's move on.

There is an old place, that keeps many secrets. That place has many dark corners, but also a few light ones, just so someone brave enough will be able to see the contrast. A brave man might start raising questions and explore, seeking answers. The dark place will then tell a story, which will tell of another dark place, profoundly darker, and which supposedly might have caused the former place to grow dark.

One can't resist but wonder, does the second dark place also have its origin in another, even darker place? Is this how all horror stories go, chaining towards each other?

Scratches is an old story. It doesn't attempt to please and it is not pop. And one very certain fact: it is not for those who have a serious fear of being alone in a house. Despite it being old, it sucks you in extremely well (there is, of course, an assumption that one is using headphones or good sound support, as one should if one is at least averagely interested in atmosphere and experience as it was intended).

First person view, and many puzzles to solve and explore. No spoilers, but puzzles are of the "trigger" type. Meaning something can't be done unless you have done something else first, even though it sometimes is obvious. But the setting and the story pace make sense of it. Simply put: Scratches is extremely well made and presented.

Director's Cut has an additional ending, that attempts to explain more, although some parts are still left to imagination. The additional ending is The Last Visit, and is a different perspective, which was very interesting to look through.

As someone who has played Amnesia: The Dark Descent, I thought myself prepared. Afterall, Scratches is first person point and click experience, there is no immediate action. Did I jump away from my computer in terror and panic? Yes.

The thoughts that this dark place has given me will linger in me for a long time, wondering about the origin of what I have seen.

Maybe that will be answered in a similar type of experience that the same developers are working on in Asylum, that at the moment is on Steam's Green Light? I don't have any doubts about that.

The Far Cry 3 Experience

How does Far Cry 3 tell a story?

The story is big. There is main story with really good plot-twists and very (some VERY) special characters. It's all very convincing. Voice acting is great, animations as well, dialogues are fun and sometimes mind-boggling. The story made me think and ponder about things, and that's when I know it is a good one.

Then there are small stories. Things you see out in the jungle. You are on top of the hill and you are viewing the coast-line. Not far from it in the ocean there is an island, and you immediately want to see what's there. Maybe you will find ruins of an old temple with relics and some treasure inside. Maybe there will be a campfire with shovels laying around. Somebody definitely was digging for something here. Or maybe you will just find trees and nothing else, but even so - the stunning graphic detail is so good at channeling atmosphere that it will still add to the experience. You will end up lingering on that small island, viewing the horizon in all directions and thinking for yourself "this should be my island. Once this is all over I will move here and do awesome things".

And there is a huge living world. Do you know the only thing it lacks? Insects. A jungle like this should have so many insects that it should be uncomfortable. Spiders, lizards, mosquitos, beatles, and maggots that eat corpses because naturally there are so many of them. Back to the stories of the living world: things animals and people do and how they interact with each other add very much to the immersion of the Jungle.

My two favorite free-time passing things in Far Cry 3 Jungle are skydiving and cave exploring. The former is stunningly beautiful and always lasts a tiny minute not long enough making you do it again next time you get the opportunity. The latter is caves. Once you enter one, the jungle sounds disappear and everything is silent, except for some distant echoes in case something is going on nearby. Maybe you find a door in the cave that won't let you pass, and you plant explosives in it, step back many meters and push the button. BOOM! And a tiny second later you may hear a an eco of a surprised and pissed off voice in the distance: "what the hell!?". A random native probably already had his share of bloodthirsty pirates, tigers and sunshine that day. All he needs is random explosives somewhere deep in the earth below him. And these caves are countless!

What's awesome in Far Cry 3:
-exploration and freedom without disturbing the context
-absolutely beautiful
-story with interesting and special characters and great plot-twists
-there is a joke about your mother

What could be better:
-sunset, sunrise, and rain could last longer
-saving system shouldn't reboot back to safehouse. When relic hunting, it's annoying to run back to the cliff you have to jump from and not die.
-some caves could be bigger and more dangerous to explore. Some of them could randomly have you fighting monsters to uncover something old and forgotten. There could be mushrooms to find and eat which would open interesting dimensions that extend your perception of the mind and make it all psychedelic. Just as it happened in one of the quests.

Cargo Commander experience

I went into space. Soothing tones of country-like music made me think of that one series for a second.

This ain't no game, I was told. This is a job.

I dived into it right away. Pushed magnet button. A wild container appeared. Drilled wall, shot monster, destroyed crystal. Picked up box with cargo. Drilled floor into another container.

It's nice, I thought. Drillin, shootin, explorin. Takin it easy. Then a black hole (or something of that sort) appeared, destroying everything. That happened again and again and again, each time as I was getting comfortable in my new container. It's not nice anymore, I thought.

Usually I give up easily when there is a job that I don't like. But the thought of finding out what more I can see and explore in a different galaxy I was promised to be able to enter soon (the described process was at least as confusing as this sentence), seduced me.

I only had to do one thing: follow the list of objectives. Pick up x amount of cargo. Check, bitch! Pull in container with pass to another galaxy sector. Check, bitch! End day. Okay, I try to push end day button, because it said I couldn't travel unless day was ended. Check, bitch! The same day in same sector started again.. Mesa no understand.

After a few more tries to try and ented another galaxy, I gave up. Very fitting that main menu had a button that said "suicide", but I was too angry to try to find out what it does.

What could be better: 
-there could be no black holes
-instructions could make sense

Far Cry 3: The Fire

In this section we will discuss the element of fire in Far Cry 3.

It is necessary to underline that only about 20% of progress has been made in this jungle exploration, and only two special weapons have been unlocked. Only a fifth part of the island is uncovered and even these parts aren't explored to the full. However, almost 30 hours have been spent on wandering around caves and setting fire to everything.

The reason for the latter is the Handbook. Handbook said: (and I don't quote, because memory fails after that many drugs of the green leaf) use your own approach in Far Cry 3. So I did. I like exploration and mystery. So I don't buy any maps and rely on my own instincts and the map when looking for letters of the lost and relics. There is no fun in being told where to go and what to do. I like fire. I do things my own way.

A pirate camp appears in the corner of the hill. I sneak around its western part, hiding among the trees and bush. I take pictures, count the solders and plan who to shoot first with my sniper rifle which fires explosive rounds. I knife down a wild dog that tries to bite me and settle in a position, and aim. Pirate sniper number one goes down, pirate sniper number two falls shortly after. Two run for the alarm box. I completely ignore that, because I sense a tingling in my Warrior (hard difficulty) heart. I like reinforcements. I pull out my flamethrower and sprint for the wall, while throwing a molotov in the middle of their base.

The alarm goes off. There is chaos behind the walls. Angry. Eager. Enthusiastic and filled with rage. I just feel happiness. I find a hole in the wall and sneak in. There is a building giving me cover, and I crawl to the right. I sprint through an opening to the garage house, while tossing another molotov towards the mid point of the camp (there is already fire there). I hear an explosion when I enter the garage. I run through it towards the other exit but there are two pirates standing there already waiting for me. I have been spotted! I point my flamethrower at them and let the fire ooze. This somehow affects a gasoline can that's been chilling not so far away. Another explosion, and the whole eastern part of the garage is on fire. I crawl back to where I came from, but there is another mofo waiting for me there. I ooze more fire. A sudden realization: both exits are on fire. I sprint back and see a great exit that should illuminate my name on this island as a reckless pyromaniac even more: I run through the flames and jump out off the burning window. That doesn't happen. I hit the wall and fall back. While I orient myself, the fire has burnt out on the western side and I exit there. There is a ladder to the roof on one of the buildings, so I climb there. Time to explode things with sniper rifle. The chilling gasoline cans all burst into huge fireballs taking half of the camp with them, and I pull out the rocket launcher to take out the approaching reinforcement car. The rest of the battle is merely a hide and seek game where I put myself out as bait and run around the building with flamethrower ready to fire the crawling pirate in the bum.

When it's all done and I enter the safehouse to get some rest, it's the promise of those 40% unlocked weapons that keeps me up at night. Which of them will have flames and explosions?

Bye post-apocalyptic alien invasion, hello jungle

I quit XCOM. I will post why later, but let's just say that the gameplay got too repetative to try to figure out the rest of the story. Also the voice of Council was bloody scary :(

Now over to Far Cry 3! Been waiting a long time for this. I love that crazy guy, the bad one.

Before we continue: In case you can't exit that cursed vehicle in one of the first missions, you probably remapped your controls. And if you did that, you need to reset them to default and you can then continue to be the machinery of fear that this jungle hasn't ever seen before. Maybe except for the bad guy.

There are two things I want to express mixed feelings about: I feel sorry for the poor animals, especially those that don't attack me. But I *need* to craft a bigger wallet. The other thing I am missing a lot is third-person view when driving vehicles. I just love seeing it from that point of view. I hope it may be implemented later.

The game is marvellous. For me it has become a hunt for WW2 lost letters. I only found one so far, but daaaaaaamn, it was so atmosphere filled to find the scene it was placed in.

Also drifting like a bird without a worry in the world. Until I by accident land in the middle of startled red-dressed pirates.