One woman's path through doula training, childrearing, and a computer science Ph. D. program

Friday, February 18, 2011

Why StarJeweled should be a co-op game

In this blog post, I admit to cheating.

How I cheat in StarJeweled

In StarJeweled, a custom map for StarCraft 2 (Blizzard, 2010), you summon units and cast spells  to destroy the enemy base.  The units and spells cost energy, which you get from forming 3-in-a-row combinations on the right-hand side of the screen in a seemingly-unrelated mini-game similar to Bejeweled.  When one move creates a cascade of combinations, you get tons of energy, up to 1000, which is the highest number of energy you can have at one time.  The game awards points based on the total amount of energy collected and the number of enemy units destroyed.

Now, as a casual gamer that is not really into real-time strategy (RTS) games (and, frankly, is very bad at them) and vehemently opposed to violence in games, the right-hand side of the screen, the part with the jewels, is great.  The rest of it, not so much.  My husband, on the other hand, is an RTS ubernerd.  So, we play together.

I use a small Wacom tablet as a pointing device and play the jewels portion of the screen.  The Wacom is a necessity for ergonomics: when I use a mouse for this task, I hurt for days.  So, my chair is pulled alongside the desk and the tablet rests in my lap.

My husband uses the keyboard and has memorized the key shortcuts to summon each unit.  He watches the energy bar and performs the appropriate RTS-y action.  When he needs a spell cast, he hits the appropriate hotkey, points with his finger at the screen, and barks an order: "Need a lightning, here."  Or, "Freeze the big guy."

Needless to say, we outscore everybody.  Despite my blunders such as locking our own unit, casting heal too late (and healing our free units), and generally not having the slightest idea about what is happening on the battlefield.

A lesson from a predecessor

Warcraft 3 had a fun little mini-game called Tower Defense.  In this co-op game, three teams of players would face off in planting towers to guard the lanes down which enemy creep (units) would run.  The towers are paid for in money, which you get from killing creep, which are summoned from the magic base at the bottom of the screen.

My friend Mike and I had a winning strategy here too.  At the beginning of the game, we would share resources, which allowed us to pool our funds.  He would build the minimum number and power of towers, and I would do all of the summoning.  At the start of each new level, I would transfer money to his account and he would build more towers.  I could monitor the upgrade level each opponent's base, and he could monitor his towers.  (Bonus points because my computer was incapable of rendering the towers shooting more than about 5 creep at a time.)

We won every time.

But it affords two players

But StarJeweled game simply lends itself to two players so beautifully.  Like pair programming, we share a single computer and think aloud to each other.  It is truly a cooperative experience.

If StarJeweled supported a co-op mode in which, as in Tower Defense, we could share resources, it is likely that my husband and I would play on two different accounts, on two different computers.  It is likely that we would not cheat by using two players for one game; instead, we would buy a second StarCraft 2 account, like normal people, and play the mini-game on an even playing field.

Just a heads up if you come across us in StarJeweled... we will kick your butt.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...