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Education It's funny.  Laugh. Real Time Strategy (Games) Entertainment Games

UC Berkeley Offering Starcraft Course 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-about-a-korean-exchange-program dept.
The Tumeroks blog reports that the University of California, Berkeley is now offering a class on Blizzard's Starcraft real-time strategy game. "This course will go in-depth in the theory of how war is conducted within the confines of the game Starcraft. There will be lecture on various aspects of the game, from the viewpoint of pure theory to the more computational aspects of how exactly battles are conducted. Calculus and Differential Equations are highly recommended for full understanding of the course. Furthermore, the class will take the theoretical into the practical world by analyzing games and replays to reinforce decision-making skills and advanced Starcraft theory."
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UC Berkeley Offering Starcraft Course

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  • by Reddragon220 (890851) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:44AM (#26636875)
    Who ever would have thought that the words "Zerg Rush" would have a legitimate chance of showing up on a final?
  • by psergiu (67614) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:45AM (#26636885)
    Do you think the students will rush this course ?
    • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:00AM (#26636967)

      The cost of the course is 50 minerals and 200 Vespene gas.

      Prerequisites: Barracks, Robotics Lab.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Skuld-Chan (302449)

        You're graded based on clicks per minute.

      • Re:A question ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Cornflake917 (515940) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:41AM (#26640291) Homepage

        I feel a little nerdish for doing this, but....

        There's no such thing as a Robotics Lab in Starcraft. There is, however, a Robotics Support Bay and a Robotics Facility, but those are Protoss buildings. Having a Terran and a Protoss prerequisite makes so sense. Perhaps you meant a Physics Lab? Now if you excuse me, I have to dodge the incoming projectiles that have been thrown at me by people who don't give a shit.

        *ducks

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          I knew Robotics Lab wasn't quite right. It's been a very long time, and my Starcraft discs wont install under 10.5 (or was that Elite Force? one of my retro games needs classic to install, even if it has a universal binary once it's all up and running).

          I would argue that in order to take a class on Starcraft, you'd be able to capture a Terran SCV and build yourself both prerequisites though.

          • Just do the Windows install under WINE, still works flawlessly for me
            • by snowgirl (978879) *

              Just do the Windows install under WINE, still works flawlessly for me

              God, I was running Starcraft in WINE way back when it was a super popular game such that that everyone in America was still playing it.

              I think it was one of the first games they ever worked on getting working with WINE.

              • The origional Unreal and Half Life were 2 others that also worked under WINE perfectly back in the day too. Unreal Tournament and Quake II & III had Linux binaries as well. The FPS genre did quite well under Linux in the 90's
                • by snowgirl (978879) *

                  The origional Unreal and Half Life were 2 others that also worked under WINE perfectly back in the day too. Unreal Tournament and Quake II & III had Linux binaries as well. The FPS genre did quite well under Linux in the 90's

                  Oh yeah. I was playing all the games that our LAN party played on Linux, while everyone else was using Windows. Well, except the one who ran OSX.

        • by Bob-taro (996889)

          I feel a little nerdish for doing this, but....

          Okay, *THAT* has to be one of the funniest things I ever read on slashdot! We celebrate nerdishness. You'll probably be modded "informative" if anything.

        • by forkazoo (138186)

          I feel a little nerdish for doing this, but....

          There's no such thing as a Robotics Lab in Starcraft. There is, however, a Robotics Support Bay and a Robotics Facility, but those are Protoss buildings. Having a Terran and a Protoss prerequisite makes so sense. Perhaps you meant a Physics Lab? Now if you excuse me, I have to dodge the incoming projectiles that have been thrown at me by people who don't give a shit.

          *ducks

          Wasn't it possible to capture enemy buildings? It's been ages since I played starcraft, b

    • Re:A question ... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ookabooka (731013) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:56AM (#26637329)
      Depends on the course number really. NR20 would make the course a bit longer and focus on late game aspects.

      As an anecdote, my buddies would join a game (no rules), all selecting terran, and then immediately rush a player simultaneously with all our SCVs, and then move on to the next player after their probes were dead and weren't building any, repairing each others SCVs as neccesary. We would then move onto the next player. If we had 4 people we always won 3v3 obviously, with 3v3 we would win immediately about 90% of the time assuming no one quit. Many people complimented us on our bizzare strategy :-D Maybe I should send the prof an email.
      • Not playing the game (Score:5, Informative)

        by AlpineR (32307) <wagnerr@umich.edu> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @10:15AM (#26638939) Homepage

        If you had four buddies colluding in a 3v3 then you weren't really playing the game, you were just being jerks. If you had three in a 3v3 (all on one team) then it is a valid strategy. But it should never work against non-newbies since the other team should outnumber your SCVs by the time you reach their bases. Or at least the third target should have real defenses and a strong economy by the time you reach him and be able to counter you easily.

        • by ookabooka (731013)
          Yeah, 4 in a 3v3 was boring. However, with regards to a normal 3v3, that wasn't the case. We were able to usually defeat them. This was on a top versus bottom big money map, standard maps would make this tactic near impossible. The reason why we won was because we always outnumbered the opponent, we have 12 or so SCVs to their 4 or 5. by the time we got to the third person, we still had more scvs than they had and didn't have time to build a barracks to completion. Keep in mind that this whole time we would
    • by Leord (1463447)
      Can someone tell me how this is sourced to Tumerok, when StarCraftWire.net reported it first, and Tumerok even got it from there (as well as links to original news item). http://www.starcraftwire.net/blog/comments/study-starcraft-for-college/ [starcraftwire.net]
    • by WarJolt (990309)

      You'll be defeated by my bunker wall!!!!

  • They could make some use of the Campaign Editor to create maps for specific examples, whether it be theory or history based.

    Also, would be interesting to see the course material leak online, since plenty of people can go along with examples.

    • by cdrdude (904978) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @02:08PM (#26642591) Journal

      The class website has already posted the first three weeks of homework assignments [phswebs.com], and the syllabus [phswebs.com]. There are sections for notes and for classwork, but they are blank. From the syllabus, this is the projected course load:

      (Tentative) Course Outline:
      Week 1: Orientation / Competitive Gaming Industry Overview / * StarCraft Boom in Korea
      Week 2: Units, Strength, Weakness, Attributes, Stats
      Week 3: Fighting Micro and Unit Use
      Week 4: Army Movement and Positioning
      Week 5: Expo and Macro
      Week 6: Building Placement and Base Layout
      Week 7: Scouting and Counters
      Week 8: Harass
      Week 9: Overloading the Enemy, Multi-plays
      Week 10: Economic Basis, Micro vs Macro
      Week 11: Timing and Evaluation of Resources
      Week 12: Deception
      Week 13: Mindset and Series Play
      Week 14: Tournament

      About the use of the campaign editor, I think it's likely that they will make use of it briefly to outline specific situations. However, there are third party starcraft map editors that are more powerful than the built-in one, and for any custom maps, it's likely that SCMdraft will be the map editor of choice. Based off of the course syllabs, my guess is that they will focus on pro maps both new and old, and all-time favorites.

  • by xianfa (974194) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:03AM (#26636979)
    They decided to open a Porn Appreciation Course, citied in TFA http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_3158640.html?menu=news.quirkies [ananova.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:09AM (#26637007)

    It's a "DeCal [decal.org]" class run by students. Although a decal class requires a sponsorship from a professor, it is neither taught nor closely supervised by a professor.

    • Well, its is basically a case study class. Many college and especially grad school classes are case studies. I don't see a problem in studying game mechanics of a successful game any more than studying the engineering of a successful rocket or studying the economic policies of a successful empire. All the same academic role, or course, assuming a similar degree of rigor.
      • Yep. My wife is a psychology grad student and aside from the practicums (which are, in and of themselves, real, live case studies), even the classes that are regular classes consist of a bunch of case studies.

        So she's up to her ears in case studies. All I hear about all day are things like "More case studies! Argh!"

    • by Forai (1452103)
      Yeah, Occasionally they actually run a nethack course too, Very interesting, but it's not run by a prof as you may guess. (And yes, I watched a few lessons) "Nethack rule 1, Your pet is smarter then you"
  • ... they should instead use TASpring [clan-sy.com] (see also spring.jobjol.nl [jobjol.nl] ) which, besides being free software, has a huge community behind, is cross platform and developed with talent and passion.

    the Balanced Annihilation mod really lets you enjoy strategy to a decent level of detail, while slashdot readers should really have a look at the geeky Kernel Panic mod ...

    cheers from XXX
    with due rezpect to LAP, eXe and others ;^)

    • no (Score:5, Informative)

      by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:41AM (#26637217) Homepage Journal

      starcraft has been patched and refined so many times since 1998 that it is a near perfect example of balanced strategy which requires long term planning as well as short term planning, instant decisions and twitch.

      there is no 'annihilation' mode in starcraft. you have to carefully craft your strategy.

      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        Yes but it seems like they're talking about war theory, twitch elements wouldn't really fit into that. SC is very focussed on direct control skill which doesn't translate to real wars at all.

        • by unity100 (970058)

          sc can be won through either macromanagement strategy or micromanagement. the longer the game takes, winning through microing becomes increasingly harder. IF, someone is still able to win through micro at late game against an opponent who has superior macro, there is probably nothing you can teach that person in regard to war theory.

    • by Deanalator (806515) <pierce403@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:43AM (#26637237) Homepage

      Poor choice?

      Starcraft is over 10 years old and is still one of the most popular online games in the world. Starcraft is still the most popular game at the world cyber games (professional online gamer Olympics). The game has set 4 Guinness records, including "Best Selling PC Strategy Game". Korea has three tv channels that broadcast nothing but Starcraft games 24/7.

      All RTS games have balance issues when they start, and over time they are resolved. If you check out the top players in the world, you will notice that the spread for what race they use is pretty even. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarCraft_professional_competition [wikipedia.org]

      Say what you will, but in my opinion, teaching a class like this with any game other than Starcraft would be insanity.

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        Say what you will, but in my opinion, teaching a class like this with any game other than Starcraft would be insanity.

        So, no Dead or Alive?

        Even with a very large screen?

        And live models to study the...

        Ok, ok.

      • by WarJolt (990309)

        Starcraft is the basics....you don't learn quantum physics until you learn regular physics...and before that you learn 2 + 2 = 4. Complicated games can't be anaylzed by N00BS as easily.

      • by Judinous (1093945) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @10:31AM (#26639189)
        I agree with the parent completely. There has not been a comparable RTS since Starcraft, and there most likely never will be. There are two main aspects of a player's actions that have an effect on the outcome of a competitive game: strategy and execution. A few genres will forgo one entirely for the sake of the other. Chess (or any TBS game), for example, removes all execution for the sake of creating a pure strategy game. Fighters remove all strategy for the sake of creating a pure execution game. RTS games are one of the few genres which embrace both aspects to the fullest extent.

        Or, at least, that is what they claim to do.

        Every RTS game that I have seen or heard of since Starcraft was released has sought to remove execution from the equation, and those which fail at balance inadvertently remove the strategy, as well. While lowering the execution bar makes the game more widely accessible for competitive play, the amount of depth in the game is lowered with it. Squad-based RTS are the most glaring example of this. In Starcraft, you could easily write entire books on each unit in the game and the various ways to micromanage them in nearly every situation in order to utilize them to their maximum effectiveness. To this day, people are still discovering small AI quirks which you can exploit to your advantage. In a squad-based RTS, however, this kind of control is removed from the player's hands. Units can only be given approximate orders, take cover on their own, are impossible (or incredibly difficult) to use individually, etc. Another major change is that the overall pace of combat in Starcraft is incredibly fast compared to most other RTS games since. In Blizzard's own WC3, for example, the unit health has been raised so high and the unit damage lowered so much that it takes an order of magnitude longer for units to be destroyed. Contrast this with Starcraft, for example, where the lowly zergling (when upgraded) is one of the highest DPS units in the game (and the highest by far when comparing by resource cost) and 2-4 of them can flatten almost any ground unit in a matter of seconds. You might argue that Starcraft has a relatively high unit count, which is why units in other RTS seem to die so much slower, and you'd be right. This is also yet another example of removing complexity and depth for the sake of accessibility.

        Now, it's hard to fault game developers for these changes, though. The fact is that these days, the "hardcore" market is significantly smaller than the more casual market to which these games are catering to. Game companies are, in the end, looking to make money. Creating a game which can be played on a deep competitive level is either an afterthought at best, or more often, simply not considered. Starcraft is likely to be the last truly competitive RTS that we will ever see.

        As a side note, if you're interested in the topic, I would recommend heading to http://www.sirlin.net/ [sirlin.net] and checking out their lengthy running discussion revolving around their hopes for Starcraft 2.
      • by Creepy (93888)

        Speaking of Korea, my first thought when I read the subject was to make a joke about Korean exchange students, but once again Slashdot beat me to it: how-about-a-korean-exchange-program

        It IS the unofficial national sport of South Korea (Taekwondo is the official national sport).

        • In Korea, only old people play Starcraft.

          the younger kids all play a FPS called 'sudden attack' while the really young kids are addicted to 'Maple Story'

          out of the 1500 12-16 year old kids I taught in Korea, only about 3 of them played star craft. all of them where in their final year of middle school. none of the younger kids were interested.

  • I can just imagine the first class. The teacher will be standing there wondering where all his students are, then all of a sudden... "ZERG RUSH!", and everyone tries to squish through the classroom door all at once.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mrchaotica (681592) *

      No, see, that's exactly the wrong strategy, because the classroom door is a natural choke point.

      Instead, the students should ambush the teacher as he walks to class!

  • by andrewd18 (989408) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @10:56AM (#26639535)
    In unrelated news, admission applications to UC Berkeley from Korea have doubled. Admissions workers are puzzled by the number of students named "Kekekeke".
  • Until I can get my PhD in StarCraftery I will take a pass. Besides, I will likely be too busy playing to care.

  • Lab Fees (Score:1, Funny)

    by Shoone (1166755)
    $15 - waived if student currently owns Starcraft and Brood War
  • I heard that, back in the day, there were Virtua Fighter 2 classes in Japan.
  • Fake Fake and Fake (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You've been punked, /.

  • it's actually listed as "Remaining a virgin throughout college - 101"
  • You mean a class where you sit playing a game on your laptop while some professor is at the board giving a lecture? I had that class in college. I called it physics101... and intro to computer science... and ... well you get the picture.

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