Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

GSL Week One

I’m trying to keep my Starcraft 2 posts to a minimum because hardly any of my regular readers actually care. Also, I get a bazillion Google hits whenever I post on Starcraft which just hides the real hits that I care about. Today I can’t help myself though. I’ve reported before on GomTVs Global Starcraft 2 League (GSL) with the insane reward of about $85,700 each month for first place. The first season of the league just finished its first week of matches and I must say I’m quite enjoying it.

As a free user you can watch the low quality stream (which is of acceptable quality) every weekday at 11 am CET, while $20 buys you the first season in high quality live stream as well as access to the video archives (for those who, you know, don’t actually have the time to watch Starcraft at midday).  While there are many sources of free Starcraft 2 commentary available (and good ones at that), there is simply something about watching tournaments with real money on the line, especially live.

GomTV is having some issues with streaming bandwidth and quality, but I suppose that’s to be expected. In general the whole thing is run quite professionally with very little delay between games, live interviews with the winners, and of course two very good commentators in Tasteless and Artosis. Artosis is especially great, something I wouldn’t have expected from what I knew about him beforehand as a player.

It is a bit odd that for all the professionalism and money that’s being poured into the league, there are still quite a few bits that stick out like sore thumbs. First of all there is the streaming quality, especially of the HQ stream. While alright to watch, the stream is far from being crisp and clear. If you compare the GomTV paid-for stream to the free ustream broadcasts over at glhf.tv you will notice a huge difference in quality. You’d think that a company like GomTV would be able to hire someone with actual experience in live streaming (Just pay The Gunrun a little for consulting or something. He’s poor, he’ll take any money you can throw at him.) and get a good hardware setup for that.

Then there’s Tasteless, the commentator who is controlling the in-game camera during the broadcasts. He’s a very experienced commentator, but his experience lies in Starcraft 1. That means that he has little to no idea of how to use the new game’s observation features and is picking it up as he goes along. Other (free) casters are much better at this and it seems odd that GomTV wouldn’t at least make him practice a bit before going live.

Moving on to other unprofessional tidbits, they have added a few new screen overlays during the week for things like player names and an “achievement” for winning a match. These look as if they were done by someone with literally no experience in graphic design – the player names looking as if they come straight out of WordArt. GomTV clearly had some great graphic assets made beforehand, but then seems to have fired their designer and put a 13 year old school kid on the live team. Quite similar to MMO development actually… but I digress.

Kinks aside, I love to see this much effort put into bringing exciting Starcraft 2 matches brought to us and can really recommend checking out the GSL if you are interested in watching the game. Week one was already great, and it really can only get better.