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UC Berkeley Starcraft Class

Metal Gear Solid 2 DemoMetal Gear Solid 2 Demo Registered User regular
edited March 2009 in Games and Technology
So recently a course was set up at UC Berkeley about the game Starcraft, and more specifically analyzing the game and understanding the game theory behind it.

You can watch the first lecture here

and the class has an official site here where future lectures are supposedly going to be posted

I'm about half way through the lecture and it seems pretty interesting. Although it is a student teacher, he does a good job of avoiding going into rampant fanboyism and "omg we're teaching starcraft!" and actually going into detail about micro, macro, etc and comparing it to other activities. The teacher also has a decent sense of humor, but doesn't get drawn into the random meme thrown out by one of the students.

It's also good to see that this isn't just a "this is a marine, he does X amount of damage and is better against etc. etc." but the teacher, and his assistants, are actual pro players who go into the whole meta game like getting into your opponent's head, analyzing facts during the game, timing, and economics.

I think I'll be keeping up with the lectures, just to see how it plays out. Could get some interesting facts about RTS games overall from it.

So thoughts? Think any other games out there could be done like this?

Metal Gear Solid 2 Demo on
Spoiler:
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Posts

  • Johnny FabulousJohnny Fabulous Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I think my roommate went to a couple of meetings. He enjoyed it. I was interested in attending the class, but, unfortunately, it overlaps with another course I am taking.

    We tried nothin' and we're all outta ideas.
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  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
  • randombattlerandombattle Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Nerds
    Yeah seriously...

    If you take this class you are a huge nerd and need to rethink things. You could be learning all sorts of awesome stuff but you take a class on starcraft?


    I don't think this should actually be a credit worthy class..

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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Rogue Coral Springs, FLRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It sounds credit worthy to me. I'm sure they wouldn't have let him establish a class like that without him having done some serious selling on the concept, and it sounds like he's doing a good enough job taking the subject matter seriously, and applying it to other things.

    If they students in that class are studying game design, they could be doing worse.

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  • Stevo 22Stevo 22 Registered User
    edited March 2009
    I know of, but have never played Starcraft. I'm only five minutes in but this is an interesting lecture. Thanks for posting it.

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  • Metal Gear Solid 2 DemoMetal Gear Solid 2 Demo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Nerds
    Yeah seriously...

    If you take this class you are a huge nerd and need to rethink things. You could be learning all sorts of awesome stuff but you take a class on starcraft?


    I don't think this should actually be a credit worthy class..

    *posts this*
    *sips mountain dew*
    *has average of 7 posts per day on a video game message board*

    As the prof states, the course goes heavy into math related skills, and the final project sounds rather demanding. I think it's worthy, certainly moreso than some courses I've seen and taken

    Spoiler:
  • DacDac Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Although gaming chops doesn't necessarily translate to intellect on a one-to-one basis, I'd be willing to wager that pro gamers that can manage the multiple layers and constantly shifting texture of a high-speed Starcraft match would, if applied to something productive with equal zeal, execute that job with exceptional skill. Games tend to train your mind that way, especially resource-based games.


  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Nerds
    Yeah seriously...

    If you take this class you are a huge nerd and need to rethink things. You could be learning all sorts of awesome stuff but you take a class on starcraft?


    I don't think this should actually be a credit worthy class..

    *posts this*
    *sips mountain dew*
    *has average of 7 posts per day on a video game message board*

    I'm actually drinking Mountain Dew and have an average of nearly 18 posts per day

    so fuck you

    JKKaAGp.png
  • Johnny FabulousJohnny Fabulous Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Nerds
    Yeah seriously...

    If you take this class you are a huge nerd and need to rethink things. You could be learning all sorts of awesome stuff but you take a class on starcraft?


    I don't think this should actually be a credit worthy class..

    Eh, the course is only worth 1 unit.

    We tried nothin' and we're all outta ideas.
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  • The_ScarabThe_Scarab Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Are there any universities that offer courses on Seinfeld? Because, you know, I would nail that final exam.

    You get into UC Berkeley, which I know is an extremely prestigious university, and you take a class on Starcraft. I want to hear that phone conversation with the parents.

    scarab you have mental problems
  • DacDac Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Like has already been stated, it's a one unit class. You need a minimum of 13 units per semester, with most courses being worth 4 units.

    I think they call these 'electives.' I'm not sure. It's been a year.


  • Serious_ScrubSerious_Scrub Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    There's a bunch of these courses in Berkeley, known as deCals. They are usually student run, with approval from a faculty advisor, although some might be run by faculty themselves. Course offerings range from the more serious, such as programming practice for ACM competitions, to the more frivolous or light-hearted, like the politics of [insert TV show here]
    The classes are usually only 1-2 units, and cannot be taken for a grade. Since many majors have enough mandatory requirements to exceed the minimum units to graduate, these are taken more for fun than for credit.

  • DukiDuki Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Stopped watching when he quoted Sun Tzu.

    I mean, lol.

    Quite a coup if he managed to get a grant to research and teach this shit though. Mad props for getting free money.

  • TelMarineTelMarine Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    one of my friends goes to this, he knows one of the pro players guest speaking (met him before, cool guy). In the green sheet (the syllabus), they list that differential equations and calculus are highly recommended. What a load of shit. Apparently they did some kill counts using differential equations, how worthless. All you need to know is what units beat what, how to use unit abilities effectively, and obviously a nice early build and clicking fast also help. Seriously though, calc + diff eqs? Please.

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  • leafleaf Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    starcraft is a lot like ww2 you see because...

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  • CampionCampion Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I could see where knowing the kill count would be useful. If you're able to do this passively, and know how much your opponent is investing in an attack; then you know how much they are investing in their buildings, in their army, in their upgrades, in their resources (and which resources they are leaning towards), and if they are investing their money at all (if you also consider their base).

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Dac wrote: »
    Although gaming chops doesn't necessarily translate to intellect on a one-to-one basis, I'd be willing to wager that pro gamers that can manage the multiple layers and constantly shifting texture of a high-speed Starcraft match would, if applied to something productive with equal zeal, execute that job with exceptional skill. Games tend to train your mind that way, especially resource-based games.
    Jesus Christ, playing Starcraft really well isn't going to teach you shit other than how to play Starcraft really well. And as someone who has actually seriously studied some Game Theory, I find this class to be fucking retarded and offensive to the value of the science.

    Seriously, Starcraft is completely uninteresting from a Game Theory perspective. It's a fucking zero-sum game, solvable via simple Nash Equilibriums. Calling this a "class" and trying to put it forth as anything vaguely educational is pretty goddamn stupid; it's a bunch of people who wanted to spend a bunch of time talking about Starcraft, and that's it.

  • CampionCampion Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The game theory teacher they have their seems to disagree

    4484-7718-8470
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Campion wrote: »
    The game theory teacher they have their seems to disagree
    If by "game theory teacher" you mean "Starcraft players teaching a class," then yes, you're correct.

  • CampionCampion Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    No, I mean the game theory teacher, who the teacher of this Starcraft class had to get this approved by. But, no, go on, you're clearly on the up and up, and know what you're talking about.

    4484-7718-8470
  • Muddy WaterMuddy Water Quiet Batperson Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The_Scarab wrote: »
    Are there any universities that offer courses on Seinfeld? Because, you know, I would nail that final exam.

    What was Kramer's character's name on Murphy Brown?


    But seriously, I'd like to know how the teacher managed to convince the higher-ups to let him start a class on Starcraft.

  • UnbreakableVowUnbreakableVow Don't fuck with a witch Time to go VROOM!Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The_Scarab wrote: »
    Are there any universities that offer courses on Seinfeld? Because, you know, I would nail that final exam.

    What was Kramer's character's name on Murphy Brown?

    That wouldn't be a question.

    What was Michael Richards' character's name, you mean.

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  • Muddy WaterMuddy Water Quiet Batperson Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The_Scarab wrote: »
    Are there any universities that offer courses on Seinfeld? Because, you know, I would nail that final exam.

    What was Kramer's character's name on Murphy Brown?

    That wouldn't be a question.

    What was Michael Richards' character's name, you mean.

    You aren't worthy of taking the exam.

    Kramer the character appeared on Murphy Brown the show within Seinfeld the show.

  • UnbreakableVowUnbreakableVow Don't fuck with a witch Time to go VROOM!Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Whoa.

    And yeah, I've only seen like the first three seasons, plus the Soup Nazi ep.

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  • ThreepioThreepio New Westminster, BCRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    This would be easier to watch without the peanut gallery giggling in the background.

    The second guy says like enough to make a man want to choke a bitch.

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  • His CorkinessHis Corkiness Registered User
    edited March 2009
    When the lecturer introduces the name of the unit and the entire class starts yelling "Woo! Yeah!", it's hard to believe that it's being taken seriously.

  • UnbreakableVowUnbreakableVow Don't fuck with a witch Time to go VROOM!Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Do you guys know a University where I can get my Bachelors in Guitar Heroism?

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  • ArrathArrath Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Do you guys know a University where I can get my Bachelors in Guitar Heroism?

    Don't pass up their courses in Physics as Applied to FPS Teabagging.
    Spoiler:

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  • AresProphetAresProphet stop trying to keep your composure I'm only having a laughRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Starcraft seems like a pretty simplistic game to go with. I also don't get why they'd focus on one game to the exclusion of others. I'd think you could learn a lot more about game theory by studying academic principles as they apply in several different games. SC isn't very complex, strategically.

    Using Starcraft as the only application makes it just seem like a course about Starcraft.

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  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I'm pretty sure UC Berkeley is a rather excellent university too. I might expect this from somewhere like Brown where this sort of shit is encouraged as innovative and individualistic, but UCB prides themselves on having a billion Nobel laureates.

    Then again, other universities have experimented with cirriculum like this, albeit not directly in saying stuff like "this is STARCRAFT."

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Starcraft seems like a pretty simplistic game to go with. I also don't get why they'd focus on one game to the exclusion of others.

    Well, it stands to reason that different games have different game theories. Wouldn't a game that's comparatively somewhat simplistic be a better choice for study, as it would be easier to break down and identify all components while examining it?

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  • DangeriskDangerisk Registered User
    edited March 2009
    It seems the course is pretty rigorous in terms of math (I haven't watched more than 2 minutes of lecture, but I've kinda picked it up from stuff here and there). I don't know if there's any great value in getting into so much detail about trying to max/min damage output and resource mining. While I think it's useful to know which build orders or unit positioning or whatever will maximize your effectiveness, actually applying those hard numbers in a game of Starcraft seems pretty useless. For example, you could probably calculate the best arc to place your X units in when engaging the enemies Y unit to maximize damage output and minimize damage to yourself, but when you get into the game all that math comes down to "spread your units out and don't attack in a straight line." And that's a fact that pretty much everyone knows.

    Where the math is a bit more useful is maximizing build orders and maximizing economy since it is a lot less dependent on precise keyboard/mouse actions and is something you can try to plan out and test easily.
    It's also good to see that this isn't just a "this is a marine, he does X amount of damage and is better against etc. etc." but the teacher, and his assistants, are actual pro players who go into the whole meta game like getting into your opponent's head, analyzing facts during the game, timing, and economics.

    Just thought I'd mention that Alan Feng and Yosh (the guest lecturer) are not pro players, despite what a lot of news web sites seem to claim. He didn't claim to be a progamer, it was just a dream of his that never happened. I think a lot of sites just heard him mention "progamer" and started running with it. He talks about it in an interview here. For reference, he says in the interview that he'd probably not even make C rank on the ICCup ladder, which is far far below even top amateur level. My own level of Starcraft is C rank.

    Yosh is quite a bit more accomplished and has won some national events (both in Canada and then in the USA when he moved I think). He plays for one of the best non-Korean amateur teams but is more of a seasonal players. He's pretty inactive unless there's some big event around the corner, and then he starts training. Overall he's a very respected member of the amateur Starcraft scene. He's no progamer however.
    Starcraft seems like a pretty simplistic game to go with. I also don't get why they'd focus on one game to the exclusion of others. I'd think you could learn a lot more about game theory by studying academic principles as they apply in several different games. SC isn't very complex, strategically.

    Using Starcraft as the only application makes it just seem like a course about Starcraft.

    I'd imagine our friend Alan here focuses on SC because there's an established community and well he likes the game. There are a lot of subtle things about Starcraft. I don't want to be a big SC fanboy here but could you provide a comparison for an RTS game that you'd consider not simple?

    I also imagine that focusing on a single game, wheter it be SC or some other RTS, would give the course some focus instead of having to rehash the same number crunchings or whatnot that this course seems to favour every time they take up a new game.

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  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Dangerisk wrote: »
    I also imagine that focusing on a single game, wheter it be SC or some other RTS, would give the course some focus instead of having to rehash the same number crunchings or whatnot that this course seems to favour every time they take up a new game.

    I'd like to see a lecture on how to properly balance said RTS games, and then subject all the developers to them.

    Continously.

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  • DissociaterDissociater Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    This sounds like something from a future looking episode of the Simpsons, or Family guy.

    "Hello, I'd like a job, I have a Master's Degree in Pizzanomics, and a Bachelor's in Beerosity with a Minor in Playstation studies."

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  • thejazzmanthejazzman Registered User
    edited March 2009
    And as someone who has actually seriously studied some Game Theory, I find this class to be fucking retarded and offensive to the value of the science.

    Wow, you're pretty pretentious.


    I watched 5 mins of the video, looks like fun if you're into the nitty gritty details of resource management and stuff in RTS games. I'm sure this isn't an important class for any of the people attending, it's just a fun class where they get to take a game they really like a little seriously and dissect it a bit. Or alternatively they're such NERDS LOL! :?

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  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The_Scarab wrote: »
    Are there any universities that offer courses on Seinfeld? Because, you know, I would nail that final exam.

    What was Kramer's character's name on Murphy Brown?

    That wouldn't be a question.

    What was Michael Richards' character's name, you mean.

    You aren't worthy of taking the exam.

    Kramer the character appeared on Murphy Brown the show within Seinfeld the show.

    Steven Snell.

    College credit please!

  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Campion wrote: »
    The game theory teacher they have their seems to disagree
    If by "game theory teacher" you mean "Starcraft players teaching a class," then yes, you're correct.

    The sponsor of the class, in charge of the Game Theory department, thinks it is a good idea for a class. So, rethink that one Than. :P

    That being said... this is kind of a waste of higher education. I could see it maybe being more useful if it covered the RTS-genre. I'm 26 minutes into the video, trying to discern if it has substance.

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  • chasehatesbearschasehatesbears Registered User
    edited March 2009
    They don't have classes on Starcraft at my university, but we do have a couple on blowjobs and male prostitution. Really.

  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I would be interested in looking in on this class from a purely technical standpoint - I wonder how much of the actual programming they are going to be discussing, or if most of it focuses on player action. I'm interested in the technical stuff because I was big into SC modding back in the day.

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  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I dunno, I watched 5-7 minutes of it. I like Starcraft, but not enough to keep me in a class like this. The lecturers just weren't very good speakers, made it feel like they were trying too hard to make Starcraft into something more than it is. I don't care if they want to have classes about it (heck, they had 1-credit classes on archery and frisbee at my college), but this falls a bit short of me being able to take it seriously.

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