Okay.  Saw an article on Rock Paper Shotgun about an application called Evolution Chamber.  It’s making huge waves in the StarCraft II community because it uses genetic algorithms to optimize build orders…and it works.  It came up with a build order for the fairly standard Zerg seven-roach rush that can have you attacking your enemy with an overwhelming force in under five minutes if you execute it perfectly.  It currently only works for Zerg, but Terran and Protoss versions are in the works.

If you don’t play StarCraft II, allow me to explain the above.  A “build order” is basically a recipe, a series of instructions on how to build your base and make your units that you follow exactly in order to produce the desired result – in this case, seven roach units that you can then use to rush an unprepared enemy.

Or even a prepared enemy.  There’s been a lot of debate on whether a Protoss player could survive against such a rush at all.  The answer turns out to be just barely yes, but only if the Protoss player knows exactly what’s coming.

A lot of people are saying things like “Oh, this is no big deal; games like Chess and Go have standard openings.”  Yes, but in Chess and Go you see the open happen, you know right away what your opponent is up to, and you get to counter as your opponent opens.  Chess and Go also have actual gameplay beyond the standard opening.  The combination of extremely fast real-time gameplay, fog of war and the ability to choose a random race means that you could conceivably have no idea where your opponent is on the map or what race he’s playing until those seven roaches come bashing down your front door.  At which point, the game is over.  The opening was the game.

Which means you didn’t play StarCraft II.  You played rock-paper-scissors.  You only get to play StarCraft II if one player’s opener doesn’t automatically destroy the other’s (to continue the rock-paper-scissors metaphor, you both pick rock).  Evolution Chamber is only going to make that worse.  The meta-game is quickly overtaking the game-game.  Which is why I don’t play StarCraft II online.

That and I suck.