Five Years of TerranCraft

I started TerranCraft five years ago this week, and I almost forgot about the anniversary because I am so busy. It is half a decade already.

Improvements since last April

I always take your feedback on board to improve the site. Here are some of the things I have added this year,

The Elementary Series

The idea was to write a different range of articles about more general topics that can be applied to all levels. I must admit that the progress has been very slow, as I have only written two topics. There are two reasons for it. The first is that I am really busy with my priority (I need to graduate soon or I’m dead – PhD is a black hole), the second is I am stuck with the mechanics topic. I have been drafting it here and there for more than two months, but the content is simply not concise and generalisable to be published. This is something I will continue to work on.

One interesting thing about this project is I took three weeks to come up with a suiting name.

Metagame Build Orders

I realise there is a gap in the community for build orders to use on ladder. This is something that is always in demand, and some sites simply document “random” builds without much understanding of its place in the metagame. Thus, I decide to do a monthly issue on one build per match up that players can use on ladder. I also provide a short discussion about the builds’ relevance to the metagame. To be honest, my interest for this was relatively low, but I know many will benefit from it when they just want to pick up a contemporary build to use on ladder. It is more well received than I expected.

Self-sustainability

To ensure sure this site is self-sustainable is a challenge for years. I will clarify my stand for the new readers: I do not intend to earn money from this site as it is mainly a hobby, but I need it to be self-sustainable. In the end, I took the advice to set up a PayPal button at the side of the site to receive help from you, and it had been pretty successful. Some of you are really generous, and I am very grateful for that. You really contribute a lot to TerranCraft. I set up Hyperion’s Cantina as a hall of fame page to induct heroes who have helped to sustain the site. Thank you.

A funny story. Someone contributed $0.01, but I literally did not receive a cent because PayPal took a minimum of, I think, $0.30. So PayPal actually took 100% of the contribution.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank David, who had attempted to contribute monthly through PayPal. However, the system just does not allow the transaction to come through (see image below). I know this is the second time you have tried to do it (and even increased the amount), but I am so sorry that I cannot benefit from it.

I am considering to set up a Patreon page for this purpose, but it is going to be so embarrassing if there is no Patron (lol). Other more publicised StarCraft content producers like Cyan and Dank Shrine have very few Patrons, so I guess my concern is fair. I should really put myself out there more.

Others

TerranCraft is now on Liquipedia! Go check it out.

I have also created a buying guide page to help players get into the game, as there is always new blood.

I am planning to post a Terran Starter Pack. Stay tuned.

Q and A

I want to use this post to answer two questions that I have been asked.

Team Liquid

“You should write guides on TeamLiquid.net!”

In fact, I joined the Team Liquid Strategy team more than two years ago, but I have published zero article with them.

Now, try to recall the last time you read an article from Team Liquid Strategy, and maybe the one thing recall is the announcement about the partnership with Spawning Tool. But can you recall an original article written by writers on Team Liquid Strategy?

I don’t speak for others on Team Liquid Strategy, but I am very aware of the reason I don’t publish there. Just to be very clear, there is no drama at all, so there is nothing in between the lines in what I am going to tell.

I started working with one editor on an article once I had joined, and it was about the metagame shift in TvP to move away from three Barracks to Widow Mine drop way back in Heart of the Swarm. I made changes to the draft based on the feedback from the editor, and I also made more changes to accommodate different opinions from different people. It was very obvious to me quickly that the article had lost its focus, because everyone was trying to expand the article by inserting things that were diverging from the topic. For example, “you should write about what he did here in scouting, and how he reacted” has little to nothing to do with the topic of interest. The metagame trend I had observed then picked up speed, and new builds with Widow Mine drops were dominating the metagame shortly after. The focus was then moved to the build orders, as it was no longer “an observed trend”. The whole process of editing the article became a game of catch up with the games played in the pro scene, and also to address a wide range of opinions from the team at the same time. Eventually, I stopped doing that, and I had written several articles on the topic in TerranCraft (Part 1, 2, and 3) over several months.

The Team Liquid Strategy publication process itself was not well suited for Starcraft articles as the phenomenons come and go very quickly. My opinion is that there is no single article that can accommodate everything, and it is more important to focus on a topic that is relevant to the current interests. The Team Liquid Strategy publication process gives little opportunity for incrementalism of knowledge building, and may just flat out exhaust an enthusiastic writer (for me at least). As a result, the drafts either get trashed or turn into long blown out articles like this. This explains the lack of publication from Team Liquid Strategy in recent years.

Motivation

Luis, who is a long time subscriber to TerranCraft (I remember =)), asked about what keeps me motivated to produce content for such a long time.

I am not going to say something fancy about grit or tenacity etc.. The best way to describe it is that I am as motivated as Richard Thaler is lazy. Despite being a superstar academic in Behaviorial Economics, Richard Thaler is labelled as lazy by Daniel Kahneman, who is a Nobel Laureates for his contribution in Behaviorial Economics. Clearly, Thaler is not lazy in the typical sense, and the comment is tongue-in-cheek. Kahneman’s comment refers Thaler as one who only works on things that interest him.

I have more or less the same approach for TerranCraft, and I only write topics that interest me. I must say I really enjoy writing Starcraft articles in my own style, as it combines all the elements that I like (e.g., Starcraft, research, knowledge generation, progression). It becomes something I want to do rather than I have to do, and I guess this is what sets me apart from many come and go content producers. I may be wrong, but I have an impression that many have the intention to “make it” in the independent content creation era. There is nothing wrong about it, but it is extremely hard to persevere when you are starve on views and responses. Views and responses are the measured goal of many content creators (apart from money), and the process is quite discouraging when you have a hard time to get noticed. As I have stated time after time, my primary motivation is simply to express my opinion, so views and responses have relatively small effects on my motivation to write. Of course, I love to know that people read my content as it encourages me to post more (I am a human), but my main satisfaction comes more from the process of researching and writing than from the outcome of views and responses.

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