Game Development Reference
when he hasn't, or using a move he doesn't realize you have. These are
intense and intimate forms of mental conflict.
Yomi works because the real world is fuzzier than the math. In dry
mathematical analyses, every payoff is countable and every strategy di-
vides cleanly from the others. But real games aren't like this. Outcomes
aren't precisely quantifiable, strategies can't be cleanly placed in boxes,
and players don't have complete information or access to random number
For example, in a shooter, both players have to choose whether to
charge around the corner, chuck a grenade, or wait with their gun pointed
at the door, but can choose to change their decision at any time or even
do two things at once. Or, in a strategy game, players decide on economic
strategies that smoothly mix different production goals in nuanced ways.
In each case, there are fuzzy, unquantifiable edges around the core game
theory interaction. The shooter player can look and move smoothly in
every direction, and the strategy game player can order his production
in thousands of different ways. These fuzzy edges are where yomi grows
from. They are what allow players to get around the edges of the math,
slightly change the payoff matrix of every decision, and learn a little more
or a little less about their opponent to get ahead of them in the game.
So yomi play depends not just on creating strategy interactions with-
out pure Nash equilibria, but also on crafting a system with interesting
fuzzy edges around those core interactions. Let's look at some of the ways
we can design games to generate strategy interaction that have these yomi-
feeding fuzzy edges.
Yomi grows when players can smoothly blend between strategies.
Yomi play requires that a game have nuanced strategies that can be
blended and combined in complex ways. For example, in StarCraft II , a
Terran player can send a mixed force of half Siege Tanks and half Marines.
Neither a pure Mutalisk nor pure Baneling force can stop this. Countering
it requires a similarly mixed army of Mutalisks and Banelings. And the
Terran can vary his mixture by tiny increments—one Marine more or less,
one Siege Tank more or less. These two players aren't playing a lab game in
which each one checks a box and then compares with the other to find an
outcome. They're not just kicking left or right. They're playing in a smooth
strategic space which lets them choose from a near-infinite variety of inter-
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