Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
If it were as simple as that, this interaction would still be mathemati-
cally solvable by plugging in the precise value of each kind of unit. But
the real payoff of the battle depends on more than the costs of the units
involved. It depends on how that battle plays out through other game sys-
tems, and its context in the larger game.
Consider context. If the Terran Siege Tanks are slowly rolling toward
the Zerg base, and are almost in range to begin bombarding it, the Zerg
is under immense pressure to destroy the attacking force by any means
necessary. The cost of not destroying it is much worse than it would be if
the battle were happening in the middle of the map. Lose somewhere on
the map, and your units die. Lose here, and your base dies. So the payoffs
are different.
Positioning can change payoffs. A spread-out force of Marines and
Siege Tanks is vulnerable to Mutalisks darting in and picking units off
the edges. But a concentrated force is vulnerable to Banelings' splashing
acid. A group of Marines which is normally vulnerable to Banelings might
not be if it is spread across a wide area. At the same time, this spread-out
group makes itself abnormally vulnerable to Mutalisks, improving their
payoff against it.
Payoffs also change with the proportions of units. For example,
we know that Banelings usually beat Marines. But if there are enough
Marines, they can defeat small numbers of Banelings with no losses by
shooting them before they get close. Similarly, even though Marines usu-
ally counter Mutalisks, a large group of Mutalisks can annihilate a small
group of Marines with no losses. In these cases, lopsided numbers have
reversed the relationships in the basic matching pennies game. But this
reversal doesn't happen everywhere—no number of Banelings can effi-
ciently kill a single Siege Tank.
Skill variations affect payoffs. One player may be a master at Mutalisks,
increasing his payoff for this strategy. He will thus want to use Mutalisks
more than Banelings, and the other player will want to counter by using
Marines more than Siege Tanks, the same way the goalie jumps to the
kicker's strong side more often.
Even simpler games present situationally varied payoffs, albeit at a
smaller scope. For example, fighting games don't have nearly as many
variables as StarCraft II . There are two characters, each is in a specific
state, and the situation is going to resolve itself a handful of ways. Still,
there are enough combinations of positions, animation status, health,
energy, and other variables that evaluating payoffs is a noticeable mental
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