Game Development Reference
• If Dave predicted Carol would flee, he may have never approached the
shed at all, and simply been in hiding at a distance, in which case he
will shoot Carol.
• If Dave was approaching the other door slowly, Carol will be able to
On the surface, Modern Warfare 2 looks like a game about shoot-
ing people. That's why they call it a shooter. And shooting is the most
meathead-friendly game verb there is. Point, pull, bang, and drop. Good
mindless fun, right?
But if that was all there was to it, players would quickly tire of it. The
act of shooting is just spectacle. It has no longevity—but Modern Warfare
2 does. People play this game for hundreds or even thousands of hours.
They buy sequel after sequel to do the same thing over and over. Why?
Because the game isn't really about shooting. It's about yomi—an in-
tricate dance of mental evaluation and counterevaluation. Skilled players
really do think through possibility trees like this in real time. That's what
their mind is chewing on—not some repetitive shooting graphic. Far from
being mindless, the game is downright cerebral.
The core reason Modern Warfare 2 creates yomi so well is because its
weapons are extremely accurate and deadly. Players die in one or two shots.
If you come up behind someone, he dies before he has a chance to turn
and fire back. This means that the decisions that matter are not the ones
that happen as players are firing at one another—they're the ones that are
made before players gain sight of one another. You want to be the one who
comes up behind your opponent, not the other way around. And yomi
thrives when players are out of sight, straining to hear footsteps, watching
heartbeat sensors, listening for gunshots, and guessing enemies' attack
paths. Without the complete information of sight, opportunities for decep-
This doesn't happen in shooters with weaker weapons. The first shot
isn't worth much when it takes 25 shots to kill. In these games, what play-
ers do out of sight of one another is fairly unimportant. What matters is
how well they aim and dodge after the battle is joined. But while aiming
and dodging are worthwhile mechanical challenges, there's no yomi in
them since there's no significant hidden information.
Modern Warfare 2 actually creates much more nuanced and varied
yomi than the decision tree in the previous example. In a real game, each
player's options and information are more numerous, fuzzier, and subtler
than described here. Players may have special tools which can help them
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