How to Win Computer Games, Part II: Case Studies
I remind you that there is a man, David Searlin, who is known for his Street Fighter championship and GameDev. He wrote a book on how to win and prepare for tournaments. The first introductory part is here . Below is a squeeze of part II and my comments .
So we got to the real meat. These are analysis of game situations and specific examples of how the opponent thinks. For instance:
If you have some stupid pattern of actions that kills an opponent, do not think about anything else. This technique still has an additional bonus - it brings people to white heat. If someone is beaten with the help of the same repeated tactics, then they usually lose their temper and break down, as a result they play even worse, make mistakes more often, become angrier, and so on. Vicious circle.
A short chapter about the fraud and intimidation of the enemy (which was UPD in a previous post). David believes that this is, in general, impractical, and explains why. David is polite and athletic.
In the huge chapter, The Art of War: Deceit , David writes about different types of bluffs. Actions during the game, both inside and outside it, inform opponents of information. A classic example is body language in poker: technically, it does not apply to game mechanics, but it is one of the most important elements of the game.
The following is an example of a regular and double bluff.
MTG has this type of deck - “Control”. A strategy to protect against threats until there is not enough resources for one powerful finishing blow, most often - to challenge a strong protected creature. The emasculated essence of control is to ward off one or two powerful threats with counter-spells to gain enough time. Each time a player with a control deck leaves free sources of mana for someone else’s move, this may mean that he has a counter spell. Now the question is: do you have it or not. If there is, the adversary plays a threat, and you disrupt his plan. If not, but the opponent thinks there is, he will postpone the strong threat to a better position, thereby losing pace. I saw a game at the national, where one of the “bison” received 14 lands in a row (these are “empty” resource cards, he had no spells) - and survived this period,
Disguise applies to the object for which there is a struggle. Here is a great example:
In all five versions of Street Fighter 2, when Ken and Ryu are fighting, the core section is immediately outside the reach of the lower strike from the opponent’s turn. If Ryu is at such a distance without putting the block (so it becomes lower than if he had bent), the lower blow from Ken's turn will not reach him. If Ken’s blow doesn’t hurt him, Ryu will easily be able to hit him back or even make a throw. Also, from this distance, Ryu can easily block Ken’s shells, and can easily resist a jump attack with an uppercut. In short, Ken’s wide range of Ken’s most commonly used techniques are losing effectiveness in this area. The exact position of this core, of course, depends on the characters of the battle and the game.
The best players are well aware of this nuance of positioning, and they fight hard to take the right position. A weaker player, too, in a sense, “struggles hard”, but perhaps doesn’t even know that he should fight for this particular place, so a professional player can easily take it. And already from this advantageous position, an experienced player controls the situation. As a rule, a skilled player will hide the very fact of the existence of this active zone. He will quickly perform various harmless tricks. He will maneuver through the active zone back and forth in an intricate dance conceived to conceal his true advantage. Mysteriously, whenever a weak player tries to attack, he always finds himself a little outside this area and receives a retaliatory strike on his attempt. Frustrated
The next type of masking intent is a trap. In short, this is a subtype of tactics that allows you to lure the enemy into a counterattack, thinking that he successfully avoided your actions. Actually, it is precisely the counterattacks that you expect from him to inflict a crushing blow.
About decision making : a few examples from Starcraft and fighting games are analyzed. They are all specific, so I’ll just quote a piece:
I put my whole soul into the lower blows. It seems that more than 90% of my receptions were composed of them. I gained infinite patience and without stopping performed the bottom blow, pushing Tao to overcome this trick. If he could cope with her, we would have to play for real, and then he would certainly win. But, fortunately, he didn’t succeed: he fought head-on. From time to time, he decided to stop the attack and not fight against a brick wall. I used this opportunity to move to the most profitable area (just one pixel farther from the opponent than the zone of impact of my lower long-range strike). Being on this site, I, not stopping, continued to strike. Performing this trick, I did not win, but I did not lose either. Even Tao, who resembled a robot, eventually got tired and attacked, sometimes choosing the wrong time from annoyance or hopelessness. The audience said that I made 18 hits in a row, at this moment neither I nor Tao used other tricks.
In this game, Tao was waiting for a logical continuation of this chain - a blow from a turn, which, logically, became more and more likely after each “blocking” lower blow. But David did not beat from the U-turn, but continued to put the act block with his blow. At the moment when Tao could not stand it and ceased to wait for a blow, David still hit him with a U-turn.
Discipline . Here is an example of a psychological trap:
When you missed with a certain trick, you are filled with the desire to “prove” (to yourself? To the audience? God knows ...) that you CAN fulfill it (as if someone really doubted it), and you rush forward at the first opportunities to do it. It’s as if you have some kind of ridiculous “reputation” that needs to be “protected”. And now, you have completed a fireball, received an immediate rebuff, or something like that - and you will be AMAZED by how many otherwise smart, competent players will IMMEDIATELY throw another MORE fireball. Reminds you that they deviated from the mental scenario of how the match should look and cannot continue until they remake this part “as it should”.
It may sound silly for inexperienced players, but if you don’t think about a perfect game during the tournament, it will be a big advantage as you move forward.
By the way, the situation is described in Kasparov’s “Unlimited Duel”, by the way - there Karpov thought that he should win with a certain score, and therefore made a serious mistake when, instead of reducing the game to a draw and thereby strengthening his position, he tried to fling himself at Fisher’s record . It became a stepping stone to losing.
Fire attack . According to the Chinese military doctrine, when you have one army, and the enemy has a camp, it is assumed that you use the weather and natural conditions in order to create a "second" army. For example, set fire to the camp from the other side - and the enemy will simultaneously fight with fire and you. In games, this means the ability to separate you and one of the active objects. For example, in Mortal Kombat, a robot fighter can launch a homing missile and attack when it hits. If the opponent puts out a block, he will defend himself against the rocket, but you can make a throw. If the enemy decides to keep you at a distance with a blow, he will receive a rocket. The chapter contains examples from chess and Counter Strike.
Analysis of game resources at the micro and macro levels . Soloing a guy named Zileas, who at one time turned StarCraft, offering a new vision. Here is his basic formula:
If the ratio of the opponent’s losses to your losses, multiplied by the ratio of your productivity to the opponent’s productivity, is less than 1, you lose. If the enemy’s economy is gaining momentum, and yours remains in place, and their ratio is almost equal to one, but slightly exceeds it, you are still likely to lose. When I talk about the ratio of losses, I do not mean the destroyed or lost units, but the destroyed or lost resources related to the creation of units, to various operating costs (scarabs) and to the construction of buildings.
Another important point in this chapter is the ability to stretch the attention of the enemy. The attention resource in strategies can be exhausted by creating incidents in different places of the map - the enemy will not be able to respond to them at the same time.
About poker , using the experience of Mike Caro. Nothing super cool, but just an interesting set of quotes. By the way, the complete book by Mike Caro “Sign Language” is very easy to find as a free PDF on RuNet.
- Play Win 1: Introduction
- Play Win 2: About Choosing a Game and Opponents
- Play Victory 3: About Lamers
- Play Win 4: A Long Chapter on Bugs, Patches, and Soft Bans
- Play for Victory 5: A Short Chapter on Fraud and Sportsmanship
- Play win 6: bluff and disguise intentions
- Play for victory-7: parsing examples of decision making with incomplete information.
- Play Win 8: Tournament Resilience and Mental Traps
- Play Win 9: Fire Attack: Create Double Threats
- Play for victory-10: analysis of macro and micro levels of the game, dispersing the attention of the enemy
- Play Win 11: About Poker
Just in case, I remind you that you can play games for pleasure, but you can for the sake of victory. We love and know how, and so. David’s experience is only about winning the game.
We continue to translate. The original is under the free-to-read license, translation too.
The next part is about tournaments and their behavior, as well as the psychology of different types of players. There are very important things for GameDev there - for example, the concept of increasing risk for increasing rewards. The point is that when the gap between the players widens, the weaker one can try tactics that are unreliable in the usual situation (for example, rely on random). If it doesn’t work out, he already lost, and if he is lucky, he will be able to catch up.
This information is useful and just like that, and for GameDev - in the end, we simply do not have literature that would describe the position of a greedy for victory and a very inventive player so well.