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Studying Patience

"The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience. Patience means restraining one's inclinations. There are seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, love, grief, fear, and hate, and if a man does not give way to these he can be called patient. I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience." -Tokugawa Ieyasu

In the late 1400's, the ruling Ashikaga Shogunate of Japan became weak and lost its hold over the country. A many-sided civil war broke out, thus beginning the "Sengoku Period" - known as one of the most bloody and lawless periods in Japanese history, but also an era of some incredibly most heroic leadership.

Eventually, "Three Great Unifiers" came to power and ended the conflict through victory. These three were Oda Nobugana, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

In the end, Tokugawa Ieyasu won, and his family ruled Japan for the next 250 years. However, he's probably the least popular of the three great unifiers in Japan.

Nobunaga is popular for having an incredibly fierce, martial, masculine spirit. At one point, the warrior-monks of the Honganji allied themselves against Nobunaga and harried, harassed, and ambushed his armies. The Honganji provided supplies, spies, and information for Nobunaga's enemies and sometimes faced them in direct combat.

Dominant Strategies

On Gorilla Tactics

I recently purchased an indie(?) darling(?) on Steam called Magicka. Recently released by Arrowhead Game Studios, Magicka is satirical action-adventure game about mages, saving the world, and vampires, or not.

There are a few great reviews out there which cover the game in detail, so I'll kind of skim over that and instead get to the meat (or veggie burger for you vegetarians) of what I'd like to talk about today: Dominant Strategies. Magicka is a great example of a game that fails to prevent dominant strategies from occurring, and why this matters.

A Dominant Strategy is a strategy or method of acting within a game/life which is vastly superior to the majority of other options in most contexts.

As humans, we are wired to use optimal strategies. That is, if we know a better way of doing something, we prefer to use that method. After all, why take longer or use more effort when you can do it faster or with less effort? So! If a game has one or two Dominant Strategies, it doesn't matter how many other choices are available, the human mind ends up categorizing them as "Optimal vs Sub-Optimal". If you always pick the optimal solution, the game can quickly become boring; if you choose a sub-optimal solution, you may feel bad because you aren't doing the best that you can.

Most well balanced games include abilities which are superior in specific situations, but weak in others. This means the player must figure out what abilities to use based on the situation - their choice is important. Other games have abilities which are roughly equal in overall power, but different in effect (setting people on fire vs electrocuting them). Again, this leads to varied play-styles and infuses the players choices with import. Let's check out Magicka as a case study.

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