Yomi is a Japanese term that’s been appropriated by some gaming communities to mean “reading the mind of the opponent”. Basically, it refers to when you do something because you suspect the other player will do something. Think he’s building Shermans? Respond with Pak-40s. Is he going to jump? Ready that uppercut. Is your boss about to come into your office? Minimize this window. That’s yomi. Yomi is at the heart of some of the most satisfying competitive experiences. When your prediction about your opponent and his actions match up perfectly, it feels like winning twice.
After the jump: Mind games
Yomi is what I’m doing up there. It might look like I’m just resting on a bench, waiting to die. But my mind is way open and I am picking up crazy brain signals.
I’m playing manhunt. Unlike deathmatch, where I had to assassinate targets and hide from pursuers simultaneously, in manhunt I only need to worry about one thing at time. Right now, I’m hiding. It’s a team mode — each match is split into two five minute rounds, and each team gets a round to hide and a round to hunt. The hiding team can get points by staying hidden near each other and by stunning pursuers. A well-coordinated hiding team can get a lot of points by staying close and protecting each other from assassins. There on my bench, however, I’m alone. Worse, I have some pursuers near me. I don’t get a compass like the assassins do, but I can hear ominous whispers as my pursuers get closer, and the whispers are very loud now. While I’m thinking about what to do, one of the assassins comes into view. Crap. It’s too late to go for a stun. In a direct confrontation between assassin and target, the assassin always wins. In a desperate move, I get up and run around the corner. The assassin knows who I am now, and I’m sure he’s right behind me. It’s not a good position to be in. Fortunately, I have some abilities that will help me out.
I better tell you about abilities.
In addition to killing and stunning, I can customize my persona with two active and two passive abilities. I can save these sets of abilities and switch between them when I die, to better adapt to whatever tactics the other players are using. The abilities I choose define how I’ll play the match. One ability highlights your target and your pursuer, for example, giving you some needed info. Another one drops a trap on the ground which will stun the next player to walk over it, perfect for getaways or ambushes. Maybe you don’t really go in for sneaking around — one of the abilities is a gun.
In this case I have three abilities that are ideal for sneaky getaways. The first is called disguise. It changes my character model into one of the generic NPCs. It’s like Superman rushing around a corner and pulling on his dorky coat and glasses. The next is bodyguard. Bodyguard transforms a nearby NPC into a copy of my persona, and it will automatically try to stun any assassin that gets close. The last is a passive ability called blender, which automatically changes an NPC character into my model when I join an NPC group.
Coming around the corner, I quickly enter into an NPC group. Blender changes one of the characters so it looks like me. I fire off disguise and bodyguard. My pursuer enters the area and I see there are two of them now. I’m not breathing. I’ve made my play. Moving again will mean death. The assassins stride straight for me. Malevolent whispers fill my speakers. One of the assassins sinks his blade into my blended double, which gives me a lure point bonus and prevents the assassin from attacking again for a while. My disguise flickers — it’s wearing off. The other assassin turns toward me just as my bodyguard gives him a stunning slap on his face. I run away from there as fast as I can. I’m alive. And I didn’t have to touch my controller to do it. More than any headshot in Battlefield or conquest in Age of Empires, this feels like a victory. I’m a crazy ninja master. I just set the scene, and let my opponents defeat themselves.
And I’m off to find another bench.
Up next: keep away!
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Giaddon has been a fan of Assassin’s Creed since the very first trailer. While everyone was cheering the Assassin’s Creed 3 E3 video that showed Ratonhnhake:ton blow up an entire British fort to kill one guy, he was scouring Youtube for floor videos of people playing the multiplayer.