Any game developer knows that apart from the game mechanics what makes us the game is the core gameplay loop. Core gameplay loop refers to the main game actions that players engage with and return repeatedly. This core gaming actions make the essence of any game.
Just take any popular game in the market. For instance, look at the Clash of Clans which is about arranging attacks on enemy posts. Now, the main activities of arranging mercenaries and ammunition to attack enemy posts shown in a bird’s eye-view make up the core loop and principal experience of the game.
There are other core loops too!
Just like the core gameplay loop, there are other core loops within a game. For instance, core economic loop will present the way in-game business conversion and transactions are done. The core economic loop will look after the levels that players need to beat to advance through the game plot, the points required for upgrading and how the in-game purchases will help to add value to the gameplay experience.
While we are aware of other important loops in the design of a game, here we will mainly focus on the core gameplay loop and how it can be perfected for a great gaming experience.
Understanding the key constituents of core gameplay loop
Now as we have understood the pivotal role of the core gameplay loop, let us understand how the key constituents of this. The core loop in a game consists of the fundamental actions that players may take at any given time. When these actions are arranged in a sequence to engage players and allow them to progress through gameplay experience, we call these actions collectively as core gameplay loop. So, the activities of organising an attack on enemy posts make the core loop of the Clash of Clans and the run and jump actions make the core loop of a runner game.
Now, within this core loop, the activities should be arranged to allow priority to certain objectives over others. For example, in a game the topmost objective can be collecting something hidden inside the enemy fortress and killing enemy should come to the secondary objective. In another game, collecting points by shooting as many as possible can be the main objective. At the concluding point of the loop, the developers need to push for re-engaging the game players by reminding their progress and allowing them to start over with new gusto.
Key aspects of a good core loop
Now, the question is how can a core loop really boost game playing experience or undermine it. What can be good or bad in a gameplay loop? To understand this, we need to take a fresh look at the key attributes of the core gameplay loop of a successful game.
First of all, a core loop designed appropriately should facilitate easy flow from one activity to another. The smooth flow of the game activities is a key aspect to ensure steady engagement. You need to make sure that nothing actually distracts the player from engaging in the gameplay. Secondly, the gameplay should elevate the challenge smoothly, and every time you should ensure that the players feel themselves in total control. When creating a game challenge for them you need to keep a distance from both too easy and too hard.
Every game offers players some goals and these goals are what make them play. But, there must be one final goal around which all other steps and objectives are weaved. Now, this principal goal of a game should be clear and self-evident leaving no scope for confusion and second thought about it.
A good theme
Games are too many and each one differs from the other in entertainment value, look and feel sand target audience. Obviously, you cannot expect a seasoned gamer to remain glued to a game like Subway Surfer or Angry Birds for hours, while an adherent of passive gaming experience cannot find Clash of Clans interesting. So, just like the multitude of games, there are multitudes of preferences as well. This is why based on your target audience you need to choose a game theme that perfectly visualises your game content.
Always make a prototype of the core loop and evaluate
The core loop needs to be designed and all its key aspects should be put in place at the pre-production stage. All the iterations and game playing actions should be well conceived before the entire material is taken up for production. With this, you can have a solid grip on the game budget as well. The game iterations should be planned progressively one following the other.
To begin with, you need to choose a great game idea and build a prototype for evaluating. Figure out how far you can create depth by implementing the idea, how it can be improved and what are the changes it needs. Based on this evaluation build the game app to deliver the game playing experience you want to deliver to your audience.
Juicing the experience
Finally, when you have planned every iteration and ensured the smooth flow of the game, it is time to juice the experience further with some visual effects, appropriate audio, surprises, gift points and rewards that keep players engaged in gameplay. Adding subtle feedbacks like screen shaking when something hits, slow-motion effects when the in-game avatar gets hurt, dust in the wind when your game aircraft lands in, can give a solid facelift to the gameplay experience.
Designing gameplay loop requires a creative as well as meticulously focused approach. A game development company needs to focus on delivering visual clues to the player to help immersion and engagement. The core gameplay loop ultimately determines the engagement score and entertainment value of a game.