what is core gameplay loop
Game Dev

What is Core Gameplay Loop in Games

  • A core gameplay loop is the repetitive activities that players engage in while playing a game, defining the main actions and mechanics of the game.
  • Game designers are responsible for developing and implementing the core gameplay loop.
  • The core gameplay loop is essential for player engagement and the overall player experience.
  • Within the core gameplay loop, there can be smaller, more specific gameplay loops incorporated.
  • Creating a game loop involves preparing the game environment, adding physics and upgrade systems, and implementing these features into the game

Why Core Gameplay Loop is Important for Your Game

The core gameplay loop is a fundamental aspect of game production and design. It serves as the backbone of the game, guiding not only the players but also the developers in creating a cohesive and engaging experience. Without a well-defined core gameplay loop, it becomes difficult to create a game that can effectively achieve its main goal.

One of the primary reasons why the core gameplay loop is crucial in game production is that it defines the main goal of the game. It provides a clear understanding of the mechanics and objectives that players need to accomplish. This clarity is essential in guiding the development process and ensuring that all aspects of the game align with the intended experience.

In addition to guiding players and developers, a strong core gameplay loop also improves player retention. By providing a compelling and engaging gameplay loop, players are more likely to continue playing the game for a longer duration. This is especially important for free-to-play games that rely on player engagement for monetization.

Examples of Core Gameplay Loop in Popular Games

The core gameplay loop is essentially the repetitive cycle of actions that players engage in while playing a game. Here are a few examples:

  1. Mario Series (Platformers):
    • Objective: Navigate through levels, defeat enemies, and reach the flagpole.
    • Loop: Run, jump, collect power-ups, defeat enemies, repeat.
  2. Call of Duty (First-Person Shooter):
    • Objective: Eliminate opponents and achieve specific goals.
    • Loop: Move, shoot, take cover, reload, repeat.
  3. The Legend of Zelda (Action-Adventure):
    • Objective: Explore dungeons, solve puzzles, defeat bosses, and collect items.
    • Loop: Explore, solve puzzles, combat, collect items, repeat.
  4. Stardew Valley (Farming Simulation):
    • Objective: Manage a farm, build relationships, and explore the environment.
    • Loop: Plant crops, water crops, harvest crops, interact with NPCs, repeat.
  5. Dark Souls (Action RPG):
    • Objective: Explore the world, defeat challenging enemies, and progress.
    • Loop: Explore, battle enemies, gather souls, level up, repeat.
  6. Candy Crush Saga (Puzzle):
    • Objective: Match similar candies to clear levels and achieve objectives.
    • Loop: Match candies, clear levels, earn points, repeat.

Types of Core Loops

When it comes to creating engaging gameplay experiences, game designers have several types of core loops at their disposal. These core loops help shape the overall structure and mechanics of the game, providing players with different types of experiences. Let’s explore some of the most common types of core loops:

  1. Main Loop: The main loop is the central gameplay loop that defines the core mechanics and goals of the game. It encompasses the primary actions and resources that players need to achieve the game’s objectives. For example, in a first-person shooter game, the main loop would involve tasks such as shooting enemies, finding weapons, and completing missions.
  2. Dual Loop: The dual loop offers players the choice to either stop their gaming session after completing the first loop or continue playing through both loops, extending their gameplay experience. This type of core loop adds flexibility and allows players to decide how long they want to engage with the game.
  3. Nested Loop: In a nested loop, one loop is contained within another, creating a chain of interconnected gameplay loops. This type of core loop can provide depth and complexity to the game’s mechanics and progression system. For example, in a role-playing game, players may have a main loop for combat, but within that loop, there could be smaller loops for skill development, item acquisition, and character customization.
  4. Compulsion Loop: The compulsion loop focuses on the psychological aspect of playing games, creating a loop of activities that provide a feeling of pleasure or relief. This type of core loop often involves addictive gameplay elements like rewards, achievements, and progression systems that keep players coming back for more.

By understanding these different types of core loops, game designers can create captivating gameplay experiences that cater to various player preferences and keep them engaged for hours on end.

How to Achieve a Good Core Gameplay Loop

Achieving a good core gameplay loop is a critical aspect of game planning. It involves carefully considering various elements, such as game mechanics and logic, to create an engaging and cohesive experience for players. Here are some key steps to follow:

  1. Analyze the Game Mechanics: Start by breaking down the game into its basic parts and analyzing each aspect of the game mechanics. This includes identifying the main actions and interactions that players will engage in throughout the game. By understanding the mechanics, you can ensure that the core gameplay loop aligns with the overall vision and goals of the game.
  2. Refine and Iterate: Iteration is key to achieving a good core gameplay loop. As you develop the mechanics, regularly refine and improve the loop based on user feedback and testing. This iterative process allows you to fine-tune the gameplay experience and address any issues or areas of improvement that arise.
  3. Ensure Clarity and Coherence: The core gameplay loop should provide a clear understanding of the game’s main goal, minor goals, and basic mechanics. It should also align with the overall logic of the game. Make sure that players can easily grasp the purpose of the loop and how it connects to the larger gameplay experience.
  4. Consider Different Perspectives: Take into account the perspectives of different stakeholders, such as investors, programmers, and potential players. Their insights and feedback can help you create a well-rounded and effective core gameplay loop that appeals to a wide audience.

RPG secondary game loops

RPGs (Role-Playing Games) are a genre known for their intricate and multifaceted core gameplay loops. Unlike other game genres, RPGs often incorporate multiple interconnected systems and mechanics, offering players a wide range of gameplay experiences. While the primary core loop in RPGs focuses on the main activities and goals, such as exploration and combat, secondary loops are equally important.

Secondary loops in RPGs encompass various aspects, including narrative progression and character development. These secondary loops provide players with additional layers of engagement and motivation. The narrative progression loop keeps players invested in the story by offering plot twists, character interactions, and a sense of progression. Character development loops allow players to customize their characters, level them up, and unlock new abilities, providing a sense of growth and accomplishment.

Furthermore, RPGs often incorporate mini-games and side activities to enhance the gameplay experience. These mini-games serve as secondary loops within the overall core gameplay loop, offering players diverse challenges and rewards. Whether it’s participating in a card game, solving puzzles, or engaging in social interactions, these additional activities contribute to the depth and richness of the RPG experience.

The complex nature of RPG core loops lies in their segmented gameplay structure. Players can expect distinct experiences during battles, exploration, and dialogue, each with its own set of core gameplay loops. Balancing and optimizing these various loops is essential to ensure that players remain engaged and immersed in the vast RPG worlds, making the genre a unique and captivating experience.