How to Create a Gameplay Loop

Developing a video game takes desire, time, and effort. Every title consists of a number of elements that are equally important to its success. For example, along with an intriguing story, audio design, and beautiful visual presentation, building a balanced game cycle through well-thought game mechanics is one of the main components of any entertainment software.

What are Gamelan Cycles?

The gameplay structure, respectively the sequence in which the players are offered a series of game elements to hold their attention, we call in this text the gameplay cycle/game cycles. It describes the recurring mechanics that the player uses within a given title – from going from one place to another and opening a door, through character development (this can be expressed in stronger spells, unlocking new skills, and more), to complete the next level. In Call of Duty, for example, the sequence of actions is as follows – an enemy appears in front of the player, he aims at him, and the projectile leaves the weapon and hits the enemy. A game cycle is also understood as the completion of each level in the first games of the Super Mario series.

Basic gameplay cycle

By core gameplay cycle we mean the set of actions that the player can take within the given title. Having well-defined gameplay fundamentals is extremely important for any video game. The main cycle forms the whole framework of the processes and defines the genre of the title. Even if it has great characters and visual style, if the gameplay packaging is not skillfully put together, the game remains unfinished, “broken” or otherwise uninteresting. We must emphasize that the game cycle does not necessarily have to be complex to be interesting to the players. Each title’s needs are different under this paragraph.

How to create a game loop

Building a complete, replayable game can be broken down into several steps. It is important to emphasize that nowadays there are many methods of achieving the same thing, so we can assume that the way described below is just one of the possible ways to shape gameplay repeatability and structure. 

  • Usually, the game designer prepares the environment in the game, respectively the elements that make it up and the sequence in which they are offered to the end players.
  • For the prototype version, the necessary physics are drawn up, which buttons will be used to play, and the player development systems are created.
  • Finally, the game designer takes these current features and implements them into the game.

Refinement of the gameplay cycle

Creating a well-balanced gameplay chain is essential to the success of any video game. The goal of every game creator is for people to love their title and spend as much time as possible playing it. This applies in full force to mobile games that rely on the free-to-play model and offer microtransactions. If the mechanics and their sequence are not designed well, users could decide that the game is not aesthetically pleasing or simply too complicated to learn and give up playing it.

The goal of the game’s core loop is to give players goals to pursue without overwhelming them with too many challenges. The key word here is “balance” – between attractive and intuitive design, between challenges and rewards.

In certain genres, the frames per second (FPS) at which a game runs can be an advantage and an important factor in determining a winner. For example, in sports games, shooters and fighting titles, frames per second are a fundamental factor for a quality gameplay cycle.

Finite and infinite games

Most of the popular games do not have an ending, but offer constant new content. Examples of this are titles like Fortnite, Counter Strike and most mobile games. Games that have a distinct beginning and end are, in theory, not replayable because the content remains the same. Examples of such are The Last of Us, as well as Wolf Among Us, etc.

The development of a video game is a long and extremely complex process that consists of many stages. It involves various specialists with certain knowledge and skills, united by a common passion – the creation of interactive worlds that enchant players. Turning a hobby like gaming into a profession is also an extremely exciting process, in which we at ARC Academy are happy to participate, providing an opportunity for our students to take their first steps in the field of the gaming industry.