Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

23 January, 2010

Feedback loops in gameplay
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:59 AM

One of the things that new designers should learn is the fearsome power of feedback in gameplay. Great games use feedback to guide the player, letting them master the skills necessary to master the games. With great design comes great power in the form of the feedback loop. For example, a feedback loop can help advance a game; having more units in a strategy game usually allows you to win more battles, leading to the final victory faster.

But, there are also dark sides to the feedback loop when it doesn’t start properly or if it becomes self-reinforcing. In this case, the feedback accelerates the loop. The RTS example can turn into a self-reinforcing loop if there is no way to overcome superior numbers in the game through game features like defensive structures. In this case, the player who builds the most powerful side first and plays at least as well as his or her opponent will win.

So, let’s take a look at some of the feedback loops in games in more detail.
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10 January, 2010

The Innovation Paradox
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:19 AM

Ask gamers, particularly MMO fans, what bothers them about the game industry and one of the more common responses will be “innovation”. A lot of people feel that the game industry is too conservative, going for the safe bet when players want something new! Developers get stuck in ruts, focusing on sequels, clones, and copying the latest game design fashion to reduce risk.

Unfortunately, the same people asking for innovation are the same people who hinder it. There are a lot of reasons why we don’t see innovation in game development. Let’s take a look at some of them.
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6 January, 2010

Game Journalism Fail
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:02 PM

One problem that the game industry has is that game journalists sometimes lack a sense of professionalism. Many journalists are enthusiastic fans who land a “dream job” related to games; journalism might be as close to the ultimate goal of game development as some people will ever get. The dream of getting paid to play games is probably better realized as a typical journalist than as a game developer.

Unfortunately, this lack of professionalism hurts the game industry. We need more real game journalists who do a good job covering the industry and showing what is really going on. Sadly, this is all too rare and most game “journalism” fails spectacularly.
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