Feedback Loops in Game Design [Infographic]

Feedback Loops in Game Design

FULL TEXT:

FEEDBACK LOOPS IN GAME DESIGN
as observed by Jesse Catron, Jay Barnson, Kyoryu

Design: Daniel Solis (danielsolis.com)

In a feedback loop, the output affects the input.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK AMPLIFIES the output and tends to destabilize the system. For example, the runaway leader. One player takes an early insurmountable lead.

In Settlers of Catan, the player with the most productive settlements will generate the most resources, which enables him to build more settlements and gain even more resources.

NEGATIVE FEEDBACK DIMINISHES the output and tends to stabilize the system. For example, a “take-that” mechanic that gives trailing player’s more opportunities to constrain the leading player’s efforts.

In Settlers of Catan, players are less likely to accept trades with the leading player. The leading player is more likely to be targeted by the Robber.

Balancing feedback loops is an important skill for all game designers.

DECK BUILDING

[ + ] You can use low value “copper” cards to buy higher value “silver” and “gold” cards, thus leading to greater and greater amounts of buying power later in the game.

[ - ] Victory is determined by collecting Victory Point cards, which have no short-term tactical value and simply take up space in your deck.

RACING / KING OF THE HILL

[ + ] Once a driver takes an early lead, they can shift to high gear to increase speed. While the trailing drivers jockey for more optimal position, the leader has few obstacles.

[ - ] Curves and hazards can make speeding dangerous, allowing trailing drivers to catch up. If cars have weapons, this makes the leader a likely target.

KNIZIA SET

[ + ] Players collect several different types of resources. Each resource has unique properties. Some of which may buy upgrades that make acquiring resources easier.

[ - ] Victory is determined by collecting the most full sets of all resources. Focus is spread across a broad spectrum of tactical decisions.

SOURCES
hyperbolegames.com/2012/05/11/game-design-gone-loopy/
rampantgames.com/blog/2009/08/game-design-positive-and-ne...
www.design.wrong.net/?p=14

“Refresh” symbol by Joris Hoogendoorn, from The Noun Project
“Flag” symbol by Brad Hollander, from The Noun Project

Released under a Creative Commons - Attribution license

10 comments:

  1. Is there a feedback loop that can be employed in dice-centric games, since they have increased randomness? Is it primarily dependent on the other elements that interact with the dice?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, sure. Dice are definitely random, so most feedback loops in dice games try to mitigate that randomness by making past rolls affect the probabilities of future rolls. This is most often done via resource acquisition (+1 for each gold you spend this turn), permanent modifiers (+1 against all strength-related challenges), or temporary conditions (+1 while standing on this space).

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is really cool! Especially so because I'm trying to design a fresh take on Dominion for kicks, and the deck-building balance helps me feel confident I have a firm grasp on the overall shape of the game-flow.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A good example might be Zombie Dice. The more times you roll, the more you keep. The more you keep, the more dice you have to grab out of the bag. Those new dice have an increasing probability of being more dangerous dice.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A good example might be Zombie Dice. The more times you roll, the more you keep. The more you keep, the more dice you have to grab out of the bag. Those new dice have an increasing probability of being more dangerous dice.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Tracking the potential relationships across a whole card deck is quite a challenge, but so satisfying when you can make it work. :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. One thing I've noticed in a lot of systems thinking/dynamics literature is to label these as "reinforcing loops" and "balancing loops" rather than positive and negative feedback loops. Why? Because sometimes "positive" feedback loops have undesirable consequences, as you point out. Donella Meadows' THINKING IN SYSTEMS is a great introduction to this topic.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oooh. Thanks for the tip! Part of the reason I made this graphic was because I learn better by communicating abstract concepts visually. Do you think a visual learner would pick up on THINKING IN SYSTEMS well?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I really liked this piece, although a runaway leader will often single be 'ganked' by the rest of the players.

    In a rather humorous event I wrote an article on loopholes in game design. It has a slight bit of overlap with some of the concepts if you are interested ( http://devmag.org.za/2012/05/07/loopholes-in-game-design/ )

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, that is a great article! Thanks for the link. :D

    ReplyDelete

Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.