12 min read

To game designer about the players or how to program players?

I have thought a lot about game development and I have analyzed information about it. I wrote and published this article to share with people. I want to get feedback, hints, tips and comments about this article.

I have thought a lot about game development and I have analyzed information about it. I wrote and published this article to share with people. I want to get feedback, hints, tips and comments about this article. Today game design requires a more scientific approach, which requires a special consideration. Unfortunately there is very little structured information available for free. Now international and experienced authors’ works are extremely difficult to find. There people share their experience and impressions of develop games. These works not only convey new information to readers but they also allow a more clear understanding of game design.




I will start my article when Henric Suuronen’s performance on Sociality Rocks 2011. He is the head of the studio Wooga, developer Bubble Island and other hits. Of particular note is an article by Andrei Plakhov "For game designers about programmers: how to program programmers". In accordance this article I believe that players can also be programmed. It’s important to program players in order to entertain them, insure that they continue to pay, as well as understanding how to attract new customers. One of the tools which can be used for attracting players is a set of functions in the application, called the “game loop”. This is what we'll continue to.


1. What is the “game loop”?  Why is it needed?


Content is the basic part of the game. On the one side it determines the ability of users. On the other side it determines the amount of work needed to create a project. It is the reason why users will come back to a game. At the same time most of the action in the process of this content is cyclically repeated.  am very smart and I have noticed that all these social games is repeated. These cyclings are called “game loops”.

The game loop - a sequence of actions performed throughout the game over and over again. For example: the construction of the building, waiting, obtaining foreign currency, the construction of the building, waiting, etc.

  Can we do without game loops? – Yes It is possible. But let's imagine that in our project, there is only linear (not looped) content. For hours and hours, players will see all new art, animations, mini-games, hear new music. How much space will this game take? How long will it take to be developed? How long will it take to install?  We go into this game and see something like a storyline or a long quest with plenty of unique activities. It is complicated and time consuming to come up with an interesting game in this manner.

We are used to fast games and easy money. To solve these problems we introduce the repetition of the same action with different appearances. This chain of action forms the game.

 After reading that last paragraph you might still be wondering why you should use a gaming loop and why you need to follow them. Of course the simple answer is to create an interesting, clear and easy to  develop product. Consider the positive effects:

·         The user can easily master the game. 2-3 simple actions are easier to remember than long complicated sequences of actions.

·         They requires less content, smaller applications, faster loading time. Let’s imagine that game takes 100 hours to complete. For each 5 minute action, a user must wait 30 minutes for an output. Using this, you can see that using game loops can reduce the size of your application by hundreds of times. The result is that you have a game that is both long to play, and that takes up very little of the computer’s resources.

  Game loops exist in all games. Because developers are too lazy and would rather eat donuts than work.:

FPS: buy weapons - kill opponents - get money;

Quest: solve puzzle – get item - complete quest;

Casual Arcade: get puzzle – solve puzzle – get high score;

MMORPG:  buy items – win battles – get reward;

Social Games: build a house - planted a tree - grown son –- wait - get profit.


2. Typical game loops (housing, PvP, PvE)



  Look at social games. In them we can define the following player’s actions - harvesting crops building and crafting things - these activities refer to the type of game loops of Housing. In this type of game loops people can spend a lot of time waiting and we can make this time sweet.



  Then, in the game there are non playable characters (NPC), which give quests, attack buildings and crops, etc. There is a loop of interaction with the environment named PvE. This type is more dynamic because you do not need to wait for anything. You usually need to act quickly in response to the behavior of the game character. Artificial intelligence makes the game more interesting



  The third type of loop is the interaction with other players.  In war games, as well as peaceful games, your goal is too help your friends, get gifts, as well as to complete. We call this Player vs player (or player for player in peaceful games). This type of loop is the most important. Proper interaction with other players is the most interesting interaction for the public.


3. Game loops in peace and war games


 Social games are built on game loops to get more points as form of competition with friends.  In peace games players compete to get credit for buildings, quests and helping friends. These indicators are generally levels, the cost of the city, or the number of achievements. Players can help each other, increasing the amount of their points, energy, etc. In war games users can get points for attacks to increase their performance and characteristics. These loops are similar. The only difference is that  in peaceful games the interaction benefits both parties, and in war games, just winning.


4. What should game loops do?


●         it should simulate the actions of people in real life;

●         it should run easily both the first and in subsequent times;

●         it should be short, the sequence can be easily memorized and repeated over and over again;

●         the game world has need of the player. It should have reminders that the player needs to come back;

●         play opportunities should be provided to a person gradually. This is to ensure that the player had an opportunity to grow, develop and access new content;

●         It should end positively. Congratulations! Here's a candy from the shelf;


5. Examples of game loops in well known games.


   Example 1 (Castleville):

 1. Choose the building, buy it, and wait for a profit, after a fixed time make money, then build another building, and repeat.



 Fig. 1. - Game loop: construct building - waiting - profit.

  2. In the game we have flower beds on which to grow plants. Choose a flower bed, plant the plant, wait and then collect your harvest.



 Fig. 2. - The game loop: put the plant - waiting - profit.

  Game loops in Castleville are very simple. The players essentially become a machine.


Example 2 (The Tribez):

 1. Select the building, buy it,  wait for a profit, get it and repeat. This loop is typical for many games.

 2. We have flower beds on which to grow plants. Choose a flower bed, chose the plant, wait and then collect your harvest. Games loop in both game are similar.



Fig. 3. - Game loop: select plant - waiting - profit


 Fig. 4 - The game loop: the construction of the building - waiting for - profit


 It can be concluded that the accompanying tips - an alternative to the simplicity of the cycle, but the complexity of the abuse is still not worth it.


6. How to start a game loop?


 Here you are logged into the game. Where to start? We should explain to the player what they should do. If we do not the player will become quickly bored, and choose another game. This is often upsetting to many players, and it is very unlikely they will come back. In the game you need to enter training that will teach players how to enter the game loop, as well as explain the basic controls. The best beginning of the first game loop will be a button that says "click me". In the future, the player, having learned from positive experiences,will know what to do if they see an empty flower bed, or a hungry cow. The game loop should be started with some sort of effect (for example with a flashing button, special sounds, etc.)


 7. How to follow players through the game loop?


  There was an experiment with rats where an electrode was hooked up to the “pleasure center” of their brain. When the rats pulled the lever, a small electrical charge stimulated the “pleasure center”, and they felt a euphoric rush for a short amount of time. It was so pleasurable, that the rats ignored everything around them. They even ignored the basic necessities for life, such as eating and drinking. They ended up dying (but hey, they died happy).  As game designers, we want the player to be the rat, and the game to be the “feel good” lever. Throughout the game loop a player should know what to do next and where his “feel good” lever is.  This lever could be anything from getting an award to accomplishing goals. This process should be intuitive (after, of course, listening to the tutorial). After an accomplishment, a player must feel rewarded for their efforts. The “intensity” of the reward should correlate with the importance of the goal that was met. After meeting a goal, a player should be introduced to a new goal or target.  A player should be able to measure whether or not they reach their goals (For example, having a timer to show when they need to harvest their crops).


8. How to finish a game loop


  At the end of the game cycle the user should be left the impression that everything in his game world is good. He should have the feeling that he did all he could do. He should receive an award and be presented with a new responsibility. It is very important that a player feel happy at the end of a game loop.


9. Broken game loops


 We have considered simple game cycles that are used most often. But in order to entice the player to make the game look like a living creature. For example, the game must feel like a siren singing an irresistible song to the poor gamer. He must feel so enticed by it, that he sails to her regardless of the consequences it may bring.

  Game loops do not take very long to complete. When you build something, you wait for five minutes, and then get some "cool thing". These loops are often short enough to go through a complete cycle while the user is playing the game. There are other game cycles that take much longer to cycle through. Normally such cycles take two or more gaming sessions to complete. Such cycles are called broken game loops. For example, we can plant some “mega-pumpkins”. Once these pumpkins have matured, we will receive many bonuses and experience points. Naturally, such pumpkins take 187,375 hours to mature. If you are a normal person (with a life) there is a chance you won’t be able to play a game for 187,375 hours straight (all bets are off for hard core gamers). Because you must leave the game to visit with friends, play with your dog, or visit Bangladesh, you are much more likely to come back when the “mega-pumpkins” have matured

 If your game has game loops you must include a broken game loop or two to insure the player continues to play your game. A broken game loop the main tool in keeping the user in the game.


10. How can we use it?


 As a game designer, you must solve three basic problems:

●        how to attract players;

●        how to keep them;

●        how to make them pay;

●        where to put money.


Unfortunately, the art of attracting new players is  a topic of another article. As for keeping users, you can use the highly effective broken game loop. This creates the impression that the game is continuing even in the absence of the player and thus helps users to continue to come back after closing the application.


11. Summary


 How to you make a game that will entice the user into playing it over and over again? There is no universal answer to this question. Here are the basic points, without which a successful game is almost impossible to make:

●        every game has game loops;

●        game loop - the main part of the game, which should make the player smile and feel good about himself;

●        a player must be taught how to play the game;

●        the game must have at least one broken game cycle.

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