Sunflower Land

Gameplay Loops

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This section explores the core loops that the game employs. This does not explore the inner working parts of each resource in the game. When designing features for the game we approach it from the lens of a ‘balancing’ loop, more so than linear or reinforcing loops.

Reinforcing versus Balanced Loops

Traditional games often use what is called a ‘reinforcing’ loop, otherwise known as a positive feedback loop. The more you achieve, the easier it will be to continue achieving. A good example is Monopoly where the more money you receive, the more properties you buy and hence the more money you receive. This loop continues until a player dominates and finishes the game.
This is widely used in traditional games and is an easy way to engage players. The issue in Web3 is that we are designing a real world economy that can not accommodate these ‘snowball’ effects.
When designing a loop, we need to ensure that there is a balancing mechanism that ensures a resource stops compounding and plays nicely in the Sunflower Land ecosystem.
The beta design of Sunflower Land employed many linear/reinforcing loops to drive early engagement. This process is not sustainable for the continued growth of the game.

Core Game Loop

Below is the design of the core game play that ensures significant sources and sinks exist that will prevent inflation, lead to high engagement and create a sustainable economy for years to come.
The key sources we have in the game at a high level are land and farmer. The size of your land and level of your farmer influences how many resources you can collect in the game. If a player wants to collect more, they must invest resources into their land and character.

Design Methodology

When designing gameplay we not only need to think about how it fits into the gameplay loops, but also the team’s design loops. Ideally we look for mechanics which fall under our key gameplay loops. These include:
  • Resource collection (burn resources, wait X time, collect resources
  • Land expansion (burn resources, craft land)
  • Crafting (burn resources, craft item)
Keeping to these domains enables us to build upon pre-existing patterns, test, tweak and integrate them into the system in a rapid/agile approach. This ensures we can continue to release exciting gameplay on a frequent basis. This does not mean we won’t explore other concepts (such as combat systems) but we need to master our current gameplay mechanics before embracing these.
When designing a new resource or sink, we typically take the following approach.
  1. 1.
    Concept design
  2. 2.
    Gameplay loop design - how does it balance?
  3. 3.
    Spreadsheet Design
  4. 4.
    Release it with conservative value
  5. 5.
    Gather data, tweak and make sources more valuable
The important section here is gathering data and tweaking. There is no room for dogmatic approach in our design process. We must listen to the community, the data and adjust the gameplay to meet the gameplay designs.
You may see a conservative value being released such as a small boost or rewards. The purpose is so that we can test amongst users and increase this to a level that is sustainable. It is much more difficult to reduce a boost or reward.

Detailed Design

The following diagram explores how the differing gameplay loops fit together on a high-level.
The purpose of this diagram is not to demonstrate the sinks and deflationary aspects of the game. Instead it is to give an overview of the core game loops and systems.
For in depth loops and details please refer to the sub-sections in the docs.
Last modified 1yr ago