So, there’s been a bit of game design my brain’s been doing circles around for a while now and hopefully I can finally define it concretely here.

There’s a behavior that tap-based games I have really enjoyed lately end up making me do. Intentionally or unintentionally, they push me to achieve a tempo. And this design comes in 2 major parts.

1. Reaching a constant tempo is when the game just begins to be fun.

      1. In one of my recent favourites, Hoppenhelm by BUN GUN, you move by tapping a button, causing  a distinctly angular knight to hop to the next tile. There is a minimum time before a tap is detected after a previous tap, which mean you have to keep up a controlled tempo to move efficiently and quickly.

        Even in less strict games I found this playstyle surfacing. In the OG game, Stack by Ketchapp, although it didn’t prioritize speed, I always found myself attempting to perfectly line up as many stacks as possible on each of the stacks’ first pass over the tower, attempting to maintain a constant tempo as long as I could.

2. What’s interesting for the player is when the game actively tries to disrupt your tempo. When you successfully maintain or return to your tempo by whatever means, this is the point where you reach the peaks of enjoyment.

      1. In Hoppenhelm, there are monsters that require a quick tap of the attack button that swing  your sword at the neighbouring block, this ultimately pushes you to weave in a quick off tempo attacking tap as you are ending a hop to clear the path for your unfettered tempo. This is where the magic is.

The inherent fun factor in keeping a tempo probably stems from the act being one of the simplest form/lowest level of a skill check that anyone can understand and can easily attempt, you only need to tap a finger after all.

And speaking of tapping, this design also has great synergy with the simplest and most accessible control style that a mobile game can offer, and that’s powerful.

I’ll definitely be obsessed with this style of design for a while, so I hope you get to see some of my exploration with this concept in our future games!

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