Learning curve

Characterisation of progress of skill during the gaming experince.

Depending on the usage, learning curve might refer to acquired skill or the necessary to play. And for different game type the term is more useful when referring to the experience from game to game or of the single playthrough (some games are actually intended to be played just once).

For game design of music games (short forms) the change of necessary skill from game to game will be the most useful to consider. Two types of skill are somewhat translatable (if acquired skill is lower than necessary skill the game might be discontinued for example). And as there is no general unit of skill and each experience with the game might differ vastly, you usually don't model the learning curve in detail, but use that metaphor to compare different games.

Three elements that you can usually sketch out are: skill floor, steepness of the learning curve (maybe with some changes after educational milestones), the length of the experience and skill ceiling.

Skill floor

Minimum skill required to play the game.

Skill floor means a bit different things depending on a context. With computer games it most often refers to the game enjoyment — how much training and experience player needs to (for example) have any chance of winning and not to spoil the game for average teammates etc. In board games it might mean how much learning there is necessary to have even an attempt at playing and this is usually much more the case with music games.

Skill ceiling

Learning curve tends to flatten out with time to form a skill ceiling. However, the skill ceiling is hopefully not reachable if a game has enough depth. With high skill ceiling the game has potential to engage players for a very long time.

Other game design terms:

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