Designer’s glossary: Win-more

Designer’s glossary: Win-more

Win-more also winmore
/ ˈwɪn ˌmɔːr /


Win-more mechanics and/or effects are ones that provide bigger benefits the stronger you are, or the closer you are to winning. In a way, these mechanics create a positive feedback loop, simultaneously speeding up the player’s progress towards victory, and increasing their chances of winning. This is generally something you want to avoid having in the game, as it can create situations where a player quickly snowballs, possibly winning before the other player(s) can have a chance to stop it or catch up.

Antonym: lose-more

The opposite of win-more is—intuitively—called lose-more. Lose-more mechanics are usually (but not necessarily) drawbacks or costs that ‘hurt’ more the closer you are to losing. Like win-more, these also create a positive feedback loop, but one that pushes players towards losing instead. While win-more is generally tolerable (don’t really want to say ‘acceptable’, but it depends on the game in question), one should try to avoid adding lose-more effects to the game, and to promptly get rid of existing ones. Even if a lose-more effect is balanced, it just feels terrible to use, doubly so if it’s mandatory.

A quick and dirty example of a lose-more effect is an HP/wounds system that—like real life—makes your character weaker the more damage they take. This is the main reason that HP is treated as a binary threshold between ‘completely fine’ and ‘dead’. If you get weaker the more you get hurt, the more vulnerable you are, making it easier to get hurt… the feedback loop is pretty obvious.

The same way that win-more mechanics create positive feedback loops, one could have mechanics that create negative feedback loops. There isn’t any standard terminology for these, but we can easily call them win-less (hyphen feels mandatory here) mechanics. These are mechanics that actually get weaker as you get closer to winning. This can be a useful balancing tool, but it’s a double-edged sword, since something like this can feel pretty bad to actually use. It would effectively be punishing the players for getting ahead, and that’s usually not worth the balance benefits.

And, to complete the set, there’s the mechanics that get stronger the closer you are to losing. Rather than call these lose-less, according to our currently established naming scheme, the far simpler and more ubiquitous term is comeback mechanic(s). These probably don’t need much of an explanation, although we’ll probably go into more details on these in a future article.

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