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Game design document formats

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Hey all,

I have come up with a game design idea that is not only pretty cool (you all heard that before, right? :wink:), but is small enough in scale for a newbie game designer like me to either accomplish myself or with a very small team. I'm busy in the "trying to get it off the ground" phase, but I have a plan to do so, and part of that plan is creating a game design document. A logical first step, right?

Problem is, while I can easily look up game design documents on Google and such, there are so many formats I don't know where to start. :unsure:

I was hoping for some advice in this matter...my game design idea is a twin-stick shooter. (Please see [url="http://www.gamedev.net/topic/605885-newbie-designer-looking-for-help-with-twin-stick-shooter-project/"]this thread in Help Wanted[/url] to see what I'm talking about.) Maybe there are some GDD templates for twin-stick shooters out there? Or maybe the design doc for Geometry Wars is out there somewhere? I dunno. But any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! :)

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[quote name='Webimpulse' timestamp='1310224110' post='4833096']
there are so many formats I don't know where to start. :unsure:
Maybe there are some GDD templates for twin-stick shooters out there?
[/quote]
Web, GDDs are not like what you seem to be imagining. There isn't a specific template that you have to use, and there aren't genre-specific templates you have to use. So, now that that misconception is out of the way, all you're left with is how to make a decision between some templates that you've found. I have an article on how to make decisions, but I don't think you need it. Just boil some templates down to bare outlines, and see which one feels right for your game. Whatever template you ultimately choose likely won't be perfect. So what? You just modify it to suit your needs. In other words, "get creative." I'm sure you know how to get creative.

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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1310225611' post='4833102']
Web, GDDs are not like what you seem to be imagining. There isn't a specific template that you have to use, and there aren't genre-specific templates you have to use. So, now that that misconception is out of the way, all you're left with is how to make a decision between some templates that you've found. I have an article on how to make decisions, but I don't think you need it. Just boil some templates down to bare outlines, and see which one feels right for your game. Whatever template you ultimately choose likely won't be perfect. So what? You just modify it to suit your needs. In other words, "get creative." I'm sure you know how to get creative.
[/quote]

Thanks for the advice, Mr. Sloper! :) I did find one template off of Gamasutra that I have modified to suit my purposes; I now have a game design document that's two single-spaced pages long which gets the gist across, and is of course by no means final. It most likely will be added to.

I'm looking to get some feedback on my GDD and see how it is to the eyes of others, but I'm not sure how to go about doing that. I do want to share but I'm scared of plagiarism. :unsure: Should I just post it publicly here as an attachment, and that way everyone knows it's my concept?

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There isn't a magic format.

Hell, most places don't even bother writing things down properly. I think outsiders overestimate how organised software companies are.

Generally; don't write design documents. You don't need them. You need them to communicate a vision to 100 people. If you're writing a game on your own or with two or three other people, it's paperwork you just don't need.

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[quote name='Webimpulse' timestamp='1310330831' post='4833450']I now have a game design document that's two single-spaced pages long which gets the gist across[/quote]
That's not a game design document. That's a concept paper. Normally, you don't put all the same info into a concept paper that you do into a GDD. Because normally, the GDD has a different purpose and audience (readership) than the concept paper does. (See [url="http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson13.htm"]FAQ 13[/url].)
So Web, what is the purpose for writing this 2-page document? And whom is it you are writing it for?

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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1310336145' post='4833486']
So Web, what is the purpose for writing this 2-page document? And whom is it you are writing it for?
[/quote]

Well, it's essentially for recruiting team members as I need them - while I don't foresee the need for a programmer to help me at this time (since this is a chance for me to learn how to at least script with Torque 2D, the engine I'm using), I will need an artist. Now, the artist I talked to already said a prototype of the game in question would do better to convince him to help me out, which is a reasonable proposal. So the concept paper is, I guess, sort of moot at this point in time, but I figure if I need some additional help I can show this concept paper to potential helpers to make sure they grasp what it is I'm trying to do.

Plus, it's good practice, at least. I learned something already by writing one and discovering it's not really a proper GDD. :)

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GDD's typically outline EVERYTHING in the game. The story, level outlines, characters, the kind of systems that are in place, the controls, sounds, art, etc, are what it goes over, along with many other things that may be applicable. With two, three people it's not really necessary like everyone else said, it's for organization when you have a team of a hundred some people so that everyone knows what the game is supposed to be and what is happening everywhere else. It's also good to have one when looking for publisher funding, so that they know what the eventual goals are (prototypes don't really show the big picture). Usually it's not totally complete when you first start, but is amended and expanded throughout production.

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[quote name='Webimpulse' timestamp='1310340932' post='4833511']
[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1310336145' post='4833486']
So Web, what is the purpose for writing this 2-page document? And whom is it you are writing it for?[/quote]
Well, it's essentially for recruiting team members[/quote]
OK. Then it needs to be longer than 2 pages. You want to show them you're a harder worker than just 2 pages worth.
But additional to what the game would be, you need to include your purpose for making the game. (Not every person has the same reason for working for months on a game.)

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