• Announcements

    • khawk

      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
JVEA01

Advice on writing a design document

5 posts in this topic

Hi everyone,

 

I would like your help on how to effectively write a game design document. From the templates and examples I have seen, the style of writing and the sections included can vary. I would like to know what sections you think are compulsory, such as, maybe core game play, levels etc, and any important sub sections within the sections you identified. Feel free to include any other relevant advice in writing a game design document.

 

For me, sections that I find important are, the mechanics section for defining how the game plays, the AI section to explain how the AI-controlled characters behave, and the contents section for defining any items and objects that the player can obtain, utilize or interact with in any way. I look forward to reading your replies :)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's important not to overlook sections like soundtrack, camera behavior and character controls.

it all varies heavily based on what the focus of your game is on of course.

If you want to create an art game with heavily stylized graphics, you're going to have to spend a lot of time and effort on the section where you elaborate on the visual style and design of environments, assets and characters. If you're making an RPG, you're likely going to spend ages on the back story and traits of the plethora of characters your player can encounter in the world.

 

What you want to achieve by writing a game design document is that when someone reads it, they know exactly and entirely what kind of game you want to make. So every section should contain all the information you have to add to it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would write or create a mood board with images, associations, keywords etc. that reflect the kind of emotion which I would want to expose player to. Moodboards like this can be very helpful for yourself and artists when they go ahead in choosing music and such.  

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I typically do it in two sections.

 

The first section is a description of the game from the player's perspective. It will have part that will read like an instruction manual telling the player how to play the game, and part will describe the flow of the game action if it needs it. This section will also detail the artistic styling of the game in terms of the visual style and the music and sound FX style. I will usually present this part to a few people and get some input.

 

Once that is done I start on the second section which is the technical spec that goes through and in detail describes how to actually do the things put forward in the first section. How am I going to construct this or that thing in the game. What is this stuff going to look like. What sound plays when you do this. That sort of stuff.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best I can recommend is to start with the Chris Taylor template and tweak it to your needs. It's a good baseline, it has everything you strictly *need* and a few extras that are just helpful. It comes with a table of contents that doesn't take much effort to adjust, and has a good layout that makes it easy to tell where any additional sections should go, which is good because no matter what template you start from you'll need to add things.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find my documents tend to change from game to game to accommodate the design focus and the team I'm working with.

 

Like any writer, I start with a creative document (most of the time I use a Microsoft Office Outlining [View>Outline] ) like point form or a story web or even a collage just to get the ideas someplace for me to recall and rework them if need be.

 

Next I move onto my design brief. This is a document that works like the conversation you have with people when they ask you what you're working on. If you start this part as part of a development blog then you can actually answer people with the link to this document. Make sure this document lives up to its description. One paragraph or two and don't worry if people compare your game to other games at this point. (Only worry if they compare it to bad games ;)

 

Last is the main document, start with focusing on parts of the game you can't or won't be building. Its important your team has direction first. Then shift gears and work towards the areas of the game that will be earlier milestones (as you indicated your game would have a focus on how the AI reacts). Next focus on the parts of the game that have any emotional connection with the player and then "finish" the document for the dev team so that when they ask "Can I read the design document?" you won't need to tell them its a work in progress. No design document is ever really finished. Even post launch changes are encouraged. But having a document with a beginning, middle and end for the dev to keep as their bible is important. All members of development should have access to all aspects of this design document because a game is entirely interconnected and having all the teams eyes scouring the design for early bugs is important.

 

Once you are in development, make your document illustrated. Keep it updated by inserting all the concept art, screenshots, videos and fan art, so that the dev team always has a reason to look back at it. This keeps your document the end all be all go to for anyone on the team. Teach you team how to navigate it and tricks to search and narrow down answers to questions they may have along the way. If you've done it right your team will have days where they don't seem like they've gotten anything done and when you ask they'll say, I spent a bunch of time reading through the design document. JLW is right, Chris Taylor's template is where I started as well. Hope this helps.

Edited by Mratthew
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0