Game Design Document

by mc

Okay, so the first step to really really making a game other than thinking of a cool idea, is making a Game Design Document.  I’ve been really good at skipping this step, but for the sake of my current project (which, like everything in my head, doesn’t have a name yet), I’m going to really research what a game design document is all about and whether there is a good universal one to use or specific ones for particular platforms/genres.

First, off, Gamasutra has a great article about the purpose and structure of a game design doc.  One of the biggest points is about how it is a guide for everyone on the team.  However, I’m doing this project solo for the time being, so the purpose of a game design doc for me is to really plan out what the heck I’m doing in a way that I can present to others.  Right now all my game notes are in fifty different places, half story boarded on paper or on my computer in text and image files, scribbled on my whiteboard or in one of my three notebooks.  I’m all over the place, and a game design document will put the bones in one place so everything else has something to connect back to.  It also makes scheduling/making deadlines easier to manage and see.  On one of my random scraps of papers, I think it’s the back of a receipt, I wrote down:

Storyboard – 1 week
Script – 1 week
Art first draft – a month?
Coding – ???
Script – 1 week

This is terrible and hard to follow and non specific.  I’ve been reading wayyy too much about how to be productive in an attempt to distract myself from working.  One of the things I’ve read over and over again is to split up bigger tasks into smaller ones.  So Storyboard becomes cut down by storyboarding each day in the game or each event.  Script gets broken down by how many scripts I need.  Art I need to look at character design, animations, items, cut scenes, a bazillion other things each unique to the event in game.  Divide and conquer.

However, Gamasutra has another interesting article about how some game design documents suck and who knows what you’re gonna get.  I think it’s good practice to make a thorough document, mainly because that’s the opposite of what I do (I mean, I have all the info in my head, but that isn’t a reliable place to keep things).

I also have a deck of game design cards that I’m going to use to apply to my game design document as I go along.

Okay, enough blogging, I’m going to go flesh out my game design document and post my feelings about it after I’m done.