Designing a complex game requires a planned approach. This is where the Game Design Document or popularly known as GDD comes into picture. A game design document is the complete sketch of the game on paper. The design document should contain each and every aspect of the game and should act as a guide for all team members. GDD is considered a great game design practice in the game industry.
GDD generally doesn’t remain the same from beginning to end of the development process. GDD undergo various changes as and when required.
It can help to reduce the development time significantly, if written in the right way. In this post, we will see how to write a good GDD and what should be the basic content of it.
Contents of GDD
The title page should tell the reader which game’s GDD is this, revision number, author and author contact details so that changes can be suggested by other team members. Major game dev studios include their Company and game Logos on the front page.
Game Overview or Summary
The summary of the game should tell the readers what the game is about and what the game’s intent is towards the player. This will help team members work with the same idea in mind. Summary should contain the following.
- What is this game about?
- Who is it targeted to? Your target audience.
- What platform is it going to be on?
- What art style? Game Art – Key assets, how they are being developed. Intended style.
Game feature list
This contains all the game play features that are planned to be included in the game.
An overall target date and milestones
Targets and milestones are required to progress at a steady pace. It’s not mandatory to include them in the GDD but it definitely helps a lot.
This part explains all your game summary components in detail. The more comprehensive the GDD the better. It will lead to less confusion when making the game.
Things to include in detailed GDD
- Gameplay-Game Progression, Mission, challenges, Fun part and puzzle parts
- Mechanics – Rules to the game.
- Physics/animation – How does the physical universe work or no physics
- Player and character movement
- UI that will interact with game characters
- How the game world will be like. Restricted or free movement.
- Overall scene movement – How the player is going to move from one scene to another.
- Game saving and loading
- Characters, powers and abilities. Opponent and Enemy AI
- List of needed assets.
- How the assets are going to be developed.
- What is going to be outsourced
- Time period for asset development.
- Whether to Use free assets.
- Each level should include a synopsis, the required introductory material (and how it is provided), the objectives, and the details of what happens in the level. Depending on the game, this may include the physical description of the map, the critical path that the player needs to take, and what encounters are important or incidental.
- Training Level.
- Level design tools
UI and effects
- Visual System.
- Control System
- Audio, music, sound effects
- Help System
- Settings for the game.
Sample GDD for free
This sample Game design document belongs to a game called Burn Out Cop. The game was originally designed for Xbox and PlayStation but was never released. GDD is available to download from their website for free.
GDD may not be required if you are a solo developer making a small game. But if you are a team, it’s better to put everything on paper so everybody gets the idea and works as a team. You should also find a way to communicate the design changes to the team. Good communication between the team members can reduce the production time and increase efficiency.