9 Types of Game Design Documents: Insights from Alexey Savchenko

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Game design documents (GDDs) are essential tools for game developers. They serve as the blueprint for a game, guiding the development process from concept to release. This article, inspired by Alexey Savchenko’s “Game as a Business. From Dream to Release,” explores the different types of game design documents and their purposes. Understanding these documents is crucial for anyone involved in game development, from indie developers to large studios.

Concept Document

1. Concept Document

The concept document is the initial stage of any game design process. It provides a high-level overview of the game’s vision and core ideas. As Alexey Savchenko notes, “A solid concept document is your first step towards getting everyone on board with your vision.”

Key Components:

  • Game Overview: A brief description of the game, its genre, and target audience.
  • Key Features: Highlighting the unique selling points and innovative aspects of the game.
  • Story and Characters: A summary of the game’s narrative and main characters.
  • Visual Style: Basic ideas about the game’s art direction and visual aesthetics.
  • Market Analysis: An overview of the market potential and competitive analysis.
Game Design Document (GDD)

2. Game Design Document (GDD)

The Game Design Document is a detailed and comprehensive guide to the game’s design. It evolves throughout the development process and is used to communicate the game’s vision to the entire development team. Savchenko emphasizes, “Your GDD is the bible of your game; it should answer every question your team might have.”

Key Components:

  • Gameplay Mechanics: Detailed descriptions of the core gameplay loops and mechanics.
  • Level Design: Information on level layouts, objectives, and progression.
  • Art and Visuals: Detailed art direction, including character designs, environments, and user interfaces.
  • Story and Lore: In-depth narrative details, including story arcs, dialogue, and character backstories.
  • Technical Specifications: Requirements for the game’s engine, platforms, and technical constraints.
  • Sound and Music: Guidelines for the game’s audio design, including music and sound effects.

3. Technical Design Document (TDD)

The Technical Design Document focuses on the technical aspects of the game. It outlines the technology stack, development tools, and software architecture. “Your TDD is the backbone of your development process,” Savchenko states.

Key Components:

  • Software Architecture: The overall structure of the game’s software, including modules and components.
  • Development Tools: Tools and technologies used in the development process.
  • Hardware Requirements: Minimum and recommended hardware specifications.
  • Networking and Multiplayer: Details on network architecture, server requirements, and multiplayer functionality.
  • Performance Optimization: Strategies for optimizing the game’s performance across different platforms.
Art Bible

4. Art Bible

The Art Bible is a visual guide that defines the artistic vision of the game. It ensures consistency across all visual elements and helps the art team stay aligned with the game’s aesthetic goals. Savchenko remarks, “The Art Bible is your visual North Star, guiding every artistic decision.”

Key Components:

  • Art Style: Detailed descriptions of the game’s visual style, including references and mood boards.
  • Character Design: Concepts and detailed designs for all characters.
  • Environment Design: Concepts and detailed designs for game environments.
  • User Interface (UI) Design: Guidelines for the design and layout of the game’s UI elements.
  • Animation: Style and guidelines for character and environmental animations.

5. Story Bible

The Story Bible is a comprehensive guide to the game’s narrative. It includes detailed information about the game’s story, world-building, and character development. “A well-crafted Story Bible keeps your narrative coherent and engaging,” says Savchenko.

Key Components:

  • Plot Summary: An overview of the game’s main storyline.
  • Character Bios: Detailed descriptions of all major and minor characters.
  • World Building: Information about the game’s world, including geography, history, and lore.
  • Dialogue: Scripts and guidelines for character dialogue.
  • Narrative Arcs: Detailed descriptions of the main and side story arcs.
Level Design Document

6. Level Design Document

The Level Design Document provides detailed plans for each level in the game. It includes layout sketches, objectives, and flowcharts. According to Savchenko, “Your levels are where your game truly comes to life; plan them meticulously.”

Key Components:

  • Level Layouts: Maps and diagrams showing the structure of each level.
  • Objectives and Goals: Descriptions of the objectives and goals for each level.
  • Gameplay Flow: Flowcharts showing the progression through each level.
  • Environmental Storytelling: Details on how the environment contributes to the game’s narrative.
  • Challenges and Puzzles: Descriptions of challenges, puzzles, and obstacles players will face.
Sound Design Document

7. Sound Design Document

The Sound Design Document outlines the audio elements of the game, including music, sound effects, and voice acting. Savchenko notes, “Sound is the unseen force that drives immersion; never underestimate its power.”

Key Components:

  • Music: Guidelines for the game’s soundtrack, including themes and motifs.
  • Sound Effects: Descriptions of sound effects for various game elements, such as UI, environment, and character actions.
  • Voice Acting: Scripts and guidelines for voice actors.
  • Audio Integration: Details on how audio will be implemented and triggered in the game.

8. Marketing and Business Plan

The Marketing and Business Plan is essential for the commercial success of the game. It outlines strategies for marketing, distribution, and monetization. “Your game needs a business plan as solid as its design,” advises Savchenko.

Key Components:

  • Market Research: Analysis of the target audience and competitive landscape.
  • Marketing Strategy: Plans for promoting the game through various channels.
  • Distribution Plan: Strategies for distributing the game across different platforms.
  • Monetization Strategy: Plans for generating revenue, including pricing, in-game purchases, and advertising.
  • Budget and Funding: Detailed budget and funding requirements for the game’s development and marketing.
Test Plan

9. Test Plan

The Test Plan is a document that outlines the testing procedures and methodologies to ensure the game is of high quality. “Testing is where you find the gems and weed out the bugs,” Savchenko highlights.

Key Components:

  • Test Objectives: Goals of the testing process.
  • Test Cases: Specific scenarios and conditions to be tested.
  • Testing Tools: Tools and software used for testing.
  • Bug Reporting: Procedures for reporting and tracking bugs.
  • Quality Assurance: Guidelines for ensuring the game meets quality standards.
Game design documents

Conclusion

Game design documents are crucial for the successful development and release of a game. They provide a clear and detailed roadmap for the development team, ensuring that everyone is aligned with the game’s vision and goals. By understanding and effectively utilizing these documents, developers can streamline their workflow, avoid common pitfalls, and ultimately create a game that resonates with players and achieves commercial success.

At KREONIT, we specialize in developing engaging games with stunning graphics, rich lore, and compelling stories. Partnering with us means your intellectual property will become a valuable asset, ensuring your game’s success from dream to release.

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