Creating a game design document

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The vision of the project, known as game design document, contains a detailed notion of basic aspects that are necessary for the development of the game.

Creating a game design document

Project documentation and concept art of the game is created at the pre-production stage. Then this document becomes the foundation for the entire team.The document is supplementing and editing as necessary at the stage of production.

The content of the games design document may modify with the genre, but most projects have several main points.

A game design document contains:

  1. Platforms: PCs, consoles, or mobile devices.
  2. Technologies: the creator could use a ready-made engine or write a new one.
  3. Languages: English, Russian
  4. Audience: A brief description of the players for whom the game is being made. The full description can be placed in a special section.
  5. Genre: for example, non-linear 3D RPG with an open world.
  6. Mood: gloomy, bright.
  7. Emotions: what feelings the game should evoke. In this case, you can try to cheer up players in a gloomy game or make them feel doomed in light.
  8. Age restriction: in the game battle with 18+ rating (or A in the ESRB system) should be blood, not a rainbow. You should point out that and special effects designers do their part.
  9. The number of users, mode: whether the player will be alone or in a team with other players. Is an internet connection necessary?
  10. Time, place, and duration for the game: where and for how long a person should play the game to get the emotions that you want to convey. For example, some games are made for playing in the subway or waiting in line, then others take several hours in the evening at home.
  11. Main game mechanics: a brief but capacious description of player actions. For example, in the game Mirror’s Edge, the main mechanics are in running and overcoming obstacles, and in the game Papers, Please player should comply the fate.

You can add other points, the details will not be superfluous.

How to write a game design document

KREONIT studio has prepared a list of things that a game design document must contain.

The game mechanics and control: work with the game design document

It is important to describe all game mechanics very accurately. For example, you can indicate that a player will fight enemies, kill monsters, and capture castles. Both Heroes of Might and Magic and World of Warcraft are suitable for this description but they are quite different.

How the castle will be captured, why the player will do such things, how he will control the game in the process — all this needs to be described in detail.

It is not enough to indicate that Button E is interaction with an object or character. It must be specified that Button E is interaction with an object or character: the player moves the cursor over the object and presses the Button E. The type of interaction depends on the type of object:

  • character — a conversation (see the Dialogs section);
  • merchant character — opening a trade window (see the Trade section);
  • an item without the owner — pick up the item into the inventory;
  • an item with the owner — steal (see Theft section);
  • interactive objects — triggering an event (see the Events section).

You should attach links to sections so that team members can easily navigate in the game design document.

Interactions themselves can be made out in the form of a pivot table.

The map of the game process in the game design document

The map contains the actions that the player performs when the game starts. Here is a great place for charts. You should mark on this map places for gathering statistics, loading additional data from the Internet, displaying warnings, etc. You can even create a separate diagram for each stage of the game.

The map of the game process in the game design document

The visual section in the game design document

In the section for the visual part, you can describe your vision of the game: the style of objects and textures, fonts, effects, and so on. Here you can add what you want to achieve. Consider the user interface as an example.

The visual part should create the feeling of a fairy tale so that everything contributes to immersion in the fantasy world of the game. Interfaces should be immersive (for example, when opening the inventory, the character takes off the backpack from his shoulders, unfastens it, and the player sees its contents). Graphics can be a little cartoony, but realistic.

The following elements need to be worked out:

  • health indicator;
  • energy indicator;
  • congestion indicator.

The visual section in the game design document

In the design document game, you should tell the specialists what you want to achieve (complete immersion), and give some examples (inventory). Then designers can do whatever they need to fit. They could abandon the interfaces completely and replace the indicators with the character’s animation: if he is wounded, he begins to limp, if he is overloaded, he slouches.

You should put maximum details in the game design document describing your idea by adding some references, but trust the designers: they usually have a better sense of style.

Levels setting in the game design document

How should the levels in your game look like? What about player action? Should he explore the world or try to find the right door? Do some research, see other games, look at levels architecture, and analyze what experience you get when you play the game.

For example, in a Hitman, there is always more than one exit from any part of the location. This allows the player to decide independently where to go and how to achieve his goals.

Levels setting in the game design document

Balance in game — what needs to be considered in the design document?

This is the hardest part because a game designer should have a good knowledge of mathematics. Balance is required. Otherwise, if the player found too strong weapon the game process became too simple. Or the game could be too hard if the player spent time pumping non-combat skills.

During development you could have to redo the balance because tests have shown that it does not work as you expected, so be prepared.

You can order the creation of a design document for the game in the KREONIT studio.

Artificial intelligence in the game’s game design

In this section, you need to work out the game AI: how it should behave, what it should be able to do. AI behavior should be understandable and predictable. Even if you plan to add characters that can go berserk, the player should be able to understand why this happens.

If you are planning an AI that will respond to other gaming systems, you can create a summary table.

History — work with the past of the world in a game design document.

As mentioned before, a design document is not the same thing as a game scenario. In the section about the plot, you do not need to write down the history of the game world. It is enough to describe the setting and important features or moments around which game events will revolve.

Also in this section, you can describe the main characters and the path that they will go through — something like a synopsis to the film.

Of course, everything is unique here: the plot of the game Pacman can also be written to the design document, but if you work for David Cage, then I wish you to be patient and buy a few terabytes on Google Drive.

Where to order a game design document?

You can order the production of a game design document in the KREONIT studio. What do we offer? 

  1. Expertise. We are well versed in genres and techniques. We follow the latest trends in game design on the market.
  2. Screenwriting. We have the experience of creating commercials and advertising companies and it taught us to tell stories on a new level.
  3. Maintenance. We fulfill the entire cycle of work at the stage of preproduction. Further support upon request 
  4. HUD. We develop the game interface along with game design.
  5. Markup. The text is equipped with markers for the programmer and sound designer. All replicas are numbered for scoring.
  6. Specifications included. Separate documents with specifications for a concept artist and composer.
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