A game designer is a person behind every game. He creates the concept and rules of the game, communicates his task to each member of the team. And the main tool in the hands of this specialist is a game design document.
A game design document, design doc or simply GDD is full-fledged technical documentation of a game, a “bible” of a project, an auxiliary tool with the basics that will guide a team’s actions, even if a game designer “falls out” of communication at the most inopportune moment.
GDD is created by a game designer in collaboration with divisional leads. It is necessary that any team member (programmer, artist, tester, project manager, technical support specialist and others) can open the GDD, quickly navigate in it and get a clear guide to action.
Today we will tell you about the best, in our opinion, tips that you should follow when creating a game design document. If you are more interested in the process of creating a game design document, then you can also find out how to make a game design document by clicking on the link.
Show, do not write
Trying to explain something to someone is hard. But it is even more difficult if you are trying to do it in writing. Even your scrupulously compiled notes, with a detailed description of every detail, when read by another person, will be distorted, so it is simply impossible to share your vision.
This will not only speed up the process of writing the design doc, but it will also deprive the reader of much room for interpretation, make the design doc clearer, shorter to read, and ensure that everyone understands what you mean.
Briefly and clearly
Short sentences, a couple of words and a lot of dots:
- Remove “and”, “or” and “therefore”;
- You don’t need synonyms;
- If you want to write “this weapon is cool and looks aggressive”, write more specifically (looks aggressive).
Use appropriate terms and abbreviations:
For example: let’s talk about the checkpoint system in Hollow Knight’s (benches):
- Instead of writing “the checkpoint object allows the player to change enchantments, replenish health and stay at this point”, you can write “Bench”;
- Be sure to explain what “bench” means in the previous paragraph or in the related document.
Think about the target audience of your document:
- If you’re writing for a publisher, you’ll want to explain what words like “agency” or specific phrases like “player freedom” mean.
- If you are writing for other game designers, it is assumed that they already know what “agency” is. Don’t waste a precious word by explaining this once again.
Nobody will ever read your design doc 100%
This rule encourages you to think about how to minimize the amount of information in which the reader gets lost or finds the details unimportant. This rule summarizes that your goal as a documentation writer is to make sure the most important thing in your document reaches the intended reader. All the previous rules have this goal, but they are not enough. Also, you cannot do without such concepts: presentation (or the “right way” of writing a design doc) and timing (or “right time” for writing a design doc).
The right way
Remember previous tips: in short, “your document should look nice.” Avoiding walls of text and adding images will make your document look nicer, but you should also pay attention to:
- Formatting the document to create hierarchy and visually separate content;
- Avoid spreading topics over multiple pages whenever possible;
- Format text differently, shorten sentences, reduce the size of pictures, and the like;
- Never break a sentence between pages.
This introduction has given you a general idea of our train of thought. I hope you now share our view of documentation and how to write it, but it would be even better if you didn’t completely share it: use this way of thinking to create your own, breaking some of the principles, creating more and adjusting everything to your work. , the workflow and the work of your team. Have you always wondered how much it costs to develop a game and what factors does it depend on? You can find it out, just click on the link: https://whimsygames.co/blog/game-development-cost/.