Game Design Document

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  • Hi

    Anyone here use Game Design Documents?

    Created one once for a mod, helped quite a bit in development process.

  • Not really a GDD, but I document all my ideas and plans. I have files describing how certain things will work and random ideas I have for parts of the game. This is very useful because then I wont forget anything

  • For me it felt good to formalize it with a GDD even going as far as prinitng it out as a physical reminder. I'm planning on doing the same with my C2 game. Curious to see if other devs use GDDs.

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  • I spent a long time planning a game on my free time, polishing the whole concept, storyline, dialogues and events... until that day I actually sat down to start, and realised I would need either 20 years or 20 people to actually achieve it within the scopes I envisioned.

    To me, GDD exist to:

    • keep track of storyline / maps / flowcharts / skill trees and other complicated things in one place, if you really really need them in your game
    • explain your vision to other team members, knowing they won't read it and will prefer to ask you directly when they need something
    • plan changes and do a fast check of their consequences on your previous plans

    So, if you are just learning the tool , forget thee GDD, make a pong.

  • Thanks for the advice Sved. True, translating what's on paper to actual end product can end up being daunting and yes would probably work best in a team. I believe the framework of the GDD is something that can guide; the contents of each section of course can change in terms of scale (individual to team development),

  • Daniel Cook from Lost Garden (working at SpryFox atm) uses Post it note design docs.

    Don't do a massive GDC, but rather have a small idea that fits on a post it note to answer a precise question about your design and whatever should be done/worked on in your game at the time.

  • Kyatric Brilliant link. Required reading.


  • I don't use a large, formal design document, but I do have documents that are used for reference. Like I have a big excel chart that tells me what every coordinate is in my arrays. It also has a list of all quests and which NPCs are involved. I have a flow chart for story progression, too. I draw out some maps, some puzzles, and a few other things. But a ore-planned design document? No.

  • Don't do a design document, better more efficient alternatives to use are workflowy (for everything) and coggle (for brainstorming).

  • I agree with Kyatric

    That's basically what I do, except I write all of mine is gibberish most of the time, for myself to understand, and to quickly write reminders before I lose my train of thought.

    As for conveying ideas to your team members. I have never needed to use a boring black and white document to convey my colorful game idea to my team. To be honest, it's a pretty horrible way to do it. Maybe having the ability to convey ideas through speech is hard for some, but it's really the best way in smaller teams.

    Pitching game ideas? You will never need to present your game design document in a 20 minute pitch. You may need one if you're formally submitting your game to a large publisher. But there are still smaller documents these people would want to see.

    My suggestion - only do it if you're doing it because it helps you in some way. Don't do it as a formality to make your game feel more concrete. In windows desktops, it takes 5 seconds to jot down your ideas on a sticky note, it takes 2-3 minutes to open up Word, find the relevant sections and write down your idea.

  • Thanks for the suggestions.

    Coggle looks neat for brainstorming

    Rory I've taken Kyatric's suggestion of the Post-It, but use Evernote to jot down simple notes on the fly with regards to Idea's, Events, Gameplay etc. works a charm.

  • Personally I believe it depends on the project at hand, a large scale or larger scale project would require such a document and I wouldn't attempt to create a game without some form of plan down first.

    With smaller game projects I use the a 1 to 2 page document to flesh out my idea and if I decide that I like it I further it to a 10 page document and go from there, my larger projects I would definitely create a larger and more traditional GDD.

    Ultimately I would say yes I do, but I know that there are people out there who have made it through development on their own without much documentation at all and it's fine to go that route if you're working on your own but it will GREATLY help you to have a GDD when working with multiple people even if it's just one or two.

    My two cents =]

    Kind Regards


  • For me GDD are good in 2 cases: "big" teams (+3-5 ppl) or big games.

    I'm a game designer myself, and when I was working in a studio we used game design documents to let the rest of the team know how the game work, because we had several developers from different countries, several artists, etc. Also when we made branded games, our clients liked to check the document to feel that we made good work <img src="smileys/smiley36.gif" border="0" align="middle" />

    Now I am full time indie developer and I make little html5 mobile games for game portals, I never write GDD again. But of course it's useful to make little documents to take notes though.

    Also if you plan to make a big game with scenario, huge gameplay mechanics etc, you'll have to write design documents.

  • Thanks for the different perspectives from the hobbyist to indie/studio developers.

  • Perhaps, someone could create a separate plugin for Construct where one could "doodle" out a GDD. Something that lingers in the corner of your screen to keep you on track.

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