Tips To Follow While Writing Your First Game Design

By Rupali Sharma

As a beginner, have you ever wondered how a game managed to become “THE GAME”? Well, that’s an interesting question. If this itches your thoughts then you must read this!!

The very first step of designing a game is to write a GDD (Game Design Document) for it. Why is it needed? Game designers plan what they are going to build before writing a single line of code. 

Moreover, a GDD facilitates all your team members to follow only a single line of thought, else your idea may turn out to be a variation according to every single teammate. 

Table of Contents

GDD in a Nutshell

Game Design Document is a living design software. It can be helpful to explain a game concept in words when designing a video game. To do this, professional studios create a Game Design Document or GDD. This documents the specifications for making a game. Everything the studio team needs to know is in here so they can get started on the project. As well as helping designers think through their concepts and present them to others, such as the publisher.  

Each element of a GDD should be discussed in great detail. A detailed explanation of the story, characters, visuals, and everything else should be included. You should know exactly what you are trying to accomplish when you create a GDD. 

Usage of GDD

Game Design Documents (GDDs) are essential to game development. So before knowing how it is written, we need to understand its usage. Let’s have a look at some of the main points below:

  • Using a GDD is important for documenting your game’s components. It makes it possible for another developer to continue the development of your game. 
  • The GDD facilitates communication within a team by documenting game elements and mechanics.
  • Through GDDs, projects are organized and put in order.

Formats of a Perfect GDD

Honestly, there is no standard format for writing a GDD as there are numerous kinds of formats you can use. However, you can use several things while writing a GDD. Again, we are only going to talk about some tips and examples. Let’s see how it’s done with relevant examples below:

Meet and Collaborate before a Start

You need to become familiarized with the developing team before you begin or show your game design template to others. You will be able to design better games and projects if you meet and collaborate with others. When it comes to all the little details, you will all be on the same page. It is vital that you avoid working with strangers, as this will break down communication and make your game harder to figure out.

The Overview Says it All

This is a short summary of what the game is about, without going into much detail about the mechanics including the name of your game. Having read through the Project Description, it should be easy to determine what your game is all about. Feel free to add more information if it is pertinent to your game. 

For example, look at this image. How they have mentioned the name of the game as well as its overall concept.

Race'n'Chase Game Design document ©1995 DMA Design Ltd

Genre

Game genres classify games according to their core gameplay as opposed to their visual or narrative aspects. The genre of a video game is typically based on gameplay challenges considered independently of setting or content.

Mechanics is the Sole

The game mechanics of video games govern and guide the player’s actions as well as how the game responds to them. They include visuals, sounds, animations, physics, and more. Using the example of Race’n’Chase as an example, consider how the game’s mechanics work. The mechanic would be like a player using different weapons, vehicles, etc. 

This is a pretty general list, but it might be fun to create. You must be extremely specific, as this could cause confusion among individual developers. Provide specific details and prepare your proposal thoroughly.

Storytelling is an Art

To make events more interesting, it is imperative to craft characters that players can empathize with. What will be the plot of your story? Is there going to be more than one character arc? 

Either you can take part in the ‘hero’s journey‘ or you can create something entirely new and refreshing by subverting gaming and story tropes altogether.

Race'n'Chase Game Design document ©1995 DMA Design Ltd

1. Character

It is the character in a game that makes the game what it is. The character determines the whole concept of the game. There are many games in which a character isn’t present. Unlike most racing games, Race’n’Chase does not have characters. Instead, there are car, helicopters, chopper types, etc. 

2. Setting

Here you can imagine a world for yourself. During Race’n’Chase, the world is that of a present-day, more specifically New York, Venice, and Miami. A most likely scenario is for game developers to create an entirely new and unique fantasy world through which their games will take place. That being said, there is nothing wrong with games that are set within established universes. It’s actually quite difficult to do them well since they have to be new and innovative within the context of an established timeline and setting.

3.Target Audience

A game’s target audience consists of the majority of its players’ demographics and interests. In The Race’n’Chase, for example, the game appeals mostly to male teenagers and young adults who enjoy story-driven role-playing games. There is a wider audience for Call of Duty than just those who enjoy high-octane first-person shooters. A better understanding of your audience will help you reduce grey areas and define your project much more clearly.

4. Levels

This can be a real challenge, so you might want to break it down into two parts. First, describe the world in which your game will take place. 

Where does it happen in the real world, such as New York City, or in your own fantasy world? It may take more brainwork to formulate a fantasy or general world, but this gives you the chance to figure out how characters will interact within that world. 

Following the creation of lore, you will need to look at the actual, physical levels. Are they going to take place in dusty, abandoned corridors or in bright, crowded streets? Describe where the action takes place in your story. 

5. User Interface 

Aside from the basics that you have outlined thus far, this one can truly make or break how a game feels. User interfaces (UIs) are parts of programs that facilitate human-computer interactions (HCIs). They include menus, health bars, advice panels, and tutorials, among others. Therefore, it has been shown that easy-to-use user interfaces are highly appreciated by gamers.

6. Technical

This is a list of factors to consider when designing a game, such as what type of game engine to utilize, what type of language to utilize, and more. The coders shine here, whether they’re using JavaScript or C++.

7. Assets

As a matter of fact, these are the assets used in the game. They could, for instance, be objects or items found in the game environment. For instance, down the line, in half-Life 2, game assets would be something like Gordon Freeman’s crowbar, or the gravity gun.

Regular Progress Report

To get a better idea or roadmap of the project, you can even add some milestones for yourself and the team. Think of it as giving daily updates. Milestones could include, for example, completing a dungeon outline or developing a boss character. In particular, the actual launch date and completion of the game are useful milestones!

This is an opportunity for you to receive feedback from your development team. During this time, you should also review all the progress you have already made. Communicate your thoughts about what has been happening to date.

Concerning the GDD

Game Design Documents (GDD) are infamous in the games industry for their bad reputation. Many issues can arise with game design documents, and they can sometimes have parts that are scattered and improperly classified, resulting in problems with the game development process. 

  • One of the most common problems with GDDs is inconsistency, infrequent updates, multiple communication needs, and heterogeneous users.
  • GDDs tend not to be used as frequently as other documents because of their size. GDDs are generally quite large documents.
  • In most game design processes, it would take longer to create the GDD itself than it would to create the whole game. Because of this, some game developers decide not to use this framework and work with a smaller framework or do away with the document entirely.

Words of Wisdom

Hopefully, this blog post cleared the path to create a game design document on your own. Defining certain aspects of your game design document is important. The more specific the design document, the easier it will be for the team to communicate ideas with one another and turn out a product you can be proud of in the end. Till then Gamify Your World!! 

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