I'm sure most design docs is page after page with Redrum
Documents serve a dual purpose. The first is to help everyone remember what decisions have been made and why. The second is to communicate things to the rest of the team.
Concept - 'I have a idea for a game'
Short document that describe the overall idea of the game. No more then two pages.
Pitch - 'Please give us $ so we can make this'
Document used to sell it to people that wish invest in the game. Three to fifteen pages. Pretty with images. Team members can also be seen as investors in a game. The most important pitch a designer need to make is to the team. Check out my exercise to write pitches.
Concept Art - 'Look how cool the game will be when it is done'
Concept art is used to sell the game to investors and to sell the game to the team that will make it.
Art Bible - 'This is the way the game will feel'
Guidelines for artists working on the project to help them create a consistent look and feel for the game.
Game Design Document - 'This is the game we are making and how it works'
A living document that describe how the parts of the game should work. Started in pre-production and then worked on by the designers and other members of the development team.
Technical Design Document - 'Do anyone remember how to add a weapon to a shop inventory?'
Documentation created in the production of the game by the development team. Describe how the technical details of the game work behind the scenes. Reference materials such as . A knowledge base for the team and a way to get new team members up to speed.
- Pipeline: Guides on how to make content for the game. How to setup levels, make spells, weapons and other things depending on the game
- Limitations: Describe technical limits placed on the game content. Such as texture size limits, polygon limits on creatures or max number of enemies in each area.
Story Bible - 'Why are these two characters screaming at each other'
Writers create the dialog and narration of the game and sometimes also the plot and characters. All this is kept in a story bible so it is easy to keep track of. Not uncommon for whole sections of the game to be moved around, skipped or new sections added so the story needs to be ready for change.
Language translation of games are often handled by outside contractors. They need to get the text to be translated in a workable format (often excel) and you need a way to get the text into and out of the game.
Manual - 'So what color is the healing potions in this game'
So you have something to put at that link on your games steam page.
Element Of Documents
Always give each game design a project name as early as possible so it is possible to separate it from other game ideas. Never give it anything directly related to any IP part of the game.
Short written statement that describe the purpose of the game. This will guide the development of the game by providing a sense of what the game will be.
Describe the core elements of the game that should be the focus for the development. It can be gameplay (ex gunplay, climbing), visuals (ex player animation, art style) or any other aspect (ex music, player generated content).
Key Selling Point
The part of the game that make it stand out, what makes it more appreciated then the competition titles. This is the thing that should make a future player pick the game instead of a game from the competition.
List the game genre and flavor (ex post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk).
List the target platforms the game will be released on. Also list optional platforms that the game can released for later. If a piece of hardware is required by the game but not normally associated with a platform is should be listed here.
- 8-gen: XBox One, Playstation 4, WiiU.
- 7-gen: XBox 360, Playstation 3, Wii.
List the main inspiration for the game. It can be in any form. Ex are books, movies, games, paintings or music. It give the reader something to relate to and use as reference material. If you think that you have something totally unique it is far more likely that you need to read more books and play more games.
List the games that your game will compete with. Break them down into key selling points and make sure that your game come out on top in some of the areas.
You need to find out who to sell the game to and how many they are. If there to few of them there is no chance to get the money back for the development. Who they are can be found out by looking at your game and the competition and analyze what type of player buys that kind of game. How many they are can be found out by looking at the sales of your competition.
- Sample outline for a game design - 2013
- From Zero to Pitch: A Walkthrough for Game Designers - 2013
- Design Document: Play With Fire - 2007
- The Anatomy of a Design Document - 1999
- Part 1: Documentation Guidelines for the Game Concept and Proposal
- Part 2: Documentation Guidelines for the Functional and Technical Specifications
- Creating A Great Design Document - 1997
- Chris Taylor design document template
Localizing Papers, Please - 2014