Many developers see the Game design documentation as a nuisance. However, don’t underestimate the power of this documentation, whether you are working on a personal project, internal project, or commission task for a client. The objective of this documentation is to provide a blueprint for the design and development of a game. It is through these steps that you’ll develop a functional game.
What is a game design document? – Game design document is a building foundation for any game developed in an individual or team project. Therefore, GDD can be defined as the blueprint for the design and development of a game. Here is how important a game design document is:
It helps you make concrete ideas
New ideas can strike at the unluckiest place and times. Sometimes, it can get you while traveling on a subway, playing another game, or busy with other tasks.
Wherever you’ll get ideas from, it is good to retain them. This is because our brains are unreliable and tend to forget things a few moments after they happen. Therefore, to retain these ideas, you must put them down. And the great way to retain your ideas is to enter them into your game design document. Now, this will help you retain and make your ideas concrete. When you have no worries about forgetting ideas, you can start thinking deeply about the ideas you’ve written down.
More importantly, it is an opportunity to refer to some features or aspects of your game. While working with a team, a game design document provides all team members with a deep understanding of its overview and how it works. This reduces confusion and helps in communicating between different departments. Also, it is still useful if you are a solo developer as it acts as an excellent reference. As mentioned before, none of us has a memory of 100%, so you are likely to forget some details. However, with GDD, you don’t have to worry about that.
Moreover, it helps you discover how different ideas interplay with each other. You may discover that two ideas, when combined, can provide a quality game experience for the user than if they were to be used differently. You may lose such insights if you choose to retain your ideas in your head.
It keeps you focused.
The developer usually makes two planning mistakes. It’s either they put many features in the game or too little. A game with too many features is somehow overwhelming. Some of these features may have half-backed implementations. Many developers will tell you that the more features, the better the game. So they end up adding new features through the development process.
On the other hand, some developers make mistakes of putting few features in the game. This doesn’t create an entertaining gaming experience for the users.
A GDD can sort both of these problems by tracking all features within the game. This will be evident to you while having too many or few features in your game. It allows you to plan your decision accordingly.
Also, an effective GDD can disclose missing features and functions in the game. Again, it serves as your master checklist. Checking off the different items on the list is can be motivational as it means you are a step closer to finishing your game.
It keeps everything in order.
Game development is often a long journey, particularly if you are a solo developer. It is important to keep everything in order in such circumstances since game development is an area where several disciplines meet. There is design, art, development, testing, sound, and much more. So, to track and implement all these appropriately, it’s good to ensure that everything is organized.
And that’s where a game design document comes in. an effective GDD is a reliable document that you can refer to when you are stuck somewhere. Documenting lets you streamline the whole process into a smoother experience. Of course, not all of us can feel the same experience, but it’s good to give it a try. Carefully observe all the features in your GDD, from art assets to programing, and think of the duration each task would take. This means you need to consider your day job, family, and other items and give yourself more time. If you believe that a task can take one week, give yourself more than a week. Development may take longer than you may think.
It puts everyone on the same page.
Many game development projects involve multiple parties, including developers and stakeholders from various departments. If members are not on the same page, the development process will become chaotic. Different departments within the game development team execute different visions of the game. These visions might be incongruent with each other. In this way, the true vision of the game will be worse.
However, a game design document can help avoid this problem. It specialty outlines the vision of the game. Thus, each department will know what to do without incongruences. Additionally, it will be easy for various stakeholders and project managers to track the whole process. Also, they’ll be able to notice and find solutions when people get out of track.
This step is also important to solo developers. Sometimes while going through your game’s development, you may decide to outsource a specific area within the development to an individual or another team. A ready and comprehensive GDD makes it easy to get them on the same page as you make them understand the vision of your game. And you’ll get the exact thing you wanted from them.
It is a great marketing tool.
A game design document works like a goldmine for marketing if it’s done well. It involves all distinctive features of your game, artwork, general theme, and more. Whoever handles your marketing can gather screenshots, trailers, press releases, and more. And as we know, a perfect GDD has some information on the target audience. You need to know exactly how to create these items to capture their (your audienceaudience) attention.
Some GDDs are comprehensive. They include the target personas of the demographic. With that, the marketing team can make tailored marketing efforts to help you get more users.
The bottom line
Have you ever been a member of any game development group? If yes, you ended up discussing whether you should use a GDD or not. Maybe you both agreed to use such documentation and witnessed how it simplified the game development process. Well, that’s how it works, and that’s how important it is.