It is common both in the entertainment industry as well as in software’s projects that have documents that facilitate the organization during the days, months and/or years of production. And as the game is exactly in the middle of these two, there are documents that are used during the production of a title too. Among these are the “Game Design Document” (GDD), the “Technical Design Document” (TDD) and “Art Style Guide” (ASG). The last two are less common, but still used.

While TDD gathers information specific to the programming team and ASG shows the style of art that your game will follow, they are attached to the GDD, which will contain all the information from your game, including cut ideas and other material that can be used in a sequence or expansions/post-launch content and any important detail to guide developers.

In this Give Me Lessons, let’s show those interested in the area of design the important issues of a GDD. Click below to check it out!

What is a GDD? It is necessary?

A GDD is, as the name says, a design document for your game. When working on a project for a long period of time, it can really wear on you and your team. When this happens, it’s uncommon to have a clear mind, and you will most likely lose your  train of thought. You can potentially forget things that you once had planned. So although a GDD is not necessary, it is recommended for this purpose. It will also help keep everyone on the same page.

There is a perfect model/template of a GDD? Is it the Give Me Five’s one?

There is no such thing as a “perfect” model/template, because it is subjective. The one we use is perfect for us, but it might not be for you. The best you can use is the one that is more clear to you and your team. It would best convey the ideas and organizes everything in a way that, when needed, will be easy to find. Still, you can find many books or websites and rely on them, or even use them in an unchanged way. In the future, take the time to improve what did not work.

I want to make my GDD now! What do I need to include?

Honestly? Every important detail. But since you’re reading this far (thanks for that!), We can suggest a few things. The first is to put a section called “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP). This is a term originated in the area of advertising, where several points that differentiate your product from any other on the market. What makes your game unique? What makes you believe that is creative and can work? Highlight these things, and explain why.

You can also put a section with whatever name that feels nice, but it has a kind of synopsis of the game. Imagine yourself in a situation where you’re in an elevator that goes up in 30 seconds and you will present your project to investors. During this exact time, you should be able to describe the title in a honest and creative way, while covering the points in order to capture attention. Describe it in a excited manner, also because your team members will read it and they also need to believe it will work.

If you want to submit this document to people outside of the project, a glossary can also be important. After all, not everyone knows the terms we use in the gaming industry. To maintain control, it is important to also include detail of any changes made in your GDD over time as to what was added, removed, moved or corrected.

Having a GDD means that I need to follow it without changes?

Yes and no. As I said, it is a way to organize and guide the team. Naturally, what is detailed there needs to be followed, but it is rare for a game to end the same way it was originally designed. Changes must and will occur during the middle of the project. Ideas can be cut or added to, but with the reminder that they should not harm the project’s progress. There will come a time where they can only be kept or cut.

For the same reason, it is interesting to have a schedule, whether inside or outside the GDD. Do not think you can simply add features and then find a way to fit them. Time will be tight. Besides, remember the USP? Anyone can release a game with those exact features that were once what made your project unique.

Use the GDD in your favor and not as a limitation. It is a document that can and will help you!