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What is a Game Design Document and How to Write it?

What is a Game Design Document and How to Write it?

Invogames

Game Development

|

November 8, 2023

|

3 min read

Game Design Document, aka GDD, is the first document when you start a venture to develop games. You might have heard that GDDs are outdated, or who does it anyway? However, documenting a game helps you in achieving the desired results.

 

One thing about game design documents has changed, and it is about their precision. Multi-page, rigid, and lengthy game development documents are no longer the trend. It is about the document being concise, clear, and effective to lay out all the details regarding game development and its structure.

 

What’s more about GDD? Let’s discuss in detail. 

 

What is a Game Design Document?

 

A game design document is a software design document that serves as the blueprint and central reference for the game you plan to develop. Moreover, a GDD explains the scope of the game, gives a direction to the game development team, and highlights the important aspects of the game such as game design, game art, game mechanics, features, etc. 

 

Game Design Document

 

One can share the game design document with the stakeholders, investors, and outsourcing companies to represent the potential collaborations, communicate the game concepts, and show the potential value of the game. 

 

What does GDD include

 

For writing a comprehensive and brief document for game development, it is essential to understand some of the core factors. The following are the core factors for the game design document:

 

GDD include

 

Executive Summary

 

The executive summary of a game design document includes the overall details about the gameplay mechanics, game concept, genre, project scope, target audience, and potential value. 

 

Gameplay and its Mechanics 

 

A document for a game must give a holistic view of the game objective, progressions, game UI, combat systems, physics, worldbuilding, story, characters, locations, level design, and assets to enhance the players' experience. 

 

Game Elements 

 

In this part of the document, details of storyboarding, characters, locations, narrative elements, and game-level designs are given. The level design of the game adds to the player's journey, 2D/3D audio, and VFX, SFX, to provide the audiovisual atmosphere.

 

Technical Requirements 

 

This part of the game design document entails information about the technical specifications and requirements for the game. It includes the details of the platforms for games like mobile, console, PC, etc. Furthermore, it also includes hardware details and requirements, networking features, game frameworks, and game engines

 

User Interface and User Experience 

 

A game's user interface and user experience serve an essential role in user retention and acquisition. In a GDD, this section serves one of the crucial roles from the user's point of view. It includes details for HUD elements, game controls, menu, splash screens, and usability in accordance with user-friendly interface principles. 

 

Important Tips for Writing GDD 

 

As mentioned before, a long GDD is not the most comprehensive approach to writing a document. Therefore, knowing the important details and considerations when writing to produce a holistic and skimmable document is essential. Here are the important tips to consider for writing a game design document:

 

Important Tips for Writing GDD

 

Segment the Information  

 

Whenever you write a document, the first thing is to make the sections for making the information organized. Add a table of contents, make sections, categorize and name them, and maintain the sequence. Doing so would help all the team members to understand and navigate the document seamlessly. 

 

Use Visuals

 

Let's admit that anyone would lose interest while reading a lengthy document without visuals. In the latest versions of GDD, using visuals such as flowchart, diagrams, images, sketches, and diagrams have become an integral part. Therefore, always use visuals in the document so that everyone can understand it thoroughly and work on the game efficiently. 

 

Apply Version Control 

 

When the document writing is in process, there is a hundred percent chance of revisions and iterations. The document will change, emerge, and change depending on the ideas and game modifications. You can apply version controls to keep track of and manage the changes in the document. 

 

Collaborative Writing 

 

For a comprehensive game design document, you must go for collaborative effort from the team. Collaborative writing is beneficial because a document evolves with new ideas instead of leveraging a single person's creativity and ideas. In developing a game, a whole team comprises game artists, designers, animators, and developers. Fostering collaboration for the document will get everyone's input and help develop an evergreen document for your game. 

 

Maintain Readability and Accessibility 

 

When writing documentation, the factors of readability and accessibility are quite significant. These two factors entail consistency while writing the headings, subheadings, sections, and body. Creating a summarized version of the document is also advised in case a GDD gets lengthy. 

 

Incorporate Feedback

 

Once you have completed writing, ensure that you take the feedback from all the members once again. It would prevent mistakes and errors that could have possibly been there. 

 

Game Design Document Template That You Have Been Looking For 

 

You must wonder about the exact 'correct form' of writing a game design document. However, you will only find many types and correct forms of writing a game document, only to be confused. 

 

However, a game design document has some strict parts that must be there to develop your game idea into a reality. Let's take a look at the following information that must be the part of your GDD:

 

  • Genre

  • Setting 

  • Target audience 

  • Unique Selling Points

  • Examples of similar games 

  • Game Platform

  • Game Plot 

  • Game Engine

  • Game Mechanics and Explanation 

  • Graphics and Sound Requirements (VFX and SFX)

  • Game Monetization Model

  • Menu flow chart

  • Stand out features

  • AI behaviors

  • Character story/backgrounds

  • Gun play or Combat design

  • Level design

  • Mission or level objectives

  • Progression system

  • Narrative design

  • Screen effects, graphics and art style suggestions.

 

The points mentioned earlier are the milestones that a document must contain. However, a GDD is not limited to these milestones only and is stretchable to the requirements. 

 

How much does a GDD cost?

 

The cost of writing a game design document depends on various factors such as project complexity, scope of the game project, experience, and expertise of the resources for the work. Other factors that also contribute to the cost of the game design document are hunting information, researching, putting time and effort, iterations, and determining visuals to provide holistic and comprehensive documentation for the game project. Considering all these factors, a game design document costs around $2000 to $7000. 

 

Get a Professional Game Design Document 

 

Are you ideating your game but don’t know where to start?


Bring your game idea to reality with our professional game design document services that outline your game ideas and their overall structure in a document. Contact us today and reach new heights with your game project clarity.

Game Design Document, aka GDD, is the first document when you start a venture to develop games. You might have heard that GDDs are outdated, or who does it anyway? However, documenting a game helps you in achieving the desired results.

 

One thing about game design documents has changed, and it is about their precision. Multi-page, rigid, and lengthy game development documents are no longer the trend. It is about the document being concise, clear, and effective to lay out all the details regarding game development and its structure.

 

What’s more about GDD? Let’s discuss in detail. 

 

What is a Game Design Document?

 

A game design document is a software design document that serves as the blueprint and central reference for the game you plan to develop. Moreover, a GDD explains the scope of the game, gives a direction to the game development team, and highlights the important aspects of the game such as game design, game art, game mechanics, features, etc. 

 

Game Design Document

 

One can share the game design document with the stakeholders, investors, and outsourcing companies to represent the potential collaborations, communicate the game concepts, and show the potential value of the game. 

 

What does GDD include

 

For writing a comprehensive and brief document for game development, it is essential to understand some of the core factors. The following are the core factors for the game design document:

 

GDD include

 

Executive Summary

 

The executive summary of a game design document includes the overall details about the gameplay mechanics, game concept, genre, project scope, target audience, and potential value. 

 

Gameplay and its Mechanics 

 

A document for a game must give a holistic view of the game objective, progressions, game UI, combat systems, physics, worldbuilding, story, characters, locations, level design, and assets to enhance the players' experience. 

 

Game Elements 

 

In this part of the document, details of storyboarding, characters, locations, narrative elements, and game-level designs are given. The level design of the game adds to the player's journey, 2D/3D audio, and VFX, SFX, to provide the audiovisual atmosphere.

 

Technical Requirements 

 

This part of the game design document entails information about the technical specifications and requirements for the game. It includes the details of the platforms for games like mobile, console, PC, etc. Furthermore, it also includes hardware details and requirements, networking features, game frameworks, and game engines

 

User Interface and User Experience 

 

A game's user interface and user experience serve an essential role in user retention and acquisition. In a GDD, this section serves one of the crucial roles from the user's point of view. It includes details for HUD elements, game controls, menu, splash screens, and usability in accordance with user-friendly interface principles. 

 

Important Tips for Writing GDD 

 

As mentioned before, a long GDD is not the most comprehensive approach to writing a document. Therefore, knowing the important details and considerations when writing to produce a holistic and skimmable document is essential. Here are the important tips to consider for writing a game design document:

 

Important Tips for Writing GDD

 

Segment the Information  

 

Whenever you write a document, the first thing is to make the sections for making the information organized. Add a table of contents, make sections, categorize and name them, and maintain the sequence. Doing so would help all the team members to understand and navigate the document seamlessly. 

 

Use Visuals

 

Let's admit that anyone would lose interest while reading a lengthy document without visuals. In the latest versions of GDD, using visuals such as flowchart, diagrams, images, sketches, and diagrams have become an integral part. Therefore, always use visuals in the document so that everyone can understand it thoroughly and work on the game efficiently. 

 

Apply Version Control 

 

When the document writing is in process, there is a hundred percent chance of revisions and iterations. The document will change, emerge, and change depending on the ideas and game modifications. You can apply version controls to keep track of and manage the changes in the document. 

 

Collaborative Writing 

 

For a comprehensive game design document, you must go for collaborative effort from the team. Collaborative writing is beneficial because a document evolves with new ideas instead of leveraging a single person's creativity and ideas. In developing a game, a whole team comprises game artists, designers, animators, and developers. Fostering collaboration for the document will get everyone's input and help develop an evergreen document for your game. 

 

Maintain Readability and Accessibility 

 

When writing documentation, the factors of readability and accessibility are quite significant. These two factors entail consistency while writing the headings, subheadings, sections, and body. Creating a summarized version of the document is also advised in case a GDD gets lengthy. 

 

Incorporate Feedback

 

Once you have completed writing, ensure that you take the feedback from all the members once again. It would prevent mistakes and errors that could have possibly been there. 

 

Game Design Document Template That You Have Been Looking For 

 

You must wonder about the exact 'correct form' of writing a game design document. However, you will only find many types and correct forms of writing a game document, only to be confused. 

 

However, a game design document has some strict parts that must be there to develop your game idea into a reality. Let's take a look at the following information that must be the part of your GDD:

 

  • Genre

  • Setting 

  • Target audience 

  • Unique Selling Points

  • Examples of similar games 

  • Game Platform

  • Game Plot 

  • Game Engine

  • Game Mechanics and Explanation 

  • Graphics and Sound Requirements (VFX and SFX)

  • Game Monetization Model

  • Menu flow chart

  • Stand out features

  • AI behaviors

  • Character story/backgrounds

  • Gun play or Combat design

  • Level design

  • Mission or level objectives

  • Progression system

  • Narrative design

  • Screen effects, graphics and art style suggestions.

 

The points mentioned earlier are the milestones that a document must contain. However, a GDD is not limited to these milestones only and is stretchable to the requirements. 

 

How much does a GDD cost?

 

The cost of writing a game design document depends on various factors such as project complexity, scope of the game project, experience, and expertise of the resources for the work. Other factors that also contribute to the cost of the game design document are hunting information, researching, putting time and effort, iterations, and determining visuals to provide holistic and comprehensive documentation for the game project. Considering all these factors, a game design document costs around $2000 to $7000. 

 

Get a Professional Game Design Document 

 

Are you ideating your game but don’t know where to start?


Bring your game idea to reality with our professional game design document services that outline your game ideas and their overall structure in a document. Contact us today and reach new heights with your game project clarity.

frequently asked questions

GDD is a blueprint for game development that provides clarity, consistency, and vision. It guides the development team, outlining the gameplay mechanics, story, objectives, and technical specifications. Writing a game design document for your game project enables team work and vision for achieving the results. 

There is no determined number of pages for writing a game design document. However, recently, it has been advised to use bullets and visuals and keep it 10-20 pages long.

Writer InvoGames

Written By:

Schouzib I.
Content Lead

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