Game Design Document, or GDD, is one of the basic documents used in communicating the design of a game to the rest of the team. All the major design choices and the reasoning behind them should be in the GDD. We've provided you with a commonly used template, but you can also choose to make your own if you wish.
Every document should be customized for your team and your game. There's no need for a section about your game's story or weapons if your game has none. Search for different GDD templates and examples online and see how they differ from each other. Here are some of the major points you should cover in your GDD.
Overview A brief overview of the game. This can be the elevator pitch for your game. Include the scope and budget of your game here.
Target Audience Who is this game made for? How is the target audience taken into consideration with the design choices?
Monetization How will your game make money? Will it go on Steam or some mobile app store, for example?
Gameplay Explain the core mechanics of your game. How many are there? What do they do? How do they relate to each other?
Game Elements Go into detail about the characters, story, world, quests, objects, and whatever you have in your game.
What kind of user interface will your game have? Will there be an inventory?
Some teams prefer having multiple smaller documents instead of one large one. Asset list and vision document are sometimes a part of the GDD and sometimes not, for example.
Click on the cards to learn some useful terminology.
Now, let’s go over the process of creating a GDD in a bit more detail. You can even write your own document if you wish. We’ve used Google Docs in the example, but you can choose a text editor of your liking.
Step 1: The Game
You can create the GDD for any game idea or design you have in mind. A 2D platformer game is used in this example.
Step 2: Add a Title
Add a title for the document and the name of the game. We'll put "Game Design Document" as the title and the name of the game as the subtitle. As this game has no name yet, so we'll use "2D platformer game" as a placeholder.
Step 3: The Headings
We roughly know the type of our game, so we can add the main headers to the GDD. These can be a bit different depending on the game.
Step 4: The Overview
A description of the game. What does the player do, what does the game look like?
Step 5: Target Audience and Monetization
Next, we'll tell who the game is for and how the game will be distributed or sold. This game is a mobile game for children and sold for a set price. As this game has no in-app purchases, or ads, it's called a "premium game".
Step 6: Core Mechanics
What are the core mechanics of the game? In this game, the core mechanics are the player's movement set, different types of enemies and different levels. If you were to make, say, a first-person shooter game, one of your core mechanics could be customizable weapons.
Step 7: Main Features
What are the main features of the game? These may overlap with your core mechanics, and that’s fine. Think of these as the things that your team has to develop so that the game works as intended.
Step 8: User Interface
Describe the User Interface. This game will have a simple UI that lets the player move between screens in the application (the main menu and the pause menu) and shows the number of coins the player has collected. If your game has intense UI-based resource or inventory management, you should tell about it in detail here.
Step 9: Images
Right now, our document is text-only. It's relatively short for now, but it will grow over time and get heavy to read. Adding pictures and graphs will help you get the point across. You can use other games as an example as well or draw quick mock-ups yourself.
Step 10: Finished Document
Your first GDD is now ready, and you can show it to your team! Remember to involve your team in the document-making process and ask what information they would find helpful. You might also have forgotten to write something down or design it altogether, so your teammates are one of your biggest resource.
There are no concrete rules for the overall style of your GDD. You can make a completely different document, or even a visual one that uses more visual elements instead of text to describe the design of the game. Microsoft Visio is a good tool to use if you wish to try making a GDD like this.
Answer the following questions.
You’ve now covered every chapter of this course, well done! Take a little breather before moving on to the summary.