Game Design Document
(sort of a recap and revision of the original concept paper)
The User Experience
* To what genre does this game belong? (We haven't really defined genres yet in this industry, as they have in Hollywood, so you'll have to be a little more specific. Best to describe similar products.)
* What part(s) of the brain are you attacking? (Reflex response? Imagination? Problem solving? Strategy?)
* What are the most compelling aspects of this game? (Give this section much consideration. It is the core of your “mission statement.”)
* How deep is the product? (Is this a one-shot deal for buyers, or something they can keep getting into for a while?)
* Arcade, home, or school?
* PC, Mac, console, or multiplatform?
* General audience
* Base target audience
* Describe typical users
* Game-play time (This is one of the most crucial, decisive issues in the design of any game. It's impossible to make meaningful design decisions without establishing predicted maximum, minimum, and mean game-play times first.)
* Product life (How many days/months/years do you expect the user to keep coming back to your game? This period is usually based on how long it will take users to figure everything out and master it.)
(This section gives a feel for the game, why things are the way they are, and what the essential, indispensable elements are)
* The background story (if applicable)
* Storyline or object of the game play
* Rules of the game (Justify these rules and explain what you expect to see from them.)
Heroes and Villains
* Include biographical information and descriptions, even if this won't be implemented in the software. This will be of great help to the artists and animators.
Novelties and Compelling Features
* This is your chance to state the things you could not bear to see disappear from this project, and justify your emotional attachment to them.
(An illustration of how parts of the game link to each other. World maps, city maps, city entrances and exits, and other stuff)
Entry and exit Main menu Level movement Access to preferences and credits
(Ensures that your game will have a consistent feel to it, avoids serious run-ins with the programmers.)
* Run through all the standard elements of your project (sprites, buttons, life-bars, input devices, and so on) and describe their behaviors in every circumstance you can imagine. Your programmers will shower you with wreaths for this one. Later, you can go change things on them - as long as the objects remain consistent, and everything is justified.
* Illustrate the motion of each animation, at least in stick form. For 2D scrollers, fighters, and the like, you'll want to describe things cel by cel. With other projects, rough sketches of general movements and their approximate duration in microseconds may be enough.
* If you are relying on a specific input device, justify your button-mapping and button-combination decisions.
Scenes and Action
(In an adventure game, this will take up most of your document and a long time.)
* Include preferences, credits, and main menu.
* In subchapters, lay out consistent behaviors of local elements.
Very often, a storyboard (that is, a series of panels illustrating each scenario) is provided. In many projects, however, this is clumsy and impractical.
Lists of Resources
* You'll have to go over this with a fine-tooth comb to make sure it's thorough. Leaving out even a few items, or failing to describe them clearly, could prove a major source of exasperation later on.
This section comprises detailed lists of animations, sounds, music, narration, sprites, backgrounds - everything that needs to be created besides code.