THE IMPORTANCE OF GAME DESIGN DOCUMENT
A game design document keeps the team organized!
There are indie game teams out there who think creating a design document would be a waste of their precious and limited time. This idea comes from the assumption that only AAA games being developed by big-budget studios with hundreds of staff need a GDD.
However, we’d like to share with you a few reasons why every team should consider documenting everything in detail. Even if it’s only two people making a simple smartphone game, taking the time to whip up a GDD will not only prove beneficial in the long run, but will also help avoid a few mistakes along the way to launch.
A Game Design Document…
With a GDD you’ll have all of this in a place in which any team member can look at it, revise, and build upon the information without going crazy from confusion. No one will run around asking questions like “What features are still in the game?”, “Which gameplay elements were cut?”, and “What new ideas are being added?”
Avoid this by creating a GDD to serve as the core of your game, and remind everyone of the planned scope of the gameplay and world. Having all this information in one place will also make it easier for various people in the team to offer better ideas, make known when a certain element can be improved or should be removed, and so on.
Having the team’s head wrapped around the GDD will also help smooth out any unexpected bumps in game development. It might be because of how the game is coded, or possibly the decision to change directions was made. Whatever the reason may be, the team has to make some big choices and will have an easier time if everyone is familiar with the current design thanks to a well-written GDD.
This will of course be even handier if you plan to go the crowdsourcing route to fund your game’s development. Having good PR material, an excellent Kickstarter page, and catchy lines that describe your game in a nutshell will be vital for convincing others to provide their cash so you can develop the game.
At the same time, documenting everything with a deadline in mind can also help a team work more efficiently. This may sound annoying to the indie devs who left their studio jobs to avoid that 9-to-5 lifestyle, but not having goals to meet throughout development can cause fatigue, especially if the game will take a long time to make.