The extent of our last Game Design Doc

The extent of our last Game Design Doc

I tend to think that Game Design Docs – in the indie field at least – are going through the same renaissance that it appears business plans are, in some quarters.

Realists understand that the business world moves too quickly to be able to pin down every facet and feature of your planned enterprise in advance. It’s foolish arrogance to think you can anticipate every whim of today’s market so a modern business plan needs to show that you’ve thought things through, have a plan to mitigate the impact of risk, and are yet flexible enough to change tack and strategy when the market or industry pulls a surprise on you or doesn’t quite do what you thought it would. (I’m not saying business planning is a mystical art either; just that it’s an inexact science that precludes our knowing every detail of all the relevant variables.)

In a similar way, a Game Design Document needs to show you have a feeling for your project and a general plan, yet an understanding of the complexities of game design: namely that “fun” is an elusive quantity made up of many variables that ultimately find their best light in one of any uncountable number of possible permutations.

I’d suggest that the ultimate Design Document template is a general list of common sections and requirements with a final version very specific to the particular game in question. The document – if you want it to last beyond the first or second iteration – needs to be flexible enough to develop with the idea. What I’m talking about is, of course, more suited to an Agile approach – I’d be interested to see how many people are using and not using Agile or some variation thereof! Also, what the general feeling is, as far as game design docs – do people prefer more descriptive and detailed docs or open-ended docs that allow the concept to evolve?