What Goes into a Solid Game Design Plan?
Just like any long trip, the process of creating a video game requires an extensive roadmap. A video game roadmap, known as a "game design document", gives a good idea of how the game's production should go. It answers questions like, "Who wants to play this game?" and "How is the main character controlled?". And, since most game design documents are between 50 and several hundred pages, they can also answer questions like, "How will the sound effects be produced?" and "How many eyes do the aliens in Level 6 have?".
If you've ever thought that video games were created on the fly, you would be blown away by a glimpse of a game design document. The following are just a few points that most designers will consider while writing their game design document:
Even the most complex game starts out as a simple concept. A game designer trying to sell his game to a studio has to write up this concept in a simple one- or two-sentence pitch. The pitch should make it clear what sets the game apart from others, what makes it fun, and how it will look.
One of the most fundamental things designers will consider is what the player will see during the course of the game. The content portion of the game design document includes detailed descriptions for every level, character, enemy, power-up and secret in the game. Many times, this section of the document includes concept art to give artists and programmers a good idea of how the game should look.
Games with exciting concepts and unbelievable content fail all the time because their game play stinks. Good designers spend a lot of time working out game play because they know this is the biggest factor that decides how fun a game is to play. While considering game play, designers will decide how characters move on the screen, how the user interacts with his character, and what the on-screen interface looks like. This portion of the game design document looks a lot like the instruction manual that will come with the video game.
If a game studio is thinking about making a game, they want to know if it will be feasible to produce. Game design documents contain technical information about how the graphics will look, how much memory the game will use, and how it will work on multiple platforms. More than anything, the production details in a game design document determine how expensive the game will be to produce.
Like many great road trips, video games usually don't go where they were intended to go. But as long as a game is solidly planned, detours during production won't matter because everyone will have the same vision.
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