22.10.15 – Game Design and Concept Documents


When creating and developing a game, game design documents are vital, even more so in teams that involve hundreds, if not thousands of people. It must be include a highly descriptive vision of the game as well as specific details of multiple contents in order for members of different teams to know exactly what they need to do. This is ultimately the plan that is required for the game to be implemented in the most efficient way possible.


Working In Teams
Games such as Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed are produced by hundreds and thousands of people, all working together to create one product. Therefore, if the design document is vague and lacks the much needed details that certain team members require in order to do their part, chaos will ensue. By giving detail, you are removing the awkwardness and reducing confusion amongst teams and instead maintaining order and structure which are key when working in such large teams. Meetings should also not be completely avoided as design documents tend to merely express the consensus and the fleshing out of ideas.


Different teams are obviously all working on a certain aspect of the game. You have programmers which create the code for the game making sure all the mechanics are working how they should be working; you have concept artists who draw up various images of what characters and environments would look like; you have other artists who bring those characters and environments to life by using 3D softwares… and so on and so forth.

iStock_000011869612SmallIn order to avoid confusion, the design document must be properly categorized to suit the multiple teams and to clearly lay out what each team has to do. It is also important that all teams contribute in some way or another by adding or changing ideas in the document making sure that the changes they make are marked clearly in order not to lose track of what is being altered.

Features included a GDD
The information required for developing a game that should be included in a GDD are the following:

  • Story and Characters

  • Pacing and Game Flow/ Structure

  • Location(s)

  • Mechanics

  • Items

  • Interface Design

  • Level Design

  • Art Concepts

  • Resource Identification

  • Technical Specifications

  • Development Schedule and Test Plans


A game concept document is less detailed than a game design document. This is usually what a designer would use to pitch his/her idea to a producer in order to get started and hopefully obtaining the budget and team needed in order to produce the game. It is a short document (could be 2 pages or 20 pages) that briefly expresses the core idea of the game.

Features included in a Concept Document

  1. Introduction
    TheBeginningExplain the game in the most exciting way possible and try to sell it to the reader. Include the title and the genre as well as the setting of the game and what platform you are designing for along with any other important information you need to point out. Breaking the introduction into several sentences to clarify what you are trying to convey is acceptable but should lean more towards the short, sweet and direct approach.

  1. Background and Description

    In this section one should expand on the the concept and any other properties mentioned in the introduction. The description of the game must also be laid out to the reader/s, preferably using the second-person perspective (you) in order to grab their attention as you give an exciting narrative rendition of what the player will experience during the game. Be sure to include any key elements of your game describing what the player would see and need to do.

  1. Key Features
    These are what make your game unique and what will set it apart from other games and can usually be seen at the back of the video game cover. In bullet point form, all the key features included in your game should be laid out, clearly providing the goals to which the subsequent documentation and implementation should aspire.

features 3 features 2 features 1

  1. Genre
    Describe the genre in a few words using existing games’ classifications as a guide.


  1. Platform(s)
    Mention the platform that you are targeting and if there are multiple, indicate which is preferred or which one you will initially produce for.


  1. Concept Art
    If you are blessed with the talent of drawing, then you should definitely use that to your advantage to draw up some concept art of characters, environments, level designs, etc. in order to further help convey your vision. If however you have no ability to draw whatsoever, you could grab screenshots from other games and draw up resources from the internet and potentially alter them in Photoshop to make them your own.




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