A version of this article first appeared in the December 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine.
It’s always astonishing to see the vast disparity in standards in game design documentation. Every team and company seems to have their own ideas of how to present their ideas. I’ve also seen hundreds of sample design documents from dozens of would-be designers when they submit them as work samples along with their resumes.
All these documents seem to have at least one thing in common, though. Most game design documents I’ve seen really stink.
The lack of standards in writing good game design documentation has resulted in most designers and design teams shooting from the hip, throwing everything but the kitchen sink into a game design document, and then being flabbergasted when programmers choose not to read them.
Here’s a hint: if programmers are asking you to rewrite your 10 page design document into a half-page of bullet points – and you can – your design document presentation probably has room for improvement. So what makes a good game design document? Here’s a hint: what did your programmer just ask you to do? Continue reading