What Makes a Great Game Design Document? Part 2

In our last blog post, we talked about the definition of a game design document. Now we’re going to dive in and set out some of the most important details.

●     Level Design

Level Progression: Outline level advancement—are levels linear, bifurcated, or interconnected? Must a player complete subsequent levels prior to advancement, or can the player freely explore levels?   

Level Assets: Detail which assets specific levels require. It is important to maintain some amount of variation among assets in level advancement to capture players’ interest.

Level Design: Good level design is vital for player engagement and immersion. Consider what the player sees, hears, and feels. Each level’s design includes details on setting (topography, architecture, weather, time), lighting, sound effects, music, asset introduction, challenges/conflicts, and level goals. When contemplating level design, consider how the level propels game play and improves the user experience.

●     Feature Set: This is a list of roughly 10-15 game features that entice gamers and make the game worth playing. The contents of the list may vary from level of graphics, number of levels, types of assets, the number of players, ability to play online, etc.   

●     Art Description: Art aids in generating a game’s mood, theme, and setting. Develop descriptions for each game element to maintain visual continuity. When outlining artistic features, consider the following:

Dimension: Clarify which elements appear in 2D and 3D. 

User Interface: Describe UI elements (windows, screens, menus, icons, etc.).

Game Elements: Describe characters, AI figures, assets, topography, architecture, scenery, special effects, etc. 

●     Sound: Much like art, music and sound cultivate a desired mood, theme, and setting. 

Sound Effects:List desired sound FX  for game elements. Evaluate what a player hears from the background environment, game action, characters, assets, and user interface tools. 

Music: Great music contributes to player immersion. The mood of music must match that of levels and challenges. It engages players by reinforcing the intended feeling during game play; and, a player who feels emotionally connected to the action is truly engaged. 

●     User Interface (UI):

Game Controls: Detail how the player interacts with the game itself (How does one input commands?). Consider what user controls the game requires. Does a player wield a gamepad, joystick, steering wheel, or gun? Does one enter commands by using a keyboard, clicking a mouse, or tapping on a screen? 

Game Navigation: A great user interface will allow for straightforward and enjoyable usability—ease-of-use and ease-of-learning when manipulating a game’s navigation screens, windows, and  menus. Game navigation must be intuitive and familiar, allowing a player to remain in the immersive experience.