Game Design Document (GDD)

*Not Full - Minimal Excerpts Only*


Version 2.3

 Created: 01/06/2014

Last Updated: 06/07/2014

*Information has been redacted from this document which does not represent the final and official game document for this project. The information presented is only to reinforce the general idea of the game for public viewers.*

Table of Contents:

1: Project Overview

1.1        Executive Summary

1.2        High Concept

1.3        Core Gameplay

1.4        Genre

1.5        Target Audience

1.6        Team Members / Jobs / Contact Info

2: Game Overview

2.1        Overview

2.2        Story

2.3        Character

2.4        Environment

2.5        Level Overview(s)

3: Gameplay

3.1        Combat

3.2        Abilities

3.3        Score

3.4        Power-ups

4: Game Layout

5.1        Camera Setup

5.2        Game Controls

5.3        Game Mode(s)

5.4        Player Count

5.5        Hours of Gameplay

1: Project Overview                    

2: Game Overview

2.1        Overview

AvA's purpose is to enhance player and user gameplay experience through both the artistic style and storytelling, further accomplishing an artful and emotional experience that will help to uproot the social stigmas we have attached to both depression and suicide. It seeks to thrive upon the player interaction and connection by appealing to the sense emotionally through artistic direction, musical selections, and storytelling. It will also feature a rarely selected protagonist in games: a very young, female protagonist. She was selected to reinforce the idea that non-sexualized female characters can still result in a successful and fun game experience.

This project is innovative in that visual style and storytelling will be handled uniquely with the intent of lifting the barriers of a long-lasting social taboo. Easy, clean controls and an attractive artistic style will add to the gameplay experience in a way that hasn't been accomplished before through a massive target audience.

2.2        Story

WIP - Story is currently being written and developed.

One year ago, thirteen-year-old Tristan and six-year-old Ava lost their mother in a fatal car accident.  In the past year, Ava has overcome most of her grief over her mother's death, but Tristan does not seem to be recovering.  He is despondent and lacking motivation.  Lately, he has started failing classes. He has days when he cannot bring himself to get out of bed, and has stopped bothering to take care of even his most basic needs.  Ava has reached out to her brother again and again, but it feels like the divide that separates them is only getting deeper.  He will not talk to her or play with her the way he used to.  Ava doesn't know what to do.  Tristan's distance comes to a head on his birthday that year.  On this day, Tristan feels the loss of his mother acutely, but, even more than this, he cannot see a future for himself past this day.  This is a day meant to celebrate how far he has come-how he has grown-and yet, Tristan cannot imagine a world beyond today.  While Ava is at school that day, Tristan attempts to kill himself by cutting his wrists.  He is found by their father, and rushed to the hospital.  Ava is called from school to the hospital to see her brother.  While crying alone in Tristan's hospital room, Ava looks up to find a white deer standing over her.  The deer is Ava's spirit guide.  It offers her a way to help her brother: it can guide Ava into her brother's mindspace.  From here, Ava can help her brother combat the emotions that have been plaguing him, and ultimately offer her brother the tools to overcome his issues on his own.  Upon entering her brother's mindspace, Ava encounters her brother's spirit animal, a dark wolf...

2.3        Characters

Ava – Protagonist: 7 years old and younger sister to Tristan. Ava successfully fought through her stages of grief over the sudden loss of her mother, though not easily. Her sadness is far from over though, especially while seeing her brother continue to struggle so violently from the loss. His self-destructive feelings and behaviors have emboldened her to reach out and drag him from his current state of mind.

Tristan – 14 years old and brother to Ava. After the loss of his mother, Tristan seems to be taking the family loss far worse than that of his younger sister. Before the accident, he was predisposed to depression and now lacks the foundation to come back out of the grief over his loss. After a failed suicide attempt, ineffective therapy sessions, and the refusal of medications, his condition continues to worsen.

2.4      Environment

2.5        Level Overview(s)

The 13 Realms of Feeling














Early Levels: Denial, Distraction, Distrust, Anger/Rage (not in a particular order)

Middle Levels: Heartbreak, Helplessness, Self-Doubt, Loneliness/Abandonment

Top Levels: Guilt, Hopelessness, Anxiety

Final Two: Grief, Depression

All levels will be themed according to their descriptions, and have a total of 3 levels per theme. The early, middle, and top themes will be based off of general emotions and states that spawn from the effects of grief. The final two levels, however, will be boss-type levels. The first stage of the boss fight is to defeat what is known as 'Grief.' Once this is completed, the true underlying problem reveals itself: Depression. At this point, you will be battling against Tristan. Ultimately, it will be up to Tristan to step out of this state of mind and try to start his life again with Ava.

Level Themes

-Grief: Chaotic in feeling. A blistering storm of rain and wind.

-Self-Doubt:Flickering Platforms (0-100% Opacity)

-Anger/Rage: Heated, shaking platforms that steam and burn.

-Denial: Intro level; simple; denying the existence of this new world.

-Distrust: Pitch Black; 'spirits' guide you through platforms.

-Anxiety: Tight and confined platforms with small spaces.


-Helplessness: Rely upon spirits to control Ava indirectly.

-Guilt: High Gravity; jumping is extremely difficult.

-Loneliness/Abandonment: Spirits randomly aid Ava, and then disappear.

-Hopelessness: Reverse control directions; shifting gravity up and down.

-Distraction: Extra platforms floating about; chaos.

-Depression: Sapped of all color and very calm; Despondent in action.

3: Gameplay

3.1        Combat

There will be no direct combat situations. All levels and/or boss fights will be solved via puzzle-solving. However, there will be changing mechanics throughout every level theme:

Each theme will be divided into approximately 3 different levels. The first level will be played with the 'yin' animal, the next will be played with the 'yang' animal, and then the last level for the theme will be played with a balance of the two. This represents Ava's struggle to balance Tristian's emotions.

3.2        Abilities


Ava and Tristan's Spirit Animals

-Deer: Ava's “Guide into Another World;” the ability to overcome her grief.

        -Contributes the ability to Double-Jump.

-Lone Wolf: Tristan's “Loneliness;” Bound by the people he loves and needs, but still separated from them.

        -Contributes the ability to respawn.

Emotional Representations:
-Anger/Rage > Patience                                Baboon > Turtle

-Anxiety > Peacefulness                                Rabbit > Sloth

-Heartbreak > Fulfillment                                Mourning Dove > Lion

-Helplessness > Control                                Buffalo > Raven

-Guilt > Innocence                                        Weasel > Lamb

-Self-Doubt > Confidence                                Gorilla > Peacock

-Distrust > Trust                                        Fox > Snow Leopard

-Loneliness > Companionship                        Badger > Malamute

-Denial > Acceptance                                Hedgehog > Bear

-Hopelessness > Hope                                Rhino > Sparrow

-Distraction > Focus                                Moth > Gecko

Special Animals

-Dragon/Phoenix: Love: Spawns from Ava and Tristian in the final battle of Depression, the Dragon symbolizing the undying love for her brother and the Phoenix symbolizing his rebirth.

Ava will begin the game with both her spirit guide and Tristan's spirit guide, the deer and the wolf, which will stay with her throughout the entire game. The deer and the wolf give Ava both the ability to double jump (deer) and the ability to respawn and foresee (wolf). After the first introduction level section is completed with both the deer and the wolf, she is then introduced to new levels with new themes that represent the struggles and states of Tristan. At the beginning of each level, she finds that each area is in complete turmoil, and is greeted with one of the spirits from the section. The spirit follows Ava throughout the level, and she is able to utilize whatever assigned mechanic there is to the animal. After completing the ‘yin’ level and then the ‘yang’ level, she will play with the balance of both the yin and yang mechanics for the final level in each theme.

- Abilities - *Not all abilities are listed for viewing. This is only a generic list to reinforce the general idea of how mechanics will work in-game.* 

Deer: Leap

Wolf: Forsee/Respawn

Baboon: Hang

Turtle: Slide across surfaces

Rabbit: Hop wildly and without consistency

Sloth: Climb

Mourning Dove: Carry momentarily

Lion: Hang

Buffalo: Switch Gravity

Raven: Give Ava Tools

Lamb: Acts as a spring and landing point

Gorilla: Hang

Peacock: Quickly flash the platforms to appear

Snow Leopard: Glowing to light up the area

3.3        Score

3.4        Power-ups

5: Game Layout

5.1        Camera Setup

5.2        Game Controls

5.3        Game Mode(s)

5.4        Player Count

5.5        Hours of Gameplay