Game Design Document Template
By Amelia Laughlan
What is this?
This document is for recording an idea for a game concept. Writing a game design document (or GDD) is a great way to test the strength of a concept and ensure you’re on the same page as your fellow creatives.
In order to use it, please go to File > Make a Copy and fill in your shiny new copy with the details of your project.
A GDD is only as useful as you make it. It works best when as a living document that is updated throughout the development process to help keep your team of creatives in sync.
Please note that the required sections will vary greatly depending on game genre and some sections will be irrelevant. Game development is messy and I suggest adding and removing relevant sections as suits your project. For example, the entire first half ‘About the Game as a Product’ is only relevant if you want to make a game as a commercial product that you will sell for money. Want to tell capitalism to eff off and make artgames? Great! You can skip this section entirely and go straight to ‘Game Design’.
Best of luck!
Send me an email: email@example.com.
In a few sentences, describe the game.
What are the key features that make this game special? Use a bullet point list.
What sort of game is this? What does the player do in it?
How many people can play the game? If multiplayer, what type?
How many modes are there in the game? Describe in broad strokes what they are. A more detailed breakdown of mechanics can be included later, in the Game Design section.
What platform is this game primarily being developed for?
If you plan to ship the game on other platforms, list them here.
Which regions do you intend to release the game in?
What other media has significantly influenced the creation of this product? Could include other video games, books, movies, television, places, people, or any form of media.
Who are your main market competitors? Which games currently available are similar to your game?
Will this game be integrated into any social platforms such as social media, streaming services or voice chat services? Or will it have in-built social features such as text or voice chat? What are these features and will they require moderation?
Describe any live service features planned for the game. What are these features and at what pace are they planned to be delivered?
A high level breakdown of production, usually presented as a table.
Who will you need to make this game? List roles, not specific individuals.
What does the player do in the game?
How does the player progress in the game?
What does the player control in the game and how do they control it?
What game modes are there and how do they work?
What does the tutorial look like? How does the player learn how to play the game? How is the player taught about new systems and elements they encounter?
What systems are there in the game? How do they work? How do they contribute to the player experience? How critical are they to gameplay?
Anything the player can use or collect, such as health, mana, collectable puzzle pieces, gold.
A list of characters and their relation to the player (ally, enemy). Top level only. The characters can be described in more detail under Narrative > Character Bios.
Elements of the game world or environment that the player interacts with. Can provide a beneficial, neutral or negative effect.
How many levels are in the game? How are they themed? What sort of things does the player do in these levels? How does the player progress through these levels? Are they linear or branching?
Does the game have quests? How many and what type?
What is the story of the game from the player’s perspective? Include an overview using third person point-of-view, present tense and presented in chronological order.
What type of world does the game take place in? Provide a summary (don’t include the entire lore bible of the game, that can be a separate document).
Who inhabits the world?
What does the game look and feel like?
What other media informs the look of this game?
Images or links to videos of references.
What does the game’s animation style look like?
What camera angles and tracking is used?
What does the UI look like?
What will you use to build this game?
What tools can we use to build the game? Will we need to write new ones? What are they and how will they work?
Will the game make use of any third-party plugins?
Where will it be stored? Will cloud integration be required?
Will we need to integrate with game platform or other platform features?
What minimum and ideal specs will the game run to?
What will we do to optimise the game and ensure it runs on all applicable devices
What does the QA pipeline look like? How will bugs be reported, prioritised and addressed?
What is our version control solution? What is the process for submitting new content into the main branch?
What sort of soundtrack will the game need?
What sort of sound effects will the game need?
Does the game have voice over? How many voice actors and approx. word count.
Whose stories are you telling with this game? Are you assuming the voice of a people or culture you are not knowledgeable about? Think carefully about whether you are the one who needs to tell this story. Who will you consult to ensure you are mindful of own voices and representations of diversity?
Take a read through the Game Accessibility Guidelines and assess what accessibility accommodations you’d like to include in developing your game. The key to good accessibility in development is to consider it early on, rather than dismissing it as an afterthought.
What settings are in your game’s menu? What elements of the game can the player adjust to suit their needs?