Game Design Doc (GDD)

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What is a Game Design Doc (GDD)?

A GDD is a document where you elaborate all the details about a Game Production. It serves as a general document to share your idea with your partners and also to keep track of everything, kind of like a Log Book. It is also used to follow the proper flow of the Game & Cinematic Pipeline, IF Cinematic are used in the game.

What is a Pipeline?

A pipeline is simple a Series of Steps to take in order to get Professional results with the least complications as possible especially when using different software to do the task. However, it is also used when only using 1 or 2 software such as Blender and GIMPs. Pipelines are usually divined into 3 Main Categories; Pre Production, Production and Post Production

What is a Pre Production?

Pre Production is the First Category in the Pipeline Process. It is aimed at designing and Planning your actual game idea for Production.

It usually consists of starting your GDD and elaborate your Idea through a series of steps:

  • Brainstorming
  • Story Writing
  • Scenario Writing (If there is some cinematic in your game)
  • Characters, Environments, Vehicles, Props, Monsters other Descriptions (Elaborated details about all the elements of the Game & Cinematic)
  • Reference Gathering (Good reference is Key to a good concept)
  • Conceptual Drawings (Coming up with the style, visual references for your actual models, story & cinematic if there is)
  • Color Schematics (Certain Concept Painted on top to find the overall color moods for the game & cinematic if there is)
  • Storyboards (If cinematic are going to be in the game, its a good idea to have a storyboard to plan the Cinematic properly)
  • Leika Real or Animatronics (Animated Storyboard with Timing of Scenes and Sounds to make sure it is good and what you want for your cinematic)
  • 3D Blocking of Game & Cinematic (Very quick rough modelings of your game and Cinematic scenes to give you a Kinetic sense of things)
  • Production Planning (Planning all that will be needed in the actual Production)

What is a Production

A Production is the part where you build all the elements needed for the Game & Cinematic. While making all of those, the GDD is often updated with what is done, what is not, what will be changed, what is problematic and what not.

It usually consists of continuing your GDD and document your Production:

  • Coding Template (All the elements are going to be brought in there to form the game)
  • Modeling (Characters, Environments, Props, Vegetation, Vehicles, Monsters, etc...)
  • UV (2D coordinate for the 3D surface to apply textures)
  • Textures (Color, Ambient, Bump, Normal, Displacement, Specular, etc...)
  • Shaders (Where all the textures nodes connect, I.E Multi Texture, GLSL, etc...)
  • Rigging (Characters Armature or even World elements such as Trees, Plants, etc...)
  • Animation (All the elements that have a Rig that needs to be animated)
  • Lighting (Real Time Lighting and Cinematic Lighting, really different from one another)
  • Special FX (Real time and Cinematic, really different from one another)
  • Rendering (For the Cinematic Scenes only)
  • Beta Release of the Game (To test the Coding and the game elements before we go any further)
  • Post Production Planning (Planning the Post Production Process for the Final Steps of the Pipeline)

What is Post Production?

Post Production is where you put your Cinematic together if you have, its also where you will polish everything and add final elements like sound FX, music, voices, etc... While making all of those, the GDD is often updated with what is done, what is not, what is problematic and what not.

It usually consists of continuing your GDD and document your Post Production:

  • Beta Testing the Game (Having peoples play the game and find bugs and things to be fixed)
  • Cinematic Composition (Bringing all the Renders together and divide them into Scenes)
  • Cinematic Video Editing (Bringing all the Scenes together to make the full Cinematic)
  • Cinematic Sound FX, Music & Voices Creation (Make all the audio needed for the Cinematic)
  • Game Polishing (Putting together all the final and fixed pieces together including the Cinematic)
  • Game Publishing (Making the Installer and Executable for the game distribution)
  • Marketing and Publicity (Making the Publicity to sell your game and Marketing Strategy for the Revenues and Investments needed to Sell the game)

Why is the Pipeline process Important?

When you first get your idea, it is best to start following the steps simply because if you do not start immediately, your original idea will change and change until not recognizable anymore and you may get discouraged in making your game. Also, it helps knowing and planning what is needed in advance, which saves time and money.

A Simple GDD Template for your General Needs:

Simply copy and Past this section in your own Document either Microsoft or Open Office :)

Title Page:

(Name of the Game)

Name of the Creator


In Document Order:


Where you elaborate all your ideas in form of bullet points, example:

  • Adventure Game
  • Cartoon Style
  • Single Player
  • 2 or 3 Monsters
  • Player plays a Dwarf
  • etc...

1. Concept of the Game:

1.1 Basic Concept of the Game?:

1.2 High Concept of the Game?:

2. Design:

2.1 Basic Interactive Design?:

2.2 Planned Interface (UI and Controls)?:

2.3 Planned Perspective (1st Person vs. 3rd person)?:

2.4 Interactive Structure (Chapters, Great Middle Sections, Levels)?:

2.5 Heart of the Game Play?:

2.6 Single Player vs. Multi Player?:

2.7 How difficult is the Game?:

2.8 How long will it take the average player to complete?:

3. Story & Scenario:

3.1 Synopsis (Overall Story):

3.2 Story:

3.3 Scenario (if the game has cinematic):

3.4 What is the Game Genre (FPS, Adventure, RPG, etc...)?:

3.5 What is the Tone of the game?:

3.6 What is the basic Narrative of the story?:

3.7 What is the Heart of the Story?:

3.8 Is it a linear story of even based?:

3.9 What is the Players Goal and why would they want to accomplish it?:

3.10 Who does the Player play? (Single/Multi player):

3.11 Are there any other Key Characters?:

4 Game Play:

4.1 Description of the Game Play:

4.2 Describe a typical playing sessions (What does the player do, what happens, player response, etc... To give a Kinetic sense of the Game Play):

4.3 Describe each Missions or each Level or Missions of the Game (as applicable):

4.4 Preliminary Maps of each Levels or Missions of the Game (as applicable):

4.5 Describe all the Characters, Secondary Characters and Monsters of the Game:

4.6 Detailed Written Walk-Through of the Game:

4.7 Art Section (Post artworks in this section of the GDD):

4.8 Detailed Description of Sound Designs (Music, Voices & Sound FX):

5 Marketing:

5.1 Who is the Target audience and what are their expectations?:

5.2 Is this a Game for hard core gamers or more “Mass-Market”?:

5.3 Does this Game Target one core audience or Multiple audiences?:

5.4 How does this Game compare to its competition?:

5.5 What is the Key Competition for this Game?:

5.6 What does this Game offer that others don't?:

5.7 What do the Competition offer that this Game don't?:

Once you have establish all those points you are almost done with Pre Production except for like Conceptual work, Storyboards, etc...

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