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Stellar advice. Thanks for putting this so coherently. One of the main reasons that it's vital to become more dynamic - decisions - and less static - paper - in the approach to game creation is the sheer cost. In a world where there is less money we must become more creative and therefore make more decisions. We also need to have faith in our team.


You write great articles here. A few months ago I was telling someone that nobody out in the 'verse is saying what needs to be said for game design, but it seems I didn't look hard enough.

Though I totally agree with you (http://www.flarkminator.com/?p=303) that people shouldn't be maintaining long documents, I feel they have a purpose. I find that attempting to write down an exhaustive pass on the game is beneficial in helping me spot, analyze, and plug holes in my design (oh right, monsters need to give experience).

This only works if it is FOR ME. If it is, as you say, a monolithic beast constructed on the whims of others, then it just soaks up my time and effort. I've definitely been there.

Thanks again for blogging. I have been back-reading slowly but surely =)

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Game design is like writing spaghetti code and hoping to find that bug that's a feature.

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Excellent post, thank you for sharing this great content.


You're completely right in the 4 points but I would add an scope here:

i) An experienced GD has to be able to put these 4 points clear and in context up to his/her responsibilities (so with partners, managers, stock holders, etc.) and also down/parallel with (consultants, team, testers, etc.) before/parallel joining the game project.

ii) An experienced GD will be able to demonstrate that a good conceptual writing will follow a better full development and appropriate documentation.

iii) An experienced GD will know that always will exists some situations that before/after/side to, some kind of full GDD will be necessary and desirable (looking for credit, stock holders, recruiting staff). But also will be capable to write, probe and show that some features are pure conceptual writing and will be properly defined in development.

iv) An experienced GD will be capable to define short-term, mid-therm and long-term features in GDD.

I'm writing here because I'm experiencing something like this now ? ;-)

PD. I'm waiting the Blue Oceanomics of SG.


So are they. I hope to be able to get to it next week. I've been so busy and a bit run down in the last two weeks, but I think I'll be in a better space soon.

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I think there's a lot to be said for a good design doc. You're throwing the baby out with the bathwater to abandon them, for as many things as you list going wrong with a GDD, there's another set of problems that rise up.

Your central tenet, leadership, is correct. GDD or not, if a design is being written for everyone but the designer then there is a problem. Already that leadership is being undermined.

A good GDD can be used to reinforce leadership, and achieve the goals you mention.

A lot of smaller games are seeing incredibly short development cycles at pro shops - hitting the ground running with a clear, exact and concise GDD is a huge gain. Scope management is probably the single most essential problem in development, and a clear gdd can really help.

(All you need is an uber-talented designer to write a perfect one, right?)

Simon Strange

This is not new - it's something many people have understood for a long time. But this is, by far, the clearest statement of what so many of us have had to learn the hard way.

Great work.


Lostgarden.com has a post up about an alternative method for making sure that everyone is making the same game.

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