No Show 2012 - Tim Crosby - Can You Write That Down

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Six flavor of quarks, six colors of M&Ms, and six varieties of game design documents: coincidence? Almost certainly. But can you really take that chance?

Whether you’re trying to record design decisions, refine project scope, or get investors on board, a good game design document can be critical factor in success. Get vital tips on choosing the right format and crafting the perfect document to lead to a more perfect game design. We’ll discuss document structure, defining goals, best tools for the job, place in a game’s lifecycle, pitfalls to avoid, and examples of both good and bad design documents. Whether you’re a fledgling developer or long established and looking to improve your process, you’ll walk away with a clearer understanding of how to make the best design documents possible. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn to love great documentation as much as I do.

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  • Also in heirarchy: future features, earnings projects and estimates, possible rough project plan
  • No Show 2012 - Tim Crosby - Can You Write That Down

    1. 1. Can You Write That Down?The Six Types of Game Design Documents and Finding the Right One(s) for You No Show Conf 2012 Tim Crosby
    2. 2. Outline1) Orientation2) Lifecycle of document3) The six types of documents4) Examples5) Best Practices6) Questions
    3. 3. OrientationWhy do you care?Better design docs make for better(faster, stronger): - Ideas- Processes- Games Documents are not: - Unchangeable - Solitary - Universally useful
    4. 4. Development Timeline This isn’t accurate … little betterConcept Design Production QA When design documents are writtenTwo Pager Brainstormer Bible Review Copy Prototype Documentation
    5. 5. Development TimelineConcept Design Production QA When design documents are useful Two Pager Brainstormer Bible Review Copy Prototype Documentation
    6. 6. What’s the Design Document Purpose? Same as the purpose of a game designer Communication
    7. 7. The Six Types of Game Design Documents
    8. 8. Talking to the World Two PagerTruly necessaryA component of most other documents• Elevator pitch• Vision• Keywords• What game is like• What makes it different• Maybe one picture• Sentences ≈ Paragraphs
    9. 9. Talking to the World Two PagerTechnology:• MSWord / OpenOffice• Webpage• Whatever works for you
    10. 10. Talking to the Game Designers BrainstormerEarly stage, collaborative, blue-skyNeeds a designer to drive it• Document all ideas• Can organize / sort ideas later• Can be in sessions or over time
    11. 11. Talking to the Game Designers BrainstormerTechnology:• Wiki• Evernote• Google Docs• Dry erase board with notes and dissemination
    12. 12. Talking to the Team BibleCommunicate design ideas to the entire teamBring new team members up to speed• Include many many flowcharts• Not one thing – really a set of documents – Documents – Sample Text – Illustrations / Style Guides / Concept Art – Spreadsheets / Formulae• Repeat information for redundancy of concepts
    13. 13. Talking to the Team BibleTechnology:• Google Docs• MSOffice (Word, Excel, Visio, PPT) + Source Control• Wiki• XML / YML / Other markup languages• Email and Skype or other IM
    14. 14. Talking to Outsiders Review CopySnapshot of design thinkingSimilar to core document of the BibleCan be early marketing/investing materialHave graphic design pass in addition to writing“No one will read it”Except: “They will only read the first page”Except: One person will read it, and give invaluable feedback
    15. 15. Talking to Outsiders Review Copy• Hierarchy / Structure – Logo – One pager at front – Player types – Game description and features – Market analysis / competition• Many pictures• If it’s an external property, show love and respect• Show capability for deep thought
    16. 16. Talking to Outsiders Review CopyTechnology:• MSWord – better than OpenOffice – way better than wikis• + Photoshop• + PDF converter
    17. 17. Talking to Your Future Self DocumentationTo remember what you thoughtTo remember what you saidMay be set of documentsfor different purposesMust have explicit references to other documents/ consistent naming scheme / clear folderstructure
    18. 18. Talking to Your Future Self DocumentationTechnology:• MSWord, Excel, Visio, Powerpoint• Google Docs• Whatever works to communicate with others
    19. 19. Talking to the Game Prototype“Non-Document”Good for determining / displaying interactionsNot same code as full gameYou can throw it awayFor some games, prototype is rules(such as tabletop RPGs)
    20. 20. Talking to the Game PrototypeTechnology:• Paper, post-its, index cards, markers• Whatever tech you work in fastest• Quick prototyping software (e.g. Moai for 2D, Protoshare for web)
    21. 21. Hybrids Further specific purposesBible x Documentation: long-running projectsor part-time projects (e.g. student work)Brainstormer x Bible: future features listReview Copy x Prototype: investor packetOne Pager x Prototype: kickstarter video?
    22. 22. ExamplesTwo Pager: FanSwarm Two Pager: Brainstormer: 50 Cent’s Blackjack: 23pagesBible: 50 Cent’s Blackjack: 59 pagesReview Copy: 50 Cent’s Blackjack: alldocumentation exposedDocumentation: 50 Cent’s Blackjack:~100 documents ; FanSwarm: ~50documentsPrototype: 50 Cent’s Blackjack Techprototype to ensure simultaneous playpossible, included game rules
    23. 23. Example Game of Thrones Ascent Two Pager: Executive Summary;Vision; Overview; MarketDifferentiationBrainstormer: 20 text-heavy pagesBible: v2 had no pictures, incomplete,26 pages ; v8 had painted concepts,incorporated external feedback, 154pagesReview Copy: same as Bible from v5.1onwardDocumentation: well over 100documentsPrototype: paper prototype confirmedcore mechanics ; prototype city layoutdecided to go different art direction
    24. 24. Best PracticesIntegrated designer better than short-term contractorIf you believe a design doc is useful that makes it usefulVision-holder should be in charge of design docsSolicit feedback about doc contentSolicit feedback about doc structureThere is always time to iterateAdapt doc structure to fit how the readers learnUltimately document less useful than making the game
    25. 25. Questionstimothy.crosby@gmail.com

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