Saturday, August 7, 2010

Game Design Document [part II]


Last week I've presented in this blog the first part of this article that talk about Game Design Document, in this week post ill cover the remaining section of the template that I didn't cover.  This series of articles is part of our vision to improve our Development Cycle by adopting a Rapid Prototyping approach.

So far we already cover the Introduction and Game Mechanics which have give the explanation of the game at its core.  Now the remaining sections which are Story, Visual Style & Audio Style will set the foundation on how the game will be presented to the player.  Those sections will be very important for the artist in your team (or the one you gonna hire) that will do the arts/music/sounds.  Now will be the time to let your imagination run wild ;-) and this is what we are going to see in the following steps by using TinySpaceThing as my example (the explanation/comment will be in normal text while the rest of the example text in italic).

Story

Not every game will need a story, some game might actually have none for example a simple logic matching game.  While in other case it can be quite deep/long and be very emotional which will often happen in a RPG.  So this section will definitely vary in length depending on your game and remember its up to you to see how much detail you want to go into.  But for me I think it can be quite useful to have more background story even though you wont see it in the actual game as it can help in designing the artwork and music.
It all started 250 years ago when the Omegarix sector was discovered by both the Astrenian and the Karx people.  Since this sector has been proven rich in the quarnium mineral which is very valuable in building advance technology, it didn't take too long before dispute arises between the 2 nations.  Originally it was more of an economical/political conflicts which should have been resolve in a diplomatic way eventually.  But then the incident in the deltarus asteroid fields that happen 150 years ago changed everything... since some Astrenian diplomats got killed on their way back home after visiting one of the new mining facility.  It was reported that a small Karx striker/bomber had fled the area, suspicious were high that this was not a mere coincidence but a deliberate attack.  Upon the refusal of the Karx to provide help in the inquiry, it was declared that this was an act of war!   The next 50 years were a long and bloody war between the 2 nations, the Karx were finally outsted from the Omegarix sector to never been seen again.  Today mark the 100 years anniversary of the end of the great Omegarix war and everything is quiete and peacefull or it would seem...

You are part of a squadron that patrol in their spaceship the different sub-sector of the Omegarix.  You sometime wonder why you are doing that job as its relatively quiet beside the few space pirates and other smuglers that you need to deal with.  But today you are about to find out that this is all going to change... as you encounter the first Karx scouting spaceship.  You will soon find out that the Karx are back with a powerfull flotilla and they intend to seize the control of the Omergarix sector.  Will you be able to defend it and become a  hero for your nation?
Characters

If you have hero or villain in your game that you want to describe in details (physical, background story, etc...), this is the place to do so.  If you also have sketches of him/them the better.
You are one of the elite pilot of the Astrenian fighter fleet and you were especially chosen for today patrol due to the fact that it mark the 100th years anniversary of the end of the Omegarix war.  You are part of either the Alpha, Beta, Charli, Delta squadron. 
Visual Style

In this section this is where you will describe how you want your game to look visually.  Do you go for a photo realistic look or do you prefer a more retro look?  If you have concept art, sketches of your game you should put them here, along with any reference materials that can be use for inspirations.  Don't hesitate to put more materials in here and give lengthy description especially if you need to communicate your vision to someone else.
The visual style that we want to use is a retro style with 1bit graphic (monochrome) and have some futuristic look as we are in deep space far far away in the future. Image that could be seen are different type of asteroids, small ship (scouting), fighter spaceship, very large spaceship, stars, planets.  Also the visual should be harmonize with the music so that it give that futuristic look & sound.
Game Screens

You made sketches of the different game screens?  Put them here as it will help in the design of the final artwork of your game.

Early game layout screen shot.

Tiny Space Ship


Assets

Now you need to list all the different graphical assets that will be required for your game, whether its the fonts for displaying score, the enemy sprite, the player character.  It will help you make sure you don't forget any and then you can thick them off once they are completed.
  • iPhone/iPod touch icon (57 x 57 pixels)
  • AppStore icon (512 x 512 pixels)
  • Title screen (480 x 320 pixels)
  • Font (AmericanTypeWriter)
  • Player spaceship (32 x 48 pixels)
  • Scouting spaceship (32 x 24 pixels)
  • Striker/bomber spaceship (32 x 48 pixels)
  • Imperial carrier spaceship (128 x 192 pixels)
Visual Reference

Keeping a list of reference materials will become quite handy to get some inspirations for the different arts assets that will need to be produce.

Image

Description

Player spaceship
Scouting spaceship
Striker/bomber spaceship
Imperial carrier spaceship
Asteroids

Audio Style

In this last section this is where you will describe how you want your game to sound like.  Do you go for a orchestral music or do you prefer a more electronic music?  If you have narrative or dialogue that should be put in your game you should put them here, along with any reference materials that can be use for inspirations.  Don't hesitate to put more materials in here and give lengthy description especially if you need to communicate your vision to someone else.
The audio style that we want to use is a retro style with electronic music that sound more futuristic (techno/industrial?) as we are in deep space far far away in the future. Instrument that will fit well could be analogue synth, mechanical/industrial sounds, also the rhythm should keep with the pace of the action.  And it should sound more like 8bit sound from the '80 (sine/square wave).
Narrative and Dialog

Does your hero or other squad member are saying something during the fighting, or does your enemy have a war cry?  Put them here as it will help in the design of the final audio of your game.
  •  "Oh that gonna hurt" (squad member)
  • "Die Astrenian scum" (enemy)
  • "I am hit.. Aaaahhhhhhh" (squad member)
  • "Area cleared" (squad member)
  • "Ill shall be avenge... Aaahhhhh" (enemy)
Assets

Now you need to list all the different audio assets that will be required for your game, whether its the sound for the reactor of your spaceship, the enemy laser shot, your spaceship being hit.  It will help you make sure you don't forget any and then you can thick them off once they are completed.
  • Main music, should have a certain rhythm and which you can listen for long period of time
  • Secondary music, based on the the first one but will have a more faster rhythm and feel more dramatic (will be used when the player is in critical condition)
  • Reactor sound (player spaceship)
  • Reactor sound (scouting spaceship)
  • Reactor sound (striker/bomber spaceship)
  • Reactor sound (imperial carrier spaceship)
  • Laser shot sound (player spaceship)
  • Laser shot sound (scouting spaceship)
  • Laser shot sound (striker/bomber spaceship)
  • Laser shot sound (imperial carrier spaceship)
  • Successful hit (player)
  • Successful hit (enemy)
Audio Reference

Keeping a list of reference materials will become quite handy to get some inspirations for the different audio assets that will need to be produce.

Links

Description

Crazy Comets
Light Force
Phantoms of the Asteroid
Thunder Cats
Cybernoid II
Xenon II Megablast
Retro music
Cyberworld
Delta
Sanxion (Techno Mix)
Cybernoid II (Cybertechnoid mix)
Green Beret ('97 Techno Mix)
Techno music
Armalyte (Industrial Mix)
Shifting Through The Lens
Gun
Tragedy >For You<
Addiction
Bahnhof
Industrial music
nostromo.wav
spaceship.aif
engine pound.wav
space engine.wav
starshiphum.wav
Huge Spaceship Pass.wav
Space Fighter Pass.wav
01589 space ship moving.wav      
Reactor sound
01669 laser fast shot.wav
laser_weapon_02.wav  
Laser Wrath 4.wav
Laser9.wav 
MemoryMoon_space-blaster-plays.wav
Laser shot sound
perc - duma_hit2-10.wav
perc - sinehit.wav
tone - sinehit2.wav
_various freq sweep.wav
4-bit bounce 2.flac 
4-bit bounce 2.flac     
Successful hit

There you have it, you just completed your Game Design Document for your game!  You can come back to this document when you have other ideas or that after a few prototype you need to change aspect of your design.  Now once you have that document in hand you are ready to go ahead with the implementation of your game (but maybe you should also do an architecture document for your code, listing classes/methods and so on ;-)).  And don't forget to also make some project planning and keep track of your time, for this ill suggest you to go read the excellent article : "Indie Project Management For One: Tools" from @snappytouch that will give you some good ideas for tools to use.


 This post is part of iDevBlogADay, a group of indie iPhone development blogs featuring two posts per day. You can keep up with iDevBlogADay through the web site, RSS feed, or Twitter.

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