First Game Design File | Produce Your First Game Design File

First Game Design File | Produce Your First Game Design File

How to Create a Game Design Document?

For quite a long time, game design documents have been a crucial industry standard. However, more recently, arguments against the effectiveness of the First Game Design File have begun to surface.

“It becomes obsolete right away after it’s released. Nobody on the team likes using it. No one updates it, and that leads to serious confusion.”

While there is some validity behind these arguments, a game design document can be incredibly beneficial if executed correctly.

This guide explores the advantages of a First Game Design File model and details how you can compile one for your next game design project.

Creating a Reference for Your Entire Team

When you and your team are working on a simple game, you might manage to keep the concept in your head. It’s compact enough, and you’re familiar enough with it that every detail can be retained mentally.

Your team operates in the same environment consistently, continuously updating each other on any minor changes. Because the First Game Design File is straightforward, you may not need to introduce any new assistance. You don’t have to explain the game extensively because your team already comprehends the details as well as you do.

This scenario might make it seem reasonable for your team to proceed without a game design document.

However, let’s consider a project like Halo.

Suddenly, the idea becomes too intricate to solely retain in your mind. Instead of a detailed breakdown, you summarize it more like this:

“Humanity is on the frontier of space and must battle aliens for control of an ancient super-weapon planet that could result in total annihilation for organic life.”

The simplified version of the First Game Design File is comprehensible but hardly covers everything a game developer needs to know about the game.

If you explained Halo—using that line—to ten different people and tasked them with creating the game, you’d end up with ten different interpretations.

And none of them would likely resemble the super-weapon planet characteristic of Halo.

This highlights a primary function of a game design document—it acts as a guide to align everyone on your team.

It’s a document that should be comprehensive and specific enough to enable a cohesive, consistent game to be constructed by a team of individuals. It’s the type of document that influences every decision your team makes. It eliminates most of the guesswork.

Instead of having ten different versions of a super-weapon planet, the document would specify that it’s an artificially-created ring world—not a death star, not a massive ship, but a ring world.

The game design document encompasses far more than just the setting. It incorporates everything—the narrative, the characters, the core concepts, the game mechanics, and so on.

Creating a First Game Design File document might require substantial effort to organize, but you’ll find that the upfront investment can be invaluable in the long run, especially for complex concepts.

A Finite Container for Your Ideas

Sometimes, you’ll have an exceptional game idea, and the more you contemplate it, the more elements you want to include.

For instance, consider Skyrim—”there should be dragons!” might quickly evolve into “there should be dragons, and the player should be able to ride them!”

And that might quickly develop into “there should be dragons, the player should ride them, engage with other dragons in the air, destroy towns, devastate castles, temples, mountains, and forests in the game.”

Suddenly, you’re envisioning an entirely different game.

Are we suggesting that you shouldn’t allow your imagination to run wild? Not at all. Are we suggesting that you should set some constraints? Well, only if you aim to complete your game. A game design document serves as both an anchor and a compass. If you find too many ideas seeping into your game, you can return to the document and refocus. It’s your reference point, your guiding star.

If the core concept of your First Game Design File is “A hero with dragon blood, who can speak the dragon language, battles undead and the returning dragon scourge to save his home in a medieval time period,” you can revisit that idea and say, “okay, space dragons and castle destruction are intriguing ideas, but they aren’t integral to the game I’m trying to build.”

Elements like the dragon language and the animations for the dragons the hero battles would hold more importance in the game.

Power in the Scope

More like the Power of Fire (great movie; how has an excellent game not been developed from that idea yet?)…


The game design document assists in creating a defined scope for your game. You can establish certain parameters to keep the project manageable. You can outline elements like the storyline, characters, and locations, and at a certain stage, determine that the game is extensive enough.

While working on something, it’s easy to get absorbed and forget the initial purpose. In such instances, having a compass is crucial.

As you iterate through prototypes of an idea, the alterations can sometimes veer you away from the “why.” When you lose sight of the original intent, the game design document can realign you.

Step By Step

Now, just because your game design document should be comprehensive doesn’t mean you need to have everything detailed all at once. This document serves as your map, but it’s a map that can expand and change with your game (much like the Minecraft map).

The core concept, the main principles, and what you’re attempting to achieve can be outlined initially. But detailing every single gameplay feature is impractical, particularly for complex games.

These are aspects you can incorporate as you develop them. The game design document provides you with perspective and context. It should provide a sturdy foundation from which you can explore various game concepts.

A puzzle is much more challenging to assemble when you have pieces from six different puzzles and no image for reference.

When executed effectively, a game design document offers both a reference image and only the pertinent puzzle pieces.

If you continually update the document as you progress, you’ll always be aware of the changes you’re making. Any alterations to the game should be tracked through the game design document, enabling you to revert to earlier versions if something doesn’t work or if your idea drift took you too far.

If the game design document is regularly and accurately updated, it can lead to less frustration.

A game design document demands time for updates. However, it can save time in the long run if your team members know how to allocate their time. Time isn’t squandered on aspects of a First Game Design File that aren’t relevant.

How to Compile One


Commence with the brainstorming phase. This is the opportune moment to jot down your wildest ideas. Note everything down. Allow it to sit for a day. Then revisit it. See what still sounds fantastic and what doesn’t feel as exciting now that it’s out of your head.

During this phase, determine the reason behind creating the game. Define what the game is, its purpose, and what you intend to accomplish.

If you are certain about certain mechanics being part of the game, note them down. However, if you’re uncertain about mechanics at this stage, don’t dwell on them.


If you’re collaborating with a team, the next step is to engage in discussions. Each team member brings a unique perspective to the project, and convening to deliberate can bring out the best in your team.

You might gain a better understanding of the project’s feasibility from your developers. Commence discussions on early prototypes for the

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