Design Document

Your Design Document clearly brings together all the moving parts of your project.

What's a Design Document?

A Design Document is a unifying overview of your project. It is a key element in your creative process that acts as a source of truth, a unifying force to make sure that you and your team (if you have a team) stay on track. It can also be incredibly valuable when pitching to supporters or for onboarding contributors.
Your Design Document helps get your ideas out of your head so that you can offer external parties a clear idea of what your project is about, how it will flow, how long it may take to produce and so on.

Details Matter

Your Design Document needs to be as engaging, descriptive and highly detailed as possible so that contributors, testers, partners, and teams can understand every single aspect of your project. This includes adding visuals, concepts, descriptions, inspirations, prototypes, images and so on.
Don't underestimate this step of your process. Time spent planning at this step of your process can save you a great deal of time as your project progresses and the complexity of tasks increases.

What to Include

While the level of detail and specificity of the information you provide may vary from project to project, here are a few pointers to get you started.

A Summary

Practice keeping it short and sweet. How can you convey the essence of your project in a brief punchy manner that informs and excites the listener?
Give an overview, or big picture description sharing some insights about the concept, the action, the inspiration for the project, and what a participant will take away from the experience.
What kind of experience is it? A game, a social hub, a gallery, a concert? At the top level, what is it you are aiming to achieve?

Artistic Direction

What colours, shapes, tones and ASSETs will this experience be made up of? How do you want it to look? What do you want your user to experience? How do you want them to feel?
Create a mood board, collect reference images, draft out some sketches and try to paint a picture of the world you are aiming to create.
From this, write out a list of the ASSETs you will need to create to be able to execute against this vision. What will you need to create this experience?


Describe what the player can do, from the moment the player enters your LAND how do their interactions impact the experience?
Will your experience have quests? If so, what type? Will a player need to collect items? Defeat enemies? Find hidden treasure?
Is your experience top-down, a side-scroller, or from the third-person perspective?
What are the victory and defeat conditions of your experience? Can the player fight? Can they lose health?
Be as detailed as possible. Laying the foundations now mean you have a clear plan and can address each step piece by piece.

Narrative Design

If needed, describe the main storyline of your experience. If there is an important narrative driving the interactions within your experience then describe the ways you’re planning to involve your player.
It can help to write material that covers the lore and the universe of your experience. Establishing the world you are building from, is often a great anchor that unifies the design process and improves consistency across different elements of your experience.

A Little Something Extra

What makes your project stand apart? Consider the driving force behind your project. Why this idea? What is it about creating this particular experience that made you want to bring it to life? If How can you articulate that unique element, that extra spark, that users won't want to miss out on?