Have you been using a Word file to design your game design document? If so, then you have probably realized that organizing this document is brutal. Especially if your indie game has a lot of layers to it, finding the information you need in a hurry can be incredibly difficult. Since the whole point of a game design document is to ensure information can be found easily and quickly, using a basic Word file will not do you any favors. What can you do? The solution is simple: consider one of the tools below to design your game design doc to get the most out of it!
Use a wiki
If you need a game design document that will contain multiple layers, categories, etc. that are easy to access on the fly, then you need to consider transitioning your game design doc into a wiki. We’ve all used Wikipedia, and the great thing about it is it is simple to find exactly the information that you need without having to skim each entry to find the information you need. Think about it: how much time have you saved looking up information on Wikipedia versus scouring the Web trying to find relevant web pages with the information you need? Wikis save time, are well organized, and just work!
What are the best tools for creating wikis? MediaWiki (originally designed for use on Wikipedia, so you know it’s good) and TiddlyWiki. MediaWiki is a little more user-friendly (in my opinion, anyway) while TiddlyWiki is extremely customizable albeit sporting a bit of a learning curve. Since you can’t go wrong with choosing any of them, I would suggest trying them both out and seeing which one you prefer.
Quick tip: Be sure to keep your wiki offline. You don’t want to accidentally post sensitive information on the Web for the world to see.
While the software is aimed at authors, Scrivener is great in that it allows you to organize your game design documents easily. Allowing you to make multiple additional projects inside of your original document as well as importing images into a ‘research’ folder and so on, it’s an awesome way to truly keep your documents organized all in one place.
Sometimes you just have to get off of your computer and start writing by hand. If you hate having to organize your game design documents in a word processor and want to take the offline approach, designating multiple notebooks to different aspects of your game design document is a great alternative. Especially if you are going to be the only one looking at the documents and do not need to share it with anyone else, there is no reason why writing your game design document by hand into tried-and-true college-ruled notebooks should be out of the question.
Besides, some people prefer designing their game on paper. If you do, go to your nearest office supply store and pick up a handful of college-ruled notebooks for a few bucks!
Game design documents are essential to organizing the entire development process. Even so, there are many ways to design your docs and make them work for you. Do you have any tips/suggestions for tools you can use to design your game design documents? Let us know in the comments below!