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  • My Artist Residency Experience At Villa Kujoyama

    - Christophe Galati

  • II) Pre-Production and documentation

    Picture from Villa Kujoyama

    When I entered the Villa Kujoyama, I already had the early ideas for the story and gameplay of the game, that I started to write in documents. My goal for January was to complete all those preparatory documents with a more clear vision of the project. I then continued to update them during all my stay, following the new ideas that arose during my research. Here are the different kind of documents I worked on:

    • Game Design Document

    This first document, usually call GDD (Game Design Document) is said to be the "bible" of a game project. It describes and list every features, systems, patterns, metrics, how the game is played, what the designers wanted to express, so every people in the production team have the same vision. Even if I work alone, I think it's a good exercise to create this kind of document to organize my ideas and have a clean line for the project to follow, even if it evolves during all the development. The basic component of a GDD are the 3C : Character, Camera, Controller : describing who the player is, what he can do, how he sees it, and how to play (for example the inputs). I first did a one page version, before making a more complete document. Then I translated it in English so it's more convenient to send it to publishers/people I want to work with, so they can understand where I want to go with the game, what is planned, even if the current prototype can't show it yet.

    • Universe, Story and Chara-Design documents

    When I write a story, I always start by setting up a mythology, how the world was created, all its history from its creation to the beginning of the game. I call it Universe document, it also list all the places, era, conflicts and customs to understand the world of the game.

    The Story Document starts at the beginning of the game, and lists, as a movie script would do, all the scenes where the story of the game will be told. I usually divide it in several acts, with the key points and plot-twist highlighted. For Save me Mr Tako, I left some holes in the script to leave space for the new ideas that arise during the development. I also fill it with screenshots from the game when the scenes are implemented, turning it into a kind of illustrated book of the story of the game.

    I also wrote a Character-Design Document, where I list all the characters, the main cast, villains, and important NPC. I write their background, habits, their goals, the message behind them, and graphic references. I gave this document to Valentin Seiche, the illustrator who made the key Art for my previous game, and he started to design the main characters.

    Early Character Design by Valentin Seiche for Himitsu Project
    • Graphic References Document

    This document list all the graphic reference I have, the games that inspired it, describes the limitations, colors and mood wanted. It's also where I put mockups, so if one day I start working with graphic artists, they will be able to directly understand the visual vision of the project, and use this same document to communicate their vision.

    • Technical Document

    To finish, the TDD (technical design document) is here to list all the game systems, how they are technically implemented. You can find the various "classes", the game architecture, all the softwares and plugins used in the project, so each developer can understand the code of each others. Even when working solo, it's useful to remember some decisions, as it's easy to forget why you implemented something the way it is with time, and to not understand your own code anymore. I started one while working on the prototype, even if the code is not final and might be dropped.

    Picture from Villa Kujoyama


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