So, I’m working on the design document for a game project that I want to work on with cookiemonger, and I’m starting to see why these things are so important to begin with. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think a design document is a great idea — take the United States Constitution for example — but there are times when you’re so impatient you question why documentation is necessary.

Holy crap. You know, there are some concepts I had no idea how to explain in a concise manner. Trying to put these things into words has helped me to clarify exactly what I had in mind. I’m going point-by-point through what I want this game to be, and it’s helped me narrow down what I want to an incredibly precise degree. When I have something more to show, I’ll have to post a bit online.

Writing design documentation is a wholly different experience than writing for anything else. Think of it like proofs, if you got that far (or remember them) from high school math. It’s like programming, but in words. You’re trying to take all of your high-minded concepts and put them into a language that can be understood not by hungry fans, but people who are going to help make the design a reality.

I’m actually looking at this document kind of like a Dungeons & Dragons supplement I was working on for an independent publisher some five-odd years ago. I’m mentally organizing parts of the game into sections and chapters, putting them into a table of contents as I go. I’ve started with the overview, and I’m in the process of adding and explaining certain concepts.

Now I’m starting to see what my reasons are for deciding a few things that didn’t make sense to me before. They were instinctual design choices before, and now I’m learning about myself while figuring out how to “show my work” at the same time. A couple decisions were “easy vetoes” when I realized the original reason for them was gone from the current vision of the complete project. It’s an eye-opening experience.

So, I’m looking forward to some parts of the design process more than I thought possible. I mean, it’s got me hooked in a way that I didn’t really understand before. It feels like I’m doing something, even if it’s really just a fancy outline process.