Game Design Document Template and Examples

Keep your game design project on track with a simple template.

Let's face it – documentation is usually seen as the least fun part of the game development process. Many opt to skip it entirely. "No one reads GDDs anyway." "They become outdated the minute you finish writing them."

They are not entirely wrong. Rigid, multi-page GDDs have no place in modern game development. But it doesn't mean that game design documentation has become obsolete – it has merely evolved.

Let's dive deeper into what a modern video game design document is and how to write it.
Or skip directly to the GDD template.

What is a game design document (GDD)?

A game design document (GDD) is a software design document that serves as a blueprint from which your game is to be built. It helps you define the scope of your game and sets the general direction for the project, keeping the entire team on the same page.

GDD template

A GDD usually includes:

Here's an example of a game design document created in Nuclino, a unified workspace where teams can bring all their knowledge, docs, and projects together:

Game design document example

Game design document example (Artwork credit: Stephane Wootha Richard)

Nuclino can serve as a lightweight game documentation tool, a game development planner, an internal wiki, and more. You can create real-time collaborative docs, allowing you to document, share, and collaborate on anything, from game proposals and storyboards to character profiles and concept art.

Kanban board for game development project management

Agile game design documentation

Traditionally, GDDs have been detailed, 100+ page documents, which tried to explain every detail of the game up front. As the game development process became more agile, the approach to documentation evolved as well. Realizing that overly lengthy and rigid GDDs are difficult to maintain and are hardly ever read, most studios have moved away from traditional design documentation.

Today, most game developers follow the agile approach to documentation. As Jim Highsmith, one of the 17 original signatories of the Agile Manifesto, said, "We embrace documentation, but not hundreds of pages of never-maintained and rarely-used tomes."

So rather than doing away with game design documents altogether, the documentation process can be adapted to support the creative, iterative, and collaborative process of game development.

How to write a GDD

Modern game design documentation process follows several best practices:

GDD structure in Nuclino

Learn more about how to write a modern game design document.

Game design document template

No two game design documents will be the same. However, a GDD template may be a good starting point.

Depending on the scope of your game development project, your design document may end up being very brief or fairly long and complex. Your first iteration can be a simple one-page overview. Copy this template and customize it to fit your needs.

As your game evolves and details begin to take shape, you may want to create dedicated documents for different topics. Better yet, turn your game design doc into an internal wiki and organize your work in a more structured way.

Real-life GDD examples

There are many great game design document examples to draw inspiration from.

Game design document sample

GTA game design document example

At the end of the day, how you write your game design document is up to you and your team. Creating a video game is far from a trivial task, and while maintaining internal documentation may seem like a tedious task, it can save you a lot of time down the road. And after you have finished your game, your GDD will stand as a testament to all of your hard work.

Nuclino: Your team's collective brain

Nuclino

Nuclino brings all your team's knowledge, docs, and projects together in one place. It's a modern, simple, and blazingly fast way to collaborate, without the chaos of files and folders, context switching, or silos.

Try it now

Character illustration