Game document guidelines
We will discuss using three types of game documents. Each has a different purpose:
In addition to their separate purposes, the design documents have two purposes in common: to help develop the game, and to help sell the game concept to a publisher or development studio. Why do you need to sell your idea? You cannot create the game alone, so you will need an investor to pay staff, a studio to provide staff and skills, and a publisher to promote and distribute the game. The investor could be the publisher or the studio or another entity related to either of those parties.
All through the design process you should make every reasonable effort to protect your intellectual property. Rolling and Adams suggest on page 570 that you should have your name and the phrase "Confidential - Do Not Redistribute" in the header or footer of every document page. They make other suggestions on that page thate are also valid, but the bottom line is to consider your rights and your property's security before showing your ideas to anyone inside or outside your development staff.
High concept document
The purpose of this document is to provide a basis for a sales pitch for your product. Call it a résumé for your game. This document is a tool to get a meeting with a publisher/investor, at which you will make a real (more developed) pitch.
The document is structured in a series of parts. The first two are loosely defined, the third is more formal, and the fourth is a catch all for whatever did not fit the first three.
Part 1: A high concept statement is meant to be short, descriptive, and attractive to the publisher. It should resemble the teaser blurbs you would see on an ad for the game or on the cover of the package. It should explain the game well enough that you immediately are interested in knowing more about it.
Part 2: A list of features comes next. It should be one page (or less) of bullet points about the features you will want to brag about in your game. Emphasize the most interesting points by putting them at the top of the list, in bold print to catch the reader's eye.
Part 3: The overview section is the business case for the game. Topics that should be included:
Part 4: The last section of this document should include points about your game that the other sections did not include. Describe what else the prospective publisher needs to know to appreciate your game.
Game treatment document
The game treatment document should be a printed version of the more developed sales pitch you make for your game in the formal meeting you have with the investor or publisher. It should be an attractive document that can be used for reference after the meeting. Some parts are the same as in the high concept document, but they are more developed and detailed in this document.
The design script is the tool that is meant to be used by your design and development team. It is not a sales tool, it is an ongoing chronicle of design decisions that must contain useful information for the people building the game. This document may be broken into component documents for different teams, but the components must coordinate to represent one vision for the game. This is called the game bible by some, and this is meant to show that the design team views the document seriously. The document must be updated, versioned, and made available to all design staff who need to refer to it. Ideally, any new staff added to the project should read this document to become aware of the work decisions that have been made to avoid any conflict with them.