A game design document can be an invaluable tool for hypercasual studios | Pocket Gamer.biz
Tom Pigott is CEO and Founder of Ludo.ai, and Founder of Jetplay
The hypercasual genre remains, by far, the largest of the genre in the gaming industry. Around 40% of all games are classified as hypercasual and 45% of all mobile game downloads fall under the hypercasual genre. It is therefore important that hypercasual studios are as up-to-date as possible when developing their next product.
Hypercasual games are defined by multiple characteristics and fundamentally involve simple mechanics and design, low difficulty levels, and fast and easy gameplay. But that simple appeal doesn’t mean simple design, and studios need to do everything they can to make their games as engaging and accessible as possible.
The design and development process is crucial when creating hypercasual games, and a well-formulated game design document (GDD) is an invaluable tool that is collaborative and encourages innovation, regardless of the intended life cycle. of any title.
The GDD create a collaborative space
A GDD is a useful tool for studios looking to work quickly and efficiently. It provides the foundation for a game project, breaking down key elements of the development process into a collaborative space.
A GDD is a useful tool for studios looking to work quickly and efficiently
It can also serve as a blueprint for game design and mechanics. For hypercasual studios, the collaborative nature of a GDD can be very important. Agreeing on a plan with their team members early in the project and ensuring the process has a clear structure from the start can be key to a successful game development process.
This is all the more important given the high turnover rate of titles in the hypercasual space. A GDD can make game development a smoother and more efficient process.
Adopt new tools
SIFOR Studios, an independent hypercasual games studio that uses cutting-edge AI tools to develop highly successful hypercasual mobile games, explained how effective a GDD can be in helping these studios thrive in such a competitive part of industry.
Ali Hamwi, CEO and co-founder of SIFOR, said that “a process that used to take days now takes seconds”, thanks to the use of a GDD and other tools within it. He also said that using these new tools has seen SIFOR speed up their development process, enabling them to create over 50 games in the last year alone.
While studios operating in other genres may use a GDD to track the development process of a game, games from hyper casual studios may have other advantages of GDDs. In the hypercasual space, a well-constructed GDD can provide a structured plan that studios can follow, or even establish a pattern that can be used over and over again.
What this means for studios, and what was certainly the case for SIFOR, is that using new tools to create a GDD can lead to increased game revenue, helping studios to be competitive. in what is already a crowded industry.
An ever-evolving GDD: ideal for the time constraints faced by hypercasual studios
One of the hallmarks of a successful GDD is its brevity and flexibility. Hypercasual studios in particular often face time constraints, and competition in the mobile games industry can put studios under pressure to produce a lot of titles in a very short time. A GDD can be a very simple and short document that is invaluable for studios whose time is at a premium.
Hamwi implicitly describes this again, stating, “Time is an extremely important currency, and how that time is used and shared among team members is critical.” For this reason, the ever-changing nature of a GDD can really help studios. A successful GDD evolves alongside the game, changing rapidly as game development progresses. It can also make the process more flexible, meaning changes can be made quickly and efficiently based on changes during the process.
Stick to the core, but with room to grow
Flexibility is important when creating a GDD. It has the game concept at its center but is also able to adapt and change as development progresses. This flexibility is important for hypercasual studios that could produce a large number of games in a short time.
A flexible GDD means these studios can quickly make significant changes to a game’s concept and design while keeping other team members up to date.
One of the many ways studios can seek to effectively use a GDD is to create a basic GDD model that lays the foundation for their development process. Once they lock in that working model, it can be easier for studios to adapt and evolve key elements of every project they do.
What to include in your GDD
We’ve now established why a GDD can be such an important tool for hyper casual studios, but what should studios be looking to include in their own GDD?
A summary of the game concept
A key feature of hyper casual games is that they are able to provide an entertaining experience for players with a combination of consistent positive outcomes, easy-to-obtain in-game incentives, and effortless repetitive play.
This is often achieved by having a solid game concept, something a GDD can help establish. Many studios choose to do a concept summary at the start of their GDD. This outlines the game concisely and in detail before setting out the project plan and timeline the team will seek to follow. It can also define the game’s target audience, while hypercasual studios can decide to include the specific type of hypercasual game they plan to produce.
Clearly defined key game elements
A GDD can also be broken down into separate sections that address key elements of game design, gameplay, and mechanics. Hypercasual studios are constantly striving to streamline their development process in order to meet the high demand for hypercasual mobile games. on the market.
A clearly structured GDD in sections can help in this quest for productivity. Many studios may choose to split things like game mechanics, design, and audio into separate sections.
Just as hypercasual games can rely heavily on relatively simple graphics, mechanics and design, it can still be extremely useful to organize these elements into clearly defined sections, allowing them to focus and lock in what suits the better to their game concept.
Updated information on the development process
A GDD must be kept up to date whether or not significant changes have occurred in the development of the game. No matter how big or small those changes are – from changes to the fundamentals of the game to the team members working on it and the development schedule itself – they should be recognized and reflected in the project’s GDD.
It’s not necessarily crucial to the success of the game itself, but it can make the development process much more productive.
Some studios may decide to keep earlier versions of their GDD in order to evaluate their process at the end of a project. It is crucial that during the process itself, each team member is working from the same up-to-date edition of the GDD.
A dynamic and engaging aesthetic
Studios should try to make a GDD visually interesting and dynamic. It’s not necessarily crucial to the success of the game itself, but it can make the development process much more productive. Teams have been proven to work more effectively when the materials they work with are engaging, and a game development team is no different when working with a GDD. A visually exciting GDD can also inspire new and interesting ideas that can ultimately inform the finished product.
To recap, here are my key points on why GDDs are invaluable for hypercasual studios:
- A GDD is a collaborative document, encouraging innovation and inspiration for studios in one place
They act as a collaborative hub for teams developing their next game, streamlining the development process by having everything in one place
- Adopt new tools
AI offers new opportunities when creating a GDD
- A GDD is an ever-changing document, ideal for the time constraints faced by hypercasual studios
With time being a precious commodity and hypercasual game studios needing to appeal to an increasingly large market, the flexibility of a GDD is invaluable.
- A flexible GDD center on the core concept of the game, but also allows ideas to grow
Hypercasual mobile games often start life as a very simple concept, before other elements are added, a process that a flexible GDD can improve
And here are the key elements that studios should include in their GDD:
- A summary of the game concept
A short primer on the type of game the studio aims to make
- Clearly defined sections relating to key game elements
These may include design, gameplay mechanics, and gameplay features, among others.
- Updated information on the development process
A GDD should be updated whenever there is significant development in the game creation process, to ensure everyone is working from an updated version
- A dynamic and engaging aesthetic
A successful GDD should seek to use dynamic visuals and presentation, as this will help engage the whole team during the process.