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Who are You?

If you're a programmer who has written at least one software title, and you have never written a technical document, this is your ticket to creating games faster. Yes, I said faster. And after all, aren't good game programmers all about speed?

This Isn't For My Benefit

Let's get some things straight, I've never worked on a blockbuster game title, so we're equal in experience there... well, maybe not. But I have worked commercially on a game before, and I know the pressures caused by having to meet deadlines (I'm positive I know why they call them deadlines now), getting paid, and adding features that were never mentioned six months ago.

I didn't write a technical document.

If I had, I know I would have completed the game in half the time. Oh, and like all good little programmers I created a design document with my employer (designer/creator). I even mentioned that we could use DirectDraw, but that was the extent of the technical design. (As a side note, take a look at how many game design articles are available online, including here at GameDev.net. Why aren't there any technical design articles?)

If you've never thought about using a technical document before, and if I haven't lost you yet, it's time to explain the title of this article. As you probably already know, design documents are essential to any game. You need to know what the game is about, what it will eventually be, and the design document exists for that purpose. On the other hand, do you really need to plan out how to implement the graphics library in advance? You already know Mario is going to have a red hat. You can figure out how that red really isn't Luigi's hat when you get there, right?


In fact, many game programmers do exactly that every day. Heck, you should see some of the MMORPG design documents that are out there. They are huge! But if you go to the creators and ask them for a technical document, they might look at you like you're speaking another language. Or (*cringe*) they might say that the technical document is included in the design document. Funny, there are only a few MMORPG's in working order. I wonder what happened to that 300 page design document Zeophytie posted last year…

Next : 'Tech' from 'Design Document'