week and explain his every move. I wanted to get inside his head to see
how top chess players “saw” the board. The rest of this chapter will place
you, the reader, inside my head as we look at the Character Design Docu
ment for a game that I designed called Bingo Poker.
When creating any design document such as the Game Design Docu
ment (GDD) or the Character Design Document (CDD), I suggest surfing
the Internet for sample photos and pictures of people, places, back
grounds, and textures. Many online search engines let you set your search
for image files relative to what you are looking for.
Bingo Poker
For the game Bingo Poker™ I designed for the casual game market I
wanted a background story and interesting opponents to challenge the
One creative way to start a game design is to design an advertisement
for the game that shows how you think it should be presented to the
As a competitive chess player, I am familiar with the process of regis
tering to play in a competition and paying entry fees. I wanted the Bingo
Poker player to have a similar setup with a welcome to the competition
screen featuring a registration desk and information about the game and
From the main screen, the
player can sign up as a new
player or select his or her name
from a list of registered players.
From this main screen, there is
access to the trophy case (on
the left), a Help tutorial, an
Options screen to set options, a
Payout link to view the game
results point payouts, and a
credits screen to give my staff
Character Design Document 215
Chapter 12
recognition for their work on the game. Upon successful registration
including the player’s name and birth date (month and day), the player can
compete in a five-round Master’s Challenge and a nine-round National
Championship Tour, playing against any of the 41 colorful opponents and
being romanced by a mysterious “Secret Admirer.”
Since casual games (see Chapter 14, “Game Design Outlets”) at this
time are primarily a gaming outlet dominated by a female audience, I
wanted a Harlequin romance, Sex in the City, Cosmopolitan magazine
secret admirer feature (à la Mr. Big and Princess).
The background story told in Bingo Poker’s opening animation is as
Fired from your job for playing Bingo Poker, your skills allow
you to enter the five-round Master’s Challenge, playing for
trophies and the coveted Master’s Challenge Champion’s Gold
Trophy leading to the nine-round National Bingo Poker Cham
pionship Tour to earn the National title and a check for
Each of the 41 colorful characters challenge the player and
increase in competitive strength each round, as wonderful
ambient music and film-like sound effects add to the compel-
ling gameplay. Each of the 21 men and 20 women has a
personality profile describing their background and interests.
The characters are equally diverse in where they live, their
nationality, race, and occupation, but all are worthy competi-
tors. Each screen or room has its own unique ambient music
and sound effects. Play statistics for each level of skill are
saved. In the Trophy Room, the trophy case contains plaques
praising these accolades as well as top scoring silver and gold
trophies won in tournaments.
216 Chapter 12
The opening animation features you, the player, playing Bingo Poker at
work and setting a new record. An e-mail congratulates you and invites
you to join the Bingo Poker National Tour and televised competition. (One
of the benefits of being the game designer is being able to put your name
and a cartoon image of yourself in the game.)
Just then… your boss,
Nodon, walks into your office.
“You’re FINISHED!” boss
Nodon yells. (What, you want
me to get sued by saying
“You’re FIRED!” This is fun
nier anyway and may get more
press publicity.)
Notice the e-mail message
on the computer screen, the
coffee cup featuring a spade
design, and a deck of cards on your desk, as well as the designer required
Office Space’s red Swingline stapler.
I wanted a balanced, diverse group of players containing both genders
and all races that any player would respond to visually and personality-
wise. When faced with the task of designing characters, I often borrow
images and characters from film, music, and television. I want the player
to know my character upon sight and by reading their colorful description.
Character Design Document 217
Chapter 12

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