Feature creep is the number one enemy when it comes to finishing a game (or any project for that matter), and most of us developers need to learn how to deal with it.
It’s always the same story, at the beginning, you get an idea for a game, and it’s a cool idea, so you decide you’ll start making it.
During that process, which takes anywhere between a week to a couple of years, you kind of get bored with your original idea. It’s just not fresh in your mind anymore… and that’s when new ideas start coming up with their promises.
- “Add me, the game will be so much better”, they say. And you believe them, why would they lie? But you’re still not convinced.
- “Come on, it’ll only take you a week to implement me, tops. I bet you could do it in 3 days time ’cause you’re awesome like that.”
A bit of sucking up never hurt anybody they think, but the fact is, they’ll do anything just to try and get into your game.
You stop for a moment. “Maybe you’re right”, you think. “OK, but only you OneLittleFeature and that’s it!”.
But it’s not over, the ideas multiply and start bugging you again. You ignore them.
Then OneLittleFeature, now implemented, speaks up: “We both know I’m cool, but we also know that I would be much cooler if my bigger sister ALittleBiggerFeature could join me.”
- “No way!”, you say, “I only allowed you in and while you did make the game better, it’s enough”.
- “OK, no need to get so worked up about it, I just wanted to help… excuse me for thinking you wanted to create The Best Game Ever instead of the Mediocre Forgettable Experience 2″
Needless to say, Mediocre Forgettable Experience 1 is implied to be the last game you made.
Soon, the doubt starts to grow inside your mind – “What if OneLittleFeature is right? What if ALittleBiggerFeature will really make my game 200% better?”.
“No, my original idea was already great”, you say to yourself, but OneLittleFeature and other new ideas will keep trying to persuade you that your game is shit unless you implement them. It takes a really strong mind to ignore them and one by one, they start to squeeze through that hole of doubt that they’ve made inside your mind…
Features are added, and the project grows bigger and bigger… additional features are now larger than the original game was supposed to be. The gameplay suffers, you can see it deteriorating, but new ideas, as always, are here to fix that…
There comes a time in almost any project when you need to look at what you’re doing and what your plan is. You take a look at your original plan for a “2 month game”. It has become an unrecognizable monster. The transformation is so severe that the game possibly even changed genres.
At this point you begin to see that you’ll never finish it. “Enough is enough!, you pound your fist on the table.
- “I’m cutting you all out!”
Ideas and features scream, they plead, they beg for mercy, they insult you if nothing else works… but you’re determined – this has to stop.
After the big feature massacre you’re tired but ecstatic. You did it! You fought the monster! The game is now tighter and has a clear focus.
It also looks like you can finish what’s left in a reasonable amount of time.
But you must stay vigilant and you have to act fast.
You can already sense some new ideas lurking and waiting for your moment of weakness.