Attack of the Feature Creep

It can happen to anyone of us. Really.

Me: Need to be careful not to feature creep this game.

Also Me: We now have a puzzle mini game that involves collecting the word “Love” in multiple languages throughout the world.

When I started to work on Just Juno this year, I was already warned to avoid feature creep. At that time, I thought this wouldn’t ever happen to me. The idea was so simple: It’s a story based mobile game. There’s no way we could possibly add anything on top of it.

3 months and 10 mini games later…

Adding and emphasizing features has become more popular than in the past, and many products, such as software, now have excessive functionality. This phenomenon of adding features to or emphasizing the current features of a product is termed ‘feature creep’. — Donald A Norman on The invisible computer: Why good products can fail, the personal computer is so complex, and information appliances are the solution.

It all started with an innocent and harmless, “You know what would be a good idea? What if we…” Next thing I knew, multiple mini games were added in between chapters instead of going further with the story.

So how could we avoid feature creep in general?

#1 Go back to the design pillars & remove anything that doesn’t support it.

Every game has its own pillars. They are the elements/emotions our game is trying to explore and make the players feel.

In our case we want the players to be inspired by the story of the female role models. We want to show them possibilities that they can also be successful in their own terms, despite the challenges that they may face.

Using this principle, my exploding glitters mini game might not be the right feature to add into the game.

#2 Consider the time, budget, and resources needed.

Every feature added requires building, testing, and iterating. It means higher costs and utilizing more of our time and resources.

As an early stage startup that has a goal to launch our MVP this year, we need to be cautious on where we spend our money / time / energy.

Can we launch our MVP without these mini games? If the answer is plain yes, then we should remove them.

#3 WWTUF or What Would The Users Feel?

I just made up this abbreviation. *feature creep alert*

Making games is about testing our assumptions. A lot of times our definition of fun is different than what our users thinks or feels.

Will the players have fun with these mini games? The only way to find out is to test them.

#4 Remember that to launch a game is only the beginning, not the end

Releases of games are often postponed. We keep adding features and doing endless polish because we strive for perfection.

With our mission to use games to empower women in reaching their full potentials, the most important thing we can do with Just Juno at the moment is to deliver. The current global facts and figures only contribute to my sense of emergency.

There is no time to waste. There is no time to add more features into the game.

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