How to Prevent Feature Creep

What is Feature Creep?

How do you prevent feature creep? Let's go over some prevention tactics that industry professionals use to help streamline their workflow.

Feature creep - otherwise known as “requirement creep” or “scope creep”, feature creep can happen at any time during the production of a project. Whether it’s coming up with an idea for a game or animation, to the final phases of testing, feature creep is the addition of new ideas that were not originally intended to be integrated in the project. Sometimes the budget is less than what you should have at that time of production, which could be a result of feature creep. A production workflow can also stagnate due to feature creep, especially if there is a high number of features being taken on by a small team. Either way, feature creep can typically be prevented whenever an idea is born.

How do you approach brainstorming?

Everyone’s brainstorming process is different. Take a moment to think about the way you or your team approaches brainstorming. Is it more freeform and random, or are they planned sessions? Your creative process is like an on and off light-switch. Whether you’re on a team or alone, it’s hard to identify when to turn off your switch when it comes to finalizing your ideas. When to explore a certain idea further, and when to put that idea on the backburner for another project.

Collaboration takes cooperation. If some people on your team advise against your suggested feature, or vice versa, your role as being a part of the team is to listen and consider their words. Determine factors such as budget, and how much time the feature will need to be executed correctly. Are their concerns valid? In other words, you will have to discuss things further with your team, to help realize whether the feature is worth being implemented into the project or not.

Is your new feature worth it?

Jim Flatmo, our Game Design and Production instructor refers this as mission specification. “Any time we’re looking at a potential new feature in a product, we check it against our mission: Does this fit our mission spec or not? Does your operations supervisor have this in their plan? If so, how disruptive would it be? Does this align with our specification sheet? If the answer to any of the above questions is “no”, then you will have to justify the new feature.

This can include breaking the feature down in a cost/benefit analysis. Since we’re a very small, nimble operation, our primary “cost” resource is *time*, so if the add is going to add more time than what we can justify – particularly if it doesn’t fit into the mission spec – it doesn’t get added. For our Game Design and Production students, they plan out their project in timelines and milestones, adding any features that they believe are crucial to the game. They learn what they are willing to take away to “pay for it” in time? Time is a finite resource, and every feature has a cost.