Stopping feature creep in your game designs

I’m been in a complete slump in writing games for the last few years. Here’s why.

I designed a game based on the classic cannon fodder game rthat originally came out on the Amiga computer years ago. My game didn’t have all the same features, and to be honest, wasn’t any way near as good, but hey, it was only me writing it. I put loads of features into it all the same, and spent a couple of months working on it.

I then got approached by a small games publisher looking to put my game out in shops as part of their new budget range of games. I was really excited and signed up straight away, it wasn’t for much money, considering how long I’d spent working on the game, but all the same I saw it as my break into the industry.

The publisher wanted some things tidying up and then a few features added, I tried where I could to accomodate them, but they kept on bout one particular feature that I just had no clue how to do. I was also under pressure from colege work too, so in the end I ended up quitting development on the game. The publisher gave up contacting me and we parted ways, eventually they stopped publishing games, so it wouldn’t have been my leap into fame and stardom anyway.

After that I felt really negative torwards games, that any ambitious I wrote was doomed to failure. So I avoided any games that started to look complex to write.

The point of all this is if you have a game design, stick to it. Don’t go adding loads of extra features for the sake of it, finish it with what you’ve done and let some people play it. If they say it’s too shallow and needs more, then add some things, just don’t get carried away. Adding too many features during the development period of your game will only lead to spageti code and frustrations as you keep finding more and more bugs cropping up that get impossible to fix due to the amount of extras you’ve jammed in. Stick to the KISS formula, “Keep It Simple Stupid”.

Look at the best selling casual games out there, they all work on very simple game designs, nothing too fancy, leave that to teh games written by huge development studios with 200 coders per game. You might be able to get a load of features working, but you won’t be able to make them all look polished and good in the end.

This is what I’m doing, sticking to writing simple games until I’m more experienced and have a team together, even if the team just design levels and draw some graphics, it’ll still make the whole task much easier on me as a developer.

Anyway, must get back to my casual game “Colour Pop”, look out for it soon on this blog. I’ll even include the source code, aren’t you lucky.

On a completely seperate subject: I finally upgraded my standard 28″ TV to a 37″ widescreen HD LCD set, and it’s fecking great! the 360 looks amazing on it. If you’re still running your 360 on a normal telly, go buy HD now! You won’t regret it. Now if only I could stop the girlfriend hogging it playing Call of Duty 4

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