Narrascope talk: Scope Creep

Carolyn VanEseltine livetweeted Cat Manning’s talk Writing Within the Lines: Designing IF Without Scope Creep and I thought it would be of interest to writers here! It’s always possible to expand and expand inessential elements, and it can be so tempting to let that expansion take over. But scope creep leads to not only a bad author experience and potential burnout, but also lack of clarity for a player about what the game is about and what it’s communicating.

What do you think of the slides? Have you had times where you’ve resisted (or succumbed to) scope creep?


I have not yet read this but this is very pertinent to me – creep of all natures in development is tempting. Scope, mechanic, even artwork can creep forward ---- all like vines of ivy crawling up the wall, creep[ing ever forward

Thank you for the link. :two_hearts:


I’m on mobile, so haven’t opened the link yet. But for starters, I wanted to say this: At first, I wanted my WiP be about classic save-the-world RPG. However, as I went into the writing, everything feels blur, and actually planning the plot made me realize that the whole story is one megachonk of fillers.

Knowing I don’t like that, now I’m trying to approach this from different angle. Hint: there’s still the save-the-world element, but I wanted to make the plot clear & coherent.

1 Like

I’m grateful that this is out there, because scope creep is way too real. I think some people are intimidated to write an IF game with a narrow scope because it won’t be complex, but effective fiction is created on simplicity. If it’s easy to understand, people will like it. (Usually.)

I see scope creep happen early for a lot of authors, both new and experienced. It’s so easy to just cram everything in, but paring a game down to the essentials is what makes it so great.


Nice find! Thank you!

I like the ‘‘Know your Limitation’’ . It’s so easy to get swept in the frenzy and exictement of ‘Omg this idea is genius! it gonna be great! Peoples wanna read it!’’ . Then you start writing, and…you find your limitations quickly .

Writing isn’t just about WORDS, or SENTANCES, or DIALOGUE, or PLOT, or NARRATIVE, or PEOPLES…

But it take STAMINA to keep at it, on and on .

Anyway, Best of luck to anyone who write! Keep the light on! :hugs:

1 Like

I am the scope creep incarnated that joining the fact I am the havoc chaotic mess incarnated too.

I am learning through the simplicity of write first the basis of a scene completely with the major branching only when the chapter are done or the ending of that plot or story arch; returning and add further development and secondary schemes. That’s the way to keeping the ivy of plot both comprehensive and easy to following.

At least for me. I am not a fancy writer or anything like that.


Well, it’s definitely reassuring to know that the experience of writing my game is universal enough to have a word for it!

1 Like

what’s scope creep?

Definition here - the rest of the thread is well worth a read too.


Thanks for that.

It was a really good talk. Congrats to Cat, it was such a privilege to see it live! (Narrascope was an amazing experience overall!)


It really was a great talk–and its certainly as relevant to my work as an editor. It’s my job not to let it happen! I would say I only have varying degrees of success :grimacing:


I’ve been struggling with this in Werewolves 2. The main problem so far has been the various states going into the sequel. I didn’t want the game to be one of those sequels that only takes 2 or 3 things from game 1 and uses them for mild alterations, but catering to all those end states has been a huge headache resulting in a slower development time.

I’ve written thousands of words for each permutation, including 5 entire side-stories based on the endings from book 1. This has resulted in what I consider to be a massive scope creep in word count. A chapter that should be around 15k words bloats to 30k because I need to include paths and alt text for all permutations carried over from Werewolves 1. It’s also tough because not only do I need to continue the three RO relationships from book 1, but make readers happy by adding 2 new ones on top of that.

Once I realized this issue, what I’ve been doing is trying to wrap up most of those individual alt-paths halfway through the game and tidying the structure up for the second half. I think players will appreciate the attention I paid to their choices in Werewolves 1, but if I had to go back and do it again, I’d cut it back a bit so I can focus on a tighter story and getting the game out on time without driving myself crazy