While covering episodes 1 and 2 of currently-airing anime Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, I wrote meandry academic thoughts between screenshots in a gallery experiment. Although an exceedingly fun and clever show, with moderately deep characters and creative artistic flourishes, I’m not the most qualified to academically study it. Instead, let’s meander over an idea from the episode. How does someone make and complete a project, fulfilling and profitable, under what might seem like an impossible deadline?
Go for “done” rather than “delectable.”
On the team, we have background artist Midori, character artist Tsubame, and non-artist Sayaka. Earlier on in the episode, we see Midori and Tsubame daydream their way through attempting to fix a problem, only to run into problems, until Sayaka, the realist on the team, needs to step in to help out. When they later find their way into an actual animation project, Sayaka is the one that helps them figure out the scope of their project.
Let’s meander to game jams and addressing ambition and scope.
A game jam is a weekend event where game developers jam on making videogames. I’ve attended three as a spectator and interviewer. I saw hundreds of jammers succeed or fail and the biggest difference between success and failure was scope. Talent means nothing. It’s all about putting in the work into both doing what you can for the project and doing what you can for yourself. Over each game jam, I experienced some form of burn-out, some lasting for days at a time.
I burned out more when I was more ambitious.
So when Sayaka tries to reign back Midori and Tsubame into backgrounds and character models that are more realistic to draw under their project’s scope, I was reminded back to the jammers making videogames over each of those three weekends, and more so, my own writing projects. Even for an essay like this, the scoping takes place in my mind. I was excited while watching the first two episodes and had plenty to say. It’s not to say that I was disappointed watching this third episode, more that I physically didn’t have the energy to write something more ambitious, so I had to scale back to the scope to something more reasonable.
So, instead, I reigned back the scope of this mini-project.
Writing journalistic reports of those three game jams, the second was by far the most ambitious because my scope was everything. Even with help from another person, I just couldn’t cover everything. It took me nearly a month to write it all well past any reasonable deadline, it was an obscene number of words, and it was probably unreadable for most attention spans so it did nothing for me within that community or professionally.
That’s the problem when you don’t work within your scope.
When you allow scope creep to change your goals, you end up animating new scenes well against your better judgment, writing hundreds of thousands of words no one will read, programming some element that will only burn you out and not even make the cut in the game, and any other examples. In my initial draft for the introductory paragraph, I was going to write more extensively about how the screenshot template was a fun experiment, the thises and thats, but really, when I spin my wheels like that from a writing perspective, and I see it’s not going anywhere, that’s when it’s time to change factors.
Write to different music or more to point – change the scope.
Sayaka channels great project managers in that she guides the talent along without interrupting them much. When they both show art to the team, Sayaka is the one to remind them not to be too complex. Tsubame’s close-up drawings of their main character or Midori’s complex backgrounds might be fine for key scenes, but otherwise, it’s OK to take shortcuts in smaller projects. When I wrote my first novel, if I didn’t have the details already pre-planned from a character or narrative perspective, I imagined possible scenarios, then went with the one that seemed to make the most sense.
I didn’t know what I needed and didn’t; I will now for my second novel.
I remember back to the second game jam, where one particular team was made of seasoned game jammers, where they ran their meetings like you’d see in Corporate America. They scoffed at me when I told them that, yet they returned to their jobs in Corporate America after the weekend was over. It’s all the same. Steal from all avenues you can, learn from disparate industries, adapt what works from those into your own creative projects, and don’t replicate their failures to accomplish your own successes. They had most certainly found themselves in the final hours of their projects, before the deadline, without a good enough project to present. Their planning was all based around core requirements and nice-to-haves. A mini-map in their game was a nice-to-have. Core requirements were ensuring the game was playable and winnable.
What are your project’s core requirements?
You can always add the nice-to-haves after you’ve completed the bulk of the work. For me, the core requirement is getting out essays out daily, and the nice-to-have is editing for clarity and conciseness. I won’t be going back over and editing this essay. I need to get onto the next essay and the next. I wonder if that’ll be the same with upcoming episodes of this anime? Will the trio face similar challenges as those game jammers and weekend journalists? They seem to have a good scope going for their animation project so that’s a good start. I rather enjoy it when shows can guide me along toward their conclusions, so I don’t like to speculate much outside of these thoughts here. I’ve found that if the narrative leaves you wondering a bit too much, that’s when you can see the seams and breaks in the project.
Otherwise, if the work is consistent, it tends to work well.
|Sources: My viewing experiences.|
|Inspirations: My anime reviews of Golden Kamuy and MEGALOBOX were briefly popular. I wanted to watch the show and wanted to write random thoughts, so here we are…|
|Related: Other Series Reviews. [Episode 01 02 03.] Other Media Meandry essays.|
|Screenshot: I took 26 screenshots, but only felt like posting this one of a typo.|
|Written On: 2020 January 28 [55 minutes. 9:05pm to 10pm.]|
|Last Edited: 2020 January 28 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|