i'm going to use two examples to illustrate this point, one of them being sort of a failure and the other being a success that shows what happens when you stop caring about conventional definitions of success.
(firstly, this isn't an advocacy of phil vischer or veggietales. despite his series of humble blog posts being a good cautionary tale and quite educational about the industry [such as his story of how dreamworks ruined the made-for-video market by pricing the shrek 1 dvd, a theatrical release, as a loss-leader], he's still a conservative who has happily worked with douglas tennapel and silas robertson.]
does anyone remember the veggietales jonah movie? to hear phil vischer, founder of the studio behind it, tell it, it was indeed meant to be longer than any previous veggietales home video release - about 45 minutes to an hour. however, it still bears repeating that that still gave the project a limited scope. for example "restaurant framing story - 5 minutes" and then the jonah story starts, right? however, the main writer of the script, who was phil's friend on top of that (definitely making it hard to be objective), was going way over-budget in terms of writing. like, there were 15 minutes' worth of script and it was still in the framing story
. that would have been almost a third of the project right there, and the writer hadn't even gotten to the actual titular character yet. so the issue at hand was that even though vischer knew
it was wrong, he couldn't bring himself to cut anything because well, there wasn't anything WRONG with the material, and it would be a shame to throw it out. (i'd like to make that distinction because the guy had kind of conflated it in his head at the time where rejecting the material on the basis of "we can't afford this" sort of felt like calling the material itself bad.) why not just make the project scope bigger?
needless to say, that didn't really work out. as narf's blog post relates, this inflated the movie into having a really long production time and budget, like well... a movie. even though the veggietales company had already got dissolved a bit after the film released due to a lawsuit, their financial situation before that still wasn't great. over half the employees who had worked on "jonah" would be let go the very next day after the internal screening party for the movie - the actual wrap party would be cancelled too, and i think that's just about the most symbolic thing to take away from this series of events.
i haven't watched it in like ten years, but i recall the movie itself being a bit bumbling too. "After Jonah is denied entrance to the city, the Pirates appear, explaining they won the Mr. Twisty's Twisted Cheese Curls sweepstakes which grants them free access to Nineveh where they are produced. The group is soon arrested after Larry tries to steal the King's Cheese Curls and are sentenced to death.". what? and don't even get me started on the gospel song in the whale's belly. yeah, it's really clear here that no idea in this script was ever shot down.
and the lesson here to take away is how vischer recounts that if he'd really tried, he could have saved the studio by cancelling or turning the jonah movie back into a direct-to-video thing and just going back to releasing two or three small-scale videotapes per year. but just like owlboy, he got really attached to this idea of a BIG movie that could actually compete with disney on their level. so big that he had to do all these crazy things to try and fund the jonah movie, when it all turned out to be for nothing. veggietales live on stage? madness! and it didn't end there. i actually owned the jonah pirate ship playset, the jonah pc game, minnesota cuke and the coconut apes (a donkey kong country ripoff), the mystery of veggie island (an adventure game)... all because one guy couldn't admit that he couldn't compete with disney or dreamworks. now, i'm sure a lot of the people reading this won't have this specific hangup, but vischer mentioned feeling like backing down from a potential blow-up of success felt like not only betraying god by not giving him his own disney-rivalling franchise, but that it would just show a lack of faith in god. while that's not really applicable to most users here, i think it's still applicable to look at how he felt like he "deserved" to be competitive when that really wasn't true. and even though i'm not speaking in a religious sense here, i think it's still important to look at how a lot of companies (disney, dreamworks, nintendo, microsoft) got to be the biggest in the business specifically because
of a lack of moral restraints, and that trying to compete on their level is going to either erode your heart or your wallet.
that doesn't sound quite as profound as it did in my head, but you guys get it, right? not being able to scrap ideas because they were "too good to not do" just lead to a project that was way too big, took way too long, and didn't make enough money. how are the studios mentioned in the article even doing, these days? i know axiom verge got a sequel, but are any of the other studios still making their own projects or have they disbanded/become mercenary now? that's one last thing i'd want to get across from phil vischer's blog posts - where if you make a project take too long, when you release it it has, HAS to justify the last [x] years that were spent on it, and you're well aware of it too, which even for a success isn't a great feeling
KobaBeach wrote: ↑1 month ago
In all these communities you end up with little hatedoms obsessed with the right and wrong ways to create games, fixating on showing off how bad the works of CHIKO are or how terrible Mega Man 42 is for content.
THIS THIS JESUS CHRIST OH MY GOD THIS. someone recently tried to make an lp of this zelda classic quest (the zelda classic term for a game, hack, episode...) called "ballad of a bloodline" on somethingawful. and my friend group didn't really like that that was happening because it was kind of insulting. a few spoilers ahoy but whatever
-a FF6-esque "seven years later" system that happens after the first three dungeons, with a ruined overworld (and many heart pieces, and magic/bomb capacity upgrades only being in the non-ruined overworld)
-complex "custom bosses" instead of the zelda 1 bosses, which were done using puzzle-room-like systems where using the correct item on the correct tile in one room would invisibly transport you to the next room/phase of the boss
-crossover elements, especially in the ruined world (mega man x reploids such as morph moth, dynamo, and sigma, final fantasy characters, the guardian from ultima???)
-an accompanying character that had a romance with this game's "link" (and also a pet)
-multiple endings based on what optional content in the game that you did
and all this in 2008 before zelda classic even had actual scripting (which was another reason we were against it being so publicly criticized - it's 13 years old!) you'll notice that while these ideas have quite the potential for bad execution (and they indeed had some, with the bosses in particular not having very great animation built around their structure, being compared to "powerpoint bosses"), that's only because the creator had actual unique and ambitious ideas and was willing to TRY and implement them without fear of them looking silly.
the "two cakes" thing is another thing i want to get across as to why i was so against this quest becoming something that people even today would know zelda classic for. the reason is that having an "anti-goal" (whether that be ballad of a bloodline, chiko hacks, mega man 42...) creates this really nervous and suffocating disposition where you start to worry too much about your project "using ideas that such-and-such would". it's really creatively stifling and i'd like to agree with narf that a bad cake is worth more than accidentally creating a community where people are scared to even try to make a cake. like okay, you can laugh at his quest but the dude's made like 10 quests, 4 of them being sequels to "ballad of a bloodline". a lot of the people laughing at it can't claim anywhere near that, and don't you think it's a little sad that they not only never felt the motivation that this guy did, but are quite possibly infecting other people with the same lack of excitement to create?