Monday, May 31, 2010
I read an interesting article in the newest issue of the Wired magazine. The article is available on their website as well (it might be slightly cut, or not. Didn't check). Go read it.
Ok, now that you're back, you can maybe figure why its relevant to us. These dudes are talking about stuff that pierces KS straight through its black and rotten heart. KS represents an insane amount of manhours, time that us devs have spent on making it. On a personal level, we can't expect to get much anything out of it, nor is there any negative consequence if we just one day would decide to call it quits. Í mean, at most I have become somewhat better at English, and collected some questionable e-fame. I might as well disappear into the depths of 'net, never to be seen again. So why on earth are we still here? What drives us on?
Obviously the answer is something like the two authors try to suggest in their dialogue. There is a third motivator, something that is neither carrot nor stick, nor anything in between. I don't really like reading visual novels. But I find making one fascinating. I find it satisfying. I find it absolutely exhilarating talking with 15 or so other people about our common vision, figuring out problems, trashing their work and getting mine trashed, beaming words straight from my brain to my fingertips and every word means something to someone out there. Even when we are down in the dumps and things are not going well, the electrifying feeling is somewhere under all that. The article is right, I wouldn't want to do this for money. I wouldn't want to do this as some sort of mandatory exercise either. I do it because it's interesting.
What motivates us for passive consumerism, of entertainment or otherwise? Nothing, really. That's what passive means, you don't need much to watch TV (culturally appropriate here would be to mention anime, manga and visual novels I guess?). Is there satisfaction? I guess some, but it might not be comparable. It sure feels good to beat a hard video game, or immerse into Buffyverse (not sure about the latter). But years from now, do you remember that time you beat your hiscore? Do you remember season four of that TV series you used to like? Media has a tendency of drowning under... more and more of the same. Active participation will always stay with you, be it administerating a website or editing your pet tvtropes article.
The Internet, as it is, is largely built on this third motivator. For every commercial site there are dozens that are free, from wiki to sourceforge to all the deep and invisible undercurrents where 5 people are quietly working on a full rebuild of a 15-year old classic videogame or a translating a love story about disabled kids into a language that less than 0.6% of the world's population speak. Of all our fans, the ones I love the most are the ones who have been inspired to create something of their own. Fanfiction, fanart, translation project (how crazy is that huh? I love the translators), trying your own hand at making a visual novel, cosplay, whatever. There is a connection there, something that does not emerge between a TV show producer and a couch potato with glazed eyes and a bag of chips (though arguably, I'm sure there are lots of steamy LOST fanfiction too). Everyone really should try to find their "thing", something that can hold their interest and open up a way to do something they enjoy more than watching reruns. At this point anyone who says "but I have no skills in anything" will get spankings, because that's too weakass for me to tolerate. Learn by doing. That's what we did. First attempt sucks? Throw it away, restart. That's what we did, too.
I remember when I started working on KS. There were no great visions. There was no fanbase. There was no concept of any kind of how a visual novel is made. In retrospect, there was no perceptible reason why I should pick that time, that project as something I'd spend a considerable chunk of my time on for the next howevermany years. I just thought it would be interesting. I traded a lot of time spent on consuming media to creating some, talking about it and getting yelled at by people whose names I don't know. Worth it? Yes. Because it's just too interesting to have missed any of this.