I still think this three-year-old post covers a lot of ground, but some recent events brought me back to the topic.
A friend recently held a small LAN party, and we got to talking about some game or movie that was reaching ahead of itself in terms of graphics. “They were good for the time.” No, they were awful for the time, once you got past “ooh, computer graphics” to “wow, those are really blatant computer graphics.” The technology was bleeding edge for the time, but its use was poor; if the acting or the special effects break your immersion such that you notice them as acting or special effects, they are probably bad acting or special effects. Good special effects look like they belong and are part of the world, not like they are special effects. If you want to see why Peter Dinklage won an Emmy this year, watch any episode of Game of Thrones and pick out which characters seem to know they are in a fantasy epic, versus the people who seem to be their characters.
I saw Vanessa Carlton perform this week. (You know her for this song. Can I comment on a world in which Britney Spears has sold 75 million albums while Vanessa Carlton is an opening act in small venues? Buy Heroes and Thieves. Digression over.) She mostly performed songs from her latest album, and it sounds much better live. She kept describing it as an “arts and crafts album” that was self-funded while she was living in The Shire. Performed as such, with just her, her piano, and her friend with a violin, it sounds great, personal and moving. The published album has obviously been worked over in the studio, and the “obviously” is a problem, particularly when the artist does not need it.
See also Powerpoint presentations using multiple animations per slide and/or an avalanche of clip art.
I link these to the hype and expectations post because they are all under the rubric of “obviously trying,” which usually means “failing.” Some people award points for effort, because they were obviously trying for something big. I say that jumping halfway across the Grand Canyon is not something that should be encouraged. If you have enough bricks for a one-story ranch house, do not build the first foot of a mansion, run out, then pat yourself on the back for daring to dream. Portal was a small game but a great game. Torchlight did little but did it very well. Alganon aimed for a modest success and embarrassingly failed at even being worth the time to download, which is a sad update to the original post.
Do dare to dream, but in the end your accomplishments weigh more than your aspirations.
While writing this, I discovered that Peter Dinklage and Summer Glau will be in Knights of Badassdom next year. I may already be sold.