Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Price of Perfection

With any luck, I've finally finished recording the actual game footage for my run of Mega Man 4, destined to join my runs of Mega Man 1-3 on YouTube.

I say, "with any luck," because I'm not sure if I'm technically finished.

Mega Man 4 screenshot: A line of energy pellets in Skull Man's stageDon't mistake what I'm saying; I've been playing this game for well over a decade (not continuously, mind you), so it's not that I'm unsure whether I officially reached the end of the game or not. Rather, as I've been looking back at what I've recorded, I've often thought to myself that I could do just a little bit better. That I could make things just a smidge more impressive.

So I've been re-recording a few things, even though what I have would be a perfectly acceptable finished product.

Mega Man 4 screenshot: Toad Man battleMega Man 4 is my best Mega Man game, after all, and my favorite. The level of impressiveness should go through the roof for these videos. The "wow" factor should be off the charts. There is no reason why this should not be the best set of videos I'll ever release.

...Or is there? I have poured hours upon hours of my free time into this project, and I haven't even started the audio commentary yet. Will anyone notice I fired one more shot than was necessary to dispatch that robot fish? Will anyone care I couldn't dodge that one tiny fireball because my jump buttion got stuck? How many days can I spend trying to perfect this project before it becomes excessive?

Mega Man 4 screenshot: slinkys (slinkies?) of doom from the first Dr. Cossack stageThere's a fine line between wanting to do your best and being a perfectionist, and it's difficult for me to determine whether or not any given video showcases the best I can do. Or, at least, the best I can do within a reasonable time frame. Given enough practice and trial-and-error, I could surely breeze through the game without ever missing a beat or getting hit. In the same amount of time, however, I could probably go back to school for another degree and then learn how to knit. That fine line needs to be drawn somewhere.

While I take pride in my work, I'm not in it for the recognition (though I certainly don't mind a little bit of positive feedback from time to time); specifically, I'm not trying to make "the most amazing Mega Man videos on the Internet." When it comes to video games, there is always someone better than you. All I want is to make a unique contribution that is still worth watching even after you've seen all those pixel-perfect and impossibly precise gamers who can bend the laws of gaming physics to their will.

Mega Man 4 screenshot: giant hippo battle from Ring Man's stageThis run of Mega Man 4 won't be perfect, but it doesn't have to be. There'll be enough showoffery to thrill veterans and newcomers alike. Heck, I might even pull a few tricks that nobody's ever seen before. And regardless of how the video turns out, the audio commentary is where I can salvage even the worst of my mistakes and shortcomings. I can laugh at my failures. I can point out the nifty little techniques that didn't make the final cut. I can draw attention away from that one tiny mistake in an otherwise perfect section by DID YOU SEE THAT? THAT WAS INCREDIBLE!

Maybe I don't need to go back and re-record Dive Man's stage just because I got hit once. I think I can let that go. I have nothing to prove. I aim only to entertain, educate, and maybe to spark a little conversation. If you take something away from my videos; if you're in better spirits after watching than you were before; if the videos are worthwhile at all, then that momentary lapse in awesome is inconsequential.

Hang on; did I say "momentary lapse in awesome"? I meant to sa--YOU HEAR THAT, ROBOT FISH? I OWN YOU!

No comments: