Doing the tiny, irrelevant things is good for the soul

Before I start discussing about the feature I’ve added to my card game, I must first tell you one cool thing that japanese anime artists do, that many others don’t do.

There’s something really cool in anime productions. The artists spend crazy time on adding details or scenes that are barely used in the movies at all. They do additional work that no sane producer would ever allow. They do some tedious, extra work, where gain is minimal.

The producer’s mind – and very many software development methods such as as any scrum system – usually try to follow this rule:

  • Maximize value, minimize work.

I tried googling for a certain scene image that I remember from Fullmetal Alchemist, but since I couldn’t find it, the next one needs to do. Here’s an example image from the Fullmetal Alchemist anime series:

This type of image might be shown for like 2 seconds. Just 2 seconds. And then it’s never used again. Never shown. Look at that image.

Creating this type of image takes time. It’s not born in 2 minutes. And there’s tons of other similar scenes in those series.

The city image I’m thinking had even more details, and it could have been left undone. Or it could have been done with much less effort.

Yet, the artists chose to spend quite a bit of time doing this thing, that adds quite little value. I don’t argue that it wouldn’t be important for viewers to see how the city looks and all that, but hopefully you do get my point. The point is: drawing a very detailed piece of art takes a long time. Showing/using that piece of art only for a second or two means it’s tons of work per second of film. If all seconds were like that, it would be pretty darned expensive movie to draw.

I mean… that art scene was so beatiful, that why not let me look at it for 15 or 30 seconds. Just 2? What’s going on?

But anime aside.

The point is that these type of small, meaningless details add *soul* to a game (or a movie). They add something unexpected, something different to look for. When something new, unexpected occurs… and if that’s a rare moment, that’s good.

Even if it takes some additional time.

And here we finally arrive to what I’ve been cooking the last month.

I’ve tested, balanced, shaped, manipulated, tested, balanced and done some crunch work to get my physical card game The Infected into a releasable state. During the last month, I added one feature. It is somewhat minor addition (using the very basic core elements there’s already in the game) – it’s total of 3 new cards. And 3 new pieces of art. That might not sound like a lot, but if we keep in mind there’s 108 cards in my game, so that’s about 3% of all the cards in the game.

I could have chosen not to add the feature nor these cards. I’m not saying I’m anywhere *near* the level of japanese anime masters in bringing new & exciting things into their product. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near the level of game designers who pour tremendous amount of effort into perfecting their games.

What I’m saying that in my own internal level of “how polished this game is”, I’m darned happy I chose to add the allies in the game. The allies in the game bring some amount of luck (to human team’s favor), but also add a small tactical element to use. I’m not saying they would be useless, but I could argue that this ally feature goes to the basket of “nice to have” feature. Not a critical, not useless either, but perhaps a fun one.

Here’s one of the new ally cards:

Who knows, maybe adding this feature brings something different in the game. Perhaps some fun emerges from it.

Just maybe this brings bit more soul to the game.

Juuso Hietalahti