Zen and the art of the Project Log

Written by Peter Dickison

September 17, 2007 | 10:20

Tags: #art #blog #dickison #forums #guide #log #orac #peter #photo #project #wmd

Companies: #mod

Why Write a Log?

So, why write a log in the first place? Why not just get on, build the thing and show some pictures when it’s done? Well, there are many good reasons to publish a project log:

To serve your motives.

You’re obviously going to show your mod on the Internet for a reason:

If that reason is attention, then a well-documented project log will (providing your modding is good) happily massage your ego with months of jaw-drop-bowing-smileys and offers to bear your children. It will provide a build-up to your presenting of your final mod – allowing time and interest to gather over the months of the project prior to unveiling the finished mod.

Quite simply, more people will have the opportunity to see your project, hopefully like it, send the link to friends or post it on other websites – and so the interest spreads. With the attention a good project and log create can come other perks, which I’ll mention later.

If your reason is a sharing, altruistic wish to pass on and receive experience, skills, knowledge and ideas, then a good project log will also allow you to do this, and more. Most people are a mixture of reasons – enjoying the praise, encouragement and constructive feedback a log brings, while being able to assist and be assisted by others during the build.

To have a record of what you’ve done or plan to do.

A project log can be a useful reference when coming back to a project after an absence. I once had to read my own project log to work out how to assemble something again after a break of several months in a project. Thanks to detailed pictures and notes it wasn’t a problem. Also, recording what you’ve done and plan to do often helps you organise your thoughts about the project; it can assist you in focusing on what needs to be done to complete a build.

Zen and the art of the Project Log Why we write them Zen and the art of the Project Log Why we write them
Dutchcedar's BaDassumption worklog has generated over 550 posts of discussion, feedback and awe.

For the feedback on your project.

Feedback is useful stuff. Praise and encouragement help to motivate you to keep modding; ideas and suggestions from the community often throw up some great solutions to problems you may be having, or help you to avoid a situation like the one in the intro: pointing out mistakes you may have made or things you may have overlooked. I’ve seen many project logs where the modder has implemented useful suggestions to the benefit of the project. This is not to say, however, you should adopt every idea thrown at you: the best modders have a clear idea of what they want to achieve through meticulous planning, have usually thought of everything and spend most of their project log saying stuff like “yes, I’ve thought of that” and “no, I have no intention of doing that” in response to suggestions.

PL Reply

To foster a sense of community.

Let’s face it, unless you’re part of a local modding group or scene, modding can be a lonely hobby. Before we start blubbing into our hankies at the thought, the reality is that, to Joe Average down the road, we modders are a weird lot. This can make it a bit difficult to talk about modding to friends and relatives. When the only people who get what you do in your spare time are the guys on your favourite modding site, then discussion forums often become the only way many modders can interact with the like-minded; starting a project log on your latest creation is a great way to participate in the global modding community.

The respect of your peers.

The modding community loves a good project log. They appreciate it when you make the effort to document and share your skills and ideas, and are far more likely to make the effort to comment. All the top modders, modding website staffers and magazine editors I’ve spoken to over the years, have nothing but total respect for those who take the time to do a thorough write-up of their projects.

The Down-Side

It ‘ain’t all rose-coloured safety glasses, however: project logging can have a few drawbacks as well. It’s a wise modder who considers them - weighing them against the advantages of having a project log - before going ahead.

I think the main drawback to writing and regularly updating a project log, and probably the main reason many don’t bother, is all the extra work involved. If you’re going to do it properly, logging can be a big distraction from working on the mod. It’s a time-consuming business: constantly stopping work to take another photo; jotting down notes; editing the pics; resizing; writing text and captions; formatting; uploading and posting and the hours replying to questions and comments – all these can easily take up as much time as the modding. Time, some simply don’t have.

Another drawback, mainly applying to forum-based project logs, is destructive feedback. Just as there is constructive feedback, there are also (on some forums more than others) the destructive twits who gets on only to diss your hard work in the rudest possible terms. This can be off-putting to many would-be project loggers. A thick skin and confidence in your work are usually needed in these situations; along with careful selection of the site in which you choose to post your log, and not bothering to visit the occasional twit-habitat that may link to or discuss your project.

Personally, I consider the extra work worth it, and believe the advantages outweigh the drawbacks. Some simply don’t have the time or inclination, however, and are better off just getting on and working on their mod; providing they are willing to accept that it’s not likely to get as large a response as an equivalent project with a full worklog: one that may have been creating interest for many months before completion.

Whatever your motivation, if you’ve made the effort to show your project, you may as well do it properly. To aid you in this, I’ve put together some tips on how to do justice to all your hard work, and make your project log as successful and popular as the quality of your mod allows.
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