The Infinite Goods

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Recently, I saw Promare for the second time. If you haven’t heard of this film, think “superhero firefighters with robot suits versus pyrokinetic terrorists” and then that’s only the start. In short order with this premise, it then races towards crazytown at the speed of light while slamming an energy drink. It’s a roller-coaster ride and visual treat, but not an emotionally deep story – it’s not aiming for that.

But, is it good? It seems to have been what Studio Trigger wanted.

I’m also catching up on Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, the animated series. It has many story arcs, and like Promare, starts with a simple premise – Victorian martial arts action where people battle a vampire. However, over time it becomes a generational tale of people with “Stands,” psychic doubles, battling various evils and each others. Oh, and it’s filled with music jokes, crazy posing, and character designs somewhere between Tom of Finland and a Rave.

But, is it good? The creator is obviously having a blast and it’s enjoyable being in on the ride.

We can ask that question of so many things. Recently I saw Fellini’s famous surrealist character piece, And the Ship Sails On. And the Great British Bake Off. And any number of things.

But, where they good?

Well the fact I put time into them and got a lot out of them tells you I thought they were good. The thing is there are different kinds of good.

Promare and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures are experiences that are almost about feels, they’re states of mind. Fellini’s bizarre piece was both mood and exploration. The Great British Bakeoff is a mix of human and history and information. All were good, but not necessarily the same kind of good.

Right now you’re doubtlessly worrying about your own writing, art, games, etc. You wonder if they’re good, but that belies the question.

It’s not if they’re good – is it the kind of good you want?

Maybe the game you’re writing is supposed to be an action game of mood, of feeling over continuity, of mashed buttons over careful strategy. And that’s fine if you deliver the right kind of good.

Perhaps your story is inaccessible to many, a thing of dense references and subtle connections. It might not be for everyone, but it’ll be good to the right audience.

It could be your current creative work just has to be good to you as it’s fun, and if other people like it, they can sign on for the ride.

Stop worrying about doing “good” work and aim for the right kind of good. Make your choice of how your book or comic is supposed to go and embrace that. It focuses you, it guides you, it tells you what to leave out and what to include.

Also picking your “good” means that you accept you won’t please everyone – because odds are you won’t. If you were inventing chocolate or pizza for the first time, you could please most people, but those have been kind of done. So don’t please everyone, please the right people.

Life goes easier when you understand this. Besides, when you pick one good, you can find others, or expand your “goods” later in your works.

But pick a good and go for it. It may be shallow or deep, silly or serious, but it’ll be yours, and you can focus.

Steven Savage