The Manifesto is proud to present the second installment of a month-long series by friend of the blog and creator of SHIPtember, Simon Liu.
Welcome to another installment of SHIPrites. Thank you all for the comments from our first volume, either on the blog, Flickr, text, messenger, or my preferred method of tin cans connected by string. It was great to be able to share some of my thoughts and my view of SHIPtember. But it’s just that: MY view.
This isn’t your standard contest, it’s not your standard themed build-month. This is SHIPtember. I may have come up with the original concept, but as we discussed last week the concept is all about evolving and iterating. This extends to SHIPtember itself.
Remember the first year, how some students couldn’t do SHIPtember because they went off to school and were physically separated from their collections? Next iteration: start in August! It’s not ideal, but it works. I never think of the endeavor as ‘my’ SHIPtember, it’s ‘our‘ SHIPtember and everyone should try to do it the best they can (still has to be space SHIPs). That can mean very different things to different people.
There are basically three guiding principles I thought would be important. I’m not going to call them laws, as they can be flexible. Plus there already is a hallowed set of Three Laws (RIP Mr Asimov).
1) Build a SHIP
2) Do it within the confines of September
3) Post WIPs.
Fairly simple guidelines.
It’s like when I wash my car. It’s not super fancy, but it’s nice, and it photographs well:
I won’t get into how this is a horrible LEGO car, or how the Bose speakers were almost too big to accommodate a hockey bag. But it’s black, and black cars are gorgeous… when clean. So when it’s dirty I have several options, much like the participants in SHIPtember.
I could do the bare minimum and drive it in the rain – that gets it mostly clean, right? That’d meet the minimum requirements of getting it cleaner much like building a basic 100-stud long spaceship. Or I could take it to the car wash – it does a pretty good job and I can get the upgraded ultra wash – that’s the next step, say starting and finishing within the confines of September. And of course most people would choose the third option, to hand wash it and wax on and off till it’s a martial arts shiny glory. Which is like accomplishing all three principles.
Of course any of these approaches will accomplish the primary goal, and depending on the individual builder, they may or may not be able to perform all the elements of SHIPtember. Some (like Keith) might argue why even bother with the exercise if you can’t follow the so-called rules and perform these three simple steps?
For some people it’s more fun to ‘savor the surprise‘ and some would much rather have fun building their perfect SHIP instead of rushing in a month to build something less optimal. Sioka has been working on this 2015 SHIPtember entry…
…since 2015’s SHIPtember. You can see some of his progress in here, that’s dedication to doing what he thinks is the right.
Again, you control the action in SHIPtember. You might not even realize it how much you’re controlling it, based not only on the way you approach the so-called rules, but your SHIP itself. Because much like Asimov’s Three Laws, there is the unspoken SHIPtember Zeroth Guideline:
0) SHIPtember is as hard as you make it.
SHIPtember gives you a lot of choices and options, and some are more obvious than others. The 100 stud mark is extremely arbitrary, but most builders can accomplish this threshold fairly easily. In fact there are many people who have comlpeted a SHIP in a single day, and I say more the power to them if they’re having fun.
But in my mind, SHIPtember is about the journey to get to the best SHIP you can build in a month-long time frame. That’s how I make it hard for myself, I keep going until I basically run out of time. Other people do it differently – it’s fascinating to see even if people don’t realize it.
Some people will do it without bricklinking orders, others will work in difficult to use colours and still others will use the largest possible pieces to cover the most areas. I think some people ‘get‘ that they’re making things difficult for themselves and how overcoming that difficulty is part of the SHIPtember spirit. You’ll often see comments that people are ‘trying new things’ or picking shapes and styles they’ve never tried. SHIPtember seems to have evolution and iteration embedded within it’s ethos – not just for the SHIP that is being built, but the builders themselves.
As I look at the sad state of my SHIP this year, the one extra difficulty level I added for myself this year was going to Minifig Scale. I’m not going into the argument of which is better – there are some amazing examples of both. But for me, I can say Minifig scale is HARDER. It requires more parts and different structure than it’s microscale counterpart that typically doesn’t require an interior. Simply choosing the scale of a SHIP dictates the difficulty you may encounter, and this year there was a push for Minifig – both because it shifts the stream back into what most would consider the classical ‘SHIP’s of old, but also a push to make it harder for people 🙂
-sadly, myself included.
Then there are some super star SHIPbuilders who take it to the next level and basically own these constraints on building. Last year, Adam Dodge challenged himself to score a SHIPhat-trick: build three amazing SHIPs, in three different scales.
In the course of SHIPtember Adam built Micro, Minifig and Technic Fig scale SHIPs – all of which were super swooshable – another difficulty multiplier.
And as I write this out at 2am, I think adding SHIPrites may have also been a poor choice to increase the so-called difficulty of my SHIPtember. It would have been much easier to publish the articles I had pre-written instead of throwing them away for a more organic Manifesto series written in the heat of the moment. But it’ll just be another wrinkle that makes this particular SHIPtember journey memorable…
Last week we talked a lot about the journey, which reminded me of the many trips I’ve taken to Brickworld Chicago, Brickfair VA and BrickCon. And while the purpose was to get to the convention, the journey itself can be fantastic. I’ve taken my poor little Altima to many of these gatherings, loading her up like I was running for the hills:
And like SHIPtember, it’s way more fun with people – having done the drive before solo it’s not nearly as fun as having a few people in the car. Much like the commentators in SHIPtember, having those extra bodies makes all the difference – quite a few of my most ambitious and craziest build plans were concocted during one of these drives and made the journey special.
So are you simply going to fly to your destination? Take a train? Drive? Are you going to take the interstate and stop only for food and gas? Or will you take the back roads and stop at every interesting sight you come across?
As we enter our second full week of SHIPtember, I again implore you constant readers and SHIPwrights to think about making your SHIPtember the best SHIP it can be and choose not the easiest approach, but the hardest and most rewarding.
Not only does the Journey matter, but the path you travel and the company you keep matters.
If there is some aspect of SHIPtember you’d like me to cover in the next volume, please make yourself heard in the comments, this stream of consciousness treatment is more difficult than it looks.