Feralcat highlights some previous projects he has worked on and been a part of and talks about the concept of scope creep and how it is impacting his current projects.
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I once had a dream to unify Pittsburgh’s music scene.
Me and my friend group of twenty-something musicians were IN IT for a couple of years. We created a project called the Attic Music Group, which brought local, attention- deserving artists to a recording space we created at the house I used to live in (can you guess where in the house?!). We would gather whatever musicians were willing and able to create an arrangement of the artists’ music. We’d then film all of us performing together, where the artist was featured with a live band. Sometimes we even conducted live performances, well before the COVID-19 era of Zoom and Fortnite concerts. Online concerts were still happening then, but with nowhere near the attention and infrastructure that exists for them today.
The genre never mattered, by the way! We’d always figure a way to highlight the artists’ strengths, and give them some content to boot. Our goal with this was just visibility, but we worked diligently to make connections that could take a “local” artist and expand their reach. This meant we attended PR classes at local colleges, connected with A&R from the city, and reached out to the appropriate media/press.
And then, inevitably, our project fizzled out. Perhaps it was lack of interest. The core team started to split off into their own interests. Thus the Attic Music Project, in all of its lofty goals, fizzled out. Just a YouTube channel with some great music, great arrangements, beautiful lighting, and the memory of a hard-working [didn’t even mention this, but VOLUNTEER] creative staff.
We had taken the charge, like so many misguided young Pittsburghers and Pittsburgh- adjacent folks, to try and build the music industry infrastructure that we all agree is severely lacking in this town.
It didn’t pan out — Too much for us to handle.
I’ve now worked on a few big projects throughout my musical career. In the Attic’s wake, my band, Feralcat and the Wild, became my main creative priority. I began by getting the band together, learning the material, and releasing it in 2019. In 2020, we got asked to be a featured artist at SxSW, which sadly ended up getting cancelled because of growing concern over COVID-19. The band didn’t really want to shell out time and effort on an album during the pandemic, so I shifted gears to make something bigger, more ambitious and eventually more satisfying.
Thus came Disassembly, my ongoing video game musical endeavor that has me stressed to this day. I decided that I wanted to create a soundtrack to a video game that didn’t exist yet, meaning I would have to learn how to make one. Two and a half years after the first song of Disassembly was written, and I am still in the early stages of this particular project. It is, without a doubt, too much for me to handle.
I’ve always been a voracious learner, so the idea of learning “how to build my dream game” was exciting. I learned about video editing, digital design, game engines and coding. While I accept myself to be an amateur in all of these specialties, I am happy to continue growing. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t shoot myself in the foot by starting Disassembly with such high expectations.
The problem is a little project management concept called scope creep. As I learned more and more of what I didn’t know about game creation, I became overwhelmed. I burned out HARD.
Scope creep, generally, is when ideas get too big for your britches. In other words, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew with your project. With scope creep, the excitement for the end product is not enough to motivate you to do all of the work that’s in between. Without external motivators (i.e. deadlines), the intent behind the project slowly fades into a resentment and self-hatred. The project will likely be shelved, and you’re filled with regret and fixated on how much time you spent on something you’ll never finish.
I write this as a warning. I’m gifted with willpower, and a stoic need to be a polymath, but ultimately I should have started with a smaller project. I wish I had a solution, but my brain just goes “dream smaller.” Realistically, I should have begun with very basic game development projects to start to build a portfolio and the hard skills needed to complete the larger works.
I am finding my way through the messy loathing of it all, but pacing myself and setting realistic goals would have had me moving through Disassembly’s workload much faster. Small, achievable goals are KING.