An Octopus will surface near you soon-ish – finally!

I know I have been promising this for way too long to have much credibility left, but trust me, it’s really going to happen. Yes, at long last the finish line on my free instructions for my Octopus MOC is in sight. After my last update in July I had hoped to finish it sooner (and I mean a lot sooner), but after it got off to a rocky start and what was supposed to be a quick two-month project already had turned into something else, there were some further setbacks, in light of which I then decided to take my time and figure things out and be as thorough as I can. Feel free to skip this boring part, but here are some reasons:

  • As I already wrote back then, I’m not a healthy man, so this summer’s extreme heat coupled with some temporarily escalating generic health issues turned me into a lazy slob. Yes, a pitiful excuse, but that’s just how things are.
  • My own drive for perfection got in the way. Being a graphics designer has the unwanted side-effect that one tends to think in very specific terms, meaning that page layouts have to be almost pixel-perfect and just look nice. That meant that I spent way too much time doodling around and trying to figure out how I could get LPub to do something at which it is notoriously bad. Speaking of which…
  • The aforementioned program is pretty obnoxious and just bug-ridden. I also filed a bunch of bug reports and improvement suggestions, but suffice it to say that the developers behind it appear not particularly focused on making it actually user-friendly or at least best in its class in the sense that as a minor it could possibly be the best of many pretty terrible options. Trust me, doing instructions can indeed be a long exercise in frustration in pretty much any of the programs available currently. Let’s leave it at that.
  • To somewhat mitigate those shortcomings, I had to spend lots of time developing workarounds. This means that my published file will be based on having multiple models in different states in the LPub file and on top of it it will be chopped together from multiple sources. I even spent good amounts of time copy & pasting things together in external text editors. At least that’s one of the few benefits of the text-based file format.
  • As if I wasn’t in enough trouble already, I also decided to design a set of custom icons to use in the instructions because – let’s face it – the default icons e.g. for model rotation look less than exciting. You will see and hopefully like my interpretations and additions.
  • Finally, amidst all of this I participated in a bunch of building contests in the hopes of winning some cool stuff. This naturally also consumed some time on my end because I literally spent entire evenings brooding over some minutia and conceptualizing the models in my head before actually assembling them. I might do a round-up post once the dust has settled on all that and I know in which places I qualified (or not).

On the bright side, all of this trouble has made me much more resilient and I learned a good share of new tricks along the way that may make things easier in the future. I also can say with confidence that now that I know what to do and which pitfalls to avoid there is a definitive ETA on the instructions so you can at least make the model and stocking parts for it part of your Christmas shopping list. Just give me another two weeks and I’m hopefully able to pull this together at last. Funny enough I just had another little setback with one of my hard drives crashing, but thankfully the files were not affected and thank the good lord I also do regular backups, so I can at least present a preview of the cover with my skin intact:

Octopus MOC, Cover, English

I need to fix the broken drive, naturally, but should be able to resume work quickly after that. Stay tuned for the pertinent announcement…

Update x2

The heatwave in the last few weeks and a few other things haven’t made it easy to actually get any work done, but now I’m actually a bit closer to getting the instructions for my Octopus MOC done.

It seems a funny coincidence that as I was dabbling around in the likes of LPub3D, putting up with its quirks and trying to figure out a few specifics for structuring the instructions, a new parts update was released. The octopus doesn’t use any of them, but I’m more than happy to finally have the new bracket types available. As you well know, I’m obsessing about this stuff all the time. Just to prove it and in case you have no idea what I’m talking about here’s a little Stud.io render for you:

LDraw, Parts Update 1/2019, Brackets

While it may take me still a while to get the instructions actually finished, which mostly is to blame on my desire to make them look nice and professional and thus requiring lots of manual intervention in the formatting, here’s a preliminary listing of the parts used in the build (a.k.a. BOM – Bill of Materials) to get you started on stocking up and giving you a chance to order additional parts on Bricklink if needed.

Octopus MOC, Preliminary Bill of Materials (BOM)

Remember that this project originated based on four sets of the Deep Sea Creatures (31088). It will not be necessary to buy four sets as well, but it sure helps if you get at least one to obtain some of the parts, in particular some of the Dark Blue pieces. Also keep in mind that you can do color swaps and e.g. the Red parts will be invisible. So feel free to use whatever you have at hand.

This BOM represents the maximum variant as shown in my photos, but the final instructions will also contain some alternate building using a few different parts. Of course you can also save greatly by using shorter tentacles and thus reducing the number of slopes and ball joints. More on that as things progress on my end…