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Are official sets optimized for building instructions?

The 2021 Bricklink Designer Program Round 1 building instruction had some issues where steps were not clear.  This makes me wonder:
Are set designs optimized for clarity of instructions along with piece count, stability, etc?
I'm assuming that instructions have a certain set of standards which make them consistent across the decades.  They seem to minimize the number of times the model must be flipped or rotated.  Thus, they can't reasonably show pieces being added deep within an assembly or hidden behind other parts.
During development, could sets be changed specifically for clarity of instructions?  Or are good instructions simply a byproduct of efficient part usage, stability, etc?


  • Casper_vd_KorfCasper_vd_Korf Member Posts: 243
    Definitely. The clearest example is the different coloured parts that are inside of builds. Also, the set and instructions work together to make it appropriate for the target group. For example, the 4+ sets are very simple based on the kiddo’s abilities.
  • 7BS7BS Member Posts: 61
    If you read the comments in designer Bricklists you'll see a lot of reference to the concept of "making it buildable." Beyond making the build age-appropriate, there's a need to make the set stable at every step of the construction process, not just at the end. You can definitely feel the deficiencies of some BDP instructions in that latter category in particular.
  • FireFox31FireFox31 Member Posts: 257
    Thanks.  I'm really interested to build the BLDP sets and see how the process feels different from official sets.
    It boggles my mind to think that designers must consider appearance, functionality, stability, piece count / price, part availability, instructions, and more all while designing a set.  Seems I should give them more credit.
  • andheandhe Member Posts: 3,908
    edited March 2022
    Having created custom instructions in bricklink's digital Studio software, it certainly gives you a new appreciation for the 'art' in creating readable instructions.

    FireFox31 said:
    ...They seem to minimize the number of times the model must be flipped or rotated.  Thus, they can't reasonably show pieces being added deep within an assembly or hidden behind other parts...

    This is definitely factored in sometimes is just a case of building things in a different order than you would 'naturally' if you were making a moc, or creating subassemblies.

    I think it was a HUGE task and expectation for the Bricklink Designer program participants to bring their models and instructions to a point of production (and hence why a number dropped out due to the workload) and having looked through the digital instructions there are a number of places it shows, and is slightly surprising that perhaps Bricklink themselves didn't seem to proof read or proof build sections for clarity.

    I'm sure the whole process will improve each round.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited March 2022
    Since I've been a collector for over 55 years, I have a different take on things.  Back in the 1960s and 1970s SNOT (Studs Not On Top) techniques in building were almost unheard of... and designs required far simpler (and not voluminous) instructions.  But in the last 25 years things have really gotten complicated with all of the SNOT techniques in LEGO set models.  So much so, that for larger sets, you need MANY pages of instructions.  Get one thing wrong on page 2, and you're up Schitt's Creek by page 22.

    I'm starting to think that the LEGO designer are going a bit overboard on trying to make building models more complex than they really should be. 

    Take for example the 2015 introduced LOUVRE 21024 model.  The famous I.M. Pei glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre is a smooth 4 sided clear glass pyramid.  All it really required was 3 types of trans-clear 45 degree slopes (2x2, 2x2 convex, and a pair of 1x2 triple slopes for the peak).  Did they do that?  Nope... they made it so complex that you really do need a set of instructions to just build a 45 degree sloped pyramid. 

    The result is something that looks more like a trans-clear Chichen Itza Mayan pyramid temple than it dues a 4 sided simple glass pyramid.

    With so many of these tricky builds... it appears that LEGO toy has stopped being a construction toy (architecturally speaking), and just turned into a sculptural toy... which is one reason why more detailed instructions are needed.

    Is that good or bad?  Probably a little of both... it keeps adult builders interested in a challenging build... but in some instances at the cost of a realistic looking final product.

    And one last thing... complex builds shouldn't compromise the sturdiness of the final product.  It's no fun if you pick the model up and it falls apart when you do!
  • BobflipBobflip Member Posts: 712
    I think in the case of the Louvre, the 45 degree slopes could look a bit cheap/tacky/out of place. The more complex approach used hints at the texture of the real life pyramid, though the surface lines aren't at the right angle, and the gaps in the edges mar the end result.

    I'm working on some instructions for a complex 2'400 piece MOC at the moment, and really enjoying the puzzles of finding the best placement order, choosing when callouts are more appropriate, preventing situations where pressing a piece into place can lift up the other end of a plate, using internal colours to differentiate between left and right mirrored sections. Along the way I've tweaked a couple of bits of the internal design to make the build go smoother but the exterior is finalised. It's been fun to build it more like a set, knowing where all the pieces go this time (although the 2 year design phase was fun too). I'll be getting them beta tested next, and looking forward to watching someone else see it come together!

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