Licence to Adventure

My life would be more interesting if I had one of these.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age is an interesting adventure if you’ve ever experienced the original release. Unlike the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster which keeps most of the core mechanics intact, Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age introduces a shiny new job system. Which, to be fair, was present in some versions of the original but definitely not the version I had. However, unlike other instalments with a job system, such as Final Fantasy III or Final Fantasy V, there is no need (nor any ability) to switch jobs after they’re chosen.

Which means you need to choose wisely.

But it also means that you don’t necessarily need to use every single job that’s available. Some offer little benefit other than access to another class of weapons which may or may not offer any noticeable difference. For instance, the Bushi, which primarily uses katanas, benefits from the Uhlan as they can use spears. As spears can hit flying enemies where katanas can’t.

That said, the only magick that combination could cast would be Black Magick unlocked via Espers and Quickenings. Which means that, unless you’re comfortable giving up the Esper, you’re essentially making a character that can only cast very limited Black Magick. Not that there is any requirement to have each character cast magick, but it does present an interesting issue when they’re going to gain increasing amounts of MP as they level. Something that is also prevalent with the Knight. The Knight is a class that will usually naturally develop low level healing magic, but in this incarnation they need to use Espers to unlock even the most basic White Magick. Of which their overall selection is quite limited but does prove useful.

I’ve never met a chocobo I didn’t like. Even this one.

For that reason I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this job system. For newer players it’s probably easier to digest than the original Licence Board, but for more experienced players I feel as though the job system takes something away from the experience. Especially when numerous jobs have access to Green Magick which seem to be almost exclusively unlocked through your Clan Rank. So there are several Licences you’re going to get little benefit from until much later in the story but they’re available fairly early on the board.

It’s natural that high level equipment would be saved for later.

But it does feel as though there is an imbalance between the progression. Some rapidly progress through equipment and HP Licences to become much more powerful earlier on in the story, while others seem to lack any kind of punch until much later. Like the Black Mage. Which was a secondary choice for me but didn’t become relevant until after the second board was available.

I don’t hate the new system. In fact, I welcome it. It’s interesting to see the difference between the two approaches. But it would be nice if they would allow you to access the original Licence Board, too. For those who prefer that system. Or want to experience it for the first time. I’m still enjoying my time with Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age regardless. It’s a huge adventure that never stops giving even when you think you’ve explored a fair chunk of the world. I’ve discovered hidden Espers, locations, and more while casually exploring the various locations that seem to be appearing as quickly as I clear them. I also decided that I’d put my thoughts down in writing. So, here they are. My thoughts. In writing.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

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Neither Man Nor Machine – 2018 – Digital – click for full view on site!

Like some sort of horrifically deformed cyborg.

It’s definitely more man than machine, though. I decided to exclude the harness from the finished version, which will hopefully put more emphasis on the anatomy and (most importantly) the face as these were the key areas of the composition. It hasn’t been the easiest creature to paint, either. But that was part of the challenge. Even with the original incarnation I wasn’t too pleased with some areas of the composition, but I still feel as though this is an improvement. It also helps me ease into some of the paintings I have in mind.

I’ve had to learn a lot over the last few months.

It’s hard to explain, but I’ve mostly reworked my approaches to digital painting as the new tablet is so noticeably different that I can’t use my old habits. They just don’t work. That’s why I’ve focused so much on how this piece has progressed from the early concepts to later developments, because I’ve had to mostly relearn digital painting in the last six months.

I’m most pleased with the skin texture and how it seems to cracking, bubbling, and peeling from their flesh. I’m least pleased with the teeth. I could never really decide what I wanted to do with them, and I didn’t like them as much as the sketchy almost non-existent teeth in the original concepts. This is one of many things that I’ll need to work on in the coming months. I know my understanding of all of the digital tools is limited, as I lack experience, so I expect to have areas of different compositions which could have been handled better, but weren’t for one reason or another. It’s definitely one of my better attempts regardless of any criticisms I might have. But then I’ll always have criticisms of everything that I do.
That said, I am quite happy that the majority of my work of late has been finished. Not only do I learn more about digital approaches with each finished piece, but they provide much needed creative content that is quite varied at the moment. We’ve seen everything from owls, to fictional beasts, to the no longer deceased. I’ve been itching to do more traditional pieces recently, too. But I’ve still got two digital paintings which are on their way. One has been started (and was actually started before this piece) and the second is going to be started soon.

The second should be quite good should it ever see the light of day.

The one thing that I lack at the moment is time. Not in the sense that I don’t have enough of it, but in the sense that I have so many things that I’m working on that even with an overflowing amount of it there isn’t enough. I’m using every hour in the day that I can without pushing myself to exhaustion but it still isn’t enough. It’s an oddly enjoyable feeling, though.

I don’t think I could ever be upset about an increase in the amount of creative content I’m producing. It’s just that I’m quite tired at the moment. I’ve been falling back into the old habit of letting the schedule dictate the content rather than the content dictating the schedule. That said, I’ve been actively working against that recently. It’s just a shame that this piece went through so many different iterations before reaching its conclusion. I’ve spent a good number of hours on this piece by now. Definitely more than I should have spent. But the result is agreeable enough and so I can’t complain, but I do feel as though I could have finished two paintings in the time spent on this one. I guess I’m just overstimulated by recent motivation.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

Doom, the UAC, Doomguy, Pinkies, Revenants, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by id Software.

Unholy Evolution

I wasn’t expecting to go on this journey.

Not that I mind. In fact, I’m actually quite fond of this piece because it has helped me illustrate (pun intended) some of my more ambitious digital approaches. It’s interesting looking back at how the piece has evolved from the earlier stages where it was more of a painting, to when it became an illustration of sorts, to how it has now become a hybrid of the two approaches. I’ve mentioned before that each of the newer digital paintings has their own unique qualities and this one (unsurprisingly) is no exception.

That’s a sentence that is quickly becoming redundant.

Mostly because I don’t think any piece will ever completely follow the one that came before it. I’m of the opinion at present that the thick painted style that’s starting to show through in this piece will make a return, but perhaps it will be more ambitious or more conceptual in that attempt. I’ll more than likely lean on this approach more as I think it has a lot of character.

I mentioned previously that I wasn’t sure how I’d use the layers for this piece. That’s always been an interesting point for me as I feel as though the layers are part of the digital approach, but I rarely use more than two or three. That said, I’ve also heard many experienced digital artists say that layers (and brushes) are individual to the person. There are no requirements to have multiple layers and you can use just the one if you prefer. I think that has always made more sense to me given my experience with traditional approaches. But, at the same time, it’s quite nice to be able to section up some areas of a piece to make it easier to add or edit them. Regarding this piece, it’s mostly painted on a single layer with a few extra layers for convenience.

I’m particularly reminded of raw chicken skin.

I’ve rather enjoyed writing these posts, too. It’s nice to have creative content that looks at how everything has changed. I’d felt that creative content had become stagnant, but through these work in progress (and the material studies) posts the newer content is more interesting as a result. It also gives me the opportunity to talk about things in a broader and less specific way. I can then easily tie this all together with an image or three, which makes it enticing even if you don’t care about what I’m actually saying in the post. Which I hope you do.

But even if you don’t it’s not like you can’t enjoy the pretty pictures all the same.

I’m particularly fond of the evolving colour choice in this piece. I’ve tried to include more darker colours to enhance the lighter ones, and to suggest a better sense of depth and contrast in the piece as a whole. I’m not sure if it actually worked but such is the way of painting anything. You can never be entirely sure of how a piece is going to develop until it has done so.

There’s also a whole section of this piece that I’ve yet to paint. It’s not a particularly large section, but the harness and mechanical components have yet to be added and will be used to frame the piece quite nicely. I don’t intend to paint much of the jet pack, either. But we’ll see how that goes when I get around to it. It shouldn’t be too much longer before we see the final version of this piece, though. The rather drastic change that occurred between this and the last work in progress shouldn’t occur again. But even if it does this will be the last post regarding this piece until the final version is presented, as I feel as though there is little left to say now. It’s definitely inspired more content than I could’ve anticipated.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

Doom, the UAC, Doomguy, Pinkies, Revenants, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by id Software.

Horrific Resurrection

I always knew this would come back.

Those who have followed me for a while may remember the original attempt I made when painting this particular hellish creation. I don’t necessarily dislike the original attempt, either. It’s just that I always knew that I could do something that better represented the way I originally envisaged the piece, that, due to various reasons, never actually materialised in the finished version. Not that it was ever completely finished. That said, I do like the conceptual approach I took with the original attempt.

It also serves to highlight my progress with digital painting.

Which is an approach I’m still fairly inexperienced with. Each of the attempts I’ve made at digital painting earlier this year have highlighted something unique to those pieces, and this piece is no exception. It also marks the first time that I’ve attempted something that is at the very least slightly humanoid. Which helps me to ease into prospective digital paintings.

I’ve had many different ideas for digital paintings this year, too. Most of them are considered purely to leverage the benefits of digital painting. In that, unlike traditional painting, you have the capability to infinitely reattempt a digital painting. You can be much more creative with the composition, colour choice, or approach as well. As there is little to no risk of actually being unable to finish the painting at a later date. This process can be quite costly with traditional approaches. It also allows me to get used to working on a piece consistently over multiple periods of time, which is something that I will need to become more accustomed to with traditional approaches in the future. I can’t quite say when these traditional pieces will make an appearance, though.

That’s the face I make when I get a free coffee.

This particular work in progress is going quite well at the moment. I’m most fond of the peeling skin texture, which is not unlike frayed fabric and fits how I envisaged the skin to be stretched over the flesh. I’m also quite fond of the eyes. They’re a little more squishy and bloodshot than I initially intended but they still fit. They haven’t fallen out of their eye sockets at least. I’m pleased with the semi-realistic approach as well. I’m not sure how best to actually describe this approach, but that’s to be expected at this point.

I never know what to call anything that I do.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the colour choice for the exposed flesh. It’s a little too bright for my tastes. But that could just be because I’ve been staring at this painting for hours and need a break from it. I’ll decide later whether I want to darken those colours, lighten them further, or leave them as they are. I don’t really know what I’m doing with the exposed flesh.

I’ve been much more concerned with the skin and the general composition up until this point. I wasn’t sure if I’d continue with my usual single layer approach, or if I’d use two layers with one for the skin and one for the flesh. Each approach is useful but I still feel more comfortable with the single layer. That said, I do have my usual extra layer which is used for the little details and additions which I might decide against later. Which, again, is another benefit prevalent in digital approaches. You can easily add new colours or details and (if desired) remove them just as easily. I’m still quite proud of how my creative efforts have developed over this year and I’m looking forward to what I might do next. Even I couldn’t say for certain.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

Doom, the UAC, Doomguy, Pinkies, Revenants, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by id Software.

Accelerating Rate of Change (Pt. 2)

Changing habits like Infusions on your weapons in Dark Souls III.

Not that I ever really changed my Infusions around. I was originally toying with Chaos for the fact that I wanted to be a sort of Pyromancer, but ultimately decided on Heavy because I was using a broadsword and a shield. Strength was also my primary attribute. So it kind of made sense to lean on Heavy. Not that anything about that build made sense in the end- especially when facing bosses- as the shield was pretty much a hindrance. It did make clearing the majority of the content easier, though. Until I reached the DLC content.

Then my Unkindled was the lone resident of slaughter city.

I’ve mentioned previously how the last few months have been good for creative content, and so, in this post, I’d like to talk about how gaming content could potentially change. I’ve been thinking about focusing on individual aspects of certain titles and writing posts about them. This first occurred to me when I thought about playing through Dark Souls again.

I’ve already got a post that summarises how I felt about Dark Souls, but I’ve never actually experienced the Artorias of the Abyss DLC despite fighting the Hydra and likely having access to it with my first character. I’d also like to go back and experience a different way to play the original. Maybe with Miracles. Or spears. Or a spear with Lightning Spears. In the same way I could look at the different DLC for Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III as well. It was just an idea I had for highlighting content that I may have missed the first time around. It also illustrates how my personal focus is changing back to what it used to be, and how I’d explore certain games more than others or play through them multiple times. Dark Souls as a series is perfect for this, too.

Thinking about this chocobo makes me sad.

I’ve also been playing a lot of the Final Fantasy series in the last couple of years. Most recently I finished the main story for Final Fantasy XV but have yet to start on any of the DLC. Mostly because I’d already been playing for near enough 100hrs and didn’t want to rush through it, which meant it was probably best to return with fresh eyes. I’d also probably enjoy it more if the story wasn’t as vividly present in my mind. It’s like getting to experience it all over again. Which is one of the nice things about having Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age.

I can finally revisit one of my favourite instalments in the series.

This will mean that there will be more gaming content but I’m not going to stop creating other kinds of content as a result. I’ll still be sharing new creative efforts, random updates, and explanations of why I should never go to the local art store. This will just be occasional additional content which highlights things that I find interesting. Or fun.

Or a compilation of how many times it’s feasibly possible to die against the Nameless King while desperately trying to tank him with a greatshield. It’s technically feasibly possible to die infinitely as long as you never stop attempting it. I am known to be stubborn, too. I don’t usually feel this comfortable with whatever this is that I do and so I’m just stretching out a little. Like when you’re laying in a really comfortable bed so you stretch outwards. Only to find that you can’t stretch to the left as there’s a cat on the bed with you, nor can you stretch to the right as there’s another cat on the bed with you, and so you sit quite content with the purring sounds of your furry friends. Who never want to move, either. So making that bed will almost always be impossible.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Accelerating Rate of Change (Pt. 1)

It’s the gift that never stops giving.

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while, but there didn’t seem to be a good time during the recent of string of changes to do so. So I decided to make one. Otherwise the problem would persist as there still wouldn’t be a good time to talk about changes while things were changing. It also serves as a good time to talk about things in general. I don’t do nearly as much of that as I used to, and it might be nice to reflect on some of the more positive moments in the last few months.

First and foremost my personal site has undergone a slight change.

This was primarily to update the presentation of the site as I’ve switched to larger, clearer, and more consistent font choices. In fact, the entire site is larger as a result. I really did like the previous design and that’s why it’s relatively the same, but it’s now larger and easier to access as a whole. It’s also somewhat reminiscent of my WordPress presentation. Which I’ve always liked.

I’ve updated the profile information across the collection of sites, too. I feel as though everything as a whole is closer to what I’ve always wanted it to be. My personal site has always been subject to drastic changes, of which this change is no exception. But I can safely say that each change has been a positive one. Even if I didn’t know it at the time. Which leads into how Moggie @ WordPress has changed recently. I’ve been working through much of the older creative content to bring it up to date with current creative content, which, given how little the actual content has been changed, reinforces that (as I’ve suspected) the content is good but was being held back by the presentation. I’ve also added a new category, Material Studies, under the Art category.

They’re both fluffy and naturally that indicates a conspiracy.

This was mostly added to provide accessibility to content like Fluffy But Terrifying without having to go via the Art page. Now it is all presented as a list of posts which you can scroll through at your leisure. I don’t think there are too many other posts which would benefit from additional or alternate categorisation, but that may change due to future content. For now I’m happy with things as they are. I’ll also be making good use of that category in the coming weeks and months.

I’ve been working on a couple of new things recently, too.

I may share details of one or both in the coming weeks. I also might not. It really depends on when the second decides to leave the conceptual sea, wherein it has already undergone a number of evolutions. It’s definitely more experimental and interesting than some of my older pieces. Especially when looking at choice and use of colour. I’m particularly excited about it.

I think that’s definitely a highlight of the last few months. I’ve felt much better about my creative efforts as a whole and that has definitely helped me see recent pieces through to completion. I also feel as though the quality of newer content has been higher as a result, which, again, is all I’ve ever really wanted for whatever this is that I do. I just want to create things and be happy while doing it. Which is pretty much the situation I find myself in now. That said, it hasn’t been as great as it may seem when reading the above. I’ve had to deal with numerous things in my personal life that I would’ve preferred not to. But such is life. It happens, and, much like a constant state of change, it sometimes manifests in ways you don’t expect.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

The Cure for Insomnia

It’s not safe to travel at night.

Normally I prefer being awake at night, but those pesky bloodthirsty daemons that occupy Eos once the sun goes down make it a little harder to justify. That was until I realised that by not sleeping I could save up (and consequently multiply) experience points at various locations, which ultimately led to not resting for weeks at a time. Which was great for everyone except Ignis who rarely utilised his culinary skills. But at least he cooked more meals than Noctis caught fish. I caught a grand total of two fish and both were for cats.

I later caught a third to talk to a NPC.

Final Fantasy XV is an interesting JRPG that invokes the nostalgia of earlier instalments while standing firmly with its own mechanics. Featuring one of the best open world environments I’ve experienced Eos is overflowing with dangerous enemies, dungeons to explore, secret locations to discover, and hundreds of quests to undertake in one form or another.

I was quite impressed with the character progression mechanics, too. Accruing AP will allow you to unlock new abilities and passive bonuses via Ascension, which made a noticeable difference and allowed your party members to act autonomously with variation in their abilities. It’s not quite the tactical system present in Final Fantasy XII, but it’s one that allows the different party members to retain their personalities and become more powerful over time. The attention to detail in their mannerisms and animations was refreshing as well. As was their role in the party matching their role in the story. For instance, Gladiolus, who acts to protect Noctis, has active and passive abilities that quite literally allow him to shield Noctis from damage.

I’m also glad to see that there is variation in the weapon types used by each character. It’s nice to see the return of a classic approach to upgrading equipment, but with the addition of equipment that is specific to Noctis (due to his role in the story) that allows him to fully utilise his Armiger. Not only reinforcing the new mechanics but allowing more variation when dealing with enemies who are resistant to certain weapon types. Or even magic types. Magic being a curious blend of drawing elemental energy from deposits and crafting this time around.

Elemancy is an interesting concept that I scarcely employed.

Having New Game+ as an option definitely invites the possibility to use different weapons and/or magic the second time around. Being able to switch to the other party members makes for an interesting variation, too. Seeing as each has their own unique mechanics which make them different to Noctis. I don’t know how feasible it is to stay consistently switched, though.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Final Fantasy XV but I was very pleasantly surprised. The open world is vast and features actual dungeons which not only include overflowing numbers of daemons but puzzles and rare equipment, too. The hunts are varied and increasingly difficult with many different enemies to encounter. The side quests often form quest chains which have logical conclusions with the characters concerned. It’s an accomplishment that the world feels as alive as it does- which is something the Final Fantasy series has lacked for a while- but something that comes so naturally to this instalment. It’s a living, breathing, ever-evolving world that’s just waiting to be explored. I highly recommend giving it a chance- it may surprise you.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie