Steam Assimilation

Further down we go.

SteamWorld Dig is a rather charming, interesting, and somewhat unique approach to a classic formula. Unlike other platforming titles you quite literally build the path downwards as you continue exploring. It’s an approach that can leave you stranded if you don’t make use of the ladders, lamps, and teleporters so generously provided by the townsfolk. But it’s also one that provides innumerable secrets as you unearth new ways to approach old locations. It’s not a particularly lengthy adventure, either.

So it’s quite enjoyable revisiting old locations frequently.

These secrets will award you with precious minerals and mysterious Orbs. Both are used to purchase upgrades to make Rusty more durable, carry more water, take more damage, or dig even faster. The later updates which are more technological (and thereby more powerful) have an additional Orb cost. But earlier iterations are easily affordable with gold.

It’s a neat progression system, too. As you’re introduced to the concept that this is a fading mining town and the money that you provide through your adventure revitalises it, which is evident when you see the town growing and more vendors appearing. You’ll also unlock paths back to town at each major location, which makes returning to town incredibly easy in a way that reminds me of the first Diablo. The immediate approach to returning to town is to use teleporters. These will be found at certain locations, but you can also purchase your own (for a small Orb cost) and place them wherever you like. You might be hesitant to spend Orbs to acquire them but I bought four-five and could still afford all of the upgrades.

I don’t think this is the confirmation that they wanted.

Alongside the aforementioned range of upgrades bought in town, there are key upgrades which you’ll find at certain locations in the caves that afford you entirely new abilities. Such as being able to propel yourself upwards with the power of steam. Or the classic double jump. Or even the ability to detect minerals. Of the available options, my personal favourite is the removal of fall damage. All fall damage. Forever. It’s so nice to be able to dart down large, open, excavated caverns without a care in the world.

I don’t believe it’s possible to miss those upgrades, either.

In this way, SteamWorld Dig is surprisingly content dense and enjoyable as a result of it. It’s not a massive, sprawling, open world but what there is to explore is crammed full of secrets and other goodies. It’s easy to miss it, too. Especially with the earlier secrets that require relatively late upgrades. It’s certainly a credit to the developers and their ambition, though.

I’ll be honest and admit that I bought this mostly in anticipation of SteamWorld Heist, but it has grown on me. It has a certain charm that reminds me of childhood days spent with the SNES and all of the adventures therein. Something that’s just fun to play. That’s interesting and enjoyable. That has controls which actually work and where every aspect feels intuitive. Those are not feelings that I generally get these days with many things I’ll play, but, for those reasons, I would highly recommend SteamWorld Dig to anyone looking for some good ol’ fashioned fun. The kind we had back in the day. Which I am almost old enough to say now. Which doesn’t concern me or fill me with thoughts of my own mortality in any way.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Melty Black Goo

It’s a recurring concept.

Here’s one of those rare moments where I’m losing track of what I have and haven’t shared in various places. I’m usually a little more organised than this, but that’s what happens when you’re working in three-four different sketchbooks at once. I’ve got to keep flipping back through them to make sure I’m still aware of the things that I’ve done. I know that I’ve shared this particular piece over on Twitter but I’ve not shared it here, so that’s some clarity through the confusion. But I couldn’t say if there are any other pieces that I’ve missed along the way.

Or how many pieces that could be if I had missed some.

So, let’s talk about this sketch. It’s a concept that I’ve had in my mind for quite some time, but one that is evolving further away from the humanoid approach present in Corruption Collection and towards something alien. Melty black goo alien. Which is quite an interesting development as I’m not sure where it’s going from here, either.

I can confirm that it is going somewhere. I’m just not sure what the finalised version of this concept will be and whether ink, pencil, or even watercolour would be the best approach. I’m also not sure if there’s going to be more humanoid features in the finalised version. I’m mostly conflicted as the humanoid features will add an emotion to the piece, but the alien features will afford me the opportunity to be wildly more creative with a likely more unique final result. With both of these concepts I’ve been happiest with the faces and the emotions. Which might suggest that it’s best to lean towards the emotional approach. That said, I could explore each of these approaches as there are no restrictions as to how many of these pieces I do.

He’s more goo than man!

The version present in this post was actually a direct response to the fact that I haven’t felt too good about the faces I’ve been drawing recently. That particular issue is peculiar as I’ve always been interested in drawing anatomy, which makes it odd that my current displeasure comes from anatomy. It’s been a weird few weeks in more ways than one. I was surprisingly happy with how this piece turned out, though. It was mostly done without reference and more as an exercise to see how much of that information I retain.

Which, again, given it is anatomy, should be a substantial amount.

I’ve been looking to change various aspects of the process of creating things recently, too. I know that this has resulted in a more erratic posting schedule for which I apologise. But I would hope that you’d agree that the recent content has been of higher quality, is more interesting, and is more engaging to interact with. Which is a standard I intend to maintain.

Creative content has been particularly erratic despite a strong and steady flow from last year. There are more than a few reasons for this, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying to be more consistent and to produce more content. I’ve been looking at new ways to develop content, too. I’ve been thinking about either video recording or streaming as a possible expansion of what I’m currently doing, but there are issues which I need to address before I’m ready to do those. I’ve also got a few things I’ve been working on recently, which will hopefully come to a satisfactory conclusion and provide a steady stream of creative content for a time. There’s also some older content that I might revisit as well.

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.

Ambitious Acrylic

Colourful mile markers.

I’m going to justify purchasing those brushes or I’m going to paint trees trying. Or both. Probably both. This piece follows on from the attempts present in Mushroom Inspired, which are not entirely related as those are destined for watercolour painting while this is an acrylic painting. I’ve also yet to add more attempts to that particular set of watercolour paintings. But that’s what happens when you’ve got watercolour, acrylic, and gouache tubes quite literally piling up all around you. Not to mention all of that canvas and watercolour paper.

It’s a muddled haze of various paint tubes and water jars.

I’m starting to echo previous thoughts of stretching myself too thin, though. It’s noticeable that my output is suffering somewhat in the face of trying to do as many things as I am at the moment, as I have a lot of things that exist in a transitory state. They’re not quite here, there, or really anywhere at the moment. But they exist in their own mildly confusing way.

To add a moderate amount of insult to that injury I’m also not too happy with this result. But that’s also a transitory issue as I’m still getting used to how these brushes feel, how they hold the paint, and how well I can apply the paint. I’m also a few months out of practice with acrylic painting. I’ve started to understand more about why I don’t like my acrylic paintings, though. It’s mostly related to details and perhaps due to or as a result of the preparatory stages. I’ll be taking a break from gouache for a while, too. It’s becoming increasingly confusing trying to sort watercolour painting approaches, acrylic painting approaches, gouache painting approaches, pencil sketching approaches, and ink detailing approaches all at once.

Only the fluffiest clouds.

There’s also an issue of breeding familiarity with acrylic painting. It’s still an approach in its infancy for me and that’s something I need to recognise more when I’m pushing for certain results, which might not be as possible as I’d like to think. I do need to learn how it works. Much as I have with other materials. That said, I’ve been unusually happy with recent pencil and ink attempts. Which is a small amount of positive reinforcement in an otherwise confusing time. It’s certainly… something… right now when it comes to all things creative.

But that’s not a negative response, either.

I’m rather happy that I’ve had this momentary reignition of inspiration. I might not be entirely happy with everything I’m doing, but I’m actually doing it and making progress towards understanding more than I ever have about my creative influences. Which is always better than coming away from the experience none the wiser and more frustrated as a result.

This can mostly be considered a mile marker on the road of my artistic journey. I’ll either look back on this as a better acrylic painter or I’ll look back and realise there’s still work to be done. In either case, I still feel it’s an important part of the creative process to recognise progression where it exists. Or to provide an amount of progression through sketches and other pieces that aren’t quite to the quality standards you adhere to. That’s why these posts are both fun for you and interesting for me. We both get to share something that not only generates content, but strengthens the level of creative content on the site(s), and provides me with an actually useful tool to measure how things are going in various ways.

Have a nice weekend, 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.

Expensive Mistakes

Not so much a mistake but a lapse in judgement.

Not that it was really a lapse in judgement, either. It was more of a calculated logical thought process tempered in the fires of reasoning. But there really is no point in trying to explain why I do the things I do, mostly because that would take far longer than just explaining that I’ve done them. I’ve been working towards a collection of materials for some time, though. So this is hardly something unexpected. Mostly because I’ve been looking to get a nice set of flat brushes that compliment the nice set of round brushes I bought some time ago.

I’ve got this thing about brushes. It’s kind of concerning.

I also bought a fan brush because they’re neat and I’m sure I’ll find a use for it. At some point. For some reason. In any case, I’ve finally decided to settle (for lack of a better word) on a collection of materials which I believe suit what I’m attempting to do. I don’t know if they’re the materials I’ll be sticking with forever- but they’re the ones I’m sticking with for now.

Spontaneously purchased some gouache tubes while I was at it, too. It’s… an interesting material. I’ve not used them for much outside of a small test piece, but I’ve learned a little more about them in the process of painting that test piece. I’ve also discovered the joys of layering gouache. Which isn’t actually as easy as it might seem, as the paint never actually dries (as far as I can tell) and can always be reactivated even after several hours. Well, no, it does dry, but it doesn’t stay dry. That might be a better way to explain it. It’s an interesting detail that I wasn’t too aware of and so my first attempts were somewhat flawed. I’m really enjoying the creamy texture of the paint, though. The styles I could create with it are gorgeous.

Moggie makes the mistake of going to the local art store.

I suppose it’s more that I’m approaching it wrong as it’s kind of like acrylic and watercolour had a baby. A very creamy baby. Which means you need to approach it in a similar way to how you would approach watercolour, working light to dark instead of dark to light. Not that you can’t overlay colours. Just that you’re going to run into issues if you’re trying to overlay incredibly light colours over incredibly dark ones. As the darker ones will reactivate and blend endlessly into the lighter ones. Some of my issues are definitely my own.

Which I’ll work out by learning more about the material in time.

It’s kind of exciting, though. I’ve really enjoyed being able to learn new things about acrylic (and even digital) painting. Gouache is just another test that I’ve forced myself to go through for reasons I can’t quite explain, but will appreciate once I do something I really like with that particular material. Like every other material I own. It’s, again, a thing I’ve got for materials.

That doesn’t mean I’m entirely abandoning acrylic painting, either. I’ve got my own set of issues with that particular style of painting as well. But, as I mentioned in Mushroom Inspired, I’m starting to change what I consider are my conventional approaches to different subject matter. I may be doing more watercolour painting in the future. That could extend to gouache and acrylic painting, too. It also may not. I may continue with things as they are. But there’s definitely something different about how I see things, how I approach them, and my level of confidence with the range of materials that I use. I can’t tell if that’s just experience evolving into confidence or whether I’ve reached another artistic plateau. The latter sounds terribly conceited.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Mushroom Inspired

They’re really growing on me.

Not that I’ve ever had anything against mushrooms. They were one of the first things that made me truly appreciate the creativity behind The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Those alien landscapes composed of gargantuan plants, trees, and mushrooms. The local customs and cultures which made every region feel different. The fact that the local races lived next to active volcanoes and that these same volcanoes were evident in the world around you. It’s one of those moments that remains unique in The Elder Scrolls series as nowhere else in Tamriel is quite the same.

Tangential conversation at its finest.

Intricate and tiny mushroom details.

I’ve had more than a few thoughts regarding all things creative recently. Firstly, that I don’t use watercolour as much as I would like to. Secondly, that I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the changes to my creative process. Thirdly, that thinking about things doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to do anything about them. Which is why I’m actively doing something, too.

The first two of these attempts are currently works in progress. I’m trying to see how viable it would be to approach new pieces with watercolour, and whether that’s something that I would like to do more frequently in the future. I enjoy the fluidity of watercolour, how it blends, the textures of the paper, and the fact that I can reinforce it with ink. So I’d like to take more advantage of that. That said, I believe that my state of mind is still one that suggests that watercolour is a special material. Meant for special things. Which is a silly state of mind. Much like how I wouldn’t think of using ink as a default material due to always regarding it differently. Now it’s just ink. It does what ink does. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that these attempts will be successful.

But that is of little consequence with watercolour. Those tubes last a very long time as you’re only using a small percentage of paint as you thin them to the desired consistency. While it’s not too much of an investment to experiment with the actual tubes, the paper is slightly more expensive than my usual cartridge paper. Which is why the sketches are smaller and there are multiple on the page. I don’t really want to burn through two or three sheets of paper wastefully. That and I’d like to start a little less ambitiously while I’m still working on the approach.

Inspired by the areas surrounding Davon’s Watch.

I’m hoping to do more watercolour sketches, too.

Particularly character concepts of some description. Those are notably missing from the two approaches with the closest being the deathclaw, which exhibits some human anatomy (and a more demonic look) but it’s not a human character. Or alien character. It’s a weird irradiated lizard that lives in the various wastelands that remain after the fall of nuclear fire.

The last of these attempts is pretty much the reason why I thought about watercolour painting in the first place. I’m starting to realise that approaching landscapes with pencil or ink alone might not be the best idea. There’s certainly nothing wrong with either of those approaches, but I feel as though I have more potential adding some amount of colour to those and thereby creating something more unique. I still love ink as an approach for trees and the like, though. Pencil, too. Those are most definitely still valid options. It’s interesting as both scenic pieces and watercolour are two things I can identify as things that I enjoy but don’t do enough of, but they’re both things that I haven’t made any significant attempts towards yet.

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.

Fallout 3, Deathclaws, Super Mutants, Pip-Boys, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Interplay/Bethesda.
The Elder Scrolls, The Elder Scrolls Online, Morrowind, the Morag Tong, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Bethesda.

To Ink a Deathclaw

An ill advised pursuit at best.

The phrasing could be misconstrued to suggest that the deathclaw is getting a tattoo, which would also likely be an ill advised pursuit. Unless you’d enjoy being eviscerated by a colossal lizard in an irradiated hell. Then it’s probably pretty fun. In any case, this is a digital work in progress that doesn’t feature any actual ink- but it’s the best parallel I’ve got to lining a piece crisply and cleanly. In many ways this is also the complete opposite of what I’d do traditionally, lacking many of the intricate and busy details.

Which might not be an entirely bad thing, either.

I’ve wanted to try and use less details in some pieces to get a feeling of how that would change the presentation, composition, and level of quality. I wasn’t necessarily hoping to do this digitally, but when the opportunity arrived (and the original approach wasn’t working out) it seemed to fit. It does look incredibly weird to me, though. I’m used to lines and whatnot being everywhere!

It’s also taking a fair amount of time to get even the basic elements looking as I would like them to. This is nothing new with digital illustrating or painting for me, which is something I’m heavily considering the reasons for with each new piece. In comparison to traditional art many of these pieces take several times longer. In all the worst ways. This could be inexperience with digital approaches showing through, or it may be an indication that I might need a higher specification tablet, as I currently use a Wacom Bamboo, and I’m not sure if that’s meeting my needs any more. Normally I would refuse that suggestion as even being a possibility but there might be some truth to it. I’ve been thinking about upgrading to an Intuos at some point anyway.

That’s quite an impressive maw you’ve got there.

There is definitely a disconnection somewhere between my brain, my hand, and my tablet. Something isn’t working as intended. Which, again, could simply be that the pressure sensitivity isn’t as good on a Wacom Bamboo. I know it isn’t via the technical specifications. But I also know that you don’t need the best materials to create high quality art. One of the things that novice artists tend to assume is that they need the highest quality everything immediately, which, in skilled hands, does provide higher quality results, but will not immediately make you a better artist.

An understanding of fundamental concepts will always take you further.

Which is why I’m committed to seeing this through to the end. I’d like to know whether the problem exists within my approach (which is likely) or whether it exists as a result of my tools (which could be likely). In either case, I’m not going to invest in an Intuos any time soon and I’ve already made great progress over the last year with digital art. So we’ll keep going.

I do enjoy working with digital approaches and I see an incredible amount of potential in them. They’re also helping me appreciate my traditional pieces in a new light. It’s an interesting side step towards something that is fundamentally the same but provides a different challenge, which, hopefully if I pursue it further, will make me a better artist overall. I’m not really sure where this piece is going in the future, either. I will more than likely finish it as a lined piece. I’ve been talking to someone I know (who does great deathclaw pieces) to add some colour to it when I’m done. I think their approach would suit much better than mine would. It would also be a learning experience to see how they would approach this piece (likely differently to me).

Have a nice weekend, 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.

Fallout 4, Deathclaws, Super Mutants, Pip-Boys, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Interplay/Bethesda.

A Neptune to the Past

That’s what you get for going into the light.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3 V Generation is an alternate universe continuation of the story present in the preceding entry in the series. We’re also in the past… so it gets a little confusing as to where this Gamindustri fits into the universe, whether we’ll see it again, or if it’s just a pudding induced Neptune fever dream. Or eggplant induced fever dream. Stella’s Dungeon makes a return alongside a new Remake system with the (much appreciated) ability to search for materials, while everything else is generally bigger and better.

Stella’s Dungeon has an impact on the main story now, too.

Each time you successfully complete an area you’ll get a bounty of goodies- items, plans, materials, keys to the next area, and much more will be awarded for your efforts. These not only help when progressing to new areas in Stella’s Dungeon, but also with quests and the like where these materials will help you meet the requirements. It’s also a steady source of easily attainable income.

There are also new character challenges which fit into the Remake system to provide further party customisation. Most are statistical changes and are valuable in varying degrees of importance, but some will unlock new skills and new passive bonuses. The EXE Drive system has been completely reworked as well. SP is now immediately and permanently set to a maximum of 1000 for each character, it’s generated through Rush Attacks (or through general combat), and will be how you activate the EXE Drive. Either through having to reach a particular amount to use EXE Finish Skills, or by consuming a considerable portion of SP to unleash an exceptionally devastating EXE Drive Skill. It’s a change which adds a strategic layer to most combat.

Within which there are many positive changes from having more EXE Drive Skills available per character, more advantage being taken of the various Coupling and Formation Skills, further choices for the equipment CPUs and CPU Candidates will use in their HDD form, and a fifth combo slot for each attack type which expands the potential for damage and chain bonuses. It definitely feels more content dense (in a good way), while, at the same time, there are opportunities to expand on these mechanics even further in later entries in the series.

Which the Hyperdimension Neptunia series has done quite successfully so far.

No two entries are the same and that’s a good thing. It’s enjoyable to experience new mechanics or at the very least alterations to existing ones. This makes the desire to continue playing through the series even stronger than it normally would be, as you can’t wait to see all of the positive changes they’re making. Or all of the new things you’ll have to get accustomed to.

I’ve definitely spent more time with this entry than anticipated but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time spent. Which is why I would recommend this series to anyone looking for something akin to the JRPGs of old from the days of the SNES or the PS1. They’re light hearted, fun, and not too complex. There are a lot of characters to choose from (especially with the free DLC options) and each is genuinely interesting in their own way. It’s also sure to induce a few pangs of nostalgia given it’s a parody of the gaming industry (and many of the series and characters therein). There are also quite a few different titles available which branch off from the main series in interesting ways, which might also interest those who love the characters and want more from them.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie