From the Ashes

Greenish tints are common in post-apocalyptic wastelands.

Devil’s Crossing has seen better days. Mostly the ones where they’re not under siege from a fallen city overflowing with horrific monstrosities. But, seeing as they are under siege, and their militia is more or less useless, you’re going to be busy for a few days. Or weeks. Assuming you aren’t immediately swallowed up by the void. Ashes of Malmouth is the utterly fantastic continuation of Grim Dawn, which features both new Masteries and new story content (alongside a heapin’ helpin’ of new items legendary and otherwise).

It’s a good ol’ fashioned expansion.

The two new Masteries alone are worth the price of admission, as they can either be used on their own or with any of the other Masteries which opens up myriad possibilities. I’ve been trying the Death Knight (Necromancer/Soldier) and the combination of summoning with close combat is pretty fantastic. Having a menagerie of unholy beasts and skeletons is pretty neat.

That said, the new story content is excellently introduced through a series of breadcrumb quests which take you back to Burrwitch and then to heart of the void. From there you journey to Malmouth and (quite literally) fight your way to the heart of the city. Gaining ground and losing it in equal measure as you push forwards. It’s a surprisingly extensive journey which will introduce you to new factions nestled deep in marshes and crumbling cities, and will require you to make choices, as your actions will dictate who will welcome you and who won’t, and those interactions will help you understand the true nature of these factions. As expected from Grim Dawn there is a wealth of choice and consequence that’ll keep you busy for hours to come.

Crown Hill definitely has an infestation problem.

I’ve had a few pangs of nostalgia while playing through this expansion, too. It gives me similar feelings to those I had when I first experienced Diablo II Lord of Destruction, wherein the snowy plains of Act V kept me company while I adjusted to the innumerable challenges that lay ahead. I’m also quite excited to see how the Death Knight develops. I’ve mostly experienced Ashes of Malmouth with my Warder (Shaman/Soldier), which, besides being my first character, doesn’t have a particularly strong or effective build.

It has great burst potential but terrible survivability.

However, despite the build drawbacks, I’ve greatly enjoyed all that I’ve experienced so far. I’ve still got to find those new dungeons, too. I would say that I’ve seen the majority of what this expansion has to offer, but I know that isn’t true as it is so incredibly content dense. I’ve definitely missed quests and NPCs along the way. Not to mention the results of different choices.

It’s an incredibly easy recommendation to make if you love ARPGs. Grim Dawn is an expertly crafted and beautifully complex yet intuitive and easy to learn ARPG, which only becomes better (in every way) with this expansion. That and you can raise skeletons. All the cool kids are doing that. I’m not really sure what the Inquisitor does- but I’m sure that’s neat as well. I’m quite excited to see what’s coming next for Grim Dawn, but, until then, I’ve got to roam the fields of Wightmire with my Death Knight. She’s due to loot something really cool any day now. Or maybe I’ll try to make sense of the Devotion screen and pick something out for her. I don’t really open that screen much. It’s big and confusing.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

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Purloiner of Cinders

That’s a fairly accurate description of what I do.

I’ve also been known to farm Silver Knights for their equipment, collect spells of many different varieties, collect armour sets that I’ll never use, and sometimes even fight bosses to progress the story. I became the Lord of Hollows, too. That was quite an interesting marriage ceremony. Dark Souls III is an adventure that I’ve been eager to begin, but one that I approached with a build that focused on two things I’ve scarcely used before- Strength weapons and Pyromancies. It’s an odd combination and it’s not the easiest build to make effective.

But I get to throw smouldering fireballs at people. Which explode into lava.

I’ve greatly enjoyed the build, but I will admit that I mostly fell back on using my weapon and shield instead of the varied Pyromancies. Which still feel like (mostly) PvP options to me. That said, I’m not too upset about that as I’ve been able to make use of a greatshield. Which is also a first for me. I’ve had varying success with bosses for obvious reasons, too.

As is becoming common practice for Dark Souls, Human Effigies (like Humanity before them) have been replaced by Embers which are much less required as they only really boost your maximum health until you die. It’s a nice boost- but it’s not as necessary as using a Human Effigy because you’re missing half of your health. Many of the mechanics you’ve become accustomed to have returned as well. Infusions allow you to enhance or completely change the damage type or scaling on your weapon, the reinforcement process remains unchanged, and the most major of differences is the introduction of Ashen Estus Flasks. Which are like regular Estus Flasks (and they share collective charges) but recover FP instead of HP.

Let’s take the scenic route.

FP is a rather important mechanic but only if you intend to cast spells or use weapon arts. It replaces the previous mechanic of attuning multiple copies of the same spell for extra uses and introduces a casting resource (FP), which is recovered with Ashen Estus Flasks, and so every spell has a cost, while spending points in Attunement will give you more FP and more slots. It’s probably the broadest change and it’s a little confusing at first, but very simple once you get the hang of it. I’m actually really supportive of the change. It feels balanced.

Likewise, weapon arts allow you to use special moves with certain weapons.

These special moves will also drain FP but they’re often worth the cost. While some of the more unique transposed weapons will have entirely different movesets to what you may expect, which makes those weapons interesting for reasons other than scaling and/or damage. It’s an enjoyable experience overall which still holds a lot of secrets (and optional bosses) for you to discover.

Likewise, the Dark Souls series as a whole is quite enjoyable. There are some less than enjoyable moments or bosses, but it’s mostly a very well made series, which has the ability to be experienced in different ways over different playthroughs, and will most certainly give you hours of entertainment. It also tends to teach you how creative you can be with profanity. I’ve got a few other builds I want to try with Dark Souls III as well. Mostly those that include Sorceries or something that suits my usual build. Even the dual wielding weapons look fun. I’ve also yet to make my way through the DLC, which I know are quite difficult and feature several multiple phase bosses. Those are my favourites- that’s when the despair really sets in!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

June to September 2017

Prepare for an unexpectedly creative period of time.

We started with Mushroom Fluidity which looked at a recent material study, which was soon followed by Comparison in Blood, and then by Comparison in Iron. Both of which continued the trend of approaching materials I’ve used for a long time in new ways. These were followed by Greatly Textured Horns which not only looked at ink and how I’m currently using it, but also reintroduced some of my oldest (and most reliable) ink pens. These material studies have definitely helped me understand more about my creative processes.

Jovial July contributed to the creativity as well.

Through which I added new categories to both the Art and Gaming pages and made minor changes to my personal site. There have been and there will continue to be many changes to the collection of sites, with most of the changes being related to the accessibility of content and ease of using the sites. Hopefully making it easier to find what you’re looking for.

We’ve had a rather mixed bag of gaming content recently. Starting with Priests of Rathma, which looked at the somewhat recent release of the Rise of the Necromancer pack for Diablo III that (amongst other things) added the Necromancer as a playable class. This was followed by The Sunshine Estate which looked at a long awaited return to Darkest Dungeon via a Radiant Mode campaign. We then experienced The Realisation of a Dream which looked at the adventures of Neptune and friends in Megadimension Neptunia VII. Last but not least we also saw the conclusion of a Sorceries with no shield build in Dark Souls II through Shieldless in Drangleic. As you can probably tell- we’ve had our fair share of adventures recently.

Rather surprisingly we’ve looked at a relatively new Early Access title, too. It’s been a while since we’ve done that, but First Impressions of… Low Magic Age looks at a promising RPG with a d20 System ruleset derived from the Wizards of the Coast Open Game Licence. If you’re confused by that sentence, don’t worry- I was, too. There are more features that have yet to be added, but for what is there, and certainly for the ridiculously low price it is available for, it’s definitely worth looking at if you’re a fan of tabletop RPGs.

We’ve even spent some time in Azeroth recently.

Firstly in an attempt to conclude preparations to access Legion content, but, rather spontaneously, to experience Legion content after an impromptu decision to buy the newest expansion. You can read about this return via either Garrison Architects (which mostly looks at Warlords of Draenor) or through the dedicated category for the series. You’re a Highlord, Moggie.

While I am still making numerous changes to the collection of sites, we’ve already seen a great deal of them and one that I think is more noticeable with this post is that there is slightly less content in recent months. However, what content there has been is generally of higher quality. That said, there were meant to be more posts than there have been but I’ve been busy with personal things recently which have knocked a post or two off the list. I’m still enjoying what I do, but I am looking to change some things around and some of those changes may be more drastic than others. In any case, I hope you- the reader- are still enjoying the content I’m writing about. It’s an awful lot of fun to write in most cases.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Shieldless in Drangleic

It’s a dangerous world out there.

Likely even more dangerous when you willingly opt out of using a shield entirely. That said, I’ve started to wonder if I rely too much on my shield. Especially when I don’t really build characters around heavier armour which are more likely to require a shield, or, at the very least, make good use of one. Dark Souls II is an experience I don’t really talk about all that much. That’s not to say that the experience itself is bad, just that I made a bad decision in thinking that Miracles would be a good secondary damage option. When they’re really not.

Well, no, they are- you just have to progress pretty far into the story to get those Miracles.

Which meant that I’d need to start over with a new build and I never really got around to doing that. Until recently. Which is when I decided I’d run a full Sorceries build with limited weapon options and no shield. I’ll admit- it sounds like a bad idea. Which it was with some bosses. But it was something different that helped me to understand when a shield is actually useful.

The majority of character progression and development mechanics remained the same as they were in Dark Souls. But the most significant difference would be the introduction of Human Effigies, which essentially act as Humanity but also restore the temporary maximum health loss that occurs when you die. They’re not particularly required, either. Especially if you have the ring that reduces the amount of maximum health you lose with each additional death. I do believe the Sorceries have remained mostly the same as well. That said, for me, the greatest challenge was defeating bosses like the Lost Sinner with no reflexive shield raising. I always do that panic button press hoping that it will absorb the damage when I’m about to get hit.

Shower him with Soul Arrows!

I’ve had a lot of fun with the build, though. It’s definitely different as I’m usually doing most damage with a weapon and then relying on Sorceries for some enemies. Whereas, with this build, I’m having to think a lot more about actually rolling effectively as I don’t have a panic button. If I roll badly I’m going to get hit. Which makes equipment weight more important, which in turn reduces the number of armour sets I could wear without investing heavily into its governing attribute. Casting time is also something I’m now much more aware of.

It wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting, either.

Which many would say is because of the inherent damage of Sorceries, but in many ways I felt almost underpowered in the earlier areas as I had limited Sorceries to attune and these were my main sources of damage. But that’s part of the challenge. When using a Strength/Dexterity weapon you have steadily increasing damage, whereas Sorceries are much more spiky.

It took a fairly long time to come back to Dark Souls II but I’m glad that I did. I didn’t own the Scholar of the First Sin version until recently, so these are all observations of a character in the original version but I do have the DLC for that version. So I’ll likely be exploring those at a later date. Until then, I’ll likely be moving on to the next in the series with which I will likely try another different build. But, again, as I said with the first Dark Souls, the character customisation and progression is what makes the series so enjoyable. It’s great to always be trying new weapons or building around different attributes. I can easily recommend Dark Souls II, though. It’s different- but it’s the enjoyable kind of different.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Greatly Textured Horns

It’s easier if you squint.

Which is also true of the process to create such details in the first place. I’ve recently reintroduced my Copic Multiliners to my creative process, as the replacement Mitsubishi Uni Pin fine liners aren’t quite as reliable as I would’ve hoped they’d be. Great pens- but they run out incredibly quickly. Or seem to. Which isn’t too much of an issue as they’re fairly cheap, but even things that are fairly cheap become expensive if you’re continually investing in them. For example, I’ve already replaced the 0.05 pen three times since I started using them.

So I decided I’d take another chance on the Copic Multiliners.

They’ve always been great pens and they’re exceptionally reliable. That said, I did run into an issue replacing a nib and ink cartridge that made me slightly wary of them. But the new replacements have taken to the pens perfectly, everything is great, and as to familiarise myself with them again I’ve been doing ink sketching. You’d be surprised how different certain pens feel.

Or maybe you wouldn’t. But it makes for great tangential conversation, as it relates back to how much confidence you have with particular materials and much of that is derived from how they feel in your hand. Or how they react to certain types of paper. It’s particular evident in how you sketch with pencils, too. As you tend to lean on certain qualities of pencil to make it easier to translate those lines to ink, which, again, feels quite different depending on the type of pens you’re using. I notice that with Copic Multiliners I’m able to sketch finer details as I can actually translate those details to ink with them. The difference between 0.05 and 0.03 seems insignificant- but it’s there- and it’s very noticeable. Especially when you habitually sketch fine details.

It’s not only the horns that are greatly textured.

This particular sketch falls somewhere between a few earlier attempts and a finalised attempt with this approach. An approach that will likely include Faber Castell Polychromos at some point. I’m rather limited in my colour selection with those at the moment- but I’m sure I can work something out. I have got a small collection of certain colours. It’s also likely I won’t move straight to a finalised piece and more likely that I’ll do some more sketching. Trying to learn more as I go. But I’m fairly pleased with how the line work in this piece turned out.

I’m also quite pleased with the horns.

I don’t usually illustrate horns in this particular style but I do like them. I’ll be honest, I’ve never really understood how they work anatomically and some might argue that I still don’t. But I like ’em. They’re neat. The rest of the anatomy is fairly standard and muscular. Which is pretty much my standard. I even threw in a little armour to further my progress there, too.

It’s been a while since I’ve done larger pieces and most of that is down to my own perceptions of my inability to do so. Which, again, is partly due to my confidence. So I’m trying to work through new ideas that basically force me to do these things. Mostly because I don’t understand how arm anatomy works, either. So if I can cover that with armour I’ll be fine. I’m kidding. Mostly. This year has definitely been a learning experience, for better or for worse. I’m leaning towards it being for the better of my creative efforts as a whole. But you could also argue that I’ve wasted time pursuing some approaches that are less useful. That said, I’m starting to think that the side effect of being creative and being on social media is feeling like you’re never good enough.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Comparison in Iron

Quite the comparison to make.

This is more or less the same idea as Comparison in Blood but it’s in reverse, which is more significant than you might think. It’s also slightly overdue as I’ve not been feeling well recently. I couldn’t really do much about that, though. I’d much rather have slept at some point in the last week. In any case, this was always a spontaneous piece and one that will remain unfinished for various reasons. But as a material study it’s actually fairly useful. It might not seem as significant as I’m suggesting but I assure you it has merit.

Mostly in bringing traditional and digital approaches closer.

Needs more fire.

Hence why I’m doing these slightly odd studies in the first place. In this case, I was mostly trying to see how much impact adding line work to the piece would have. This is slightly closer to what I’d do traditionally, too. But it’s still a laborious and overworked process, as I’m still of the opinion I’m doing extra work due to the limited technical specifications of my tablet.

It’s still a possibility that I’m entirely wrong about that assumption. I don’t think I am. But I wouldn’t rule it out. I’ve definitely learned new things as a result of these material studies, though. I feel as though my digital pieces are stronger and that there’s potential for better results in the future. How I’m going to go about achieving those results, what form they’ll take, and with which equipment is entirely open to interpretation at this point. I’m almost certain I’m going to invest in better equipment mostly because I’m curious. That’s as good a reason as any to spend a lot of money, right? You know what they say about curiosity and cats. I might not be an actual cat- but I’m covered in enough of their fur that I might as well be.

The biggest challenge of this comparison was to try and recreate something recognisably similar. Not exactly the same- but recognisable enough that you can at least see what I’m trying to do. Which I hope you can. Otherwise that previous sentence exists simply to exemplify my failures. Usually I’m just applying digital approaches to previously attempted traditional pieces, but this seemed like a fun change of pace. Mostly to see how different the approaches would look and feel once completed. Unsurprisingly, they’re incredibly different.

Needs more everything.

Probably better approached with ink, too.

But that was mostly a matter of time and not wanting to invest that much into something to be used as a comparison. I’m fairly confident in my ability to translate pencil to ink at this point. I’m scarcely using that for anything worthwhile- but that’s not important. What is important is that I’ve got my confidence back. Somewhat. I think there’s some left under the cat.

I apologise if this content feels disjointed or it’s not particularly what people want to see. I’ve always believed that knowing where you came from is important, that knowing where you’re going is equally as important, and that we should do our best to understand these things. Especially for those who create. We’re often more personally invested in our work and there are usually reasons why certain things appeal to us. Being able to utilise those- through understanding, learning, and experimentation- is incredibly important to our growth. We’re all going to fail at one point or another, but understanding why we failed and learning from that is infinitely more important than not.

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.

World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, Blackhand, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Blizzard.

Garrison Architects

Today is a good day to build.

It’s also a good day to run around the overflowing wilderness of Draenor trying to earn the Draenor Pathfinder achievement. It’s an interesting achievement that is feasibly doable at Lvl 100 if you’ve got the gear for it, which only the daily reputation quests might prevent if you’re going solo. But only if you’re having trouble fighting the elites out in Tanaan Jungle. Otherwise it’s just a few daily quests. Moggie was fully geared during the pre-Legion invasion event so he’s pretty much able to kill anything and everything Draenor has to offer.

Even as far as being able to solo some of the dungeons out there.

I’ve managed to get through Bloodmaul Slag Mines, The Iron Docks, and Auchindoun with relative ease. I don’t really want to push much further than Auchindoun, though. They nearly managed to kill ol’ Moggie. The dungeons in Warlords of Draenor are smaller and less loot intensive than those I’ve experienced prior, but they’re still well made encounters. They’re diverse, too.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the steadily decreasing size of dungeons (and other instances) since Wrath of the Lich King, though I am pleased to see more story being put into them. Story that usually ties into the zone the instance is in or the quests available in the instance. By the way, if you’re wondering, this post isn’t particularly related to the ongoing series– I’m just reflecting on the joy that is Warlords of Draenor. Attempting to earn the Draenor Pathfinder achievement (and working towards adventures with Legion content) has reignited my interest in this expansion. It’s pretty good. I’m really enjoying how the garrison helps to not only develop your professions but also opens up new locations to visit. The shipyard is particularly neat to look at, too.

The Temple of Karabor.

It’s definitely a gamble as if you don’t enjoy the garrison you’re out of luck. Incredibly out of luck. You’re also going to have to deal with being on the ground for the majority of it, either until you earn flying or leave Draenor never to return. But I like it. I can’t really explain why but there’s something about it that’s refreshing. The crafting is incredibly simplified compared to other expansions (including Legion it would seem) but it’s enjoyable all the same. Especially if you’re planning to carry on to Lvl 110 and want to easily burn through 600-700.

The art direction is perhaps the best I’ve seen in World of Warcraft, too.

The halls of Auchindoun are ridiculously beautiful. The dark, charred, Fel scarred landscapes are gorgeously haunting. The music is deliciously fitting and helps tremendously to create an enchanting atmosphere, whether it’s holy or unholy, which helps to deliver key story elements. I still enjoy the core gameplay but a lot of my return is thanks to Warlords of Draenor.

I’m particularly fond of the Horde story as Thrall is a major part of it. For reasons I won’t explain (as not to spoil it) he’s a particularly notable inclusion in the events to come, which helps develop his character further. The Alliance story is pretty great, too. In fact- all of it is great. It’s probably a good thing that I’ve got numerous other characters to experience the content with. In any case, I just wanted to highlight this expansion as more than just a setting for my ongoing series. It really does deserve the praise. I’ve also got three out of the five requirements for Draenor Pathfinder met, with the last two being the quest lines for the zones and the daily reputation grinding. So I guess I’ve got some work to do.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie