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.

Advertisements

WoW: Adventures in Azeroth (Pt. 11)

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Light’s Hope Chapel.

With the release of the Shadows of Argus it seemed as good a time as any to finally upgrade to Legion. I’ve been delaying the purchase for a while, but I’ve mostly moved forward enough that I feel good about starting my adventures in the Broken Isles. Flint, the Survival Hunter, has made good progress through the Warlords of Draenor campaign. While both Moggie and Voljaarn are ready for what lies ahead. The freshly rolled Demon Hunter will be eligible for Legion content, too. Not forgetting Sanguinaer, the Death Knight, who can easily catch up.

It’s quite exciting having so many options to choose from.

Hence the reason I’ve been purposefully delaying my introduction to Legion content. I didn’t want to experience everything from only the perspective of a Paladin and a Shaman- I wanted to bring in some of my other characters as well. Of which the Demon Hunter is an entirely new class, and, as such, is slightly more exciting. Their character creation options are great, too.

I’ve reclaimed both Ashbringer and Truthguard for Moggie. I’m more than likely going to spend the majority of my time with (and Artifact Power on) Ashbringer, but reclaiming Truthguard did bring back fond memories of being a Protection Paladin back in Cataclysm. That said, I’ve more experience and interest in being a Retribution Paladin. I could also reclaim the Holy Paladin Artifact but I’ve no use for it. Moggie has never been (and likely never will be) a Holy Paladin. The only healing he does is panic mashing Flash of Light. I kid. They’re very precise panic taps. He may occasionally throw a Word of Glory out if things get that bad, too. They have a very satisfying AoE healing bubble to them.

Jimmy Cliff has the best advice at times like these.

I’ve been feeling strangely nostalgic about Legion, too. It’s either nostalgia, heartburn, or they were right and sitting at a computer for this long is actually bad for you. It might also be the Legion Chilli that Moggie ate after leaving Draenor. It’s been a while since I’ve had to prospect ore and use gems of varying colours for Jewelcrafting designs, while Mining has mechanics that seem to offer increasingly higher returns when mining ore you’ve gained knowledge of. It’s a satisfying combination of old and new approaches to profession levelling.

The Class Order Hall is pretty neat, too.

It’s like a less time intensive reinvention of the garrison concept. But there are still reasons to visit, such as, but not limited to: upgrading your Artifact, embarking on missions, engaging with NPCs to tie together individual stories, and saving reckless Paladins who take literal armies with them and still lose. Somehow. I guess that’s why Moggie’s the Highlord and he’s not.

I’m not entirely sure how best to proceed from here, though. I don’t know if I should focus on levelling Moggie to Lvl 110, or whether I should experience some of what the Shaman has to offer through Voljaarn. Or whether I should burn through Warlords of Draenor slightly faster with Flint. I’m still fairly new to Legion, which makes me think that if I focus on several characters at once I could potentially lengthen the process by not realising later mechanics exist. If later mechanics exist. Which they probably do. Don’t even talk to me about the Monk. She’s still in Duskwood. Well, you can talk to me about her if you like. I just don’t know that much about Monks yet. I should probably think about levelling her at some point, too.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

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

The Realisation of a Dream

The very fabric of the universe is tearing apart.

Megadimension Neptunia VII is the first adventure that I’ve experienced in the Neptunia universe that isn’t part of the Re;Birth remake series. It’s an interesting one for that reason. Things that I’ve become acquainted to (such as the Remake system and Stella’s Dungeon) are not present, but there’s a bunch of other interesting ideas to replace them. Like the ability to invest in cities, which, for the most part, replaces the Remake system. Or the use of Scouts. Which also replaces some aspects of the Remake system.

There’s a world map (with actual enemy encounters), too.

Along with more emphasis on New Game+ in which more items become available the further you go. I was most surprised about this, as I know that Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 Sisters Generation used a similar mechanic for multiple endings- but New Game+ is almost required in Megadimension Neptunia VII. It’s still incredibly content dense without it, though.

It’s broader (with a much longer story) but simultaneously narrower (with much less to unlock and use) but there’s more emphasis on each choice. Weapons have been completely overhauled in this way, they are fewer in number but actually have specific combo capabilities. Chaining together effective attacks is more important, too. The EXE Drive returns but only lasts for a single battle, while Formation and Coupling Skills are actually based on surrounding an enemy. Or slicing straight through it. There’s quite a variety of those as well. You’ll easily be able to build effective parties (even with DLC characters) and utilise those powerful attacks. There are also specific intense boss battles with unique conditions which require HDD to be activated.

Even the quests have been reworked so that you need to earn access to higher rank offerings. It’s incredibly ambitious and ridiculously enjoyable. The lack of opportunities to grind endless experience in your first run presents much tougher opposition, with some boss battles becoming quite heated. The introduction of a smaller but more specialised cast is appreciated, too. The DLC characters are some of the best I’ve seen in the series, with many not only having a great selection of skills but really unique (and gorgeous) character models.

Then there’s the HDD Next Form for the CPUs.

Introduced as the ultimate evolution of the CPUs and requiring a second activation to unleash once available, it boasts skills that are so powerful they cancel out HDD once used and return the CPU to their human form in return for devastatingly powerful results. They also feature really gorgeous character models and some of the most impressive animations in the series.

I’ve only one regret with regards to Megadimension Neptunia VII and that is that it marks the end of the currently available content. That said, I’ve scarcely been happier with a series than I have been with this one. I’m looking forward to seeing them all through again in New Game+, too. Especially this one. Which boasts the highest replayability of the series. I was surprised by the depth of the story- which is actually three stories- and how enjoyable it was. The true ending was among the best I’ve experienced so far as well. I’m certainly looking forward to the return of Neptunia (in any dimension) and can easily recommend this series to anyone who enjoys JRPGs. Or Neptune. Even if you don’t now- she’ll grow on you. I promise.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Comparison in Blood

Currently experiencing a low infestation rate.

Darkest Dungeon certainly brought one of the more original ideas for bloodsucking abominations to The Crimson Court. Vampiric in nature, but not necessarily undead, the Bloodsuckers (as they’re fondly known) are actually variations of humanoid insects. They don’t sparkle, either. That said, there is a consistent theme in the art direction for Darkest Dungeon that often combines beastly features with humanoid anatomy. The Warrens is literally filled with dozens of examples. Not to mention those weird, misshapen, infested souls that plague the Weald.

The humanoid features make them more interesting, too.

A malformed bloody maw.

It also leaves me wondering how or why they exist in the first place. Or when they first appeared. But this isn’t meant to be an explanation of Darkest Dungeon lore (as fascinating as that would be), it’s meant to explain some of the thoughts I’ve had recently. Or, at the very least, attempt to explain those thoughts. As I’m not entirely sure that I understand it myself.

I think I’m focusing too much on the result. This particular pencil sketch is one of the rare few I’ve liked of the work I’ve done in recent weeks, which says a lot as it isn’t of a very high quality. But I like the approach. I liked how natural it felt (and how confident I was) approaching it. I attempted to enhance the original sketch digitally for the same reason, as I don’t feel as though my approach to digital paintings or illustrations is particularly sound. I never really stopped to think about how I would normally do things. I just jumped straight into painting without line work and going for a mostly realistic approach, which, again, I don’t think was a particularly sound decision. So in two ways this piece is teaching me more about my creative pursuits.

Firstly, that by being focused on the result I’m losing a lot of what makes up the piece in the first place. I’m not thinking about how to achieve the best representation of the piece- I’m instead thinking about how to work towards a result that I want for reasons I can’t explain. Secondly, that perhaps I’m not as inexperienced with digital paintings and illustrations as I would have assumed. Maybe I’ve just been doing things in the wrong way and expecting (for some reason) to get the representation that I wanted.

You can almost hear the maddening skittering…

I’ve also not questioned my approaches as much in the past as I have recently.

I’m most curious as to why that is. I don’t exactly feel different, but I’m wondering if maybe this is foreshadowing a great period of creativity in my life and I just need to get past these hurdles first. Almost as if I realise the potential I could have and because I’m not living up to it I’m squandering it. As egotistical as that may sound. Not that it’s intended to be egotistical at all.

I’m quite happy with the piece, too. If that wasn’t clear. I’m not entirely sure where it’s going from here, but I would assume that I’m going to work on the digital version a little further and perhaps even expand upon the original sketch. That’s one of the neat things about digital illustrations. You can keep adding, removing, and adjusting endlessly until you get the result that you want. Which is equally one of the worst things about digital illustrations, as nothing is ever done and can always be approached again. I’m also surprised at how efficiently I’m working through this piece. I’ve not run into the usual issue of spending significantly more time for a fairly similar result, which, hopefully, shows some amount of growth within my approach.

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.

Darkest Dungeon, The Crimson Court, bloodsuckers, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Red Hook.

First Impressions of… Low Magic Age

Stand back! I have a spear and I’m not afraid to pretend I have the proficiency to use it!

Low Magic Age is an enjoyable Early Access RPG with a d20 System ruleset derived from the Wizards of the Coast Open Game Licence. At this stage of development there is a fully functional (yet deceptively complex) Arena, alongside deep character progression mechanics and varied equipment choices. The developers are also looking to add a campaign mode to fully flesh out the core experience. Likewise, there’s early Steam Workshop integration which could permit the creation of much more (Arena/campaign) content in the future.

It’s definitely one of the more promising Early Access titles I’ve seen.

Even if you’re not fully conversant with d20 System rulesets, Low Magic Age provides an intuitive and easy to learn presentation of mechanics alongside an impressive explanation of what everything does. A feature that I wish would be more prevalent in other RPGs with complex formulae. I’m also quite fond of how quickly you can pick up the nuances of combat.

The Arena is almost exclusively combat, too. So if you’re not too keen on the idea of something reminiscent to dungeon crawling with a party of adventurers, you might want to wait until the campaign is implemented. It’s not actually dungeon crawling, though. As you progress through the Arena in waves. After each fight you can purchase new equipment, replenish ammunition, spend Glory for party bonuses, or even recruit new adventurers for your party. Each party progresses through their own waves, too. Switching to an entirely new party will reset your progress back to the first wave, while also resetting your gold and Glory to their default values. Switching back to an existing party restores their wave progress.

Just one more turn…

Your party can consist of either default characters, your own characters, or a combination of both. When creating characters you can follow a template or create your own custom characters, with the characters created via templates levelling up automatically. Which, I assume, as I don’t use character templates, automatically develop certain abilities. Which is a great feature for those who enjoy the experience that Low Magic Age offers, but might not be as interested in statistics or agonising over new abilities. Thereby it’s very new player friendly, too.

Each wave in the Arena also features a boss fight.

These will become available once you’ve defeated all of the fights in a particular wave. Unsurprisingly, these often feature incredibly tough enemies which are stronger than most things you’ve faced before. You can either fight these bosses as they appear or grind experience in the fights of that wave. As I do believe each fight per wave is endlessly repeatable.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Low Magic Age but I’m very pleased with this current iteration. It’s an easy recommendation if you enjoy fantasy RPGs, tabletop rulesets, or Dungeons & Dragons with the only caveat being that the campaign isn’t implemented yet. So if you’re not keen on endless Arena bloodshed you may want to wait before purchasing. I still think it’s a great deal at the current price, though. Given that many of the existing systems are fully functional and that the Arena is also incredibly polished for many hours of enjoyment. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have another turn to take and another wave to finish…

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

The Sunshine Estate

It’s not so dark now, is it?

Many things have changed since the full release of Darkest Dungeon. We’ve seen the introduction of town events, the Antiquarian, Radiant Mode, Stygian Mode (the rebalanced New Game+), heirloom trading, and the first story expansion with The Crimson Court. With the release of the expansion it seemed as good a time as any to return to the horrors beneath our family home. I’ve been meaning to go back to my previous estate, but, as you can probably tell from the title of this post, I instead opted for a Radiant Mode campaign.

It’s an interesting concept for a difficulty adjustment.

Rather than making the enemies and dungeons trivial, it instead makes the campaign shorter and reduces the need for grinding significantly by providing Radiant Mode specific stagecoach upgrades. Most things are cheaper, too. Which, when paired with an Antiquarian in your roster, reduces the need to grind for gold almost entirely. It’s a pleasant experience overall.

I’ve not played the default difficulty (now known as Darkest Mode) since release, but Radiant Mode has great pacing comparatively. Each week has a purpose and affords progression. Whether that progression takes the form of a boss kill, an upgrade to the estate, levelling up a hero, or even an expedition to the Darkest Dungeon. It’s nice that the challenge is retained, too. Failure is still possible if you don’t play well or use effective team compositions. Or forgot to bring torches to the second assault on the Darkest Dungeon. Which was the highlight of my entire campaign, as I noticed almost immediately but fleeing the Darkest Dungeon results in a guaranteed death. I wasn’t fond of that as I’d been training these heroes for this for some time.

Nightmare made material.

Which also made the mistake even more hilarious. Thankfully, I didn’t have any Sun Rings on the heroes in that party so fighting through in the darkness was at least doable. By virtue of Cry Havoc and Rallying Flare we were successful. I did take 60+ stress from Revelation, though. They acted before either of my guards could be applied. I had few deaths in this campaign, too. Besides that ill fated attempt at fighting a Shambler with an Antiquarian party that lacked the necessary damage. We killed the Shambler- but the spawn quickly finished us off.

Hilariously, that loss was worth two achievements.

With the release of The Crimson Court I would have to agree that Darkest Dungeon is in the best condition that it’s ever been in. The classes are all particularly useful for one reason or another, there are innumerable team compositions to provide different answers to similar problems, and there’s even new content (and a new class) to experience if you own The Crimson Court.

I’m intending for this Radiant Mode campaign to be the first in a series of campaigns. I was thinking of doing difficulty progression akin to how you work through normal, nightmare, and hell in the earlier instalments of the Diablo series. I’ve had a lot of fun with this estate, but I’m slightly dubious about the shortened campaign length. Given that I’ve spent nearly 50hrs in this estate at this point. Though, to be fair, that is likely shorter than a Darkest Mode or Stygian Mode campaign would be. I also took the time to kill all of the bosses, level up all of the classes, and do other things that aren’t necessary for the successful resolution of a campaign. I’m starting to think I have a problem regarding the completion of miscellaneous objectives.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie