Those Who Travel Alsgard

Neptune is the second Lvl 110 Paladin I’ve played.

Cyberdimension Neptunia 4 Goddesses Online is an ARPG that is heavily influenced by MMORPG mechanics. Mostly because you’re playing an MMORPG with the cast of the Neptunia series. It boasts all of your favourite features, including, but not limited to: crafting, exploring dungeons, group events, loot, bosses, character classes, and character progression systems. It doesn’t boast the overflowing (and overwhelming) number of skills that most MMORPGs have, though. Which makes this a less intense and more enjoyable experience overall.

Not that having options is ever a bad thing in either an MMORPG or an ARPG.

But, in this case, the lack of options doesn’t restrict you. Each skill is generally more useful than several iterations of applying the same effect in a slightly different way. The only exception being the elemental damage skills which each class has limited access to. Naturally, Nepgear, the Mage, has access to all of the elemental damage skills. Including some that the Goddesses have.

The equipment strengthening mechanics also remove much of the busy work usually present in MMORPGs. It’s sort of like a crafting system that isn’t a crafting system. You still need to gather raw materials to strengthen your weapons or armour, but it is handled independently to your characters or their individual expertise. You can easily fully upgrade your starting equipment for quite the boost should you have the money and materials to do so. This is especially important later in the main story when more expensive equipment becomes available. Each upgrade is surprisingly potent, too. I was pleased to discover that some of the equipment I’d upgraded near the beginning of the story was still useful in the later areas. It’s a refreshing change of pace.

We must make haste for there are monsters to loot.

While there are some mechanics which I really enjoyed, there were some which were quite hazy. Like the choice of party tactics. I don’t really know what each of those options mean or what they change about the behaviour of my party members. I would assume that Blanc, a Priest, would default towards healing over damage, but when specifying what I would assume is that option she still seemed more concerned with damage. Then again, I don’t think any healing AI will ever do what I want it to do. But that’s just me being a defensive player.

That said, it’s a minor drawback that doesn’t impact things too greatly.

I’ve been looking forward to Cyberdimension Neptunia 4 Goddesses Online for some time now and it hasn’t disappointed me. It’s not exactly a full length adventure like Megadimension Neptunia VII or other earlier instalments, but it is a greatly enjoyable way to spend thirty hours. There’s definitely potential for regular additional DLC akin to MMO content patches, too.

I wasn’t sure if I’d get around to playing this one as soon as I have due to wanting to play Final Fantasy XV (Windows Edition) at release, but I’m glad that I spent the time on it. I really did enjoy the experience and do wish it were longer. It intentionally feels unfinished (for reasons explained in the story) and that only makes me want to find secret dungeons and/or bosses. I’ll be attempting to get all of the achievements, too. I’m mostly there save for the quests which I still need to finish. I’m hoping that Neptune at Lvl 110+ with an additional roster of Lvl 85-90 characters is enough to beat the final final boss. The most final of bosses. With instant death attacks and several million health. Most likely. I guess I’ll find out when I get there.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

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Hunter’s Notes: Paolumu – 2018 – Digital – click for full view on site!

Even their ears are fluffy!

It just so happened that the brush which I made for specific areas of Older and Wiser became incredibly useful in detailing the fur on their balloon neck. I swear that’s just a coincidence and not some form of precognition. I wish it was some form of precognition. Knowing what’s going to happen in the future would be awesome. Except in all the scenarios where it wouldn’t be, because something bad will happen, but is required to happen, and so you would try to avoid it despite knowing it is unavoidable. That would just be unfortunate.

Fluffy But Terrifying offers insight as to my thoughts while painting this piece.

They’re mostly the same thoughts I have now that the piece is complete. As much as any piece is ever complete. One of the best (and most painful) things about growing as an artist is realising that you’ll never be where you want to be, because the goal keeps changing relative to your current perception of your level of skill. It’s a gnawing feeling that never goes away.

That said, I’m most disappointed with the fur on their balloon neck. Everything else is mostly where I want it to be. As noted in the aforementioned post regarding this piece, the thick painted approach is one that I’m unlikely to use for the next piece. It’s an interesting style but one that isn’t suited to everything. Hence these weird paintings that seem to spontaneously appear and disappear with equal amounts of haste. I’m looking to challenge myself. Which, to be fair, is the entire reason I enjoy my creative efforts in the first place. But there’s no point in always falling back on things I know (or at least feel fairly confident) that I can do. I like painting weird creatures, too. Once I find one it’s almost impossible to avoid painting it.
On the other hand, I’m much happier with my work and rate of progression at the moment. I’m much happier with everything in general. I changed around my personal life substantially since the end of last year, which has led to me doing more things that I like doing and enjoying those things much more than I used to. That’s definitely helped me bring out the best in my painting. The acquisition of the Wacom Intuos Pro has certainly helped, too. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to switch to only digital painting or illustrating.

Traditional pieces will still be likely to appear.

I’ve just got quite a few pieces that I’d like to revisit which I think I can make a better attempt at now. To Ink a Deathclaw comes to mind. That would be interesting both because the thick painted approach would likely suit it quite well, and it would be one of the few digital attempts that has line work. Or I might just get rid of the line work with the finished attempt.

I’m not entirely sure if I’ll paint other beasts in Monster Hunter World. Some are kind of messy with indistinguishable details and others don’t really appeal to me, but I won’t say it isn’t a possibility. I might tackle one of their dragons. Both literally (if I happen to purchase the PC release) and figuratively. I might just paint a dragon because I feel like painting one. In either case, I’m quite happy with this piece and I think it fits with what I want my creative efforts (and my personal site as a result) to be. I’m also quite happy that I’ve been working on all sorts of things recently and I’ve still found time to start three paintings and finish two of them. The third is a secret. A secret which might need to be approached in a different way for me to be happy with it.

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.

Monster Hunter World, Astera, Paolumu, Anjanath, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Capcom.

Fluffy But Terrifying

The cycle of fluffiness continues.

I’d also argue that the Paolumu is anything but terrifying. Quite adorable, in fact. But they are giant flying beasts that would more than likely swallow you whole if they got the chance… so maybe they are slightly terrifying. But, again, quite adorable, as their primary way to show aggression is to inflate their balloon neck. Which looks ridiculous and is not at all terrifying- unless you’re scared of balloons- in which case feel free to change your trousers at any time. I’m mostly fond of them due to their original design and their unique (and rather interesting) anatomy.

They’re also a great candidate to test my new brushes on.

I reckon you could make some rather nice brushes from their fur, too. In what could only be described as an entirely spontaneous decision I started to paint this majestic winged creature. I do that sometimes. In fact, some of my best work has been entirely spontaneous. Sometimes it’s nice to not stress every aspect of the painting and just focus on actually painting it.

I was also wondering how my new brushes would perform with a new piece. I’ve modified my existing set to include sharper, more precise, and more accurate brushes for those crisp lines. I’ve also added more texture to the flat brush I use often. I’m finding that these new brushes give me more freedom in some ways, more precision in others, and that they encourage more consistent blending. I’ve spent more time adjusting opacity with this piece, too. These are all things that are only possible due to my increasing confidence with digital approaches. I’m also no longer having to fight with the hardware, brushes, and canvas sizing to get the results I want. It’s about as close as I can get to mimicking traditional approaches but with digital tools.

Don’t make me puffy. You wouldn’t like me when I’m puffy.

I feel I’ve been bolder in my choice of colours for this piece. Not as bold as I’d like to be- but that will come with confidence. I’m also learning a lot about how best to approach layering colour and defining areas of an illustration or painting, which I could translate to traditional approaches. I’m quite excited to see how different my traditional work will be now. I don’t necessarily feel that either will get weaker as a result of focusing on one or the other. I feel as though they can only improve now. I just need to remember the limitations of each material.

I also miss ink. It allows me to add so many tiny (perhaps unnecessary) details.

I don’t know if this is an approach that I’ll continue to use in the future. I tend to think that each painting or illustration is unique, and, as such, requires a unique approach. I do want to have some consistency between pieces, though. Not having that consistency has caused me problems in the past. But I don’t know if this thick painted style is one I’d like to pursue for every piece.

I rather like how Older and Wiser has its own unique qualities and this piece is starting to develop its own unique qualities in kind. I’m also proud of the progress I’ve made in such a short time with digital painting. I’m far from where I would like to be, but, again, these things will come in time and with confidence. There’s no sense in rushing things. I also don’t know if the next piece you see from me will be the result of traditional or digital approaches. I’ve not felt this positive about my creative efforts in a long time. It’s refreshing- and exciting- and gives me hope for the future pieces I’ll produce. We may even see a few more from Monster Hunter World, too. They’ve got some incredibly colourful, meticulously designed, and anatomically interesting beasts.

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.

Monster Hunter World, Astera, Paolumu, Anjanath, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Capcom.

To Hunt Many Monsters

How else would I make equipment from their remains if I don’t hunt them?

It would seem that some of them would like nothing more than to live in peace, though. They’re quite happy eating at their patch of grass until I come along with a sword and take their body parts. Maybe I’m the real monster. Maybe that’s why they keep sending me out on these quests. I don’t really know. All I do know is that I have a pretty cool sword carved from monster bones, armour crafted from scales and fur, and I’ve finally bought something new-ish for my PS Vita. Well, it’s new to me. I’ve not played Monster Hunter before.

But I might be playing Monster Hunter World as a result.

The Monster Hunter series brings together an interesting albeit clunky set of mechanics. I’m not sure how much Monster Hunter Freedom differs from the original, but I believe it’s a PSP remake of Monster Hunter G. I have no idea what has changed (if anything) and how much it has changed. It’s surprisingly content dense, though. Which is always a good thing for portable titles.

Not that I’ve tried yet but I’m assuming that online functionality will mostly be non-existent now. I don’t know if that changes anything. I get the feeling that the introductory tutorials implied that taking on the toughest monsters is something best done with friends. Then again, it’s not like I’d listen to that advice as I’d still try to fight them. It’s part of the fun. I’d be slightly disappointed to find out that it is literally impossible to fight certain monsters alone. But I guess I’ll find out when I get there. I don’t think it would make too much of a difference, either. Besides missing out on a potentially epic fight or losing the ability to craft certain armour. Or certain weapons. Which may not be that valuable outside of certain encounters anyway.

Monster Hunter Freedom continues the older video game design trend of not really telling you too much about anything. I have several statistics on weapons or armour sets that I don’t fully understand the importance of. If there even is any. I don’t even know what my defensive statistics mean. I’m just assuming that higher numbers are better. But whether those numbers represent a damage reduction percentage, a flat number that translates into a percentage at different Hunter Ranks, or a flat reduction of incoming damage is anyone’s guess

Which is a shame as I love statistics.

I just wish I knew what these ones meant. It is an interesting series, though. I do enjoy how each weapon or armour set has a particular strength and weakness, and how wielding each weapon class feels different to emphasise different ways to approach the same problem. Preparing for hunts is also a vital step in taking down certain monsters. Which is a nice touch.

You really do feel like a monster hunter. You study the monsters, learn their weaknesses, prepare potions and tonics, and can even use that knowledge to capture the monster rather than slay it. There is a certain amount of repetition as you’ll need to grind with certain quests to be able to fully craft armour sets. Or buy a Whetstone for the thousandth time. But, again, these are older video game design trends. I don’t really have a point with this post, either. I just wanted to talk about a rather interesting time I’ve had recently looking at a series I’ve not played before. I’m quite excited for Monster Hunter World but I’m still deciding whether it’s really for me. It does look like it brings together these clunky mechanics in a more cohesive fashion. Which would be great.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Celestial Brushwork

The brush is mightier than the wolf.

Okami HD (as the name would suggest) is a remastered version of the original Okami released in 2006 (which I have never played), and is a rare example of an experience that is complex yet thoroughly enjoyable throughout. It features a large open world and a surprising amount of freedom to go with it. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you’re encouraged to explore this open world as soon as you complete the starting experience. As there is so much to see, do, and unlock even with the limited variety of brush techniques you’ll have at that time.

There are plenty of secrets hidden in this vast world, too.

The focal mechanic of Okami is the use of the Celestial Brush. This allows you to draw onto the environment for a number of different effects, which are directly linked to the number of brush techniques you currently have access to and will be invaluable in unearthing secrets or making progress. It’s an expertly implemented and meticulously utilised mechanic.

Alongside this there is a rather interesting levelling mechanic which is vital to your success. While you can collect three Sun Fragments and increase your health, the primary way to increase your various attributes will be through the acquisition of Praise. Which is something you can find anywhere and everywhere in the world. Mostly acquired from restoring nature to corrupted lands or feeding animals (which is a whole mechanic of its own), you’ll also acquire praise for defeating certain enemies. Praise can then be spent to increase your health, the number of ink wells you have, how many Astral Pouches you can carry, or even how much currency you can hold. It’s an oddly refreshing system that doesn’t promote grinding out battles for experience.

Such a colourful and diverse creature you are.

You’ll also find (and hopefully equip) various weapons in the course of your adventure. Each class of weapon promotes a different advantage be it speed, strength, or combo potential. Visiting the Dojo will allow you to unlock new techniques or bonuses related to each class of weapon, too. While you can also earn rare Demon Fangs which can be used to buy various Holy Artifacts. These are not required for completing the story, but they do have unique bonuses for Amaterasu that you can’t find elsewhere. Especially if you collect all of the Stray Beads.

New Game+ helps greatly in acquiring them all.

One of the other focal mechanics of Okami is the unique storytelling approach. The story itself is an enjoyably awesome tale of epic heroes and ancient demons, but it is presented with such a gorgeous illustration style and brings together the visual style of the title quite well. It’s also rather light-hearted, comical, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously at any time.

There were many things that I enjoyed but the freedom to explore was most enjoyable of all. It’s rare to be allowed to wander around the map as and when you want to, while it’s equally as rare to be allowed to return to earlier areas to use your new brush techniques. You’d usually expect that to be hidden behind New Game+ or the like. In fact, New Game+ is rather well implemented as it isn’t required to access anything. It only really makes it easier to earn the resources required to collect anything you missed the first time around. In either case, I’ve greatly enjoyed this title and can easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys having fun while gaming. Which, in my opinion, is the only reason you should be gaming in the first place.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Older and Wiser – 2017 – Digital – click for full view on site!

Something old that’s new again

If you’re curious as to the reasoning behind this piece (or potential creative content plans) feel free to check out Fluffy Beak. Most of the answers are there. What isn’t there is a long-winded explanation about how the right side of the face was ridiculously more complex than the left- as it was- and it was frustrating. I probably spent a good two hours painting over it. After which I was somewhat satisfied with the result. Mostly. No, no- it’s okay. Really. That said, as a first attempt with my newly acquired Wacom Intuos Pro I’m fairly happy with the result.

I’ll probably never be entirely happy.

But such is the joy of creating things. Or at least it is with my brain that never lets me acknowledge my accomplishments. I’m slightly easier on myself when it comes to digital painting and illustrating, though. I’m far less experienced with it (as I’ve only invested just over a year into it) compared to traditional approaches. Which I’m not always happy with, either.

I will admit that replacing my older Wacom Bamboo with a Wacom Intuos Pro has made an indescribable difference. I’m not usually one to highlight such things as I don’t believe that tools can ever or will ever replace experience, dedication, and practised skill. But there are some upgrades which make all the difference. This was one of them. Mostly because I wasn’t continually fighting with the tablet, having to work with an exceptionally larger than necessary canvas to accommodate a lack of pressure sensitivity, or working on such a small drawing surface so each stroke was much truer to life. I’m also exhibiting some of the aforementioned practised skill as I’ve become more accustomed with the ways to paint digitally.
On that note, this entire painting is comprised of two separate layers. One for the majority of the colour work and the other for minor details. I’d have preferred to do everything on a single layer, but it is quite convenient to have a layer dedicated to all those adorable fluffy lines and squiggles. I think the approach works quite well, too. While it’s also somewhat reminiscent of traditional painting as you usually work with only one surface and can only work it so many times. Even acrylic paint (or other opaque paints) have a limited number of layers.

Otherwise it becomes too warped to achieve the desired result.

I’ve also avoided an entirely realistic approach for this painting. I think that the semi-realistic somewhat stylised approach has a rather unique aesthetic. I don’t know if I’ll move towards more or less realistic results in the future, but for now these results fit well with my traditional approaches. I’m hoping to be more ambitious with my use of colour with future pieces, too.

I wasn’t really expecting such a positive result from this piece. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But I’m glad that I’ve been able to better define some areas of my creative efforts and work towards things I actually enjoy doing. That even includes minor things like making custom brushes or organising supplies. Each and every thing I can do to make creating easier to approach, more convenient, or more enjoyable is worth doing. Working on this piece in shorter sessions also helped me work around the time that I sometimes don’t have to spare. It’s nice to know that I don’t need to compromise to continue to work on the things, but can also make progress and develop my approach at the same time. It’s a lot to juggle at once, though.

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.

Fluffy Beak

An unexpected development.

Once upon a time it was cows and now it’s owls. They’re everywhere. This particular owl is a reinterpretation of a piece that once represented the culmination of my creative efforts and experience, which I hope will encourage the creation of many different pieces. It’s easy to see that I’ve not been happy with my creative efforts for a while. The reasons for that, however, are a little harder to see, which I will attempt to explain while talking about this work in progress. It’ll also serve as a good opportunity to talk about future plans for creative content.

Most of those plans will be tied to the aforementioned reasons.

As each reason highlights an area for improvement. Something that could be done better than (or at the very least differently to) how it is done now, which will hopefully mean that there will be more creative content and that it will be more diverse. You can reasonably assume that some of the older digital paintings which have faded into obscurity will make a return, too.

Most reasons relate to not utilising time (or other resources) effectively and therefore having less overall opportunity to work on things. I’m not happy with how much progress I’ve made over the last few years, either. Not to say that the progress isn’t there- but that there is very little in the way of finished pieces to demonstrate it. I don’t want to have endless quantities of somewhat finished sketches and attempted digital paintings. I want to finish things. For that reason, it’s important to invest more actual time in the process of creating things. Which I really don’t do now and I should. I’ve very few excuses for that other than that I always find an excuse. I need to stop doing that, too. Legitimate excuses do exist (like those of the last few months) but not in all cases.

It’s taking on a rather interesting shape.

This particular work in progress highlights a continued push towards finishing something. Over a few, shorter, less intensive drawing sessions of a few hours or so. In that way I’m rather proud of this piece. It has had significantly less time invested in it than Pug Life, but, in my opinion, looks that much better with more attention to detail. I’ve mostly settled on a semi-realistic kind of stylised digital painting approach. It’s also the first digital painting I’ve done with my newly acquired Wacom Intuos Pro and so I’ve got quite a way to go yet.

But it’s a pretty good first attempt so far.

It’s painfully obvious how much I’ve improved in my approach, too. Both with digital painting and with my creative efforts as a whole. Which may seem contradictory to the above statement about my progression, but it does illustrate (no pun intended) the point I was making. The progression is there but there needs to be pieces that are actually finished to demonstrate that.

Which, obviously, this piece isn’t finished, but it’s probably the closest I’ve had to being finished for some time. I’m hoping to change around the current creative content in January and if I’m successful in doing so then things will be very different. But I hope that most will agree that they’re better this way. I’m still particularly proud of the original interpretation of this owl and it is still an important piece, but I think it’s time to move on from it. To embrace new ideas and new inspiration. To use new materials and approaches both traditionally and digitally. To boldly go where no man has gone before. Oh- wait- that wasn’t what I meant to say. It might still work in that context, though.

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.