Alcohol and Resolutions

The two are inescapably linked.

I’m not particularly fond of New Year’s Resolutions, though. The concept is entirely fine but I’m of the opinion that if something should be changed then there’s no reason to wait. For that very reason I’m usually between several different things as I seem to have an endless desire to seek improvements, which is a problem and I recognise that. I might not do anything about it- but I recognise it. I like to think that it’s mostly a good thing. Except when I immediately realise that things could be better and completely invalidate my achievements as a result.

Maybe we should talk about video games instead.

I’ve been greatly enjoying my time with Okami HD in the last week or so. It’s an interesting combination of everything I’ve ever loved about the Legend of Zelda series and drawing to solve every problem ever. It’s also got an interesting yet somewhat exploitable upgrade system that’s akin to grinding experience, items, and currency in JRPGs. It’s pretty fantastic, though.

It reminds me a lot of the Legend of Zelda series mostly because the progression is so fluid. You can easily unlock a lot of different brush techniques, find unique items, and utilise varied upgrade materials from the start of the story. That said, each new technique you learn opens up new possibilities. Some of which are less evident than others. The boss fights are pretty interesting, too. They usually utilise the particular brush technique specific to that location but they’re presented like puzzles instead of button mashing contests. It also features a large and evolving open world that you’re free to explore, return to, and even fast travel around as and when you want to. I’ve found it refreshing to have that amount of freedom in progression throughout.

There are some mechanics prevalent in older video games that I miss. For that reason (and a few others) I’m rather fond of Chronicon, which I’ve also spent a day with over the last week to experience the new content and balance changes. I’m continually surprised as to how much I still enjoy playing that Warlock. He’s been around a while, he’s pretty strong, and probably could do with being on a higher difficulty level. But it’s still fun to develop his Masteries to build on his strengths and (more importantly) his weaknesses.

I’m looking forward to the day it releases in full.

I’ve even spent some time with my newly acquired Wacom Intuos Pro over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been working on a new digital painting that’s going much better than expected, which is due to both the upgraded hardware and an adjusted approach. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more about that later in January. It’s not quite finished yet so I can’t promise anything.

I’m rather hopeful for 2018 as a whole. Things have changed so dramatically in the last few months that it’s almost staggering to think how different things were, but they’re better (for the most part) and that’s what’s important. I can’t really anticipate and therefore can’t promise anything about the coming year but I hope I’ll be happier. At the very least. I’ve realised now that how I feel about things has a greater impact on everything than I could’ve imagined. It seems simple to say, but you get used to living in one way for so long that you forget there are other ways. Perhaps I’ll find one of those other ways and everything will be better as a result. Or maybe things will stay the same. But that’s what makes it exciting, right? Not knowing all the answers.

Have a nice week, all!



September to December 2017

The last summary for the year.

That said, I’m not entirely sure that these summary posts will return next year. I’m planning to make numerous changes over the next few weeks and after those these may not be necessary. I might continue with them as I quite enjoy writing them and looking back over the last few months, but I may not need to rely on them. I’m hoping that the innumerable presentation changes have helped with that, too. In that content is now easier to find and we won’t need to use a post to summarise things. But we’ll see how things look in the New Year.

I may even have new art to share in January.

I would agree that the content has been entirely underwhelming in the last three months. There are many different reasons for that, but primarily that was because I didn’t want to force content out when there was no content to share. I’ve done that before and it doesn’t work. I’d rather have nothing than have a stream of useless filler content that doesn’t add to anything.

I was also committed to letting this year come to an end with whatever content I had available or could make available, and then letting the New Year dictate the new schedules and whatnot. The last couple of years have been interesting in that there have been many changes to things. Many changes which I wasn’t intending to make but that happened regardless. These have meant that things will be different as the collection of sites continues to evolve. I’m hoping that these changes will influence more creative content and less gaming content, but I can’t always be sure I’ll have time to work on different creative projects. I’m rather hoping that digital painting will help to bridge that gap. But, again, I won’t know until I try to do that.

The first of the few posts we did have looked at the brutally punishing yet oddly enjoyable Dark Souls III as a Purloiner of Cinders, which was followed by the excellent Ashes of Malmouth expansion for Grim Dawn in From the Ashes, which was ultimately concluded by Return of the Wang that looks at the ridiculous and indescribable Shadow Warrior 2. I had hoped to squeeze in the deliciously dark Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus before the year ended, but I’ve yet to finish it. Which is a shame as it is a really great sequel.

Just need to keep exploring those districts!

Aside from those there was Momentary Disappearance (Pt. 1) and Momentary Disappearance (Pt. 2) which hoped to explain where I’d gone, what I’d been doing, and when I’d be back. I hope they make a little more sense than my nonsensical rambling above. It’s hard to focus on where I want things to go when I don’t know where that is. As I really don’t these days.

All I can really say about the next few months is that I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that things will change for the better. But I don’t really know. It could end up being the case that I stop doing these things entirely, as I don’t really have any immediate plans on where these things will ultimately end up. They’re just moving along. Slowly but surely. It’s likely that I’d keep the blog regardless and at least keep posting about my creative efforts. It might just mean that there will be literal months between posts and the content comes as and when it comes. But, again, I’m hopeful that it won’t come to that and that things will continue to a similar schedule as they have had previously. I guess we’ll see what happens in the New Year, huh?

Have a nice Christmas, all!


Return of the Wang

The Way of the Wang is long, and hard, and ribbed for her pleasure.

Shadow Warrior 2 is an excellent example of everything you would want from a sequel. You’ve got deeper character development mechanics, a greater selection of upgrades, numerous skills to unlock, a greater selection of weapons (with new weapon types), and an extensive story that offers more freedom. The swordplay might even be better in the sequel, too. But, if that’s not enough, they’ve even thrown in free DLC, which will not only add new missions as you progress through the story but offer greater customisation of weapons and upgrade gems.

It’s also ridiculously fun in the silliest way possible.

The close combat options are just as enjoyable as they were in Shadow Warrior. I’m particularly keen on the dual wielding options that allow me to slice, dice, and observe giblets as my foes fall to literal pieces. You also get more chances to burn, freeze, electrocute, and poison foes when swinging these. I’m not sure what that calculated murderous intent says about me.

Upgrading weapons is a particularly important mechanic for unlocking their full potential in combat. Upgrading Wang is pretty important, too. Both of these sets of mechanics will allow you to specialise in the things you want to do best and give you the ability to handle different situations. Likewise, investing in certain skills will give you better results with certain techniques or styles of combat. Sting, Vortex, and Force Slash comprise your active weapon techniques. While Healing Flame, Chi-Blast, Grip of Darkness, and Vanish comprise your active chi techniques. Each has a specific situation in which it will perform at its best, but they’re all equally useful in helping you survive the countless demons you’ll need to slay on your lengthier adventure.

It’s a lovely day to go to the video store.

The best surprise in Shadow Warrior 2 would have to be the final boss fight music. It was one of those perfect moments in video game history, where you’re trying to take this particularly important fight seriously but you’re somewhere between smiling and laughing at the absurdity of the situation. I loved it, though. Which is, in my opinion, what makes Shadow Warrior (as a series) so great, as it never takes itself too seriously but is always enjoyable. There might be more grinding in the sequel but it’s enjoyable grinding.

Even the randomised loot was handled well.

Weapons (and some upgrade gems) will have specific statistics, while everything else will have randomised combinations of affixes which can create some truly unique (and powerful) bonuses for certain weapons. I’m not sure if it works from a set of prefixes and suffixes as an ARPG would but it does work quite well. You rarely find something that is completely useless.

That said, even if you do, you can easily reforge it with two other upgrade gems and have another chance to roll something usable. There is so much more to Shadow Warrior 2 than the previous instalment and it really helps to deliver a more enjoyable adventure. I can’t recommend it enough. I’m also starting to wonder when other first person action titles will start to employ as enjoyable close combat mechanics, rather than the repetitive left click spam. I’m particularly fond of swords in the first place but I’m more fond of them when you can do awesome things with them. Such as twirling around until you get motion sickness and your vision is clouded with blood and viscera. I’m also not sure what enjoying that sensation says about me.

Have a nice week, all!


Momentary Disappearance (Pt. 2)

Giblets! Glorious giblets!

If there’s one thing I can always find time to do it’s hack, slash, and smash various once living organisms into glorious now deceased giblets. That’s a sentence that could be taken out of context by future employers- so I sure hope that none of them ever find this blog. I could probably explain the original context articulately enough, though. Not that admitting you play video games is any better or worse than explaining you’re a psychopath when it comes to most employers. It’s not like I spend the majority of my free time at the moment playing video games.

Not at all. I’m… uh, being productive…?

It’s been an oddly good year for all things video games. I’ve finally finished Dark Souls II which has been looming over me for quite some time, I had great fun with Dark Souls III, and as a result I’ve been really excited for the recently released (for PC via Steam) Nioh. I can’t wait to see what brutal visceral combat combined with an ARPG loot system is like.

SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Heist have also provided hours of good ol’ fashioned fun. You know that warm, fuzzy, content feeling you get when playing video games? That. Which is prevalent in Shadow Warrior 2 as well. Something that I’ve been playing recently and will be writing about shortly. My absolute favourite experience this year would have to go to NieR: Automata, which was an exhilarating and exceptionally enjoyable adventure. I’ve not had this much fun with gaming for quite some time. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy Dark Souls III as much as I did but I really do want to go back through it. Maybe without a greatshield this time. Those are useful for most enemies but some bosses are much harder if you rely on a shield.

I’ve also finally replaced my 1tb HDD that held my game libraries with a 4tb HDD that now holds even more gaming goodness. It’s mostly an upgrade for convenience, as I could shuffle my existing HDD around and install things when I want to play them. But have you seen the size of video games these days? They’re huge! They’re getting even bigger, too! I don’t really envisage sitting there waiting for things to download before I can play them as enjoyable. What is this? The early 2000s where downloading MMORPGs cost you subscription time?

Now there’s a funny story for another time.

I’ve greatly enjoyed much of what I’ve played this year, which is good for a number of reasons but mostly because that’s why you play video games. To have fun. To enjoy them. To create ridiculously stupidly underpowered character builds and try to clear the toughest content. Or at least those are the reasons I play them. So it’s nice to be enjoying things again.

This is much more of an update than an explanation like the previous post, but it’s still relevant information. Especially if you enjoy my gaming content. There will likely be less of it in the future, as I’m playing less new things, but what content there is should be of higher quality, so I feel it’s a worthwhile trade. If you’re interested in any recommendations I might have you can always follow my Steam Curator store page. I may also be creating content about things I’ve played before (the blog was created) such as Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and the like. But I’m going to be focused on clearing things I’ve not played before returning to those I have. So if that sounds like something you’d enjoy then you’re in luck.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Momentary Disappearance (Pt. 1)

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I wasn’t expecting to have a break in content but it’s been a busy few weeks. I decided earlier in the year that I wouldn’t force new content through if it wasn’t forthcoming- and it really wasn’t- so that’s why I took a break. But if all things go according to plan (which they never do) things should be more consistent soon. I’m hoping that this consistency will also reintroduce creative content as a more regular inclusion, as that has been practically non-existent for some time. There are reasons for that, though.

Most of which are related to the acquisition of materials.

There’s definitely been a continued trend of running into issues with various materials for numerous reasons this year. But (hopefully) those issues should be sorted with recent acquisitions. I wouldn’t count on every issue being sorted, though. Just that things are easier to do now because I’ve got materials that I’m confident won’t repeatedly stop working properly.

I’ve managed to get the full set of Faber Castell Polychromos, which is a pretty important acquisition as I can now illustrate so many more things than I ever could before as I had such a limited selection of colours with the old set. I also decided to try a 0.05 Copic Multiliner as I’ve run into more problems replacing the 0.03 nib. I’m starting to think that it’s just too small (and therefore too fragile) to replace properly. It’ll either work or it won’t, which, if it doesn’t, I’ve pretty much wasted my money. As I’ll just need to get new nibs again. So (hopefully) the 0.05 nib will be thicker and sturdier. The 0.05 is also a more appropriate nib for the things I like to do. It’s a nice compromise between the 0.1 nib and something thinner.

I’ve also spent a while sorting through my various materials and old sketchbooks recently. I’ve mostly worked out a way to store things that works for both long term storage and short term usage, which is nice, as I’ve been trying to do that for a while, which should hopefully make me more productive. Especially when I’m now able to select a set of materials easily. I’ve even got a box of painting supplies which has my recently acquired Winsor & Newton Galeria tubes in it. I’ll be testing those to see if they’re any better than the Daler Rowney System 3 tubes.

I really hope you’re enjoying the use of acquired and/or acquisition.

I’ve even invested in digital painting and illustrating by replacing my Wacom Bamboo with a Wacom Intuos Pro. It’s a fairly standard upgrade, which is ridiculously noticeable as I’m now somewhat capable of sketching digitally. So I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to do something good with that. I’ve still got much to learn about digital approaches, though.

In many ways it has been an interesting period of time that has opened up many new opportunities, but, due to being busy with innumerable things, I’ve yet to capitalise on any of them. But the good news is that they aren’t going anywhere. So it’s not like I’ve got a specified time limit within which I need to use these materials. As I said above, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do something with them soon but I’ll undoubtedly be rusty at this point. Which only really means it might take a few attempts to get a passable result. But I thank everyone for sticking around and listening to my ramblings (and overuse of acquired and/or acquisition). It is very much appreciated and I hope you enjoy the content I’ve got in mind for the next few months.

Have a nice week, all!


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!


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!