Smaller Parts of a Larger Whole

I’ve seen some large holes in my life.

If you follow me over on Twitter you may have noticed me talking about NieR: Automata recently. Which, by the way, if you don’t follow me over Twitter, maybe you should consider doing so. I’ve many an interesting Tweet for you to peruse. Like this poll– which may or may not have a deeper, higher, more existential meaning than at first glance. But don’t follow me on Twitter if you’re going to convince me to make purchases I know I ought not to. I made that mistake asking whether or not NieR: Automata was worth a release week purchase.

It’s hard to disagree when everyone is so helpful, friendly, and convincing.

But it did get me thinking about the variety of titles I’ve played over the years which are made up of many different elements. Like Mass Effect, where each individual element is not as strong as all of them combined. Where each facet is but one of the many reasons you love to return to the experience again and again. It’s an interesting design decision that I enjoy immensely.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was another of these. Which featured quite an interesting action orientated combat system with complex character development. It was an interesting system as you were never really tied down, it essentially gave you the ability to build any character that you could imagine and then be able to further strengthen their role in combat. It’s nice as it almost reminds me of an ARPG. But instead of using older, perhaps tired mechanics it opted for a different approach. One that may not have been to everyone’s taste- but at least attempted to blend together many mechanics. I find it keeps these titles fresh, too. You never feel as though you’re stagnating in repetitive actions.

I realise that this post might seem a little odd, as it has been a while since I’ve done something a little more analytical and a little less focused on a particular title I’m playing at the time. But it seemed like an interesting point to note. Especially given that there will likely be some content concerning NieR: Automata in the near future. Which is full of many different mechanics, alongside many different styles of play and combat. Mixing the frantic twitchy reactions of bullet hell with calculated third person JRPG combat.

Honestly, it’s a ridiculously enjoyable and incredibly fun time.

Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are also great examples of where many different systems come together to create truly interesting and enjoyable experiences. I’ve always loved that particular levelling system, as it combines the option to unlock new abilities with a meaningful point investment system. Especially in Fallout: New Vegas where weapon requirements exist.

I do believe it’s the very nature of these titles that have kept me as interested in them as I have been. Some that I’ve played in the past have been so focused on one particular style, mechanic, or even gimmick that they quickly became uninteresting. I’d imagine it’s not easy to combine these different styles together, though. Which is probably the primary reason you don’t see more of an assortment of mechanics in a wider range of titles. Still, like most good things, it’s probably better that it’s less frequent than more. But I’m always interested in seeing what the next combinations will be and how they’ll change my overall experience. Not all changes are for the better after all. Some were better focusing on their developed systems.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Aquatic Owl

The adventures of Ol’ Hooty!

Following Equal Opposites is another post in a similar vein. Except this time we’re looking at a range of different materials, which includes the previously discussed use of Faber Castell Polychromos with cartridge paper. The result is heavily carried by the use of ink but that could just be the subject matter. That said, it does have a texture which I’ve tried to preserve in the scanned version but remains a nuisance. Mostly because I think I’m used to not having that texture.

Not that it looks terrible.

It’s just that I think I still value bristol board for its smoothness. On the other hand, I would always encourage artists (of any level of experience) to try different combinations of materials from time to time. In the two-three hours I spent with this owl I learned a lot. Which is why it’s important to actually work on things, rather than just think about how they would work together and create assumptions from that. Mostly because you’ll never know unless you try. It’s not a combination I would avoid in the future, either. Just one that requires a different subject matter or a different approach to really come together. So it’s still useful even if not immediately so.

These posts remind me of the old Unreleased Artsyness sketch dumps I used to do. Which I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to doing again, but they’re kind of unnecessary nowadays as I tend to share a lot more of what I’m doing in a shorter time frame than before. But such is the evolution of distribution on this crazy artistic journey.

Mixed up confusion.

Mixed up confusion.

The leftmost sketch is a mirelurk from Fallout 3. An interesting if not ridiculously complex creature that may not be instantly recognisable- especially concerning their face- as I was working with three different pieces of concept art simultaneously. I also have no idea what a mirelurk face looks like. All I know is that (unlike the rest of their body) it is squishy and should be fired upon mercilessly. Those claws aren’t just for show- they hurt! They’re probably pretty tasty, too. That’s how I’ve always envisaged the consumption of mirelurk meat.

Again- not that it looks terrible.

But I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with anything that I do. Which is why I continue on this journey trying new things, combining different materials, and generally looking to improve anything and everything I do. It’s an impossible dream, too. I realise that. You’ll never stop learning unless you simply give up. Which I don’t really have any plans of doing any time soon. I’m still willing to give it a shot, though. Right in its stupid, squishy, entirely vulnerable face. Then I shall have crab claws for dinner! Unless they’re horribly irradiated, which they probably are given that mirelurks don’t look like any crabs I’ve ever seen. At least, not after I used the shampoo for two weeks. Weird times they were.

Mostly I’m just glad that we’re still seeing a steady flow of creative content coming through. I want to improve the level of quality present on my personal site, while I also want to bring more quality creative content to Moggie @ WordPress (and even Twitter). It’s quite the investment, though. So it’s going to take some time to get everything under way.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

Fallout 3, Mirelurks, Molerats, Vault Suits, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Interplay/Bethesda.

He Who Brought Life – 2012 – Watercolour – click for full view on site!

When is a tree not a tree? When it’s a Harold!

This particular piece is going to get very confusing. Mostly due to the fact that it has remained as a work in progress since early 2012, yet it is being added to the site as a new piece- which it technically is- as I’ve never had it on the site before. Entirely due to previous versions of the site not having the Sketchbook section which was made for things just like this. Why add it now? That’s a good question and one that relates back to New Approaches.

As the post suggests I’ve been working on various updates to the collection of sites.

During the course of these updates I was taking a closer look at what was actually on the site, following up on what I said at the beginning of the year, and generally trying to get everything looking as good as it possibly can. Then I noticed this pile of work in progress scans and remembered all about one of the better watercolour pieces I’d started.

Those who have played Fallout 3 will recognise the lovely Harold in all his woody glory. I didn’t realise how many wood jokes you could make with Harold until I typed that. He was a prominent feature of the somewhat hidden area of Oasis. Hidden in the sense that you need to convince the people who live there that you’re not completely evil, drink some sap, have a hallucinogenic nightmare, and wake up surrounded by Those Who Worship Wood. That’s not the actual name of the people that live there- but it should be. Later you meet Harold (who has had many post-apocalyptic adventures of his own) and decide how to deal with him. One of the options involves fire. You can probably tell how that goes down.

He Who Brought Life – 2012 – WatercolourThe reason I have so many work in progress scans of this particular piece relates back to an idea I had at the time I was painting it. Work in progress scans were never a thing I’d usually do (and still don’t for the most part) but I wanted to make the effort here. I wanted to have maybe five-six at the end which I could compile and display how it had evolved from the initial line work, to the beginning of the painting stages, to the end of the painting stages. As you can probably tell, I never got to the final stages.

Why was that? Not really sure.

While my memory is usually pretty solid when it comes to remembering things from yesteryear… this one is hard to place. The most probable answer to that question is that I simply lost interest in finishing the piece, or, it could be, as I haven’t seen the original in some time, that something went wrong with it. Couldn’t really say.

I still think it’s a great addition to the site even in an unfinished state. It’s also slightly conceptual- as the style was an entirely new concept back then- and helps to show the progression through watercolour and ink pieces. Which probably means that being unfinished actually helps show that progression. Given that you can see the way I was treating the line work, the painting process, and the piece in general through the work in progress scans. It’s also a rare piece of Fallout 3 fan art from the days before. As, these days, I feel 2012 was merely the foundation for what was to come in the future. Once I had considered it the pinnacle of what I could achieve… these days not so much. Just one of many building blocks.

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.

Harold, Oasis, Vault-Tec, PipBoys, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Interplay/Bethesda.

Forward to the Future

If I start to repeat “It’s here!” and wag my tail excitedly just know I’m happy.

Just a quick note before we start, it’s not my intention nor wish to spoil anything for anyone regarding Fallout 4 and so this is mostly talking about the mechanical changes you’ll experience.

Fallout 4 has arrived! The much anticipated sequel (both personally and commercially) reinvents certain aspects of the core mechanics which many of the modern Fallout players will have come to know and (possibly) love. The biggest change surrounds the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system and how perks are handled. You’ve got less S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points to spend at creation (28 down from 40) and these are more closely tied to how your character uses perks and develops over the course of the game.

The perk system also replaces the skill system (which is now removed) in determining what your character can do for the most part.

It also features some fairly broad changes with regards to how you build, maintain, and use weapons. It would seem that for the most part the classifications of Small Guns, Big Guns, Energy Weapons, and so on are mostly removed. Instead focusing on whether a weapon is non-automatic, automatic, a rifle, a pistol, or what they classify as a heavy gun. I can only imagine that heavy guns will for the most part replace what used to fall under Big Guns. They also seem to have removed weapon and armour maintenance with neither of those items having durability now.

The lack of durability could be a sore point for some. Personally, while I tend to like traditional mechanics, I can’t say that durability ever really affected me in either of the previous two modern Fallout titles. I had enough money, resources, or whatever it was that I needed to repair all of my equipment constantly.

Just a sunny post-apocalyptic afternoon.

Just a sunny post-apocalyptic afternoon.

Power armour has had a significant redesign and now actually feels like the pre-war technology it is supposed to be. It now features insanely good resistances to various damage types and is a suit you have to climb into, as opposed to wear like any other armour, and features a whole new HUD while you’re in there. The downside to it is that it’s quite heavy/bulky and has to be powered via Fusion Cores. So it doesn’t last forever unless you have a few spare cores. You do have to repair it, too. With many of the sections of the armour being removable/replaceable over the course of the game. It’s a pretty awesome mechanic but one I’m not sure I’ll be taking too much advantage of.

Weapon and armour (and settlement) crafting seems pretty fun so far. The amount of flexibility given to various guns and how you can modify, improve, or adapt them to fit other situations is pretty great. However, it is a bit of a guessing game (at first) as to how you classify what would be considered a rifle or a heavy weapon.

Which is where I would say Fallout 4 lacks a little- explanations. The updates to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system are quite extensive but at creation (and even after) you’re given little information as to what all of these statistics do. Same with weapon and armour crafting where you won’t always know what your modifications will produce or if it’s suitable for you. Finally, I am a little sad to see the recently reintroduced traits being removed again. That said, one could say that the way magazines work is a trait system in itself.

Just a case of seeing whether it can live up to the replayability of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas now.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Memories of the Vault

You’re really lucky you missed my Fallout 3 adventures, WordPress.

Those were the days. Almost six years ago I received the copy of Fallout 3 which would later be replaced by the Game of the Year Edition, had a GPU that wasn’t even supported and so needed replacing, and had a recurring power supply issue that rendered playing it a bit of a hit and miss experience. But I persevered. I replaced the GPU, I threw that old power supply out, and I spent the next four months falling in love with a game that to this day is still my most played.

I played it through the release of Fallout: New Vegas, I played it after the release, I played it over Christmas, I made a character based on my actual talents and proficiencies, and I’m pretty sure I’d still be playing it as much if I didn’t have a broader library these days. I’m not entirely sure as to why I enjoyed it as much as I did- but I did.

Exercise caution (and your legs) when engaging.

Exercise caution (and your legs) when engaging.

I also really enjoyed the release of Fallout: New Vegas. My machine was getting a bit older at that point and was starting to drop in performance, but that was a game I would slog through all of the issues to play as I dearly love the series. I even have the classic games which I do intend to finish at some point. I still prefer the feel of Fallout 3 to the more bustling, less sparse, more intact feeling they introduced with the Mojave Wasteland. It’s a nice change but Fallout 3 seemed to have a really solid atmosphere throughout. I also enjoyed the varied locales of Point Lookout and The Pitt from the DLC post-Fallout 3 completion.

I kind of wish I’d linked it to Steam then, too. All those achievements.

I’m pretty sure I’d have almost all of them now as I pretty much done everything there was to do in that game. Especially on the last character I had as he was the final one I had planned and so I wanted to cover as much of the game as I could. While, yes, I could probably get something ridiculous like twenty Steam achievements in one day if I linked it now it just wouldn’t be the same to me. Still, there’s always Fallout 4! I also have all of my Fallout: New Vegas achievements. Which are actually quite hard to increase as I don’t like the Legion as a rule.

Size Matters! +15 Big Guns per perk level.

Size Matters! +15 Big Guns per perk level.

So why am I telling you all this? No particular reason. I’ve never really spoken much about Fallout 3/Fallout: New Vegas on Moggie @ WordPress as it wasn’t originally about gaming, which, at the time I started the blog, it would have been ripe for the last character I played. So, I figured I’d just talk about it at least once before Fallout 4 comes out and I look towards that.

Fallout 3 is one of those games, like Diablo II, and the first Borderlands, which stands out as being an experience I’m only going to get once. I can play Diablo II until my mouse dies of click-induced malfunction, I can roll every one of the four original Vault Hunters in Borderlands until there’s no more space left on my HDD, and I can embark on another journey across the Capital Wasteland for several hundred hours… but it will never be the same. Not the same as the first time. Which, for me, was the best time.

It’s not as gloomy as it seems. At least, if nothing else, even if I can’t recreate that, I know the experiences exist. Somewhere.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Maximum Giblet Potential

It has been reached!

As the Steam summer sale rolls on and more tantalising deals are presented each day it is at this time we can observe the wild Moggie in his natural habitat. At around 6pm GMT you will see him emerge from his leisure to peruse new deals, think about purchases, and ponder new additions to his library. Unfortunately, much to the sadness of the wild Moggie, there aren’t many new titles to purchase as he already owns pretty much everything he wants. Such is life. Such are the times of few releases relevant to his interests.

That said, I’m not without hope that I’ll manage to spend some money before this Steam sale expires like a red shirt on their first mission.

I’ve been pondering on the purchase of the Doom collection that Steam has generously cut a good 40% off of (which puts it at the price of the non-discount price of the first entry to the series). I’ll be totally honest and say that, as expected, as I have no FPS origins when it comes to gaming, I’ve never played Doom. I’d never played Wolfenstein until the very enjoyable Wolfenstein: The New Order was released, either. That said, I am getting a bit more attuned to the whole first person shooter-y thing. Especially when there are shotguns.

Let me tell you something about Fallout 3. I love combat shotguns. I suppose in their traditional sense they would be pump action shotguns(?) but they are pretty awesome. However, as I have noticed, shotguns can be a bit hit or miss (pardon the pun) in many games. But Doom seems to sport a rather sexy looking shotgun experience. Yes, shotguns can be sexy.

All of the above taken into account I’m only versed in the general classification of guns, though.

I know (generally) what an assault rifle is, a carbine is, a shotgun is, and so on. But if you get into the realms of say S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl where they’re based on realistic(?) guns then you’ve lost me. It has a clip or a magazine, it has bullets or shells, it has a barrel, and it tends to go bang when you fire it. Moggie gun knowledge exhausted.

From the point of pure fun, though? Doom looks like it has that in spades. That’s the first thing in my mind when I think of Shadow Warrior (2013)- it’s just a lot of fun. It’s fast paced, brutal, enjoyable, and it hooks you from start to finish. I think that’s one of the things about Fallout 3 that drew me back to it so many times. It’s fun to explore, to try new character types, to explore, to be a different person, and more. Kind of makes me a little sad that I can’t find many games that I really enjoy playing. Oddly enough there are some oldies in that list, too. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic? Frustrating at times but it was a wildly enjoyable ride. Sacred? I can’t count the profanities hurled at the screen but a solid experience.

If you’re wondering about the title… I have a juvenile interest in turning enemies into giblets.

It makes me happy. Not always. But it doesn’t hurt. Well, it doesn’t hurt me- I’m sure the enemies feel differently about it. I sometimes wonder if future employers ever stumble across this blog and that’s why I don’t ever get a call back. I think about a lot of things. It’s why my head hurts. Or so says my doctor who advises I do it as infrequently as possible.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie