First Impressions of… Victor Vran

There’s a voice in your head telling you to do things. Literally.

Victor Vran is a rather unique ARPG that attempts introduce new ways to approach old problems. Most significantly through the character development mechanics, where many common elements (such as character classes) are absent. Everything is handled through the myriad equipment options you’ll be presented with. Outfits will affect how your build performs in combat and which bonuses you’ll have, while the various weapon classes have different abilities and you’ll need to learn how best to use the many options at your disposal.

Even the Demon Powers are freely available regardless of build choices.

The most extensive character development mechanics are available through Destiny Cards. Each will provide different bonuses to different aspects of your build, which, in true ARPG style, will be completely randomised and come in many different flavours. So you’ll be looking to find, buy, or Transmute more as you go along. Certain Outfits will provide bonuses to the number or value of the Destiny Cards you’ll be able to equip. Otherwise, you’ll be earning more slots and capacity through levelling. The aforementioned Demon Powers will consume your Overdrive pool (which builds through combat or through specific actions), and, much like Destiny Cards, will be available in varying strengths and with different bonuses.

It’s quite a comprehensive set of character development mechanics and allows for almost limitless build options. Whether many of those builds will even be viable in the later content is a different matter entirely, but it’s an interesting approach all the same. Most notable of the changes to the typical ARPG formula is the inclusion of dodging and jumping.

Banish the wicked with the concentrated power of rainbows!

It seems like a fairly minor change but it makes a significant difference. I’ve had to remember on more than one occasion that jumping is possible, as I’ve looked at the map and tried to figure out how to get to a particular area only to realise I’m supposed to jump over that hedge or bush. Dodging is somewhat notable but pretty simple- you roll out of the way of damage. It doesn’t seem to be restricted in any way, either. So feel free to roll endlessly across open stretches of previously explored map. Or, you know, roll away from the endless hordes of enemies.

The controls can be interesting at times, too.

There are multiple options for those who would like to use a mouse and keyboard, mouse movement, or a controller. But I’ve never really felt that they are as natural as the control systems they’re hoping to emulate. I’m particularly frustrated with the inventory management with the controller. It’s even more interesting trying to manage your storage. Not that there’s really any reason to use your storage, as, as far as I can tell, the inventory is endless. But if you like organising things- have fun! It’s very soothing after hours of slaying beasts. Otherwise the controls respond as you would expect them to and there are a lot of different options if you like tinkering. The combat feels fluid and enjoyable regardless of the control system, too.

I’d highly recommend Victor Vran for many reasons. Mostly due to how content dense it is. There are numerous challenges, secrets, and other goodies scattered across the many areas of the world which make it really enjoyable to experience. Rarely will you run from point to point with little else to see or do. It’s also got a weird sense of humour to keep you smiling throughout.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

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Multiple Attempts

There’s definitely a trend in my digital painting attempts.

They’re either animals or trees. For the most part. That said, I wanted to bring this compilation of unfinished pieces together so that I could share some of the efforts I’ve hinted about in posts such as Momentary Regret and Happiness Hat. It’s easy for me to explain them to you- but it’s easier if you can see these attempts for yourself. It may also help you to understand why I feel the way I do about some of these. You can also see the follow on from Anatomical Fish. As one of these was the painting that I switched to.

You might also wonder why I’ve never finished these pieces.

I do, too. But I’ve discovered that I’ve been looking at things the wrong way around. Or at least I feel like I have. As I have concerned myself with the presentation of the content for a while, but I’m starting to notice it’s the content (or lack thereof) which is the actual problem. That’s why some of the small changes I was going to make never came to fruition.

I started to realise that I could change around the presentation infinitely but it wouldn’t quell the disappointment (for lack of a better word) that I felt regarding the content itself. Therefore, I’ve started to work towards finishing more pieces. Some of which have been sitting around for far too long. Like the subject of Building an Abomination, which I’ve repeatedly put off working on for various reasons and it’s still unfinished. I could make countless excuses but I won’t. That said, I enjoy the aforementioned posts which bring together things I’ve been working on and I think they illustrate (pun intended) my creative journey nicely. So I’m not looking to lose those posts entirely.

They're a colourful bunch!

They’re a colourful bunch!

I’m just hoping I’ll be able to commit myself to more finished pieces. It’s something which I feel I’ve let myself down with more than anything. That said, I can’t control the myriad situations which have put me in this position in the first place. But, again, that’s no excuse. It’s a problem I’ve created and one that I’ll need to fix. In happier news, I’m rather enjoying the selection of pieces in this compilation which highlight some of my best digital painting attempts. There are some we’ve seen before and some we haven’t.

Those we have seen are a little different now, too.

On the other hand, I’ve also included a couple of traditional painting and illustration attempts. One was a painting which was sort of finished but I wasn’t too happy with the outcome of, the other is an illustration that combined a dozen different styles into one very confused piece. Both taught me something, though. Which is all I can really hope for from an unfinished piece.

It’s also an interesting compilation as there many different styles present in it. It highlights the rather eclectic nature of my creative efforts. I rather enjoy that about my various pieces, but I am starting to wonder if that’s causing me more problems than I realise. That said, through some of these unconventional styles and approaches I’ve started to understand things about my creative process I hadn’t realised. Like how I tend to ink things with incredibly stiff and rigid movements. I don’t have the fluid, loose, expressive approach that I use when I’m sketching with pencil. It’s an interesting realisation. Mostly because I hadn’t noticed that despite the similarities between the application of materials my approach changes drastically.

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.

Artist Feature – Laura Jane

Here’s something a little different.

I’ve met many an interesting artist in my time and I like to share the most fascinating ones via the Artist Feature posts. I haven’t been doing as many Artist Feature posts as I would have liked, but I’m looking to change that. I’ve been in contact with a few people and I’m hoping to bring some engaging content to my readers. As always, I’ll be providing links to places where you can follow them across the internet. Friendly following, though. None of this stalking business. Good friends are hard to keep, y’know?

You’re in for a treat, though.

One could say they have their fingers in many pies. Pies, which, I might add, they never offer to share with me. Blending equal levels of proficiency and commitment in both traditional and digital art, they draw from a myriad of sources of inspiration. Featuring everything from video game character illustrations, to fluffy cute animals, to angst-ridden comics about toasters.

They sure love their toasters. In addition to the above, they’ve shown an incredible desire to develop their style over the last twelve months. They’ve met that desire- and exceeded it- with continual improvements to both their approach and their understanding of fundamental artistic concepts. They’ve also got a remarkably fluid and gorgeous ink style which displays a heightened understanding of composition. It’s a style that suits any sort of graphic illustration which is what I feel they’re best at. I’m almost certain that if you enjoy any of my traditional pieces, you’re going to enjoy their work just as much. If not more. Which is totally fine. They deserve the art love.

Artist Feature - Laura JaneThey’ve probably logged more hours in an assortment of Fallout titles than I have. While I would usually say this is cause for concern, without that I doubt I would have met/found them in the first place. You’d be surprised who you run into out in the Capital Wasteland. Or who you know as a friend of a friend via an appreciation of the Capital Wasteland. So they don’t always talk about artsy subjects. But if you get the chance to talk to them about it- you should! You’re in for an enjoyably insightful conversation.

If you’re of the Tweeting persuasion you can find them over on @LauraJayArt.

Should traditional or digital art be one of your interests (or you’re an aspiring artist yourself), I can suggest no-one better to follow. There’s a great foundation here for a promising future of artistic awesomeness. If you’re an artist yourself- drop her a critique or five. Or ten. She’s always looking to further her style and herself.

As always, Artist Feature posts aim to highlight not only artists who I feel are exceptionally good at what they do but that align with the interests of my readers. Again, I can suggest no-one better to feature under those conditions. Comments are always appreciated, but if you’ve got something particular you’d like to say about this artist you can leave a comment below. Otherwise, I hope you’ve enjoyed what could be the first of a few upcoming Artist Feature posts. It depends on if the others get back to me. It’s not like I randomly pick people to write about on the internet- that would be weird. Much easier to organise but terribly weird.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Art and the like found within this post (unless otherwise specified) is owned by Laura Jane.

Fishy Abomination

Something smell a little funky to you?

It’s logical why undead abominations smell so bad (being rotted corpses and all) but I wonder what a fishy abomination would suggest. Perhaps some kind of fisherman mutated into one of the endless legion of the undead? It’s a good question. One that I’m pondering for far too long. I wanted to bring together two entirely unrelated yet equally interesting pieces in this post. One of which won’t be finished, while the other is likely to see some kind conclusion be it in ink or as a digital painting. Or both.

The first was a watercolour painting that I started but was soon abandoned due to one of the elements of its composition going terribly wrong. Still, that’s one of the joys about turning failures into successes- you can always learn something new from them! Or wallow in unending despair. Not that I would suggest the latter.

Even if that’s how I usually respond to those incidents.

These are the eyes that stare.

These are the eyes that stare.

As with all of my watercolour paintings, there’s a good selection of colours in this piece and they’ve come together surprisingly well. I haven’t used these brushes much since I bought them. So they’re still a little finicky when it comes to actually applying the paint. As I’m not entirely sure how they feel. I realise that probably sounds ridiculous, but you really do get used to how the brush feels in your hand and you develop your confidence in your ability through that. Like any other material or tool, really. This isn’t the worst watercolour painting I’ve ever done, though. You should see some of my earlier attempts. Not that you ever will, for I shall hide my shame in the depths of my art folders for none to see.

The second is a work in progress that I’m not sure about. That said, what am I sure about? The only thing I’m truly sure about is that I’m not sure about anything. Yeah. You figure that one out. Referenced from the endless abundance of grotesque monstrosities hailing from Darkest Dungeon, this piece has a fair amount of potential and I’m actually quite interested in seeing flat colours applied to it once finished. Or, rather, if finished. The paper texture does something quite magical with it.

It seems to fit the style that Darkest Dungeon has. Maybe even throw a little shading onto it. Something akin to the way an older comic book or graphic novel would be illustrated. It’s definitely got potential and remains an interesting consideration while working on this piece, which could even change the approach I take to the line work from here on out.

I'm not sure what's wrong with him, either.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with him, either.

Obviously I can’t rework existing lines.

But I can adjust them ever so slightly. A stroke here, a stroke there, and slowly it will form into something glorious. Or start purring. That’s usually what happens when I apply strokes to things- most specifically cats- as they seem to like them. I would be slightly concerned if my paper or pens started purring, though. It might be time to cut back on the coffee should that happen. Or seek psychological help. Or both. Given the recent flood of creative posts, I felt this would be an appropriate time to share some things I’ve been working on (or have worked on before). Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see the finished version of the second piece (if there is one).

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 Caretaker, Swinetaurs, Templar Warlords, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Red Hook.

Glossy Eyeball

Bulbous and glistening in the light.

As you’ve probably noticed by now I’m always scribbling something somewhere. If this year has been good for anything it’s just that. It’s also a trend I foresee a continuation of, which is an incredibly good thing as I’ve been itching to do some new things here and there. That could also be where one of the cats bit me the other day- only time and possible infection will tell!

Curse these annoying itches and their itchiness.

This is a return to the delicious monstrosities of Doom (2016) in the Revenant. A ghastly cybernetic abomination who seems to have wires poking through their skin in all manner of places- even their intestines- which is probably awful for their digestion. Not that I’m sure they eat anything any more. However, unlike recent pieces, I went for a style quite unlike anything I’ve done before. Inspired by the sketchy rough-yet-detailed style of the original Guild Wars’ concept art which I’ve always loved.

This makes it something that’s quite difficult to talk about as I can’t really say what it’s supposed to look like. Or how it’s supposed to work. I’m pretty much going through this one completely blind while assessing the results as I go, making changes where necessary, and trying all manner of new things in the process. Not that it’s ever a bad idea to try something that you’ve not tried before. In fact, it’s been quite the learning experience for me as to what my digital style will likely end up being. I’ve always loved mixing colours on the canvas. This version of that is much more versatile as I can continually experiment with colours, brushes, and other elements and easily revert any unsatisfactory changes.

Look at those pearly whites.

Look at those pearly whites.

The lack of understanding (and/or confidence) in my digital style has definitely been a problem with these pieces. I initially felt it was a matter of having more experience with traditional materials, which it is to a certain degree, but it’s also that I’m more confident with what I’m going for with traditional materials, and so an understanding of my digital style is great.

I’ve also been questioning whether I should share this work in progress.

There are already a couple of work in progress Tweets over on Twitter detailing where the piece started and how it has evolved. However, I did say that I wanted to bring more interesting creative posts to Moggie’s Proclamations. Those Tweets don’t explain my thoughts and methodology behind the piece, either. You might think I’ve gone plum crazy. Not that I think I’d ever go crazy for plums. Watermelons perhaps- but not plums. I’m also not entirely sure when this piece will be finished (or if it will ever be finished) and so I thought I’d share what I have.

If I have anything to say about this piece it’s that it’s unique. I honestly can’t say I’ve ever done anything like this before. It’s kind of funny but I’ve been through this process with the other materials over the years, and yet, in this case, I’m going through different styles and techniques rapidly. For instance, with pencil, I probably changed styles and techniques a few times over the course of five or six years. With digital that has accelerated to a few times over the course of five or six months. Either I now have a problem with consistency (I need a high fibre diet) or I’m able to visualise new ideas much quicker now. Or I’m not satisfied with anything I do.

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.

Doom, the UAC, Doomguy, Pinkies, Revenants, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by id Software.

One Horn Bill (Ink) – 2016 – Ink – click for full view on site!

Don’t ask what happened to the other one.

That said, I’ve always questioned how such things occur. Do they naturally grow like that? Do they shed their horns after a certain point akin to us losing a tooth? Will it grow back? Are there any specific tribal or ritualistic reasons you’d want to have a broken horn? The questions are endless. It must be awful if you’re a fan of hats, too. Always having to make horn holes in everything.

This is an addition to the site I’ve been hesitant in making.

Not because I don’t like the piece- I do- it’s just that it was intended for other things. As explained in Bleeding Ink, this was a piece that was originally meant to be thrown together quickly to test some new marker styles. However, as time went on, that hasn’t really worked out as intended. Mostly because I can’t decide on what marker style I’d like to use. I would usually move onto something else at this point, but this does still hold a degree of significance as it is the bridging piece between Duriel and Slasher.

It also has a number of redeemable qualities of its own. So, while I am reluctant, I would prefer this to have some use rather than none, which is how we come to this point. I’ve also got a section on the site for just this sort of thing that I always forget about. It’s not entirely dead, either. I may come back to this with a digital coat of paint at some point. However, if I do, I’ll likely mention it in passing rather than dedicate a post to it. I am appreciative of each and every reader here, and I’d like to make a conscious effort not to waste your time with fluff posts or reiterations of existing content. It might mean a little less content than if I were to highlight each change- but I believe it’s better this way.So, what is there to say about this piece? It’s a demon. That’s about it. I’ve always wanted to do a high quality illustration of a bipedal hulking mass of demonic muscle since the early days of the first Diablo. The horns were important to the composition as I’d like to get better at rendering textures. The fact he’s missing one is… unfortunate to say the least.

I also don’t know why he has such a stylish beard.

I suppose when you spend your entire day maiming adventurers, carrying large quantities of gold around (which you will drop on death), and holding onto weaponry that you clearly never use (which you will also drop on death) you need to feel good about yourself. Probably get an awful lot of razor burn, though. I can’t see the denizens of hell having a highly sophisticated distribution system for cosmetics. But maybe I don’t know enough about them and so I’m prone to prejudice. I am the person tearing through their flesh and stealing their loot after all.

Don’t ask about the name, either. I figured I’d repent for some of my prior prejudice by giving him a nice homely name. None of this Bloodgorger the Impaler (with random affixes attached) nonsense. Not too keen on his nose, though. How does his nose smell? Like brimstone. Most likely. Then again, maybe I’m just fuelling my prejudice even further by believing these stereotypical things of him. Maybe he has a comfortable office job to support his growing family. Maybe he doesn’t even go to those parts of town where bad things happen. Maybe he’s the force of change hell needs but doesn’t deserve. Or deserves but doesn’t need.

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.

Aetherial Possession

It’s a hangin’ day.

Grim Dawn is an epic post-apocalyptic open world ARPG featuring six individual Masteries, four Acts, multiple character builds, a plethora of foes (and heroic bosses), end game dungeons, and a freedom to explore and progress at your own pace. You won’t be forced to take a particular route through this adventure. Throughout the story you’ll be presented with rebuilding a bridge, blasting open a cavern, or exploring the alternative if you lack the means to bypass it. This makes each character slightly different as you might have the resources on one but not another.

Likewise, Masteries fulfil a certain purpose but can be combined to create diverse builds. Want to fight enemies up close and personal? Try the Soldier. Want to throw explosive cocktails and grenades? Mix a little Demolitionist into that. Prefer striking from the shadows? Sample the Nightblade. There are endless options to mix and match skills to suit your play style.

Further adding to the customisation is the Devotion system.

You’ll earn points from restoring ruined or desecrated Shrines which can be spent in various constellations, which provide either active skill effects or passive buffs. While Devotion points are much shorter in supply than regular Skill points, they allow you to really develop particular aspects of your character. For instance, with Shamans, there are several options to increase lightning damage dealt or buff your pets to make them more reliable in combat. All together, the range of character customisation and development is quite extensive (and a little daunting at first). However, in my opinion, this is one of the areas where Grim Dawn really shines- endless customisation opportunities and potential to build whatever suits your particular needs.

"There's somewhere worse than the Steps of Torment?!"

“There’s somewhere worse than the Steps of Torment?!”

There’s also quite a number of side quests to do, optional objectives to complete, optional dungeons to explore, factions to join, and even special end game dungeons which are opened with unique Skeleton Keys. These, once opened, only stay open provided you don’t die. Obviously not a concern for Hardcore characters. That said, for regular characters, should you die, you’ll be removed from the dungeon and will need to build/use another Skeleton Key to get back in. These are always challenging, too. As the mobs scale to your level (and beyond).

These are really great places to farm out additional items and experience for attempting the later difficulties (Elite through Ultimate), and great places to test your skills against impressive and dangerous bosses you won’t see elsewhere. Some (like the Immolation) require faction status or particular quests to be completed before you can enter.

I’ve really enjoyed these as they’re tough but fair dungeons with few cheap mechanics.

Overall, I’ve watched this through Early Access and I’ve been continually impressed with everything they’ve done with it. I’m even further impressed by the exceptional quality of the finished product, which, while I thought I was done with Normal, showed me there was another ten hours (or more) content that I’d missed. Either by not taking on the end game dungeons or by not uncovering some of the secret locations. It’s been an amazing experience thus far and I’m excited to see if any DLC will be developed, what that DLC will be, and where the story will go from here. Currently they’re onto a really great experience which could very easily become one of the classic ARPG experiences of all time.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie