January to March 2017

It’s a fresh new year.

I’ve been thinking about the kinds of content I’d like to share this year and these posts seem like a natural fit. I’ve always enjoyed writing them and I feel like they present an accessible summary of recent events, which, in this case, is slightly more gaming content than I would have anticipated. But I’m not too concerned about that, either. It’s been nice as I’ve enjoyed many of the things I’ve been talking about. Which is more than I could say for some of the things which have inspired gaming content in the past.

There have been quite a few JRPGs in there, too.

We started the year with Good Tidings, which reflected on my seasonal activities and the various ways in which I was unable to resist the temptations of the Steam Winter Sale once more. Before long we were talking about my Yearly Consistency, too. Turns out I’m a little more rigid than I would have expected! I’ve been assured by medical professionals that it’s fine, though.

While there has been more gaming content than creative there were a few notable posts for the latter. Mutant Deathclaw led into Anatomical Fish which allowed me to pause and talk about a Momentary Regret, but before long we were back with more creative efforts in Happiness Hat. There were examples of Multiple Attempts next which was followed by Pug Life. In many ways this has been a period that was oddly focused on digital painting, but there have been some traditional efforts in there as well. While I would have preferred to have more creative content in this period, I’m not that upset about it, as I’ve been able to reflect on what I’d like to do next, which should hopefully mean even better creative content in the future.

Gaming content started strongly with the Diablo III 20th Anniversary Event. The Darkening of Tristram was a limited time event which presented myriad challenges to undertake and achievements to earn, including one which required an entirely new character. I decided to give the Witch Doctor a second slot in my roster and you can read about that build over in My Curse Upon You! Which, oddly enough, became one of the most powerful builds I’d managed to bring together. I’m not sure that’s to do with her pets, either.

The damage over time spells are pretty ridiculous in their own right.

We also saw the conclusion of the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster through both The Summoner’s Pilgrimage and Dressed for the Occasion. There was a brief return to the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, too. With the events surrounding the Journalists of Gamindustri and where there was Hope for Planeptune. Great JRPGs one and all!

I also explored the depths of a rather quirky and somewhat different ARPG in First Impressions of… Victor Vran. I took a break from writing posts about specific things for a moment to reminisce about the Smaller Parts of a Larger Whole. The conclusion to this period was Emotions are Prohibited, which looked at the intricately detailed and ridiculously enjoyable NieR: Automata that has continually surprised and impressed me. I’m still working through Route B, too. I’m nearly at Route C… there’s just so many side quests to do! There are also a number of weapons which could do with an upgrade. So I reckon I’ll be there for a while yet. Especially as I’m looking to complete all of the main endings.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

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Dressed for the Occasion

At least you won’t need to pay for dry cleaning.

Which, now that I think about it, is actually a really good question- who developed sphere technology that dresses you in different clothing and armour? It seems like such an odd thing to develop. You’d think they’d prefer to develop an infinite food source, or technology that doesn’t try to kill them, or even the ability to capture fiends in spheres which they would use to battle other fiends.Dressed for the Occasion Those would be useful options. Copyright infringement aside. But, no, they decided to put clothes into these spheres.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand Spira.

Final Fantasy X-2 is an interesting sequel in many ways. Most of the original characters are scarcely present, the Sphere Grid is gone, Garment Grids and Dresspheres provide most of your character customisation options, you’ve got an airship available from the moment you finish the introductory mission, and it’s probably best if you don’t take the story too seriously.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a suitable sequel, though. It’s just that it might not be the sequel many were expecting. Most were probably anticipating a prequel which looked at the events surrounding the journey Braska, Auron, and Jecht embarked on before the events of Final Fantasy X. Instead they got a slightly ridiculous insight into the events following the Eternal Calm. But I think it was a bold choice to introduce new story elements instead of dragging out existing ones. The aforementioned prequel would have been such an easy choice, too. That said, while I feel that the sequel does conclude the story fairly well, I also feel that the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy concluded things more satisfactorily, which shows that the series has progressed over time.

There were a few things about the Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remaster which I do believe weren’t present in the version I have on the PS2. Such as the Creature Creator system, which allows you to recruit fiends into your party that you develop in a very similar way to strengthening Aeons in Final Fantasy X. There are also new accessories, altered accessories, an extra chance to get the Mascot Dressphere, numerous changes to the enemies you’ll face, and even some slight alterations to the events you’ll experience.Dressed for the Occasion

Whether those are positive or negative changes is open to interpretation.

I’m particularly impressed with the graphical enhancements in the HD Remaster as well. It looks gorgeous. Especially when you consider that the original versions of both titles on the PS2 didn’t look that bad, in fact, at the time, they were some of the most impressive titles on the market. But the enhancements present really breathe new life into the world of Spira.

I’ve enjoyed playing through both of these titles again. While I will admit that I prefer Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2 is an interesting look into a familiar universe with both established and newly introduced characters. It also features (for the first time in the series) an all female cast. Then there’s New Game+, which I’ll be able to use to experience the story once more and finish off all of the things that I missed in the first attempt. So neither is finished just yet. But, for now, it’s time to bid Spira adieu and move onto new adventures. I’d still highly recommend the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster package. It’s well worth the price of admission if you enjoy classic JRPGs.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

The Summoner’s Pilgrimage

It’s quite the journey.

But with the help of a legendary guardian, a man obsessed with Blitzball, a lady who loves belts so much she made a dress from them, a powerful warrior from a distant land, and someone who just appeared in Spira you might just make it. You’ll need a little more than luck on your side, though. You’ll need to have Fayth. Myriad Fayth. Which is the whole reason you’re on this journey in theThe Summoner's Pilgrimage first place. That and exploring the world around you, looking for meticulously placed treasure chests in random locations, and (of course) farming AP like there’s no tomorrow.

Mostly because if you fail there probably won’t be a tomorrow.

Unlike most Final Fantasy titles I’ve completed, this particular title boasts a new challenge through the Expert Sphere Grid which is (almost) entirely new to me. I’m still not sure what it really does, either. Other than change starting locations, shuffle around certain nodes, and allow for complete freedom with character development. Maybe that is literally all it does. I don’t know.

In either case, it’s been interesting going back through the various characters and creating strategies of my own. I’ve got a fair few Black Magic users. Got a couple of White Magic users, too. I’ve seen the wondrous cacophony of destruction that is a Doublecast Ultima. I’ve also witnessed Auron cleave an enemy for nearly 100k damage. It’s honestly a little disgusting. I’ve experienced the better parts (exploring the Omega Ruins) and the worse parts (trying to obtain the Sun Sigil) in equal measure. I can’t say I haven’t had fun, though. I can’t say whether it’s made things easier or more difficult, either. I think that having a secondary White Magic user in Rikku (who practically mirrors Yuna) has proved invaluable.

Then again, with the acquisition of the Nirvana, and full Black Magic spell availability, Yuna has become a force to be reckoned with in her own right. Able to easily break the damage limit and deal 30-40k per spell. It, again, is honestly a little disgusting. It wouldn’t scratch the super bosses… but that’s for another time. Maybe. It’s actually funny that I don’t enjoy Blitzball enough to bother trying to get Wakka’s Celestial Weapon, but he’s a good candidate for breaking the damage limit. He’s got nearly as much Strength as Auron does.
The Summoner's Pilgrimage
That said, I love the way the Masamune fits so perfectly with Auron.

He’s probably the only character who has consistently been able to take a punch and get back up throughout the entire experience. The fact that he now becomes even more powerful each time he gets hit just makes that sweeter. Especially considering he was one of the first to reach the health limit. He’s got a bountiful pool to draw from and it’s immensely useful.

I’ve always felt that Final Fantasy X was a genuinely difficult entry in the series. It’s one that has very interesting mechanics for key fights that rely more on your ability to understand, react, and survive than simply deal damage. Significantly easier when you’ve got Auron and the Masamune- but still an experience. I highlighted many of the key changes to the Final Fantasy formula which I think Final Fantasy X exemplified through An Evolving Narrative. It’s still one of my favourite entries in the series and one that I still enjoy to this day. That said, I’m looking forward to Final Fantasy X-2 as well. There are a number of things that I love about that one, too. Despite (in my opinion) being easier than the previous entry.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Bomb – 2016 – Coloured Pencil – click for full view on site!

An explosive disposition.

Here’s a spontaneous and entirely unexpected piece. Following the attempt present in Murky Lioness, here’s a more developed approach to the same style that leans a little heavier on ink than coloured pencil. It’s an interesting balance. It’s also an interesting way to create this kind of thing. Usually I’d start with strong line work and then apply colour, whereas with these pieces I’m starting with much weaker line work and adding to it as I go along. Working alongside the flow of the pencil.

As such, this technique produces a rather interesting style.

But the technique isn’t without merit elsewhere. I could see this same approach being useful in the creation of more detailed, highly intricate, and ultimately more interesting watercolour paintings. Opening up the potential to approach an even broader range of subject matter. It holds a surprising amount of potential for something done on a whim.

Final Fantasy also has a great number of creatures which suit this style well. Given their earlier, less realistic, more stylised art styles which were almost whimsical in their own way. Not to mention the recently released World of Final Fantasy which will undoubtedly house many creatures great for this style. Bombs are one of the common recurring enemies in the series, featured from as early as Final Fantasy II and mostly staying the same throughout. Except in Final Fantasy XIII where they take on more of a mechanical construction. They even feature as a part time summon with their signature explosive attacks. This particular variation is referenced from Final Fantasy X.

Bomb – 2016 – Coloured PencilI liked the more mischievous style they had going on. Bombs exist to do one thing and one thing only- self destruct. However, they seem quite harmless from a distance. A floating, likely elemental, easily defeated foe which can’t cause you too much trouble. Until they explode and one of your party members goes down as a result of it. Then you’re always one click away from casting Blizzara on any and all of them that you see. They’re sneaky, though. Some enjoy ice and cold attacks. So you just avoid them all together.

The mechanical approach was a nice touch, too.

As you get the feeling that creatures like this were probably created by someone or something. It’s not like there’s anything else in the natural order of things that exists purely to not exist via self destruction. They almost feel like a weapon of some sort. As perhaps hinted by the early events of Final Fantasy IV.

Honestly, readers must love these posts as they come to see traditional art and leave with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Final Fantasy series. I’ve had a lot of fun with this piece, though. It’s one that I enjoyed creating as it’s not only a subject matter that I love, but it’s a style which is still new and fresh and ready for further refinement. I’m excited by the prospect that even after all of this time I’m still able to find new, interesting, and engaging styles and techniques to pursue. Not too long ago I had started to feel that there wasn’t much left for me to pursue as many of my ideas were falling flat. Now I’m feeling revitalised and ready to explore any number of unknown possibilities.

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.

Final Fantasy, Bombs, Moogles, Genji equipment, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Square Enix.

June to September 2016

It’s that time again.

I like these posts. Not only because they highlight the content I’ve posted over the last three months, but because they remind me of the things I’ve done. Which is especially useful if (like me) you do a lot of things and often forget which you did when. Or where you did what. Or any other combination of perfectly confusing words. It’s been an interesting few months, too. While there has been a lot of gaming content there has also been a fair few digital work in progress posts.

Final Fantasy XIII was quickly becoming a topic of conversation in Old Haunts and then later in Adventuring on Gran Pulse. The sequels were also making an appearance with Paradox Police, The Ballad of Caius, and Beacon of Salvation. We also had Fall of the Dungeon Guardians (First Impressions) earlier in the month to keep things interesting.

There was a slight change to social media, too.

With the events of Eight Months Lost leading to Collection Clear and the removal of my Google+ page. It was an unfortunate turn of events, but I still believe it was the correct decision regarding the situation given how everything had unfolded prior to that point. On a positive note, I also celebrated my Ten Year Anniversary in September. Then very recently I looked at where things were, where they were going, and how to get them there in Plotting Progress. The first post of its kind in quite some time. The last three months have seen more changes to the collection of sites than prior months have, but these are changes I would have made sooner or later. In this case I chose sooner.

We’ve had a few more gaming adventures, too. Exploring the challenges found within Dark Souls II via Shieldless in Drangleic, taking a first look at a rather promising RPG in Ember (First Impressions), and even returning to Titan Quest with the Anniversary Edition to enjoy the Skirt Wearing Weather. Surprisingly we also saw the return of World of Warcraft for a six part series of posts. Exploring the range of changes introduced in Mists of Pandaria, the changes from Warlords of Draenor, and even the changes from the Legion pre-expansion patch.

There’s been a few months of creative experimentation as well. Undead River brought new life (pun intended) to an older inspiration, while Fluffy Chops and Leopard Warlock began to explore the many hours of investment in that particular digital painting. I’m still unsure as to whether digital painting is ever going to be something I can fully commit to, though.

Liquid Orc holds my thoughts on that subject.

I think you’ll agree that we did have a little of everything over the last three months. I have a few things planned for early October, too. So there’s going to be at least a little more gaming content before this year is out. I’ve also done some watercolour painting recently that went surprisingly well. So it’s likely we’ll see some of that as well. I’m not entirely sure, though. I’m still slightly annoyed that many of the digital pieces mentioned above are still unfinished. Also that they’re likely to stay that way. So maybe I’ll try to get something done with one or two of those, if not to finish them then to at least bring them to a satisfactory standard for posting on my personal website.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Beacon of Salvation

Brimming with the light of creation.

Thus we reach the end of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. It started with Adventuring on Gran Pulse, led to the story of the Paradox Police, and now closes with Lightning’s final story as the saviour of souls for the dawn of a new world. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is certainly a unique entry into the Final Fantasy series. It may be the only main series instalment (or sequel of) where you have only one playable character. That said, it is an adventure filled with nods to previous instalments across the entire series.

While it feels a little more like Diablo II or Dark Souls than Final Fantasy, it’s nice how they managed to merge the elements of Final Fantasy into a single character adventure where you’re afforded a (surprising) amount of customisation. I particularly like how each weapon seems to be designed around a particular purpose or use within a set of skills.

The same could also be said for the garbs which make up your Schemata.

Unlike other instalments in the series, there are no direct benefits to developing your character through combat. Besides any money, abilities, or other items dropped. Lightning is entirely developed through the main quests and side quests she completes. However, there is a twist- you only have thirteen short days to complete everything. So, if you’re diligent, like I was, you might be able to complete almost all (if not all) quests in one run. It’s more likely that you’ll need to come back to a few in New Game+, though. Not that quest completion carries over to New Game+ along with everything else. That said, that does give you more opportunities to become even more powerful as you attempt to tackle the new challenges of Hard Mode.

New Game+ is an actual restart of the story this time, too. You don’t defeat the final boss and then continue playing afterwards (as you did in Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2). You will lose a few things like quest completion, some key items, and the Ultima Weapon/Ultima Shield. I’m not really surprised the Ultima equipment disappeared, though. It’s sort of story related and ridiculously powerful. It’s unlikely I’m going to attempt New Game+ at the moment, but I intend to get back to it at some point in the future and experience the extra challenges and content therein.

I’m glad I took the time to pick up the trilogy and play it through in one long run. I’ll admit it has side tracked me a little here on Moggie @ WordPress, but I am looking to dive straight into all sorts of things over here now that they’re all finished. Hopefully that wave of content will include a particular chocobo that we haven’t heard much about in a while.

I think I might be getting that familiar itch for JRPGs again.

Then again, it’s not really all that surprising considering the entire Final Fantasy XIII trilogy lasted over two hundred hours. You don’t get that kind of value for money all the time. Also, while I have finished the main events, there are all sorts of secondary things for me to undertake. Like finishing off the ruin on the fourteenth day in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Or fighting some of the more challenging enemies on Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII. So it’s not completely over yet. It’s been a strangely nostalgic year in that respect. Many older inspirations or habits returning, while, sadly, some things have been lost. Some that are irreplaceable. With loss comes new opportunities, though.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

The Ballad of Caius

I apologise profusely for that.

As a forewarning this post contains very light spoilers. While Lightning’s Story: Requiem of the Goddess is a post-story DLC, it doesn’t really reference the post-story events if you don’t have the story content in the explanations or videos. Which I don’t. As copyright claims caused me an inconvenience which led me to change what I’d upload and share. Still, if you’d prefer not to know anything about Final Fantasy XIII-2 then I’d suggest you turn away now. Or click the back button. Or even close the window.

Don’t even think about clicking on the YouTube video below, either.

Lightning’s Story: Requiem of the Goddess continues the events of the main story to what some may consider a more satisfactory conclusion. Personally, it feels more like an introduction to Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII to me. In that you’re fighting as only Lightning in a series of two battles which have fairly different rules compared to what you’re used to.

The first and most interesting of those rules for those who are fighting for the first time is that dying is kind a good thing. As, whether you win or lose the fight with Caius, you’ll still gain CP which will advance Lightning’s roles and abilities. Second of those rules is that none of her Paradigm Roles are actually featured in the main story. For instance, while a Knight is sort of like a Sentinel it functions with a completely different ability. So, if you’re like me, and took a Blast Wave to the face because you wondered why reducing the damage would matter, you’ll be pleased to know she has a complete immunity ability as a Knight. Thusly, you take no damage. Not less. So, there are a few things you’ll need to adjust to.

The next most interesting part of this is that Lightning at full strength almost can’t die. In that, the only way you could lose is to switch to the Conjurer and just cast buffs on yourself over and over again. Even the Sorcerer would actually damage/wound Caius. That said, you will hilariously get an incredibly bad score for using Lightning at full strength due to how easy it is. But you can also weaken or strengthen Lightning if you’d like to adjust the difficulty. So don’t worry if you accidentally hit full strength.

In fact, I think you always hit full strength once you’ve defeated Caius in the second phase.

If you’re successful against Caius in the second phase (with a five star rating) with Lightning below Lvl 10 you’ll get rewarded with a Paradigm Pack addition. The Knight of Etro variant of Lightning herself, as a rather powerful Commando with many unique(?) abilities which probably make her the best Commando you can acquire. With a considerable amount of health, too.

Needless to say- it’s not for everyone. You’ll need to adjust to different mechanics than you’re used to, you’ll be fighting alone, and you’ll only have the stock items and abilities the DLC affords you. But it does close off the story rather nicely and opens the transition into Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII quite well. Which is actually my next stop on my journey through the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. As I’d like to complete them all in order. Rather looking forward to the next one, too. Oddly, despite Lightning being the only playable character, the equipment list is vastly broader than in the previous two instalments. The combat also looks to be quite the change of pace as well.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie