Comparison in Blood

Currently experiencing a low infestation rate.

Darkest Dungeon certainly brought one of the more original ideas for bloodsucking abominations to The Crimson Court. Vampiric in nature, but not necessarily undead, the Bloodsuckers (as they’re fondly known) are actually variations of humanoid insects. They don’t sparkle, either. That said, there is a consistent theme in the art direction for Darkest Dungeon that often combines beastly features with humanoid anatomy. The Warrens is literally filled with dozens of examples. Not to mention those weird, misshapen, infested souls that plague the Weald.

The humanoid features make them more interesting, too.

A malformed bloody maw.

It also leaves me wondering how or why they exist in the first place. Or when they first appeared. But this isn’t meant to be an explanation of Darkest Dungeon lore (as fascinating as that would be), it’s meant to explain some of the thoughts I’ve had recently. Or, at the very least, attempt to explain those thoughts. As I’m not entirely sure that I understand it myself.

I think I’m focusing too much on the result. This particular pencil sketch is one of the rare few I’ve liked of the work I’ve done in recent weeks, which says a lot as it isn’t of a very high quality. But I like the approach. I liked how natural it felt (and how confident I was) approaching it. I attempted to enhance the original sketch digitally for the same reason, as I don’t feel as though my approach to digital paintings or illustrations is particularly sound. I never really stopped to think about how I would normally do things. I just jumped straight into painting without line work and going for a mostly realistic approach, which, again, I don’t think was a particularly sound decision. So in two ways this piece is teaching me more about my creative pursuits.

Firstly, that by being focused on the result I’m losing a lot of what makes up the piece in the first place. I’m not thinking about how to achieve the best representation of the piece- I’m instead thinking about how to work towards a result that I want for reasons I can’t explain. Secondly, that perhaps I’m not as inexperienced with digital paintings and illustrations as I would have assumed. Maybe I’ve just been doing things in the wrong way and expecting (for some reason) to get the representation that I wanted.

You can almost hear the maddening skittering…

I’ve also not questioned my approaches as much in the past as I have recently.

I’m most curious as to why that is. I don’t exactly feel different, but I’m wondering if maybe this is foreshadowing a great period of creativity in my life and I just need to get past these hurdles first. Almost as if I realise the potential I could have and because I’m not living up to it I’m squandering it. As egotistical as that may sound. Not that it’s intended to be egotistical at all.

I’m quite happy with the piece, too. If that wasn’t clear. I’m not entirely sure where it’s going from here, but I would assume that I’m going to work on the digital version a little further and perhaps even expand upon the original sketch. That’s one of the neat things about digital illustrations. You can keep adding, removing, and adjusting endlessly until you get the result that you want. Which is equally one of the worst things about digital illustrations, as nothing is ever done and can always be approached again. I’m also surprised at how efficiently I’m working through this piece. I’ve not run into the usual issue of spending significantly more time for a fairly similar result, which, hopefully, shows some amount of growth within my approach.

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 Crimson Court, bloodsuckers, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Red Hook.

First Impressions of… Low Magic Age

Stand back! I have a spear and I’m not afraid to pretend I have the proficiency to use it!

Low Magic Age is an enjoyable Early Access RPG with a d20 System ruleset derived from the Wizards of the Coast Open Game Licence. At this stage of development there is a fully functional (yet deceptively complex) Arena, alongside deep character progression mechanics and varied equipment choices. The developers are also looking to add a campaign mode to fully flesh out the core experience. Likewise, there’s early Steam Workshop integration which could permit the creation of much more (Arena/campaign) content in the future.

It’s definitely one of the more promising Early Access titles I’ve seen.

Even if you’re not fully conversant with d20 System rulesets, Low Magic Age provides an intuitive and easy to learn presentation of mechanics alongside an impressive explanation of what everything does. A feature that I wish would be more prevalent in other RPGs with complex formulae. I’m also quite fond of how quickly you can pick up the nuances of combat.

The Arena is almost exclusively combat, too. So if you’re not too keen on the idea of something reminiscent to dungeon crawling with a party of adventurers, you might want to wait until the campaign is implemented. It’s not actually dungeon crawling, though. As you progress through the Arena in waves. After each fight you can purchase new equipment, replenish ammunition, spend Glory for party bonuses, or even recruit new adventurers for your party. Each party progresses through their own waves, too. Switching to an entirely new party will reset your progress back to the first wave, while also resetting your gold and Glory to their default values. Switching back to an existing party restores their wave progress.

Just one more turn…

Your party can consist of either default characters, your own characters, or a combination of both. When creating characters you can follow a template or create your own custom characters, with the characters created via templates levelling up automatically. Which, I assume, as I don’t use character templates, automatically develop certain abilities. Which is a great feature for those who enjoy the experience that Low Magic Age offers, but might not be as interested in statistics or agonising over new abilities. Thereby it’s very new player friendly, too.

Each wave in the Arena also features a boss fight.

These will become available once you’ve defeated all of the fights in a particular wave. Unsurprisingly, these often feature incredibly tough enemies which are stronger than most things you’ve faced before. You can either fight these bosses as they appear or grind experience in the fights of that wave. As I do believe each fight per wave is endlessly repeatable.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Low Magic Age but I’m very pleased with this current iteration. It’s an easy recommendation if you enjoy fantasy RPGs, tabletop rulesets, or Dungeons & Dragons with the only caveat being that the campaign isn’t implemented yet. So if you’re not keen on endless Arena bloodshed you may want to wait before purchasing. I still think it’s a great deal at the current price, though. Given that many of the existing systems are fully functional and that the Arena is also incredibly polished for many hours of enjoyment. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have another turn to take and another wave to finish…

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

The Sunshine Estate

It’s not so dark now, is it?

Many things have changed since the full release of Darkest Dungeon. We’ve seen the introduction of town events, the Antiquarian, Radiant Mode, Stygian Mode (the rebalanced New Game+), heirloom trading, and the first story expansion with The Crimson Court. With the release of the expansion it seemed as good a time as any to return to the horrors beneath our family home. I’ve been meaning to go back to my previous estate, but, as you can probably tell from the title of this post, I instead opted for a Radiant Mode campaign.

It’s an interesting concept for a difficulty adjustment.

Rather than making the enemies and dungeons trivial, it instead makes the campaign shorter and reduces the need for grinding significantly by providing Radiant Mode specific stagecoach upgrades. Most things are cheaper, too. Which, when paired with an Antiquarian in your roster, reduces the need to grind for gold almost entirely. It’s a pleasant experience overall.

I’ve not played the default difficulty (now known as Darkest Mode) since release, but Radiant Mode has great pacing comparatively. Each week has a purpose and affords progression. Whether that progression takes the form of a boss kill, an upgrade to the estate, levelling up a hero, or even an expedition to the Darkest Dungeon. It’s nice that the challenge is retained, too. Failure is still possible if you don’t play well or use effective team compositions. Or forgot to bring torches to the second assault on the Darkest Dungeon. Which was the highlight of my entire campaign, as I noticed almost immediately but fleeing the Darkest Dungeon results in a guaranteed death. I wasn’t fond of that as I’d been training these heroes for this for some time.

Nightmare made material.

Which also made the mistake even more hilarious. Thankfully, I didn’t have any Sun Rings on the heroes in that party so fighting through in the darkness was at least doable. By virtue of Cry Havoc and Rallying Flare we were successful. I did take 60+ stress from Revelation, though. They acted before either of my guards could be applied. I had few deaths in this campaign, too. Besides that ill fated attempt at fighting a Shambler with an Antiquarian party that lacked the necessary damage. We killed the Shambler- but the spawn quickly finished us off.

Hilariously, that loss was worth two achievements.

With the release of The Crimson Court I would have to agree that Darkest Dungeon is in the best condition that it’s ever been in. The classes are all particularly useful for one reason or another, there are innumerable team compositions to provide different answers to similar problems, and there’s even new content (and a new class) to experience if you own The Crimson Court.

I’m intending for this Radiant Mode campaign to be the first in a series of campaigns. I was thinking of doing difficulty progression akin to how you work through normal, nightmare, and hell in the earlier instalments of the Diablo series. I’ve had a lot of fun with this estate, but I’m slightly dubious about the shortened campaign length. Given that I’ve spent nearly 50hrs in this estate at this point. Though, to be fair, that is likely shorter than a Darkest Mode or Stygian Mode campaign would be. I also took the time to kill all of the bosses, level up all of the classes, and do other things that aren’t necessary for the successful resolution of a campaign. I’m starting to think I have a problem regarding the completion of miscellaneous objectives.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Jovial July

Let’s make this month a good one.

I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for a while. I’ve made numerous minor changes to all sorts of things recently and I felt like highlighting them, but previous iterations of this post never felt particularly coherent. So, if you’re reading this, this iteration made it. Good job, iteration! The first and most extensive change was to update both the Art and Gaming pages here on Moggie @ WordPress, which should (hopefully) make it easier to find what you’re looking for. Regardless of what it is or when it was originally posted.

This includes new sections for both of the pages, too.

These were the last few changes I wanted to make to the structure of the blog. Now that they’re implemented I’m free to update older content so that it can fit into the new structure, which mostly involves either new categorisation or presentation adjustments for those posts. It’s a background process in many ways. I’m actively working on it, but it doesn’t take priority.

The second change was to slightly adjust the presentation on my personal site by adding new thumbnails. These are slightly larger, lack the text, and I can only fit nine (instead of ten) per page. However, the loss of one thumbnail per page isn’t particularly notable. I’ve wanted to adopt a stronger visual presentation for my personal site for a while, which these thumbnails do and they’re incredibly easy to change back if I become dissatisfied with them. I can quite literally grab the old folder and throw it onto my server. I actually made that change a while ago (or a work in progress version of it) and liked it enough to finalise it. So, if nothing else, that gives me hope that this was a good idea. I couldn’t be wrong twice, right? Right?!

With the aforementioned changes now in place I’m feeling particularly good about how things are going. There are still improvements to be made- and there always will be- but I’m happy with the state of things as they are. I’m looking at YouTube and Twitch fairly closely, too. There are opportunities for both creative and gaming content on either of those channels. It’s definitely easier to put together videos as and when I have the time rather than set streaming schedules, but both are viable and I should keep both in mind.

It’d be neat to do some creative videos.

One thing that was painfully evident while updating my personal site is that I need to do more finished pieces. I’m definitely not seeing the correct representation of recent attempts. Mostly because many of those recent attempts have been material studies, which don’t make it to my personal site. So I’ve been wondering whether they should in the future.

I can only apologise for the erratic posting schedule of late. I’m still somewhat happy with it just because I’m only really posting when I have things to talk about, but I’d like to be more consistent. In so many ways. That said, I’m hoping that once I’ve worked through the infuriating indecision that I discussed in Mushroom Fluidity things will improve. At least creatively. So that’s something for both of us to look forward to. In any case, I do like to talk about the things I’m currently doing or will be doing in the future even if it’s not the most riveting content. That and now you can click on all of the above links and be astounded by the exceptional changes. Should keep you busy for a little while.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Mushroom Fluidity

Liquid mushrooms would be an edible oddity.

Not that I think liquid mushrooms would be edible and even if they were I would advise against trying them. Then again, we do have mushroom soup which is sort of like a liquid mushroom even though the actual soup is made of other things. This tangent is weird. Here’s an update on the works in progress present in Mushroom Inspired. They’re a little further along now, too. Two of them have been painted, while the third (which wasn’t present in the previous iteration) is still an inked sketch.

I doubt there will be further progress here, though.

I’m not entirely happy with the results so far. I don’t think that deathclaw even looks like a deathclaw any more, either. If it ever did in the first place. While I will admit that the reason I started this project was to improve my watercolour approaches, it’s not really working as intended as I think that the initial approach was flawed. It was too forced and inconsistent.

I don’t feel as though the original ink sketches were accurate to my ink approaches in general. Which is a considerable issue, as I’m trying to use an unfamiliar ink approach with a somewhat new watercolour approach. It doesn’t have any strengths. It doesn’t feel natural, either. This is an issue that is entirely my fault, but it’s probably best to move on from these pieces as I don’t really feel like they’re adding anything to what I’m doing. I just feel frustrated when working on them. Almost as if I’m fighting myself to finish them. It’s a shame as I’ve used a considerable portion of expensive paper to be met with failure, but the worst failures are the ones that you can’t learn from and I can definitely learn from this.

One step forward and two steps back.

The third ink sketch is a Fallout 4 deathclaw which has notable strengths and weaknesses. Most of the strengths are in the lines and the textures (especially the horns) which look great, but is equally as weak in the overall presentation. My original intention was to work on numerous smaller pieces to more rapidly gain experience. However, in practice that probably wasn’t the best approach. Especially as I’ve hit several walls actually composing the ink sketches to begin with. It has not been as easy of a run as anticipated.

I’ll likely work on larger pieces for the next run of watercolour paintings, too.

I’ve also been wondering if I’m putting too much pressure on myself for certain results. I’ve noticed that my general enthusiasm towards a piece lowers greatly when things aren’t going as planned, which, again, is an issue that is entirely of my own creation. I have departed from my usual approaches with several materials and I don’t think it’s doing me too many favours.

However, it does promise better things in the future. I’m just starting to wonder whether the promise of future results is worth sacrificing all of the current ones. Or if it’s even possible to reach those future results if nothing is working out currently. It’s an interesting issue, which I hadn’t really considered when I set out on this weirdly infuriating journey. I’ve learned an awful lot about myself creatively, too. Which is always a nice bonus. I’ve started to notice weaknesses I hadn’t considered before. It’s understandably frustrating, but I’m still hoping I can come away from this with a positive push forwards. I’m still mostly happy with how things are progressing so it’s not entirely awful just yet. But it is getting there slowly.

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.

Fallout 3, Deathclaws, Super Mutants, Pip-Boys, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Interplay/Bethesda.
The Elder Scrolls, The Elder Scrolls Online, Morrowind, the Morag Tong, and all associated trademarks and de

Priests of Rathma

Call forth the spirits of the fallen.

Diablo III has seen two rather significant and quite exciting changes recently. The first of those is patch 2.6.0 which introduces six new areas (along with new bounties), hordes of new enemies, various quality of life tweaks, and Challenge Rifts. I’m most intrigued by the concept of Challenge Rifts. They’re presented as something different to both the Campaign and Adventure Mode, in which you use a specific build (based on another player) to complete a weekly static dungeon. The aim is to complete the dungeon faster than the original player.

It does make me wonder if they’ll include gimmicky builds, too.

Those could be interesting (and challenging) in their own way. Rather than just trying to figure out how to do the best with what you’ve got, you’d have to figure out what the gimmick is and how you actually use it. On the other hand, these gimmicky builds could also be ridiculously frustrating if their particular gimmick isn’t enjoyable or particularly viable.

The second of these changes is the introduction of the Necromancer. The class that everyone was secretly hoping would be carried over from Diablo II (like the Barbarian), but never made it into the original or expansion release. Though many felt that the Witch Doctor was basically a different kind of Necromancer. To access the new class you’ll need to purchase the Rise of the Necromancer pack which includes the class, two character slots, two stash tabs, and various cosmetic rewards. The Necromancer is fully voiced throughout the Campaign with new class specific items, new Legendary and Set items, an extensive set of skills, and the ability to raise legions of the dead. It’s also awesome. Definitely one of the best classes Diablo III has.

As an almost exclusive summoner they have the capability to summon a literal army, while making use of Revive as and when corpses are available to further bolster their ranks, or turning those corpses against their foes in an explosive cacophony of blood. As a warrior they’re able to bolster their defences with Bone Armor and regenerate health through Curses. Or, if you prefer, they can make use of an arsenal of spells such as Bone Spear and Bone Spirit to face foes from afar. They can even sacrifice portions of their health to deal more damage.

Flexibility is built into everything they do.

I’ve always been fond of Poison Dagger Necromancers in Diablo II and I had hoped there would be a similarly viable build here. Not only is it viable, but it’s incredibly enjoyable and requires an amount of concentration to make best use of. Mostly due to the unique mechanics of Bone Armor. But I was pleasantly surprised that the option was available and is actually useful.

I find myself arguing between Corpse Explosion and Revive on my first Necromancer. I could have a constant stream of newly resurrected minions with Revive, or I could have explosive corpses with Corpse Explosion. Explosive. Corpses. That don’t even cost anything to explode due to their finite nature. In fact, I love Corpse Explosion so much that both of my Necromancers use it. I’ll admit that I might have a problem. Maybe. I’m particularly thrilled with this class content pack, too. Entirely worth the price of admission. Which hasn’t always been something I’ve been able to say about Diablo III, but I’m hopeful for the future with the many content patches we’ve seen and the excellent quality present in this class a whole.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

March to June 2017

Changes abound!

The most significant of those changes would definitely be the new personal website I put together earlier in the year. I looked at the new design (and reasoning for) extensively in Season of Change, which also resulted in newly updated pages here on Moggie @ WordPress. I’ve not talked about those yet. But, for the most part, I’m reorganising the pages (and updating their layout) so that everything has a level of consistency. Wherein things are now easier to find and are where you would expect them to be. Which is good for everyone!

I’ve also changed over to the new section titles on the Art page.

We’ve had some interesting creative content in the last three months, too. Corruption Collection started them off by bringing together several pieces that I’d been working on recently, followed not long after by To Ink a Deathclaw which showed digital art some love. I also talked about the joys (and woes) of spending money on art materials in Expensive Mistakes.

Mushroom Inspired did the best it could to help us appreciate mushrooms, watercolour paintings, and the alien landscapes of Morrowind. It’s a pretty mixed bag. Ambitious Acrylic celebrated the purchase of new brushes, but lamented my inability to use them towards the results I’ve been hoping for. While Melty Black Goo looked at a recurring subject matter for my work. That of weirdly deformed human anatomy combined with strange black tentacles. Surprisingly, that’s safe to read if you’re at work. I’ll happily admit that I had been hoping for slightly more creative content in this time, but I’ve answered some of the questions I’ve been asking. Which is all one can really hope for in the wake of a disappointment.

A considerable portion of the gaming content in the last three months has been looking at The Elder Scrolls Online. An MMORPG that promised quite a lot and delivered a decent amount of it, which is both enjoyable to play and interesting to get lost in when you’ve got several hours to spare. Or even if you don’t have several hours to spare. That’s what MMORPGs do- they get you when you least expect it! You can read that entire series of events either via the Gaming page or through its dedicated category.

We also spent some time in the SteamWorld universe.

Steam Assimilation looked at SteamWorld Dig, which followed the events of Rusty as he dug ever deeper into the mines below and the secrets hidden therein. While Space Cowbots looked at SteamWorld Heist, which took a surprising turn with mechanics but continued the story of that universe as you adventured with Piper Faraday and her crew.

We got to see what happened next in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, too. A Neptune to the Past follows the events of the third instalment of that series (Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3 V Generation), which was, as always, a pleasure to experience and shows great evolution from earlier instalments. First Impressions of… Salt and Sanctuary exhausts the gaming content from the last three months, which (unsurprisingly) looks at the brutal ARPG Salt and Sanctuary that takes several cues but delivers something all its own. It’s not been a period of time focused on any one topic, but it’s definitely one that has delivered a range of different kinds of content be it gaming or creative.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie