Festive Reflections

I should probably have stopped eating mince pies after the twelfth one.

It’s a lot like the Steam Winter Sale. You tell yourself that this year you’re only going to buy one new video game and instead work through your backlog, but inevitably you end up with a list of discounted titles. You can’t turn back now, though. Nay! That would show weakness. So, in a moment of pride, and utter senselessness, you purchase the whole shopping cart. It’s not the best decision you’ve ever made, but they do add to your backlog and you did say you were going to work through it. So you’re still doing what you said you were going to do, right?

Personally, I’ve been buying JRPGs. I’ve missed those.

Of those JRPGs the most notable is Battle Chasers: Nightwar. A delightfully adorable and incredibly enjoyable experience which is reminiscent of Breath of Fire III on the PS1, but with a much better fishing minigame. Fishing which (I would assume) is somewhat required. As it’s one of the few reliable ways to earn Shadow Coins.

I’ve been fairly lucky with engaging gaming experiences in the last year or so. Most recently I decided to finally purchase Book of Demons (as it had come out of Early Access) and it was fantastic. Both Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before Storm were wonderfully executed narrative-driven experiences, while Okami HD prompted nostalgic reminders of yesteryear. I was also able to experience Final Fantasy XV for the first time, which was surprisingly better than expected. Not to forget the wonderful (yet somewhat finicky) Divinity: Original Sin and the exceptional sequel Divinity: Original Sin II. I also spent more than a few hours playing through the story for Dragon Ball FighterZ, and I might have actually won an arcade match or two in that time.

It’s been a particularly odd year for my creative pursuits, though. I feel as though I’ve made decent enough progress, and that digital painting in particular has surpassed all prior expectations while still rapidly improving. But I haven’t finished as many pieces as I would’ve liked. This more or less aligns to a rather distressing turn of events in my personal life. For that reason I’m not surprised by my lack of commitment, but I do want to start this year with a greater focus on all things creative. I’ve actually been working on a few updates today towards that end.

I shall, however, share further details about those later.

I’m quite excited to see how things will develop as these minor updates work alongside major updates from last year. Together they promise a much better foundation for future content with more accessibility, and more opportunities to coherently connect various parts of the collection of sites together.

With the coming year I would’ve been using WordPress for seven years and it’s interesting seeing how things have changed. How I’ve changed. How my ideas have evolved. How the kinds of content I’ve been creating have developed. And how, even after all this time, and through all of these iterations, I’ve still got ideas for what I can do next. How I can make things better. How I can provide a broader range of content that still holds true to the original intentions. I’m most excited to work on traditional pieces again and to finish some of my older digital paintings. I’ve got quite a few concepts in mind for both. Here’s to hoping that this year at least proves to be better than the last, and that I might finally realise some amount of the potential I perceive myself to have.

Happy New Year, all!



Alcohol and Resolutions

The two are inescapably linked.

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

Maybe we should talk about video games instead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a nice week, all!


Good Tidings

To you and yours.

Gather ’round the fire and listen to ol’ Moggie for a moment, folks. It’s that time again! The New Year. The time for resolutions, forgetting to date things correctly, and most importantly even more sales on anything and everything. Will the sales ever end? Will your wallet ever be safe? You feel comfortable knowing that the last gasps of the Steam Winter Sale can be heard. Soon it will be no more. Soon there will be nothing to worry about. Until you hear it rising once again from the depths- taking on another form- haunting your wallet once more.

Or you’ll just run into the Steam weekly sales.

It’s not just the time for sales, though. Some people spend it with their family. Or their pets. Or both. Or they spend it wondering why they ate so much as another mince pie carelessly falls into their mouth. They can’t stop. They won’t stop. They will be satisfied at any cost. They will awaken amongst confectionery wrappers with little recollection of the night before.

I’ve spent these few weeks reflecting on how things have progressed in the last year. Making small changes to my various sites, updating information, scheduling posts for the New Year, and deciding on what content I’d like to be working on. It’s certainly easier to find the time to work on these things when not actively making content or writing posts. Not that I ever take much of a break from writing posts. But it’s something. I’m always a little excited when I have a whole list of scheduled content that I can’t wait to share with you all. Especially if you’ve not seen it via Tweets or anything else yet. I’d love for that few week lead to carry forward into the rest of the year, too. But that’s not really how I produce content.

Twenty seven years and still not sick of it.

Twenty seven years and still not sick of it.

I also made a few purchases during the Steam Winter Sale. The first was GRID, which I have introduced to my followers via a couple of Tweets highlighting my inability to take corners or to remain unscathed during a race. The second was Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, which, besides having quite the title, is something I’m keen to talk about once I’ve had more time to explore the opening areas. At the very least, I’m quite impressed with how extensive the character creation options are.

I can see that resulting in many unique builds and character stories.

On that note, Final Fantasy X is still going strong. I’m approaching it more casually than I first anticipated I would- but I’m in no rush to see the end of it. I’m also enjoying the varied character builds I’m able to work towards thanks to the Expert Sphere Grid. Who would have thought that Rikku would be one of the most proficient White Magic users in my party? Not me!

For the coming year I’m looking to introduce creative content as a major focus and have it remain as such throughout. I’d like to improve on the unexpectedly plentiful creative content from last year, but in a more diverse way. Perhaps by bringing together more materials than we’ve seen in any singular year before this. Or perhaps by bringing together a stronger, more developed, and more consistent approach overall. I’m looking to talk a lot more about what I’m doing, what’s working, and what’s not when it comes to all things creative. Hopefully this will encourage me to be more proactive when it comes to pursuing new ideas or using new materials.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Festive Tweetings

Much meat. Many pickles.

There are many great things about Christmas but I’d have to say my favourite is the turkey. I love turkey. I’m quite fond of pickles, too. Not so keen on ham. That said, these are all subjective to whether you work in retail (in any capacity). If you do then your Christmas is probably mostly spent tending a near empty place of work in some corporate hope someone will come in. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who manage to snag the days off as soon as they become available.

That’s probably the thing I liked least about my previous place of work.

However, I’m not as excited about Christmas as I used to be and it’s not for the usual reasons. The Christmas magic still exists within my lump of coal heart- but everything always seems to go wrong at Christmas for some reason. I’m not sure I’ve had a decent one for the last six years or so. They’re all becoming marginally more depressing year on year.

This year I spent some time on Twitter with my followers as they sent Tweets outlining their Christmas meals or activities and I had a (surprisingly) good time. It was great seeing what everyone was up to, or what they got, or reading their festive Tweets. I’m not usually one to be online (or on my computer at all) on Christmas Day as I spend a great deal of time here otherwise. One less day won’t hurt. But, as I’ve got older, I’ve not really found much to do if I’m not online. Especially considering most of my time over the holidays will be spent gaming, or buying games, or watching Steam sales. But I’d say it was worth it this year.

The hearty diet of the festive season.

The hearty diet of the festive season.

In watching the recent Steam sale I decided to reinstall Don’t Starve. I uninstalled it some time last year after Don’t Starve Together came out as I figured it was redundant to have both installed at the same time. However, upon looking up Don’t Starve Together, it seems as though the content was balanced around the multiplayer experience (as the name would suggest). So I figured that having the original Don’t Starve would be pretty useful, too. There’s a new DLC that’s been released recently for it as well.

I’ve been sorting my Steam library recently (after finding out I can permanently remove titles from it).

I’ve also started to implement some of the changes I’ve planned for 2016 (around the collection of sites and elsewhere). Hopefully this will mean more consistent, higher quality, more balanced content for everyone to enjoy. Starting with this very post! It’s quite exciting as I spent some time at the end of last year improving all of the sites and implementing new features. I wouldn’t say I’ve started over but I’ve definitely relaunched a few of them.

2015 was a strange year in that it both exceeded expectations and didn’t. I’m hoping that 2016 will feature more creative posts and new pieces but I can’t promise anything. I’m also hoping that Guild Wars 2: Tyrian Travels will be making a reappearance with a new bulk of posts. But, for now, everything is fresh and new. I’ll be working on updates to all the sites in the coming weeks and hopefully improving quality across the board. I’m also hoping to get a few more recordings in to back up new video game related posts, too. Might even do some streaming this year and maybe work towards doing that more consistently in the future.

Have a nice New Year, all!


Forward into the New Year

I’m not one for making resolutions at the start of a new year.

I feel that if there’s anything you really want to do then you should attempt to do it whenever- not just at the start of a new year.  But this is coincidental timing that allows me to look forward at the start of 2015 and think about what was left over from the previous year, what I’m planning, and how I’m going to do it.

Thankfully I am over the gaming blues that plagued me for much of the end of the last year. I realise now that I was creating a new character, playing for a few hours, and then doing the same thing in another game. Then another. Then another. Which basically meant that I had a bunch of games started and nothing close to being finished. However, in light of the fact that there are few releases I am actually enthusiastic about- I don’t have to worry about my unfinished list getting much longer. While now that I’m more focussed on what needs to be completed it should be getting much smaller as the months roll on.

Regretfully that got a little out of hand and fell apart- as did much of my life- at the end of last year.

That said I am pretty happy that everything on WordPress, Twitch, Twitter, and the late Facebook is now concluded. The site is doing well. Could do with some content but that’s for another paragraph. Also got some late end of the year streaming done and cemented that amongst the list of things I do.

Over the festive season, besides dodging Steam sales, and looking wistfully at all the amazing titles only to find they’re already in my library, I’ve been putting some effort into creative things. It’s one of the few things I regret about the last two years. While I got a lot of my gaming backlog cleared, done a lot of personal things, and enjoyed a fine few luxuries- my art suffered. My entire creativity suffered. But instead of dwelling and burning WordPress and the rest to the ground (as I once thought to do) I decided to make something of the gaming angle.

I’ve never really spoken about it that much and knowing so many people on Twitter that game really helps.

I find that to be one of the pleasures in life that is never fully appreciated. Sometimes you’ll lose important things, sometimes you’ll forget to do things that really matter, sometimes you’ll regret lost time- but somehow life always gives you something else in return. I met some great people, I kept the sites going, I got a Twitch channel, I learned how to broadcast, I finally put my YouTube account to good use, and all because I didn’t decided to bury the sites due to lack of art.

All I’m hoping for the majority of 2015 is that the sites continue to exist, that I still maintain them, that I can add some art to the mixture, and that I can finally balance the gaming angle with the art angle here and on Twitter. That’s all. Pretty simple really.

I guess I feel good about things now?

Maybe I’m finally going to settle down and concede that this is what I do, this is what I’ll always do, and if I ever stop doing it you should worry. Maybe it’s time for me to find someone to spend my life with and buy a cottage somewhere pretty in England. Nah. Too simple for me.

Have a nice weekend, all!


‘Tis the Season

Seems to be around this time of year that this little Moggie disappears and doesn’t reappear for a few months holding nothing but the remains of festive chocolates. I can change, I swear!

In truth, 2013 wasn’t the best year for my art. It was the best year for sorting things out in my life but art seemed to get pushed to one side. Or I’d be more inclined to rifle through mercenary chests and corpses in a video game than to get myself back to drawing. There are a lot of reasons for this. Firstly and most importantly is that it was a time of change- of transition- and that is something I shall share with you soon. It’s more a case that it wasn’t that I couldn’t draw but I was pushing myself not to. If that makes any sense.

I could have kept up my usual output levels but I was dissatisfied with a lot of what I was doing at the time.

As in, I’d rather have plucked my eyes out with the Blade of Woe than to keep trying to do what it was I was doing. I felt there was a necessity to change, to develop, and to come back happier with what I was doing and so I set about doing just that. You’ll remember, if you’ve followed the blog for a while, there was a lot of experimentation going on in 2013 with new paper and so on. That was to try to improve the quality of the results and give me more versatility.
There was a lot of interesting points raised by the various papers, canvases, and board that I used. I learned a lot. But there’s very little point in learning if there’s no application, right?

That was the second part. To actually apply the new techniques, use the knowledge, and to try and understand how I could continue to push this further. There’s very little point in reaching a level and saying “that’s good enough.” It’s not good enough until you are doing what you set out to do and if you’re not doing that- you’ve got a ways to travel yet.

I also had a number of personal, work-related, life-related, cat-related, and chocolate digestive-related life issues to deal with. It wasn’t an easy time by any stretch of the imagination but that’s usually when my art comes out the best. As, to me, the process of creativity is not a hobby or an interest- it’s a way of life. It’s the only thing that has ever made unconditional sense to me. If there’s a reason I was put on this Earth by some possibly higher being living in the clouds it was to be creative.
Therefore, going without it, and ignoring WordPress and the rest of my sites so long, was a pretty hard thing to do. But, hey, it happens.

I’m setting up a new system to get updates and other things that I want to share out to you sooner rather than later and over the next couple of weeks you’re going to see new art, sketches, long explanations about desks you’ve never seen before, and more Moggie goodness.

Have a great weekend, all!


Festive New Year!

The festive season is just about over while the New Year is right around the corner so it’s probably the best time to do a post about 2012, Christmas, and everything in-between!

So where have I been? Well, that’s a good question and one that’s not so easily answered as I haven’t really been putting out any new pieces. So I’ll say it in one word- computers! You know, those things that make our lives infinitely easier but are questionably removing our ability to think and act for ourselves? Those! I built my new machine in December and while it’s primary focus was gaming the specifications are good enough for just about anything I want to do with them, which means I’ll be able to update my sites and everything else much easier now.

And update them I will!

But, before that, I’d like to share with you one of the very first screenshots taken on one of the very first games to be installed on this new machine. I have a very regimental, almost military, kind of scarily accurate way of updating computers and so this wasn’t too far into the building (on the first day I do believe)- so without further delay- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim! (Click for full view.)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Ain’t that beautiful? I have felt that Bethesda had really outdone themselves with the graphics in that game for a while but when you see it on ultra high settings you are just completely blown away.

While we’re talking screenshots and awesome graphics I’d like to point out the stylisation of the graphics in Borderlands. Or in this case, Borderlands 2. Which I think has really advanced from the original and created a much smoother, slicker, cleaner, and generally more enjoyable experience. It also has one of the best sequel stories in recent history and is a thoroughly enjoyable play. So, again, without further delay- Borderlands 2! (Click for full view.)

Borderlands 2

But this Christmas hasn’t been all about gaming or who spent how much at what Steam Sale (my wallet is crying tears of happiness right now), it’s also been about the festive fun that you only get at Christmas. Christmas music, Christmas food, Christmas drink, Christmas parties, and anything else you can successfully put “Christmas” in front of. This has been a good one as I’ve been able to do a lot and I’ve had a lot of good times running up to this season, too. All in all I’d say that 2012 was a challenging but fun year.

Equally it’s probably one of my most enjoyable years and there’s been a peppering of successful in there too.

The only thing left to do now is look forward 2013, remember to sign my pieces “Moggie ’13” from here on out, and get around to that tattoo piece that a friend requested a while back.

All the best for the best New Year!