Solemn Rumination

Time to reflect.

Following the decision to update the theme for Moggie’s Proclamations earlier in the year, I’ve also decided to revisit (and update) my personal site to better reflect how my approach to things has changed. These updates are, for the most part, aesthetic changes that affect the formatting and design, but leave the majority of the content on the site intact. These follow on from the most recent updates that I made, and continue to develop the site towards the same idea from which it was conceived. That of exploring the wondrous creative journey that I’ve been on.

And how my work has developed over time.

Work that, admittedly, and regrettably, hasn’t been forthcoming in recent months. Or recent years. Not that I’d (entirely) intended that to be the case. It’s just something that happens with my creativity from time to time, as I often meander through my different interests at my own pace.

I’m not known for making haste, either. As I rarely feel obligated to indulge any particular interest. I just do whatever seems to be appropriate at the time, and at this time it seems appropriate to ignore Neverwinter Nights 2 (once again) to inspire creative feelings in my brain. Something that began with Creativity (Or The Lack Thereof) (Pt. 1) and Creativity (Or The Lack Thereof) (Pt. 2), but didn’t advance any further than that due to a lack of creative content, as evidenced by my Instagram account, which is becoming increasingly gaming-orientated. Not that video games haven’t always been a significant interest of mine, and one that’s unlikely to change any time soon. But that doesn’t mean that I need to exclusively create either kind of content. I could do both. I used to do both. I just need to make time to do both again.

Each new iteration offers a fresh perspective to consider.

I’d forgive you if you thought those words hollow, as I’ve repeated them throughout numerous creative posts and they’ve amounted to nothing tangible yet. But I’ve been digging through folders and unearthing creative content. Which I’ve then been trying to translate into content for posts on Instagram. I’ve also had a rather fortuitous change of circumstances recently, and that should noticeably reduce the constraints on my time for the foreseeable future. So I’m hopeful that I’ll finally be able to make good on those promises that I’ve made (to myself) in recent months.

I have missed indulging my creative interests.

This is arguably the best time for it, too. I’ve had such an odd year. But it’s been a pleasant year. One that has been as perplexing as it has been inspiring, with recent First Impressions posts perfectly demonstrating how opportunities can be seized if you’re willing to take a risk with them.

Given that I’ve been hesitant to deviate from established practices in the past, but easily ignored those same practices without a second thought. And I’ll need to do that again if I’m ever going to rekindle my creativity. Not that breaking habits which have been steadily reinforced is ever easy. But it’s a necessary change. One that I’m actually excited about, as I’ve got a few concepts that I’m eager to revisit and I’m curious as to how they’re going to present themselves now. I doubt that I’m going to struggle to reacquaint myself with familiar processes. It’s hard to say, though. It has been a while and my motivations have changed in that time. But I won’t know unless I do just that and, after writing yet another post about my creative aspirations, I think that I owe myself that much, or at least the chance to try.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Dead Cells

Bloodied but not broken.

I would defy any who would suggest that after being impaled by jagged spikes, suffocating in toxic miasma, drowning in poisonous water, and being brutalised by a spiky ball I should cease my attempts to escape from this infernal prison. If anything these failures inspire me to do better. To suffer another unrelenting onslaught, but to actually be victorious this time. Not that I’ve been victorious even once. But this next attempt is sure to be the one. Dead Cells is an enjoyable journey through perilous environments, merciless opposition, and daunting boss encounters.

Of which I’ve only seen a handful.

But knowing that there are more challenging encounters in areas that I’ve yet to visit is only encouraging me to survive long enough to reach them. Which is easier said than done. Given that the success of any given attempt is dictated by the equipment that you find and its modifiers.

Reaching the Clock Room for the first time felt like a monumental success, but it was quickly overshadowed by randomising the modifiers on my weapons. Which led to me taking double damage. Which also led to me being absolutely slaughtered by the boss. And that was frustrating to say the least, but I now know that I’m never going to (willingly) take that as a modifier on any weapon. I could’ve dropped that weapon, too. Thus removing the +100% Damage Taken modifier. But these are lessons learned in hindsight, and will be worth considering when it inevitably happens again. But, knowing me, and how I’m often consumed by hubris, I’m likely to think that I’ll be able to survive those hits. So I doubt that I’ve learned anything. Especially when I’ve got Health Flasks, and I’ll believe that I’ll have a window of opportunity to use them.

For whom the corpse shatters.

But that’s what makes progression in Dead Cells unusually complex. Unlike similar experiences, you won’t necessarily be upgrading your character and making them stronger. Instead you’ll be discovering new Runes, unlocking additional Blueprints, investing Cells into passive benefits, or even acquiring Boss Stem Cells to further the challenge. None of which guarantees success. But does afford more opportunities to explore the world, and makes revisiting earlier areas much more exciting than it would otherwise be as you’re likely to discover something new.

Like the Ossuary.

A hellish domain in which one must not linger for long lest they be consumed by the nightmarish mist. But I’m reasonably certain that I’ll need to revisit its treacherous halls, as there could be new areas branching from its depths. Or there could be an undiscovered Rune there. Or both.

Surviving its harsh environment is but the first challenge. But one that I can overcome should I assess each threat as it presents itself, and not rush through the area. Something that I’m constantly reminding myself of. Not that I’d ever attest to being skilled with these kinds of experiences, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless. And that’s exactly what I was hoping for. Something that’s fun. That punishes me for making slight mistakes. And that makes me reconsider the kind of person that I’ve become when that excites me. But I’m sure that we’ve all been wondering that for a while. Dead Cells has been such a refreshing experience, and has provided a consistently unforgiving challenge through its inhospitable biomes. And I highly recommend it to those that would like to be frustrated by their decisions more often than not.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

An Unforgettable Adventure

One best shared with friends.

Who will willingly embark on a perilous journey to solve the mysteries surrounding the undersea societies, subterranean workshops, and crumbling catacombs found deep within the decaying ruins of a forgotten civilisation. One whose history and accomplishments have been lost to the unrelenting passage of time. Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is the delightfully charming narrative-driven sequel to
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout which features gathering, synthesising, duplicating, and feeding a Puni to gain decorative items.

I’ve finally discovered its purpose.

Not that this was its original purpose, nor its entire purpose, as it also returns with various raw materials, and can transform should certain requirements be met. But at least I vaguely knew what I was trying to achieve by feeding it. Even if doing so did result in the acquisition of a goat.

I’m reasonably certain that its statistics (and transformations) influence the raw materials that it returns with, but I’ve never been able to reliably reproduce results. Hence why I rarely gathered raw materials this way. But it is entirely possible that, with the right combinations, the rarest raw materials could be acquired, which would allow you to synthesise advanced recipes that were otherwise unavailable. The skill tree dictates how rapidly Ryza develops as an alchemist in the sequel, and affords unprecedented freedom by allowing you to prioritise different aspects of the creation process. Making it feasible to synthesise items of higher quality, to make use of more materials, and to learn numerous recipes earlier than it would have been possible to in Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout.

The countless hours spent synthesising every known recipe attest to how complex and satisfying this creation process was. While the countless hours spent mining in the Crystal Cave of Oblivion attest to my reliance on the Item Rebuild and Item Duplication mechanics. Both of which feel like a necessity. Especially when you consider how much there is to synthesise, and how laborious the process would be otherwise. But such is what I’d expect from an experience that requires you to gather raw materials, synthesise recipes, and then repeat that process.

It’s an oddly enjoyable monotony.

One that I happily endured, as there were boss encounters that could have decimated my entire party were I not adequately prepared. Encounters that were as surprising as they were exciting. As I didn’t believe that such challenges existed, but I was proven wrong on numerous occasions.

I’m always happy to face a supposedly insurmountable challenge, though. If for no other reason than it justifies the hours that I’ve spent synthesising new equipment, empowering items, allocating Core Drives, adjusting Core Crystals, and tweaking traits. It’s also fun knowing that greater challenges could exist on even higher difficulty levels. It gives me something to aspire to. Something to eventually overcome. And that’s why I’ve greatly enjoyed my time with Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, as it capably builds upon the mechanics (and events) established in Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout and serves as an excellent sequel. One that I highly recommend to existing fans of the Atelier series, or to those seeking a wonderfully enjoyable narrative-driven JRPG.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

The Mysterious Hatchling

Making new friends.

Something that Ryza is as capable doing as she is solving every known problem with alchemy. Regardless of what is needed- be it medicine, food, reagents, or even an entire tree- alchemy is the answer. Which is rather remarkable when you consider that her recipes are based on the practices of the Klint Kingdom, and that they used these same processes to commit heinous crimes. But such was their nature after their civilisation was consumed by its perverse desires. Ryza, however, has no such desires, and only seeks to use alchemy to better the world around her.

Exhibiting wholly innocent desires.

Whereas I desire nothing more than to obsess over the statistical benefits and traits afforded to her creations. And, as a result, have spent countless hours tweaking the materials added to recipes, while considering how best to reinforcement equipment to create the best items that I can.

I didn’t expect the creation process to be even more complex and satisfying in the sequel, nor did I expect to be able to expand upon it by unlocking advanced mechanics in the skill tree. Most notably, Essences, which drastically alter the statistics and/or traits of an item, and can fundamentally affect the entire creation process. The Item Rebuild, Gem Reduction, and Item Duplication mechanics from Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout have also made a return. Utilising these with the Essence Refinement mechanics results in an increasingly involute creation process, which has never felt convoluted despite how layered it has become. And that can’t be understated considering how long I’ve spent synthesising new materials, and then turning those synthesised materials into new items, and then rebuilding those items.

The harsh reality of career aspirations.

Core Crystals have also returned, but their mechanics have been completely revisited. Each party member has their own and its Core Charges are tied to their respective proficiency. Lent, for example, has less Core Charges than Ryza, due to his lack of proficiency with items. Core Crystals can now be enhanced with Core Elements, too. These increase the damage dealt by specific elemental damage types, and will strengthen both the items and the abilities of the owner. Certain combinations of items can even be used to execute devastating new Core Drives.

Making item usage more tactical.

I’ve definitely been considering which items are best suited to which party members, as their individual Core Crystals dictate the likelihood of being able to execute different Core Drives. I’ve also tailored their equipment to the roles that they’re going to have in any given combat encounter.

I’m always curious as to how (or if) a sequel is going to build upon previously established mechanics, and whether that is going to contribute meaningfully to the experience. Hence why I’m delighted to discover that Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy has built upon them in unexpected but beneficial ways. I had few complaints about the existing creation process, but this newly revisited one has been such a pleasure to figure out while I’ve steadily unlocked new mechanics. Not that I’m even sure whether I’ve unlocked all of the mechanics by now. I’ve not seen the Travel Bottle yet. But that may have been replaced by the economy development mechanics, as I’m reasonably certainly that the Travel Bottle was mostly a means to acquire unusual raw materials. But I suppose I’ll have to see whether one turns up or not.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… For The King

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Godsbeard, that is. Or just about any other herb that you find. Because ingesting herbs to benefit from their various properties is not something that they do in Fahrul, as they prefer to smoke them instead. Hence why every town has a limited supply. Everyone can enjoy the rich, smooth, smoky flavour of Panax with a fresh goblet of mead. Making this a fairly expensive habit, as each herb eventually becomes rather expensive.
For The King is a delightfully creative RPG featuring numerous campaigns, distinct character classes, and gruelling challenges.

Challenges bolstered by rising Chaos.

One of the many mechanics that you’ll need to be aware of, as letting Chaos amass only leads to ruination. Forcing you to fight devastating Chaos Beasts and destroy monuments dedicated to their profane master. Something that you really should try to avoid if at all possible.

You’ll encounter countless events during the different campaigns, and most require you to utilise different statistics through dice rolls. Some involve interacting with NPCs. And some others simply afford considerable boons to your current attempt. Most of these are unlocked by default, but some require the acquisition of Lore which can be spent in the (aptly named) Lore Store. This can be spent on unlocking new cosmetics, new events, new equipment, or new character classes and each contributes to increasingly diverse campaigns. Exponentially improving (and hastening) the experience with each failed attempt. It’s an interesting concept and one that perfectly suits this experience. One of braving the dangers on land, at sea, or in an endless dungeon under different conditions for different rewards.

There are pearls hidden deep in these perilous caves.

Unfortunately, it’s also an experience that seems almost entirely down to luck. Everything from moving across the world map to dealing damage in combat is a dice roll, and there are few ways to influence those dice rolls. Other than spending Focus Points to guarantee that a number of slots will be a success. But you can’t rely on having those, nor should you need to, as with reasonably decent statistics these dice rolls shouldn’t be risky, but they always seem to fail more often than not. Even when the percentages suggest that they shouldn’t be failing as often as they do.

Especially during combat.

I like the unusual status ailments, but there have been encounters where I’ve been unable to act for several turns. Due to being repeatedly slowed, shocked, cursed, and so on. Not that these encounters have resulted
in the death of my entire party, they’re just frustrating to watch.

For The King has some really interesting mechanics, but these mechanics rarely balance the absurdity that occurs during any of the campaigns. Not that I’m entirely sure whether these mechanics are functioning as they should be. I’ve sailed around for roughly an hour trying to find a quest that reduces Chaos, only to find that no-one has any available quests, only to find later that they did, but they were seeming unavailable until an arbitrary requirement had been met. Which is not to suggest that this is a terrible experience, just that I abhor investing ten hours into a campaign only to fail at the whims of luck. However, should this be the kind
of experience that you’re looking for, then I recommend For The King, as it’s such a fascinating concept that is only let down by its execution and its uneven randomisation.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie