Imaginary Aliens

None of these aliens are real.

Except the ones that are real which you think are hallucinations but aren’t. It’s all very confusing. But then nothing about recreating memories to invoke the ire of an alien voice isn’t confusing, especially when you try to explain how hallucinations inflicted horrific flesh wounds against living agents. That’s the last time we’re going to believe that someone injected mysterious gas into a hangar for science. Hangar 6 R & D is the post-release DLC for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, that serves as a prequel to the events of the main campaign and explains how the invasion began.

Ideally it should be experienced before the main campaign.

However, be forewarned that this approach can be slightly overwhelming, as the DLC expects you to know what you’re doing, and rapidly presents increasingly complex missions. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Mutons and Elite Mutons in one pod before. Nor do I want to see that many again.

You won’t start the campaign with freshly recruited agents, though. So they’ll have a few abilities that’ll help in the first few missions. You also seem to rapidly acquire new technology by exploring the laboratory prior to each mission, and extensive caches of alien technology are awarded for completing later missions. It feels ridiculously accelerated much in the same way that the Tactical Legacy Pack from XCOM 2: War of the Chosen does. But it also feels incredibly satisfying and never particularly unfair. Rarely do encounters feel insurmountable but they remain challenging throughout. I just wish that I had some idea of the opposition for each mission, as that would influence my squad composition, as some agents perform better in certain encounters, but it’s a minor issue that doesn’t drastically affect the experience.

Somehow they’ve managed to make Sectopods even deadlier…

I had similar feelings about XCOM: Chimera Squad. Both opted for a handful of individually talented agents instead of dozens of trained soldiers, which works fine but I felt that it would’ve worked better if you had any indication of which talents you’d want per mission. But not knowing means that you’ll need to be prepared for anything. So you’ll need to adapt to situations as they develop, and assess threats as they present themselves. Making the real time combat of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified fast-paced, which requires quick thinking not usually present in turn-based combat.

You’ll be able to catch your breath when issuing orders, though.

Which allows you to recognise the threats you’re facing instead of wildly flailing as everything happens all at once. You’re also able to issue multiple orders to an agent at a time (that seem to activate in sequence), which makes the order of your actions as important as the actions themselves.

I’ve been greatly enjoying the intensity of combat so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing how increasingly dangerous opposition affects the prioritisation of targets. When enemies are able to rapidly close the distance between you and them it certainly makes some a higher priority than others. Which is also true with turn-based combat, but they’re usually only able to move on their turn, so you might not consider them a threat because they’re so far away, but with real time combat you need to consider how (and where) they’ll move. It’s definitely an interesting approach to real time combat, and is (in my opinion) preferable to real time with pause combat. Which tends to make combat slow-paced and twitchy, whereas this proves to be fast-paced and fluid while presenting a consistent challenge.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Creativity (Or The Lack Thereof) (Pt. 2)

A longer process doesn’t necessarily equate to a better one.

There are countless misconceptions and absurd generalisations that you’ll encounter as an artist. One of the most prevalent is that higher quality materials automatically result in a higher quality piece, which should be true if they’re used correctly, but knowing how to use those materials is important, as is knowing what to use them with. Experience is important. Practice is important. Knowing who you are and what you want to do is important. Some artists are better suited to traditional art, while others are better suited to digital art. There are very few absolutes when creating anything.

Every creative process is as unique as the person creating with it.

That’s why creativity can be so evocative. It doesn’t need to conform, it doesn’t need to appeal to everyone, and it doesn’t need to be aesthetically pleasing. It can be anything that you want it to be. However, having that much freedom is exhausting, as you rarely know how best to proceed.

Or if there even is a best way to proceed. As every artist strives to develop in their own way, but that isn’t easy when you’ve nothing to measure yourself against. Besides that which you’ve created before. But influences and inspirations change as you develop as an artist, and experience affords the confidence to attempt things that you wouldn’t have considered before. Community sites and social media can also skew your progression. Useful as they may be to share your work, user responses aren’t always indicative of how well your work is received. Not that external stimuli is exclusive to the internet. Every second of every day it exists, and being wholly immune to it is impossible. It has affected my progression and it will continue to do so.

One of my most promising attempts.

External stimuli was partly responsible for the lack of creative content on Moggie’s Proclamations in recent months. As I didn’t feel like I was making much progress- if any- with new pieces. Not that completely abandoning every semblance of creativity has helped my progression in the slightest. But I wasn’t enjoying creating traditional pieces, while countless hours with digital pieces had begun to feel stale. Which may seem to contradict what I said in the previous post. But I still feel that extending the creation process for traditional pieces will help, so long as it is extended sensibly.

Not extending it to spend hours on pointless minutiae.

This particular work in progress is the Kulu-Ya-Ku featured in Monster Hunter: World. Originally intended to follow on from the terrifying fluffiness of the Paolumu as part of a series of paintings, which would’ve included other gargantuan creatures from the varied locales of the New World.

That’s still the intention should I ever return to this painting or to Monster Hunter: World. But I doubt that either is likely at this point. I’ve always been particularly fond (and proud) of the attention to detail in the flesh-y skin around the eye, and how the short beige hairs seamlessly grow outwards from their beak. The actual eye (and the tongue) could have been refined, though. They’re not as highly detailed as the rest. But this is a work in progress and it’s likely I was going to address those issues later, as I was in the process of detailing the ridiculous plumage protruding from their head at the time. Those wonderfully colourful feathers swaying in the wind. Ironically, this was one of the few paintings at the time to show actual progression.

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.

Monster Hunter: World, Astera, Kulu-Ya-Ku, Anjanath, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Capcom.

Endlessly Spawning Reinforcements

The challenge we crave.

Just as we crave the delicious genetically modified sausage-y taste of NotDogs, which are fun for the whole Chimera Squad. I could see Cherub throwing a few sausages on the grill when this all over. While Verge telepathically tastes burgers, and Claymore brings a curry along for some reason. He’s my kind of guy. Promotional jingles aside, I’d been looking forward to experiencing XCOM: Chimera Squad and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a fresh approach to familiar mechanics. Exchanging unit classes (and generated soldiers) for specialised agents, and allowing aliens to join the fight.

Their individuality makes it difficult to decide who to take on a mission.

Claymore, Godmother, Terminal, and Torque is one of my preferred compositions. But Verge is an appealing substitute for Torque. They both occupy a similar role (for me) by controlling enemies. Verge is better at controlling multiple enemies at once, but is less defensive and much squishier.

Torque is able to dodge more effectively and can spit poison at groups of enemies, but can only control one enemy at a time. But she’s able to completely remove that enemy from the encounter. Whereas Verge can stun for multiple turns- and can stun multiple enemies- but isn’t as effective at removing enemies from encounters. Torque is definitely better suited to organic enemies, too. Given that poison doesn’t affect robotic enemies. Which could also be said for Verge as he can’t control robotic enemies, but he can affect enemies that Torque can’t. Claymore does have (explosive) crowd control, but I prefer unleashing a barrage of explosives instead. Especially once we acquired plasma grenades. Terminal likes to Safeguard. She’s neat. While Godmother usually subdues multiple enemies (with a shotgun) by utilising Scattershot.

I’m not sure how I’d feel if I looked outside my window and saw this…

Thankfully, you’re only able to allocate four agents (out of eight) to a mission. So you’ll always be plagued by indecision. Those who aren’t on a mission will remain at headquarters and attend to various duties, such as researching new technology or training to unlock their latent abilities. Everything is strictly time-based and you won’t be able to grind endless missions for constant rewards. You can stall for a few days but no longer than that. This reinforces the sense of urgency present throughout the main campaign, and encourages you to adapt to new situations as they arise.

As an agent will inevitably be unavailable when you need them.

Verge has spent an absurd amount of time being treated for various scars. Godmother, too. But Claymore, who has taken more damage than either of them, and who usually soaks up bullets like an insane meat sponge, has remained unscathed. Not that I want to lose Claymore for two days.

XCOM: Chimera Squad certainly introduces numerous new mechanics and is as self-contained as its nature would suggest. I doubt that we’ll see these mechanics as they are in a sequel to XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the developers incorporate something similar but better suited to a longer experience. Breaching works incredibly well when missions are segmented into multiple encounters. But it’s unlikely that it would work as well when missions are more complex and take longer to complete. Which is not to suggest that it couldn’t work, just that it needs to be implemented properly. I’d love to see unit classes with the individuality of these agents. Self-sufficient and capable of working alone, but equally as capable at working alongside others, allowing you to utilise truly diverse synergies.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Creativity (Or The Lack Thereof) (Pt. 1)

How things were and hopefully will be again.

I’d originally intended for Moggie’s Proclamations to be somewhere I could share and talk about my creative content. However, over the last eighteen months or so, the posts have (somewhat intentionally) become skewed towards gaming content. There are many reasons why I decided to take a break from creating anything new, but I hadn’t anticipated that I’d be away from it for this long. Which is entirely my fault. Regardless of the reasons that I may give and how understandable they may be, trying to attribute blame to something won’t change the widening deficit of new creative content.

I need to actually do something about it.

These posts are the beginning of that. I’ve not really got a way to casually discuss creative content as I do with gaming content in posts such as Crawling Through Dungeons. I’ve not really got a way to discuss the near-endless flow of updates to social media sites and my personal site, either.

Prior to this I would discuss any updates in a consolidated fashion through a post such as Further Integration. Which is still an appropriate approach when a number of significant updates have been completed, but when they’re minor or aesthetic updates I’m less inclined to write a whole post about them. For instance, I’ve recently updated the thumbnails for various creative content posts. I’ve also spent some time updating and standardising the layout of various pages on my personal site. I always assume that I’ll eventually write a post which I can discuss these things in, but I rarely do nowadays. Which means that some updates are never discussed. Or that they’re discussed at a point when they’re no longer relevant.

An ever-evolving conceptual approach.

These posts are not intended (nor designed) to contradict Material Studies posts. Which will still serve their original purpose of discussing works in progress or any unusual approaches that I’ve taken with different materials. Hence their name. But they could include creative content that I’ve not shared on Moggie’s Proclamations before, as this one does, and could illustrate (pun intended) my development as an artist, or highlight something that I like which doesn’t fit on my personal site. As is the purpose of this particular sketch. I’ve never been able to successfully refine the concept, but I like it.

So much so that I’ve been trying to refine it for nine years.

I’ll likely attempt it again once I’ve relearned that which I’ve forgotten in the last eighteen months. Not that I feel that I’ve regressed too far. Much of what I do seems to be habitual, which makes it difficult to forget how to do it. But that also makes it even more difficult to adjust old habits.

It is through that adjustment that I’m hoping to share pieces that better represent what I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve been thinking that I’ll need to alter the creation process with traditional pieces, as these are currently at a distinct disadvantage to digital pieces. But a lengthened process could result in more mistakes. So it’s not entirely without risk- which is understandable- as everything that you create represents who you were at the moment you created it. Lengthening that process adds unknown variables. Which could be advantageous, as it could allow for the creation of more complex pieces. But it’s a start. One that I haven’t had in the last eighteen months as my motivation waned and my technique dulled through disuse.

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.

Having Too Much To Do

It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Artificially extending the existing content of video games to lengthen the overall experience is nothing new, and seems to be increasingly prevalent in some modern releases. But it doesn’t really add anything to the player experience. It’s not satisfying having to sit through repeated content over and over again, nor does it feel particularly engaging to continually grind to no discernible end. Having numerous mechanics to understand can be enjoyable, though. It just depends on how these are presented to players, and how natural it feels to interact with them on a regular basis.

It should never feel particularly forced.

Which it usually does. Whether it’s a tedious repeatable (or daily) quest that offers a paltry reward, or a dungeon that presents no inherent challenge but is integral to your eventual success. There are so many awful ways to do it. But there are some video games that have done it really well.

I’ve recently been playing Assassin’s Creed Origins and I’ve been continually surprised by how wonderful the overall experience is. Hundreds of question marks litter the world map signifying new cities to discover, tombs to explore, war elephants to challenge, and much more. You could also partake in gladiatorial combat in two different arenas, or race for glory in the Hippodrome. Not to mention there’s a compelling main campaign to follow. Something I need to remind myself of when I’m working through the absurd amount of content that there is. Yet I’ve not once abandoned an optional objective because I’ve grown tired of it. It’s slightly ludicrous how enthralling I find exploring the vast sands of Egypt to be. I also can’t wait to sail to Thebes and experience the majesty of the otherworldly The Curse of the Pharaohs DLC.

Found a bowling alley. Never leaving.

Yakuza 0 is another outstanding example of this. There were so many things you could do as either protagonist besides the two substantial minor campaigns, all of which would contribute in some meaningful way to their character development. There were also far too many mini-games to learn. I didn’t even attempt the majority of the optional challenges, as I likely would’ve spent hundreds of hours doing so. I know that I spent far longer in the bowling alleys than I should have done. I even acquired a chicken that helped me conquer the Kamurocho Real Estate Royale.

They certainly didn’t cluck up their job.

There are many other excellent examples of this. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Disco Elysium, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order to name but a few. It’s so refreshing to have single player experiences which aren’t mindlessly lacklustre, featuring compelling main campaigns and optional objectives.

Most of the aforementioned video games have interesting and ever-expanding open worlds to explore, too. Which seems to be something that I’m drawn to nowadays. I’m not sure if that’s a conscious decision as I’ve had many good experiences with them recently, or whether it’s a mere coincidence and doesn’t influence me in any way before purchase. But whichever it is I don’t mind. I’m just glad that single player experiences haven’t entirely disappeared in modern releases. Not that I’m entirely opposed to co-operative experiences, as I’ve got quite a history with MMORPGs which are inherently co-operative. But single player experiences shouldn’t need to suffer (or disappear) because of those. Both can exist independently of one and other, and each provides their own benefits and drawbacks to their respective genres.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie