There’s an emotional feeling when a game comes to its conclusion, but Death Stranding has, like, 4 endings, in a row, which takes the wind out of the sails. You’ll sit back, feeling accomplished, and then there’s more. Nothing left to mystery here, every minor detail over-explained. Leaving you fulfilled, but also relieved that its actually finally over, but maybe it should have been over 3 hours ago.
Either way, its still a great game, and the ending doesn’t take away from that, but in some people’s eyes, I can totally understand why it would. Especially those that value their time.
What I’m Playing
Now that Death Stranding is in the rear-view mirror, I’ve slowly moved onto Guardians of the Galaxy. But also simultaneously, Halo Campaign Co-op released, and I’ve been playing that too.
Halo Campaign has been fun. I’ve been playing it in 4-play co-op and recording the footage, tip-toeing back into video editing, and posting the results:
Returning to editing (I say that like I used to do it regularly, which I totally did not) has been enjoyable. Fulfills my creative impulses, but is not necessarily as taxing on me, mentally or physically. I can usually pump one out in about two hours, and I have (will have) lots of footage to use as we make our way through the game. I’ll probably have Episode 4 completed tonight.
I will say one downside, is that video edition requires both visual and auditory senses, which is a downside. When I draw, I can usually reserve my ears for music, or “watch” TV or a movie, so I can sort of multi-task. But not with video editing.
What I’m Drawing
I was able to add one more drawing to my Drawtober list, day 20, before Death Stranding / GotG / Halo totally took my attention. Day 20 was Spider-Man. And it granted me the time to go back and fix my Green Goblin, from Day 4, and make an action piece. There were a lot of things in the GG piece that I wasn’t happy with, but had to abandon as the day was over and needed to move on. The glider namely, and smoke. But also his proportions were off – legs too big. So when I decided to add Spider-Man I was able to go back, and go over GG again.
PowerGirl is #21 and I hope to get to that before the end of the month, just having too much fun with other creative outlets at the moment.
I’m playing a lot of Death Stranding. The past few days not as much as I’ve had other things on my plate (I’ll pick it up again tonight), but the game released into Xbox PC Game Pass Aug 23, I started playing Aug 28th, and between Aug 28 and Sept 6 I’ve put in over 20 hours. And I am loving it. I am a little concerned that I’m still only on Chapter 3 of 14 after 20 hours, but we’ll see where it goes.
I love the mechanics and gameplay, and the story is just the weird style that only Hideo Kojima can deliver. Looks and plays really well on my new PC too. And it has a photo mode!!
A few below, but here’s the link to the gallery I’ve created. 57 photos and counting:
Not really a lot lately as I’ve been busy with Death Stranding. But I did need to try out the software and monitor to make sure everything worked after switching over to the new PC, so I worked a bit on my Batwomen:
Sketch/Ink done, with flat colours.
But other than that, with my lack of time I’ve also felt a creative drought. Possibly just burnt out from life in general. I do have some new ideas cooking though.
Also recently was the #faceyourart2022 annual challenge that popped up, so I put together the faces of all my drawings this year. A few are missing from the May Sketch A Day as I wanted the clean 3×3 squares. Overall I am happy with my production so far this year. Its only September now so I still have a few months, and as the weather cools down I find I produce more.
Psylocke, X-23, Storm
Kate Bishop, Rogue, Domino
DareDevil, Harley, Electra
The Riddler, Ghost Rider Spider-Gwen, Hana Solo
Raven, Mystique, Baby Doll
Lady Deadpool, Spider-Man, Punchline
What I’m Reading
I’ve been thinking lately about this section and I wanted to have a more focused view on what I’m consuming, instead of the weekly comic book day pull box, as after a month, that list just repeats itself. Maybe I’ll highlight new titles I’m getting or one-off graphic novels or something. This week I will highlight a few things:
Ping Pong Vol 1 and 2. A very popular sports manga about Ping Pong. I still am a regular listener of the Mangasplaining podcast, but don’t pick up nearly as many books as I did when it first started. But the occasional ones that pique my interest I will grab.
I purchased a few Frank Cho art books. Amazing stuff. 20+ career.
And late last year I backed a kickstarter project for Top Cow’s Cyber Force complete collection which hasn’t been in print in any form since 1994. Finally arrived 🙂
That’s all for now I think. I will get back to more Death Stranding, and I have some ideas brewing for some more art.
Has it nearly been 2 months already? Time is a fine sand, that slips through my fingers. It’s not even contained in a box, it’s just on the wind. Invisible.
What I’m saying is I don’t know where the time goes. Yesterday is a blur. But I do have two small kids and they keep me very busy, which might explain some of it. I crash at the end of the day. BSOD, and start fresh the next morning.
That’s not to say that I haven’t accomplished anything. I have lots of stuff to share. So much that I will spread it out throughout the week as a multi-day update, instead of overloading one single post.
So I’m thinking:
Monday – What I’m Drawing (May Sketch a Day) Tuesday – What I’m Drawing Con’t Wednesday – What I’m Reading Thursday – What I’m Playing Friday – What I’m Playing Con’t & Thoughts on the Xbox Showcase
What I’m Drawing
In May, I started a challenge called May Sketch a Day. Trying to draw something every day. I set a rule for myself to try and limit these to 1 hour. Some I went a little bit over. The 1 hour rule was to prevent burnout. As I mentioned above I have two small kids and work a full time day job, which leaves me some time in the evening after bedtimes, but not a lot, and I’m bad with sitting down to draw at 9PM, and then going till 2AM without standing up, and then realize it’s the middle of the week and have to wake up soon. Hence the rule.
I actually made it half way through the month uninterrupted, but then life got in the way. I managed a few more, then more life, and by then the streak was broken and my interest in the challenge faded.
Overall I’m proud of myself. With my art I can get hyper-focused and need everything to be perfect. So part of the goal was to let the drawings go, maybe incomplete, or a bit rough, after the 1hr, and not grind my teeth over it.
I’ll create a gallery for the drawings below when I find the time. Tomorrow I’ll show some of the other work I working on, plus show off my new drawing tool :D.
I took some time off after Easter as a mental break, but also as a cleaning break. Spring Cleaning I guess? But also I haven’t really had any real breaks from work since last summer. So some time off was overdue.
Plus, the boys were about to start up again in daycare / pre-school. The wife ready to go back to work. Easter was already a four-day long weekend, so I tacked on the week after as holidays. Cleaned the house, cleaned the garage. It was cathartic in a way, but ended up not being a relaxing time off at all. But I didn’t turn the computer on a single time, so that was one positive.
Which means I didn’t draw. I actually hadn’t done any drawing since I finished the last Stranger Than Friendship comic. Which tends to happen for some reason. They take a toll on me creatively more than my other art projects. Plus, obviously, the screen break plays a role. Which got me thinking about getting back into physical art again, and not relying solely on the computer. So I’ve bought myself a toy to try out. Deliver me my Huion LED Lightbox!:
I did some research and its one of the better reviewed options available. And it’s portable. Which is good because I don’t have any spare room on my computer desk.
I think I’ll still do my layouts/sketches on the computer, and then print it out and lightbox it for Pencils, Inks, Watercolour, etc. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ve always had this nagging feeling that I wanted to do my wrestling comic traditionally with pencil and ink, and then just scan for colour and the rest. So now I can give that a go.
// What I’m Drawing
I did a quick cartoon drawing that I’ve had in the back of my head for a while, ever since watching the movie Luca:
Luca is a Disney movie about a fish boy who travels to land. When he’s above water he’s in human form, but underwater he’s more of an underwater mermaid boy. Obviously being a Disney property, he’s a very cartoony character design. But, I always thought it would be funny to do a darker, Tim Burton-ish version. More of a sea monster type.
So I drew this up quick last night and I think this will be my jump-back-into-physical-art attempt. I’ll print the sketch, lightbox the pencil onto watercolour paper, and then finish as a watercolour.
I should have a finished product by my next update, and hopefully keep it from my 3yo toddler who enjoys the movie. Wouldn’t want to spoil that for him…
Besides that I have a few projects cooking:
X-Ladies group shot: adding Magik and 1970s Mystique to the group, and then colour
Angela – colour
Finish Goblin Queen
And a few projects simmering in my head:
Let Me Solo Her (Elven Ring community player 😉 )
Scarlet Witch (hopefully before the movie comes out)
Also I have the next Stranger Than Friendship webcomic idea, revolving around the popular game Wordle. I actually collaborated with a friend on this one. My idea/plot, but he volunteered to do the script.
// What I’m Playing
Knee deep in Halo Infinite. Half way through the campaign on Legendary; having just finished Mission 8 – Pelican Down and the 2 bosses. I’ve also been grinding through the collectibles as well, so it’s slow going. So far the campaign has been a lot of fun, feels like I’m at the part where its starting to really shine, and has an enjoyable story thus far.
Next week Season 2 of the multiplayer kicks off, so I’ll also be playing around in that. Trying out the new maps and modes, and the new Battle Pass.
In co-op, I’ve been playing Sea of Thieves – Pirates of the Caribbean Adventure. And also Grounded. Slowly expanding our base out a bit and exploring/completing objectives/crafting. We recently finished the Jungle Lab and stumbled across a might scary Spider Tunnel:
At home, my wife has volunteered me as the bug killer/catcher, so I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of spiders or bugs in general. But in-game, regardless of the game, I have a few phobias: Being underwater (very stressful / claustrophobic), and real world creatures, that are bigger than me, in-game. Like the Spiders in Grounded. Especially the Wolf Spiders. They’re just mean. Anyways, this spider web nest was creepy as hell and I was not interested in sticking around.
// What I’m Reading
Week of April 13th
King Spawn #9
Week of April 20th
Batman: The Knight #4
Blue & Gold #8
Catwoman: lonely City #3
The Nice House on the Lake #8
The Walking Dead Deluxe #37
I think that wraps up the last few weeks. Stay safe.
The third entry into the Watch Dogs series asks the player to forget playing as the main character. Play as anyone you want. And it works…mostly. But I feel you lose some of the ownership of the story when you don’t have a central protagonist. Now you’re a team, and there is no “I” in team, but there is a “ME”, and I felt like a backseat driver or armchair coach for these operatives risking their life to take down the authoritative surveillance state that has become London.
The story starts with a terrorist attack, and as a result, the city goes into complete lock-down with a very heavy handed privatized military group, called Albion, overseeing law and order. Street cameras, roaming patrols, and drones are always on the look out for any rebellious activity. And the terrorist attacks are blamed on the Dedsec group (even though we totally didn’t do it, guys) and the main plot of the game is playing as Dedsec operatives trying to clear their names and get to the bottom of the attacks.
The story setting is a futuristic dystopia. But not like TOO futuristic. Take the highly technical ideas of the Watch Dogs series we’re familiar with, with hacking capabilities right at our fingertips, and one central OS that runs the city. Then add crytocurrency, drones, driver-less cars, and Artificial Intelligence, and that’s the future we’re in.
The story touches on sensitive subject matter like human trafficking and organ trafficking, slave trade, and neural mind mapping which is essentially trapping people in a cyber-coma.
Ok, so that’s the setting, now lets tackle the gameplay. Everything from previous games is back. Hacking ctOS hubs, huge network grids that you need to unlock one node at a time, hacking cameras to spy on people. NPC profiles. Spider bots, guns and stealth play. Collectibles (barf).
New to the series are non-lethal weapons, like paintball guns, and shock rifles. Bigger, badder drones, and turrets, but also helpful drones, like cargo drones that you can call and climb onto, to access rooftops, and of course, the aforementioned recruits.
The progress tech tree is back, but with a slight twist. The progress tree allows you to apply points to unlock hacking capabilities that everyone within your recruit list can benefit from. These range from weapon upgrades, hacking enemy electronics (guns, radios), to hacking and hijacking different enemy drone and turrets. Also unlocking different combat techniques, like electrified brass knuckles for a one punch knockout, or electric traps, or different spider bots.
The grid hacking is the same as previous games, with minimal advancement in that area. Some grids are small, using multiple camera angles where you’ll need to cycle around the room, some are big, branching out across the entire outer face of a building, where you’ll need a drone to fly around and unlock. Gone is the urgency from some of the grids, as with Watch Dogs 2 there were timed nodes that would call security if you didn’t unlock the grid in time, but with WD: L, they just reset, and they were few and far between. Also, speaking of scale, it gets even smaller, as you have to build and control a nano-drone that can fly inside a server computer and laser computer chips, and avoid heat sinks and cooling fans.
Make way for the recruits. In Watch Dogs 1 and 2, the game proudly proclaimed that you could profile any NPC to find out about who they are, and then hack them and rob them. This game takes it one step further, and turns every NPC into a potential playable character. Every person on the street is a potential recruit. They all have jobs and depending on what they do, can provide gameplay perks. Like a construction worker can call upon a cargo drone at any point, or the former spy comes with a car and unique weapons or watch gadget. The hitman comes with an AR cloak, and the football fan comes with a gang of rowdy friends to help beat people up (leaning on some stereotypes here). Every recruit is unique in their own way, and by the end of the game I think I had accumulated more than 30 different members. Some will be stronger, and better at fighting, some will be better at hacking. There is also a permadeath mode to the game, where if your recruit dies, they’re gone for good, but on the normal mode they just get arrested or injured. And if you have a cop or a doctor-type recruit on your team, the cool down for the arrested or injured recruit is drastically reduced, and they’ll be willing to help again in no time.
Overall the idea is cool, and there are some missions where you have to recruit a specific person to fill the job, like a DJ to infiltrate a party, or a getaway driver to help escape, but besides those rare exceptions, its really nothing more than a novelty. You can dress the recruits how you want, and equip them with the needed hardware and gadgets, and they each have their own semi-unique personality and accent, but at the end of the day you’ll want the best stealth or best firearm for the job, and I found myself cycling out of 1 or 2 key recruits that I would use for every mission, and a 3rd if I happened to get my others arrested or killed mid-mission.
Really the best part about the recruits is that they roam around the city and scope out the next mission or side mission, so they’re basically mobile fast-travel spots.
So who is the main character of the story? Bagley, the AI. He’s with you every step of the way, and is always in your ear, filled with attitude. Even though you don’t play as him, he is the main character in my opinion. There’s even a post-campaign mission where you find out who Bagley was, prior to him becoming an AI, retreading on the story’s neural mapping ideas.
Overall the game was just OK. The main story villains played their role, but like our generic operatives, didn’t leave any lasting impressions. The final “who did it all” bad guy was a let down. The gameplay remains a fun mixture of stealth and gunplay. The anybody-is-a-recruit idea makes for a fun playground. However I did experience some issues with the collectibles and completion type of activities, like drinking at every bar location or completing all the paint-up wall paintings, as the achievements never unlocked for me. Apparently this is a glitch due to the changing operatives function, and probably the Xbox’s Quick Resume. The sure way of unlocking it is to visit all the locations in one sitting as one operative, and I really can’t be bothered to go back and do that.
I bought the DLC expansion, and haven’t tried that yet, but unlocking Aidan Pierce (WD 1) to be a playable character in the main campaign was fun for a minute, except hes now a grizzled shell of his former self, so playing as him was just depressing. He’s just so angry now. Playing as Wrench (WD 2) was fun though.
Notable Achievements: Meta-Gaming: Recruit a Video Game Designer Paint Me Like One of Your…: Stun Clan Kelly members 5 times with paintball gun headshots
For those that like cell phones, paintball, and driverless cars.