Well, just after the holidays the entire world started to come apart at the seams, and by now most of us are on lockdown to a certain extent. In the UK we’re allowed to go out alone and shop…if there is anything to be found in the markets, which varies wildly. Initially, due to panic buying and hoarders, the shelves were mostly empty but now it’s a bit better. Toilet paper is still as elusive as the unicorn, though.
We’re allowed out (officially) once per day for a form of exercise as long as we stay away from others. Unofficially, however, the police will probably send you home as with the warmer weather we have a problem with jerks congregating in parks, etc. YOLO and all that, sorry if someone’s gran dies. Ugh.
Now, I work from home so I’m used to isolation, but there are currently a lot of people losing their minds due to being shut in. Marriages are falling apart as people are actually forced to spend an extended period of time with their loved ones. Parents are trying to homeschool, and lord am I SO glad that my daughter is grown, because that seems like hell on earth.
We are all news junkies now, and the news is all terrible. Country after country broke our collective hearts: first China, then Italy, then Spain. Currently the US is winning again (at least in terms of COVID-19 positives and deaths). Yaay. India, I fear, will be the next centre and it’s going to be horrible. South Korea continues to be a shining example and after an early rise (due to a secretive religious cult and a super-spreader) managed via widespread testing and GPS exposure tracking managed to bring casualties way down. Be like Korea, kids…not the US.
Well, that’s my plague journal. We’re drinking too much, worrying too much, and we all dread the future if there isn’t a vaccine looming on the horizon. No country will be able to stay in lockdown forever, and eventually there will need to be a very terrible choice made at enormous cost…and that is something that none of us want to ever see.
I started a Patreon under a different name because I was interested in doing something completely new in order to keep my art from becoming stale. As anyone who has ever made the change from just having fun with something to it being their only source of professional income knows, it’s wonderful to be able to freelance for yourself…and it also becomes a job, and automatically something that you have to do.
I’d always loved 80s pinup art from Luis Royo, Olivia de Berardinis, etc., so I thought that I’d do my own version that centered more on game fan art. I had a blast with it, and even experimented a bit with some totally nsfw stuff which was a lot of fun, but in the end was a bit more problematic for me (trying to come up with a women’s view on porn that wasn’t “male gazey” but in the end wasn’t greatly different in tone. I think women are beautiful, men think women are beautiful, so…yeah.
I also had a tough time, given my current workload, with keeping up with two totally different social media accounts, putting work into everything, and not posting anything with rude bits to my main account. :D Everything takes work if you do it right.
In the end I decided to keep my Patreon, change the name to Ravven, keep some of the pinup stuff but not the real nsfw stuff. Oh, I’ll still do some of it, notably my Dark Alice graphic novel, but I’ll keep the Alice stuff on Gumroad when it’s done and post the miscellaneous saucy stuff on the second deviantART account.
I’ll write more about this tomorrow, but I’ve ideas for what I’d really like to do with it.
- Tarot deck. I’ve always wanted to work on a very lush, dark tarot set and this is one of the projects that I want to set time aside for.
- I’m thinking about a course, split into two sections, for creating art – basically, trying to teach the way that I work. This would be split into 1) Create Your Own Book Covers for writers (because I’ve seen some horrifically bad cover art out there and not everyone can afford to cough up hundreds of dollars each time they release a short story. 2) Creating Fantasy or Pinup Art Using 3D and Postwork – basically, a course on how I do artwork. Posing and rendering a model in Daz, compositing in Photoshop and overpainting.
But more on these projects later. Must think about it. :D
…and doesn’t that sound like a sci-fi date? I would have expected Bladerunner-esque cities by now, rather than our current world.
I’ve been thinking about new projects for the coming year, one of them being my own tarot set. I’m kind of feeling like something that mixes Celtic mythology and the fae with the dystopian feel of our burning world. Think Charles de Lint’s Crow Girls and you’ll have a sense of what I’d like to do. Gemmin in smoky eyeshadows and tatters, perching on a car in a fallen city.
I’m considering January to be a trial month, as I didn’t do much during that month. It was a kind of hangover from the year before. So now in February we’re onwards and upwards. :)
I’ll be honest, I really miss the days when everyone was writing reams and reams of personal thought, stories, game reviews, and so on. I loved the days of LiveJournal, of having my feed reader full of gaming blogs.
And now? While I can still think in longer format (snark at the Instagram and Snapchat crowd here) I have to admit that I no longer have the time or the energy for daily blogging. I miss it, but I tweet a hell of a lot more than I write.
This makes me sad.
I’m starting an experiment with predesigned book cover art that is somewhat customisable. I’ve tried this before, and ended up with people who wanted a full custom cover for the predesigned price, but I think it’s worth trying again.
The problem with custom covers is that increasingly they are done with a design-by-committee approach, as people post them on their Facebook groups, etc. The design window stretches out, far past the assigned slot, and the many, many micromanaged changes mean that you usually end up with a bad cover. I’ll be honest, I’ve considered giving all of this up due to this…and you know how little I want to go back to grey cubicles and software design! :D
What I’d like to do are covers where the art is intact, yet the author or publisher can change the face and hair to match their idea of the character. Covers are rarely helped by having an exact depiction of a certain scene on a cover, as the art is meant to be a marketing tool to intrigue people enough to pick up the book. Although I’m calling these predesigned covers, they’ll have as many hours of work in them as a custom, only at half the price.
Fingers crossed that this is a win/win for both artist and author!
Yeah, I know it’s been ages. I started a stock photography site and a naughty-art-and-comics Patreon and both have taken an enormous amount of work. I’ve been backed up with an overbooked cover schedule, for which I have to apologise to everyone who has been so patient. So, a bit frazzled lately.
Regarding writing, I’ve done outlines and planning and short descriptions for stuff which I was excited about writing…and haven’t done anything else.
The Shadowbringers expansion for FFXIV came out, and I have taken a full weekend and weeknights to focus on that. The fact that I’m excited about it shows how little free time I’ve had lately, haha. It’s probably the best gaming experience I’ve had, the best-written story enhanced by the best voice acting – all of this in an MMO rather than a single-player game! The Squenix team really knocked it far, far out of the park on this one. Can expansions get Game of the Year nods? If so, Shadowbringers richly deserves it.
Plus…bunny girls. Everyone loves a bunny girl, and I have a gorgeous, gothy, sulky one. The terrible thing is that I picked the infamous Voice No. 7, not realising how she sounds in battle. As someone in a comment said: “It sounds like Grandma is doing butt stuff again.” There, try getting that visual out of your head.
Anyway, still not dead.
When you drop everything you are carrying
it seems to happen all at once,
a sudden slide to a disastrous fall,
broken things and mess
In reality it’s been sliding all along
& you just missed all the signs
You hold onto everything you own
your heart, your dreams
Not knowing that you
are like the dog in the meme
You drink your coffee, as you do every morning
while everything burns
This is fine, you say
This is fine
Not seeing the flames as it all burns around you
This is fine
It’s no secret that a lot of MMO players aren’t happy with Warcraft at the moment, and it’s also no secret that there aren’t a lot of traditional MMOs on the horizon to look forward to: too expensive to create and maintain, to balance, to create new content for. It’s much cheaper and easier to roll out survival sandboxes (“You ARE the story! Create your own content!”) and yet another battle royale than to create an AAA MMO.
Being very strongly an MMO player at heart, this disappoints me. Being a huge FFXIV fan, though, it’s nice to see a big influx of new players. As long as the famously friendly community doesn’t change, of course – the Warcraft community having a well-deserved reputation for elitism and toxicity. FFXIV is the only game that I pug in – I simply won’t do it anywhere else.
In any event, this is a TL;DR version of getting around in FFXIV. There’s a lot to do and it isn’t always obvious where you should go and do it. So this is going to be dead basic, for people who are new to the game. It also doesn’t address boosted characters, as I’ve never boosted one and I don’t know how much the game hands you when you do.
Aetherytes: Getting Around
The big, blue crystals that you see in cities and towns are the fast travel system. As you explore more areas you unlock more of them. You’ll be able to set three favourite destinations (less expensive to travel to), one free one, and your home point. Generally I set my free one to my main city and the home one to wherever I’m currently questing. Once I’m at max I’ll set my home to the new main city, so (for instance) I currently have Limsa as my free one and Kugane as my home.
At a certain level (I think it’s level 20) you’ll be able to choose a Free Company. There are three of them, and aside from PvP there really isn’t much of a difference between them. Choose one that you like the colours of, I suppose, because you can buy gear for each.
Hall of the Novice
At level 15 you can do the Hall of the Novice (various locations, but you’ll find them in the inns of the major cities). This is like a new-to-MMO type of tutorial which is worth doing because you get a set of gear for doing it, nice for the level, plus a ring that gives you extra XP as you level.
Quest Icons: Skip to the Good Stuff
There are a lot of quests in this game, I mean a lot. The main story is amazing, some of the other quests are amusing, and there is a metric buttload of running around to run errands for people. Here’s how to tell them apart: look at the icons.
Levelling: So Much Stuff to Do
Aside from things such as Palace of the Dead that you’ll do when you level up additional jobs (each character can be every class, no need for alts), there are several things that you should do while levelling a new character:
- Quests (of course)
- Fates: look for the blue circles on the map
- Hunting Log: extra XP for killing the things you’re already killing for quests! Bonus!
Combat Markers: How Not To Stand In the Fire
I’m going to link to this thread here on Reddit, because it’s explained very well. One thing about AOE markers: get out of the marked area, but you can go back in when it disappears even though the target might still be casting.
End of Part One
I think that’s the end of the first TL;DR for new players. Next one will be on instances.
I’ve come to a decision that I’m going to request that authors that I’m currently working with don’t post rough mockups and work in progress to various groups, Facebook or otherwise.
Previously I’ve allowed it as long as the author stated that it was a rough mockup. I’ve always said that I prefer showing more options for a cover with less finished work, rather than two or three choices that are more like finished images. I think of them a bit like storyboards, where you can get a good idea of what the finished cover might look like, but you have to use your imagination a bit.
And then came Facebook groups. I’m a member of several, and many authors have their own private groups. Cover designers cringe and wince when talking about them (yeah, we have our own groups as well), not because we’re not up for honest criticism, but because the advice given in these groups is mostly terrible.
I used to treat it as one of the downsides of an otherwise rewarding trade – I mean, we always had to deal with the “My mother thinks…” kind of uninformed feedback, and this is similar but taken to the nth degree.
You know the saying about opinions being like a certain body part, and of course everyone has one. The trouble is that what you get from them is usually hot air or crap. Design by committee is never easy or productive, and when the people contributing have no actual knowledge of design or genre it gets worse.
Currently I’m at version, what, thirteen or fourteen of a cover that has steadily gotten worse. We’ve gone through several incarnations that I loved, but the current one is going to be one of those covers that I don’t want to put my name to. And this kills me.
So, please for the love of fluffy kittens and all that is right and good in the world, please please please don’t post mockups in these groups. I’m going to start weeding out authors who do this and not working with them again.
I’m begging you. :)
The days just fall one into the next, don’t they?
Work has been busy, as always – not being ungrateful (quite the opposite), just a bit frazzled. The weather has been as unfriendly as it always is in February in England, but today was an absolutely gorgeous day and I really should have gone out for a walk. Tomorrow, I promise myself.
As I always do. :)
Other than that, we’ve been doing some gaming with the release of Anthem and quite enjoying it. I think I’m looking forward to The Division 2 more, but this is a great game for the four of us to jump in and play. I’ve been exclusively playing Interceptor, which is very fast and flashy and fun – rather like a rogue archetype except without stealth. Jump in, cause havoc, jump away. The only drawback to this is the screen-filling flame effects caused by colossi (colossusses?) on our team with flamethrowers…the world is on fire and I can’t tell right from left.
I do have a very flashy paintjob currently, though – quite happy with this one.