2022 July: Speedpaintings

I had a thought in the last week of July: why don’t I lay down some blobs of color on a canvas and see what kind of painting results from it?

I only got to do two paintings, but here they are. Both took around 25-30 minutes each and were done with various watercolor brushes in Clip Studio Paint.

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This one was painted on July 30th. This is only half of the original canvas; originally, the mountains extended further down and there was a river/pond. I eventually decided I didn’t like it, and cropped it out of the canvas.

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This one was painted on July 31st. I decided that the previous day’s palette was too boring, and I wanted to use more vibrant colors. That’s why this one is orange and yellow. I spent a lot more time on the clouds than on the mountains with this one.

Now that I’ve done these two, I can say I don’t particularly like the watercolor brushes. I think I’ll try out the oil paint & gouache brushes the next time I do something like this.

Camp NaNo July 2022 Results

As you may have assumed from July’s Writing Update, I didn’t achieve my goals last month. I intended to write 20,000 words, and ended up with 8,566.

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I thought about writing about why I think I didn’t achieve my wordcount, but then decided it’s better to focus on what I did actually accomplish in July. So, here’s what I did:

I finished the Samael outline! That’s the one writing goal I’ve had this entire year, and it sounds pretty pathetic when I put it that way. No outline should have taken me seven months to finish, even if I was extremely busy.

I wrote up a review of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and also have a blog post scheduled for some artwork I’ve done. That doesn’t do much for my list of blog post ideas, but it’s a good start.

I started writing down notes and ideas for a revamp of a story I’ve been trying to figure out for the past few years. It was called The Illuminated World, and is now called Lotus Guard.

I continued plotting an unnamed story (which I’ve been calling Prison Break in my head, since that’s how it starts) and now I have a pretty good idea on character arts and story beats. The problem is that most of this plotting has happened in my head (this is normal in the early stages of a story; I go through so many ideas that writing things down isn’t exactly worthwhile), so now I actually need to write all of it down without forgetting it.

Writing Update: July 2022

I finally finished the Samael outline! And then, after that, decided I wasn’t going to do anything else. I literally have not written a word since I finished that outline – not for Samael or anything else. I also did a tiny bit of plotting for some other stories. By tiny, I mean under 300 words.

I really hope next month will be better for writing.

Review: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a game that came out in 2019. I saw a few things about it over the years, but not enough to pique my attention. Then I watched a few videos of a let’s play of the game, saw that there was a trailer for a sequel, and found out that the game was on sale.

The plot of the game is, basically, following the notes of an old Jedi master, Eno Cordova, (who was also an archaeologist who studied the Zeffo civilization) to find a holocron that contains a list of force-sensitive children. I cared less about this and more about the archaeology part of it, because what isn’t cool about a Jedi archaeologist?

I waffled back and forth on whether I wanted to 100% the whole game, and then did it anyway. I fully explored each planet, got all databank entries, found all collectibles, unlocked all force powers, and got most of the achievements. Overall, it took around 33 hours.

First of all, some notes/thoughts on the gameplay:

  • The controls on PC are kind of wonky if you’re playing with a mouse and keyboard like I do. The game recommends you use a controller when it first starts up, and it’s probably a good idea to do that (I never did). Most of the key bindings are ok, but I had to remap doge to “V” because it was too awkward to hit initially.
  • There are a lot of force powers/upgrades you can get. I only ever used a few and forgot about the more complex ones.
  • The map is good and bad. It shows which areas you haven’t visited and which doors and pathways are available and which you can’t get through. However, everything turns the same kind of blue color after it’s been interacted with, which can make it hard to tell what you’re looking at.
  • You have the opportunity to choose an answer to questions you’re asked about…four different times. I doubt this has much of an effect on anything aside from a few lines of dialogue, so I’m wondering why it was there to begin with.
  • You can change the difficulty at any point in the game. There is no penalty for doing so, and there is nothing locked behind a certain difficulty.

I’m going to review each of the four major planets – so no Bracca, Ordo Eris, Ilum, or Nur. I honestly don’t have enough thoughts on any of those to bother writing them down.

Bogano

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This is a Bogling, one of the native species of Bogano. You can get one on your ship, but you can’t interact with it.

Bogano is the “starter” planet. It’s the smallest and easiest to get around, and aside from Oggdo Bogdo (and the regular Bogdos), there’s nothing there that’s a serious threat. I will admit that my first encounter with Oggdo Bogdo happened when I fell into the cave and died immediately. I didn’t come back to fight it until almost the end of the game.

The other planets are separated into different sections; the loading screens are disguised as things like elevators or gaps in the walls that you go through. There is none of this on Bogano. The entire planet loads at the same time – you can literally see all of it from the landing area. This did cause a little bit of lag at times.

Bogano is populated entirely by animals, both hostile and non-hostile, until the very end of the game when the Empire gets there (then there are stormtroopers). There’s stuff left over from a Jedi archaeologist who lived there for a while plenty of remnants of the ancient Zeffo civilization, and some giant animal bones.

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Overall, Bogano feels empty in a way that the other planets don’t. It’s much smaller and there aren’t nearly as many enemies as on other planets. This isn’t really a bad thing for a video game – it can be good to have a relatively safe, peaceful place to hang out in between stressful missions.

Zeffo

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There is way too much stuff on Zeffo. There are 43 chests on this planet alone, while Bogano has 16, Kashyyyk has 27, and Dathomir has 16. Zeffo also has two ancient Zeffo tombs, ice caves that connect most regions of the map (which is actually good when you want to travel from one place to another in a short amount of time), an Imperial base, and a gigantic crashed ship.

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The crashed Venator

It genuinely feels like most of the effort went into this planet. Bogano and Kashyyyk have zero tombs. Dathomir has one, but it’s used solely for a boss fight. I don’t think anything really would have been lost by moving one of the tombs to another planet.

There are a couple of areas on Zeffo – the ice caves, the Venator crash site, in particular – that are apparently easy to miss (not to me because I always explore everything) because the story doesn’t require you to go there. There really isn’t anything like this on the other planets. You’re forced to visit all or most of the areas on Kashyyyk and Dathomir.

It’s definitely a pity that the Venator is so easy to miss, since it (along with the Tomb of Miktrull) is one of the coolest parts of the planet.

Ultimately, Zeffo has way too much going on. It does, however, have some pretty cool visuals.

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Part of the Tomb of Miktrull

Kashyyyk

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Kashyyyk is…a planet. It has giant trees, giant spiders, giant fireflies, giant slugs, Wookiees, and a bunch of stormtroopers. It’s the planet that I think is most disconnected from the main plot. In the end, all you really learn is that you actually need to go to Dathomir. It feels like Kashyyyk is in the game mainly to take up space. It does show how the Empire is impacting people’s lives and how they’re rebelling, but not really much else.

You also visited Kashyyyk in Knights of the Old Republic, and much to my surprise, some of the enemies were the same. There are also tachs in the game, but thankfully they don’t make any sounds like they did in KotOR.

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This is what tachs look like now.

Dathomir

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Dathomir is very pretty, but also very intimidating at first. I went there early in the game to check it out, and ended up leaving after a couple of minutes because I realized I was quite underleveled.

“Desolate” would be a good word to describe Dathomir – if it wasn’t full of giant spiders, Nightbrothers, and eventually undead Nightsisters. It’s a pretty barren world, but feels a lot less empty than Bogano because there are actual people there, living and undead.

This planet is more annoying than the other planets, mostly because there aren’t nearly as many shortcuts as there are on the other planets. You can’t skip entire areas like on Zeffo. And dealing with the undead Nightsisters became such a pain that I had to actually lower the difficulty because I was sick of being mobbed by enemies and just wanted to get through the place.

There is a tomb on Dathomir, but it consists solely of a boss fight. After the huge detour you have to go through to get to the tomb, I’m not sure I would have liked to explore an entire area, so that’s fine with me.

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Ominous statues in the Tomb of Kujet.

Other Miscellaneous Things

The whole Ordo Eris sequence comes out of nowhere, even if you do listen to your crewmates’ conversations. It genuinely doesn’t seem like there’s enough to support that part of the game existing. It also seems pretty strange that a bounty hunter could track down and kidnap a Jedi while the entire Empire, for some reason, can’t do the same. It doesn’t really add anything to the game, either.

You have multiple crewmembers – Greeze, Cere, and eventually Merrin – but they don’t really do anything outside of cutscenes. They stand around the ship when you’re on a planet and sometimes have dialogue that relates to that particular planet. I would have liked more crewmember conversations.

In Conclusion

I liked the game! There are definitely things I would have fixed, but overall it’s pretty good. I am definitely going to play the sequel when it comes out (or, most likely, when it goes on sale) and it’s likely I’ll end up reviewing that one, too.