Friday, October 23, 2015

Destiny Review (Vanilla Ver.)


So I recently purchased a PS4, mainly for the upcoming 2016 RPGs and sequels to classics that I grew up on but it didn't take long before questioning what games were available and what's currently popular on the next gen consoles. I already had the Last of Us and MGSV, but it soon came to my attention when Destiny was quite the recommended game by almost everyone. Now before I begin I'd like to mention that I bought vanilla destiny ($20) as opposed to The Taken King, simply because I was skeptical. Word was that this game was one of the best available games on new gen consoles and an MMO to pair, which made me curious as to what about it and why. When you take into account that the game has a "revamped" edition at full price, it makes you wonder whether it is the optional DLC bundle or the Capcom nightmare which is endless releases of the same god damn game, just with content that should've been day 1. Anyways, let's get straight to it.

Incredibly confusing at first and a story that is forgettable

My first impression of the game was mostly confused since the game pretty much throws you into the wild. Aside from the tutorial which does a decent job at showing you controls, there is very little explanation of where exactly you are going, who you are talking to, who does what, or what even is going on? You simply follow a blip on screen but aren't given any information on the NPCs in town and their relevance at all. There is hardly any story also considering that everything skips by incredibly fast and cut scenes made absolutely no sense by bringing in new characters by the second and skipping through introductions. Many confusing terms were used also as if you had known what they meant before beginning the game

Gameplay is the highlight and at the same time, the downfall.

If it's anything I enjoyed, it's definitely the game play. You got an FPS style RPG that makes for smooth gameplay and an enjoyable experience for what it's worth. The only problem is that the gameplay quickly declines in quality and interest as you play more and more. Take note that I don't reach the max level of 40, instead I lost all interest upon beating the story of the vanilla version which stops at the Black Garden. But before that, the ride to the end is quite enjoyable aside from a few annoying factors such as overly re-used/re-skinned enemies and the near non-existent storyline. A lot of the enemies got boring fast as you begin to realize that every "strong" enemy or boss is pretty much a minotaur or of the sort. Enemies themselves had very little variation in attacks, as it was almost always a melee knight, sniper for the 2 hits, annoying grunt that chipped armor with lock on bullets, and the minotaurs that shot explosive bullets. It was pretty much a mix up of these 3 types of enemies with variants in damage and speed. Even bosses almost all felt the same and it was at that point that I felt there was hardly any challenge as everything became linear. They couldve had so many kinds of attack patterns and types, including traps and the such but it was all wasted effort. Now maybe some might argue that you will see those in the later part of the game but for some of us, there won't be a later part of the game because of this.

The game is very short, for the price I paid which was $20, it felt like it wasn't exactly worth the price. First thing you notice when you enter the game is the amount of random NPCs that hold lots of gears for lv30-40 and it just makes you wonder, when exactly do I get to obtain these kinds of gear but the sad part is you don't, in vanilla Destiny. You simply reach a point where you've beaten the game at lv16 and have now run out of content. A lot of people were telling me that you now grind strikes, or level up via pvp but I did not pay $20 for an instance or pvp based game, I paid $20 for what I thought to be a MMORPG, and that is where Destiny falls short. In any other MMORPG, you'd be given a quest line up until the very end. I mean sure it could be the most linear of quests but at least you are given enough content to run you straight to end game but in Destiny, you are not given that kind of content. Instead, they force you to grind out all the way to the end, or find ways to grind it out to unlock more strikes. Funny enough, they do offer another quest line but guess what? It is DLC, and ranging from the price of $10-40. This is where Destiny loses all its credibility because you are asked to pay extra for another campaign? something that should've been in the game in the first place. Some might argue that "well the game is good, so it makes reasonable sense to pay to have another storyline". I mean sure that does make sense but has any other MMORPG asked you upon hitting lv20 with a max cap of 60+ with a giant "click here to buy expansion pack in order to play through the rest of the game to get to lv60? No. It would make perfect sense if the vanilla game had enough content to satisfy you up until lv40 and having additional DLC that is basically the next cap worth of content, but instead they are expecting you to buy the DLC to make up for the lack of content they had in the first place. My complaint with this is that no other game does this. Some MMORPGs charge you a one time fee to buy the game, a monthly subscription, or even both, but they will never charge you for a quarter of what the game is. That's like saying to your fans that, if you don't buy my DLC, then enjoy the so called shitty version of the game. DLC shouldn't be a factor into the actual game and its overall experience and should be more so something optional for people who enjoy the base product. 

On the flip side, most of the maps and areas are visually appealing, and the equipment, and upgrade system is very straight forward and simple but there is a lack of item value. A lot of equipment that is picked up, will be replaced in seconds. It's almost as if there is no huge factors in what is good or not other than the big number and how many shots i can take before reloading. Items are picked up and dropped immediately as almost everything decent or rare is obtain at the end of an instance or looted from a boss. There is hardly any value in gear obtained throughout the dungeon.

So is destiny worth it?

For someone new and expecting a worthwhile experience? Not at all. But maybe for someone who has a background for Bungie and likes a decent FPS/RPG? Sure, why not. I myself didn't feel like it was the worst game but the whole DLC and lack of content is what threw me off in the end to pursue what the game could really be. I'm used to playing MMORPGs where you have all the content available the minute you begin, and are caught in the endless time sink of dungeons, farming, and grinding. Destiny is more so a game where im confused as to what is next because the game leaves you with nothing else to do in the time being. I know some online MMORPGs leave you with that feeling but it's almost always near end game where at least you have x amount of other content to keep you occupied, but for Destiny, we are talking early in as in lv16 out of 40. I would not recommend new players to purchase vanilla destiny and expect much, I would much rather suggest those that are interested to cough out the extra dollars and buy the Taken King edition as it comes with all the DLC to make up for the lack of content. Honestly though, there are many free MMORPGS out there that offer way more than what destiny has to offer and at the cost of nothing. I just feel like the hype wasn't for me.

If I had to give Destiny a score, it would probably be 6/10. The game play can make up for a game, but game play can't make up for the lack of content which would allow for that game play.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV ARR Review


Before I begin I'd like to mention that this was my 2nd time playing ARR as the first time I played this was about a year ago where my friends dragged me to try it out. The reason I first gave it a try was because I happened to own a copy of the collectors 1.0 that my friend gifted me awhile back. On my first 30 days I hit about level 40 and lost motivation to play due to the grind being incredibly boring so I really couldn't give it a fair review. So a year went by and this game started to cook up some hype so I decided to give it another 30 day go and this time, see what's new, and actually play it as far as I could within the 30 days to give it an honest review. So here is my review of FFXIV ARR as of right now.

FFXIV:ARR runs on a $15 monthly subscription or $12 a month if you only care about making a single character a server.

Character customization - 3/10 - Customization is a huge failure in FFXIV and it is sad and safe to say that there are free MMORPGs out there with more selection and customization than this.

You might be asking why character customization should matter or why this topic is first and that's because character customization is actually a big part of a MMORPG for many. Many players strive to look different from the millions of players and surprisingly for a game that charges you $15 a month, you really aren't getting what you're paying for. FFXIV is very limited on options for creating your character. You get to pick between 5 races with each having both genders and 2 sub races with minor differences which is nice but some of the races do come with marks and such that cannot be removed which can be very annoying for some. Once you pick your race and sub, you are pretty much given very limited options for hair, face, and etc. FFXIV does not have a detailed character customization with sliders that allow for you unlimited options for your face, eyes, and body, but they do have basic options which allow for 4-10 selections for each part except for about 4-6 options for the most important facial parts which make you very limited in how your character will look. There are some good features they allow such as body size, heterochromia (both eyes different color) for the eyes, and a variety of makeup options including tattoos but in the end you will still feel and even run into people (including in dungeons and such) that will almost make you feel like a clone. Some hair is race restricted also but FFXIV does allow you to change your makeup and hair whenever for free at the inn but major changes such as race and whatnot involve cash.

Armors, clothes, costumes and end game customization are very limited as well in FFXIV. Some armors will have the exact same design as lower level ones and you will find there is very little in variation. You can dye the clothes and armors itself but I need to mention that the dye only affect certain parts of what you are dyeing so there is still color limitations for what you want. Some armors can't be dyed as well which brings to my complaint about end game customization. A lot of end game armor will come "set" so that you cannot change the color and such but will allow for changes once you upgrade them. Some can be dyed but making you go through the extra effort just to dye something is a little tedious and some of the items they require aren't easy to get. At end game you'll find yourself matching with a lot of other players as there is very little to any customization that exist in this pay to play game.

Now some of you are asking about costumes and this is where the tears begin. For typical MMORPGs you'd just have a costume slot for each part, buying templates, or an NPC that would replace what you're wearing with whatever you'd like that you own but in FFXIV they make you go an extra mile just to get your customization on. The system they call "Glamour" consists of you owning the armor that you want to use as a costume and then using glamour prisms which you have to craft in order to obtain them. Each armor has a set grade level which involves higher crafting levels depending on the grade and this is just plain tedious since it should be simple enough to just apply what you want as a costume given you have it and the money.

I got my shine back... - Kei Shino 2015-2015 RIP IN PEACE


Story - 6/10 - Backtracking simulator 2014

So FFXIV does come with a storyline that you'll probably ignore at some point because it's just time consuming and tedious to sit around the hours of cut scenes while your friends are begging you to head on to the next area. Well in my case I was running the game solo but just found the storyline to be a very typical Final Fantasy story. Some people might like it but it just wasn't for me. Plus at some point when you hit the 8 man instances, people will be impatient to the point they won't wait for you to watch the cut scenes but good thing you can re-watch them at the inn. The story progression involves a lot of backtracking and by that I mean you getting pissed off every time you hear "the walking sands" and wishing the damn place actually "walked" to you. You will literally be sent somewhere and then back to report and so on, and it's not the average MMO where you go to one map, clean out all the NPC quests and kill every monster at least 10 times before moving on to the next. The game will actually send you to maps you've been through and all over the place to the point you just get real tired of having to use the teleport and return skill. Good on you if you're patient but it boggles my mind that they did not put a damn teleportation stone in such a crutial area that you'll be constantly going back to. On the flip side, the animations are very crisp and some cut scenes with npcs have voices which are done pretty well, other than that there wasn't much else I enjoyed.

Gameplay - 3/10 - Combat that will put you to sleep 
In my opinion, the combat in this game is out dated. It runs on the classic skill spam system while your character auto attacks at intervals so it's pretty much a game where you run entirely on skill rotations and timing. It is not a real time action combat so you will be spending a lot of time mashing 2 to 4 buttons all the way up to about level 40 before shit even begins. On a positive side, the combat is very simple and easy so it makes for a more carefree grind as you progress but I played Ninja which involved having the right rotation so you had to pay attention if you cared about your DPS. There is not much to say other than it being a very boring combat system as even end game you will be doing rotations consisting of 8 skill loops with other skills being thrown in between when available but since the game is all that, it'll almost become a habit of just pressing everything in order or having the right positioning. Some classes involve positioning such as monks who do extra damage and such depending if they hit from the front, flank, behind, etc., which make the game a little more interesting but it's still messed up because the enemies hit boxes are badly set and you have to be on point for it to work. Other than that, it's a very skill-less combat system. When dealing with enemies, you just have to avoid their cone, circle, and line indicators to avoid getting hit for big damage. FFXIV also is heavily team dependent when running instances/dungeons so it can be annoying having to rely heavily on tank and healers to do their job regardless how good or geared you are. for DPS it's pretty much just chase the tank and get the enemies off his ass so long as he can keep aggro. No skill shots or aiming required so feel free to play in your sleep. Lower level Instances are incredibly boring and even when you hit end game you will be finding yourself returning to them for the daily roulette. There is a huge level and stat scaling when you run the lower level dungeons as a higher level, so you'll find yourself spamming 2 attacks while doing only 5% more damage than the newbie next to you forcing you to run that dungeon for a good 15-30 minutes. As a currently maxed level player, I don't see any reason why I should be gimped that hard when going back in lower level dungeons as exp means nothing to me, and the drops are garbage to me considering you can rarely even sell gear you find. If they wanted to prevent noobs from being power leveled then just simply scale exp but I guess they didn't think hard enough.
Game content - 2/10 - Boring grind, shitty PvP, limited gameplay, and an end game that you sleep on.

Patience simulator 2014


So this is going to be where I pretty much bash the game and explain why everything about this game is poorly made. For starters, you'll find in FFXIV that the queues will take forever. Depending on your class, you can wait from 10 minutes all the way up to 3 hours or even more. Take note that this implies to every dungeon, trial, and even PvP. If you are playing DPS then your average wait times on queues are about 30 minutes and this is sad considering that the queues itself are server wide so even for PvP it can take a good hour or two to get in when they have about 6 different servers into account. This can be fixed if you have friends and such to party with or if you are a tank or healer but in the end there is still a disgustingly long queue to take account for a majority of the players and that you are paying on a monthly basis. People might say "just be patient", "do other things while you wait" or "this is why you play other classes as well" but...




People don't queue to wait, they queue because they want to play and nobody should have to wait that long just to run a dungeon. Some people aren't given options either as even for Relic weapon quests or other specific quests, you will be asked to run the dungeons and such as said class or beat the bosses as that set class so in the end, people will still need to wait in queues in that specific class to get what they want. This is coming for someone who managed to grind Yoshimitsu Animus in about 6 days which involved queuing for a total of 30 dungeons as a DPS. In the end, I shouldn't need to play another class that I don't want to, to get faster queue times. It also doesn't help the fact that I can't summon my chocobo as a party member while I'm queuing because that long wait would be the perfect time and likely only time to grind my chocobo. So how can we fix this issue? Well make more healer classes to promote more players to play or better yet, make healers a less boring class but then again the combat in FFXIV is boring in general.

The grinding is really tedious and boring, especially for those that give zero fuks for the storyline and just want to get through everything. There gets to a point where you start doing 8 man instances and it gets somewhat fun but then you realize these become your dailies and you're stuck running this nightmare of a speed run just for some tomestones. The first time you hit 50 will be the fastest due to quests giving you decent amounts of exp. After that, you're pretty much looking at grinding FATEs which involve you running to whatever purple flashy dot on the map and hoping others wait on your ass or that there isn't some high level dude that's atma grinding. Other options include doing levequests which take up a daily allowance, or grinding dungeons which it just a bad idea unless you don't mind waiting on the queue. Even after you complete the general storyline and see the credits roll, you'll end up doing more story quests while sitting on max level. This is a complete waste of time considering that you can no longer gain exp and you're still backtracking here and there just to unlock a few other dungeons that drop crappy gear that's item level 90 or below. Luckily npcs in mor dhona will unlock separate quests to allow for more harder end game instances but for the extreme trials and such, you will be required to unlock them in order which is tedious for those that just want to get straight to it once they hit end game. 

PvP is the biggest joke that FFXIV ARR has to offer. You can tell PvP is a joke when it takes more than 2-3 people minimum to kill a single healer and when they have to add separate PvP skills just to create some sort of balance. It's a shame since PvP is such a huge factor especially for end game. I get that PvP isn't for everyone but when you're sitting on the best gear and the game is strictly PvE then what else is there to do until new content? It's especially nice when they add PvP specific gear for those that want to be rewarded for their PvP skills but in FFXIV, there is no skill in PvP. What determines who wins is whichever team has more healers, more crowd control (stuns, slows, silences) and more ranged DPS. This is because they didn't take into account for gap closers, speed differences, and crowd control skills to deal with specific classes. It does not matter how much damage you can burst since the scaling is done horribly to the point that even the strongest of melee DPS won't even wipe off half of a healers HP just to watch them heal it back up in a single click. Sleep is your greatest nightmare in PvP as it forces you to sit there for 10 minutes and watch as everyone fight it out while leaving you snoozing. Doesn't help the fact they thought it was a good idea to give them an aoe (area of effect) sleep. Not to mention when a healer uses sprint, it's just like ok w.e just kill me already. PvP is badly optimized and nothing more awesome than chasing a bard as a melee where hes running away from you while shooting arrows from his back. Oh what's that, use the PvP tackle attack and stun him? Oh yeah, forgot he has a cleanse and an escape also. PvP is possible but nowhere near balanced, it strongly follows a grind system where the higher level you are in PvP Rank, the better advantage you have over everyone. It's hilarious considering that a majority of the PvP is item synced yet higher level players have stat and skill benefits. Basically the longer you PvP and rank up, the better you are, so there is hardly any skill involved or incentive for being skilled. The objectives modes are complete shit as it is 100% team dependent since the most important node is won by overall damage and not by last strike. This puts a tear in my eye because being able to steal objectives last minute is what creates clutch opportunities and if your team is being steam rolled by another, then what makes you think you have a better chance at out damaging the node than them? I'd stay away from the PvP if possible, despite it being a good idea to grind tomestones from.

PvP is possible but just remember that you are waiting 30 minutes minimum to play shitty PvP

A huge issue I see with FFXIV is that it tries to take advantage of its subscription based system to have the players stay longer to feel more rewarded. What I mean by that is that the game itself limits you on content and re-playability on a weekly basis. There are raids that can be run unlimited number of times that drop rare gear only to be able to obtain a single piece of gear a week. This only allows you to grind for 4 pieces of gear out of 12 in total on a monthly basis which means that if you were willing to grind an entire set from that raid then you'd have to sub for at least 3 months in total which limits players on what they can do. Another example they have is the Allagan Tomestone of Poetics weekly cap which is set at 450 poetics per week. For those that don't know what these poetic tomes are, they are basically points you can accumulate through running dungeons, trials, etc at end game that can be traded in for item level 120 gear which is really good. 450 isn't a lot considering the accessories cost about 400, hats/gloves/boots about 500 poetics, and armor and pant at 875. This is to make it so that you'd have to continually play on a weekly and monthly basis to obtain the entire set of gear thus forcing you to opt in for the next month if you want to obtain more pieces. Some might argue that players can choose to grind other gears via dungeons and such in the meantime but a majority of early released dungeons are irrelevant considering the advantages of tomestones of soldiery as you can easily achieve full item level 100 gear just by grinding off of dailies, front lines and quick dungeons where as harder dungeons require a minimum item level, which is exactly what you are trying to work on getting in the first place. I get that they are trying to have a limit as to how much someone can grind since they want to keep the game as casual as possible and prevent people who have the time and effort to obtain full sets of gear in less than a week but why are players being limited on what they can do when they are paying 15 dollars on a monthly basis? People don't pay to wait, they pay to play and that's what annoys the hell out of me when i realize i have to sleep on the game until my limit is reset when every minute is costing me money. Some other games run on similar restrictions but I'd much rather have a dungeon that's a one time run a day and hope to god you get lucky rather than an unlimited run and get 1 rare gear a week, that way you will be motivated to try again on a daily basis rather than having to sleep on your account for a week. A pay to play game should have benefits for the monthly subscription but sadly I only see this as a huge set back compared to free games which offer more freedom.

What I liked about FFXIV

One of the things I liked about FFXIV is that it is a really casual friendly game in the way that it is really easy to achieve what you want whether you are a hardcore mmo player or someone who wants to take it easy. FFXIV provides easy access to a lot of decent gear and even relic weapons are something that I'd like to consider as a freebie endgame weapon that can be improved with just time and determination. You simply do a quest that involves running a couple of dungeons, trials, and fetching low cost items and you got yourself a weapon with an aura that's pretty decent. You can further upgrade that weapon by farming for atma which can take a day or two and then upgrade the weapon even more into animus which just takes a couple days of pretty much playing the game. It is convenient for players who want to obtain strong weapons but don't want to do the whole try hard route of going from a crap set of end game gear, to decent set, to best set. The relic weapons can be done easily by anyone at a very low cost. Considering that and the gear obtained by tomestones, it's a very easy and quick way to achieve end game gear.

Another thing I liked about FFXIV is that it's very accurate to its Final Fantasy theme and the music itself is of really high quality. You don't really hear all the good shit until you reach the later level instances but all in all, I kept my BGM on for the most part. I liked also how depending on your mount, you'd get a different tune. The cities itself looked amazingly detailed, sized, and have an FF feel to them in one way or another.

Controller support is great, I played up to about level 40 using an xbox controller and i found no problem at all and it being a lot easier than playing on keyboard and mouse. After 45+ I switched to keyboard and mouse due to there not being enough hot key slots since controller only allows for up to 16 hot keys, and any more would require you to switch hot bars on the controller which would take additional unnecessary inputs versus having it all at once on a keyboard which can support up to an unlimited amount of keys.

Dynamic weather and the night and day system is phenomenal. You don't get many games that have this but FFXIV manages to pull it off nicely. Rain and shallow waters affect your clothes which is a nice and realistic feature.

Things I didn't like about FFXIV that I would consider a huge factor

The economy, which doesn't exist in FFXIV. This might surprise you as the game literally doesn't have an economy of the sort. Currency in FFXIV is almost used for nothing other than buying gyashl greens, dyes, or buying a house and furniture. There is nothing really to sell or buy since a lot of end game gear is non tradable and crafted gear is nowhere near as good as those that are found in dungeons and raids. The only difference with crafted gear is that they come with sockets for materia, but low and behold certain dungeons, trials and pvp will sync gear to which they prevent you from using materia.

Crafting itself is almost useless in regards to almost everything since all end game crafted gear is overly expensive and no where near as good as gears found. Early crafted gears will have its benefits but players can make hardly any money off of it. Consumables are pretty much the only decent way of making money but other than that crafting is almost only needed for specific end game quests which is completely unnecessary considering how crafting has almost no other worth while purpose. They will probably fix this later but for now this is where i stand. I'm saying this from an end game player's perspective so I might be missing out on a few thing that life skill players would understand. You would think though that the very best gear would require a recipe found from a dungeon that needed rare materials and such but supposedly the best crafted gear is just that of the "green" rarity. The "blue" rarity items normally can be upgraded via NPCs which brings me to my point of saying crafting is useless.

Things I didn't like about FFXIV that I wouldn't consider a huge factor

The variety of monsters were somewhat lacking and the amount of monsters per area were limited. I felt like they could've added a lot more final fantasy themed monsters to prevent seeing clones of enemies such as puddings, slyphs, and reskins/recolors. Fate bosses or the open world bosses could be unique in design rather than large scales of smaller monsters with slight color differences or minor reskins. Also some of the boss names and such could be made as jokes for days but I guess they intended for some humor in the game considering a lot of Fate names are based on actual memes and such. Seeing a crab wearing a helmet called Dark Helmet and watching hundreds of players kill this thing made me question if my character is just that sad or the helmet made that much of a difference cause those bosses looked nowhere near as good as the ones from the instance. Besides dark helmet, who the hell came up with the idea of calling the bee boss "stinging sophie", like seriously why?

Cash shop is completely empty, it's been a solid year now and all they have are seasonal costumes that can be unlocked via seasonal events, a single mount, 3 minions, marriage stuff and gender change potions. It's a shame they have zero to no costumes to make up for their lack of customization but the only good thing is that the shop is purely aesthetics and nothing pay to win.

Conclusion - 3/10 - An MMORPG that you sleep on while subbing monthly

FFXIV is definitely a game that isn't worth paying for and honestly, I don't think it's even a game worth playing if it was free. You are restricted on a lot you can do as well as having to deal with the horrible queue times which just make for a painful overall experience. PvP is terrible, customization is ass, and there isn't really anything good about this game to make it worth overcoming all of that. There are free MMORPG games out there that provide a lot more than this and it's sad to say that this game is a huge disappointment considering it is backed by a company such as square enix. I can only hope that this game will improve down the line but as of right now, this game is nowhere near as decent and honestly should not have people paying monthly for this garbage. There is a good chance I will not return unless my sub is being paid for, a hot gril is baiting me and booty is on the line, or new content that is just way too good to pass on (which i highly doubt this game will offer in a very long time and assuming before black desert online releases and slaughters everything). Anyways I'm not too worried because even If i decided to come back, the game is just that ez modo to the point I can probably catch up in like a good day or two. So there you have it guys, the roas.... I mean review of FFXIV ARR.


TL;DR: Final Fantasy XIV ARR in a nutshell

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Fire Emblem: Awakening - Gerome Cosplay Breakdown

Photo by Zacharius

Rivera Edgardo on left cosplaying monster hunter and me on the right as Gerome. Picture taked by Don Dolce Photography.


So with the debut of Gerome from Fire Emblem: Awakening at Anime North 2014, I'd like to mention a few things first before jumping into the breakdown. Gerome isn't exactly a popular character from the series despite being one of the overpowered children and the son of Cherche. I could tell through the reaction of many when I had my brother cosplaying my Marth from the previous year and which many would request photos of Marth and hardly even know who Gerome was although it's expected for casual gamers to recognize the "main" characters (especially those on the cover) more easily and not have played the game to its full extent (pairing, unlocking all children, paralogues, etc.). So at this point you might ask why I chose to do Gerome and the answer is because given a large group, nobody ever really does Gerome and I'm kinda stuck with the whole masked FE characters now but the major factor was that I actually liked his serious attitude and style as well as the fact he wore a nice set of armor based on Cherche's set and also that of a wyvern.

This happens to be another one of my so called rushed masterpieces that caused me a shit ton of stress and insanity. Basically made in about 2 weeks and a half but I did have some assistance which were only for the clothes. I'm really quite happy how Gerome turned out except for the paint job which caused a lot of suffering for me especially since this was my first time taking the Gesso route but all in all it turned out better than I expected for the amount of time and effort. I don't think this is the last of Gerome, i'll be revamping him for next year and only a few things need upgrades.

*Before I begin I'd like to mention that this breakdown isn't a fully detailed tutorial but rather a basic outline of how I went about and the implications I ran into while doing so. This is also a WIP collection so feel free to use this as a reference if need be and don't be afraid to ask if you need my advice. Anyways let's start this.

Planning + Materials:
So planning isn't the easiest thing when it comes to Fire Emblem: Awakening because not only did I run into this problem, but many of my friends did as well when working on theirs. The artist for FE:A doesn't exactly like to be consistent with his work but with the amount of references he provides, you'll most likely have to use them regardless for the different angles. Gerome has only 2 official references aside from the concept sketches in the art book but that sketch doesn't really provide much other than showing the cape length. I mainly worked off of the full body illustration since it provided enough for everything aside from the various cage layers for the waist and shoulder guards. Even if it wasn't clear enough for me I'd just eye it and go with it. Aside from that I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do for everything such as what material for what, and how to go about making it. Having previous knowledge of making armor as well as some knowledge of shapes and geometry helps. Writing a basic outline also helps for keeping track of your progress such as describing colors, patterns, material types, as well as size for each part. The most important part of planning is to work on the project ahead of time and not last minute like I do. Save yourself the trouble of crying when you arrive late to all 3 days of the convention and miss out the only event you planned to go to because of your stupid decision to do everything a month prior to the con.







For the materials I had worked mainly with foam, specifically the quarter inch foam mats to build the majority of the armor and the thin craft foam for detail. For all the intricate stuff such as chest plate and other armor that required complex bends or keeping its shape, I used worbla. Before you look away at the fact I said worbla, I will mention that I used only 1 jumbo sheet and it isn't required but just makes life easier (at some degree, cause worbla can be a pain to fix if you mess up). Truthfully, I'm not about that X sheets of jumbo worbla life and I'm definitely not about that double sandwich layer cause really the amount of dosh you'd have to spend for that would be a little discouraging. Not that Gerome wasn't expensive to make in general cause the dosh adds up slowly as you go. This was also the year where I first tested worbla out since my sister got me a sheet for Christmas, so I had to make use of it. Aside from all the foam, there is the basic tools you need such as cutting tools (exacto knife, scissors, etc.), sanding tools (sand paper, sanding block, dremel, orbital sander, etc), adhesives (hot glue/gun, super glue, contact cement), duct tape, printing paper for patterns, cutting board, cardboard, rulers, markers, masking tape, etc. Gerome required hardly any power tools other than a belt sander to fix the actual shape of the shoes and a dremel to make angled edges and carve details. For the clothes I ended up buying cotton twill for the shirt, pants, sash and cape. I also bought a cheap grey fabric for the inner parts of the puffed sleeve, some bias tape for the trim, and interfacing for the collar. I didn't get any lining cause that wasn't necessary but other than that I bought a dress shirt pattern and a basic pants pattern to use for the clothes.



For my paint technique I went with 2 layers of modpodge, 2 layers of gesso, 1 layer of gloss primer depending on smoothness, 1 layer of gloss spray paint, and then a gloss finish/protective coat. The primer, paint, and protective coat were all of the same brand which was rustoleum. I did have a can of plastidip which I experimented for some parts but I didn't really use it other than to cover backside of foam pieces that were off colored (red,blue,green, etc) and to quickly make my axe.

For my worbla technique I went with 1 layer of worbla over thin craft foam and having the worbla about a cm more than the foam piece to have it wrap behind. I then used hot glue, duct tape, or both to hold it together from the back. 1 layer works, but you do have to take extra caution for how you handle it and watch the heat as well because 1 layer can easily warp out of shape if enough heat is applied to it whether it be outside at a convention all day or inside the trunk of your vehicle.

Wig:
Forgot to write on this one but basically the wig I used was the new Marty from Arda wigs with the widows peak. Had to get it in black because it just came out around May and they didn't have the other colors that I needed available. I do have a Vega sitting around that is more in Gerome's original hair color which I'll probably try working on if I have the time and patience but I'm not expecting it to look amazing cause to be honest I haven't cut a wig in my entire life. The Marty worked well as a backup plan and alternatively, I could just order a new Marty in the reddish/pink now that they likely have the other colors in stock but more dollars I guess. I might just do it since I'm already this far into going original Gerome but I'll try the Vega first.


Shoes + Lower Body Armor:


I worked off a pair of dress shoes I got from Walmart for 18 dollars as the base and I ended up sanding the heel part to make it smooth and flat like Gerome's shoes in the artwork. I had to sand off the outersole on the sides that were popping out so that once I layed the worbla over it, it would sit flat on the shoe and give it the nice flat look. After sanding it down to my liking I just layered it with worbla strips but cut off a little section towards the back so that my foot could slip in without having to force it down and crack the worbla. I used the very basic technique of applying a plastic wrap and using masking tape to create the pattern to transfer it onto the actual material. For most of the shoe I just applied worbla directly on with no layer of foam but to cover some parts that would have the worbla sink into them, I'd add the craft foam layer to secure the flat look. You can see some battle damage on the left picture, but the shoe managed to hold out well after 2 days.



The leg guard were probably the most annoying to make but I basically had to trial and error them to get them right. I was set on having the actual pop out part at the bottom as well as the slim inwards curve towards the ankles so It caused quite a bit of stress having to get it right. Eventually I came up with something that worked and went with it. I did have a back cover part for the bottom of the leg guard but upon trying it at the convention it was slipping all over the place and wasn't even needed so I dropped it. The back of the leg guards have zippers to have them fit on my leg nicely. Added some details at the front by layering thin foam, it wasn't really relevant since the knee guards covered it to some extent.



For the knee guards it's a lot of difficult shapes and bends since there are about 3 layers in total. One of the layers which is the outer layer basically angles out and goes from a long piece to a thin piece at the back. This can be made with a U piece with some adjustment but other than that it's hard to explain. The 2nd layer which was the inner curved layer is basically oval pieces with a semi circle cut out towards the center. The reverse piece would be the same to create the symmetry and then the last layer would be the flat circular/diamond piece that sits directly in front of the knee. This layer was the only piece made out of worbla to have it sit perfectly on the hole since creating a fit piece out of foam to fit directly in a circular cut will take way too long. The bottom part that popped out was the only other part made of worbla since I needed it to keep its shape at all times. The wyvern wing detail was a separate foam piece with a thin craft foam layer and glued directly onto the knee piece.



The upper knee guards were basic shapes and layers of thin craft foam. I made sure they were tight to some extent so they would sit nicely on my upper leg. These were glued at each end and put on by sliding up my leg. These would be put on first, with the knee guards second, leg guards third, and shoes on last.


It was starting to come together nicely.


Waist guard + cages:


The waist guard was a pain to make only because of me wanting the extra details of having its upper and lower halves angle outwards. This was a makeshift waist guard in the end as it did bend outwards but the back would bend inwards. I didn't care anyways cause my back was hidden with the cape and back sash. I used worbla to force it to bend but having a foam base made it harder to do so. Take my advice and don't make belt holes using worbla since they came apart not even a few hours into the convention. I should have went with my gut instinct and secured them using a mix of foam strips with hot glue and duct tape cause seriously that combination works wonders despite how ugly the backside will look. The waist guard was held to my waist using a belt and the belt buckle would be hidden by the front sash that falls from the bottom of the chest plate. The cage part was basically foam layers and it was hot glued directly to the waist guard. I should've had it hang somehow instead but i was afraid at some point it would just come off since lots of people tend to bang into it.

Chestplate:


The chestplate wasn't all that difficult considering that it didn't consist of a round curve towards the front but a more rigid bend. I simply worked layer for layer adding the right bends and details having it pop out a little. The armor resulted in eyeing the outer layer because I wanted to make sure it sat well on my chest and it wouldn't cause problems for the movement of my arms. Because of this I had to adjust it's design a little but it still looks good regardless. The layers consisted of the neck part, the outwards neck bend, the front chest piece, the inner chest piece that is connected with inward curves and the bottom spear part. I did have some problem with air bubbles since i had to reheat it soo often but i didn't care much since they were hardly noticeable unless you stuck your face straight to it. To finish it off I added a foam layer with a carved scale pattern to warp around to the back. The back had a zipper which would make the entire chest piece sit nicely on my chest without needed an upper strap or anything. I plan to later add thin foam to make the scale pattern more clean. Overall, I can't complain since this turned out way better than I expected. Worbla saved me a lot here since I hardly used the stuff and was in a rush.





 Shoulder guards:





The shoulder guards were simply layers and layers of foam. They involve some curved pieces to bend and give it the curved shape and depth. I had to paint each layer before gluing it together and the annoying part was because some of the parts were thin craft foam, I had to go the extra mile to paint the backside. I mean you should regardless but when you're on a time restriction like I am then I have to make sacrifices. Anyways once it was all painted I put them together and I added an elastic strap to have it sit on my shoulders nicely. I also added a little strap at the inside of the top of the guards to be able to pin it to my cape or shirt if it didn't sit right but I didn't end up needed it surprisingly.






Elbow guards + Arm guards: 

The elbow guards are a bit tricky for some as they involve some complicated pieces to make. Since they are at an angle and go inwards they require a U piece. The layer which rises in between the 2 angled piece are crescent moon shaped pieces with enough length to go from half of one side to the other. It takes a little time to figure out but once you get it, it's pretty simple stuff. The elbow guards were made from foam.



For the arm guards, they were worbla overtop thin craft foam. I used worbla to make sure it kept its form and would not unbend its shape. The arm guards itself were simple patterned cut outs and the details were carved with a dremel. Elastic straps were added to the bottom so it would attach to my arms.




Mask:

You're probably wondering why there are no pics for this one and it's because I was stupid enough not to take any pictures of them while they were in good shape. By good shape I mean on saturday where it fit nicely on my face but didn't have the fabric for the eyes. On sunday morning I decided to add fabric to the mask which made it perfect as I could see through it as well to some extent but while driving off I accidentally left it in the garage and my mom called me for it. So when I went to rush and get it, she threw it in the back and what I didn't know was that it was in a plastic bag (zip-lock kind) and you can guess what happened when I arrived to the convention. The mask was cooked and no longer fit on my face. So I ended up using it as a holding prop as I did maskless Gerome. I will remake a new one soon and have the eye fabric on it for sure as it's a must. Also lesson learned is don't put masks in a plastic bag.


Clothing:

I didn't make any of the clothes but I did contribute with the how to and planning for my mom to work on it as I worked on my armor. To be honest, I didn't have time to work on any of it myself so I asked for her help and if it wasn't for her I would have a nice set of armor on time with not a single piece of clothing to wear with it, so much thanks to her. I supplied all the materials for her as well as gave her the patterns and outlines and the result was some pretty well made stuff to be honest.


The sash was made simply with 2 parts, 1 would cover the front and the other would be the back. The whole sash would be attached to a strap and it would be tied and hidden underneath the armor.


I didn't manage to make my gloves this year because of time restrictions so I ended up using costume gloves which blended in fine with the rest of the clothes.


The cape was made long enough to cover halfway around the back. There wasn't any way to have it sit perfectly on my back so I had to tuck the end flaps into my shoulder guards and pin them if there were any problems. It looked alright from both the front and back so I didn't have to worry. The trim was made from bias tape. Fabric is black old navy cotton twill


Pants made from black old navy cotton twill. I have fully functional piss zippers and a button also. The pants were perfect fit at the top so I didn't need a belt. I could've used some pockets but I didn't have much to carry anyways besides my phone and my wallet. Bias tape was used for the gold trim detail. The pants could've used a little more bag but it worked out anyways.


The shirt was made from a dress shirt pattern and the sleeves were adjusted to have a puffed sleeve top with the lower half being a slim fit. The shirt buttons up and the collar was perfect sized and popped out nicely thanks to the interfacing. I couldn't thank my mom enough for making a nicely fit and consistent looking shirt to Gerome's official artwork.


A close look at the puffed sleeves, it has a grey fabric for the under layer or w.e (don't know how to describe) but it worked out nicely and looked perfect. As for how I went about to make the puffed sleeves, I used both Yukishirocosplay's puffed sleeve tutorial and Lillyxandra's puffed and slash sleeve tutorial so credits to both of them for helping me achieve this.


A closer look at the collar, the trim was supposed to be thinner but I guess my mom got lazy and went with whatever, not that I can complain since I didn't exactly do it myself. But anyways, it turned out a lot better than I had expected and many adjustments had to be made throughout the progress of making everything.



All in all I liked how it turned out. The only thing missing is making gloves out of the same fabric and an ascot which shouldn't take all that long.

Silver Axe (not really loool):

You're probably wondering why i'm laughing when I say Silver Axe and that's because the axe I made wasn't even the Silver Axe. Hell, it was some garbage I threw together in an hour and a half before the convention on the friday and I'm not even kidding when i say I speed painted it using a heat gun and spray paint. The axe head was made of insulation foam (pink/purp foam) and the handle was a wooden dowel. I added details using worbla and foam and I didn't even put any effort towards the axe head. I literally just sanded the edges and sprayed it with some plastidip before painting it silver. The plastidip did eat at the foam a little to give it the rough shitty look but I was like this will do I guess. The best part is that I even knew it looked nothing like the Silver Axe, I mean I left out soo much detail and just threw on simple details to make it something that would temporarily work. To be honest I didn't care for it cause it was last minute and I knew nobody would call me out anyways since who would even know the Silver Axe official design off the top of their head. But yeah, someone is going to call me out now that it's up on my blog but no worries I'm revamping it soon.

Looks alright.
Nevermind.


"Gerome! Man I love how you added the rugged texture to your axe,
it really gives it an authentic look" - Random AN guy to me as a
single tear drops from my eyes.

Extra notes:

So Gerome is a cosplay I'm definitely proud of but at the same time I'm somewhat disappointed that the paint turned out a little shitty. I will be using him for future cons and I have him lined up for Conbravo 2014 and Otakuthon 2014 if things go well. In terms of other cosplans I'm scoping out new ideas and possibly thinking of doing a character with a sword and shield or spear. I might want to relax a bit on the heavy armor but you already know I'm always up to some crazy plan. Also... just maybe Sugane Tachibana G-Suit ver.

Anyways feel free to comment and don't be afraid to ask me w.e as I'll reply whenever I get the chance to.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Anime North 2014 Con Report



With the end of AN2014 I can confidently say that this was by far the worst of my convention years. I know I normally bitch about one thing or two but this one is going to be a long ride so bare with me. Before I begin though I'd like to mention that the convention itself was alright and most of my negative experiences were mainly due to me and my own irresponsibility so I'm not exactly roasting AN in the general sense.

TL;DR: late all three days, missed the only event I planned to go to, and AN pulling some autograph BS. Never again.

So to start off, I ended up cosplaying two characters this year which happened to be Masked Marth of Fire Emblem Awakening for the Friday and Gerome from the same series for Saturday and Sunday. The cosplays themselves were in good shape but the problem to begin with was that they were another last minute and rushed which caused me and my friend to struggle nights before as well as the convention nights themselves trying to finish our costumes. By struggle I mean not sleeping at all Thursday night and getting 2 hours of sleep on Friday night.

I didn't even show up on time on Friday since we we're still trying to get shit done so I ended up arriving at AN around 8pm which is 3 hours late to when it started. We were worried that they would cut the ticket lineup because they did say they could do so at 8 but we managed to get our tickets easily and enjoy what little time we had. Now I have to complain that AN pulled some bullshit this year on me because this was the first time I had an interest in a guest which was Yumi Hara who voices Takane Shijou of the IDOLM@STERS and the first time I decided to go to get an autograph. I had already planned to get my CD signed by her on Friday because I didn't want to do so on the Saturday which was the busiest day (photo shoots, events, etc.), so upon lining up early for Yumi Hara at 9pm I got cut from the line along with others only to be told that Yumi herself only wanted 60 people. Now that's fucking bullshit cause like how do you accommodate 20k+ people by only allowing 60 people, and do take notice that it's supposed to be on for an hour. Didn't do much after, just went to check out Koa's new sound voltex controller and play some IIDX before I went home feeling like shit that I didn't get her autograph. Spent friday night slaving to help with my friends stahl as well as finish painting and putting together Gerome.

Gerome was done by 8 in the morning but I decided to throw in a last minute axe which was made an hour and a half just so I could have a weapon this year. So as we struggled to finish stahl we came to the conclusion that the armor could not be completed and that he'd just have to yolo the leg parts and consider it casual. The only event I had planned for the entire weekend was the fire emblem photo shoot because not only would a few of my friends be there but It's what I was working hard for this entire time. I had to go to this cause It was all I cared for other than to catch up with friends. So we left around 2pm and had to make a stop at walmart to get a shirt for my friend for his casual wear but by the time we arrived at AN it was around 3:10 and that was 10 minutes into the photo shoot. Upon this moment I realized I forgot 2 things, one was the hair spray and the other was the fabric that covers the eye parts for my mask. I couldn't do anything about it so I just threw it on anyways. I tried to rush to put my costume on but it took us a good 30 minutes and by the time we showed up the shoot was long over... so I was depressed for the entire convention. I was just disappointed that I couldn't get pictures with everyone and by the end of the day I could only find like 10% of those that cosplayed anything Fire Emblem. My convention got better though once I got to meet up with Amanda and Jason from Montreal who did an absolutely amazing Kill la Kill couples cosplay of Nonon and Inumuta. It was really nice being able to catch up and meet them in person. I was also able to catch up with my friend Edgardo who had recently been on his trip to Japan and was kind enough to bring me a gift straight from Japan itself as well as Reitaisai which is something I've always been interested in. He showed me some cool pictures of locations in Japan and soon enough I had to go about and make my way. Gerome took very minimal damage by the end of the day and only a few people recognized who I was and I can't blame them much for that.


Amanda as Nonon and Jason as Inumuta of Kill la Killa


Remilia coaster, youmu keychain and button pin, and a
charm from an actual Japanese Shrine. I really appreciate
the gift Edgardo, thankyou.


Sunday I slept in a little because lol how the hell do you expect me to wake up on time when I had 2 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours so we didn't arrive till 12:30. Now I did repaint Gerome and fix him up a little but more importantly I actually completed the mask by adding see through fabric that fit the eyes perfectly. Just as I left the house my mom calls me and tells me I forgot my mask so I head back to find out she put it in a bag so I was in a rush and threw it in the back and drove off. We were late mainly cause my mom wanted me to bring my little brother and have him wear my Marth costume. He wasted a bunch of time because he didn't try it on beforehand so It took him longer than expected. And then picking up zach he manages to somehow forget his glasses and I had to do a double take back to get them. Once I reach the convention I feel really good over the fact that I now have my completed Gerome aside from the shitty quick made axe. But to my fuking surprise the mask is cooked because lol plastic bag. Since it was made of worbla it basically heated itself out of shape and got all wrinkly to the point it wouldn't work. I was really disappointed and in that situation brought it anyways to use it as a posing prop. Before it would actually fit nicely on my face but now it was just completely cooked. So I spent the rest of Sunday at the dealers room, trying to take pictures and searching for w.e Fire Emblem cosplayers I could find. I met up with my friend Danrey at the panel where he took confession pics as well as a video of my Gerome. It was nice being able to catch up with him and hopefully one day he will have his Frederick done so we can do a group cosplay. After that I tried to enter the panel but apparently they were full so i stuck around in RWBY anyways before I went off. I finally managed to find Tommy who was cosplaying chuunibyou and ending up chatting a little so it was nice seeing him and meeting his girlfriend also. I was a little sad I didn't catch them both in their FE:A cosplays because his Owain and his girlfriend's Cynthia were amazingly detailed. So after this it was simply pics, tears, and killing time. There was one girl who fangasm'd hard over me because she loved Gerome and said nobody ever did him so I felt a little good to be able to have at least 1 admirer. Although I felt cheated a little because my little brother who wore my Marth got a lot more photo requests of him alone with me standing beside him and half of those people didn't even realize I was an existing Fire Emblem Awakening character. You'd hear "hey Marth! I love your costume and I'm a huge fan of FE! can I get your picture?" but wouldn't even recognize me somehow. Although some didn't know who Gerome was, a few others did and I can't blame casuals for not getting that far in the game or pairing off every character and getting every child. In the end I didn't care as much but I felt like shit for showing up all three days late and missing out the one event I had set to go to. Overall, truly disappointed and eternally depressed.



Tommy as Makoto and his girlfriend as Rikka of Chuunibyou



Me as Gerome and my brother as Masked Marth of Fire Emblem Awakening


This year has killed me pretty hard inside and it has made me realize that I never want to do another late cosplay again even if i need that extra day or two to finish. I'm going to play it safe and say If I don't make it by this day then fuk it, I don't go at all. This way I won't feel like shit for showing up with nothing and that I know it's my fault for doing this last minute. Definitely going to plan early and work early for w.e upcoming conventions and I know I tried saying that the past few years but this year it really struck me hard so I keep my word from here on. I'd like to say thanks to all the friends of mine who made this year worth going regardless of the shitty experience. For future conventions I have plans to attend Otakuthon since I want to be able to spend more time with my friends from outside the province and experience their home convention for once. I'll likely be bringing Gerome over and working on another cosplay, possibly Zen from Persona Q or another If I can manage. I'll also be attending ConBravo again since it's just downtown where I live. In terms of cosplay plans in general, I have nothing really set on my mind but I'm considering doing simpler cosplays or cosplays that aren't heavily armored so I'll have more freedom in relaxing as well as won't kill myself struggling to finish it. Or maybe more armor cause you can never have enough armor loool.


Gangrel of Fire Emblem Awakening

Chie and best girl Naoto of Persona 4

Female Tactician of Fire Emblem Awakening