Remodelling Dark Souls

Because I'm brave (read: brave on the internet, sometimes), I realised that an article solely cursing Dark Souls for a lack of a developed narrative when I've yet to see that entire narrative would feel somewhat false. And slightly cruel, as this is a retrospective, and they're so often filled with nostalgia and toothy grins. So I decided to tag-team it with a topic I'm sure will have the game’s fans foaming at the mouth.

I'd like to tell you how I would fix Dark Souls.

No, seriously. I'm tired of trying to analyse it in a way that allows me to delve into it at a deep level when playing it feels like work — despite the promise of small tidbits of story and character development hidden behind kilometres of hostile entities and environments with little reward save bragging rights. This game is broken, not because it's low in quality, or because there's something mechanically wrong with it, but because it's not really quite sure what it is. So how would I go about finding it, you ask?

Well, it boils down two my two main issues — the cinematics and the soul system. Honestly, I’d remove them both. While this seems a little extreme and almost game-breaking (read: more brand-breaking, if anything) in the case of souls, there are sound reasons behind why doing so would make Dark Souls a better experience for someone who wants the subtle narrative elements and unsettling theme of isolation to step into the spotlight. First up, the story issue.

Strip out the cinematics.

No, really, strip them out completely. You can't promise people an experience based on a strong back-story and then dump them in a narrative wasteland, with nothing to guide them towards the next snippet of exposition save the odd reasonably-placed NPC. (Although I think "reasonably placed" is a little too complimentary given From Software’s sadistic approach to twisting or removing traditional gaming conveniences).

What I'm suggesting instead is keeping the small snippets — those rare allusions to a greater series of mechanisms operating out of sight of your noble warrior, slowly revealing themselves as time goes on. Dark Souls thrives on mystery, and people celebrate this aspect of it without considering the impact that total narrative isolation would have. In fact, I wouldn't even give you a character customisation screen — I'd fire you screaming into the Undead Asylum and watch you figure it out while all sorts of violent creatures rained potential death upon you.

The reason for this no-holds-barred, minimalist version I have in my head is that Dark Souls is a game that I want to read into on a far deeper level. Take the currency of souls, for example. This isn't the first time souls have been used as a collectible item, but I've yet to see a character in a game, controllable or otherwise, ponder whose soul it is they're picking up. You go through thousands (if not millions) of them in Dark Souls, and despite the exposition awarded to knights, monsters and kings, there's never any mention of the millions that have died prior to your arrival.

Ditch the souls, and replace them with experience bars.

No, come on — put the pitchfork down and hear me out, for a minute. You're collecting souls — why? Because their experience assists your skill increases? Because they're currency? Why are you fighting to get them back again after you die? It makes no sense. Your player character knows the land, knows the enemies — one of them's just run him through with an eight-foot spear. In a world where narrative is so subtle, the world so well-crafted, it seems almost nonsensical to keep a spendable high-score.

I mean, who were they? Why, in a world where ghosts are a viable concept, do they not interact with you? It's an odd contradiction, and one that leads me to believe that fantasy-genre foes such as the malevolent spirits you're likely to encounter during your travels are thrown in simply to be ghosts. What defines them? Are they souls that have rebelled against the system, refusing to be collected and, as a result, are hostile towards you, the collector-in-chief?

The NPCs From Software have designed for both this game and its predecessor Demon's Souls are no different in their mysterious identities. You're never quite sure whom to trust, but let me tell you this: If it were me, I'd not be throwing my lot in with a bloke who sold me a mace for the souls of a thousand dead. So who do you see as the hero, in this piece? The NPCs who trade items for souls, or you, the one who consumes them like marshmallows at a bonfire in order to bolster your own abilities?

Dark Souls is bleak, man. There's no real victory, save the occasional, fleeting mechanical dodge-block-smite that you pull off with enough practice. What I'm suggesting is a little idea, but one I think would fundamentally change the way you read the game, if you're a narrative-obsessed pedant with a desire to choke every ounce of meaning out of the most barren of built worlds [In which case you’re certainly not alone around here. – Ed.].

I have no issues with the concept of souls as a resource, but in a world where you are one individual struggling against the sheer might of the many evil forces arrayed against you, why are they not coming to your aid? Who are you, exactly, that you simply reap the spirits of the dead in order to fuel your engine of violence and death as you drive it slowly towards those ultimately responsible for desecrating this vast land?

Within the genre itself, and the mechanics of the game, the souls system works, but to frame Dark Souls with an intriguing narrative and then devolve your saving of the world into a collect-'em-up does a great disservice to the potential of a tale worth telling. I'm just not entirely sure From Software realised how effective their game world could command exposition and motivation when they penned a melodramatic fantasy explosion to kick it off with.

I suppose this is the crux of my problem with Dark Souls: It doesn't really seem to know what game it is. Is it an elite arcade hack-and-slash RPG, or one of the most brilliantly crafted and subtly delivered tales in gaming history? I've no idea, but then again, I'm also busy preparing myself for the onslaught of angry denial. Are you as confused as I am?

Comments

Pages

"It doesn't really seem to know what game it is"

Maybe the existence of this write-up proves that it is exactly what it means to be : )

drew327 wrote:

"It doesn't really seem to know what game it is"

Maybe the existence of this write-up proves that it is exactly what it means to be : )

That was smart, sir. You win. I'll get my coat.

I see your point, and agree with you on the points about the storytelling. I also agree that there is some cognitive dissonance on the whole "souls" issue.

But I disagree that souls should be placed with experience bars. Many modern RPG's (or games with RPG elements) allow the player to grind up to a level where they can totally disregard the hazards the game throws at them.

e.g. In Skyrim I eventually build to a point where even the giants no longer pose a credible threat.

Having the souls system ensures that there is always a level of risk the player must deal with. A permanent unchanging experience bar would permit players to simply brute force many of the challenges in Dark Souls.

I noticed on my second character that I was completing challenges a much lower level's than my first play. I was better at the game and my skill level was making up for my character's lack in experience. This is where I believe Dark Souls really shines. Skill can be just as, or more, important than your character's level.

Thank you for the interesting article.

I actually think the change from souls would have the opposite effect. The first time I killed an enemy in Demon's Souls I received a certain number of souls from that enemy. Why? Because that's how many of this ruined world's former inhabitants this monster has murdered! The terrible demons of this world have not only killed the inhabitants, but stolen their immortal souls to gain in power. When I search a hidden corner and find the 'Soul of a Hero', that's not just one big soul - that's another crusader, like me, who strove to free the souls of mankind from the demons. To me, the conceit of souls is the BEST narrative invention of either game.

DS does what standard RPGs can only dream of: it takes experiential growth and improvement away from "the character" and puts them into YOU, the player! My 'character' is not learning much of anything. He doesn't learn the enemy placements or attack patterns, he doesn't learn where to jump. He learns to cast a fireball, sure, but that's it. HE isn't the one improving through experience. *I* am. This is the central draw of these games for most people, I think, is learning them and improving as a player.

This is where the Soul conceit comes in so handy as a shorthand for character improvement. The stronger the enemy, the more people it has killed, therefore the more souls it has and the stronger it grows. The same is true for your character. Collect more souls and you become stronger. Die and those souls are taken from you. Unlike normal RPGs where the weak conceit of generic 'experience' is taken as an excuse to give you a sense of progression, in DS there is a clear and intelligible goal - save the souls of mankind from these monsters, and in turn their strength is lent to you.

The very best part is how this lets your character play God - are you saving these souls? Redeeming them through righteous and valiant victory over evil? Or do you amass them greedily, striving only to become the most powerful demon of all?

As far as I'm concerned, this is the only 'tale' either game has been able to tell at all. I love them both to bits, but the stories are total nonsense. Only, nonsense told in the perhaps most stylish and beautiful manner I've seen this generation.

Seconding the call on "sense of risk". Without the souls mechanic, there is little at stake in a game that has save checkpoints (unconventional in function as they may be), respawns enemies in the same locations every time, and provides the player with infinite lives.

Dark Souls handles leveling *well* - you have pre-reqs for certain actions and must work within the limitations of your stats, but grinding offers limited and diminishing returns. You get much further through upgrading weapons/armor, making choice purchases in the way of consumables, and so on.

As for calling them souls? It's a bit vague, but in my mind, it's pretty good when you consider that you're playing as an undead character in a universe where souls have some value but are ultimately inferior to the forces of fire, sorcery, and sheer physical force. In the face of fire -a force *key* to the world's history!-

Spoiler:

the comparative weakness/flawed nature of soul magic is heavily implied by the backstory regarding the lineage of the Chaos Witches

, if you take the time to suss it out from item descriptions and character dialog. Souls are appropriate for a currency/XP replacement in Dark Souls because they are not strong or super-special - they are weak and they are plentiful but only if you can kill a lot of things. Serving as a multi-faceted commodity, souls can be consumed in a large number of ways but the undead shall always want more for increasingly minimal and spurious gains, none of which directly change the nature of being cursed undead (which is why humanity is a separate mechanism and is more powerful in the way of health restoration, rare item drops, and bonfire kindling). Considering the perceived value of the soul in most mythology, this promotes the sense of bleakness and isolation thematically central to the game like friggin' gangbusters!

ianunderhill wrote:

Souls are appropriate for a currency/XP replacement in Dark Souls because they are not strong or super-special - they are weak and they are plentiful but only if you can kill a lot of things. Serving as a multi-faceted commodity, souls can be consumed in a large number of ways but the undead shall always want more for increasingly minimal and spurious gains, none of which directly change the nature of being cursed undead (which is why humanity is a separate mechanism and is more powerful in the way of health restoration, rare item drops, and bonfire kindling). Considering the perceived value of the soul in most mythology, this promotes the sense of bleakness and isolation thematically central to the game like friggin' gangbusters!

Interesting and well put!

I like the idea of turning boss souls into weapons. I've started leveling up weapons just so I can kill each boss with the weapon that will eventually hold their soul. This has proven to be a dangerous and ill-conceived bit of vanity.

Wraith: I'm not suggesting we ditch the risk factor, just the souls as items. The risk factor is an extremely important part of both games, and while it's frustrating, it makes you think very carefully before you act.

notomtolose: I 100% agree, having souls come from that enemy is a big signifier that they're a reaper, of sorts, and the more souls they contain, the more they must have consumed, so it's a great way of "scaling evil", as it were.

However, my issue is this: ghosts. There are ghosts in Dark Souls, and there are also souls in Dark Souls. This doesn't work for a very simple reason - you can't have both, and if you do, you need exposition to explain why these two concepts can co-exist. Even a little bit of realism (one soul per ghost killed) would help. I just thin the inclusion of spirit mobs in a game where spirits are seen as currency is a plot hole if it lacks the necessary explanation.

ianunderhill: Totally - the bleak aspect of the undead simply wanting souls to become more powerful is great, but as I said to notomtolose, the identity of a soul clashes with the identity of mobs in the game that are basically souls themselves. If they've managed to rebel against the system, are they embracing evil? Would they not back off if they saw you as an innocent human? Why can you reap other souls, but not even strike the ghost mobs until you're equipped with magical weaponry?

My issue is that Dark Souls offers you a grand tale, and then dumps you in the same black hole of exposition the first game did, minus the focus of the Nexus for NPC interaction and storytelling. Now, while I enjoy that black hole and think it's one of the most bold and creative approaches to storytelling in modern games, it's also turned into a disappointment for those who see the opening cutscene and don't understand why that strong narrative basis isn't followed through on.

In Demon's Souls, the game opens with a cutscene depicting combat, and the ally mechanic. That's it. There's no storyline, no nothing - everything reveals itself slowly and painfully, and that reflection of how difficult information can be to gain about your surroundings in real life (minus the internet) is pretty great. Dark Souls momentarily leapfrogs it and throws souls and spirits into the mix in a way that makes me feel that fantasy mob clichés were more important than thinking through aspects of the narrative that would negatively affect people who enjoy reading games as much as they do playing them.

Wait, does the souls "problem" essentially just boil down to wanting them to be renamed? Because if renaming them as "life essence" would solve this issue I'm going to go ahead and assume this is a non-issue. And given that in western european mythology only a rare few people go on to become ghosts, there doesn't really seem to be an issue that souls can go on to have varied different fates.

Also within the mechanics of the game souls are presented as singular objects that you can consume (A Soul of a Proud Knight, The Soul of the moonlight butterfly and so on), it isn't presented as though the sparkly objects are literally 800 souls. It seems to me that the numerical values are a reflection of how important/powerful that soul was. Sure, there is a bit of a game-y disjoin in converting these objects to a numerical value but what you lose in narrative disjointedness you gain in the system being both expedient and understandable.

Personally, I have no problem with the 3 minutes of exposition at the start of a 70 hour game. Now that I'm actually thinking about it I suppose I kind of like the way the grand narrative is immediately counterpointed by what is a very singular, lonely, individualistic tale. The game is literally full of the grand and monumental being held in contrast against the diminutive (typically the player).

DanB: Basically, yes. I'd rename them and just go with experience, although to be fair, that is somewhat immersion-breaking as the souls are part of the world. Perhaps something worth thinking about in more detail in terms of what to replace them with.

RE: the large souls, it's a good point - they are supposed to reflect more power, but I read them as the souls collected by the individual who drops the item, i.e. bosses drop more because they're capable of racking up more kills and harvesting more souls than say, an undead stumbling about by itself.

I like the way you view the exposition at the start, but I do think it can throw players, especially considering how the previous game started with none and built it up slowly, whereas this one promises you the world and then delivers none of it. Sure, it adds to the bleak nature of the game, but for those not going into the game with any prior knowledge (I knew the game and its predecessor, so that's not me), I think it might be somewhat confusing, or even misleading.

CY wrote:

but for those not going into the game with any prior knowledge (I knew the game and its predecessor, so that's not me), I think it might be somewhat confusing, or even misleading.

I came in to the game with no prior experience of Demon's Souls and little knowledge of the game beyond "it's hard!" and it seemed to fit for me.

That said, I have a slightly irrational love of Cate Blanchett's opening narrative at the start of the first of Peter Jackson's LotR films. The opening narration in Dark Souls is so reminiscent of that I think I would find it hard not to like it

DanB: That's fair enough - personally, having seen the way Demon's Souls did it, this felt a little off, but I really do like your mindset on the opening cinematic and then nothing. Totally turns it around, for me. Maybe worth keeping in mind if I delve in again.

I too have come into the game relatively fresh. I played a very small amount of Demons' Souls before I gave up. I can see you point about the lack of story, and how calling them "souls" can disjoint the system from the narrative of the game.

I like the point ianunderhill made about souls becoming the dominant currency of the land. In fact you can even find gold coins in the game that thus far I have found no use for. They simply are there to remind the player that this world has seriously fallen apart.

Wraith wrote:

I like the point ianunderhill made about souls becoming the dominant currency of the land. In fact you can even find gold coins in the game that thus far I have found no use for. They simply are there to remind the player that this world has seriously fallen apart.

You can feed them to Kingseeker in exchange for -- wait for it -- souls.

These changes would make the game, pretty much like any other game, and that to me would be disappointing. Every game has experience bars. Every game has more (sometimes too much) story/backstory/narrative. They could make ____ Souls games for (I'm waiting for Puppy souls in 2017) and I would buy them all. I like that it is different, and mysterious, and difficult, and sometimes confounding. If I didn't want that, I would play one of the other 1804 games on the market in this genre.

/soapbox

ianunderhill wrote:

The mobs holding souls ascribes them a sense of morality since when? They have souls on them which they lose upon death, same as the PC, so those are souls they haven't consumed - they're holding.

I never said they'd consumed souls, I said they'd harvested them from the dead. We're actually in agreement on this point.

ianunderhill wrote:

Also, I'd imagine that the (enemy) ghosts that can pass through walls and defy gravity without perceivable physical exertion would require something special to take damage. They interact with the material world differently, end of story.

Magic weaponry and ethereal enemies has been a staplemark of fantasy combat since The Elder Scrolls, if not early. My issue wasn't with the fact you needed magically-charged weapons or magic to damage them, just that there didn't really seem to be any definition between an angry spirit and a collectible one.

ianunderhill wrote:

So you're disappointed that other people might not follow an open ended story that leaves lots of room for interpretation while you yourself think it's cool? That's...uh, considerate of you? The game's marketing and all the talk around it did a fine job of presenting it as a different, challenging experience that doesn't involve hand holding, so not only should there be no expectation of handholding, but the only person liable to play the game expecting lengthy cut scenes or traditional narrative elements is someone who missed all of that. I say it's their problem, not that of the game. Honestly, if running around a heavily stylized, hostile world where everything has specific names, unique appearances, and lengthy item descriptions doesn't leave you curious enough to put the pieces together, you're probably the type of person who doesn't *like* narrative and so it's a moot point.

Okay, I'm not entirely sure why you seem to have taken on the opinion that I'm slamming the game for not utilising handholding. I'm saying completely the opposite - I enjoy the fact there's none of that to deal with, and would in fact strip out the cinematics to emphasise the lack of signposting.

I think judging a gamer as deserving of disappointment because they saw cutscenes and epic battles and then got a bare minimum of story doesn't make it "their problem". Games like Dark Souls are extremely rare these days, and it's not uncommon to expect a story, even a basic one, or some signposting that gives them more direction - even some of the most open games (Skyrim, GTA IV) have guided the player in a way that helps rather than hinders the experience, and in a way that renders your choice to be guided completely optional. That this game is very different from its open-world comrades in that respect is not always the fault of your average gamer, who may not consume all the marketing and media and simply see, say, the opening cutscene on YouTube.

I'd argue that a career forged in analysing and creating narrative would be indicative of my enjoyment of it. Again, I think you totally missed the point - I have no problem at all with it being mysterious and barren of information - I just disagree with bracketing that experience with something quite exposition heavy: the cutscenes.

Clemenstation wrote:
Wraith wrote:

I like the point ianunderhill made about souls becoming the dominant currency of the land. In fact you can even find gold coins in the game that thus far I have found no use for. They simply are there to remind the player that this world has seriously fallen apart.

You can feed them to Kingseeker in exchange for -- wait for it -- souls.

Hah, that's brilliant. Like changing up some shillings into pennies.

Clemenstation wrote:
ianunderhill wrote:

Souls are appropriate for a currency/XP replacement in Dark Souls because they are not strong or super-special - they are weak and they are plentiful but only if you can kill a lot of things. Serving as a multi-faceted commodity, souls can be consumed in a large number of ways but the undead shall always want more for increasingly minimal and spurious gains, none of which directly change the nature of being cursed undead (which is why humanity is a separate mechanism and is more powerful in the way of health restoration, rare item drops, and bonfire kindling). Considering the perceived value of the soul in most mythology, this promotes the sense of bleakness and isolation thematically central to the game like friggin' gangbusters!

Interesting and well put!

I like the idea of turning boss souls into weapons. I've started leveling up weapons just so I can kill each boss with the weapon that will eventually hold their soul. This has proven to be a dangerous and ill-conceived bit of vanity.

Reminds me of soul-gems in Elder Scrolls games.

Anyway, now I want to make someone write about how bosses in the Souls series resemble megacorporations.

Right. I'm still about 10 comments behind in this thread. Back to it!

CY wrote:
ianunderhill wrote:

Also, I'd imagine that the (enemy) ghosts that can pass through walls and defy gravity without perceivable physical exertion would require something special to take damage. They interact with the material world differently, end of story.

Magic weaponry and ethereal enemies has been a staplemark of fantasy combat since The Elder Scrolls, if not early. My issue wasn't with the fact you needed magically-charged weapons or magic to damage them, just that there didn't really seem to be any definition between an angry spirit and a collectible one.

I believe that's a D&D staple.

wordsmythe wrote:
CY wrote:
ianunderhill wrote:

Also, I'd imagine that the (enemy) ghosts that can pass through walls and defy gravity without perceivable physical exertion would require something special to take damage. They interact with the material world differently, end of story.

Magic weaponry and ethereal enemies has been a staplemark of fantasy combat since The Elder Scrolls, if not early. My issue wasn't with the fact you needed magically-charged weapons or magic to damage them, just that there didn't really seem to be any definition between an angry spirit and a collectible one.

I believe that's a D&D staple.

God damn, I actually wondered about D&D as I wrote that.

I guess I still don't see the conflict. Everyone knows ghosts aren't normal; souls become ghosts either because they are very evil or because some very specific and personal evil befalls them. Everyone is born with a soul, but only either occultists or very tragic figures become ghosts! If anything, the idea that souls grant power makes ghosts MORE appropriate, to me.

More importantly, I feel that 'experience' is now and-has-always-been a much more mood-breaking conceit. EVERY RPG gives you this generic and meaningless 'experience' and I always feel like it's a cop-out. I find the 'souls' conceit infinitely more palatable, even if I agreed that it were somehow in direct conflict with the existence of 'ghosts'.

I can see this is entirely a matter of perspective, however. We don't really disagree about anything.

Also, re: your tweets: I totally got to see IGTM last Friday. It was AWESOME.

CY, I only mentioned hand-holding because it's one of the staples of other games with blatantly obvious narrative movements in them. The absence of any one of the factors I mentioned above should serve as a fine indication that this game isn't "normal" and your (the player's, not CY's) expectations should be adjusted accordingly.

Here's something I was thinking about today that I think you should take into consideration: it's very important to remember that the opening cutscene is a prologue. It's not about anything directly involving the player's character, it's all setup. "Here, there were powerful dudes! There was conflict! Crazy, insane stuff went down!" Then there's a fade and it shows you in the asylum and the game begins. It's the only narrative cutscene in the entire game, but more importantly, it's historical information. It functions completely differently from any of the short, dialog-less "stuff is happening now!" vignettes. The only player who's going to have trouble with the difference is, again, the type of person who likes skipping "all that boring talky/ready crap" and either plays through for a super challenging action RPG experience (a valid route that is not at all in conflict with the perceived "problem" of non-obvious narrative) or quits after being frustrated that they can't button-mash their way through it. I don't see the problem here, and the more I think about it, the less I'm convinced it exists.

Note the definitionally perfect fanwank here:

notomtolose wrote:

This is where the Soul conceit comes in so handy as a shorthand for character improvement. The stronger the enemy, the more people it has killed, therefore the more souls it has and the stronger it grows. The same is true for your character. Collect more souls and you become stronger. Die and those souls are taken from you.

As to CY's two points...

#1 story & cinematic.

Dark Souls to me seems like it copies Diablo's storytelling. A few high-quality but vaguely related to you cutscenes, and little else. Diablo's...texts/scrolls?...seem to be replaced by snippets from rare NPCs, however. I preferred Diablo on that. I don't have a problem with DK's storytelling...what replacement would you, CY, or anyone else, want in place of it? To hide all of the lore into in-game characters and whatnot?

#2 souls

I don't care whether you call them souls, or call them experience, or life-force, or whatever you want. As long as you LOSE THEM and have to collect them off your corpse, the name doesn't matter. What I am absolutely opposed to, though, is a perpetually grindy experience-point system, ala WoW or thousands of other RPGs. I choose to play at whatever level I want, and revel in the excitement of currency-death.

notomtolose wrote:

More importantly, I feel that 'experience' is now and-has-always-been a much more mood-breaking conceit. EVERY RPG gives you this generic and meaningless 'experience' and I always feel like it's a cop-out. I find the 'souls' conceit infinitely more palatable, even if I agreed that it were somehow in direct conflict with the existence of 'ghosts'.

Agreed. Some bits of Skyrim (wokka-wokka!) made me feel good about a smart application of XP ("if I practice more sneaking, I get better at it!"), but on the whole, XP is lame and busted. If I've been through a ton of battles, why the hell would going through all that make me physically more resistant to anything?! My bones would be full of hairline fractures and I'd be sore and misshapen. I'd need *lots* of recovery to benefit! Beyond all explained above, and specific to this game, souls allow for *abstraction* - I have my undead never-dying body that never goes insane, and I can take from things I kill and marginally improve various aspects of my person. Experience, as described in and of itself, becomes unwieldy if you never really can die.

Sorry, and as someone who doesn't even believe in them, it's *very* strange to say this, but...souls make sense!

Should I be offended? I'm not about to google any term that has 'wank' in it.

I'm definitely a huge nerdy fan of these games. I got my 1000 points in Dark Souls, and I'd have a platinum in Demon's as well if it didn't mean probably a full day of grinding for Pure Bladestone... grumble grumble...

CY wrote:

ianunderhill: Totally - the bleak aspect of the undead simply wanting souls to become more powerful is great, but as I said to notomtolose, the identity of a soul clashes with the identity of mobs in the game that are basically souls themselves. If they've managed to rebel against the system, are they embracing evil? Would they not back off if they saw you as an innocent human? Why can you reap other souls, but not even strike the ghost mobs until you're equipped with magical weaponry?

The mobs holding souls ascribes them a sense of morality since when? They have souls on them which they lose upon death, same as the PC, so those are souls they haven't consumed - they're holding. If you have any complaint, it should probably be focused on rampant overloading of the word "hollow". In the sense most relevant to the matter at hand, we can look at an NPC who stops being communicative and goes hollow - they become hostile to the PC because hollowing completely (which you, being branded with the Dark Sign, can't) involves a loss of sanity. Who's to say this is specifically hostile to you, particularly when you have other PC ghosts running around who belong to varying covenants (or none at all)?

Also, I'd imagine that the (enemy) ghosts that can pass through walls and defy gravity without perceivable physical exertion would require something special to take damage. They interact with the material world differently, end of story.

CY wrote:

My issue is that Dark Souls offers you a grand tale, and then dumps you in the same black hole of exposition the first game did, minus the focus of the Nexus for NPC interaction and storytelling. Now, while I enjoy that black hole and think it's one of the most bold and creative approaches to storytelling in modern games, it's also turned into a disappointment for those who see the opening cutscene and don't understand why that strong narrative basis isn't followed through on.

So you're disappointed that other people might not follow an open ended story that leaves lots of room for interpretation while you yourself think it's cool? That's...uh, considerate of you? The game's marketing and all the talk around it did a fine job of presenting it as a different, challenging experience that doesn't involve hand holding, so not only should there be no expectation of handholding, but the only person liable to play the game expecting lengthy cut scenes or traditional narrative elements is someone who missed all of that. I say it's their problem, not that of the game. Honestly, if running around a heavily stylized, hostile world where everything has specific names, unique appearances, and lengthy item descriptions doesn't leave you curious enough to put the pieces together, you're probably the type of person who doesn't *like* narrative and so it's a moot point.

Fanwank is the delta of/difference between exerted passion on a given pop-cultural subject and the concerned person's (or "fan's") willingness to invoke Godwin.

You're doing fine.

So basically change Dark Souls, a game that is very unique in a world filled with talkative RPGs, JRPGs and shooter mania, and replace it to be similar to what's already on the market? I don't see the point of this. I'm very glad Dark Souls even exists as an experience very different from anything I've played before it. We don't need to mainstream it.

Skyrim (wokka-wokka!)

Lolwut.

DSGamer wrote:

So basically change Dark Souls, a game that is very unique in a world filled with talkative RPGs, JRPGs and shooter mania, and replace it to be similar to what's already on the market? I don't see the point of this. I'm very glad Dark Souls even exists as an experience very different from anything I've played before it. We don't need to mainstream it.

I thought his idea was to make it less like other games on the market, by stripping out more of the narrative stuff.

Ultimately, what I think the goal is, is to take the similarities with a Myst or Zork (wherein the player has to figure things out from themself) and let that show through by getting the standard narrative clutter out of the way.

wordsmythe wrote:

I thought his idea was to make it less like other games on the market, by stripping out more of the narrative stuff.

Ultimately, what I think the goal is, is to take the similarities with a Myst or Zork (wherein the player has to figure things out from themself) and let that show through by getting the standard narrative clutter out of the way.

Yep, that's exactly what I meant. I wouldn't change the narrative in the playable game for a second - it's just the cutscenes I'd get rid of, because I love the subtle way the world reveals itself to you piece by piece, and think that the opening cutscenes contrast too strongly with that.

I only went with experience simply because I think souls clash with some of the enemies you find in-game. I just think it's a little weird. The bosses stay dead, right? But the enemies don't. So by that logic, the game can't be completely resetting itself, and thus the player-character must remember where he died. Right?

This is my issue with Dark Souls - the emergent narrative is well-done, but I think there's a lot of holes that detract from the realism. I tried to rationalise the reset mechanic in my last piece on the game, but I do think there's a massive difference between achieving a subtle and appealing world, and appealing a sense of realism that doesn't cause someone to go "wait, why does that reset but not that? Why are there souls and ghosts?" etc.

This is my issue with Dark Souls - the emergent narrative is well-done, but I think there's a lot of holes that detract from the realism. I tried to rationalise the reset mechanic in my last piece on the game, but I do think there's a massive difference between achieving a subtle and appealing world, and appealing a sense of realism that doesn't cause someone to go "wait, why does that reset but not that? Why are there souls and ghosts?" etc.

Ah. Sorry, I get it now. I'm totally with you on the emergent narrative. The narrative you can even make up in your head as you explore. A lot like Myst in that respect. So I would heartily agree with that sentiment. I hated especially that the game started with a cutscene.

I disagree about things like souls and enemy mechanics getting in the way of the realism. I would say that you want a different game, once again in that case. You want a game I'd love to have as long as they make a separate thing and don't ruin Dark Souls. I'd love to play the thing you're talking about but would prefer that From Software get to work on Dark Souls Portable for Vita (a wish).

Pages