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Old 04-04-2020, 03:32 AM
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The 'Dark Souls'-approach to gaming bothers me


Now, just to get that out of the way: I'm not much of a gamer; in fact, I'm probably pretty crap at most of the games I play.

But I'd heard good things about the Dark Souls franchise, notably from Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee. So I eventually thought I'd give it a try. It's one of the very few games I ever bought on Steam, and returned.

It's not so much that it's hard. I'm used to games being hard---for me, anyway. To me, the problem is that there doesn't really seem to be any way to avoid dying all the time. The only strategy, it seems, to deal with difficult monsters is to keep dying until you get it right, either by accident, or by finally figuring out the precise combination of dodges, attacks, counterattacks and whatnot to prevail.

That, to me, completely breaks the immersion. I can see where perhaps a certain type of gamer, who plays games as a sort of exercise in reflex and reaction, might enjoy this, but apparently, I'm not that type of gamer. I want to have a certain narrative illusion. I want to be under the impression that the protagonist actually could've overcome every obstacle, and not just relied on dying and getting resurrected a lot (although, thinking about that, it would be kinda fun to write a fantasy satire where the hero uniquely has the power to die, and come back, and through no other skill than that eventually conquers their enemies...).

I want a story where Theseus kills the Minotaur through skill and cunning, not through being ground into a fine paste 300 times until he manages to find the right combination of jumps, sword-swings and rolls to whittle him down.

It also strikes me as somewhat lazy. It's far harder to make a convincing confrontation that's challenging, yet nowhere unfair, than to have the boss just have like three attacks that are nigh-impossible to dodge and insta-kill you. And yes, I am writing this because I'm currently trying, and failing, to beat such a boss---Gluttony in Darksiders III.

Still, though, I'm also curious if I'm just approaching this with the wrong frame of mind. If you like, love, or worship Souls-like games, what is it that draws you in?

And of course, if you're just as frustrated as I am, feel free to vent, too. I'm gonna go prepare for another rage-quit...
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Old 04-04-2020, 05:13 AM
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I agree with you completely, especially regarding the immersion aspect.

I've found that the attitude is most common in Japanese games, and it reflects a very Japanese approach to life - that one must practice the same thing over and over again until one achieves perfection. And I agree, that's a perfectly valid approach to life... it just isn't in any way fun. My idea of fun is doing something once, screwing up, almost failing, but then somehow pulling through in the last minute. Succeeding despite my imperfection is much more satisfying than achieving perfection.
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Old 04-04-2020, 06:11 AM
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I agree with you completely, especially regarding the immersion aspect.

I've found that the attitude is most common in Japanese games, and it reflects a very Japanese approach to life - that one must practice the same thing over and over again until one achieves perfection. And I agree, that's a perfectly valid approach to life... it just isn't in any way fun. My idea of fun is doing something once, screwing up, almost failing, but then somehow pulling through in the last minute. Succeeding despite my imperfection is much more satisfying than achieving perfection.
Yeah, I think that's a part of it. A game that gives you the impression of just barely hanging in there, getting through by the skin of your teeth, with moments of 'holy shit!' interspersed with the thrill of having pulled through, to me, is more satisfying than coming up against an enemy, knowing you'll probably die thirty times before getting it right once.
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Old 04-04-2020, 08:46 AM
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I grew up on Dungeons and Dragons, and while we often joke about savescumming ("I'm gonna grab the lich's staff out of her hand, but first I want to quicksave just in case it doesn't work"), of course that's not really a part of the game. Also, I prefer character-heavy rpg, so a character death is a rare and momentous occurrence. Unwinnable fights aren't really my jam either.
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Old 04-04-2020, 11:40 AM
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I don't mind a certain amount of trial-and-error gameplay, but after a certain point my interest drops to zero pretty quickly, especially if you have to play through 15 minutes of easy game in order to get to the hard part each time you retry.

I never finished Dark Souls, for what it's worth.
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Old 04-04-2020, 12:18 PM
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I’ve always measured my satisfaction with the difficulty of a game in the number of attempts it takes to pass a boss or a level. The magic number for me personally is 3 in regards to minor bosses.
A lot of the Zelda games seem to get this right. Attempt #1 is the first appearance of the boss and you are just scrambling for survival and observing what you can of their attacks. You die.
From your observations you come up with a couple strategies of what patterns you want to try and what item(s) you want to use and on attempt #2 you’re basically trying out your games plans and seeing what works. You still end up dying.
From your trials in attempt #2 you come up with your final battle plan and in attempt #3 achieve success in defeating the boss.
A games final boss I give some leeway to but should still take no more than 5 attempts.
Any more than that and it’s just frustrating and I lose interest fast. Even games where I stubbornly pushed on and beat a boss after 8.. 9.. 10.. attempts I never felt some type of achievement or satisfaction in doing so. Just resentment at the game designers for wasting my time and ruining the pacing of the narrative.

Last edited by Hampshire; 04-04-2020 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 04-04-2020, 01:03 PM
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I’ve always measured my satisfaction with the difficulty of a game in the number of attempts it takes to pass a boss or a level. The magic number for me personally is 3 in regards to minor bosses.
A lot of the Zelda games seem to get this right. Attempt #1 is the first appearance of the boss and you are just scrambling for survival and observing what you can of their attacks. You die.
From your observations you come up with a couple strategies of what patterns you want to try and what item(s) you want to use and on attempt #2 you’re basically trying out your games plans and seeing what works. You still end up dying.
From your trials in attempt #2 you come up with your final battle plan and in attempt #3 achieve success in defeating the boss.
A games final boss I give some leeway to but should still take no more than 5 attempts.
Any more than that and it’s just frustrating and I lose interest fast. Even games where I stubbornly pushed on and beat a boss after 8.. 9.. 10.. attempts I never felt some type of achievement or satisfaction in doing so. Just resentment at the game designers for wasting my time and ruining the pacing of the narrative.
To me, that's not quite the issue. I'm fine with things taking a couple of tries; after all, it's hard to design a game that's equally balanced for players of every skill level. But I sort of want to be able to construct a narrative in my head of how things could have gone, had I not sucked---that is, I want the story of the hero, who of course doesn't actually die, to make coherent sense in the end.

Games where the only way to beat a boss is to die lots of times break this narrative; I want for there to be a plausible, if perhaps not terribly probable, story in which the hero overcame the monster on the first try, because of course in the reality of the story, that's their only try. I want to be able to say, if I'd just played as well as I could've, and not slipped up in that part, I could've beat this without dying. So if you need to bring the knowledge gathered from failed attempts into the fight, then that's something that the hero never actually could have done in the game reality, and hence, there's really no consistent storyline of them overcoming the opponent. That's what I find frustrating.
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Old 04-04-2020, 01:56 PM
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. . . The only strategy, it seems, to deal with difficult monsters is to keep dying until you get it right, either by accident, or by finally figuring out the precise combination of dodges, attacks, counterattacks and whatnot to prevail.
This is how digital gaming in general lost me decades ago. It's not about figuring anything out. There's just how good your equipment is (does your mouse super-click? Does your joystick respond perfectly?) and how many times you die to guess the right combination. Pffft!

I'll never understand the joy in devoting hours of your life to that. Give me a puzzle to solve, a strategy to develop, a story to participate in. Put a place in the room for me to retreat and think a minute, rather than it being whether I can react without thinking so that it all happens fast enough.

Yeah. +1
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Old 04-04-2020, 06:39 PM
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This is how digital gaming in general lost me decades ago. It's not about figuring anything out. There's just how good your equipment is (does your mouse super-click? Does your joystick respond perfectly?) and how many times you die to guess the right combination. Pffft!
This isn't at all how most games are, though. There's Portal and Minecraft and Witcher and Divinity and Deus Ex and Civilization and bajillions of other games out there that don't have this approach.

Granted, I use Wikis a fair amount in playing, but that's a personal choice: you certainly don't need them for most games.
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Old 04-04-2020, 07:33 PM
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dark souls and other games in that genre was sort of a response to people complaining action RPGs or RPGs, in general, were too easy on the 32/64 bit systems or didn't have any action at all and wanted the old NES/SNES type of difficulty just with all the new bells and whistles ..... and they got it

To me, it's no different than the 30 times it took to beat the boss in the secret of mana or the rest of squares RPG line up

Of course back then it was programed that you had a 1 in 5 chance of beating the boss no matter how you were equipped and leveled ......
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Old 04-04-2020, 11:06 PM
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(although, thinking about that, it would be kinda fun to write a fantasy satire where the hero uniquely has the power to die, and come back, and through no other skill than that eventually conquers their enemies...)
That's the plot of Edge of Tomorrow, which I'm pretty sure was based on a book.
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Old 04-05-2020, 11:54 PM
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I'm not sure why it breaks your immersion. One of the things Dark Souls (well, Demons' Souls) pioneered was a diegetic death mechanic. Which is by no means the first one ever made, but is one of its strengths. It's fairly interesting compared to, say, Half-Life 2 on hard where you're basically working your way through a meat grinder and constantly quick loading.

Your character is undead and exploring a long dead Kingdom desperately trying to prolong itself. Most of the basic enemies you fight are also cursed to be undead, and just keep getting back up, hence the enemy respawns. (This breaks down a little bit in the margins, narratively, there's no real reason why some NPCs don't respawn, or why some bosses don't, or why some non-undead enemies do. You can concoct reasons but it's not air tight). It's explicitly stated that as undead die they progressively lose their mind and "hollow" which basically makes them act the same as all the mindless husks you fight. How do you go hollow? You lose your will to go on. The strong implication is that your character goes hollow and becomes another mindless husk when you, the player, gives up at the game and stops playing. I think it's a pretty neat angle. So the "chosen undead" is basically whichever poor idiot decides to meat grind their way through the trials in front of them without saying "fuck this". This is even more reinforced by both possible endings being pretty bleak and tragic (for both the world and your character in particular), especially with the added context of the sequels. There is a lot of story and lore built around this, both in Dark Souls itself and its spiritual siblings by the same director and studio. Sekiro, for instance, is a game explicitly about how immortality is a curse and using it to push through trials to basically destroy the power of immortality forever.

Dark Souls is very fair, you can almost sight read a Souls game if you're familiar with the genre and careful enough, but you almost certainly won't do that with your first one. If you play Dark Souls 1 and are pretty experienced, you will die far, far, less often on subsequent entries. It requires getting used to the rhythm and cadence of the game. When to be careful. What smells like a trap. How to lure and split up enemies. How boss battles go. Now, of course Souls games don't execute this perfectly and there are always a small handful of traps in the game bordering on cruel jokes that will probably just kill you, but the second and third Soulsborne games you play are always far, far easier.

Bosses, in particular, are generally pretty well designed. They usually only have 3-5 actual attacks, and most of the fight is being patient and learning to manage your stamina, where to sneak in hits, and how to position yourself to not get yourself in an unmanageable situation. Yes some bosses come equipped with surprises, and if you haven't invested enough in armor, a shield, or health, or haven't upgraded your healing you may not survive enough attacks to learn from your mistakes before running back. I have sight read difficult bosses just because their attack patterns clicked with me. I have also died a ton to bosses people widely considered easy chumps just because my brain didn't agree with them.

Dark Souls has a lot of DNA in common with character action games like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry or Kingdom Hearts 2/3 on Critical, but it's much slower paced, has a smaller move pool, and compared to Bayonetta and DMC in particular, is less easy to fail your way through (Bayo and DMC will let you do pretty poorly and still win, it'll just give you a bad grade).

That said, I don't think you're really missing anything. It's perfectly valid to not like games that are execution and patience heavy, I just reject the notion they're in any way poor design. They're very tightly designed, and that's even better reinforced by the games in the intervening years that have lifted elements from Dark Souls design but really are capricious poorly designed meat grinders. Hell, even predating Dark Souls I Wanna Be The Guy is the exact template of what you're accusing Dark Souls of being. A super trial and error execution heavy game that allows for no mistakes. (IWBTG isn't a bad game either, it's a joke game and the absurdity and unpredictability is, well, the joke, but if you look at both of them you can begin to see how fair Dark Souls actually is).

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I don't mind a certain amount of trial-and-error gameplay, but after a certain point my interest drops to zero pretty quickly, especially if you have to play through 15 minutes of easy game in order to get to the hard part each time you retry.
You can run past most enemies if you actually try. I can't think of more than a couple sections in most Soulsborne games I've played where you can't just sprint past every obstacle back towards a boss. This is ill advised if you don't really know where you're going, and you may have to do a couple serpentine maneuvers instead of running in a straight line to juke an enemy or two, but the longest run back in any of the games is maybe 4-5 minutes and the ones that long generally are because the closest bonfire is behind an elevator. (Well, Bloodborne is a bit worse but that's mainly because it always resurrects you in the hub world, which you need to teleport from, and its loading screens are obnoxiously long).

The runback is also a soft, subtle grinding mechanic if you do decide to kill the enemies. Since the souls will accumulate at your bloodstain when you make it back to the boss and retrieve it, your pending soul pool will keep getting bigger and bigger, so when you finally defeat the boss you have a huge pool of souls you can use on level ups and upgrades to make future encounters easier. I want to be clear: it's entirely possible to beat souls games at soul level 1, and not even particularly tedious if you know what you're doing, but the fact that they're stat based does mean that this mechanic is leveraged with run backs to make things easier on players who die a lot via some very subtle soft rubberbanding.

Last edited by Jragon; 04-05-2020 at 11:57 PM.
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Old 04-06-2020, 12:01 AM
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Has the OP considered gitting gud, perhaps?
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Old 04-06-2020, 12:19 AM
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Has the OP considered gitting gud, perhaps?
"Gitting gud"? What is that, Dutch?
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Old 04-06-2020, 12:32 AM
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"Gitting gud"? What is that, Dutch?
""Git gud," an intentional misspelling of the phrase "get good," is an expression used to heckle inexperienced players or newbies in online video games, similar to the use of the phrase "lurk more" on forums...

In February 2012, the phrase started to gain significant momentum on 4chan's /v/ (Video Games) and other video game-related boards, particularly within the Dark Souls and Call of Duty communities."
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Old 04-06-2020, 02:42 AM
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""Git gud," an intentional misspelling of the phrase "get good," is an expression used to heckle inexperienced players or newbies in online video games, similar to the use of the phrase "lurk more" on forums...

In February 2012, the phrase started to gain significant momentum on 4chan's /v/ (Video Games) and other video game-related boards, particularly within the Dark Souls and Call of Duty communities."
First of all, whoosh.

Second of all, I find the mindset somewhat alien. I've never wanted to be good at video games. I love games, and I play them a lot, but I've never aspired toward anything beyond general competence. If I can play an average game at average difficulty with just enough of a challenge for it to be fun, I'm happy. Being a master gamer has never been one of my life goals.
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Old 04-07-2020, 12:16 PM
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I'm not sure why it breaks your immersion. One of the things Dark Souls (well, Demons' Souls) pioneered was a diegetic death mechanic. Which is by no means the first one ever made, but is one of its strengths. It's fairly interesting compared to, say, Half-Life 2 on hard where you're basically working your way through a meat grinder and constantly quick loading.
To be honest, I just never really got that. I didn't play it for very long---I got annoyed after the first couple of fights, and then just decided the game didn't really do it for me.

Still, the point I've made stands, I think. There might be an in-story reason for the fact that the character comes back from the dead, but that you---well, I---essentially have to rely on this to have any hope of progressing through the still breaks the narrative, for me. It's like breaking through a brick wall by just repeatedly running into it---eventually, you succeed, but there's no narrative thread that you can construct where the protagonist overcame the opposition due to their abilities, or wits, or whatever---just by repeatedly doing the same thing all over again. It's simply not very interesting to me, not very fun. Which of course isn't to say that it shouldn't be for others.

But my gripe was also more with the fact that this has become sort of a given in many current games. I've recently played Jedi: Fallen Order and Darksiders III, which both share the mechanic, yet don't even give a nod to any in-story explanation. In Fallen Order, you just move back to the last meditation spot, and all of the Storm Troopers and whatnot are back again---like, what, are these the reinforcements sent in, that've quietly disposed of the corpses and proceeded to stand in exactly the same spots again?

So I guess I can give Dark Souls a pass---it's just a game with a gimmick that didn't appeal to me. But others like it really have no need to copy this sort of style---there's really nothing gained over a simple saving option; all you get is added frustration due to having to clear out the same stretches again and again, for no other reason than to artificially increase the difficulty. Squeeze a few more hours of gameplay out of it, which really boils down to having to do the same thing all over again.

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It's explicitly stated that as undead die they progressively lose their mind and "hollow" which basically makes them act the same as all the mindless husks you fight. How do you go hollow? You lose your will to go on. The strong implication is that your character goes hollow and becomes another mindless husk when you, the player, gives up at the game and stops playing. I think it's a pretty neat angle.
Well, that's one way to take it. To me, it reads a bit like a 'fuck you' to the player---some 'Didn't have what it took, eh? Had to run back home to mommy?'-kind of thing. I'm not really fond of games taking pride in how difficult they are; it's not terribly much of an achievement to beat a game.

But the bottom line is, I simply didn't enjoy playing it very much. If that means I suck, well, I do. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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First of all, whoosh.

Second of all, I find the mindset somewhat alien. I've never wanted to be good at video games. I love games, and I play them a lot, but I've never aspired toward anything beyond general competence. If I can play an average game at average difficulty with just enough of a challenge for it to be fun, I'm happy. Being a master gamer has never been one of my life goals.
On the other hand, I can actually see wanting to be good at games. People enjoy 'gitting gud' at all sorts of 'leisure activity' things---sports, chess, what have you. Why not at video games?

Still, I also don't really have any drive to invest a lot of time in being the best at clicking the mouse at the right moment. For one, video games, to me, are sort of half-way between story-based entertainment, like a movie or a novel, and competitive entertainment, like football or board games. Part of it might be that I don't care much for multiplayer games, and neither get much out of 'beating' a computer opponent, nor of bragging of having done so on nightmare-double-ultrakill difficulty online.

Perhaps there's just a divide between players who want to be entertained, just have an enjoyable time in front of the screen, like me, and those who want to hone their skills, get better, improve themselves; both of which, I think, are valid approaches. So maybe I should just steer clear of anything where basically every guide starts off with 'You're going to die. A lot.'

Last edited by Half Man Half Wit; 04-07-2020 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 04-07-2020, 01:41 PM
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Now, just to get that out of the way: I'm not much of a gamer; in fact, I'm probably pretty crap at most of the games I play.

But I'd heard good things about the Dark Souls franchise, notably from Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee. So I eventually thought I'd give it a try. It's one of the very few games I ever bought on Steam, and returned.

It's not so much that it's hard. I'm used to games being hard---for me, anyway. To me, the problem is that there doesn't really seem to be any way to avoid dying all the time. The only strategy, it seems, to deal with difficult monsters is to keep dying until you get it right, either by accident, or by finally figuring out the precise combination of dodges, attacks, counterattacks and whatnot to prevail.
I've heard that argument a lot and I'm baffled by it because... well, because nothing in my experience as a Soulsborne afficcionado has been "fail until you get it exactly right" ; and *especially not* "fail at this singular enemy/boss until you have learned his patterns, then repeat for the next".

Now, it's true that the games have a somewhat steep learning curve at first ; and I was helped a lot in my first Dark Souls run by my having watched half of an LP of the game, which let me get a rough bearing, an idea of what to expect, some tips to beating some sections and so on.
(the Capra demon still obliterated me of course, even if I knew exactly what to expect. He's a big meanie)

However, that was only on DS 1. I've beaten it I think 3 or 4 times (and stopped plenty more runs midway because I wanted to try some other build), and went on to beat DS 2, 3, Nioh, Salt & Sanctuary and Death's Gambit. With each game in that mold the process becomes easier - sure, there are always tricksy enemies or particularly fucky bosses or painful bits of levels and so on ; but once you've become conversant in the "language" of a Souls game, you can read much more into enemies, level design, tricks and traps etc... so that what would be a tough hurdle to a new player is old hat to you.

But then, isn't that true of every type of game ? RPG players know to go in the exact opposite direction the plot urges them on, platform likers can string precision jumps I could never dream of, bullet hell fanatics weave effortlessly through a nearly pure white screen of instant death...

I love the Souls game precisely because they are, in fact, absolutely NOT about "do it until you know the level/enemies/bosses by heart". I've never done that, for any enemy or boss (save, perhaps, practicing my parry timings on black/silver knights back in DS1). I wouldn't say I'm unbelievably skillful at the game(s), I still have rage quits in me and so on, and am routinely humbled in PvP. But nothing compares to playing those games *blind* (i.e. knowing absolutely nothing about the enemies, levels etc). Because they're... actually not *that* hard, as games go. And when they are, they are hard in "fair" ways. There's no bullshit, fairly few real "fuck you" moves or stuff that is unfair due to poor design (such as that very first mimic, or the bloody fucking bed of chaos). When you die (and I do die. A lot), you not only know exactly why, but why it's *your fault*.

It's never because some bullshit enemy stunlocked you and you couldn't have done anything to stop it. It's not because that one boss has a split-second hahaUDead move that comes out in a flash. It's not because your character is too low level and you were expected to grind XP or find better loot. It's (usually) not because you completely and irretrievably fucked up your character build, because you can make most everything work for you and the important thing is to be comfortable with your how your character moves and fights.

Instead, you feel like you fell into the instant death trap or got backstabbed by the ninja because you didn't pay enough attention to your environment. You got hacked to death because you mashed that heal button instead of taking the time to dodge around or duck behind a wall or whatever and create a safe healing window for yourself. Or you got turbofucked because you got greedy and tried to get that one swing too many on the boss and he punished you for it, which made you lose your rythm and bam, dead.

But conversely, there's an incredible feeling of accomplishment when you *have* learned to read the game, paid attention to your surroundings and the death trap swings harmlessly in front of you. Or you beat that new boss on your first try because even though it's your first meeting, you read him like an open book, or took the time to watch him move before starting to take attack yourself. Or you found a secret bit of the level and some great gear in a spot you'd passed by a million times before. Or you FINALLY, through a combination of skill and luck, manage to overcome a hurdle that had stumped you for far too long - maybe you got that Eureka moment and figured out how to make a bottleneck work for you to separate an otherwise overwhelming enemy bunch, maybe you tried a different strategy/spell/gear set, maybe you somehow managed to hit that guy dead juuuust before he was going to kill you.

It's those moments that make Souls' game worth playing.


Or maybe you've made the Great Souls' Like Discovery : you don't... actually have to kill everything. Which is very counter-intuitive and took me a looooong time to really understand but most enemies are in fact designed and set up around the levels to allow you, if you like, to just run around or roll through them and keep your momentum going. They'll give up eventually

The other big, counter intuitive discovery is : dying... doesn't actually matter. I mean sure, you might lose your XP/money if you die *again* on your corpse run. But... that's not really important. So what if you just lost 80k souls/blood/salt ? A few levels down the line you'll earn that in 10 minutes while barely concentrating on what you're doing. The things you *don't* lose - your gear, your skill at the game, your knowledge, every little lesson the game taught you without your even realizing it : that sticks with you. And that's what you win with.

That's why these games almost always finish up their tutorial sections with a fight against an "undefeatable" boss that one-hit kills you. It's also why once you've become good at the games, figured out the action economy and so on and start the game over, that "undefeatable" boss has become a piece of cake. Sure, he'll still kill you in one hit or two - but at this point he won't ever hit you, because you've now learned when and where to dodge (not just *against this particular boss*, just how it works in general), how far your weapon can swing & how fast etc...)
Congratulations : you've gitten gud. Enjoy the feeling. It gets addictive.

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Still, the point I've made stands, I think. There might be an in-story reason for the fact that the character comes back from the dead, but that you---well, I---essentially have to rely on this to have any hope of progressing through the still breaks the narrative, for me. It's like breaking through a brick wall by just repeatedly running into it---eventually, you succeed, but there's no narrative thread that you can construct where the protagonist overcame the opposition due to their abilities, or wits, or whatever---just by repeatedly doing the same thing all over again. It's simply not very interesting to me, not very fun. Which of course isn't to say that it shouldn't be for others.
It's... actually one of the lowkey themes of the game(s). By the time DS2 came out it was already even almost an in-joke, the *intro* of the game flat out tells you "you're going to die, and lose all your shit, again and again. You'll still go on. You won't really know why". And the same goes for the worlds you visit - everything is past its prime, run down, burnt, hollowed out, in ruins. The people and beasts that dwell there keep doing the same shit over and over again, trapped in a flat circle of time where nothing changes and everyone consistently fails - or perhaps where a singular narrative keeps happening over and over again (until, of course, the player manages to change that). As for *why* you come in and change things ? Well, maybe you can find a reason in the discreet bits of lore the games dole out (in strange dialogues, or cutscenes, or item descriptions, or simply through architectural storytelling), maybe you buy the whole "Chosen one" line you're fed in cryptic ways...

But mostly those games are a Mallory challenge : you play them because they're tough, and rewarding, and because they're *there*. The same is true for the character you're playing . You break through the wall with your head because there's a wall. And you have a head. And there has to be *something* behind the wall, and your head keeps healing back up. So what else are ya gonna do with your unlife ?

Last edited by Kobal2; 04-07-2020 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 04-07-2020, 04:46 PM
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I bought Dark Souls 3 on a Steam sale last year, just to see what the fuss was about. I started playing, got to the first boss, died. I got to him again, pressed escape, went to the settings menu and checked the key bindings to remind myself how to do stuff... and died, because pressing escape did not pause the game. Apparently, Dark Souls 3, a single-player PC game, cannot be paused.

There's being challenging, and there's fucking with me. I didn't pay a reasonable amount of money to be some game's bitch. I uninstalled it and found something fun to play instead.

Last edited by Alessan; 04-07-2020 at 04:47 PM.
  #20  
Old 04-07-2020, 05:00 PM
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...A game that gives you the impression of just barely hanging in there, getting through by the skin of your teeth, with moments of 'holy shit!' interspersed with the thrill of having pulled through, to me, is more satisfying than coming up against an enemy, knowing you'll probably die thirty times before getting it right once.
Completely agree with you on the Dark Souls type gameplay killing immersion and being really unsatisfying. One game or genre where that type of thing actually aided my immersion, was playing the Operation Flashpoint/Arma series. There, trying to play it hardcore meant dying. A lot.

'I move with my squad to that treeline. Oooh, that brown pixel you saw from the outset, was actually a PK gunner 300 meters out, and he hits you with his first burst. Finishes off your crawling soldier with the second.'

But that's about how I imagine it goes when you do silly things in actual wartime like try to cross an open area without concealment, in front of a treeline without making absolutely sure there aren't any bad guys in it. Respawns are just the next squad coming up, knowing there's a machine gunner 'somewhere.'
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Old 04-07-2020, 05:16 PM
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Perhaps there's just a divide between players who want to be entertained, just have an enjoyable time in front of the screen, like me, and those who want to hone their skills, get better, improve themselves; both of which, I think, are valid approaches. So maybe I should just steer clear of anything where basically every guide starts off with 'You're going to die. A lot.'
I think I'm like you.

One of the key appeals of video games, in my mind, is that you get to live vicariously through the characters you play. Whatever they feel, you feel, and whatever they do, you feel as if you did it yourself. That's why, if the game is well-made, it doesn't have to be difficult for me personally - if it was difficult for the character, and they succeeded, I feel the same level of personal achievement as if I had overcome the difficulty myself. Gaming is first and foremost intentional self-delusion. Know what I mean?
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Old 04-07-2020, 08:04 PM
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Apparently, Dark Souls 3, a single-player PC game, cannot be paused.
That would be because it is not, in fact, a single-player game . You can summon other players for help as well as get invaded by hostile players. As well there's a constant stream of ghostly shapes of other players you can glimpse as they're playing on their own side of the world ; and a messaging system to leave/get hints (or misinformation. Or HILARIOUS jokes you definitely haven't read a million times and memes that will never ever be run into the ground
)

Last edited by Kobal2; 04-07-2020 at 08:06 PM.
  #23  
Old 04-08-2020, 02:22 AM
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That sounds like a superfluous feature that should have been completely optional.
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Old 04-08-2020, 03:56 AM
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That sounds like a superfluous feature that should have been completely optional.
I've only played the first Dark Souls, but at least in that one you have the option to turn off the online function and play it entirely as a single-player game.
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Old 04-08-2020, 07:04 AM
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And you can pause it?
  #26  
Old 04-08-2020, 08:50 AM
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I don't mind a certain amount of trial-and-error gameplay, but after a certain point my interest drops to zero pretty quickly, especially if you have to play through 15 minutes of easy game in order to get to the hard part each time you retry.
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You can run past most enemies if you actually try. I can't think of more than a couple sections in most Soulsborne games I've played where you can't just sprint past every obstacle back towards a boss. This is ill advised if you don't really know where you're going, and you may have to do a couple serpentine maneuvers instead of running in a straight line to juke an enemy or two, but the longest run back in any of the games is maybe 4-5 minutes and the ones that long generally are because the closest bonfire is behind an elevator. (Well, Bloodborne is a bit worse but that's mainly because it always resurrects you in the hub world, which you need to teleport from, and its loading screens are obnoxiously long).
Well, I pulled the 15 minute figure from nowhere. And I was actually thinking of the final mission from GTA: San Andreas when I talked about having to replay a whole section after failing; you have to fight through a bunch of enemies (easy for me), kill a boss guy (still relatively easy), and then drive through a bunch of obstacles at high speed without crashing (very, very difficult for me). I never did finish that game either.

And the place where I gave up on Dark Souls wasn't a boss: it was that narrow flying buttress you have to walk up while enemies are attacking you. Googling it, it seems that you can kill all the enemies before walking up the buttress, but I never figured out how to do it and I have no real interest in going back and trying it.

Last edited by hogarth; 04-08-2020 at 08:52 AM.
  #27  
Old 04-09-2020, 11:21 AM
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And you can pause it?
Nope. You can only find a safe spot, like an area cleared/devoid of enemies, to investigate the menus and options. Most bonfires you spawn at are a good place. The intent, I think, is a sense that you are never quite safe.

In actuality, it leads more to resigned annoyance.
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Old 04-09-2020, 03:11 PM
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I'm guessing this game is for video game experts. I would have liked it better if it had save points and it let you keep the items you used before you were killed.
I heard there was a Dark Souls 2. So congratulations Bandai/Namco, by making it so hard you just lost a future customer.
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Old 04-09-2020, 03:28 PM
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To me, the problem is that there doesn't really seem to be any way to avoid dying all the time. The only strategy, it seems, to deal with difficult monsters is to keep dying until you get it right, either by accident, or by finally figuring out the precise combination of dodges, attacks, counterattacks and whatnot to prevail.

I want a story where Theseus kills the Minotaur through skill and cunning, not through being ground into a fine paste 300 times until he manages to find the right combination of jumps, sword-swings and rolls to whittle him down.

It also strikes me as somewhat lazy. It's far harder to make a convincing confrontation that's challenging, yet nowhere unfair, than to have the boss just have like three attacks that are nigh-impossible to dodge and insta-kill you. And yes, I am writing this because I'm currently trying, and failing, to beat such a boss---Gluttony in Darksiders III.

And of course, if you're just as frustrated as I am, feel free to vent, too. I'm gonna go prepare for another rage-quit...
I started a whole thread complaining about this very thing, but I can't find the exact wording for a search. Maybe later.
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Old 04-09-2020, 03:45 PM
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I'm guessing this game is for video game experts. I would have liked it better if it had save points and it let you keep the items you used before you were killed.
I heard there was a Dark Souls 2. So congratulations Bandai/Namco, by making it so hard you just lost a future customer.
I think the company will survive that loss.
  #31  
Old 04-10-2020, 04:10 PM
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One of the most interesting things you end up discovering in the end of Dark Souls 1 is that it is actually 100% fair. The boss isn't stomping you because of tricks or cheats. He/she's wrecking you because they are actually that strong/tough/fast. It's like a baby trying to fight a grown man. But in this case you're an undead baby so you keep getting back up and getting stronger. And you can become just as strong as they are. By the end you become a boss fighting other bosses; laughing off damage, blocking anything, knocking others off down with a single hit.

If this sounds attractive to you then try playing through the original DS1 before going on to others. If not then yes, find another genre.
  #32  
Old 04-10-2020, 05:05 PM
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And the place where I gave up on Dark Souls wasn't a boss: it was that narrow flying buttress you have to walk up while enemies are attacking you. Googling it, it seems that you can kill all the enemies before walking up the buttress, but I never figured out how to do it and I have no real interest in going back and trying it.
Ah yes, the infamous Anor Londo jerks.

They're one of DS1's most well known (and reviled) "because fuck you, that's why" bits of level design that really doesn't give the player much in the way of options : you either perfectly do the entire run up to the buttress + dodge arrows on your way up + roll into the right one + kill or push him off the ledge ASAP and *without getting zapped in the back by the other one* ; or you cheese it by using a bow, a fuckton of poison arrows and exploiting the level geometry so that your shots go through the fence but theirs don't. One's incredibly punishing, the other is boring as hell.

All the more infuriating that not only are they located at the end of a relatively long & dangerous play "segment" ; but the next bonfire is pretty much *right behind them*...

One of the legit game design mistakes of DS1 IMO (and the devs know it too - the whole setup and location is called back in DS3 but in a *much* more forgiving manner)
  #33  
Old 04-10-2020, 05:19 PM
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Nope. You can only find a safe spot, like an area cleared/devoid of enemies, to investigate the menus and options. Most bonfires you spawn at are a good place. The intent, I think, is a sense that you are never quite safe.

In actuality, it leads more to resigned annoyance.
That, and it's a constant source of tension even if you're the type of UTTER COWARD who only plays offline (, I do too a lot of the time, especially when I'm playing "fucking around" builds and don't particularly care to be interrupted by superoptimized murder machines).

Ohshitmyswordjustbroke (which would barely register if you could pause the game to shuffle your inventory). Ohshittheseguyspoison (next time, keep some antidotes on your quickbar, or practice frantically searching for them in the inventory menu). OhshitohshitIalmostgotthatboss (no, you can't take a breather and calm down before tackling the next phase of the fight). OhshitIhadn'tseenthatguy (no pausing to think about the best next course of action. Think fast).

And I mean, how often do you need to check the controls of a game, fuck with the audio or change the resolution, really ?
  #34  
Old 04-10-2020, 05:31 PM
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And I mean, how often do you need to check the controls of a game, fuck with the audio or change the resolution, really ?
I the first hour or two of any game? Constantly. You may have photographic muscle memory, but it takes me a while to figure out what all the buttons do.

And also, I'm a grownup. I have a family, a job, a life. If something more important that video games - which, objectively speaking, is everything - comes up, I need to be able to pause the game. That's not an unreasonable request, is it?

Last edited by Alessan; 04-10-2020 at 05:33 PM.
  #35  
Old 04-10-2020, 07:03 PM
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And also, I'm a grownup. I have a family, a job, a life. If something more important that video games - which, objectively speaking, is everything - comes up, I need to be able to pause the game. That's not an unreasonable request, is it?
Not if you wanna be hardcore, bruh.
  #36  
Old 04-11-2020, 12:15 PM
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Snerk.
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Old 04-11-2020, 12:38 PM
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I heard there was a Dark Souls 2. So congratulations Bandai/Namco, by making it so hard you just lost a future customer.
I wonder how many extra customers they got from the notoriety?

Something tells me it was probably quite a few.
  #38  
Old 04-11-2020, 01:10 PM
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The Dark Souls series is tragic. They could've taken their extraordinarily interesting concept and world and made the best Zelda-clone since Okami but instead they got lost in their awful "Dark Souls hard" mechanics.

You can watch someone who knows what they are doing in Dark Souls beat it at level 1 with a broken sword without dying once. What's the difference between that person and a normal player who struggles with a far more powerful player character? Tedious memorization.

Dark Souls isn't better because it is hard. It is good inspite of it because everything else is so good. That's why all of the Dark Souls clones that copy its combat mechanics and difficulty are awful. An awful camera and janky combat aren't fun. Replaying areas because of an instant-death surprise isn't fun. Seeing the world slowly open up before you as you trek through it is fun.

Remind anyone who tells you to "git gud" that all single-player games are casual.
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Old 04-11-2020, 04:08 PM
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The Dark Souls series is tragic. They could've taken their extraordinarily interesting concept and world and made the best Zelda-clone since Okami but instead they got lost in their awful "Dark Souls hard" mechanics.
"How dare developers create a brand new genre instead of just copying some other game? Gaming doesn't need any new ideas, games should be functionally identical like all MOBA games ever." Is that about the gist of your complaint? You know they still make Zelda games, right? Go play one of those and stop whining. Not every game is made for you, and most other people are happier for it.
  #40  
Old 04-11-2020, 10:29 PM
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I the first hour or two of any game? Constantly. You may have photographic muscle memory, but it takes me a while to figure out what all the buttons do.
No, yes, of course - but that's kind of what I'm saying : it's a (minor IMO) hurdle early on, and part of that steep learning curve I talked about ; but once you've moved past this discomfort - and have become comfortable with the game and its controls - I think the lack of "true" pause enhances the game. Despite the sheer cliff it presents in its first few hours, the game(s) are really worth sticking with IMO. YMMV obviously.

And the tutorials + early zones are "forgiving" (comparatively ) and level segments short enough that getting creamed isn't *really* penalizing : the bonfires are close to each other, the enemies die fast and don't hit too hard which lets one practice dodge, parry, block timings etc., the amount of XP they give (and that you risk losing via death) are very small... These zones are, in DS1, designed to be forgiving, experimentation-friendly areas that nevertheless non-explicitly teach the player important lessons for the rest of the game.
Thousands of words have been written and spoken about it, but the elegance with which DS1 teaches itself to the player is almost poetry in its efficiency and economy. Bloodbourne as well.

Quote:
And also, I'm a grownup. I have a family, a job, a life. If something more important that video games - which, objectively speaking, is everything - comes up, I need to be able to pause the game. That's not an unreasonable request, is it?
Not at all, but then you can just quit or alt+F4 out - you'll resume the game exactly where you left it (give or take - I think it pops you back out of boss rooms).

There's definitely some tension between that (and the reason(s) why they did it that way) and a simple pause button, and obviously the way they resolved that tension has its downsides.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Palooka
You can watch someone who knows what they are doing in Dark Souls beat it at level 1 with a broken sword without dying once. What's the difference between that person and a normal player who struggles with a far more powerful player character? Tedious memorization.
Again, absolutely not. Granted, knowing the game inside and out, the shortcuts and so on is instrumental to most SL1 runs (the overall strategy of a run, the order in which levels & enemies are tackled or avoided) ; but the gameplay loop itself has *nothing* to do with rote memorization. The difference is genuine skill at and understanding of the game and the way it works.

The same is true of, say, going through Super Mario Bros on a single life or speed-running through Mirror's Edge in less than 20 minutes. Or playing Bach's 5th symphony on a piano, or baking a soufflé. Gittin' gud has *nothing* to do with frame-perfect memorization or rote repetition.
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Old 04-11-2020, 11:25 PM
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at least in dark souls ect they give you the expected accouterments for the games genre

cuphead doesn't give you much except a middle finger ........
  #42  
Old 04-11-2020, 11:25 PM
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I tried Dark Souls and hated it. I don't have the inclination to run the same thing fifty times to learn the combos to get past it and feel zero pleasure in beating the boss at that point because I'm thoroughly frustrated and could have spent that time playing something else. It's just not a style of game play that appeals to me.

But... I recognize that it's very popular and a lot of people DO enjoy that sort of thing. I don't think the genre sucks, it's just not a genre for me like Bullet Hell shooters or 2Hard4U style platformers. Which is occasionally a shame -- I'd probably like Dark Souls' world building and some of the other "git gud" stuff like Cuphead has cool art but I recognize my limits, both skillwise and interest.
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Old 04-11-2020, 11:26 PM
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Games like this are more about muscle memory than rote memorization. You develop reflexes and predictive abilities rather than just memorizing patterns.

You want a single-player game that is 100% memorization, play a Guitar Hero game.
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Old 04-11-2020, 11:30 PM
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the sad thing is bullet hell shooters are nicer to lay than cuphead .......
  #45  
Old 04-12-2020, 01:38 AM
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Dark Souls addict here, it just seemed to click with me. The thing that amazed me was the excellent voice acting, the mysterious world/universe, and the intriguing characters.

The level of narrative restraint is something story writers never have the temperament/patience to pull off. DS, itself, starts off horribly with an incomprehensible info dump of story and world-building that is utterly impenetrable to the player, and often ignored. But afterwards DS gets the tone soooo right; lets the story drop off into the background and tells it only through either hyper-developed lore items or as reflected by NPC emotions, actions and behaivours. Those of us who are curious/attentive, discover bits of story for ourselves and that "legwork" (or mild internet sleuthing) makes the story so deliciously intriguing -like finding thematic connections in a loved book.

Last edited by orcenio; 04-12-2020 at 01:39 AM.
  #46  
Old 04-12-2020, 01:53 AM
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I just I can't think of another game that blends themes like desperation, respite, triumph, and fatalism into key areas of their game's tone, mechanics, and narrative.

Not just a run-of-the-mill game, it really is a landmark. A well crafted work of art in what is normally a soulless (hyuck hyuck) industry.

Last edited by orcenio; 04-12-2020 at 01:56 AM.
  #47  
Old 04-12-2020, 07:48 AM
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See, THAT's why I wanted to play the game - the atmosphere, the lore, the design. I've heard so many goods things about them, and I'm really, really pissed off that I can't experience them.
  #48  
Old 04-12-2020, 08:33 AM
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I tried Dark Souls and hated it.
Me too, but I tried it on a PC, and I couldn't even figure out how to pull off a halfway-decent sword-swing, so after about 15 minutes, I uninstalled it. Its excellent story may as well have been written in ancient Phoenician for all that I could access it.
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Old 04-12-2020, 10:55 AM
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Alessan I understand your dilemma. Dark Souls does have accessibility issues from being a difficult game. The gatekeeping culture of DS players isn't helping too. If all you want is a DS "easy mode" there are ways to get it. Cheat.

Up the Vitality stat so that you will have the health to be more resilient from attacks, and up the Endurance stat to have the energy to act more often. You should refrain from touching any other stat to keep from breaking the game flow (once everything is allowed nothing is of value to you).



If you decide to cheat, play in offline so that you are not ruining other people's online game-play. If you want to play online, don't cheat and just use an in-game exploit to get unlimited souls to up your Vitality & Endurance.

Last edited by orcenio; 04-12-2020 at 10:59 AM.
  #50  
Old 04-13-2020, 01:23 AM
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Games like this are more about muscle memory than rote memorization. You develop reflexes and predictive abilities rather than just memorizing patterns.
That's a distinction without a difference for some of us.

For me, the reality is that I can only be relied on to press the right button about 90% of the time. It's usually not a matter of not seeing what I need to do--just a matter of getting my fingers to input the right response.

With enough practice, I can increase this fraction slightly, though it's not that I'm actually getting better at the hand-eye coordination. It's just that I'm learning the pattern and getting enough of a head start that I can be a little more diligent at the inputs.

One consequence here is that when I beat the boss or whatever, it's always due to luck. It's not that I haven't improved at all--it's just that I'm still making mistakes (or potential mistakes) all over the place, and I just keep trying until my mistakes are unimportant or just few enough that I don't die.

And so actually beating the boss is immensely unsatisfying. It's like some slot machine where I theoretically have control over the wheels but the timing is so tight that it might as well be completely random. Increasing my odds a tiny bit through practice doesn't change this feeling.

I suspect that an easy mode isn't going to make the game enjoyable for me. The unforgiving nature is central to the game. I like hard games, but hard and unforgiving are not the same thing.
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