Hilarity and Insanity

I just discovered a guy who has made a “Pacifist Run” of Dark Souls 1. His Youtube name is Sol the Cleric. He accomplishes much of his playthrough by running right past the gauntlet of NPCs (non player characters) — running at BREAKNECK speed with a series of PERFECTLY timed dodges, rolls and flying leaps. His skill is breathtaking. Some enemies do have to be eliminated in order to advance the story line of the game; but instead of battling them himself, Sol the Cleric exploits weaknesses in their “pathfinding” (the character’s artificial intelligence). For example, the Taurus Demon frequently jump backwards. Sol made sure that for one of these jumps, the Taurus Demon was standing on the edge of a cliff. In the case of Dragon Slayer Ornstein, Sol took advantage of one particular move where the character starts an attack and then has to move forward (can’t stop himself once he’s started the move).  Sol tricked Ornstein into attacking when there was a wall nearby. Because of the way Dark Souls is animated, Ornstein “clipped” right through the wall — and fell hundreds of feet down a mountain.

When absolutely necessary, our green-haired pacifist hero enlists the help of another NPC to battle the enemy. Each NPC has its own strengths and weaknesses, its own pathfinding and move set. You have to know, like, every molecule of the game to make this work.

Sol gets through THE ENTIRE GAME this way. It’s like watching someone ride a unicycle backwards through rush hour traffic.

I think if I had watched these videos a couple of years ago I would have found them baffling. The flying jumps are cool, but why is he running around in circles like that? Why is he locking some of the NPCs up and then letting them out again? But now that I’ve played parts of the game myself (and watched the rest of it through Daniel Floyd’s Extra Play series) I have expectations for how to approach each chapter of the game. Sol the Cleric turns these expectations upside-down. Then inside out. Then backwards.

It has been a really, really long time since I have laughed that hard!

After watching these videos I’ve tried some of the same techniques myself. Running past enemies (instead of painstakingly picking them off one at a time) is exhilarating and hilarious. I’ve had several incidents of “Roadrunner physics” where I really should have fallen off a cliff but the game let me run off the edge for a few steps. “OMG!!! whew!!! that was close!!!” I’ve also enjoyed figuring out which enemies can be parried in such a way that they bounce right off my shield to their doom.

Part of the charm of these videos is the droll humor and the “macaroni” accent.

“So, please…..enjoy.”



Dark Souls — An Unreachable Village

This is the area you can see off in the distance when you stand on the cliffs by Firelink Shrine. I had guessed that these buildings were just painted in as background, but no — they are actual structures! You need special software to get there. The guy who made the vid said that he was using “Developer Mode”. No idea what that is, but I WANT IT.

Dark Souls Log 12/16/17

This is my second play-through of Dark Souls 1. When I say “play-through” I mean that last year I got as far as ringing the second bell and coming face to face with Frampt. This is about one-tenth of the entire game, but it’s a really nice stopping point. The only way I was able to get even THAT far was with the assistance of my son and two of his friends.

This year I am trying a different “character build” (emphasizing different traits as my character gains in strength and skill). I’m also trying to do more on my own. Another difference this time around is that I have software that records game footage, so I hope to make some videos soon!

I really enjoy playing this game, though I probably play it differently than a lot of people. Tonight I spent about 20 min. working on my parrying skills. I hung out at the second bonfire, the one in Undead Burg, and just kept battling the same opponents over and over. Since there was very little risk involved — I could easily pick up the souls (points) I dropped when I got killed — I was free to try out some new combat techniques. I can parry successfully maybe one time out of 5. I am also practicing switching back and forth between the shield and the staff in my left hand, and the spear and the bow in my right hand. My goal is for it to be second nature. I did have an encounter this evening where I felled opponent #1 with an arrow but accidentally caught the attention of opponent #2. By the time I saw him he was just a few feet away. In my panic I forgot how to switch hands and so was whacking him over the head with my bow while still peering through the “binoculars”. The game admonished me “YOU DIED” and I said “I know, I know“.

Tonight I also practiced the most recent bit of new territory — from the second bonfire, up the ladder, to the walkway under the Dragon Bridge. First there are some poisonous rats, then there are knights that are more powerful than my familiar ones in Undead Burg, and some pesky archers. This time I got past the upper and lower archers and took the steps downward through a twisty hallway into what looked like a lunch area. I found a “mystery key”. I carefully, carefully walked across a beam and picked up a bit of treasure. Then I climbed another ladder and found a hallway blocked by a misty white wall. I left that progress point for another time.

I wanted to see what door was opened by the mystery key. There were three possibilities I knew of. As I ran around from locked door to locked door, I climbed high towers to see where I had been. In this game if you drop an item that you don’t want to carry, it hovers in the air, a glowing essence. I left a large pile of broken swords and cracked shields on the Dragon Bridge Walkway and then looked back to see where it was. The towers, walkways, and paths weave under and over each other, twisting back on themselves. I have a hard time picturing where things are in relation to each other, and so I really enjoyed looking for my glowing marker from many different locations.

I think I must have spent half an hour just walking through the empty streets, towers, rooms and stairways. They were eerily silent (because I had already cleared out the opponents). Even after about 120 hours in the world of Dark Souls, I still love wandering down the mossy cobblestone walkways past ivy-covered stone walls. I can almost smell the chill, humid air, the earthy scent of aged and rotting timbers, the smoke of the bonfires.

I decided to make my way home all the way to the first bonfire, Firelink Shrine. The undead soldiers in that area had regenerated and so I had to fight my way through them in reverse order. I tried some new approaches — for example shooting some with a bow from way up on a roof. This is a challenge because if you stand in the wrong spot your arrows bounce off the stone walls, and if you move carelessly you fall off the roof! James (of Extra Credits fame) refers to this as “ranged combat” and considers it a kind of Dark Souls easy mode. It is easy in the sense that once you have been through a new area and died a few times, you know which opponents to pick off from a distance and which to fight up close. I especially like using an arrow to “pull” one opponent away from a group so that I can deal with them one at a time.

I am currently here

In this video, Dan battles a sort of metal-armored rhinoceros-pig. I have already vanquished this creature. I did this by darting in and out of the pillars and blasting him with magic over and over again. It was a little sad to see him go: he was a magnificent creature.