[Gaming] So, are You Prepared to Die?

I’ve started a gaming channel, and for my first project I’m going to do a let’s play of Dark Souls, and I’m going to use this as an opportunity to show new players how to get into the game without getting murdered (too much). You can watch the first part here: https://youtu.be/7fNEBmV3XxI

In the mean time, I decided I wanted to post a list of tips for new Dark Souls players here.

1. Picking a Class? If its the first time, go with Warrior, Knight, or Pyromancer. The other classes are great, but they all have a fairly steep learning curve. Since this game has a pretty steep learning curve already you want your first class to be relatively simple and versatile. Which should you choose? If you want a primarily defensive class, go with Knight. They start with a lot of health and very good armor, and can easily be upgraded into a great tank. If you want a more offensive class, go with Warrior. They have a high starting strength and dexterity, respectable endurance, and start with pretty good armor, so they can afford to get up close and mix it up with enemies. If you’re like me and enjoy using magic, then go with Pyromancer. Their starting fireball spell will make some early fights a lot easier, and they’re the least complicated of the magic using classes.

2. Picking a Gift? The Master Key is the Only One You Can’t Get Elsewhere. It is possible to get every gift other than the Master Key somewhere else in the game, so if you can’t decide, just go with the Key. A good second choice would be the Twin Humanities, since you can never have too many Humanities. The Black Firebombs are another good choice, since they give you a bit of extra firepower right at the beginning of the game when you need it most. The Divine Blessing seems like a good choice, but whenever I have them, I never end up using them.

3. Playing on the PC? Learn the Controls. For whatever reason, when they ported this game to the PC they didn’t change the tutorial, so the instructions all assume that you’re using an Xbox360 controller. Here’s what you can do: When the opening cutschene ends, hit the “End” key on your keyboard. This will open up a menu. Use the arrow keys to move the cursor all the way to the right and hit “Enter” This will open a list of options, one of which will be labeled “Key Bindings”. This will explain what all the buttons on your keyboard do. You can also change them if you like.

4. Playing on the PC? Use the Keyboard, Not the Mouse. On the PC version, you have the option of controlling the camera with the mouse and using the right and left mouse buttons to attack. Don’t! Instead, use the “I, J, K, and L” keys to control the camera, and the “H, and U” keys for light and heavy attacks respectively. This will give you a lot more control over what’s happening, and you’re gonna need it.

5. Talk to NPCs Multiple Times. Most NPCs have multiple things that they can say, and only talking to them once can cause you to miss out on useful information, items, and even merchnts who would sell you things. So, always talk to people until they start repeating themselves.

6. You’re Going to Need a Ranged Attack, but Which One? No matter what kind of character you play as, you’ll need some kind of ranged attack. If you didn’t take my advice and went with a Sorcerer, your starting Soul Arrow spell will be sufficient, but if you didn’t your options are Bow or Crossbow. The difference between them is that a Bow will deal more damage the higher your Dexterity, while a Crossbow will cause the same amount of damage no matter what your stats are. This means that if you’re going with a character type that uses a lot of Dexterity you want a bow, but if you prefer Strength, then you’ll want a crossbow.

7. Helping Others Helps You. Pretty early in the game you’ll get an item called the White Sign Soapstone, which allows you to leave a summon sign, which allows other players to summon you to help them. You want to be summoned, a lot. While you are summoned, you still earn souls (they aren’t taken away from the host, they’re duplicated and given to you), but if you die while summoned, you will just be booted back to your world none the worse for wear. In addition, if you help the host defeat a boss, you receive a huge number of souls, are fully healed without causing enemies in your world to respawn, and gain humanity (and as I said, you can never have too much humanity).

8. Choosing a Covenant? Start with Way of the White, then move on to Warrior of Sunlight or Chaos Servant. All that the Way of the White covenant does is makes it slightly easier for you to be paired with other players for co-op and harder to be paired up for PVP, which is generally what you want if you’re just starting out and don’t want to be ganked by more experienced players. After that, if you’re going to put points into your faith stat and use miracles, you’ll want to be a Warrior of Sunlight (or sunbro) since that covenant grants offensive miracles that cause lightning damage and it’s hard to find other ways to cause lightning damage. If you aren’t a miracle user, go with Chaos Servant. Merely joining this covenant gives you the Great Chaos Fireball pyromancy, which is one of the best pyromancies in the game. Leveling up the Chaos Servant covenant further will get you access to a shortcut that lets you skip two very difficult bosses. This shortcut is also part of a sidequest that will give you a summonable NPC in the final boss, which goes a long way toward making that fight more managable.

9. Get a Shield, Get a Shield, GET A SHIELD! You may discover that you can wield a weapon in two hands. This has the effect of increasing the weapon’s damage output, and reducing the strength requirement for that weapon. This might seem appealing, but the problem is that weapons don’t work to block damage well at all so you have to rely entirely on dodging to avoid damage. For an experienced player, this is fine, but when you’re starting out you really want to have the ability to block until you’ve learned the attack patters of enemies.

 In the mean time, I decided I wanted to post a list of tips for new Dark Souls players here.

1. Picking a Class? If its the first time, go with Warrior, Knight, or Pyromancer. The other classes are great, but they all have a fairly steep learning curve. Since this game has a pretty steep learning curve already you want your first class to be relatively simple and versatile. Which should you choose? If you want a primarily defensive class, go with Knight. They start with a lot of health and very good armor, and can easily be upgraded into a great tank. If you want a more offensive class, go with Warrior. They have a high starting strength and dexterity, respectable endurance, and start with pretty good armor, so they can afford to get up close and mix it up with enemies. If you’re like me and enjoy using magic, then go with Pyromancer. Their starting fireball spell will make some early fights a lot easier, and they’re the least complicated of the magic using classes.

2. Picking a Gift? The Master Key is the Only One You Can’t Get Elsewhere. It is possible to get every gift other than the Master Key somewhere else in the game, so if you can’t decide, just go with the Key. A good second choice would be the Twin Humanities, since you can never have too many Humanities. The Black Firebombs are another good choice, since they give you a bit of extra firepower right at the beginning of the game when you need it most. The Divine Blessing seems like a good choice, but whenever I have them, I never end up using them.

3. Playing on the PC? Learn the Controls. For whatever reason, when they ported this game to the PC they didn’t change the tutorial, so the instructions all assume that you’re using an Xbox360 controller. Here’s what you can do: When the opening cutschene ends, hit the “End” key on your keyboard. This will open up a menu. Use the arrow keys to move the cursor all the way to the right and hit “Enter” This will open a list of options, one of which will be labeled “Key Bindings”. This will explain what all the buttons on your keyboard do. You can also change them if you like.

4. Playing on the PC? Use the Keyboard, Not the Mouse. On the PC version, you have the option of controlling the camera with the mouse and using the right and left mouse buttons to attack. Don’t! Instead, use the “I, J, K, and L” keys to control the camera, and the “H, and U” keys for light and heavy attacks respectively. This will give you a lot more control over what’s happening, and you’re gonna need it.

5. Talk to NPCs Multiple Times. Most NPCs have multiple things that they can say, and only talking to them once can cause you to miss out on useful information, items, and even merchnts who would sell you things. So, always talk to people until they start repeating themselves.

6. You’re Going to Need a Ranged Attack, but Which One? No matter what kind of character you play as, you’ll need some kind of ranged attack. If you didn’t take my advice and went with a Sorcerer, your starting Soul Arrow spell will be sufficient, but if you didn’t your options are Bow or Crossbow. The difference between them is that a Bow will deal more damage the higher your Dexterity, while a Crossbow will cause the same amount of damage no matter what your stats are. This means that if you’re going with a character type that uses a lot of Dexterity you want a bow, but if you prefer Strength, then you’ll want a crossbow.

7. Helping Others Helps You. Pretty early in the game you’ll get an item called the White Sign Soapstone, which allows you to leave a summon sign, which allows other players to summon you to help them. You want to be summoned, a lot. While you are summoned, you still earn souls (they aren’t taken away from the host, they’re duplicated and given to you), but if you die while summoned, you will just be booted back to your world none the worse for wear. In addition, if you help the host defeat a boss, you receive a huge number of souls, are fully healed without causing enemies in your world to respawn, and gain humanity (and as I said, you can never have too much humanity).

8. Choosing a Covenant? Start with Way of the White, then move on to Warrior of Sunlight or Chaos Servant. All that the Way of the White covenant does is makes it slightly easier for you to be paired with other players for co-op and harder to be paired up for PVP, which is generally what you want if you’re just starting out and don’t want to be ganked by more experienced players. After that, if you’re going to put points into your faith stat and use miracles, you’ll want to be a Warrior of Sunlight (or sunbro) since that covenant grants offensive miracles that cause lightning damage and it’s hard to find other ways to cause lightning damage. If you aren’t a miracle user, go with Chaos Servant. Merely joining this covenant gives you the Great Chaos Fireball pyromancy, which is one of the best pyromancies in the game. Leveling up the Chaos Servant covenant further will get you access to a shortcut that lets you skip two very difficult bosses. This shortcut is also part of a sidequest that will give you a summonable NPC in the final boss, which goes a long way toward making that fight more managable.

9. Get a Shield, Get a Shield, GET A SHIELD! You may discover that you can wield a weapon in two hands. This has the effect of increasing the weapon’s damage output, and reducing the strength requirement for that weapon. This might seem appealing, but the problem is that weapons don’t work to block damage well at all so you have to rely entirely on dodging to avoid damage. For an experienced player, this is fine, but when you’re starting out you really want to have the ability to block until you’ve learned the attack patters of enemies.

Hopefully this advice will be enough to get you started on making it through one of my favorite games. Feel free to check out my channel for the complete walkthrough.

Regards,

Science Viking

Advertisements

Sometimes Annoying the Player is a Good Thing

You probably balked as soon as you saw the title of this article. After all, if the player gets too frustrated, they might abandon the game. Too many players abandoning the game could lead to bad word of mouth and people passing up your game without trying it. So why would I tell you to annoy your players? The answer is tension.

Remember, plenty of popular and well liked games punish the player quite a bit for failure. In Persona 3 and Persona 4 save points are scarce and a single random encounter that you handle badly can cost you hours of progress. In the Dark Souls series dying causes you to lose your souls (currency used to buy items and upgrade your character), and places you in a weakened state that it takes work to recover from. In any of these games, one mistake can cost you hours of progress. This seems like a textbook example of how to frustrate the player into leaving, and yet these are extremely popular games. Why?

Once again, tension. In Persona 4 if a tough shadow ambushes me at the end of a long dungeon delving session, I will be at the edge of my seat for the entire fight. In Dark Souls if I manage to accumulate a large number of souls, I’ll be looking over my shoulder every few seconds with my heart pounding until I manage to make it back to a bonfire to spend them. The adrenaline that you get in these situations adds a huge amount to the excitement of the gaming experience. The moments you’ll look back on when you think about the game will be the times you just barely avoided losing progress, or the times you just barely failed to avoid it. I’ve talked before about making the player make interesting choices, and consequences go a long way toward making choices interesting.

There is, however, one very important thing to remember when implementing a form of annoyance, and that is fairness. I mentioned Dark Souls specifically because the combat in that series is extremely well balanced. I die a lot every time I play Dark Souls, but every time I die, I know that I did something wrong, and I generally have an idea of what it was. This is important. The player will be far more forgiving of frustration if they can tell that they could have avoided it. Avoidable irritation motivates players to think about what they could have done differently, and makes them want to work hard to master the game.

 

Regards,

Science Viking