Dark Souls 2, Popularity and Edge Magazine’s Big Mouth

Dark Souls 2 is announced and I’m obviously excited. I have the same concerns as everyone else. I’m a fan of Miyazaki, Shibuya’s comments about preferring “direct” over “subtle” concern me, but ultimately I’m positive. It takes a company and a complete culture to make a game like Dark Souls and I don’t think Shibuya, a former Monster Hunter guy, can ruin it. His strengths will be shared with the project. I’ve even heard that Miyazaki has said in a Japanese interview that he wouldn’t even want to direct another Souls game — not because he doesn’t want to do one, but because he wants to be freed of the ‘director’ responsibilities so he can get more down and dirty with design. The role of Supervisor is a vague one, so what he’ll actually be doing is anyone’s guess. Hopefully more rather than less.

Still, there was a line in the Edge Magazine teaser that bothered me. Some people even attributed this to From Soft due to shoddy writing on Edge Magazine’s part.

We sympathise if that sort of statement concerns you, but at the same time, we can surely agree that we would all like to see Dark Souls attain as great a presence as The Elder Scrolls. How it gets there is a worthy matter for debate, but it’s certainly a noble task.

No, we can’t all agree on this. Perhaps in a theoretical world where the Souls games could get to Elderscrolls level without compromise, sure, but we do not live in that world. The compromises needed to make a Souls game as popular as an Elderscrolls game would kill the essence of what makes it a Souls game. And on a financial side, if it tried to compete with that audience, could it even win, or would it instead kill the series? The strength of niches is the fanatic level of devotion fans have. You might not be able to support the most massive projects off a niche, but they can be safe and stable once you have a fanbase. Dark Souls proved From has access to quite a sizable niche and it makes sense to grow it more. Adding accessibility, even if it negatively effects me, is probably for the best as long as it done cautiously and tastefully. I don’t think people should have to look up what “poise” does or have to read that resistance is a dumb stat. I even think having a more direct, top layer narrative would be fine, as long as the subtle layers are just as deep. It could even be a tool to make players dig deeper. It’s easy to play Dark Souls and think there is no plot or lore to be found and that’s a shame. So you can make a friendlier and more accessible game and hopefully From will do it as tastefully as I hope they do it. I hope Dark Souls gets as popular as it can, without horribly compromising its self. But that basically assures it will never be as popular as something like Skyrim. Even if it could, that isn’t a ‘noble goal’. The “noble goal” would be not to compromise — to make one’s art with passion. To do what one things is best for the ‘game’ rather than maximizing profits. We can’t expect a company to do that, but putting forth the idea that cashing in a Brand Name to try to get Skyrim-Dollars is a ‘noble goal’ is absurd. For art, popularity and money is not a ‘noble goal’, it is a necessity and the means to an end.

Again, these are Edge’s words, not From’s. Regardless, they still make me cringe, even if I’m still expecting the best out of From Software.

3 thoughts on “Dark Souls 2, Popularity and Edge Magazine’s Big Mouth

  1. Maybe “director” corresponds to something else in standard English terminology, like how “planner” is actually “designer”, and “real-time simulation” is what means “real-time strategy” over there.

    An amusing coincidence, someone made a remark I found similarly offensive in a DS2-related thread: “At the end of the day, games have been created for money, that’s reality.”
    …umm, how about no? You set out to make something good, something that is of value to others. Making money is just a side effect of that, facilitating the conversion from one kind of value (entertainment) to another (food and shelter and electricity). Ideally, at least.

    Anyway, I find it hard to be concerned at this stage, with barely anything known about the game. Hell, the absolute worst case scenario is that the game is utterly horrible and I’ll have to continue playing Dark Souls 1 instead. I can live with that.

  2. As far as I know, for any company in the Games industry, what various titles mean and what they’re responsibilities entail vary. I think a lot of people think of a director as the guy who sits around and tells people what to do, but I know, reading about MGS1, Kojima did all the design by hand and laid out the structure for the whole game while in other situations it seems like each part of the studio is focus on their own role (Just let the Level Designers do what they do as I, the director, will make sure it all works together and I’ll make sure all their work is up to snuff).

    I can understand saying that games need to be created to make money, but like I wrote in the initial post, aiming for the stars is not necessarily wise or financially sound and mass appeal is not the be all and end all of profit (Mass appeal is often very EXPENSIVE). But also yeah, actually I think you’re right too. Thinking about things from the dollar first just puts you in the mindset to make something soulless which will ultimately probably make LESS money than something that is made with the intention of making something good and the only time you make make something soulless and have it make bank is when you have crazy name draw (which Dark Souls does not have).

    But yeah, they can’t retroactively make Dark Souls bad so the worst case isn’t too bad.

  3. I guess we can agree that in its own way, Dark Souls has a lot of Soul(s).

    I just don’t know what to think on this matter. The people they put forward as directors seem qualified for the job, I mean you have a From vet on one side and a Monster Hunter dude on the other, and Miyazaki is still supervising.

    I seriously wish Edge and other sources would stop hyping up this accessibility bullshit. You know as well as I do that they do it for pageviews.

    Can’t wait for SOME sort of preview of the gameplay to sink my teeth into.

    I’d really love if they made this game even harder, like having enemies grouped together and having multiple pulled when you aggro one, having enemies coordinate against co-op players a bit better. I think that’s stuff that the Monster Hunter director could help with given the focus on that in Monster Hunter.

    Bringing back World Tendency in a less annoying form would be awesome too. So would more rewards for being in human form like the existing BP invasions, and certain events like Dusk of Oolacile and Sieglinde, and making those rewards more explicit, so there’s more people wandering around in human form because they’re aware of what they gain by doing that (a drop rate bonus would help too). And more reasons to spend humanity. Lets face it, we end up using a lot in PvP and having nothing to do with it when its in stock. It’s weird losing it because it’s framed as a currency to worry about losing, like souls, being left on the bloodstain and all, but it’s rarely all that important to be carrying much that isn’t in item form unless you’re farming in a specific area.

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