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So um...I guess I have to bring up Dark Souls II?
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xtal
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December 8, 2012 - 4:31 pm
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Yeah. This.

http://kotaku.com/5966786/here.....ut-trailer

(Skip to the 2:30 mark)

I was out at a work party last night and started receiving a flurry of texts from friends about this announcement, which I could not check out myself at the time. Well, I've been hungover all day but I finally woke up and investigated. I'm mostly shocked they're going with a direct sequel, and not sure if that's a good or bad thing, or neither. Probably neither. Anyway...enjoy this meaningless pre-rendered cinematic that I'm sure advertises nothing at all real about Dark Souls II.

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Steerpike
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December 8, 2012 - 5:51 pm
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I was dealing with a hangover of my own when I started getting texts on this.

In general I'm all for more Dark Souls... but Hidetaka Miyazaki is not in charge of this one, so it's likely to be a rather different game. Even so, I might as well put the money in a cookie jar now, in anticipation of the release.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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December 8, 2012 - 9:05 pm
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Intriguing!  Those are some gorgeous and eerie settings, so in that sense it looks to be in the vein of the previous games.  Why am I concerned that it will try to be more than it needs to be?  I like my D. Souls without unnecessary narrative weighing it down.  I know, I'm reading a lot into a preview video.

This brings to mind one of my annoyances with video games.  After playing a great game, I don't automatically want a sequel.  Do something similar in theme or tone sure, but otherwise go a different direction.  Don't let the previous game tie you down creatively.  I was perfectly happy that Dark Souls wasn't a sequel to Demon's Souls.  The first didn't need a sequel.  Spiritual successor sure, but not a sequel.  Sorry, rambling now.

Anyway, even though Miyazaki-san isn't at the helm, I'm still optimistic.  By now these guys should be confident enough to make the game they want to make.  Thanks Xtal!

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xtal
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December 11, 2012 - 4:54 pm
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Synonamess Botch said
After playing a great game, I don't automatically want a sequel.  Do something similar in theme or tone sure, but otherwise go a different direction.  Don't let the previous game tie you down creatively.

I'll need a fairly spacious tombstone when I die, because I constantly remark about things that need to be added to it. That there will be one. In fact, my most common thought after playing a great game is for the love of all that is good and beloved I hope nobody makes a sequel to this.

Dark Souls had almost no audible, surface level story. Dark Souls had one of the most intriguing, complex, nuanced video game stories I have ever experienced. Ha! It felt good to write those sentences beside one another. It's the truth, we all know it!

But I worry the same thing, Botch: Will the team wallow in their own crapulence and think "goddamn, our story in Dark Souls was great, let's make the story of Dark Souls II wank on about how fucking radical that was!"

Mmm, but that's a bit unfair; especially after witnessing the most recent work FromSoftware has made, the Artorias of the Abyss content. It is in my opinion (and others; see: the internet), narrative-wise, at the very least nearly flawless and at its subtlest just spectacularly considered.

I know I would prefer they move on from the specific lore of Dark Souls, because I don't feel excitement for the words "Dark Souls II" ... but where I would normally lack faith in many developers churning out a sequel, I don't fear for what the game will become. I'm confident it will be up to par, barring tragically misguided leadership.

We'll see.

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xtal
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December 11, 2012 - 9:09 pm
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I actually agree with some of the sentiments made by an IGN article! In fairness, it's IGN UK.

http://www.ign.com/blogs/kezaa.....127c000014

The nitpicking of trailer music and Skyrim comparisons are kind of silly (maybe), but the comments from the directors-to-be do kind of worry me.

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Synonamess Botch
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December 11, 2012 - 9:38 pm
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“I personally am the sort of person who likes to be more direct than subtle,” [Shibuya] tells us. “[Dark Souls II] will be more straightforward and more understandable.” 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."

Um, no.  Like the IGN writer, I don't have some perverse need for Dark Souls to be niche to retain its cool factor.  But the fact is, it isn't niche now.  2 million or whatever copies is not niche.  I'd hate to see them chase after some misguided notion of what people want and lose the things that make it unique in the process.  Dark Souls isn't good because it's obtuse.  It's good because it's unflinching in its dedication to its asthetic.

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Synonamess Botch
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January 24, 2013 - 10:12 pm
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EpicNameBro has some, as usual, interesting things to say about the next game, and specifically about the Edge interview with the new directors.  As a passionate Dark Souls player, he's understandably leery of Miyazaki passing on the reins.

 

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xtal
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January 25, 2013 - 1:43 pm
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Yep, his "New era of Souls" video is worthwhile viewing for fans. He also finally admits being burned out on Souls. Can't blame him with all the work he did.

I share his sentiment in that I too am not really feeling it about Dark Souls II, but regardless of that I will be a launch-day purchaser. FromSoft readily earned my loyalty for the foreseeable future, so while for now I won't be expecting a superior experience to Dark Souls I will at least expect something great.

Also, Botch, I'm not sure if you've read much of the Edge magazine feature, but there is a part where Miyazaki makes clear that it was not his choice to move on from the series, but Namco Bandai's decision to take it in a different direction. That is a bit saddening. And also like ENB says, assuming Miyazaki moves on and helms some new project, I would probably be more interested in that than a Dark Souls sequel/successor.

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Synonamess Botch
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January 25, 2013 - 6:01 pm
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I didn't actually read the Edge feature, but I did listen to ENB's comments about it not being Miiyazaki's decision.  The fact that it's the publisher seemingly throwing its weight around is indeed troubling.  The obvious conclusion that ENB makes is that they want to reach a larger audience and Miyazaki is a direct hindrance.  Namco Bandai probably sees some big dollar signs.  It's not that I blame them for wanting to make money as such, but I've seen enough great artistic endeavors ruined by cash grabs.  Not my beloved Dark Souls please.

Looking forward as well to Miyazaki's next project.  I've never played Armored Core, but from what little I've hear, they're perfectly average.  Did Miyazaki just hit his grove with Souls or something?

 

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xtal
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January 30, 2013 - 1:32 pm
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You have to wonder. Sure though, it can take a few experiments to find that one calling, your "purpose" so to speak. I mean, did the Zelda guy do anything before Zelda? This would be similar.

Whatever happens with Dark Souls II, I can honestly say I'm not overly concerned. Unless the game comes packed with technology that deletes my Dark Souls save files and transmits a radio signal to my Dark Souls disc to self-destruct, then Dark Souls II cannot take away Dark Souls! If it's great, then there will be a whole new world to explore and, presumably for a few years, an online one too. If it's a total failure then people will probably go back to Dark Souls. There is no terrible loss in either scenario. And I think in a year or so, whenever DkS2 comes out, I will have had quite a fill of the original to satisfy that itch for some time.

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Synonamess Botch
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January 30, 2013 - 4:50 pm
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I'm with you Xtal.  I don't mean to be over-dramatic about DSII.  Nothing can take away from the brilliance that is Dark Souls.

That said, it would be disappointing to see the sequel lose the things that we all find so attractive, all in the name of...accessibility.  What exactly is this word "accessible" that I see bandied about so often without any sort of definition?  It seems to be code for...something along the lines of whatever will help push the most copies.  Part of the problem is that it appears to mean different things to different people.

What, in concrete terms, would constitute increased accessibility for Dark Souls?  Xtal, Steerpike, go ahead and get on that.  It'll give you a reason to write more words about Dark Souls Steerpike. smile

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xtal
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January 30, 2013 - 6:00 pm
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I don't see how it isn't already accessible. I know a lot of people feel that Dark Souls is harder than Demon's Souls, but I'm not one of them. Dark Souls became far more accessible in my opinion. They got rid of the utterly confusing world tendencies, they gave more incentive to play cooperatively (you could also say there was anti-incentive in Demon's Souls, since you'd be "rewarded" with your body form after successful co-op, but most players I know prefer soul form), and while, yes, a hub world may seem more straightforward, it isn't really.

And if you want to go into other factors, well, is there any boss in Dark Souls that is a bigger pain in the ass than Flamelurker or False King Allant?? I don't think so. Maybe if you combined Artorias, Capra Demon and O&S into one ultra-aggressive super boss. And Blighttown is certainly wretched but I don't think there is any moment in Dark Souls nearly terrifying as the whole of Latria. The only thing that could top Latria in Dark Souls-- or any future Souls game-- would be a combination of the deadly traps of Sen's Fortress, the toxicity of Blighttown and the dark of the Tomb of Giants. And no matter how awful the outside world becomes, you always have the comforting strings of Firelink Shrine. Defeat three world bosses in Demon's Souls and you were left with this nightmarish shit!

Also, I'm pretty sure the sales of Dark Souls topped one million copies so...is that not accessible? I think it's the best thing Namco Bandai has had in a good while, so now they just want it to be more accessible. Even still, I think there are enough talented bodies at From Software to make this work for both hardcore Souls fans and this bunch. And speaking of North America's bad track record of cover art, Bamco were still at it even with Dark Souls. Thankfully, it's not a bad cover on an Ico level, but still, when you compare what we got here with the Japanese version ... sigh. They give us no credit. (Why isn't a knight sitting at a bonfire as cool as someone-- who is a non-character, mind you-- badassfully walking with sword and shield drawn? Are bonfires "gay"? Ironically, the latter image comes from thegaygamer.com. Lulz woe is my point!) What's to say that a "frat house person" would go for a close-up shot of some man-thing over something more cerebral? Bleh.

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Synonamess Botch
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January 30, 2013 - 6:23 pm
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I don’t see how it isn’t already accessible

Neither do I.  I agree 100% that Dark Souls is easier to play and easier to grasp than Demon's Souls.  It may sound like a contradiction to some for me to say that Dark Souls is both easier and better than Demon's Souls.  What I really mean is that they got rid of all the confusing bits of Demon's Souls without losing any of the heart.  I suppose there is still room for improvement, but not as much as there was with the original.

So I guess then it boils down to this: how much change will it take for the sequel to lose that Dark Souls spirit?

 

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Steerpike
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January 30, 2013 - 9:54 pm
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Xtal sums it up pretty well. I too never thought Dark Souls was "harder" than Demon's, and while I wouldn't call it accessible exactly, it was surely more accessible than its predecessor. It was hard and unforgiving, it didn't spoon-feed you, but I never felt that it was going out of its way to exclude me. To be spiteful from time to time, sure, but to de-access me? Nah.

As for DS2, part of me is almost relieved that they're making significant changes. Lightning so rarely strikes twice, it occurs to me that if I were as excited about DS2 as I would've been had... well, had they not gone in this direction, chances are good I would have wound up disappointed. What I call the "Oblivion Effect." Like an "Eleventh Colossus Moment," it's a Thing.

So while part of me wishes it were Miyazaki all the way, with the same bleakness and harshness and gloom, another part of me is pleased that I can just look forward to it as a cool action RPG, hopefully with a lot in common with Dark Souls and nothing in common with Dragon's Dogma.

In the meantime, I'd love to know what Miyazaki is up to. In general I agree that Bandai-Namco did a foolish thing removing him from the project. Dark Souls moved (I think) 2 million units on consoles, making it a fairly large success. That's not even counting how it did on Steam, and as I understand things, it did very well. Moreover, it was a large sales bump from Demon's Souls, meaning that realistically, a similar sequel would have enjoyed an even further bump from its predecessor. It was a dumb move, a stupid move, one that may hurt them. This backlash isn't likely what they'd been hoping for, though how they couldn't have expected it is beyond me.

EDIT: to your question, Botch - how much change to lose the Dark Souls spirit. I don't know. Like that Supreme Court Justice said about porn, I'll know a Souls game when I see one, but I can't precisely describe it. There's a nihilism you don't, or rarely, see elsewhere. But I don't think I'd rail against Dark Souls 2 for having a better inventory system, or for eliminating those incomprehensible glyphs next to your stats, or what have you. Accessible I don't mind. Just don't change the flavor.

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xtal
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January 31, 2013 - 11:48 am
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And those things exactly will continue to be improved, I'm sure. It wasn't obvious but pressing [SELECT] in Dark Souls at least switches the menu to explanation mode. I don't remember Demon's Souls having that, and trying to understand all the symbols was insane. Plus, there was also the problem where the defense stats on shields beyond-- I think-- fire would not be displayed...and that was just like...some huge oversight. There was no way you could find out. I think people either delved into the game's code somehow, information was provided in a guide maybe by the devs, but I'm almost positive there was no way to know the third and fourth defense property of shields in Demon's Souls. Arguably, the action-adventure style game where knowing every detail of your shield was more important than in any other game, and it was just broken. Damn!

And say what you will about the harsh no-going-back mistake making of Dark Souls: yes, you could sneeze or put your controller down too heavily and tap the right trigger and kill Andre or the Giant Blacksmith, fucking yourself over quite a bit, but it was never quite game ending. If you accidentally poke Stockpile Thomas in the Nexus you are fucked. No more storage + item carry limit = holy conundrum, Batman!

I have a feeling I will enjoy Dark Souls 2 a great deal on some level even if it strays from a lot of what made Dark Souls what it is ... but of course I will die a bit inside. Still, I know I'm not the harshest critic when it comes to de-hardcore-ifying games because I don't really have any problems with Dragon Age 2, a game universally reviled. Disclaimer: I am not saying I want Dark Souls 2 to be to DkS what DA2 is to DA:O!

whipit

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Synonamess Botch
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January 31, 2013 - 12:07 pm
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Ok guys, I'm going to beat this horse a bit more.  Those things you both mentioned: confusing glyphs which represent stats; wonky inventory; world tendency; side-effects of beating a boss...and I'll add one of my own: confusing upgrade paths.  All of these things we agree are improvements.  They make the game better without detracting from its essence, as it were.  But the games were so good, that we forgave them these relative trifles, yes?  These fall into the category of improved mechanics; things that any game would benefit from. (Side note: the inventory system in the original, console version of Mass Effect was so broken as to almost completely ruin the game for me).

But what do they have to do with accessibility?  Does that word mean more elegant design?  Intuitiveness?  Or does it mean simple-minded, or easy, or hand-holdy?  Unfortunately, I think the answer is: yes.  People talk about these things without being clear what they mean.  Sorry if I sound like I'm railing against you guys.  I'm not.  The source of my frustration is that I have no idea what "let's make DSII more accessible" actually means.

There's a fine line between mysterious and obtuse, and Souls walks it like a champ.  I agree that if they can continue to do that, without feeling the need to give it an explicit "story", DSII will be a winner for me.

 

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Steerpike
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January 31, 2013 - 1:57 pm
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But the games were so good, that we forgave them these relative trifles, yes?

You can take a lesson from this remark in general. If a game is good, we're likely to forgive it for trespasses that we'd pillory another game for. STALKER's inventory/interface sucked, I forgive it. Dark Souls has no pause button, I don't mind. Dragon's Dogma was mostly hobbled by a bad interface and I drifted away rather than forgive it. This may not be fair, but it's reality.

I tend to agree with Botch that "more accessible" in this case means "more forgiving, more hand-holding, more clarity, more opportunities to backpedal;" not necessarily "more effort spent on the interface." People who didn't like Dark/Demon's all had the same complaints: it's too hard and too unforgiving of small mistakes. I don't understand what's happening. I dislike the repetition.

I strongly suspect that these will be the things that change in Dark Souls 2. The question is how much, and will it change the flavor of the game?

When a developer says something like "we're making the sequel more accessible," it tends to mean a dumbing down, and that will be a very sad fate if it happens to Dark Souls 2. Bandai-Namco's decisions are not in the best interest of the franchise, but in the best interest of what they perceive to be growth potential. I do wish Atlus had stayed on as From's publisher. You get the feeling they wouldn't have let this happen. At least they've publicly admitted that letting From go was a dumbass thing to do.

Meanwhile: select shows an info screen? Who knew??

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Synonamess Botch
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January 31, 2013 - 3:10 pm
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One more thing that fascinates me about Dark Souls:  It doesn't have a pause button, and why don't I care?  This is one of those things that typically drives me bonkers.  It's up there with not being able to save anywhere.  I think the answer is that it doesn't really need one.  It ties in with its linear nature.  Linear in the sense that there's never any going back; only forward.  Made a mistake?  Tough.  Live with it.  Learn from it.  And move on.  It's strangely liberating.

And about repetition.  If people can live with the typical JRPG random battle every 7 paces, how can they find Dark Souls repetitious?  I slogged through Dragon Quest VIII and by the end I was DONE.  It was enjoyable to a degree but egads it was a chore.  Never again (I'm looking at you Ni no Kuni).

And lastly, I've thought about this also: what would Atlus do?  I'm with you: probably nothing.  They are a rare breed though.

 

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xtal
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The no pausing thing initially frightened me (especially in Demon's) but once you're used to the world you learn that enemies don't roam, and so you can, for the most part, put your controller down anywhere and be safe, save for mid battle.

I'm still having so much fun experimenting with every possible play style. I've still got my low level playthrough going (lvl 15 - in Anor Londo.. not easy!), my original character who is now a jack of all trades, the Katana wielder, a super-heavy in Golem armor wielding a Great Club, my Longswordsman, Miscellaneous viking-type guy, ultra-caster, my main lvl 120 Catarina/Lord's blade knight, my Black Knight cosplay, and last but not least my faith knight.

And I want more slots than 10, dammit! I've got other builds brewing in my head. I can't imagine how the Demon's Souls PvP community thrived when everyone had just 4 character slots to work with!

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