Fear and Loathing in Lordran: Notes on the first Dark Souls, and the second


“It’s only smoke and ashes, baby”

– Tracy Chapman

I spent two hours last night dueling other players on the bridge in the Iron Keep, one of Dark Souls II’s more inhospitable locales. At some point I was set upon by three allied players with greatswords and hulking armour, dishonourable opportunists hoping to overwhelm unsuspecting players with their numbers. I picked them off one by one with poison clouds and slowly tracking orbs of darkness until, his two friends defeated, the leader turned tail and ran. I chased him down and gutted him.

No elation followed this victory. I put the controller down then and went to bed feeling exhausted and empty.

I want to say I have finished Dark Souls II; I have followed the threads of its story through to their ambiguous and depressing finale and achieved a mastery of its combat and systems which is now almost unconscious, but there are still secrets lurking in the recesses of the world that elude me. I suspect with this kind of game that will always be the case; like Skyrim it is a game that one can never truly finish, only grow tired of.

Perhaps it would be better to say I am finished with Dark Souls II. I hope that distinction is clear. Continue reading


Glorious Trainwrecks

“It’s about throwing a bunch of random crap into your game and keeping whatever sticks. About bringing back a time when you didn’t care so much about “production values”, as much as ripping sound samples from your favourite television shows to use in your game, or animating pictures of yourself making goofy faces on your webcam. Where every ridiculous idea you had, you would just sit down and code.”


I went to visit an old friend of mine the other week. He has, independently of me, also started making games, although his tastes lie more towards point-and-click adventures. As such, he’s downloaded the fantastic (and free) Adventure Game Studio and started messing around with it.

Him and his girlfriend showed me a game they had made together. It’s called Charlie and Ben go on an Expitition (sic). You play as a toy (Ben) in a bedroom, there is a bed and a jar of jam on the floor and a toy bear by the door (called Charlie). You can walk over to the jam and pick it up and then go over to Charlie (the bear) and ask him what his favourite type of sandwich is (it is jam). They haven’t quite scripted it right however and you just get stuck in a loop endlessly asking Charlie (the bear) where the sandwich making facilities are. That’s it, that’s the entire game.

It was glorious.

Screenshots after the jump.

Continue reading

Tentative Steps

I haven’t posted in some time now. There are reasons for that. Mostly it’s to do with the fact that I’ve got a new job and I’m having to learn a lot of new things very quickly. This is understandably cutting into my game making and playing.

However, I feel I have made some progress.

Until I have a better knowledge of what game making tools that exist out there I’m basically following the advice Anna Anthropy gives in Rise of the Videogame Zinesters to start out in Twine and then move on to Game Maker.

It feels good to be creating now. So much of my interaction with the world these days is consumption. Reading books or articles online, watching films or television and playing games, obviously. Even if what I produce is complete shit I’m glad that I’m contributing something to culture rather than just admiring things that other people have made.

Here’s the story so far:

Continue reading

To Arms

I recently read Rise of the Videogame Zinesters by Anna Anthropy along with the Scratchware Manifesto.  They were highly formative. As a result I’m going to start making (or trying to make) small games in my spare time and use this blog to document them. Hopefully it will be useful for anyone following a similar path. If I am unsuccessful and this whole thing turns into a horrific and bloody trainwreck at least they can learn from my mistakes.

I’m going to try and follow a philosophy of using tools that are accessibly to everyone. This means, as far as I can, I am going to use free software and learn only what code is absolutely necessary. The point of this is to attempt to prove that video game creation is not a walled garden, accessible only to those with an arcane knowledge of coding, but that anyone can make a game.