In news that will doubtfless prove SHOCKING to that contingent of gamers who believe that playing a highly challenging videogame says something meaningful about what manner of human being they are, the lead dev of notoriously unforgiving and badly-ported RPG Dark Souls claims to be considering adding in an easier mode for those who are put off by its steep challenge.
Before you reach for that pitchfork, bear in mind that nothing is confirmed – in fact From Software’s Hidetaka Miyazaki seemed to be thinking aloud when he told free UK tabloidMetro that “it is true that Dark Souls is rather difficult and a number of people may hesitate to play. This fact is really sad to me and I am thinking about whether I should prepare another difficulty that everyone can complete or carefully send all gamers the messages behind our difficult games.”
He was equally aware of the part challenge plays in Dark Souls success’ and appeal, however – “I personally want my games to be described as satisfying rather than difficult. As a matter of fact, I am aiming at giving players sense of accomplishment in the use of difficulty.” He does go on to tackle the aspect of this game, or at least its reception, that has troubled me as I’ve watched assorted twitter folk wave their e-penises about their experiences in it – that there’s a difference between difficulty that adds to how “interesting” a game is and difficulty that is really just “hindrance or stress that does not attribute to such interesting and worthwhile elements.” In other words, Dark Souls is a great game because it a great game, not because it’s a hard game. Hard, by itself, means and says nothing. In Dark Souls, it’s merely one part of a much grander, much more ambitious design.
Despite these ruminations, I’d be very surprised if Dark Souls did have an ‘easy’ mode retro-fitted to it – more likely it would make an appearance in whatever the next Souls game turns out to be. Either way there’ll be scandal, of course, but he’s not talking about removing the difficulty – trouble is that won’t negate the outrage of those who feel the Souls games are their special members’ only club that the riff-raff shouldn’t be allowed into, even if they are restricted to the cheap seats.
Then there’s the other issue around Dark Souls. While Hidetaka Miyazaki isn’t pressed on why the PC port is so perfunctory – even to the point that it took fans mere moments to fix one aspect of it – and whether it’ll be improved, he does also reveal that “we did not plan to create the PC version at all on our development schedule. So the petition campaign was absolutely [a] big surprise for us. I believe that the petition was one of the main factors that we finally determine on creating the PC version.”
Online petitions do work after all then, eh? That’s very heartening (and frightening, given that mobs just as frequently form around insidious causes as quasi-noble ones), and I hope will spell good things for the PC-based future of the Souls games.