Going Hollow: Twitch Plays Dark Souls

haha come on now, they'll never even reach Artorias

The story of King Canute setting his throne down on the shore and commanding the tide to turn back and not wet his flip-flops is often now referenced as arrogance, when really he was well aware that the waves would knock down his sandcastle and carry away his ball. Sometimes we attempt things to prove we can’t do them.

Almost definitely inspired by Canute (and, sure, Twitch Plays Pokémon too), a new experiment in controlling a game through commands issued by Twitch livestream viewers has chosen a surely-impossible challenge: Dark Souls [official site]. After three days, the thousands of ‘helpers’ are still in the Undead Asylum.

The stream, sensibly named Can twitch play Dark Souls?, is perhaps roleplaying turning Hollow, losing its mind and eternally running back and forth, diving into walls, and chugging from the Estus flask.

It’s controlled by text commands players type into the Twitch chat, which is a bit of a mess given that Twitch streams can have a broadcast delay of 15, 30, 60 seconds. People are telling characters what they should have done 20 seconds ago, basically. It has the option to either follow every command players give or to follow the most popular command every few seconds, but either way it’s a mess. Players can also vote to enable and disable the game’s menu, which is sensible given how long I’ve seen it flick through the inventory.

As I understand it, players took forever to even create a character. Later, they deleted that character and started over. Oh dear. In the two hours I had the stream open in a tab this morning, they managed to climb a ladder into the courtyard with the gates to the Asylum Demon but didn’t get anywhere near opening them. I’m impressed that they evidently managed to get the Estus on an earlier life, though.

The classic Twitch Plays Pokémon worked (eventually) because turn-based combat is comparatively forgiving and even a thousand fools can eventually grind enough to win. Beating Dark Souls is closer to an ‘infinite monkeys’ scenario.

Apologies if this autoplays – Twitch’s embed can be a real git:

Watch live video from TwitchPlaysDark on www.twitch.tv


  1. Drunk Si says:

    Yeah, doesn’t look like it’s going well.

  2. Xzi says:

    The channel name is “can Twitch play Dark Souls?” The answer is no.

  3. Jinoru says:

    This is so hollow.

  4. Andy_Panthro says:

    As someone currently playing DS, I cannot even fathom how you could do this. I’m still amazed they did it with Pokemon, but a game that requires timing and positioning? Surely impossible.

  5. fish99 says:

    I’m hooked on watching this right now, it’s so futile it’s somehow hilarious. We’re currently fighting the Darksign boss.

  6. DrScuttles says:

    Okay when we get to Ornstein and Smough, go for the little guy first. Don’t reckon we need to summon Solaire. Should be simple enough using the pillars for cover and maybe a few dung pies if we’re a little under levelled. Assuming we can make it more than 10 feet in the Undead Asylum without using the sodding darksign.

    • Geebs says:

      Does the darksign actually have a single legitimate use? I assume this is half trolling and half intensely laboured metacommentary.

  7. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Has anyone done a Twitch Plays [4X Game] yet?

    • melnificent says:

      The main problem with playing a 4x would be mouse movement, unless there is a magnetic mouse pointer option.
      Clicking and keybinds for pretty much everything else is easy.

      *whispers quietly* Or we use a console version.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Yeah the mouse pointing would be even worse than Dark Souls.
        But some older 4X games like Civilization 1 *could* work with just keyboard commands but it would be only single player and I’d love to see twitch chat pitch different sides against each other in the same game. >_>

  8. James says:

    Well, this is the only humane way to actually test the monkeys and typewriters hypothesis so I’m all for it.

    • Eagle0600 says:

      That hypothesis requires infinite monkeys, infinite typewriters (or just plain infinite time), and for said monkeys to type truly randomly. I don’t think any of that’s really the case here.

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        Way to ruin a perfectly serviceable joke, man.

  9. fish99 says:

    There’s also a random inputs dark souls channel (search randominputsouls), which is at roughly the same spot.

  10. thekelvingreen says:

    To be fair to them, they’re better at Dark Souls than I am.

  11. Freud says:

    I’m a bit surprised there are so many people in that channel. It takes a few minutes to enjoy the physical comedy of the hollow and realize nothing more of substance will ever happen.

  12. Darth Gangrel says:

    Wow, this is really balls-to-the-wall action. By that, I mean that the character is just walking in front of a wall, seemingly rubbing his balls against it.

    Basically the same level of excitement as when I watched a few minutes of Twitch plays Pokemon, where the character stood in front of a grass wall and didn’t get anywhere. One step backwards, one step forwards, a step to the side once, but still facing that wall.

  13. mrskwid says:

    i want to see twitch play CIV 4 only to see how long it tame before everyone is at war with them.

  14. WiggumEsquilax says:

    Stop with the damned darksign! I know it’s you, and this isn’t funny anymore.

  15. alms says:

    I closed the tab, then reopened to check the comments in the hope someone would ask “why is this even worth mentioning” and to find one of those insightful replies, but damn, no luck at all.

  16. Sin Vega says:

    I had a good laugh with a good person last year, watching the Pokemon one and doing impressions of what the NPCs must have thought of this idiot wandering back and forth all over the place, repeatedly checking his equipment. But what struck me was the sheer egotism of so many people, to see this most extreme case of “too many cooks”, and to decide that they’re so amazing that they’ll surely save the day if they barge into the kitchen as well.

    Doing it again just seems depressing.

  17. Kitsunin says:

    Well, there’s progress (they stood in a corner for three hours and managed to get the pyromancy flame and axe equipped!), so it’s kinda fun, I guess? But I suspect it’ll quickly dry up completely.

    I feel like Twitch plays…would be fun in the context of a small community, with people stumbling over on another’s toes and progress being steadily made but frequently impeded. Further, it wouldn’t really be fun unless the standard delay were gone. Seriously, the delay really kinda ruins it.

  18. Replikant says:

    Wow, that is amazing. It is also, obviously, not going anywhere. While you can get by the first enemies relatively easy, I reckon any Black Knight would be an insurmountable obstacle. To say nothing of bosses. Or Ornstein and Smough.
    Actually, I would assume that if for some weird reason a character ever gets out of the Asylum it would then spend most of his time falling of the various cliffs and edges.

  19. vlonk says:

    I would answer the question if Twich can play DS with a clear no. I mean… Twitch plays Pokemon almost chocked on a ledge that involved moving several times to the left and then up (and never down, because they would otherwise hop of the ledge). It took them hours to enter that building. Hours. The lucky circumstances and clutch timings to beat DS in this way are… possible but very very unlikely to happen in hour lifetimes.

    • Kitsunin says:

      In the case of TPP they were always going to succeed eventually. It just might’ve taken a few weeks to months, until enough trolls would get bored and leave, and there would be less junk commands. Even a bunch of people who are trying for success likely couldn’t beat DS this way, and with so many people calling for actions like “use item” it’s just as junky as TPP.

      Still, fun to peep in on now and then, I kinda hope it continues going for years down the line just to see if it’s possible at all, though that I doubt that’s happening.

      • vlonk says:

        If the interest in Twitch plays DS dies down it will be run by the few remaining ppl. I dare say that you are right and it could not be beat by the remaining ppl who cooperate. Even when only one person plays it in anarchy mode, how could he possibly time some boss fights. Its a worse handycap then the guy who played it on the bongos!

        • fish99 says:

          Well, you can always summon in Souls games. Of course that would require getting humanity, and not dying on the way to said boss (or getting invaded by the inevitable trolls).

          TBH though most of the boss runs in the game are way too hard for the bosses themselves to matter, Four Kings for instance. Dark Souls 2 on the other hand could have been possible due to the enemy despawning mechanic.

  20. ribby says:

    They beat the Asylum Demon!

    • ribby says:

      They’ve turned it into a turn-based game

      • Josh W says:

        Yeah a committed hardcore using democratic input processing and discrete time steps to make a perfect run of dark souls. I’m very impressed. So long as they’ve got people from every time zone to keep out the anarchs, they might actually do it!