The Awesome Responsibility of a Dark Souls Summon

Postscript is Cameron Kunzelman's column about endings, apocalypses, deaths, bosses, and all sorts of other finalities.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/4adbjb/the-awesome-responsibility-of-a-dark-souls-summon
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For a while now i’ve wanted to get a tattoo of the Heirs of the Sun symbol on my shoulder. Jolly cooperation is the entire reason I play the games online despite loathing invasions. I love helping people out, it’s very satisfying.

Souls game co-op is a lot of fun and upsets me when it’s treated as some sort of cheapening of the game as opposed to an intended feature with its own boons and compromises.
The unspoken camaraderie between players in their brief cooperation went in hand with Journey at the time as fleeting but important experiences between anonymous players.

Meanwhile while I appreciate the idea of invasions it always struck me as broken, whether it was poor internet connection or a weird gank-build, invasions were never really fun for me, just a mess of cheap tactics, 300 ping backstabs and a conduit for trollish behaviour.
Hardcore players create whole builds around hunting and killing other fresher players, or just taunting them for their own sadistic amusement, it sucks a lot of the fun of the concept out of a theoretically double-bladed online system.

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Yeah, if there’s a reason that I’ve never played a Souls game, it’s been that even at my most interested, the whole invasion system (and the way in which it just encourages a certain class of players to screw over others) has always been there, persuading me to just not engage with them.

(Co-op, on the other hand, seems fine by comparison, and I don’t understand why anyone would consider it a negative feature.)

This article highlights why I just never clicked with co-op or pvp in souls. Communicating with people with a full range of options is stressful enough for me. Communicating with little to no options, and a high chance of the other person being hostile/trollish? And the fact that the game is tough and it’s easy to do badly/disappoint the other person? Hell. Not that having an actual chat is any better. This is very much a me issue, and not an issue with the game, but there’s a certain willingness to play on anxieties throughout the Dark Souls design. This is just the one that I bounce off of.

It may be poor sportsmanship, but I just jump off a cliff near a bonfire when I get invaded. Takes less time, overall.

Just do your best. Most of the time to the person who summoned you just being there is enough.

I follow them and help them do what they are doing and if they pass by a secret I know about I show them, and if I slip and fall off a cliff then they probably laughed at that and hey I did something to make their game better.

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I first played Dark Souls on PC in late 2013 when the servers were pretty quiet and was still run through the awful Games For Windows Live. Trying to summon and co op on GFWL at the time was another cruel game in itself! I’d sit at a boss door for sometimes hours waiting for a summon sign to appear then grit my teeth at the ‘Summon Player’ message, praying I didn’t see ‘Connection Failed’.

I’d always try and return the favour and help out others on the deserted servers. I have fond memories of that summer, if I was home I’d often have Dark Souls open with a summon sign down, while doing other things around the house, keeping half an eye on the computer monitor in case I was summoned in.