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Dark Soul Diary Entry 5 (Spiritual Hygiene Edition)

Dark Soul Diary Entry 5 (Spiritual Hygiene Edition) published on 2 Comments on Dark Soul Diary Entry 5 (Spiritual Hygiene Edition)

Dark Souls Diary Entry 5

Daily Deaths: 3
Total Deaths: 25
Bosses Beaten: 2 Mini-bosses (Steel Boar and Black Knight)

Current Level: 19

Sweet Loot: Drake Sword

Okay, so last night I crushed it.  Two plus hours of gaming a meager three deaths, two mini-bosses downed, and the Drake Sword acquired.

I even managed to level up my strength to 16 at the end of my play session allowing me to wield the Drake Sword one handed.

If you haven’t gotten it yet you NEED (note the all caps) to get this sword, additionally if you’re in the early stages of the game I’d suggest leveling your Strength to 16 so you can make use of the sword one handed.  There are plenty of resources online describe how to get the Drake Sword long story short… after you make the Taurus Demon into ground chuck, you’ll find a long bridge that’s guarded by a Red Dragon.  Stay to the very left of the bridge and creep toward the dragon.  He’ll blow fire killing all the skeletons on the bridge and possibly injuring you (make sure you’re at full health).  Keep pushing forward on the left side of the bridge and watch the right side of the bridge for a set of stairs going down, when you think you’re close enough make a run for it.  You’ll be able to kick a ladder down to your previous bonfire in the Undead Berg where you can heal up.  As you move under the bridge you’ll notice the dragon’s tail flipping about on the right side of the bridge.  Shoot it with what seemed like 50 arrows–eventually the end of his tail will fall off and you’ll automatically be given the Drake Sword.  With an attack power of 200 it’s easily the strongest weapon I’ve come across.

I tried to summon a few spirits into my game but each time the summoning failed, which was really unfortunate.  The co-op for Demon’s Soul was incredibly fun–hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to pull a few friendlies into my game.

On a happier multiplayer note, I’ve yet to be invaded.  My brother wasn’t so lucky, he just started out (as a ranger) and was invaded almost immediately.  As usual the villain would wait until he engaged enemies then dash in to attack.  His struggle with the Black Phantom seemed to go on quite a while and I had yet to hear how he fared against him.  I’m going to keep my current character out of the Book of the Guilty, but I will make a Wanderer for just that purpose muwhahahaha.

———–

As to the comic–I loved Demon’s Souls so a Dark Souls comic was sort of obvious.

I didn’t want to go with the standard meme and joke about the gaming being hard.  To be honest, I think that too many gamers have been coddled too long by publishers.  That’s not to say publishers need to make unfair games, but making a game where there’s a sense of peril and dread is a good thing.

It’s also a hard thing–FROM is awesome and the game’s sense of what it wants to achieve and the experience it wants to give gamers is so focused that (my apologies to Roger Ebert) it’s Art.

Thanks FROM you’ve got genuine fans here at Unicorn Soup!

Cheers,

Jack

 

Spiritual Hygiene

Spiritual Hygiene

Spiritual Hygiene published on 14 Comments on Spiritual Hygiene

The Black Phantom above is modeled after my son’s character in Dark Souls. He is very proud of this fact, but wants it to be clear that his gamertag is not KoopaKutie83. That was a bit of artistic license on our part. He hasn’t yet invaded someone’s game to grief them, but I know the temptation is strong. The Book of the Guilty has been a good deterrent, so far.

Grumpy Old Man

Grumpy Old Man published on 2 Comments on Grumpy Old Man

Recently, former Secretary of Education William Bennett posted an op-ed on CNN calling on men to “man up,” get off the video games and get married.

Rather than write a long rebuttal no one would read–I wrote the “Grumpy Old Man” script.  As an addendum to the comic here are a few of my thoughts…

Media has always been a convenient cultural boogieman.

It makes sense–it’s generationally, socially, and racially segregated.  Thus, talking heads can easily criticize it without threatening to alienate their core constituents, who, more than likely, are also wary of or hostile to new media. Further, complex social truths don’t lend themselves to easy analysis, particularly on a national or global scale. It’s far easier to place the blame for the social trends one finds distasteful on a media you don’t care for.

This is precisely what  Secretary Bennett did.

Poor employment opportunities, demographic changes in higher education , cracks in the glass ceiling, objectification of women, and falling church attendance are apparently due to a lack of “manliness” and the hobby of the unmanly–video games.

I have no doubt that thousands of sociologist, economists, deans, social scientists and theologians have written volumes on each of these complex issues.  Though I’m admittedly ignorant of the research on any one, and certainly all, of these issues I would be stunned if any reputable researcher found a causal link between gaming and any of these social truths.

Deep down, my objection with Bennett’s op-ed is the patently silly assumption that, “turning off the video games” would have some real impact on any of the social problems he identified.

Cheers,

Jack

Dark Souls Diary Entry 4

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 4

Daily Deaths: 4
Total Deaths: 22
Bosses Beaten: 1
Current Level: 18
Sweet Loot: None… but I did kill my first Silver Salamander!

Yep, I killed me a boss!  Woo Wee!  The Taurus Demon to be precise, beware of impending bull puns…

*Ahem*

Killing the Taurus Demon set the right moo-d for the rest of my play session.  Honestly, I was a little embarrassed after Diary Entry 3–I should have killed the Taurus Demon then, but I kept flubbing the controls or playing sloppily.  Dark Souls punishes the sloppy gamer, the rushed gamer… well all gamers really.  After beating the Taurus Demon I hoofed it through the white light and out onto a bridge where I was promptly made into brisket by a red dragon I had quite a lot of souls saved up to so dying here was an udder disaster.  The bridge and its layout was a dead ringer for a Demon’s Soul bridge–I can’t believe I’d been so gulli-bull!  Dark Souls never just makes a nice easy bridge with bad guys way off in the distance.

I’m such a nin-cow-poop.

Alright… I’m done with the puns.

I poked around a bit more in the Undead Berg before wandering back to the Firelight Shrine.  After all my undead killing my gear needed a bit of repair so I hit up the Blacksmith and actually wound up wandering into Blight Town, which was not the best idea I ever had.  The four huge warriors guarding the entrance gave my 250 souls each and I killed them by kiting them back to the entrance of the Blight Town tunnel… a bug causes them to get caught at the tunnel entrance so if you cross back over the bridge you can pick them off with ranged attacks.  The strength of these mobs–told me I should probably poke around in a different part of the world until I was a bit stronger.

So the logical next step would be to go fight a dragon–right?  Seriously, something about this game effects my judgment.

Granted, I did go after the injured bile spewing dragon nearby, but I should have been smarter.  Like I said, I was out of ranged attacks so I did my best Leroy Jenkins impersonation–like most of us, the dragon was clearly over the whole, Leroy Jenkins fad as he proceeded to smack the shit out of me.  Costing me the 1000 souls I’d so carefully farmed from the Blight Town mobs.

All in all though, it was a good night.

Check back Thursday for Unicorn Soup’s first Dark Souls webcomic!  It’s a good one!

Cheers,

Jack

 

Grumpy Old Man

Grumpy Old Man published on 3 Comments on Grumpy Old Man

More time travel– this comic (and this Thursday’s comic as well) were completed just this past weekend.  Their subjects are timely, and we didn’t want them to cool at the end of the queue for a couple months.  So you can see just where I’m at so far in my process, and how much I’ve leveled up my drawing skills (if at all).  I’m using a technique for the screens that is new to me, but much older than me– I brush a cyan ink over the comic anywhere I want a gray tone, then separate that channel in photoshop, and use it as a mask to apply the tone. The physical work is exactly like, say, Milton Caniff would do 70 years ago, but his separations would be done in-camera and at the plate-burning process, where mine is handled in photoshop.  I used to do that kind of camera/plate work before we switched to a digital process at my day job, and let me tell you, I don’t miss those days.

Dark Soul Diary Entry 3

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 3

Daily Deaths: 12
Total Deaths: 18
Bosses Beaten: 0
Current Level: 16
Sweet Loot: Soul Arrow Spell

After my second diary entry I was feeling pretty cocky.  The stats from Diary Entry 2 say it all–2 Deaths.

Secretly, I thought I was going to roll over Dark Souls.  Hubris my friends hubris.  Dark Souls does a lot well, including punish gamers who lack focus or humility.  My first death should have tipped me off that it was going to be a long night.  I fought my, way without dying, to the Taurus Demon.  I successfully lured him back to a tower where I had every intention of plunging sword first into his face… I did plunge sword first but for I missed his face.  In fact, I missed the battlement entirely and wound up gracefully flinging myself to my death.

On a brighter note I did purchase my glowing orange chalk, a tool players can use to leave messages for their fellow travelers.  One of my favorite hobbies in Demon’s Soul (the PS3 prequel to Dark Souls) was leaving misleading messages.  I’d find some appealing ledge overlooking a bottomless chasm and scrawl, “Treasure below” or “Jump!”

Yes, it’s a dick move, and yes, I fell for the trick myself a few times.  The funny thing is, each time I died in that way I felt more amused than angry.  Such is the interesting experience and world that FROM Software has created. Because the world is so dark, behavior that would feel like griefing in another game feels like proper role playing.

I also picked up my first spell toward the end of my play session.  Soul Arrow (basically Magic Missile) will give my knight some much needed range flexibility.  Tomorrow night I’ll make another run at that Taurus Demon.  I’m hoping to make it to the point where I can summon other players into my world soon so I can do some co-op with my brother or Jim.

I’ll enter my next Dark Souls session with more humility, hopefully that’ll keep my death count down as I’d love to beat the game without going over 150 deaths… though at this pace it seems unlikely.

Cheers,

Jack

Operation Crappy Arcade Port

Operation Crappy Arcade Port published on No Comments on Operation Crappy Arcade Port

Some wounds don’t heal.  Let me tell you about a little boy, his Christmas money, and more than 25 years of resentment.

*Ahem*

Once upon a time I got $50 for Christmas.  

I took it to Toys R Us and bought Rush N Attack.  

The game was horrible.

I should have bought Bionic Commando. 

My brother bought Metroid.  His game was awesome.  

He was smaller than me.  

He learned about sharing.

The End.

At least my story has a happy ending.

Cheers,

Jack

P.S.  I’m playing Dark Souls this week.  A quarter century later and I’m still a glutton for punishment.

I wonder if my brother bought Rage…

Dark Souls Diary Entry 2

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 2

Daily Deaths: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Bosses Beaten: 0
Current Level: 12
Sweet Loot: Holy Sword and Dragon Shield

For most of the night I was hanging in there at one death. One totally worth while death. The Holy Sword (the specific name escapes me) is guarded by a bile spewing dragon. The dragon is so putrid though that it looks dead… turns out it was only mostly dead.

On the co-op front, Jim discovered that while the game forbids you from using party chat… you can use the old school private chat. Hopefully, Jim, my Bro and I can manage some co-op soon.

Though I’m only a few hours in, I’m really enjoying this title.

I love that Dark Souls makes you appreciate your discoveries, feel timid, and frightened. It’s not typical that games evoke much in the way of an emotional response, this title is unique in that it inspires some genuine dread… good dread.

It also inspires some genuine camaraderie.

Seeing bloodstained phantoms in their last moment or ghostly figures moving about their own game world is oddly inspiring. This game feels like a journey. Tonight Jim and I traded tips on magic use and how to interpret the rather arcane stat system. Rather than pulling me out of the RPG experience it actually puts me deeper in it… as the whole game takes on an air of mystery and discovery.

Cheers,

Jack

Dark Souls Diary Entry 1

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 1

Number of Deaths: 4
Bosses Beaten: 1

Well I made it through the first area. Beat the first boss and did some exploring and I only died 4 times.

I played Demon’s Souls so I think that helps explain my low death count, the combat is really precise and excellent. When I died I really felt like it was my fault.

On another note, I love the Easter Eggs in this game. It takes me back to the old school games of my youth where thorough exploration and patience really pay off.

*Minor Spoilers Follow*

After defeating the first boss you’re flown to a new area. There you meet a cleric who offers to sell you Holy Spells, these spells require a Talisman to cast which cost 1,000 souls (the game’s currency used to level up your character and buy items). I held off on buying the talisman, as I didn’t have enough souls to buy a spell at the time. This paid off well as I found a spot just above there cleric where you can drop down onto a secret zone with three treasure chests. Inside the chests I found a morning star and a talisman! Huzzah!

I’ll keep track of my daily stats and adventures in the comments section of my new Weekly Dark Souls Diary Article. Look for a weekly round up of Dark Soul Diaries on Sundays.

All in all. Not a bad start.

Cheers,

Jack

Operation: Crappy Arcade Port

Operation: Crappy Arcade Port

Operation: Crappy Arcade Port published on 3 Comments on Operation: Crappy Arcade Port

This is another early one. I don’t really have a lot to say about how it was produced because I’m not really working like that any more. You’ll see soon enough: I’ll be drawing next week’s comic this weekend, so you’ll get to sort of flash forward into the present for a week, then back to the more recent past for a few more comics. Time travel, made possible by the internet and your friends at Unicorn Soup.

The basic process is still the same: reference, research, thumbnail, rough pencil, tight pencil, lettering & panels, then inks. I’ll talk a little bit about each step in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!