a Chunk

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  1. a Chunk

    Inspirations

    Share Images that inspire you to design game spaces
  2. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 26? Read it here: Nurturing Intro Some of you have heard of my works. Some of you have heard of my past. Some of you recognize my name from somewhere. You judge me and my works based on the reputation that I have created. Good or bad. Remember that as a designer, you too are building your reputation for others to judge you by even if they have never met you and you have never met them. Always consider what the future will bring based on your actions, your content, and what you say. An image of you Consider yourself an artist of a painting that all will see when they hear your name. You decide whether it leaves a good first impression or not. Consider how you carry yourself when you speak with others and take the time to nurture your fans. Always keep in mind that you are being judged every minute of every day. Your works speak just as much about you as you do. Some will know you from only the creations that you have built. Some will know you from seeing your feedback that you give to other designers. Some will know you from the help that you have offered others. And yes... some will know you and remember how you acted in a heated argument. Always tread lightly when doing anything. Remember what rewards and what consequences will follow. They will affect the future in a huge way. I have made some mistakes myself in the past, but I am learning. Despite that, the bad in my past will continue to come back to haunt me as it will to you if you don’t learn quickly. It matters This doesn’t really seem like a level design lesson, now does it? Well it is. As you advertise your content people will judge you based on what they have seen from you. Some will make the decision on whether or not they will try out your content based solely on your reputation. So you must always make sure you understand the image you are creating when you do anything. Bad decisions and a bad reputation will cause people to not listen to your advertisement attempts despite any nurturing you may do. While this may not seem as apparent when you first start out it will definitely start to show itself as you continue on in your pursuit to build your credibility as a designer. Making a name Now that you are warned, it is time to go out and start painting that picture for all to see. People that recognize your name are definitely more likely to try out your content. The best way to build that image is to find a community and start painting. Offer to help out. Give your feedback to those who request it. Build memories and make friends. Do this in the most selfless manner. In the future it will repay you as a designer. You will be rewarded for your selfless acts. Remember that bad actions, content, and words will follow you forever. You don’t want to be known as the guy who spams advertisements or the guy who always starts arguments. You want to be known as the guy who has helped everyone else out and deserves to be helped out back. Forget about advertising when you are making your name. It will only lead to bad decisions. Be a loyal member of the community and then advertise to those who know you. Then create, nurture, expand, and profit. What are you waiting for? Use these lessons to invest in your future. Read Chapter 28: (to be updated) Follow Ray Twitter: https://twitter.com/RayBenefield Mixer: https://mixer.com/RayBenefield Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2 Discuss on Discord: https://t.co/hkxwVml0Dp
  3. I'd put it as second worst, to Pinwheel. I definitely can't argue with too much with calling it the worst battle, because the entire goal of the battle is to avoid the boss and attack something that doesn't even move. Unlike the battle with Pinwheel though, you at least have to put some thought/awareness into the battle. The most complicated part of the Pinwheel battle was realizing that he does nothing, and that you can just run right up to him and attack without concern. They're the worst two boss battles by a wide margin.
  4. After Demon Ruins, I moved on to the next obvious area - Lost Izalith. This continues the same theme as the Demon Ruins, a lava filled underground cavern. I had a bit of a rough time here, entirely of my own doing... I took the easy way out initially, avoiding the dragons/demons at the beginning. It wasn't really intentional, but I realized after making a mad dash for the loot that they weren't paying any attention to me, so I just continued on my way. Next was the transition from the lava area into some man made structures/ruins. It's mostly just the Stone Demons that are found here, and even in large quantities they didn't pose much of the threat. Where I went wrong was in the area with the collapsing floor. Afterward I found out that Siegmeyer should have been here to continue his story line, but as I've already mentioned I must have missed something along the way because he was not here, and I plunged down into the middle of this pit unexpectedly. I was able to kill all of the Chaos Eater's. I could NOT find my damn way out of this pit though, and in my frustration repeated a mistake I made earlier in my playthrough. Rather than using a Homeward Bone to go back to the Bonfire, I intentionally jumped to my death into one of the bottomless pits down there. I realized about 10 seconds after doing so that I could have used a Homeward Bone. I didn't think of it at the time, but I also had about 4 Rings of Sacrifice, and could also have used one of those. To be honest though, I wasn't too concerned. The route back there is straight forward, with little chance of dying. I would just go right back there, collect my souls, and use a Homeward Bone back to the Bonfire. I respawned back at the Bonfire, headed across the lava towards safe ground, and by the time I realized I had forgotten to re-equip the Orange Charred Ring that protects from the lava, it was already too late. FUUUUCK! Almost 60k souls lost. 😭 With no other choice, I got over it and moved on. Beat up on the Titanite Demon (I still hate these things - seem to have more problem with them than any other creatures in the game for some reason). Found my way to the boss battle, but my Estus was pretty low from the Titanite Demon so I returned to the Bonfire to refill. The boss was 'Bed of Chaos' - weird name for a boss... Complementing the weirdness of the boss name was the weirdness of the battle. Took me a bit to realize what I was supposed to do, but I figured out on my first attempt that I needed to attack the orange bubbles on the sides. After getting rid of the first, I died twice trying to get to the second one because the bosses 'arms' knocked me into an abyss as the ground around it began to crumble unexpectedly. After the second death, I realized exactly where and when the arm was coming, and managed to avoid it on the third attempt. I eliminated the second bubble, and then moved on to the area directly under the boss. I nearly died here also because I let my guard down after dropping onto the lower path, but managed to make it to the final area and kill the boss, which turns out to be a tiny bug, lmao. Not a bad area overall. The final battle was a bit annoying, but not too bad. Kind of bummed that I missed out on wrapping up Siegmeyer's quest, since he's the one character I found interesting.
  5. The world design is fantastic for sure. It boggles my mind a bit, to be honest, imagining how they intertwined each area together so effectively. Going into it, the world/level design was what had me so intrigued. It's every bit as good as it's made out to be. It's not what made the real impact on me though. I have the feeling that the game would have been almost just as enjoyable to me if they had designed each area as it's own bubble, with each only connecting through the bonfires. I personally spent a lot of time walking from one area to another even when it wasn't necessary, so I'm not trying to downplay the value of this feat at all. The level design, enemy design, encounter design, and so much else is done wonderfully in this game. The character design didn't do much for me honestly. None of the characters in the world really 'grabbed' me. I ended up losing interest in following the story lines of most of the NPC's. The only one I was little bit intrigued by was Siegmeyer, but I apparently missed some critical steps in following his story, and wasn't able to complete it. Most of the NPC's I honestly just ended up killing for their equipment/loot, and not feeling any remorse, or like I missed out on anything at all. But I tend to not be that interested in game narratives at all, so I'm less likely to be invested in the characters than most. I suppose this is why the core thing of value in the game to me is how it encourages and facilitates personal growth/improvement. I'm very much focused on personal development, and tend to see the potential for video games to facilitate this growth as being a much higher value than their ability to facilitate a persons escape from personal reality. My focus is always on further investing in, understanding, and developing 'personal reality', and putting that in perspective relative to 'universal reality'. Escaping from either of those, be it through television, reading, movies, etc. is something I've generally strived to eliminate from my life. I don't demonize them by any means. They simply don't hold much value to me. And so I suppose it's only natural that I gravitate towards, and appreciate, all things that facilitate and support personal awareness and growth. Which is why the learning process afforded by this game is what impacted me the most. Bloodborne looks very intriguing, but I don't have a PS4 and don't plan to get one. I saw that it may be coming to PC at some point. With the Remaster, I obviously already have DS3, so I may play through that at some point. I tend to get fixated on specific games that grab me though, and invest tons of time into them. I'm still obsessed with Halo 1, Tetris, Ico, Portal, and one or two other games, and far prefer playing those over something new (this is also why I spend years iterating on the same level designs instead of moving on to new ones). So at the moment I'm much more interested in playing through DS1 again than I am in playing one of the other games. It's just the way my brain is wired I guess.
  6. Though I've moved all of my comments on Dark Souls to a separate thread, I'm going to share a link to my overall thoughts on the game now that I've played all the way through it. If you have stayed away from the game, or maybe even quit part way through it, because of the difficulty curve, read this please. Dark Souls is NOT hard, and this explains why. For those that care nothing about Dark Souls, it is still worth a read because it addresses a very important aspect of game design which is overlooked by most designers.
  7. Wall of text incoming... I have a REALLY hard time listing my favorite games, much less ranking them based on quality. I have no idea how to rank Dark Souls against a game like Tetris (which imo is near perfect, but obviously has an entirely different scope). And then there's the problem that I don't really play games, lmao. I literally haven't played through a single player game in the current console generation. I believe the most recent one I played through before this was Mass Effect 3 (yes, a game that released 8 years ago...). So...rather than saying Dark Souls is the best (which it could easily be depending upon the criteria used), I can say a little bit about what it does well. I was actually thinking about this yesterday after completing my playthrough. All I've heard for years is about how HARD Dark Souls is. I've seen it first hand, watching my step son attempt to play through it, and repeatedly getting frustrated and saying "it's too hard". Dark Souls is NOT HARD! At least not in the sense that people infer the meaning of that word. It's not unfair. It provides all the tools necessary to get through the game EASILY. If you die a lot (and most inevitably will when first playing the game), it's not because the game is hard, it's because YOU SUCK! And I don't mean that as an attack at all - I mean that YOU ARE JUST BAD AT THE GAME BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T YET LEARNED HOW IT WORKS. Once you learn how it works, the game suddenly feels mostly predictable and easy, even when entering new areas and facing new enemies. The reason Dark Souls is seen as being hard is that it doesn't explicitly TELL YOU how to play the game. This is partially because the makers obviously recognize that in telling you how to play the game, they would be limiting your creativity in how to approach it, and robbing you of the joy of learning. And this is where Dark Souls shines. Instead of TELLING YOU how to play the game, Dark Souls TEACHES YOU how to play the game. It just happens to do so by punishing you every time you fail to be observant, fail to react to the 'tells' the enemies are providing, fail to approach the game differently when you die. The game punishes dimwittedness, lack of awareness, and stubbornness. I say this not as an attack on anyone who may have struggled with it, but as an honest observation. I bought the Remaster over a year ago and put about an hour into it right away at that time. I spent about 30 minutes repeatedly dying to the Asylum Demon, because I was oblivious to the message that told me to not fight it right away. And then I spent another 30 minutes not even being able to clean out the other enemies in the Asylum to get back to the boss battle. After this first hour, I felt the game was really unfair, unpredictable, and yes...too hard, and didn't touch it again for another year because of this. In retrospect, I can clearly see that I was that stubborn person who was oblivious to what the game was very clearly trying to teach me. I was approaching it like a hack and slash game where you can just spam the attack button until all enemies are vanquished. That is a sure path to death in this game, over and over and over again. But as I said, it's not because the game is hard - it's because I was hard headed. What Dark Souls excels at is teaching, but it generally doesn't teach explicitly. There are certain aspects that are explicitly taught, like how to do certain attacks, parrying, things of that nature. However, understanding these building blocks of the game does little to help you get through the game. This is like teaching a kid how to drive on a freeway by explaining to them that the gas pedal makes you go, the brake pedal makes you slow down/stop, and the steering wheel determines which direction you go. You can't expect them to then be able to drive, because they probably know nothing about what the road signs mean (even though they're clear and obvious to experienced drivers), they may know nothing about the more subtle visual cues like striped versus solid lines on the road, arrows, etc. Of course, we would never teach someone to drive in this way, because it would endanger their life, and the lives of many others. However, Dark Souls can afford to allow you to learn from death, and that's just what it does. All of the signs and signals for safe traversal are right there in front of you. If you die, there is a reason, and Dark Souls expects you to figure out what that reason is and learn from it. Some might say that this approach of 'teaching' is not really teaching at all, because the game isn't explicitly telling you where, what, when to do things or not do them - and this is what we are accustomed to. But here's the important thing... BY NOT TELLING YOU HOW TO PLAY THE GAME, THE DESIGNERS GIVE THE PLAYERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN ON THEIR OWN. THE JOY THAT RESULTS FROM LEARNING ON YOUR OWN PROVIDES INFINITELY MORE SATISFACTION THAN SUCCESSFULLY FOLLOWING A SET OF INSTRUCTIONS. The feeling of learning to navigate through this world both geographically and mechanically is the ultimate reward, because you learned it on your own. Dark Souls has nearly mastered the art of teaching without teaching. It is polarizing because if a person is only looking to follow instructions, they are going to have a bad time. This game requires you to use all of the faculties that would be needed to learn a skill in your everyday life. You cannot just jump into a new career and successfully perform to expectations by simply following a set of instructions, or trying to mimic what others are doing without understanding why they are doing it. Being a Chef is not HARD, but it's also not easy. You need to experiment. You need to learn through experience what works and doesn't work. You build up 'competency' over time. And ultimately performing the act of cooking food is easy for a Chef, because they've built up competency over time. And as competency is built up, it allows for increasingly greater levels of flexibility/ingenuity/creativity, which is where the Chef receives the greatest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This is where Dark Souls shines. IT ALLOWS YOU THE OPPORTUNITY, AND RESULTING SATISFACTION, OF LEARNING. It's only hard when you refuse to learn. The only other game I can think of that takes a somewhat similar approach to this is ICO, which just so happens to also be one of the greatest games ever made (imo, of course).
  8. Now I've completed the game. Final battle is kind of meh, but I definitely love this game. I plan to take a break from gaming for a while now - have lots of other things I need to be working on that I've been putting off, but I'll probably replay this game again at some point. I honestly am more interested in playing through this again than moving on to the second game, but we'll see... So a couple of questions for you guys now. Thoughts on the remastered version versus the original? Thoughts on doing a continued second playthrough versus a fresh start? If I do a second playthrough and complete it, will it allow me to do a third, fourth, etc.? I could see myself enjoying a continued playthrough if I were to take a completely different approach to the game. For example, doing a playthrough with no armor or shield, and a very quick weapon - focusing on parry's (which I'm not very good at right now) and rolls. I doubt I'd get much enjoyment from just continuing with the weapon/armor/shield/playstyle from the playthrough I just completed. Don't think I'd enjoy doing a continuation playthrough more than once though. I can definitely see the intrigue in doing a fresh playthrough with the knowledge gained, and aiming for a very specific/unique approach. Anyway, I will probably still put together some brief thoughts on the remaining areas that I haven't commented on yet in the coming days.
  9. No, I'm not done yet. I'm in the Chasm of the Abyss right now. I also still need to deliver my souls to the Firelink Altar. I defeated Kalameet about an hour ago. Also a GREAT boss battle. The DLC portion of the game is fantastic.
  10. Though I'm jumping past several areas I've not chronicled yet, I have to say that I ended my playthrough yesterday by defeating Knight Artorias. THAT is a badass fight! Definitely my favorite in the game so far. Virtually every mistake you make gets punished, but I usually knew right away when I had attacked or healed at a wrong time. Nothing about this battle felt cheap/unfair, and there's a learning curve that feels extremely rewarding. Though I admittedly have a bad memory for things like this, it's maybe the best 'Boss Battle' I've experienced in any game.
  11. Been working on stuff around the house, and then continuing my playthrough when I have time. I've proceeded through several more areas, and expect to be through the entirety of the game by the end of the day today. I'll work on sharing my thoughts on each area as time allows... Continuing on in the Demon Ruins, the main enemies were Capra Demons, Taurus Demons, and Stone Demons, all of which are easily disposed of at this point in the game so long as I wasn't facing a bunch at one time. Had some trouble with the huge grub-like worms, and eventually resorted to shooting some of them with Poison Arrows. I'm still not sure how else they can be defeated safely. Next up was the Firesage Demon. The move-set here is basically the same as the Stray Demon, and given my increased lethality, I bested it much more easily than I had the Stray Demon. I think I took damage only once. Next up, after traversing some twists and turns with more Stone Demons, was the final boss of the area - The Centipede Demon. This one, again, is basically a repeat enemy, mimicking the Gaping Dragon that I fought in The Depths. Again, the move-set is very similar to its predecessor. The challenge here lies in the fact that the traversable space is very limited. I ended up retreating to the far corner that had the shiny pickup. In retrospect, I think this was a mistake because it left me cornered with no good way of getting to the side or back of the boss. I barely survived the encounter, burning through a lot of Estus (especially early on in the battle), but did manage to come out victorious on my first attempt. Overall I was somewhat disappointed at the number of repeat enemies. I would have preferred at least buffed/evolved version of the Capra & Taurus Demons, rather than just having multiples of them stacked together. They didn't require me to learn anything new at all. The Stone Demons are at least something new, though essentially harmless due to their slow movement. I did enjoy the setting, which is very distinct from other areas of the world. The lava, though easily neutralized once you've obtained the available garb and ring, presented a new obstacle and environmental hazard to account for.
  12. Yeah, I can see that for sure. Being my first playthrough, I didn't even get the Zweihander until I went into the Catacombs a few days ago, lol. I had tried heading into the graveyard area really early on, got my ass handed to me by the Skeletons, and stayed away for a very long time after that. This is the problem with this damn game... There are about 20 different weapons I'd like to use, but can only realistically use 1, maybe 2, per playthrough. I got the Great Scythe up to like +12 now. It's really good. I'm still using the Claymore primarily though, just because I'm really comfortable with it right now. I started into the Demon Ruins. It's a good thing I didn't try to tackle it right after Blighttown, because I would've gotten obliterated. It's pretty easy at this point. I beat Ceaseless Discharge really easily. WTF kind of name is that, by the way... It's kind of disturbing, lmao. From there, I beat a bunch of Taurus Demons, got to the next Bonfire, and called it quits. i may work on it some more later this evening.
  13. Max Pears, host of Level Design Lobby, discusses the Illusion of Space in games. What is it, and how can this tool be used give players the sense that they are in a real life place? Follow Max/Level Design Lobby Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaxPears iTunes: https://apple.co/2CwAkqD Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2ybMelK YouTube: https://bit.ly/2XUXcLf SoundCloud: https://bit.ly/2XYIo9K Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2 Discuss on Discord: https://t.co/hkxwVml0Dp
  14. To give an update on my overall build and approach right now... I've created a strange combination of being quick on my feet, with a strong weapon attack. I've built up my Endurance to 40 (which allows me to equip some pretty heavy stuff and still be mobile). But for a while now I've been running with the Crimson Set. It's obviously not the most protective armor in the game, but it's light (allowing me to move quickly), and it looks badass. For weapons, I'm focusing on a combination of power and reach. The three I've been using most are the Claymore, the Halberd, and the Great Scythe. The Claymore has been my primary weapon. It's leveled to +15, and is quite strong right now. I used the Halberd a fair amount earlier on in the game. It's great for attacking from distance, and taking out groups of enemies. It's leveled to +10. The Great Scythe is one that I've been mixing in more recently. It has kind of a similar move set to the Claymore, with a longer reach. It's leveled to about +8 I think. The Great Scythe would probably be really good if I had focused more on increasing Dexterity. On my first playthrough I've kept everything pretty balanced though. Even as is, it's pretty damn strong, but still a half notch below the Claymore. My Vitality, Strength, and Dexterity are all in the mid 30's. I'm kind of focusing on increasing Vitality right now, because more Strength and Dexterity are not really necessary with the Claymore as my main weapon. I've not done much of anything on the magic/sorcery side. My flame is built up to only +3, and I've used is pretty sparingly. It's really not possible to make everything strong, and this attribute has been a really low priority on this initial playthrough. For the rings, I've obviously had the Ring of Favor and Protection equipped since I initially got it. In my other slot, I used the Ring of the Evil Eye quite a lot early on in the game, when my Estus was only at 5. Once I got Havel's Ring, I used that for a long time, putting on much heavier armor and shield. Of late, as mentioned earlier, I've really been focused on being as quick as possible, and relying somewhat less on the shield and armor defense. I've been utilizing the Wood Grain Ring frequently. My main shield of choice has been the Grass Crest Shield. It has fair defensive abilities, and helps boost Stamina, which is super valuable.
  15. Decided (completely randomly) to head through the door that opened up in Anor Londo after defeating the Four Kings. Made my way through the Duke's Archives and the Crystal Cave. The Archives were really difficult. The difficulty came mostly from not knowing where the enemies were. It's also disorienting because the two halves of it look very similar. I died a lot, but eventually learned my way around, and understood where the enemies were located. None of the enemies themselves are too hard to get by. I do have to say that it's major BS that facing Seath the Scaleless the first time is a guaranteed death. I initially thought I must be missing something, but then after beating him later on, I realized that I was intended to fail the first encounter. Went online to check about it, and confirmed that it's impossible to beat him the first time. I lost a crapload of souls (I think almost 40k), with no way of knowing what was coming. That one made me pretty salty. Aside from that, I enjoyed the Archives quite a lot. I enjoy this kind of difficulty (needing to learn through experience where to go and where the enemies are, and then developing a strategy to take them out). Next I was on to the Crystal Caves, obviously. Talk about irritating. They do a fair job of teaching you early on that the snow drops, or whatever they're supposed to be, indicate invisible pathways. I figured that out pretty quickly. They really don't do a good enough job of showing exactly where you can/should walk all the time though. There was one shiny item I was unable to get to because of this. I swear that freaking pathway must zigzag like crazy. I used up all of my Prism Stones (around 20 I think), and still didn't have enough get me all the way. I gave up on it after dying about 6 times on this section. I have no idea why there are invisible pathways to begin with. It feels like another case of cheap difficulty. I don't like it at all. The other thing that bothered me a little bit was the Gold Golem. I dropped down, got hit be him before even getting an opportunity to move, and he knocked me off the ledge to my death. I had some consolation in the fact that he also fell off. But it's honest not that bad. You at least can see and anticipate what you're getting into, and it's only for this one battle. It's possible that he was just more aggressive than normal, and that typically you would have time to move before getting walloped... Once getting past the invisible walkways, it's easy going. Seath the Scaleless was a breeze the second time around. I don't even think I needed to use Estus. Just circled around him and beat his backside. So yeah, aside from the first battle with the boss and the invisible walkways, I enjoyed this area quite a lot. I probably died like 20 times, but on most of those deaths I learned something that helped me get further on my next life. Thinking I may go to the Demon Ruins next.