Evil Is Fun: Playing a Game Within a Game (Part 1)

Usually I'm the type of player who enjoys going the medic and seeing the team excel rather than just myself. I mostly don't let myself get angry over kill-stealing and I'm rather proud of my number of assists, rather than just my K/D. Typically I'll try and keep an eye out on my fellow comrades to make sure nobody gets left by themselves in a bad situation. I'm not always successful, but I tend to have good intentions. I like to be a nice guy.

Most of the time.

The rest of the time, however, I revel in being a bit of a dick. However, don't mistake me for that guy who killed you five times in a row with some cheap tactic or glitch; I like to be an inventive dick. There's no fun in just mildly annoying another player, you should always play with your food before you snap it up. However, it should be noted that agitating other people is not exactly the goal of these little ventures. The real, more concealed goal, is to give them an experience the game might not have been designed for or one that is simply rare to come by. Entertainment disguised as evil. I can recall three examples which should hopefully give you an idea what the hell I'm talking about. I'm also eager to find out if there are any other people on Giant Bomb who take a certain pleasure from putting other players into situations they may not have planned for.

Demon's Souls: Operation Fun Bridge

Dragons are the least of your problems.

For those of you who have played Demon's Souls, my favourite haunt was 1-2, the second area of the Boletarian Palace. For those of you unfamiliar with this area, '1-2' was a level that consisted almost entirely of a long snaking bridge (pictured above) separated into thirds by two guard towers and concealing a dark and narrow tunnel that ran the entire walls length. Beyond the standard crossbow-men, dogs and nasty folk with swords, a dragon would also occasionally attempt to burn the player into a well-done steak should they procrastinate on the bridge for too long. Being only the second level of the first area, it isn't terribly difficult by Demon's Souls standards, but for first-timers it can be rather intimidating. Especially if you get invaded before you even step a foot on the bridge.

The basic strategy was this: I would invade wearing the Thief's Ring, an item that made you utterly invisible until you were within around 15 feet of an enemy, and then make a bee-line straight for the host player (let's call him Timmy). He would fight me off as well as he could, but tended to be simply outmatched and out-equipped. I would take Timmy down to a sliver of health and wait for his next attack. When he finally attempted to take a swing at me I'd parry his weapon aside, leaving him briefly stunned. In any other circumstance this would be where the story ends. I would kill the player and reap his souls. But for me this is simply where the fun would begin.

I would immediately retreat until I became fully invisible, and then proceed across the bridge to the first guard tower. The player would panic, calm down, recover, and then cautiously proceed. It is however rather difficult to proceed cautiously with dragon fire on your heels, so it would be during this first run across the bridge that I would execute stage two: an acid cloud right in his path. Acid clouds worked similar to poison, but rather than draining your health they would degrade your equipment. Timmy would have no choice but to run right into it. He would then make his way up to the top of the guard tower where I would face him again, except this time the clock is ticking as his armour, sword and shield slowly become useless. Again we fight, again I take him to the brink of death, and again I disappear. By this point things are not looking good for little Timmy with his dissolving sword and paper shield.

After the acid on the bridge he would most likely head underground for the next third of the level. Sneaky swordsmen and rabid dogs tended to be enough of a hassle for him, so I proceeded further along the path and made my way out of the tunnel and near the first fog gate - a checkpoint of sorts that only the host player, Timmy, could dissipate. There were, however, five archers waiting opposite said gate, and I would take it upon myself to stand behind their ranks and simply watch as Timmy would round the corner and briefly panic as he noticed my presence, then hesitate to attack as arrows and bolts blew his way. Once he had cleaved through the henchmen we would fight once more, with the process remaining the same. Timmy would be left with no where to go but through the fog gate and over the top of the bridge once more, as the rest of the tunnel was blocked. Even without an invading player this next part can be tricky. You are required to sprint up the last third of the bridge, out running the dragon for the last time, but being thrust head-on against multiple swords men and a knight, as well as crossbows from above the gate to the castle. In the ensuing confusion I would sprint past the player and through the tunnel entrance towards the final room before the boss fog gate, beyond which lay the intimidating Tower Knight.

Timmy is most likely fighting with mismatched armour and second-hand swords at this point, topping his health up with what little grass his has left, if any. A fair number of players don't make it past this stage; it is not rare for me to not strike the fatal blow. Yet if they manage to twist the fight to their favour and defeat the final knight guarding the tunnel, there is but one obstacle left in their path, and considering past events it seems unlikely they will be able to kill me. However, while gutsy Timmy was fighting outside I placed a few presents at the half-way point in the tunnel: a very powerful sword, a sturdy shield and a set of armour normally not available to people typically at that point in the game. After this point I perform a simple bow (they are sometimes too paranoid to return it) and raise my shield. If they lose this time, I kill them. If they kill me, however, they've just obtained a fancy new set of gear and a tidy number of souls from my fading body. Essentially it's an all-or-nothing scenario in which the tension is palpable and you see players really, desperately trying to win, clawing their way to victory or being plunged back to the start of the level with only the gear I gave them to show how close they came.

If you decide to try this set-up before the servers go down, may I mention that there are non-existent bonus points for quickly un-equipping and then re-equipping the Thief's Ring to briefly flash into view and also for performing a G-Man by watching the player, walking around a corner as he approaches and then disappearing.

If you look at it at a purely technical standpoint I am simply being a nuisance or a pest, but I like to think of it as almost remixing a level to a lesser extent. Taking an already interesting scenario and then putting in something the player can't plan for or accurately predict. I've helped people beat bosses and find secrets and take on areas they may very well have died alone in otherwise, yet oddly enough it's when I do this specific routine that I consistently get messages from players not scorning me, and not exactly thanking me, but rather simply exclaiming how "fucking fun" or "crazy" it was, which always makes it worth it. So what about you guys? It doesn't have to be Demon's Souls, it can be any game, as long as you're trying to do something a little different, I'm interested to know about it.

Next Time - Minecraft: Phantom Sign Man

26 Comments
27 Comments
Posted by Mustachio

Usually I'm the type of player who enjoys going the medic and seeing the team excel rather than just myself. I mostly don't let myself get angry over kill-stealing and I'm rather proud of my number of assists, rather than just my K/D. Typically I'll try and keep an eye out on my fellow comrades to make sure nobody gets left by themselves in a bad situation. I'm not always successful, but I tend to have good intentions. I like to be a nice guy.

Most of the time.

The rest of the time, however, I revel in being a bit of a dick. However, don't mistake me for that guy who killed you five times in a row with some cheap tactic or glitch; I like to be an inventive dick. There's no fun in just mildly annoying another player, you should always play with your food before you snap it up. However, it should be noted that agitating other people is not exactly the goal of these little ventures. The real, more concealed goal, is to give them an experience the game might not have been designed for or one that is simply rare to come by. Entertainment disguised as evil. I can recall three examples which should hopefully give you an idea what the hell I'm talking about. I'm also eager to find out if there are any other people on Giant Bomb who take a certain pleasure from putting other players into situations they may not have planned for.

Demon's Souls: Operation Fun Bridge

Dragons are the least of your problems.

For those of you who have played Demon's Souls, my favourite haunt was 1-2, the second area of the Boletarian Palace. For those of you unfamiliar with this area, '1-2' was a level that consisted almost entirely of a long snaking bridge (pictured above) separated into thirds by two guard towers and concealing a dark and narrow tunnel that ran the entire walls length. Beyond the standard crossbow-men, dogs and nasty folk with swords, a dragon would also occasionally attempt to burn the player into a well-done steak should they procrastinate on the bridge for too long. Being only the second level of the first area, it isn't terribly difficult by Demon's Souls standards, but for first-timers it can be rather intimidating. Especially if you get invaded before you even step a foot on the bridge.

The basic strategy was this: I would invade wearing the Thief's Ring, an item that made you utterly invisible until you were within around 15 feet of an enemy, and then make a bee-line straight for the host player (let's call him Timmy). He would fight me off as well as he could, but tended to be simply outmatched and out-equipped. I would take Timmy down to a sliver of health and wait for his next attack. When he finally attempted to take a swing at me I'd parry his weapon aside, leaving him briefly stunned. In any other circumstance this would be where the story ends. I would kill the player and reap his souls. But for me this is simply where the fun would begin.

I would immediately retreat until I became fully invisible, and then proceed across the bridge to the first guard tower. The player would panic, calm down, recover, and then cautiously proceed. It is however rather difficult to proceed cautiously with dragon fire on your heels, so it would be during this first run across the bridge that I would execute stage two: an acid cloud right in his path. Acid clouds worked similar to poison, but rather than draining your health they would degrade your equipment. Timmy would have no choice but to run right into it. He would then make his way up to the top of the guard tower where I would face him again, except this time the clock is ticking as his armour, sword and shield slowly become useless. Again we fight, again I take him to the brink of death, and again I disappear. By this point things are not looking good for little Timmy with his dissolving sword and paper shield.

After the acid on the bridge he would most likely head underground for the next third of the level. Sneaky swordsmen and rabid dogs tended to be enough of a hassle for him, so I proceeded further along the path and made my way out of the tunnel and near the first fog gate - a checkpoint of sorts that only the host player, Timmy, could dissipate. There were, however, five archers waiting opposite said gate, and I would take it upon myself to stand behind their ranks and simply watch as Timmy would round the corner and briefly panic as he noticed my presence, then hesitate to attack as arrows and bolts blew his way. Once he had cleaved through the henchmen we would fight once more, with the process remaining the same. Timmy would be left with no where to go but through the fog gate and over the top of the bridge once more, as the rest of the tunnel was blocked. Even without an invading player this next part can be tricky. You are required to sprint up the last third of the bridge, out running the dragon for the last time, but being thrust head-on against multiple swords men and a knight, as well as crossbows from above the gate to the castle. In the ensuing confusion I would sprint past the player and through the tunnel entrance towards the final room before the boss fog gate, beyond which lay the intimidating Tower Knight.

Timmy is most likely fighting with mismatched armour and second-hand swords at this point, topping his health up with what little grass his has left, if any. A fair number of players don't make it past this stage; it is not rare for me to not strike the fatal blow. Yet if they manage to twist the fight to their favour and defeat the final knight guarding the tunnel, there is but one obstacle left in their path, and considering past events it seems unlikely they will be able to kill me. However, while gutsy Timmy was fighting outside I placed a few presents at the half-way point in the tunnel: a very powerful sword, a sturdy shield and a set of armour normally not available to people typically at that point in the game. After this point I perform a simple bow (they are sometimes too paranoid to return it) and raise my shield. If they lose this time, I kill them. If they kill me, however, they've just obtained a fancy new set of gear and a tidy number of souls from my fading body. Essentially it's an all-or-nothing scenario in which the tension is palpable and you see players really, desperately trying to win, clawing their way to victory or being plunged back to the start of the level with only the gear I gave them to show how close they came.

If you decide to try this set-up before the servers go down, may I mention that there are non-existent bonus points for quickly un-equipping and then re-equipping the Thief's Ring to briefly flash into view and also for performing a G-Man by watching the player, walking around a corner as he approaches and then disappearing.

If you look at it at a purely technical standpoint I am simply being a nuisance or a pest, but I like to think of it as almost remixing a level to a lesser extent. Taking an already interesting scenario and then putting in something the player can't plan for or accurately predict. I've helped people beat bosses and find secrets and take on areas they may very well have died alone in otherwise, yet oddly enough it's when I do this specific routine that I consistently get messages from players not scorning me, and not exactly thanking me, but rather simply exclaiming how "fucking fun" or "crazy" it was, which always makes it worth it. So what about you guys? It doesn't have to be Demon's Souls, it can be any game, as long as you're trying to do something a little different, I'm interested to know about it.

Next Time - Minecraft: Phantom Sign Man

Posted by MikeGosot

That bridge thing is neat. How many players defeated you?

Edited by Mustachio

Before the final fight, not many. Once they'd been given the fancy gear and they knew I was the only thing left they needed to kill before the boss, people would be far more fierce.

Posted by SpawnMan

Dude, no one gives a sh*t... You ARE exactly like every other d*ckhead out there giving players a hard time. Thinks people give two hoots about some "Awesome" strategy you've made up to make someone else miserable and that you're special. What makes you different is that you have the temerity to say you're not like every other douche on the internet. L.A.W.L.

Posted by Mustachio

@SpawnMan: I'm sorry you feel so strongly about some harmless mischief.

Posted by Dots

@Mustachio: There is no thing as 'harmless' mischief in Demon's Souls!

Posted by Enigma777

You are part of the problem. Invading assholes ruin Dark Souls for me.

Posted by Mustachio

@Dots: I'd beg to differ (I am aware this is Dark Souls, but all the same):

Invaders are a core part of Dark Souls. Would you rather I just equip the cheapest weapon and spam it at the host until they die? Because that seems to be the tactic of everybody else these days, which is a shame, because PvP can be really fun sometimes.

Posted by ShaggE

Honestly, I'd be into it if somebody did that to me in Dark Souls. Not sure where the strong negativity is coming from. I'll happily take that over the usual "high level player farms low level players all day" shenanigans. At least this is in the spirit of the game.

Online
Posted by Enigma777

@Mustachio: No, invaders are a shitty part of DS. Just cause you wanna play PvP doesn't mean the person you invade wants to as well.

Fuckers.

Posted by Dots

@Mustachio: What I meant is that there is no 'harmless' in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. If you kill someone they're gonna hate your guts anyway. And Black Phantoms ALWAYS show up at the worst possible moment.

Posted by Lysergica33

@ShaggE said:

Honestly, I'd be into it if somebody did that to me in Dark Souls. Not sure where the strong negativity is coming from. I'll happily take that over the usual "high level player farms low level players all day" shenanigans. At least this is in the spirit of the game.

Agreed 100%.

This is one of the best accounts I've read of a DeS/DaS invasion. Love the amount of thought you put into your strategy only to give them a nice set of armour and a decent weapon at the end to even the odds somewhat. To be a bastard with a messed up (but ultimately ever-present) code of honour strikes me as being very much in the spirit of the Souls games.

I sure as hell wouldn't indict you (if it were DaS...) if only for the creativity displayed.

Posted by Mustachio

@Dots: You have a valid point, getting killed in a Souls game always sucks. I wouldn't say they all hated my guts, however, since as I mention in the post I actually got a surprising amount of positive messages along the lines of "that was fun!" or even just "well played" or "thanks for the loot!". What I'm saying is I think the responses might have been much more negative if I didn't give the host the fancy gear near the end to give them a fighting chance and also to give them a keepsake should they die.

Posted by 49th

You are my hero.

Posted by wemibelec90

It was things like that that made me play Demon's Souls entirely offline. I can't see the appeal in griefing someone or being griefed by someone.

Posted by JBG4
@Mustachio Nice way to extend the game for yourself man. I loved the Souls games and I have to agree with you that Invading another players game is a pivotal aspect of their gameplay. Honestly, those who don't appreciate this mechanic were probably the ones getting cheesed by someone else of a much higher SL.

Have you found anything in Dark Souls that you enjoyed as much as this spot and strategy in Demon's Souls?
Posted by MEATBALL

I appreciate your inventiveness, but man, you are EVIL.

Posted by Ghostiet
@ShaggE said:

Honestly, I'd be into it if somebody did that to me in Dark Souls. Not sure where the strong negativity is coming from. I'll happily take that over the usual "high level player farms low level players all day" shenanigans. At least this is in the spirit of the game.

Exactly. If I'm supposed to be griefed and screwed over by someone, I at least like to be given an illusion of a fighting chance and get kicked by someone who is at least creative.
Online
Posted by AlmostSwedish

Great read, but I understand why people are frustrated.

I can't wait to see what you'll do with Minecraft. I did some pretty evil stuff there myself.

Online
Posted by believer258

@SpawnMan said:

Dude, no one gives a sh*t... You ARE exactly like every other d*ckhead out there giving players a hard time. Thinks people give two hoots about some "Awesome" strategy you've made up to make someone else miserable and that you're special. What makes you different is that you have the temerity to say you're not like every other douche on the internet. L.A.W.L.

Actually, it sounds to me rather well-played and creative and even admirable, in a rather sick and twisted sort of way.

Posted by supamon

@Mustachio: Bravo! I really enjoyed reading that. At least you give newbie players a chance to overcome the odds and give them a creative experience. I'm sure if you invaded me with this scenario I would be having a blast, tense all the way through. Too bad majority of players just farm the strongest/cheapest weapon they can find and stay as low leveled as possible to grief players. I honestly have no idea how grieving in that manner is fun to anyone.

Posted by Mustachio

@JBG4 said:

@Mustachio Nice way to extend the game for yourself man. I loved the Souls games and I have to agree with you that Invading another players game is a pivotal aspect of their gameplay. Honestly, those who don't appreciate this mechanic were probably the ones getting cheesed by someone else of a much higher SL. Have you found anything in Dark Souls that you enjoyed as much as this spot and strategy in Demon's Souls?

I've tried several different builds but have yet to find one that works quite as well in Dark Souls. It took a while to get this one right, so there may be one out there that I haven't attempted yet. It's all part of the fun, really. I can tell you I have tried the following though:

  1. Black Knight - pretty basic. Stay low level, grab a Black Knight set of armour, sword and shield and then guard a choke point once you invade. Only attack when they go on the offensive, otherwise simply stand there and watch like a silent sentinel. Tends to disturb them a bit but you can't do much more with it.
  2. Peek'a'Boo - really flexible. Just get the Dark Wood Grain Ring thing and the Ring of Fog and buy the Chameleon spell so that when you invade (ideally dressed up as a Ninja) you'll disappear somewhere in the level in wait, possibly moving between areas and occasionally ambushing them. Leaves you pretty weak though, and in some levels it can be pretty difficult to keep track of the player's location.
  3. Taunter - more of a pest than opponent. Basically wear more or less nothing (or if you do wear something only wear it because it looks stupid) and proceed to keep one step ahead of the host while occasionally ambushing him with dung. 99 Prism Stones don't hurt, either. Problem with this is dung is funny but the toxic condition is not. It was a little cruel considering how dangerous becoming toxic is.
  4. The Gentleman - full Elite Knight set. Bow and arrow. Ricard's rapier (normal, no lightning, etc). For gentlemanly and honourable duels. The rapier has a really neat move set but most people don't seem to want a good fight and just go straight in with a lightning shotel or similar stuff.

Those are the main four I've put any time in. I don't often invade so it can be hard to tell which areas are good for it. If there was a spell that let you see in the dark without giving off light I'd probably become the Ghost of the Tomb of Giants, because that would probably be terrifying for hosts and leave me loads of possibilities.

Posted by JBG4
@Mustachio Quick question. What's you SL?

I'm around 250 and mostly just invade for fun now when I feel bored.
Posted by TEHMAXXORZ

@SpawnMan said:

Dude, no one gives a sh*t... You ARE exactly like every other d*ckhead out there giving players a hard time. Thinks people give two hoots about some "Awesome" strategy you've made up to make someone else miserable and that you're special. What makes you different is that you have the temerity to say you're not like every other douche on the internet. L.A.W.L.

Posted by Mustachio

@JBG4: Highest guy I have is about 112. I tend to make multiple characters with different builds. Most of them are about 25-80 though.

Edited by MordeaniisChaos

So you're a troll? And one with no creativity at all? Yeah, that just makes you a cock. Dick with your friends, not random strangers on the internet trying to have a good time. You ruining their fun is still ruining their fun even if you're enjoying it. I really don't get the point of trolling people like that.

Not like you're a huge asshole, but still, you are a dick. And pointlessly so.

Posted by Mustachio

Well this has certainly been divisive. I shall consider that a good thing.