There are a lot of things that point to it being in the same world, but not necessarily the same exact place, far in the future. Maybe parts of Drangleic overlap with where Lordran once was, but I don't think they're exactly the same. I think it was just designed to be ambiguous, and all these are just there to make you feel a connection between the games and recall Dark Souls One sometimes while you're playing.
I think the coolest thing about e-Sports right now is that the dedicated following is growing to the point where it alone is enough to be pretty sustainable, without needing to get the "mainstream" audiences involved. Online streaming is the perfect way for these events to be broadcast, as negotiating with TV is hard, and most people into games are generally on the internet anyway. Another great thing is just how many different games are getting fanbases and coverage nowadays. People mainly see LoL and DotA but Starcraft is still going (not as big as during it's peak, but it's still going), along with a bunch of fighting games and weird stuff like World of Tanks. I don't see this recent growth as a bubble, but maybe I'm just an optimist.
I've been levelling it up because I felt like my guy was real slow at the beginning. I've gotten it to around 15 or so and I'm feeling like my guy is now agile enough to do what I want him to do when I want him to do it, so I'll probably stop leveling it.
It's a game where there are a ton of different options of how you can play. Because of this, people are super defensive about the way they beat it, declaring it "proper", and judge-y of how other people play. The fact that the game is so challenging is a part of it, too. People want to brag about beating the game, and when someone beats the game doing something "cheesy", or just something that makes the game easier, they feel like it is devaluing their accomplishment. Personally, I love summoning; I think it's a ton of fun. I do like attempting each boss by myself at least once, though.
@spraynardtatum: There are other ways to make light without the lantern. I think one is a magic spell/miracle and the other is a helmet you can find in Lost Izalith. Those are a lot easier to use than the lantern.
Every once in a while I'll see a screenshot of the Giant Bomb crew with Ryan in it, and I'll just remember how much things have changed. It's only been six months but it feels like such a long time. I often go back and read the memorials and this thread and just remember one of my favourite duders. This site helped me get through high school and defined me for years, and so it was huge for me to lose one of those anchors, especially right as I graduated. The other guys have managed to pull through and continue making great stuff, but it goes without saying that it will never be the same without Ryan. I really miss him.
Sometimes I'll wake up and groggily open a quick look, and assume it'll be a Jeff & Ryan look, and then it'll start and it'll all come flooding back to me. Or I'll pop into a live show and see Jeff on the chair and be surprised for a brief second. At least we still have all the great podcasts and videos he made throughout his life to go back to.