Everyone remembers the petition for Dark Souls earlier this year, as many gaming sites and personalities heavily supported the idea of the port. The original idea was that Dark Souls was already a near perfect game. Adding the game to PC would fix the few issues that it had.
FromSoftware and Namco Bandai listened, and the game will release tomorrow night. Dark Souls is in the top 10 Steam best sellers, so the demand may still be there. However, the way they have gone about the port has alienated many potential buyers, and the game is filled with a laundry list of things wrong with it already.
The problem of multiple configurations for PC makes developing the game a daunting challenge for a developer just getting started on a new platform. To make matters worse, they probably have no outside help from GPU companies like nVidia and ATI. I really feel badly for FromSoftware on this. To help speed up the process, FromSoftware was even tricked into making Dark Souls for Windows Live. We’ve already talked a lot about GFWL: its complete garbage and nobody should be forced to deal with it. When a DRM system deletes your saves and refuses to update, you know something is seriously wrong.
Graphically the game’s art style is still quite amazing, but the lack of basic options like texture filtering, levels of anti-aliasing, and higher resolutions make the game seem like a joke. You’d think that like with most games, FromSoftware would have their high-resolution textures and character models lying around somewhere. I guess they just don’t have them, or don’t want to swap them out. You can force some of these things a high-end graphics card, but we shouldn’t have to do that.
The problem with framerates will likely be so severe that the game will disconnect you from the online modes if your framerate drops below 15 for 30 seconds. One of the reasons why I was excited to play Dark Souls on PC in the first place was the ideal of 60 frames per second. We would be able to play the game with fewer headaches, and combat would be smoother.
To be completely honest, we’re having a tough time doing it due to our lack of experience and knowledge in terms of porting to PC. First we thought it would be a breeze, but it’s turned out not to be the case. – Daisuke Uchiyama
But recently, I learned that Dark Souls uses keyframes. They’re a holdover of older game design that basically would make 60 frames per second impossible. To clarify, the engine ties animations to the frames. Running the game at 60 frames per second would make the game run at twice the speed.
Controlling the game on keyboard and mouse also looks like a pain. The controls for actually playing the game look passable, but the menu controls have a ton of unnecessary keys, without any mouse scrolling either. FromSoftware is basically begging you to use the 360 controller no matter what.
The point of all of this is that we shouldn’t have to deal with it. The awful PC ports of 2007 may seem like a distant memory, but games like this are a reminder of how awful it can get. People may like to call the PC gamers who won’t be buying this entitled or whiny, but lets look at it from a real perspective. Imagine the backlash if a PS3 game randomly deleted your saves, the online barely worked, and you had to use a 360 controller. Dark Souls may already be one of the worst ports in recent memory, and it really is below the standards that I’ve come to expect. Yet somehow, I think I’m going to buy it anyway. A version of the game on my favored platform is never a bad thing, and I did enjoy the little time that I spent playing it on a console.
A bad port doesn’t necessarily mean that the game is bad, and I’m willing to make an exception for FromSoftware by meeting the challenge of porting to PC. And despite all of the technical flaws that I’ve been expecting, I still think that there is an enjoyable game under all of it. And with some free extra content, I feel like Dark Souls PC will be supported well after launch. I’ll be anticipating a Dark Souls play through sometime this week, and I’ll cautiously make my purchase based on how it actually plays.