Seeking more testing partners for Dark Souls 2 (PS3)

Hey everyone!

I’m hoping to get to the bottom of Soul Memory mechanics (exact ranges and all that fun stuff), relatively soon if possible. I’ve made very good progress with lots of help from a couple testing partners so far, but of course everyone’s availability doesn’t always match up.

If anyone on PS3 is interested in helping me with tests, that would be awesome. I have a late schedule so I’d be looking for someone who is generally free after midnight (EST), or 5:00 AM (GMT).

A way to chat outside of the PS3 is also important, like IRC or Skype.

You’d have to be okay with running the mega mule, which is believed to come with a risk of banning. But it will only be used strictly for testing purposes- if we get invaded (hasn’t been a common occurrence), we suicide. I have a strict no-cheating policy, especially when it comes to testing, so we won’t be using it for an advantage against anyone else.

I also warn that the testing can be fairly tedious and boring, and requires loading up new characters fairly often. So this project is probably only for those who’d have the patience for this sort of thing. :)

The testing results will be directly responsible for a resource that will be added to the wiki, so it would not only be helpful to me, but the entire Dark Souls 2 community at large.

If you’re interested you can reach me via the “ask me anything” link on my page! Thanks!

Anonymous asked: Do we know if the Name-Engraved Ring make soul memory irrelevant or it just widen the gap ?

It doesn’t make it irrelevant, it only widens the viable Soul Memory gap. And I believe it only applies to co-op, it didn’t seem to help when trying a quick test on the Red Sign Soasptone. But I’ll have to do more testing… I’ll have more information about this later on! :)

xlegato asked: Just to clarify one last time. After reading your post about the Soul Memory 12M cap I want to ask you if *soul level plays a factor at all? I mean it doesn't count for anything at all? So when you host fight clubs how is everyone going to know who is what level or not?

There isn’t any evidence I could find that level range matters at all. Bear in mind I haven’t thoroughly tested all the multiplayer items yet (like the Dragon Eye, Small WSS), but items like the White Sign Soapstone and Red Sign Soapstone are confirmed to pair exclusively through Soul Memory ranges. And early testing for other items indicates the same behavior so far.

So your understanding is correct, there’s zero level range boundary of any kind for at least the majority of (and probably all) multiplayer connections. Level 1 and Level 838 can pair if they’re close enough in Soul Memory. People hitting the 12-15m+ top tier of Soul Memory will risk matching with players who are much higher-leveled than them as a result.

I’ve seen people speculate that the game may sometimes pair by Soul Memory OR Soul Level (perhaps only in NG+, etc), but this is not the case. Having tested it in both NG and NG+, I can confirm that being the same level but being too far apart in Soul Memory doesn’t allow you to pair.

Since there is no way to filter people out by level, Fight Clubs will simply have to be more discerning about who they summon, and some trial-and-error will be involved in the process. Since you can tell a player’s level based on the amount of Souls dropped, if it’s confirmed that someone is bringing a character that is too high for the event, a host can choose not to summon them anymore (and should attempt to keep their invasion slots filled as much as possible).

Where does this leave Fight Clubs?

In a previous post, I suggested reaching the top tier of SM as probably the best idea for organizing fight clubs, so players can perpetually use their characters and not worry about getting out of range of each other. If the downsides to this don’t sound appealing, I think the next best area could be somewhere around ~3m to ~6m SM (which would have a different set of pros and cons to it). But I’ll have to do more testing on the exact range of the Red Sign Soapstone to be sure. I’ll be elaborating on this in a future post.

Dark Souls 2: Emerald Herald [Unused Dialog]

I got a message in my inbox asking if any unused content pertaining to the Emerald Herald has been found. I meant to answer this publicly, but mis-clicked and answered it privately. I was also in the middle of formatting it still, so apologies to whoever received my incoherent response!

I haven’t been looking into Dark Souls 2 cut content yet, mostly because I’m still not closely familiar with all the in-game content yet. I figure I’ll be better suited to sift through the text dump a bit later on. Thankfully, others have done a wonderful job of finding stuff, and a couple guys have already compiled a page for what’s been found so far:

The Emerald Herald is one of two characters that currently have unused dialog detailed on the page. Though it seems to mostly consist of more exposition about the direction and story of the game. Nothing from the dialog seems to indicate a significant unused event for her.

Dark Souls 2: Online Matchmaking is the same in NG+. Soul Memory Requirements match regular NG.

I’m working on a comprehensive testing project to get all the nuts and bolts of Soul Memory ranges worked out. There’s a lot more testing that needs to be done, as well as testing to make sure nothing’s changed with the new patch, but this is something that I can address for the time being.

Soul Memory works the same in NG+

It’s commonly believed that NG+ removes the Soul Memory (“SM”) restriction, but this was based only on some people experiencing large SM gaps in NG+.

Testing has demonstrated that this also happens in regular NG, if you manage to stick around NG long enough and get SM that high. You can even reach a “top tier” of Soul Memory in regular NG, allowing you to connect to others who are literally hundreds of millions of Soul Memory away. So the idea that “being able to connect millions away” didn’t strike me as decent evidence for the NG+ hypothesis.

There wasn’t any reassurance that:

  • A specific range from specific values that failed in regular NG became possible in NG+
  • A specific range that’s possible in NG+ wasn’t also possible in regular NG.
Those are the kind of things that needed to be tested in order to actually know if there was a difference. Here are the results:
  • Test #1 - WSS, without Name-Engraved Ring
In regular NG:
SM 6m Phantom using WSS did not have sign show up for 10m Host.
SM 7m Phantom using WSS DID have the sign show up for 10m Host.

In NG+:
Exact same results.
  • Test #2 - WSS, without Name-Engraved Ring
In regular NG:
SM 100k Phantom using WSS did not have sign show up for 40k Host.
SM 100k Phantom using WSS DID have the sign show up for 50k Host.

In NG+:
Exact same results.
  • Test #3 - WSS, with the Name-Engraved Ring
In regular NG:
SM 8m Phantom using WSS did not have sign show up for 15m Host.
SM 9m Phantom using WSS DID have the sign show up for 15m Host.

In NG+:
Exact same results.

In short, if you find a range that works in NG+, it also works in NG. Find a range that doesn’t work in NG, it doesn’t work in NG+ either. I think this should pretty much settle this, unless anyone can provide evidence to the contrary.

darksoulsii asked: How much testing has been done on Adaptability and Agility? Any idea? I really don't know too much about it.

Dark Souls 2: Adaptability and Agility

I’d love to know more about it as well. Without a capture card, I don’t have a decent way of testing it, so the details are unavailable to me.

Preliminary testing seems to confirm what a lot of us “feel”, anecdotally. Which is that very low Agility almost certainly has less i-frames than higher Agility.

This video from Emarrel from demonstrates a noticeable difference at base Agility (85 - Bandit), where he cannot successfully roll through most attacks:

I don’t believe we have detailed information on exact i-frame counts… I’m not sure someone can tell us yet how many more i-frames 110 agility has over 93 (or if it does), but there is a difference at least from base agility.

This video from Silver Mont also demonstrates that increased agility also quickens how fast you consume Estus (and possibly Lifegems, though I’m not completely sure if the animation started at the same time?):

Looking forward to others’ testing and more results on this!

Anonymous asked: Are you sure this is how soul rewards work for pvp? I've had over half a million souls drop from a SL150 invader, and I've heard of people getting well over a million souls from killing one invader, which is impossible according to your model.

Yeah I’m pretty sure. It’s been nothing but consistent in testing, so I’m more inclined to believe that the “SL 150” invader wasn’t telling the truth about their level.

Dark Souls 2 doesn’t use a level range at all, you are able to be paired if you’re close enough in Soul Memory. It’s possible for someone to cheat their way to max level without having the corresponding SM that they should, so such a person is able to invade down to any level if their SM matches the host’s.

A max level player should drop around ~500k souls. As for ~1 million, I can’t verify this is the cause for sure, but I know that the game data contains leveling costs beyond max level. If it’s possible for someone to hack their level above 838, that could be the cause.

If I find out more about these impossibly-high soul rewards, I’ll be sure to mention it. Or if anyone else knows, please send me a message! :)

Dark Souls 2: Shrine of Winter Soul Requirements

Seek mightier souls

It is commonly understood that having enough souls allows you to bypass the required boss souls, but I’ve seen a lot of people ask if it’s based on souls currently held, total Soul Memory, or Soul Memory gathered during the current playthrough.

I checked every NG cycle and can confirm that it’s based on the Soul Memory you’ve gathered during the current playthrough (not total Soul Memory nor souls held). It requires 1 million in the first playthrough, then another additional million for every subsequent playthrough:

  • 1,000,000 in NG
  • 2,000,000 in NG+
  • 3,000,000 in NG+2
  • …etc
  • 8,000,000 in NG+7 (this is the cap)
What this means is that if you began NG+ with 3 million SM, you’ll need to pass 5 million SM in order to meet the 2 million requirement. This was tested through save file editing (with the help of a friend), and having characters that started off in every NG cycle.

In the unlikely event that tampering with the game affects this mechanic, I’ve also seen a report of someone who counted how many souls they obtained since reaching NG+, and it also opened for them after gathering 2 million souls in that playthrough (on a legit save file).

I’ve updated this page to reflect this informaiton:
Announcement: Spoiler warnings are being lifted for Dark Souls 2 discussion.

Welp. So about a month ago I made a post saying that I probably wouldn’t get into a lot of Dark Souls 2 testing right away, so people waiting for the PC version wouldn’t have to worry about spoilers here. I’m going to have to go back on that promise, so I advise turning away if you don’t want to see this information yet. :)

Since the general focus here is stuff like mechanics, I won’t be discussing lore, but I probably will be mentioning things like covenants, bosses, etc, by name.

It turns out that Dark Souls 2 was not more straight forward than Dark Souls 1 in terms of mechanics, I’d say it’s about equally vague. This means speculation and rumors are back in full force, something I wasn’t sure was going to be the case this time around. Like a moth flittering towards a flame, the general lack of detailed information is pulling me back in…

Dark Souls 2: How Souls Are Awarded In PvP [Update]

With the help of “dwomaci”, I created a page that details how souls are rewarded in PvP. Now it’s easy to look up the level of another player based on souls dropped, no need to do any calculations:

I would’ve had to create the tables by hand, but a kind stranger managed to pull the leveling cost data from the game, and was able to apply the relevant calculations in bulk and automatically format it for the wiki. Woah. Jolly co-operation at its finest!

Anonymous asked: Is there anything to stop level 838's from invading fight club pvp events, and ruining all sense of class structure?

I don’t believe so, unfortunately. Though I don’t think the Soul Memory system, flawed as it may be, is a reason to abandon having some kind of level-based meta (be it SL150, SL200, or whatever it settles on). The way I look at it is this:

  • If you’re looking to connect with a lot of random players and would like to have a competitive edge regardless of level, then you’ll probably be inclined to keep leveling up.
  • If you’re interested in Fight Clubs or Tournaments, then you’re going to pick a level and stick with it.
Though Dark Souls 2 allows for a much greater level disparity with its Soul Memory matchmaking, in Dark Souls 1 there was nothing to stop a level ~210 Darkmoon from trying to crash an SL120-125 PvP event. Or someone who was ~144 from dropping a Red Sign Soapstone. Afterall, picking a level wasn’t purely for matchmaking purposes, it was so you could fight players with evenly matched stats.

Soul Memory has its problems, but it doesn’t render Fight Clubs impossible. You can always tell the level of another player by the amount of Souls they drop, and a host can choose to summon people confirmed to be leveled appropriately for the event. Random people crashing wouldn’t be too much different than hackers crashing Fight Clubs in Dark Souls 1.

osmardo asked: What is soul memory? Is like the total count of all the souls you've earned through the game?

Yup, that’s exactly right! It doesn’t matter what you’ve done with your souls, Soul Memory simply keeps track of the total amount ever obtained. You can find your Soul Memory listed in the top right of the “Player Status” screen.

Dark Souls 2: Level Range and Soul Memory (How to Make Fight Clubs Viable)

Similar to the earlier days of Dark Souls 1, there is lots of speculation over the matchmaking and little in the way of trustworthy facts. I’ve only been able to do some preliminary testing, so I don’t have anything nice like a formula for Soul Memory ranges (that might be very hard to do), but I believe I have some useful information that can help clear up some misconceptions.

Testing was done in Ver. 1.02, Calibrations 1.03.

  • The Namco Bandai Statement, and Why it’s Wrong
A character’s total number of souls is factored in during summonings/invasions (generally you must be within 50,000 souls of the person you’re invading/co-opping with and your level must be within +/- 10 levels)." source

Testing has demonstrated that, at least within regular NG, there is no level range at all. This means the part about needing to be within 10 levels is false, because pairing is based only on a Soul Memory range (at least for co-op).

For example, a level 400 player and a level 1 player can both summon each other through the White Sign Soapstone if they have identical Soul Memory. Additionally, we know that there isn’t an additional pairing based on level, because you can both be level 1, but get too far apart in Soul Memory to be able to pair up.

This was tested simply by creating characters with different levels but identical SM, and characters with the same level but different SM.

What about the within 50k Soul Memory range? That’s not true either. Or at the least, it doesn’t give us the complete picture. There may be some sort of tiered system in place that works with 50k ranges at lower levels, but it appears to be a lot more complicated, and the range also widens at higher amounts. It is perfectly possible to pair up with someone with a 1 million Soul Memory disparity as long as you’re high enough, which the Namco statement doesn’t help clarify.
  • Doesn’t Soul Memory Totally Break the Viability of Fight Clubs? (Good News, It Doesn’t!)
There was a lot of concern that pairing players by Soul Memory would ruin the viability of fight clubs. The issue people had in mind was that after you create your build and try PvP with a group of players, the process of accruing souls would eventually put you into a different range.

It turns out that there is actually a max tier, and it’s not insurmountably high. And it’s been confirmed for regular NG (further testing for NG+ still required, but that’s only speculated to be more relaxed in requirements, not more confined).

Once you surpass 12 million Soul Memory, you can pair with anyone above that and vice versa (white sign soapstone and red sign soapstone confirmed).

To figure this out, I had heard from a couple sources that there was a speculated top tier where everyone within it can be matched. With a testing partner, we guessed 20 million and put another character over 100 million and went from there. Being able to see each others’ signs, my partner created new characters using the Mega Mule with a lower Soul Memory, while I continued to increase mine.

We found that even when I was over 400 million Soul Memory, his 12 million character could match up, both ways, with mine. We tested 11,950,000 SM as well, and that didn’t work.
  • What About Invasions?
I haven’t done enough testing yet to determine anything conclusive, but early data also suggests that invasions (at least Cracked Red Eye Orb invasions) also do not have a level range and only use some kind of Soul Memory grouping.

In regular NG, I invaded a level 72 player with a level 145 character. That’s a pretty huge level disparity (and I’m certain the level he told me was correct based on the amount of souls dropped), but we both had very close Soul Memory.
  • What About NG+? Doesn’t It Get Rid of Soul Memory Restrictions?
I urge everyone to take a skeptical approach. Don’t believe something until it’s been tested and good controls and variables have been taken into consideration. It’s possible that NG+ widens the Soul Memory restrictions, or has a lower threshold for the max tier, but we simply don’t know yet.

The reason people believe NG+ removes Soul Memory restrictions is because people have noted pairing with people pretty far off from their own Soul Memory. But this doesn’t prove anything, because bear in mind that I found a way to pair with someone who was hundreds of millions away from me in Soul Memory, in regular NG.

The only way to know if it’s different in NG+ is to first figure out the exact boundaries of regular NG, or to come up with a specific comparison and test it (find an exact range that doesn’t work in NG and see if the same gap from the same values becomes possible in NG+).
  • Isn’t the Soul Memory Some Fixed Boundary? Like a 20% or 30% Range?
  • Does the Name-Engraved Ring Increase My Soul Memory Range, or Does it Just Filter Signs and Facilitate Easier Pairing?
It’s not just a filter! It does widen your range when both partners wear it, but I don’t have a formula available yet as to how it does that exactly. It’s also speculated that being a Sunbro expands your range, but I haven’t done testing on that yet.

We found that the White Sign Soapstone benefited from this increased range, but the Red Sign Soapstone seemingly did not.

Sorry for being light on the details, I usually try to include my data but this post would become a monstrosity if I tried to do that. I wanted to be able to cover a bunch of different concepts at once. If you’re interested in how I arrived at some of these conclusions, you can PM me for specifics.
Dark Souls 2: How Souls Are Awarded In PvP [Spoiler Free]

Remember when I said I probably wouldn’t be testing and posting about Dark Souls 2 stuff soon? Sorry to go back on this, but I promise this is only minor mechanical news that probably does not count as a spoiler. I won’t name covenants or anything specific, you’ll have to follow a link for more details.

  • Just like Dark Souls 1, you are awarded a fixed amount of souls based on your opponent’s level (not how many souls they are carrying).
  • It is a percentage of the cost for them to have reached their current level, from their previous one (a level 100 player drops some percent of the leveling cost of level 99 to 100)
  • Unlike Dark Souls 1, it doesn’t seem to follow as simple of a ‘10% given to invaders’, ‘50% given to hosts’ system.
I haven’t tested all perspectives from all types of PvP yet, but I’ve gotten about half of them done and so far the two values are 10% and 37.5%. All invasions so far reward 10% (asides from one that rewards 0), but not all hosting rewards 37.5%. Some hosting also only rewards 10%.

You can see a more complete list with specific examples that I posted here.

I also began work on a page that lists the leveling costs, which can be used to determine the level of an opponent after defeating them:

Hopefully once we know the leveling costs of every individual level, and we’re certain of the rewards for all PvP perspectives, someone can turn this into a working calculator to determine SL based on souls dropped in PvP.
Dark Souls: A Review of How Vagrants Were Tested (Part 1)

I’ve written quite a bit about these critters, but I’ve had some people ask about how it was figured out. The details of their mechanics were almost completely unknown until around last summer, when I began to make some breakthroughs in intentionally self-spawning them. It wasn’t just some lucky guessing though, there was a lot stuff done earlier-on which helped pave the way.

Warning, long post ahead. Or— the true blogging starts here…

1. What We Knew From the Start

The game manual made it explicitly clear what these creatures were, though it was scant on details (purposefully, I’m sure)-


This evoked questions like “which items work?”, “is there more to just dropping them?”, and “how many items and humanity are needed?” For a while we could only speculate. Then we also had this resource, which both clarified and confused some things:

The Future Press Guidebook revealed names for the two different kinds, the “Evil” and “Good” versions. Here they’re called Drift Items instead of Vagrants as well, though this alternate name is actually consistent with the game data.

What’s more important is that they established they appear in fixed spawn locations, which was good to know. However, they threw us off a little with what I believe is incorrect information. Vagrants always drop the same item (depending on their type and how they were spawned), so I’m pretty certain the area they are in does not affect the drop, and the “type of player” thing now seems a bit dubious as well (more on that later).

Unfortunately for me, there was also this early interview from IGN which I overlooked (and never saw referenced in Vagrant discussions until after I was further along with making progress):


Well, shit. So while this last resource was around from the start, and obviously some people read it, it’s hard to say it’s something we “knew from the start” since it didn’t seem to stick with the collective knowledge. I’d never heard mention about not picking something up, and nothing like that was ever referenced on the wikis. If this part was stressed more, it would’ve helped solve the Drift Bag Item mystery a lot sooner…

2. The Earlier Days (Lots of Bad Info)

I was curious about some of the information that was spreading around, because I’d never heard of anyone actually figuring out how to spawn them. Yet some very specific details were popping up, and they weren’t corroborated by the original sources shown above. Here’s where the wiki page was at the time (an excerpt from revision #45):


My BS detector went on full alert (if you’re wondering how things turned out, that info is mostly wrong). I wondered if any of this could be verified, but without a way of testing it, what could be done?

3. Making Slow Progress Through Casual Research

At the time, the PC version wasn’t out yet, nor was the Mega Mule. Being on PS3, I didn’t have access to easier testing through illegitimate means. Instead, I thought the best way to make progress was to just gather whatever concrete information was available. I considered the possibility that simply learning random facts about them wouldn’t lead to figuring out spawning mechanics, but any solid info was better than none. It turned out that the best place to do this, by far, was reddit (with youtube in second place).

Being the ‘Souls addict I am, I was already checking /r/darksouls pretty regularly to get my fix for discussion and learning about new things. I noticed that it had a lot more pictures of Vagrants getting shared than any other forum (though sometimes they were still few and far between). I figured - hey, why not hold onto pictures of Vagrants that get posted? And ask the poster what it dropped?

Eventually this lead to fleshing out two things. A list of their known drops, and also their confirmed spawn locations. Here’s an example of the collection:


I realize now this looks kind of obsessed, but don’t worry, I hadn’t gone full hollow (yet). Making a list of drops and saving a few pictures every other week didn’t take much effort.

4. Forming A Hypothesis

With a better list of drop information built up, it became apparent that the Evil Vagrants always dropped humanity (regular - 1x humanity, black phantom - 1x twin humanity). And the Good Vagrants always dropped miscellaneous items other than humanity.

It was now pretty clear that the Evil Vagrants must be the kind created by lost humanity and the Good ones were created by dropped items (as mentioned in the manual), since that seemed to correspond nicely with their drops.

Now I felt I was on track, but I still didn’t know of a good way to test anything. I figured that if I could abandon humanity over and over, I could get a partner to see a Vagrant (correct prediction). I also predicted that the items dropped by Good Vagrants were the same items that caused them (false prediction).

5. A Wild Random Bag Appears!


At this point, there was mostly speculation as to what these things were. You’d hear occasional stories of someone finding a random bag containing something like a Prism Stone or Rubbish, in a place where they were certain another player online didn’t drop it (like the Firelink Shrine).

The idea that they were related to Vagrants was one of the more popular ideas, and there are some people who predicted it correctly (or heeded the IGN article and knew what was up). So things were on the right track, but there wasn’t any proof or understanding of what exactly was going on. Were these just failed Vagrants? They got sent as items because they weren’t good enough drops to become Vagrants? Or maybe it was just a glitch?

This is where crucial progress was made by Ublug from the wikispaces forum (now known as Fextralife). He was dropping some items in the Forest, then he ran to Firelink and back, and noticed an odd phenomena. Only the last two item bags he dropped were missing upon his return. “Why is that?”, we wondered. If he went far enough away and the area unloaded, shouldn’t all the items have disappeared? Or if he didn’t go far enough away, shouldn’t all the items still be there?

He noticed that after testing the missing bag phenomena a few times, he sometimes found an item waiting for him that he didn’t drop— one of these mysterious Lloyd’s Talisman or Rubbish bags. I replicated his testing and found the same thing.

But then also most of my tests ended in failure. I couldn’t get a good consistency going, and running all the way from Firelink to Darkroot over and over was boring and time consuming. And due to the lack of consistency, it got to the point where it felt like random luck and I couldn’t really learn much from it. So I stopped trying. But this process here made solving it a lot easier later on, with Ublug to thank.

6. Failed Test Proposals

With the PC version out, and rampant cheating, I thought- hey what better way to test Evil Vagrants than to instantly give yourself 99 humanity and suicide a lot, right? Only I didn’t have a gaming PC and wasn’t in the market for one, so I put out requests in a couple communities for others to try it.

This totally would have worked, but I couldn’t find anyone interested at the time.

Hey you! Take a break from ruining the online experience and help test something!

I got the impression that people didn’t want to spend time on something that sounded speculative and could be a waste of time. This is understandable, there were community events in the past where people dropped a bunch of excess gear during Fight Clubs to try and spawn Vagrants, but that had always failed. My proposal probably just looked like another “hhhey maybe we can spawn Vagrants with random idea #12!" I’m sure I also just had some bad luck and failed to reach the right people at the time.

The first person I know to try this on PC was HellkiteDrake, when making the recent video on Vagrants. It actually worked quite awesomely for him. He could do things that I couldn’t— instantly fill up on 99 humanity, setting his respawn location directly next to a Vagrant spawn location, so he wouldn’t have to run back from the bonfire every time, and even insta-killing himself with a 1-button press so he didn’t have to lure enemies to kill him or jump off a cliff. The result was getting many return Vagrants. But I’m getting a little ahead here, this was more recent…

7. The Mega Mule and First Success.

The Mega Mule landed in early-ish 2013, and holy shit was this a life saver. Or ruiner, depending on how you look at it. Because it changed testing on the PS3 from a complete nightmare to something that was viable, so I could actually start trying things myself.

I know, I know. It was/is abused, and lead to bad things. If I could choose for Dark Souls to have cheat protection I would in an instant. But with this tool out there, I’m not going to not use it to learn more about the game.

So I basically sought out to test the Evil Vagrant hypothesis using the same proposal I made months earlier. This wound up bearing the first positive results. So that wraps up how I got around to testing, but I’ll make another post (part 2), that covers the actual process and how that went down.

If anyone actually read all this, wow, thanks! You are a trooper.