I wanted to get a little something down about the fake episode of Bonfireside Chat we recently released. It's a little tricky to write about because like almost everything I bring to the show, there isn't a lot of preparation or process involved.
I don't mean that to be any sort of brag or qualitative statement. It's just me leaning into my soft skills. Kole mentioned on the Slack recently how he and I have settled into a rhythm in our liveshows where he attends to our recording set up and I warm up the room. We never discussed this. We just showed up and did those things like there was a little dotted line on the ground leading us to our respective areas. Again, I want to stress, this isn't a qualitative thing: I could do what Kole is doing with the technical stuff with some effort and he could do what I'm doing as well. But one reason we work well together is that we have these separate interests and separate strengths.
Anyway, that's a lot of words to say that there wasn't a detailed outline. It was mostly improv. There are tiny elements of improv in all of our shows but the two most improv focused shows are probably The Pitch and Teenage Dirtbags. "Going along with it" is something I value in comedy, and life.
So that's what we did. I briefed Nick and Kole on how Souls of Darkness fit into the real world timeline (and the ways it doesn't). I told them basically what type of game it was (a top down Zelda like with lots of secrets, exploration, and stamina based combat), and a little bit about the area. We then used the notes I wrote (included at the bottom of this entry) and away we went.
And those dudes did a great job. The episode clocks in at a little over an hour and most of that was full steam ahead. I was obviously comfortable with the things I added and only needed to stop them a few times when they said things that directly contradicted cannon. That said, there were many breaks to stop and think.
This is what separates the shows on the network from real improv: I can edit this shit out. The hard part, the reason it was a tough edit, was because we weren't following good break discipline. Kole did a blog a few weeks back about, "I was about to say." While I'm not as annoyed as he is by that statement, I think what he was getting at is good break discipline for retakes. That is to say, when you're retaking something, you should retake it earlier than you think you should, and you should have a good long pause before you begin speaking again. Probably because we were doing something we're not used to doing, none of us did that.
So there were a lot of challenging edits to make these digressions sound seemless. Mostly this involved hunting down the specific moments between words where cuts make sense, and sometimes inserting breaths or "ums" from later in the episode to make speech sound more natural.
But yeah, there you have it. The Garbage Gulch Bonfireside Chat. I'm very happy with the results and I hope you guys like it too. Next entry, I want to talk about the Labyrinth episode a little bit and how drastically, screamingly uncomfortable I felt self promoting. See you then!
Garbage Gulch Notes
Joined by Nick Daniel of Latchkey Kingdom, noted Souls fan and artist.
Continuing our season 7 coverage of Souls of Darkness, the spiritual predecessor to Dark Souls originally released for the Superstation in 1991.
We crashed the skeleton party in the Forgotten Tomb and gave The Marrowlord a Spinal Tap, gaining our first Soul Orb. Now, it's on to the disgusting, smelly lake of sewage that is Garbage Gulch to challenge The Infant Mother of All Spiders.
Long ago this plain was known as Swanky Acres, a beautiful suburb of Gilmor. After Gilmor was laid to ruin, they became lax in their waste management practices and inadvertently created Garbage Gulch. Or did they?
The dedregation of the swamp and it's proximity to The Demon Run lead to it becoming a feeding ground for The Infant Mother of All Spiders. She has agents in the swamp who kidnap those who would seek to plunder this once prosperous area.
The very air and earth are trying to kill you/Arachnophobia.
There are two ways to get to Garbage Gulch. You can either follow the winding gravepath after The Forgotten Tomb or take a one way shortcut from Hydration Nation. We'll be covering the area as if you came from the gravepath, which is the “proper” way to go.
Complain about one way shortcut. Similar to the great hollow. Ironically, it's also similar to the back way into Blighttown in that it avoids a lot of the problems and lets you run straight for the boss.
Campfire on the outskirts.
The Fetid Fields – Corpse Bursters – 16 legged spiders that burst out of bloated corpses floating in the swamp. Can burst out of corpses with items on them. Positioned to punish suicide runs for items.
Poison Cursed Ones – Citizens of Hydration Nation who have fallen down the cliff face and drown in filth. Their legs are broken so they don't move but they do spit poison.
Finding the Longpike in the hollow of a log.
Meeting Engyll: a ramshackle house in the field contains an NPC, Engyll. He's this crouched, stooped over slimeball who offers to heal the player. If you accept, you're teleported to the boss fight, but at half health.
Lorewise, Engyll is said to be a former Gilmor waste management official who signed darke contracts and dread ordinances. Don't reset at the campfire outside his hut! If you do, he'll take you directly to the boss fight and at half health.
The Toxic Pool
A huge lake of filth. Difficult to see where the land ends and the lake begins and it's easy to drown. Filled with Slimeskimmers, really hard to hit and really fast, they skirt around quickly. Generally not worth exploring but necessary for Heimull's quest line.
We find Heimull on a small sandbar in the middle of The Toxic Pool. He has lost his wife's Opal Tiara on the outskirts. If we give him the Tiara now, he'll try to swim back and drown. If we give him a Rotted Eye of Wade and a Tiara, he'll live but will get the bad ending. To complete the quest, we need to give him The Rotted Eye of Wade but not the Tiara. The Tiara allows you to cast spells with 10% less mana so it might be worth keeping.
Encounter with the Breathless, huge ogres who throw crumbling piles of calcified excrement at the player, causing Doublepoison.
The Dying Tenement. Lots of cursed ambushes here! Flying Stirges that zip from the corners of the screen. (dodge roll!)
The Cliffside – This is where you enter if you head in from Hydration Nation.
More Breathlesses, though these ones throw rocks they don't do doublepoison but they do hit like a truck.
Multiple caves: most contain monsters though one has a Resplendant Drought, guarded by Poison Cursed ones and Trashbag Helga, a tough npc enemy. Trashbag Helga will try to get behind the player to guillotine her with her butcherblade. Turn the tables or roll out of the way. If you kill her, you can buy her armor and the butcherblade from Zallim back in The Cursed Hamlet. The Butcherblade heals you with each strike.
The Demon's Vestibule
Where you're teleported to by Engyll. A huge chamber with a locked door at the end. After a few moments, the boss appears.
cool spider effect on floor!
Boss Fight: The Infant Mother of All Spiders. One of the demon sisters who tried to fight against the curse. Maintains the Demen's Vestibule in order to gather food for her young and her family. We'll be talking more about them in The Demon Run.
Controls portions of the floor by shooting webs and directing spiders. Does three jumps before shooting her magic. Easy to get locked up on the floor. Fight is about her managing the battlefield and denying you access to room to dodge.
After you beat her, you get the new Soul Orb!
Next time we'll be heading to The Demon Run to finish this family reunion.