J. M. DeSantis's Blog & News

J. M. DeSantis

Initial Thoughts on the Recent Hellboy Movie Announcement

J. M. DeSantis Blog: New Hellboy Movie

Mike Mignola is on the short list of creators whose work inspired me to get back into comics. After years of being sick of Marvel and DC (especially after Marvel’s Onslaught thing and the whole Amalgam deal in the 1990s), I stopped reading comics for a long time, and I make no secret of my complete lack of interest in the “mythology” of superheroes (can I write that word?). Then, in college, I was introduced to Mignola and other creators (such as Alan Moore) who offered an alternative to what comics could be about. And though it took a bit to get used to Mignola’s style, once I read Hellboy I was instantly hooked. It was equal turns dark and humourous and was inspired by much of the same source material which I myself enjoy. So when Mike Mignola announced through his social media networks that a new Hellboy film was in the works, you figured I’d be ecstatic.  (Read more…)

J. M. DeSantis

Borne from the Soul: Demon’s Souls

Borne from the Soul: Demon's Souls

It was my brother, Brian, who first introduced me to the Souls series. As I recall, I was going through a difficult time and Brian was looking for difficult games. We had been gamers our entire lives and he decided that he only wanted to play games that offered him the utmost challenge, so experienced did he consider himself. So, like a samurai choosing to fight armies with a wood sword, every game he played was on the highest difficulty, and he hated having to play a game once on Hard just to get the even harder difficulty. And then he found it, a game so hard the only difficulty setting was constant death. And when he found it, my dear brother wanted me to revel in his new-found outlet for his masochism. (Read more…)

J. M. DeSantis

Convention Season 2017

I’m taking a break from writing about Dark Souls (and other related games) this week, to give you all a little update on my convention schedule for this year. Currently, there are a few unconfirmed appearances (and one which I haven’t decided upon just yet), but the months are starting to fill in (admittedly, I’m not the most active con-exhibitor, usually averaging about one a month or month-and-a-half each year). True, I already exhibited at No Such Con in February so this may seem a bit late to be listing what’s coming in 2017, but I don’t usually attend cons in the winter. Now spring is officially here, and I already have an event coming up in May!  (Read more…)

J. M. DeSantis

Soul Long: The End of Dark Souls

Soul Long: The End of Dark Souls

It’s a bitter sweet moment. On one hand I feel that all stories must have an ending, even when I wish they would never end–I’m not much for on-going series. On the other, the Soulsborne games (that is Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne and the Dark Souls series) have been a singular source of entertainment and inspiration for me for the past eight years. With the recent release of the final Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City, From Software has brought an end to the Dark Souls story and possibly an end to an era in gaming. (Read more…)

J. M. DeSantis

Borne from the Soul: The Value of Dark Souls’ Game Play

Borne from the Soul: The Value of Dark Soul's Game Play

Yesterday the final DLC for Dark Souls III, The Ringed City became available; however, as I haven’t had the chance to delve into it heavily, instead of a review I offer the final part in the trilogy of writing pieces on what the experience of playing these games offers to everyone but especially creators.

I understand that game play and design is a sort of broad topic to tackle with any game. Though in this particular context I mean as it pertains to the experience Dark Souls and the related titles of the Soulsborne series create. In truth, and with any well designed game, the way you play the game, the way you explore it is as essential to the player experience as the graphics and the story. In the best designed games, game play and design are the story. Because, after all, experience becomes story in the end, does it not?  (Read more…)

J. M. DeSantis

Borne from the Soul: Storytelling in Dark Souls

Borne from the Soul: Storytelling in Dark Souls

J. R. R. Tolkien once wrote in a letter to a fan, “Part of the attraction of The L. R. [Lord of the Rings] is, I think, due to the glimpses of a large history in the background: an attraction like that of viewing far off an unvisited island, or seeing the towers of a distant city gleaming in a sunlit mist. To go there is to destroy the magic, unless new unattainable vistas are again revealed” (The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien; letter #247, bottom pg 333).

It’s for this same reason, I believe, George R. R. Martin insists on not presenting a factual history of his Song of Ice and Fire series (The World of Ice and Fire being told from the perspective of a character in that world; vulture.com/2014/11/George-rr-martin-new-book.html). It’s partly why, in my opinion, the second trilogy of Star Wars films was so unsuccessful (aside from the obvious storytelling faults). The rumours I heard about the Clone Wars had built up a story in my imagination greater than anything George Lucas could have presented to me.

Sometimes that little bit of unknown information can be infinitely more enticing than the fully revealed truth. It’s what makes history so intriguing. We can never know all of the answers for a certainty. It’s this precise device which draws players into the stories of the Dark Souls games and their related titles (collectively called the Soulsborne series), and it’s the way the stories are presented which creates such an immersive experience for the player. (Read more…)

J. M. DeSantis

Borne from the Soul: The Experience of Dark Souls and its Value to Creators (and Everyone, for that Matter)

BorneFromTheSoul Soulsborne

What I think has drawn people to the Soulsborne series (affectionately named by its fans for the Dark Souls series, Demon’s Souls, and Bloodborne, collectively) and evolves to obsession for many of us, is the experience the games provide. Not the story. Not the gameplay. But the totality of all of the games’ collective parts.

For anyone who is not a gamer (or game designer, for that matter), I’ve heard it said that the highest point in the art of game design, the greatest achievement a game can make, is to seamlessly integrate all of its parts into a complete experience for the player. Like reading a book or watching a film, you never once want the game to feel disjointed, a part of it forced or out of place; the suspension of disbelief should never be broken. And having been a gamer all of my life, and speaking as someone with a bit of amateur experience and classes in game design, I can honestly say I have never played a game or series which has achieved this so (near) perfectly. (Read more…)

J. M. DeSantis

The Fire Fades

In twenty one days, the world of Dark Souls players will be able to explore The Ringed City, the final DLC in the series by From Software and perhaps at last we Undead will see the ultimate fading of the Flame. It’s a sad day and a hopeful one, I’m sure, for many of us who have been inexplicably drawn to the series since the first Dark Souls in 2011 (and even its predecessor, Demon’s Souls in 2009). But even for those who have slowly been brought into the fold over the years, the ending of Age of Fire spells the ending of an age in video games, one which hopefully will usher in a new age of great potential and creative freedom. Though for me, I wonder if this will spell the end my on-going love for video games, for, as many have said in the before me, Dark Souls ruined video games for me. (Read more…)

J. M. DeSantis

J. M. DeSantis on Patreon!

J. M. DeSantis on Patreonhttp://patreon.com/jmdesantis

Today is an exciting day for me, though (to be honest) it’s also a bit terrifying because today I’ve officially launched my new Patreon page!

For a long time now I’ve toyed with the idea of crowdfunding, drawn by its potential to help fund personal, independent projects. As it is, personal, independent projects have been a major part of my career as a writer and artist, yet I’ve never been certain if I could carry a campaign all on my own. But then, over a year ago, I became aware of Patreon. (Read more…)

J. M. DeSantis

Panel Podcasts from No Such Con

As promised, I’m sharing the podcasts of the artists and writers panels I was on during No Such Con this past weekend. I had a lot of fun at the show (which you can read about in Tuesday’s blog piece: jmdesantis.com/2017/02/no-such-con-2017-write-up/), and both panels were great to participate in. Thanks again to our moderator, author Thomm Quackenbush, for having me on them. (Read more…)