Daughters of Ash

Link (PTDE): https://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/1524

Link (DSR): https://www.nexusmods.com/darksoulsremastered/mods/140

NOTE: As of version 1.5.0, both Nexus download links work for both versions of the game.

Dark Souls: Daughters of Ash is definitely the most well-known project I’ve ever released. It’s a big mod for Dark Souls that remixes a lot of the game’s content, and adds a significant amount, in the hope of recapturing that feeling of playing Dark Souls for the first time. I most recently updated the mod in July 2020 (version 1.5.2), which is intended to be the final release. You can find articles about it online and read an interview I did with Steven Wright at Eurogamer.

DoA had a release (on 2 January 2019) that was both a little rough and surprisingly smooth. It was rough in the sense that even after months of solo playtesting, I had no chance of finding all the bugs that thousands of players reported in the first few days. I was releasing daily patches for a good two weeks; gradually, the dents were buffed out, and I was able to focus on porting it to the Remastered edition of the game in May 2019. I didn’t help myself by making mistakes in my original description of the mod, foolishly throwing out numbers where none were needed and implying that the game was now doubled in size. (My only defense is that I was exhausted and rushing to release the mod “by the end of 2018,” which turned out to be the second day of 2019.) I also shouldn’t have described it as “what Dark Souls would look like if FromSoft had six more months of development.” This was partially true: I restored as much cut or unfinished content as I could and even added a “castle invasion” story event that coincidentally reappeared in Sekiro shortly after. But for large chunks of the mod, the primary goal was novelty, which necessarily involved tampering with FromSoft’s already-perfect design choices. One day, I’ll write more about these conflicting design goals in overhaul mods. Let it just be said for now that I took player feedback very seriously on both the design front and the “marketing” front, and appreciate that I had the chance to learn some important lessons without money complicating the picture.

Despite the early bumps, things ultimately went very well. LobosJr, who I’d used as a mental surrogate for The Player throughout most of the mod’s development, started streaming it almost the instant it was released and ended up playing it for a whole week. For days, I was literally patching the mod on one monitor while watching him play on the other, but miraculously there were never any bugs that threatened to ruin the experience. The response on his stream and elsewhere was very positive; it’s also been fantastic watching people hang out together to discuss the mod and help newbies on the DoA subreddit and the Discord server. And I’ll never forget those who reached out with words of thanks and donations. All of you are the reason I will continue designing games.

The design and execution of DoA was a solo endeavor, but one that would not have been possible without the tools and advice of many Dark Souls modders. First among them are Wulf2k, whose simple graphical tools for editing map data, game parameters, and text entries were the workhorses of the project, and HotPocketRemix, whose event-modding breakthrough in 2017 set fire to the entire thing. The possibilities for DoA started flying in my mind while watching his EMEVD tutorials on YouTube; before that, I had zero modding experience and no idea I wanted to design games. I also used tools developed by AinTunez, Meowmaritus, loosepolygon, and TKGP. AinTunez further helped with the Remastered port. You can find all of these friendly folks on the FromSoft modding Discord, ?ServerName?.