Last month, From Software’s Demon’s Souls suffered the cruellest death of all, its servers going offline nine years after the game’s initial release. No longer could players invade each other, or help wayward newcomers best one of the kingdom of Boletaria’s famous roadblocks. But while everyone else was readying their chisels to etch their epitaph onto the remains of the game, one dedicated fan was putting the finishing touches on their own attempt at a revival.
Just two days after the servers went down, a thread popped up on the Demon’s Souls subreddit detailing the efforts of a game preservationist who goes by the handle “ymgve”. His ambition was simple, if bold: to set up a proof-of-concept private server with the same functionality as its official equivalent. And it works – having proven the concept, ymgve released the source code as open-source to the rest of the community, and it only took a short time for another community member, “Yuvi,” to set up a more permanent solution. Now, simply by adjusting your PS3’s DNS settings, you can experience the full Demon’s Souls of old, complete with duels, jolly cooperation, and the enigmatic “World Tendency” system – albeit with reduced player counts, at least for the time being.
For his part, ymgve describes the process of backward-engineering the tech that powers the server as surprisingly straightforward. “The project started last year, shortly after From announced the servers would close,” he says. “A day or two in, it seemed pretty clear that it was possible, but the final push into creating a fully working server didn’t happen before the week of the shutdown. The first step was playing the game and capturing all network traffic generated during play. It turns out all the communication uses HTTP, instead of the more secure HTTPS, so it was easy to get the raw data.”