There's no Dark Souls player we've featured on Kotaku as much as Iron Pineapple. He's the guy who dressed up as Shrek to protect his swamp, donned spiked armour to run everyone over and pooped on the ground to strike fear into other players. I decided to ask him the big question: why? "I'm just a dude who likes him some Souls," he said in an email recently.
Though he wouldn't tell me his real name, Iron Pineapple told me he's a 20-year-old university student pursuing a computer science degree in North Carolina. He was first introduced to the Souls series by his uncle.
"I distinctly remember my uncle visiting one time," he said, "and saying, 'I know how much you like hard games, I think I got one you'll like,' as he popped open his case of Demon's Souls."
Demon's Souls kicked off the Souls phenomenon in 2009, and though it takes place in a separate universe from Dark Souls, it carries the same design DNA. Bloodborne is the same thing — similar game, different world.
"While I made my way through the tutorial," he said, "I was laughing at my uncle, saying how the game was too easy. Then, the famous tutorial boss one shot me, and suddenly the game had my attention. Soon enough, hours had passed and I hadn't even noticed."
(A one shot refers to an enemy killing you a single hit.)
“Traditionally, when you’re trolling someone, you’re just trying to make them mad, but that’s usually not the goal for me. Generally, I want to create a fun experience for both myself and the other players”
It's hard to top your first Souls experience. Iron Pineapple distinctly remembers a moment early on when he was playing the original Dark Souls and was suddenly attacked by three players at once — a dreaded ganksquad. Gangsquads tend to attack powerfully at once, and they're total dicks.
Impossibly, Iron Pineapple managed to fend off his attackers.
"I don't remember the details of how I did it, but just the absolute rush of adrenaline and dopamine made me feel amazing," he said. " [...] This of course eventually lead to me exploring more devious ways to win through creative means when simply winning wasn't giving me that same rush."
Seeking that rush led Iron Pineapple to start messing with people online in more and more exotic and elaborate fashions. In Dark Souls, players can invade the worlds of their fellow travellers. Usually, the point is to kill them. That's usually what Iron Pineapple is trying to do as well — but with gusto.
His first video, published in November 2013 and dubbed Township Groove, is simple: he shuffles from left to right until slaying you with an arrow.
Things began to escalate, as Iron Pineapple started putting more effort into the editing of his videos. We Will (Havel the) Rock You, set to Queen's "We Will Rock You", syncs up the song to the beat of swinging a huge club.
As Iron Pineapple started to gain notoriety in the Dark Souls community, his costuming and setup became more inventive. He dressed up as Link from The Legend of Zelda, and tried to imitate Darth Vader in Star Wars.
By the time Dark Souls 2 was released, Iron Pineapple was really stepping up his game. (Though Dark Souls 2 is often derided as the weakest Souls game, it tends to rank exceptionally high for players interested in PvP.)
His most popular Dark Souls 2 video is... involved. First, he lures a powerful enemy — one who killed me at least a dozen times in that game — into a hole.
Then, he litters the ground with loot, hoping to attract a summoned player.
The moment they become interested, another player in hiding reveals themselves from the shadows, pushing them into a hole of horrors.
"It's not really trolling," said Iron Pineapple. "Traditionally, when you're trolling someone, you're just trying to make them mad, but that's usually not the goal for me. Generally, I want to create a fun experience for both myself and the other players by just messing with them in interesting ways."
He's met a number of like-minded friends over the years, folks who join him online help create the videos. The group spends a couple of hours online — he estimates between two and five, depending on the video.
Things have really taken off with Dark Souls 3, though.
Making these videos is a hobby for Iron Pineapple, albeit one that's gotten more and more popular over time. Two videos have already been viewed more than a million times, with his most popular topping 1.5 million views.
You might remember it; the video was on Kotaku some weeks back.
Yep, that one.
"I literally just saw the armour set, remembered that it dealt rolling damage from Dark Souls 1, then decided it might be possible to kill people with only that," he said. "[...] Once we actually start recording, everything is improvised and the funniest moments usually just happen organically with funny reactions from people that invade."
The victims of Iron Pineapple's shenanigans aren't usually upset, though.
"I hear from them all the time," he said. "It's pretty funny seeing comments from people I killed getting excited that they appeared in the video. Every person who has commented about that has been a good sport, and it really reinforces the idea that what I'm doing is fun for everyone."
“The real beauty of the Souls series comes from all the tools you are given to play around with.”
He does make money on the videos, but a number of them, including his most popular creations, can't be monetised, because he uses real music.
"If I find a cool song, I'm going to use it, even if it's copyrighted," he said. " [...] Any money I get is always a bonus to the original goal of just making videos with my friends for fun."
For now, he's trying to capitalise on his growing popularity; videos are coming out regularly on his channel. The latest involves exploiting a glitch that allows him to cast a powerful spell extremely fast.
"The day I look at this as a job is the day I'll stop enjoying what I do," he said. "The real beauty of the Souls series comes from all the tools you are given to play around with. While most people view the game as a battlefield, I look at it as a playground."
You can continue to follow Iron Pineapple’s joyous exploits on YouTube.