Six years ago, CouchJockey was a small-time Twitch streamer, broadcasting Hearthstone in an attempt to make a name for himself. Today, he’s the creative director for The Convergence, one of the most popular and acclaimed Elden Ring mods, which adds many new bosses and magic spells to the game, as well as overhauling many of its more controversial aspects. It’s been quite a journey for the modder, and he says it all started with a simple “magic mod” for Dark Souls 3, a project that blossomed into something far more ambitious.
During his early streaming days, CouchJockey was inspired by no-hit runs of Dark Souls 3 in the style of mavens like HappyHob and Distortion2, who popularized the concept. He completed a number of magic-focused hitless challenges over the next few months, gaining quite a few fans in the process. However, after hundreds of hours playing Dark Souls 3, a fellow player named TigerG92 heard him complaining about the lack of spell options in a certain mod on-stream, and Tiger suggested that they try making new spells themselves. That was the beginning of the Convergence.
The Souls series on PC has come a long way from the infamously broken Dark Souls 1 port, which couldn’t even run higher than 30fps. A small but dedicated modding community has formed around each game in the series, and there are a handful of well-known, well-regarded mods for each entry, such as Daughters of Ash for Dark Souls 1 (as well as the upcoming Nightfall). If you’re familiar with Dark Souls 3 modding, you’ve certainly heard of the Convergence before, and that’s for a good reason: It’s a shockingly polished product, even by the high standards of From Software itself. However, these days, the Elden Ring incarnation of the mod is arguably better-known, even if it’s still in development.
CouchJockey says that making a magic-themed modification for Dark Souls 3 was a natural outgrowth of his streaming experience. “I had already dedicated about 3,000 hours to the game,” he explains. “I already had a depth of knowledge for it, as well as some strong opinions about what could be better about it.”
Magic has always occupied a unique place in the Souls games–many players avoid it entirely, and it needs to be strong enough to be viable without overpowering the melee combat that many view as the durable core of the series. CouchJockey says that spell design is a “ripe design space” for Souls modders for two main reasons: The spells are relatively easy to make, and those who delight in mage builds often feel that the options in the base game don’t go far enough.
One of the Convergence’s boldest design decisions is perhaps its most basic. In order to make spellcasting more viable, the mod continuously regenerates the player’s FP. In vanilla Dark Souls 3, players have to use an Ashen Estus Flask to refill the bar instead. Though this allowed CouchJockey and his design team to make spells that cost huge amounts of mana without penalty, the Elden Ring version of this mechanic is much slower than the DS3 equivalent. “We wanted to have other sources of FP [mana] regen as an important aspect of buff design,” CouchJockey explains. “We found that having some regen at all was sufficient to prevent roadblocks.”
Convergence DS3 features a frankly overwhelming number of new spells, and many of them belong to schools of magic that are more at home in Skyrim than any Souls game. Cryomancy, aeromancy, geomancy, druidism, and dark miracles are just some of the options that you can build for, and you can choose to specialize in one or stick with a general mix. The game’s two spellcasting stats of faith and intelligence each correspond to several of these schools (sometimes both), though you ultimately have to dump a lot of resources into a staff or other spell tool to maximize your effectiveness with each school.
Though the improvements to magic are ostensibly the focus of Convergence DS3, it has a lot more to offer than that. CouchJockey notes that the mod was the first to implement a new map piece with its own unique collisions–a significant achievement, to be sure, and one achieved largely thanks to team member AronTheBaron. Convergence DS3 adds a surprising amount of new paths, enemies, and even unique boss battles to the base game. CouchJockey says that he’s particularly proud of one of those bosses, Archdruid Caimar, who uses animations from Sekiro’s Owl fight to create a new challenge for veteran players. It even has two ultra-hard versions of two existing bosses, the Abyss Watchers and Yhorm the Giant, as a capstone challenge for true masochists out there.
With all this said, however, CouchJockey notes that the decision to make a version of the mod for Elden Ring was essentially a no-brainer, with intentions dating back to the game’s announcement. However, though the team initially wanted to wait “a few years” after release for the modding scene to develop–and for From Software to release any and all potential DLCs–those plans were scrubbed once they actually played the game for themselves.
As CouchJockey puts it: “We felt very strongly that the game could benefit from our style overhaul. Especially in terms of quality-of-life features, the fact that many of the base game spell schools felt unfinished, and the world map had so much under-leveraged space. Essentially, in our view, DS3 did not really need the ‘Convergence treatment,’ but Elden Ring seemed to be crying out for it.”
Given that Elden Ring’s modding scene is still in its nascent stages only a year after launch, CouchJockey says that the game presents its own problems when compared to DS3. He cites Elden Ring’s sheer size as the main challenge–though the Convergence DS3 took 18 months to make, the ER version is still in alpha after a full year of development. He says that the team is being more choosy with porting enemy models or weapons from other games, though he acknowledges that the team uses animations from external titles because of limited selection within Elden Ring itself. Though he says that a fine balance is a key part of the appeal of the Souls titles, the team is currently more focused on adding new content than adjusting what’s there, simply because it’ll be easier to balance when all of the pieces are in place.
Still, as a whole, CouchJockey describes Convergence ER’s development as proceeding “ahead of schedule,” while also noting that the shared name between the two mods doesn’t seem to cause much confusion. According to him, the mod will add more weapons, armor, spells, bosses, quests, and even new so-called “legacy dungeons” by the time it’s finished.
It’s unclear when that might happen, but given that Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree DLC hasn’t come out yet, you can expect it to continue past that. And even though it’s still in alpha, CouchJockey is already quite proud of Convergence ER. After the team finishes this mod, most of them plan to found a new game studio in order to continue their careers in game design. He cites the boss fight with Skarde, Crucible’s Betrayer as a particular highlight of the mod’s current state–if you haven’t played it yet, just know that this boss finally shuts Gideon up for good. If you play Souls games on PC, these are two mods that are definitely worth a look–especially if you like to sling spells with the best of them.
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