Update: scroll to the bottom of the page for a heat map of Anor Londo.
Whether slain by antagonised NPCs or a fall into the nearby abyss, plenty of Dark Souls players die at Firelink Shrine. And we know that, because immensely benevolent Twitter user DriftItem has created a data visualization showing where the most deaths occur in a portion of Dark Souls' map, based on 20,000 bloodstain and soapstone message locations. As below:(opens in new tab)
You'll note it's only a portion of the Dark Souls map, but it gives some enjoyable insight into how most players cope with the first portion of the game. "I'm collecting the data with a custom game client I wrote," user DriftItem explained on Twitter. "Data preservation is one of my goals. DS1 multiplayer data isn't stored on a central server but traded between clients. Once the DS1 remaster comes out and player number go down, a lot of data would get lost for ever."
While that map may be baffling even to Dark Souls veterans, here are a few interesting take aways: the location of the player's first encounter with NPC Solaire is, typically enough, densely populated with soapstone messages ("Praise the sun!"). The Capra Demon and Gargoyles areas are both common death traps, with the belltower following the latter encounter full of soapstone messages (lots of well-wishes and "I did it!", no doubt). Also, that little pathway towards Undead Burg, taken from Firelink Shrine, is clearly a difficulty spike for new players.
"If it goes over the network I'm collecting it," DriftItem tweeted, referring to the game's soapstone messages. "[that includes the] User name/SteamID of the person who placed it, timestamp, area/world IDs, position, message text and ratings."
Since the map above is a bit confusing for some, DriftItem also uploaded this lightly captioned image:(opens in new tab)
And here's Anor Londo, courtesy of another Tweet from the same user. As you'd expect, lots of death in the Ornstein and Smough room, and plenty of soapstone messages in the aftermath:(opens in new tab)