Spectator - Chapter 16: Planning
“This is the head of the Wandering Orc, Culca.”
“Thank you. My wife will be at peace in heaven now.”
Jack, the NPC cried a lot before finally handing me the reward.
“Please have this as a sign of gratitude.”
A new window opens, notifying me of the item acquired.
I was already level 10, so I decided to call it a day and disconnect. When I took my visor off, I felt exhausted; my entire body was sweaty and my hands were shaking. My eyes were all watery, making it difficult to see.
I tried walking to the kitchen to grab some water, but my head felt dizzy and my body lost balance. I must have lost consciousness when I hit the floor.
When I woke up the sun had risen and it was probably noon. I yawned and washed my face, the cold tap water felt refreshing. I put my palm under the running water as I felt my wound again. Although it was healed, pressing it still produced acute pain.
The pain brought me back to my senses, something I needed. The dizziness was gone. I grabbed something to eat and got back into my room.
‘-All I did yesterday was hunt rabbits and fight Orcs.’
Why was doing such mundane tasks in a fantasy world? Surely something interesting should have happened by now.
Then again, I really didn’t have much experience regarding MMO games.
Before anything else, I should write everything I did down.
I recollected my experience with scarlet. And what she said.
‘-Playing around the NPCs to get a special interaction that leads to getting bonus items and rewards.’
While the ‘Special’ events don’t give you ground shattering rewards, they do give you a small advantage over those who don’t have those items.
Take Scarlet’s bow for example. It was a low-level beginners weapon, just like the ‘Toy Oak Sword’ which was the reward of the regular version of the same quest.
But it provided scope for long-ranged combat early on in the game.
Not only that but also by using the bow to a certain extent, one could unlock certain skills who’s prerequisite involved the use or mastery of bows.
That was all the info I had for now.
After thinking about it for quite some time, I concluded that if I were to understand [New Century] properly then I needed something to compare it to. I knew that the game was an oddity but I didn’t know how, I needed something to base my comparison on.
So I decided to try out some of the big titles. The MMOs that dominated the scene before the emergence of [New Century].
Soon these MMOs will go absolutely bust because of [New Century]. Therefore, I should try them out now when I still have the opportunity too.
By playing other MMOs I also hoped to learn more about how such games function. Despite being an oddball, [New Century] was still an MMO and had the same theme regarding the core aspects.
Like doing quests and fighting monsters.
Thus, I booted up my pc and opened the internet browser. I downloaded and played a few of the most popular MMOs. I took notes while I played them.
After about four hours of playing and switching between different MMOs, I started to roughly get the gist of it.
I turned off my PC and sat down to compare my notes.
For starters; the other MMOs have been in the market for approximately 8 years. They had seen their share of ups and downs. So when one of them discovered a working formula, the others shamelessly copied it. That is the reason why all of them felt strikingly similar despite being produced by different companies.
As for the difference between Z&F’s [New Century] and the others, excluding the fact that [New Century] had virtual reality;
If I were to distinguish what separated [New Century] from other MMOs, I could uncover what kind of influence the Devil had over the game.
After shuffling through multiple games, I got a general idea regarding what were the core principles an MMO followed and how [New Century] diverted from them.
One of them was that the other games had multiple servers for players to play in. They divided the world into different regions and paired the players from the same region together. This helped players to communicate better as they were more likely to speak the same language and also allowed the developers to handle the servers in the background much smoothly.
Along with that, all the MMOs had a log-in phase. It was where I had to register myself, either by using my phone number, address, social security number etc.
It was a means for me to prove my existence to the company. A way to distinguish me from the millions of players.
[New Century] on the other hand-
One was missing a said ‘log-in’ or ‘registration’. After accepting the terms and conditions you start playing with the character creation.
It is possible that the capsule acted as a means of ‘registration’ since it was the only way one could play [New Century]. But then again, multiple people can use the same capsule and play their own individual character in-game.
They could appoint a ‘#Tag’ when one creates a character, that would help them keep count of how many people are playing their game and allow some observation of each individual. But the issue of how one logs in with their character without entering any credentials remains.
As for the segregation of the player base, [New Century] had no such mechanics. The players joined the same world and communicated despite not speaking a language both mutually understood. The only thing we know about the ‘world’ is that it was bigger than the earth.
That statement doesn’t explain how and why players that were practically on the different poles of the planet could play together without experiencing any lag.
This could be the work of the Devil, all things considered. If that was the case then trying to explain it with logic will be a waste of time. It’s better not to think about it for the time being.
Even if my primary objective was to compare [New Century] with other MMOs. I learnt a few extra things on the way.
Most games have certain zones where monsters that give more experience and better loot spawn. Players that discover these areas first tend to level up faster and then proceed to monopolise them. This allows them to hold on to the lead that they had acquired in the early stages of the game.
This leads to clashes between factions over who gets to control the hunting grounds. So, in theory, high rankers in the near future start battling over them too. For now it’s just a race, whoever gets to the highest level first can monopolise and take over the hunting grounds.
If I do not act now, soon it will be difficult to even level up. But if I was to level up, I would stand out from the player base and this might cause the Devil or its subordinates at Z&F to notice me.
‘-So do I not level up?’
No, if I did that then I won’t be able to keep an eye on Taejin, he isn’t going to slow down no matter what. I need to be on his tail to observe him and to find out more about the devil and the regression itself.
The question is how?
How to Level up and not stand out while doing so? Would I be able to keep up with others with my 1% sensitivity?
‘-What do I do…’
It seemed I had to level up to achieve my objectives. I will come to know whether or not it was possible with low sensitivity as I proceed. Therefore for now my first priority is ‘disguise’.
I had to keep a low profile, that would mean I cannot risk entering a hunting ground alone for grinding. I need to move with a herd. A solo player grinding levels when it hasn’t even been a month of the game’s release is noticeable but multiple players grinding in a hunting area is normal and easily overlooked.
From what I could gather from my notes and online articles, [New Century] does not have a traditional ‘registration’ system. It was as if the player was transferred to a different world altogether. There is no data collection based on credentials or are player-made characters monitored. Z&F is more akin to a spectator rather than being the ringmaster.
‘-How do you attach a number tag to the audience who entered without a number tag’
You simply can’t.
The only way to monitor the game is by observing the flow of the player base.
What does the player base lean towards? What kind of quest do they prefer? Wealth or Honour?
The goal set by the company for the players is to make history. The players are given the freedom to achieve the said goal in whichever way they deem fit.
So theoretically, travelling throughout the continent while avoiding quests, events and rankings is not diverting from the set goal. I would still be able to level up, albeit missing out on a few good pieces of equipment.
‘-It will be a bit tight to play the game like this but…. It’s much better than being caught.’
I placed my pen down and scratched my head.
This was the plan I came up with, there was no guarantee that it would work out or if I would even be able to stick with it. Still, it’s my best bet, all things considered.
I let my head fall back and stared at the ceiling, my thoughts drifting away slowly.
I couldn’t help but yawn. I stayed up all night playing and spent god-knows how many hours taking notes.
I was slowly following Taejin’s footsteps. Playing all night and sleeping during the day; The human sleep cycle isn’t meant to function in that way. If you turn day and night on their head, you slowly wear yourself down into an early grave.
I so desperately wanted to fall down and sleep but today was an important day. I took a long, cold shower. Like always the cold helped me clear my mind and collect my thoughts. My wound had healed but it still did hurt when I pressed it with my thumb.
When I was done, I changed into a fresh pair of clothes and walked out of the apartment. You could see the road below if you were to lean on the railing.
There were children in school uniform running to the nearby elementary school. Seeing them together, laughing with innocent smiles was a sublime experience. It reminded me of my parents, the oh so very faint memory of my childhood that I could recall.
The time when my mother used to greet me with an umbrella in front of the school. After we went home she would make hot cocoa and I would wait for my father to come back home from work.
Then the three of us would sit around the table and eat, I would be reluctant to tell about things that happened at school but they would still ask, reacting with great interest to whatever I said.
It was the first heartbreak in my life; when I lost them.
The second was when my own family became alienated. My wife grew more and more silent as the days went on and the feeling of being unable to do anything for my child slowly died off as I drowned in debt.
The joy I had when I saw my firstborn for the first time slowly dissipated.
Both Love and Friendship wears out over time.
I was not the best father or the best husband. I don’t even think I was ‘good’ let alone the ‘best’.
I knew that we were nothing but a husk of a family when all we talked about was loans, interests, and financial debts.
We had no connection beyond the fact that we were legally living under the same roof. I didn’t understand my wife anymore and neither did she understand me. That’s why she cheated on me with a man who understood her and cared for her.
We were a quiet household. Disguised as a family, when in reality we were just playing ‘house’.