Chapter 3 - Getting Started
One day in class, Gu Fei saw a glimmer of hope when he had overheard a discussion between a few male students about a particular upcoming MMORPG, Parallel World, implemented with virtual reality.
He knew exactly what the virtual reality technology would incorporate. Surely, he could unrestrainedly use kung fu in the game unlike in reality, right? With that in mind, Gu Fei went ahead and bought the entire set of virtual reality equipment on the exact same day he had heard the news. He also decided the job class he wanted: Fighter. The description 'A warrior who puts every part of his or her body to active use in combat' convinced Gu Fei that the job class was the most fitting for him.
Unfortunately, he had acquired the job class most vulnerable and least suited toward close combat due to Ah Fa’s carelessness; he had become a Mage.
Gu Fei was utterly devastated at first. But after what he had just gone through, he realized something: The various job classes in-game only determined the usable skills. In Gu Fei’s case, he already possessed the skill set for an entirely different job class; all he needed to do now was assign the stat points accordingly. His actual job class mattered not.
Although the stat-point distribution for a Fighter would definitely be more suitable for his kung fu use, it did not mean being a Mage was completely useless. He could just be a kung fu Mage!
A groan snapped Gu Fei out of his contemplation. The person in the corner struggled to get up.
“Sir!” Ah Fa was too timid to approach the person, so he just called Gu Fei’s attention.
Gu Fei hurried over to the person in the corner and helped him up, “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine!” The person stood up and inhaled deeply. His face was still littered with bruises, but he exhibited a scholarly vibe. No wonder he was chosen to be beaten up. Gu Fei and Ah Fa supported the person to the fountain in the center of the city square, where he sat down. The person scooped up some water from the fountain to wash his face, becoming much more refreshed. He turned to Gu Fei and smiled, “Nice to meet you. I am Fleeting Smile.”
It was obviously an in-game name, so Gu Fei also introduced himself using the name Ah Fa had given his gaming account, “Thousand Miles Drunk.” Gu Fei slightly hated how he sounded like a drunkard with the name. The two shook hands; Fleeting Smile could tell with a single glance that Ah Fa was just a kid so he directly ignored him.
“This is the first time virtual reality was implemented for an MMORPG. We were prepared for unexpected situations, yet no one imagined that something like this would happen,” Fleeting Smile said as he rubbed his neck.
“Judging from what you've just said, you seem to be a GM?”
This caught Ah Fa’s attention. He could be considered as an experienced gamer after all. Just the term, GM or game moderator, hinted at the countless benefits that one could be provided in-game. GMs could do something as minor as disclose exclusive information or as major as assist players in obtaining extraordinary items directly. Players would condemn GMs who broke the codes of conduct in-game if they did not come across one, but it would be a different case once they did meet a GM. They would end up revering them like their father.
Looking at the sky, Fleeting Smile nodded, “Immediately after beta testing began today, we received reports of several groups of players taking advantage of their stronger physique and job classes to beat up people with weaker job classes, like Mage. I entered the game to take a look myself. Never did I imagine I would suffer a beating as well.”
“How are you going to deal with this?” Gu Fei asked.
“Beats me,” said Fleeting Smile. “It’ll all depend on further developments from the tech department. There’re still quite a lot of problems in the game, so it is likely to take some time before the game can be launched officially with fees.”
Gu Fei and Ah Fa also raised their heads when they noticed how Fleeting Smile maintained his posture. Rain continued to drizzle down, damping their faces in no time. Is he still rinsing his face? Gu Fei pondered before lowering his head again.
“What are you two looking at?” Fleeting Smile surprisingly asked first.
“What are YOU looking at?” Ah Fa questioned in return.
“My nose won’t stop bleeding, boy!” said Fleeting Smile.
The two had no idea how to respond. After a long while, Fleeting Smile lowered his head and rubbed his nose. He said, “Alright, I’ll go check out some other places. What about you two?”
“I’m going to go grind for some levels!” said Gu Fei. He was extremely eager to find out whether the limited physique of a Mage would allow him to use kung fu after some stat points were assigned properly.
Ah Fa hesitated a bit before saying to Fleeting Smile, “I want to go with you.”
Fleeting Smile smiled, “Boy, I am a scrupulous gaming employee. Don’t expect to benefit in anything from me.”
With his little plot exposed, Ah Fa turned bright red. He said defensively, “I have no intentions of doing anything like that. I just want to familiarize myself with the game by following you around.”
“Well, let’s go then!” He laughed wryly before turning to Gu Fei, “Do you want to come as well and familiarize yourself with the game?” He placed much emphasis on the word 'familiarize', making Ah Fa’s face even redder than before.
“It’s fine, just go your way,” Gu Fei waved at both of them.
Separating with the two, Gu Fei wasted no time and dashed out of Yunduan City toward where the monsters were.
The maps located near cities were always the ones with the lowest possible monster tier. Parallel World was no exception. Even the monsters lacked originality; they were all a bunch of kittens, puppies, and bunnies, gentle-looking and normally friendly with people. Because of the implementation of virtual reality, the animals all seemed ridiculously cute with their realistic appearances. These low-level monsters would not even fight back. At most, the pugs would just whimper in pain after being smacked by the players.
Gu Fei could not bear to continue after stomping a dog twice. The surrounding players were filled with hesitance as well. Some players who steeled their hearts also stopped involuntarily after receiving disdainful glares from the people around them. On the map, a large group of players looked at one another in dismay. They stood about idiotically, while the animals leaped around them enthusiastically. They would go up and rub themselves against the players’ legs affectionately.
“I can’t grind like this!” A male player let out a long sigh and threw his weapon on the ground.
“Yeah, this is impossible! They’re just too cute!” A female player put away her weapon and picked up a rabbit by her legs. She gave the rabbit a good nuzzle before angrily saying, “What’s the deal with this gaming company! Why did they make these monsters so cute?!”
Everyone began to talk and voice their dissatisfaction toward the settings of the game. Gu Fei complained with some people beside him before leaving alone. Since he could not grind here, he could just go somewhere else. That was what Gu Fei decided.
To be frank, he had no interest in fighting animals. The kung fu that he had been training since young was intended to be used on human beings. There were never any lessons covering the vital parts of a dog that should be targeted. This did not mean that Gu Fei was inferior to a dog, but rather he found it demeaning to use the kung fu he was proud of on a dog, especially after so many years of hard work.
Strolling alongside the main road, the city behind him grew further and further away. An endless stretch of hills appeared in front of him. The cute animals were now nowhere to be seen. Making his way over a hill, Gu Fei came across a dip or basin – it was a steep slope – and at the bottom of it was a campfire burning brightly. A few foul-looking people huddled around the fire, dozing off from boredom.
With a single glance, Gu Fei could tell that they were not players but NPCs. After all, it was impossible for them to have the exact same appearance, stature, and attire even if they were sextuplets.
Human NPCs were precisely what Gu Fei was looking for.
They're monsters, right? Gu Fei thought as he inched toward the group.
The six NPCs seated around the fire should have been alerted and discovered Gu Fei at the hillside long ago. However, they only showed alarm after Gu Fei reached a certain distance from them. They leaped up hurriedly and cried out as they pointed at Gu Fei.
Gu Fei heard them saying, “Wow, here comes easy prey! Get him!”
Dialogues were displayed as words hovering above NPCs in other MMORPGs. Since this was a virtual-reality game, the dialogues had been programmed to be verbalized instead.
The six charged forward with the exact speed and movements in sync. Their positions to one another remained the same even after they had arrived before Gu Fei.
The NPC at the front cut to the chase and stabbed forward using a small knife for carving meat. Gu Fei dodged it and threw out a punch, landing a direct hit.
This was very different from his fight against the players in the city back then. Everyone was protected from PvP, so Gu Fei’s opponents had suffered nothing but some pain from the virtual reality technology. Right now, however, a punch from him, a Mage with the weakest physical attack, immediately caused a slight damage against these monsters.
The NPC swayed a little after taking in Gu Fei’s punch and stabbed out with his rusty knife. Gu Fei dodged the stab once more before launching another punch at the monster.
The NPCs surrounded Gu Fei but he maneuvered his way with ease, throwing fists and kicks at them from time to time. Gu Fei had no idea just what level they were, but his fight with them was much easier, as well as boring, than his fight with the four players back then.
Gu Fei felt slightly disappointed toward this VR game as it seemed that all it could offer was an extremely realistic environment right now. The monsters were still bounded by the same algorithm like in ordinary MMORPGs. The NPCs repetitive attack patterns were the same as fighting no one at all in Gu Fei’s eyes. In addition, they could not dodge his attacks out of their accord. The NPCs’ evasion speed and attack accuracy were purely dependent on their assigned stats.
It was just a matter of time before Gu Fei defeated them. He began to strike the six evenly on purpose. After a few minutes of struggle, one finally roared out in grief and collapsed. The five remaining monsters soon followed suit when Gu Fei threw some more punches and kicks. Gu Fei’s body flashed constantly after he did all this; these monsters of unknown levels had allowed him to level up six times.