Chapter 4 - Overhaul
Parallel World had five basic stats: Endurance, Strength, Agility, Intelligence, and Spirit. Five stat points were awarded for every level gained. Without any hesitation, Gu Fei poured all his stat points into Agility. A sense of elation filled his heart when he felt that he could now throw his punches and kicks much faster than before. Not only could he regain his usual capability if this continued, he could probably even reach speeds his real self could never attain, given that this was a game. Though, Gu Fei had no intentions of becoming a deviant like that; just reaching his real self’s standard would do. Next, he planned to pour the rest of his stat points into Strength, so he could have the might he had in reality. He was just too weak right now. Gu Fei clenched his fist with all that in mind.
Speaking of MMORPGs, it was expected to loot the corpses of monsters after they were beaten. With his stat points distributed, Gu Fei began to search through the six bodies. He obtained two small carving knives and six money pouches after some time, each possessing a few dozen copper coins. It was impossible for monsters like these to be rich. Gu Fei stored all the coins into his money pouch. He lifted up his mage robe and slotted the two knives by his waist after scraping off the rust.
For the sake of realism, the game had no job restrictions with regard to equipment. Some only possessed stat requirements, mostly falling under Strength. Obviously, anyone could use basic weapons that had no stat requirements like these knives.
Putting everything away, Gu Fei turned and walked toward another hill.
There was another campfire with six NPCs ahead. However, before Gu Fei could even identify if they were similar to the six from before, the system issued an announcement. [Dear players, the game shall be disconnecting in ten seconds. Please be prepared to go offline. 10, 9, 8….]
The game disconnected after the countdown ended. Gu Fei returned to reality as the virtual scene faded before his eyes.
What happened? Gu Fei muttered in his heart as he connected to the game’s official website.
The developers and administrators of Parallel World currently sat together. They were holding an emergency meeting at night to discuss the various problems that the beta testing had revealed on its first day.
In order to maintain a certain level of mysteriousness for the world’s first VRMMORPG, Parallel World had been developed in secrecy. It was only announced in closed beta where it generated hype. The internal testing was all done by staff; everyone mainly focused on the characters, quests, skills, equipment, and so on – all important aspects of a typical MMORPG. However, the first day of beta testing today had already uncovered several major issues, almost all of which were unacceptable because of the full-immersion experience that the virtual-reality technology provided.
First of all, the monsters in the beginner-level maps were just too adorable as mentioned by the players on the game’s feedback channels. Players complained about this aspect the most. All the female players were absolutely dismayed by this; the male players also expressed dissatisfaction due to their fear of being despised by the opposite sex if they attacked the cute little monsters.
This issue could be technically fixed forcefully along with the repetitiveness and simplicity of the NPCs, structures, and landscapes in the game. The really troublesome problems were the ones caused by the players.
Incidents of violence occurred repeatedly in the half a day that the game was up, and the GMs were rather incapable of preventing them from happening. Since the immersion system formed the core of the virtual-reality game, these violent incidents challenged the basic framework of the game and could not be solved through simple technical modifications. After repeated examination of the issue, they decided to include this type of bouts into the PvP setting and to further raise the PvP protection range to level 10. They could only wait and see if this sort of PvP would lead to situations where one hand casted skills while the other attempted a dirty sneak attack.
“This is good! Realistic, they say! Hah, virtual reality gaming needs to be realistic. This is exactly what we wanted,” said one of the top executives at the meeting in an attempt to comfort everyone.
However, the next problem was something truly immoral that could not be covered up using the excuse of 'realism' – the sexual assaults on female players.
Even the staff did not expect that the virtual technology would expose the darker side of gamers in such a thorough fashion. However, the company could not simply remove the sexual aspects of the game, since full immersion existed as a complete system. Moreover, the existence of sexualized content was actually Parallel World’s hidden selling point, and the senior executives would not allow it to be removed completely.
Their final decision was to design a system that required the consent of both parties. It did end up stumping the technical department, however. Imagine a romantic environment where lovers were just about to take the next step together, and then a prompt box popped up with a ding. [Player X would like to invite you to have sex. Do you accept?] Even if they selected [Yes], the originally romantic atmosphere would deteriorate to a [No]...
In addition, how would they control the degree of the sexualized content? Would they control just the act itself? What about kissing then? And groping? When someone proposed the particular question in a hypothetical prompt box [Player X is ready to grope you. Do you accept?] everyone at the meeting facepalmed.
In the end, the big boss made a decision, “No matter the case, let’s create the system first. We can make necessary adjustments based on the players’ reactions and comments.”
The meeting ended after discussing a few other issues. All the game departments immediately threw themselves into the emergency work. The game would undergo a complete overhaul after being operational for just half a day. This was definitely a first in the history of the gaming world. Fortunately, they could use the excuse that they were inexperienced as this was the first time virtual reality technology had ever been implemented on such a scale. Nonetheless, they were under great pressure without a doubt.
The boss nodded his head with satisfaction as he watched everyone leave in a hurry. Only one person remained seated as he stared at the boss with a cheeky smile.
Only after all had left did the boss ask, “Xiaowu, do you have anything else to say?”
“Boss really does know me well!” The person called Xiaowu stood up and approached the boss, casually grabbing a seat nearby.
“Speak.” The boss gazed at him. Ye Xiaowu was a member of the R&D Department and among the core members of the overall production team.
“Yup! I saw something today that made me feel it would pose some problems in the game,” Xiaowu said.
“Because the game is fully immersive, some people are able to bring the abilities of their occupation in reality into the game. With this natural advantage over the rest, it would be rather detrimental toward the notion of a balanced game that we are pursuing,” said Xiaowu.
“What sort of abilities can affect the game?” the boss asked.
“For example, kung fu!”
Xiaowu nodded confidently, “Today, in the game, I met someone who simultaneously defeated three Knights with just his bare hands despite being a Mage. He must be a kung-fu practitioner in my opinion.”
“There’re really people like that?” the boss asked with a frown.
Xiaowu nodded, “Just think about it. Policemen, soldiers, martial artists, boxers, and so on – all these people could create an imbalance in the game!”
“Then, what do we do? We can’t possibly prevent people from playing the game just because of their occupation,” the boss asked.
“That can’t be helped,” Xiaowu shook his head.
The boss laughed instead, “If there’s no solution, you won’t stay behind to tell me all this.”
Xiaowu began to laugh as well, “It’s just that I got an epiphany from someone like that.”
“In traditional MMOs, everything revolves around battle. But now that we have virtual reality, we should expand our scope of development and enhance the other systems besides the combat aspect. We can let those people with skills in life bring in their expertise as well. This way, there would be some sort of balance in the game at the very least,” Xiaowu said.
“Saying it is easy, but developing that idea is not,” the boss said.
“It’s worth trying!”
“Alright. Come up with a detailed plan and I’ll mention it in the next meeting,” the boss gave him the go-signal.
“Okay!” Xiaowu felt elated, “I’ll be leaving, then.”
“Wait!” the boss stopped him, “I say, why did you enter the game? Don’t you know the rules in the gaming industry? As a member of this company, you’re not allowed to enter our games. Some stricter companies don’t even let their relatives do so!”
“I’ve never agreed to that point. We made the games, so we obviously love the games. Why exactly should I lose my right to play? Don’t worry. I am a scrupulous gaming employee. In the game, I am just your average player,” Xiaowu said.
“Given your knowledge of the game, can you really stay as an average player?” the boss asked.
“Don’t worry. I won’t touch a single of those hidden parts,” Xiaowu promised.
“I’ll get someone to monitor you. What’s your in-game name?” the boss asked.
“Fleeting Smile,” Xiaowu smiled as he left the meeting room.