Money Is A Long Way Off
When Mo Han was about to go offline, he finally rose to level 1, and suddenly the whole character attribute panel jumped out. From level 0 to 1, the biggest change was that South Maple Town defaulted him as a resident of the town. Because the tasks he took and his actions since he logged in to the game were not evil, the justice attribute showed a value of 10. When walking along the road, NPCs no longer squinted at him with suspicious eyes, and both vendors and boat punting girls smiled at him head on.
At the same time, Jiuzhou’s chat system also opened. Before level 10, only players from South Maple Town could be seen speaking in the “Nearby” channel, while the group and private chat channels were still empty. The entire Jiuzhou World Chat channel was greyed out. When upgrading to level 1, the system gave ten coins, physical strength and agility increased by one point each, and life increased by two points. Reputation was increased from 0 to 1, and 5 free attribute points were given for players to allocate by themselves. Mo Han was unsure how to spend those points, so he was holding all of his belongings totalling under thirty cents, standing on the mottled stone bridge covered with moss. The twilight of the small Jiangnan1South of the Yangtze River town was calm and leisurely, and the mist was hazy, but he felt that the future was bleak~ cough. 2Most likely a literary reference of some kind
Literary talent could not be used as money, the most important thing was to first go offline and search the game’s forums for tips about quick levelling and money-making.
The first thing he needed to do was get the game helmet off. Liang Shuang unplugged it from the computer, brewed a cup of cheap instant coffee, and logged on to Jiuzhou’s forums. It was still summer vacation in mid-August, and the speed of the university campus network was not slow, because no one was there. Liang Shuang just wanted to play games and rushed to the school dorms on the first day they opened. His three roommates were still at home, and had not even packed their luggage yet. He would be able to stay alone in the dorm for a week at the least.
The front page of the Jiuzhou game forum and the game’s promo pictures were quite beautiful. They were filled with green mountains, water and, needless to say, gorgeous and beautiful martial arts effects straight out of a blockbuster. Liang Shuang had seen the extremely handsome warrior in white clothes holding a longsword, and his heart had been instantly moved to buy the game helmet.
The forum was really full, and as long as it wasn’t spam, each post had several thousand replies.
Liang Shuang immediately clicked on the top post titled, “How to Upgrade Faster”.
The owner said he was born in a small town in the countryside of Suzhou Province, and was already at level 3 when he had posted. Liang Shuang couldn’t help but tsk twice. Sure enough, there was a gap between certain types of people in the world and others. It took him a whole day to reach level 1, while others reached level 3 in four hours. Well, clumsy birds had to start flying early3 This is a saying that means people that lack natural talent have to spend more time, and therefore start working hard earlier than those with natural talent, and it was important to learn from studying.
This poster said that looking for NPCs to receive the task of buying or sending something in order to level up, was in fact a very slow method. The amount of time wasted was greater than the amount of steamed buns you had to buy to replenish health… Actually there were small monsters for players to cut and kill in Jiuzhou, specifically rats. The best way was to find a grain store or village head that issued a rat extermination task. There were likely lots in the shops that sold steamed buns. Then you could find dark corners where there were mouse holes, and gain a tiny amount of experience from killing a rat. Despite this, it was very profitable. It wasn’t easy to kill rats when they scampered quickly, so it was recommended to be level one before going to kill them. After spending the five free attribute points all on agility, it would be much easier. The best thing was that the rat bites did not reduce life points. It would only activate combat mode for half an hour, and you could leisurely stroll along the road after a little more than an hour.
Half of the posts below were words of gratitude, and the rest were female players’ dissatisfied and complaining replies.
For such a realistic holographic online game such as Jiuzhou, killing rats was not about clicking the mouse to activate a skill, but was about manually facing the dark and dirty rats. If you weren’t careful you would be bitten, but fortunately in the game getting bit by a rat didn’t mean you had to go to the hospital and get vaccinated.
Liang Shuang flipped through a few more posts. Except for killing rats, there were only posts on how to accept tasks, but none were about accepting tasks in South Maple Town specifically, so it was of no use to Liang Shuang. Then there were a group of posters crying about their misfortune. It seemed that a rich guy had a hundred dollars and was level 4, but he posted that Jiuzhou was really cheap, and that he was only qualified to receive the task of carrying goods at the dock after reaching level 4. Afterwards, when he did the task, his life points dropped by 10 per hour. Although he was experienced and made money quickly, he also lost it just as quickly.
The official explanation Jiuzhou gave for this was that the life value generally represented the amount of blood you had. Not only would it fall when attacked, but it would fall when you didn’t eat as well. Jiuzhou was a near-real world, so players that didn’t eat would starve to death, and those that did heavy physical work always needed to eat more than ordinary people. If you had a high stamina value, the life consumption per hour would be reduced. This was normal. If a mouse bit you you wouldn’t lose blood, unless you were bitten a hundred times… And it was unheard of that catching rats would exhaust someone to death, so life consumption was slow. Later on, as players began to learn martial arts, and needed to learn slightly advanced skills, such as practicing the sword under a waterfall, a single hour would normally consume 300 life points. As for the reason, shrug, the players must already know why.
Liang Shuang’s eyelids twitched, and almost sprayed coffee from his mouth onto the screen.
Your sister! He’d never seen such a dumb setup.
The company’s main business was to provide a wide range of products and services to its customers.
The game forum was closed, Liang Shuang decided that it was more important to go out of the dorm for food, and then come back at night to log in again. But rats and other things moved faster during the night—didn’t he think it would be more difficult to catch them at night, especially since ancient times had no electric lights?
Players angrily flooded the forums, and insisted on complaining to customer service, but the technology department of Jiuzhou Game Company was not like the netizens had speculated, sitting in front of the control system gloating and jeeing at their actions, but was instead in a frenzy due to an accident. Although the AI’s self-verification system was correct, they still didn’t dare pull out the data to check it again.
“Director Li, yes! I’m not kidding, the previously hidden mission of the Ultimate Dungeon of Jiuzhou has been triggered by a player!”
A young man with dyed blond hair sweated profusely, and laughed bitterly into the phone.
“Yes, you remembered correctly, today is the first day of Jiuzhou’s public beta. According to your plot design, this should be a task that can only be received at player level 40…”
As soon as the words left his mouth, the office door was pushed open. A man with messy hair, shirt buttoned in all the wrong places, hem not tucked into his jeans, wearing only one foot of socks, two shoes from different pairs, looking both like a “technical geek” and a “waste of life,” rushed in. He clutched the latest cell phone in his hand, not knowing whether to shout into the mic or yell at the people in the office.
“I underestimated the power of our national players to discover and exploit bugs.”
“Director Li, it seems that it is not a bug…”
“I told you not to shout my title, just call me by my surname! And how could my perfect design have loopholes? Ugh, what did you just say?” Director Li scratched a handful of hair, only to let others see that he was still a young man of twenty-seven or twenty-eight, and had quite an ordinary appearance. “South Maple Town simply does not have the conditions that can trigger this task, have you checked the data?”
“Uh, Mr. Li… Brother Li, the data is not abnormal, it is a level 1 novice in South Maple Town Inn that triggered the plot. Everyone in the technology department works here, even if someone with a loose mouth told their relatives and friends that the bookkeeper was an unusual NPC, the player’s place of birth is automatically assigned by the system. Who would be able to go all the way to South Maple Town? Besides, this plot-related Ultimate Dungeon is personally arranged by you, and besides you no one else knows the trigger conditions.”
“…his state is in disguise, and his name is also fake, the trigger condition is someone suspecting his identity.”
“Uh, then isn’t it easy for a blind cat to run into a dead rat?”4For someone to stumble upon something good by pure luck
“Easy how?!” Brother Li said grumpily, “You need the player’s justice value to not be negative, they can’t have seen ‘Mr. Liang’ before, and no one could have introduced this NPC to the player. If the player doubted the name and identity of the NPC by himself and asked aloud, he had to first doubt the name, and then his identity. Such a harsh trigger condition, and you dare tell me it is easy?!”
“Then what, Brother Li, you’re the one who set this … why would anyone suspect a non-combat NPC?”
“Nonsense, there is a single flaw, and it is the eyes of this NPC. He has the eyes of a master, understand?!”
“I don’t understand…”
Seeing that the director was about to get mad again, the technology department staff hurriedly changed the topic. “Wait, the problem now is a lovel 0 novice somehow grew suspicious, and triggered the task. He caused the game’s progress to speed up but did not say anything, and the BOSSes in Jiuzhou are not people that are easy to deal with. Brother Li, what we are now worried about is whether the NPCs themselves will intentionally induce players to doubt him. Xie Ziyi’s virtual personality has an IQ of 157, and is much smarter than most of us at present…”
“It’s a meaningless worry, currently everything about Xie Ziyi is in an unopened state, and he can’t even figure out what his real name is, so what can he do? Even if it’s a task to kill rats, if the player does not trigger it, the NPCs simply do not know about it. According to the plan, Xie Ziyi should stay at least three to six months in South Maple Town, before it is impossible for him to continue bookkeeping. That inn is so broken that it leaks rain and is a dirty mess. With a BOSS with such a high IQ, the more unsatisfied he’ll be, and the more he’ll regain his power, until he attacks the players who should be around level 40 at that time, giving them a hard blow, hahaha….”
The crowd collectively wiped their sweat, black lines appearing on their forehead, speechless.
- 1South of the Yangtze River
- 2Most likely a literary reference of some kind
- 3This is a saying that means people that lack natural talent have to spend more time, and therefore start working hard earlier than those with natural talent
- 4For someone to stumble upon something good by pure luck