12 Raito - So This Was Really The Beginning?
So there I was -- standing in a field -- overlooking the spectacular world I had originally created for my video game God Game Royale.
Had this been the actual game I'd be choosing my starting class right now, with this beautiful field of red and white roses serving as my backdrop.
I happened to find myself in an interesting situation, which wasn't the most ideal way to start this adventure off...
I wasn't even properly dressed to go outside, let alone adventuring. For clothes I was starting with my white shirt and black boxer briefs from earlier that day. No shoes, no socks, and not an ounce of service.
I must say it was far from the standard adventurer's starter pack.
Now, I didn't have an old sword or a wooden training stick like some beginners might start with… I'd be okay with something like that. What I had was far worse than either of those. It was my spoon from breakfast that morning. Just a standard little spoon meant for scooping sugar for my morning coffee or filling my mouth with sugary cereal.
It wasn't all negatives though. Standing in this familiar field, it was clear I was in a recreation of my game world. Judging by the design, it matched with my game's map layout entirely. There was a good chance this meant I knew the layout of everywhere else too.
Usually a title card would appear at this point and announce that I was in "Vermilion Forest", but seeing as this was the real world we didn't have such luxuries.
The area I was currently in was supposed to be a forest area, with old marble statues and ruins wrapped in tangly thickets of roses. At the center of the glade was a large stone water fountain and a big open area where players could spend time before venturing through to the nearby beginners town.
For whatever reason my trees had been removed though, so now it was simply a hill region with roses everywhere.
I spent a lot of time fine tuning the gameplay in Vermilion Forest back when I was creating it. I would make sure the enemies were easy enough to learn the basics off of, and fix any issues that made it too easy for players to get lost or confused.
Vermilion Forest was a pretty simple beginners area.
The only enemies being slimes, large frogs and enemy vegetables; carrot soldiers, celery-men, rabbid cabbages, you know -- that deal.
I intentionally made it as simple as possible because I didn't want players losing before even reaching the first town.
Imagine spawning only to be eaten by a monster seconds later. It's not very fun when it happens in a shooter game, but it would be even worse if you lost your gear and levels upon death like in my game. That would be truly frustrating. Because of this I made the first area comically easy. The average player should be able to stroll straight through and reach the first town with ease.
The slimes were really the only threat here. Not because they did much health damage but because they actually did durability damage. This meant these little jellies could dissolve your clothes if they attacked you! If your armour durability reached zero you'd have to walk to the first town without the luxury of a covered body.
It was the classic walk of shame, but it was still pretty safe.
If this world truly was based on my game then survival would get pretty rough for us players later on. Deaths caused complete wipes of your character -- meaning you'd start back in this field, or another respawn zone, with absolutely nothing.
My game wasn't a standard fantasy RPG as it might seem from the floor I was on.
The game was designed to be playable with imported character models, meaning you could play as any of your favourite characters. It also allowed for use of an array of user-created mods.
Players could design their own character classes too, which had to successfully pass verification. These custom classes were then downloadable to everyone.
Player-created content like the custom classes and use-your-own-models soon caused my project to become bigger than I ever thought it would. The players did most of the heavy lifting, while I only created the original template -- a canvas to let their creativity run wild.
I even got the players to handle the balancing of the content, which might sound chaotic but it actually worked out in my favour. It turns out players don't like going against over-stacked kits in player death matches, so they masses would tune and balance the content accordingly by voting on changes. It eventually got to the point where I didn't have to lift a finger. I could just sit back and be lazy, watching as my game grew into something of its own.
Soon we had an infinite amount of downloadable content created by the players themselves, all while I sat at home eating cereal in my pajamas.
The end product was a world where you could really be who you wanted to be, and while the first floor was chock-full of classic fantasy tropes, the rest of the game wasn't like that -- it was thriving modern metropolises, dark lovecraftian worlds, dieselpunk dream worlds, and an endless supply of player created worlds.
Every floor was a different beast entirely.
You could spend your whole ingame career in one world without ever exploring the others, and even sell loot in the marketplace for real money so you even had a viable income. Some players even used ingame companies that focused on one thing or another -- like mining or farming, where players worked day to day earning real money.
The game had some pretty quirky and unique systems. I never designed the game with the intention of it being as popular as it ended up becoming. It was simply just a thing I made for fun -- a little obsession, so I added a ton of content that I thought only I'd enjoy.
One of the more interesting systems was the Lineage System. The Lineage System was some half-baked system that I put together over the duration of a single night.
Basically, while you normally do the full-restart upon death, if you have Lineage options available you can preserve your items, your gear and pass along an assortment of stats and skills as well. You do this by selecting one of your "Lineage Extras" that you've created with another player or NPC. *wink wink*
Simply put, you play as a direct descendant of yourself when you die, and you lose minimal progression from the occurring death. Playing as a descendant means you'll have a different name, appearance and possibly gender too, but this new character is still you.
In the game making descendants causes them to appear in your Lineage Extras page, and the only real use they have is replacing you when you die. So basically, you want to fill that page up with Extras so you can continue on forever without losing much progress. This also meant lots of sweaty intimate moments are encouraged to reach the end game content. (I know, I'm a pervert!)
Not everyone enjoyed my filthy additions to the game, but it didn't stop them from playing it...!
I still couldn't get over the fact that my beautiful forest region was now a big grassy field. Every tree and every boulder in the area had been cut and mined away. Off in the distance, you could see the players chopping the remaining trees down as well.
I spent a lot of time painstakingly placing each of those trees, I should tell you. They weren't generated by a program. I spent whole nights tuning the forests to feel just right! And now my beautiful area had been flattened into a flowery field!
I sat at the water fountain observing what appeared to be a small army of newbie players. They aimlessly jogged around killing slimes, chipping away at enemy vegetable soldiers, and chasing potatoes for simple fetch quests. There must have been close to a thousand of these players.
I almost felt bad for the enemy mobs. They were so outnumbered compared to the hordes of newbie players assaulting them. If any mobs managed to spawn in, they would immediately find themselves decimated by a party of five charging players.
Some of these beta players wore potatoes sacks for clothes. This was due to durability loss on their armour, which caused it to shatter like glass -- and then they would need a repair skill or a blacksmith to reforge it.
"Well, slime attacks are behaving like they are supposed to. So I guess I can check that off of my list of inspections," I said, talking to myself.
Besides slime hunting and cutting trees to craft, other players were doing gathering quests which focused on catching live potatoes in big potato sacks. This is where most of the unskilled players were getting their next clothing option.
It was strange to me that these thousands of players were still trapped in the beginning zone. It was surprising that none of them had solved the first puzzle.
I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I looked over to see a girl with light-brown pigtails and a freckled face standing behind me. For armour she wore the potato fetch quest sacks. In her hands was a large wooden beginner's staff, the cherished symbol of a newbie mage.
"Cool sack-armour," I said, "I'm guessing the slimes got you?"
"Yea... I couldn't bare hiding in the fountain any longer so I had to put on these bags for clothes... Whoever designed this place is a monster..."
I nervously rubbed my neck.
"Yeah, he sure is."
"Why aren't you killing slimes?" she asked.
"Eh, I'm just waiting to see if anyone will figure out the secret to leaving this place."
The girl in her potato-sacks looked up at me with big wide eyes.
"Yeah, for the locked gate," I answered.
"If you have insider knowledge you have to tell me! We've been trapped here for days! Pleaseeeee!"
"Yes! We've tried everything..."
"Well, if this world is identical to the world that I built then there's a boss that needs to be defeated before we can leave here."
"...! Did you say 'built'? You're not the creator, are you?!" asked the girl.
"I actually thought the boss would've been defeated by now, honestly. She was meant to be a floodgate, but not an unsolvable challenge."
All of the commotions around us ceased instantly. All of the beta players turned their attention to the potato-sack girl and me beside the fountain.
"Did that severely underdressed guy just say he built this adventurer's hell?!" said one of the players.
"Tell us your secrets, senpai!" said the girl, "show us how to escape this place! We beg of you!"
"Our glorious, glorious savior has arrived to show us the way!" said another.
"Nah, I'm nothing special. I was only telling Potato-sack here that I'm pretty sure there's a boss in this region that needs to be defeated."
"THERE IS? SHOW US TO HIM, O GREAT ONE!"
"I'm no great one, only a NEET. You can call me Raito."
"Raito-san, please give us direction!"
"Ah, well. If I'm correct, you need to beat the first boss in order to open the gates. She's easy with a group. Once she's defeated the gates are permanently open. I implemented that to ensure that early-copy thieves couldn't progress without the help of more players."
"This man really is the Maker of Worlds! Only the True Maker of Worlds would dress in his underwear so informally like that. He doesn't have any mortal worries or cares!"
"He doesn't even need to do quests! He just sits there! That is the true symbol of a fearless leader!"
"But, how do we summon the boss, O Holy One?"
"Raito is fine. Please call me Raito."
I pointed over to six marble stone pillars behind me. Each had distinct coloured rune symbols on them.
"Those are platforms, six players must stand on them. But first, you need to equip yourself with Slime Jelly. You should all have plenty in your inventory from killing slimes."
"THIS MAN REALLY IS THE SAVOIR!"
"Slime Jelly slowly revitalizes you but unequips once you've become fully healed. It then proceeds to spawn an enemy Slime Clone of yourself, so be careful..." I said.
"Give this man a harem! He deserves disciples! We've spent whole days studying those pillars... Too think it was so simple!"
My ears perked up.
I'm no great one, but I can't argue with that! A harem of beautiful girls?! Who would say no to that kind of thing?! If I'm going to be stuck in this world I might as well live comfortably!
"I changed my mind. I guess I am the one true God after all!" I said with a shrug.
"Nooooo~~ That's not true!" said a voice from the heavens.
It was then that my Guardian Angel decided to descend down from her cozy apartment above -- blessing this wonderful world with her presence.
A bright light beamed down from the clouds like a searchlight blinding a bunch of wild animals.
"It's an angel with big white wings!"
Serenity hovered down in front of us and basked in the admiration of the desperate beta players.
"You can start worshipping me in 3...2...1!" said Serenity as she fluttered her feathery wings.
I let out a sigh.
"That's your best opening line?" I asked her.
"Raito-san is obviously not God by the way! I mean if anyone here is... It'd be me! You shall know me as the One True Boo!"
"I mean, I did create the world..." I added.
"Plus, Raito-san here is simply just a worker employed by yours truly," added Serenity, "Worshipping him is no different than worshipping a housekeeper or praising the garbage man when he takes out the trash."
...I'm going to put her in the trash...
The pack of players cheered for Serenity.
"She's under-dressed too! Look at those cute panties! Let's praise her instead! She's real goddess material!" said one of the players.
"Yeah! Can't believe we were almost tricked by that weird no-pants kid!" said another, "this angel is clearly the one that needs a harem!"
I let out a sigh.
She couldn't let me have a moment, could she?!
Standing on the six pillars, the beta players lined up to spawn the boss. Each of them dug out the Slime Jelly that they had obtained from slaying slimes from their inventories.
"Alright guys, let's eliminate the first boss!"
The beta players equipped the Slime Jelly into their armour slot next. The different coloured Slime Jelly began to spread across their bodies, forming into a jelly bodysuit which left only the neck and head uncovered.
"Ew! It's cold and gross!" shrieked Potato-sack as she wiggled around awkwardly.
The platform below her lit up, displaying a blue rune which matched up with the colour of her jelly suit.
The rest of the players covered themselves in the jelly as well, but none of the runes appeared to activate below them.
"There must be more to this puzzle."
"The Slime is in between my butt crack... can we seriously hurry this up! I want to take this off ASAP!" shouted Potato-sack.
"Her suit is blue and so is the rune... I'm guessing we need to match our suit colours to the colours on the pillars."
The crew began to rotate positions until each of the six pillars finally activated.
"We did it!"
But just then, an enormous ball of green translucent gel fell from the sky, landing in an open area at the center of the six players.
"SO YOU'VE COME TO CHALLENGE THE SLIME GUARDIAN, HUH? UWAHAHAHA!"
The boss, lazily titled Slime Guardian, appeared before them in all of her glory. The enormous Slime was simply an upscaled generic slime enemy but with a big crown on her head.
Her eyes glared red as she hopped up and down. A running trail of red light followed her eyes.
Potato-sack's jelly suit began to move on its own. It even began to pry itself off of her, rendering her armour-less, leaving her with only her potato-sack for clothes once more. It snickered as it sprung off her of.
"Oh my God. My jelly is alive!" she squealed.
The six Slime Clones dashed over to the Slime Guardian and prepared themselves for battle.
I spent most of this period lazing around the starting area fountain. I drew characters in the sand with a stick. Part of me was hoping that by doing nothing Serenity would have to call off my assistance and yank me out of this world. But, she seemed completely content with lazing beside the fountain with a group of beta players serving her every need like some real goddess.
Some time passed...
I looked up to see the group of beta players surrounding me. The same boss-conquering ones from earlier. They had accidentally tramped on my sand drawings.
I let out a deep sigh.
"What is it?"
"We need your help!"
"Please Raito-san, please!~~"
They were sweaty, dirty, and covered in goop. Overall, they seemed exhausted.
"Ah, defeat the Slime Clones first of all."
"We did that! The boss is the hard part!"
Well, just learn his attack patterns.
That's his only attack pattern.
I didn't want to make it too complicated."
"Or you're just too lazy!" said Serenity.
"Eh, a bit of both, okay."
They returned back to the boss. I spent this time skipping rocks in the fountain. Serenity tanned in the sun beside me. I actually managed to skip a pebble six times! But Serenity wasn't impressed.
"We can't beat him still...."
I turned around to see the beta players again. This time they were all wearing potato-sacks and drenched in a mixture of slime and sweat.
They were really making it hard to be lazy...
"Dodge roll on the thrusts. Jump on the sweeps. Block on everything else," I said, hoping that this was the last advice they would need from me.
I turned around looking over to the boss area across the field. Hundreds of swords stuck from out of the flowery fields. These swords were created upon a players death to mark their location much like a gravestone.
Making contact with these gravestones also turned them into resting camps that generated warmth and revitalized stats slowly, and could be used to access the inventory of a fallen player.
"We've had to restart so many times!!"
"Please help us, Raito-san!" said Potato-sack.
"I would if I could but a Slime Clone of myself would be too powerful to defeat, seeing as he would copy my stats and I'm an admin."
I pointed to the badge on my shirt.
"I'm not sure what my stat sheet looks like but for all, I know my Slime Clone and I are both impervious to damage."
"Raito-san. Just go help them already," insisted Serenity.
"Ah, fine," I said, stretching my back, "but you have to help too."