Chapter 6: The Proper Gestures when talking with an NPC.
The moment he walked out of the door, once again, Yue Qiang found himself shocked by the level of photorealism in this game.
Yue Qiang felt as if he was under an illusion. It was as if he had actually been transported into the world of Ancient China.
As a hardcore single player gamer, besides loving the hell out of gaming itself, Yue Qiang was also deeply interested in the physics engines, graphic details, game balances, random algorithms, etc in the games he played. This was because these elements also showed the developers’ level of dedication. In other words, if a game’s details were extremely refined as a whole, then how bad could the game possibly be?
Tilting his perspective upwards, he could see an endless expanse of a blue sky along with waves of white clouds. Returning to the normal view, he could see the trees and grass swaying with the wind. A few NPCs were busy with their work in the village. For example, the farmer NPC was threshing the wheat; the NPC who stored ice was busy checking his account book; and the blacksmith on the other side of the house was still striking iron with great concentration. He did not know how to describe the entire scene. If he had to use professional terminology, then he could say very confidently that within visible range, he could not find a trace of any ‘textures’ at all.
A game where you could not even find a single trace of ‘game textures’ was shocking and strange because it meant an unbelievable large amount of processing power and game storage volume.
Yue Qiang could remember clearly that in the ancient first person shooter game CS, when a character died, there would be a scene of the character swiveling on its feet and falling. He could still remember that when the character dies sometimes he could even see the pixels on the ceiling textures.
Except that now, he could not even see a trace of the game’s ‘textures’, much less the pixels. He even controlled his character to purposefully crouch with the button ‘X’ and carefully examined the floor, but, he had to admit that even at this short range the ground’s soil effect was incredibly realistic. He could even see an ant hill not too far away; there were even ants moving the body of dead insects on the side. This… Are these kind of effects even possible to make with just textures?
Suppressing the shock in his heart, Yue Qiang began to weave his game plan. It was obvious now that this game in many ways had exceeded the specs of current available technology. However, in the end, this was just a game and judging from the current situation, it was impossible that this could be an online game.
There was a 90 percent chance that this was a single player game, and if it was, then there would be patterns that he could follow.
The game was made with an antique style, so it meant that this was a domestic single player game, and a domestic single player game would definitely not exclude this key fact – plot progression through interaction with NPCs.
The fact that domestic single player games heavily revolved around plot was practically a public axiom. Although there were countless things about this game that were outright bizarre, the fundamental direction of the game should remain unchanged.
Yue Qiang continued to ponder but his eyes were darting about and processing the environment around him. As he glanced again towards the blacksmith opposite the house, he thought to himself, Alright, you will be the one. Let’s try talking to him and see if I can get any interesting information.
Tapping away at the arrow keys, he moved his character towards the blacksmith’s side. As their distance closed he had a deep sense of exactly how brawny the man was. His arms were both taut and powerful; about the size of his own character’s thighs. The bronze color of his skin gave off a strong and healthy feel.
Yue Qiang did not left click the blacksmith like most other games to initiate a conversation straight away. Instead, he very carefully right clicked the blacksmith and checked his status. He could not let go of any opportunity that would lend him a deeper understanding of the game and verify his assumptions.
Character Name: The Blacksmith, Tan Xiong
Class: Blacksmith (Previous occupation unknown)
Strength: 27 (He is as fit as a bull)
Vitality: 16 (He appears to have been sick before and his vitality is slightly weak)
?? : ??
?? : ??
?? : ??
The moment he saw the word ‘Skills’, Yue Qiang thought to himself: It’s arrived! The main course is here!
If one were to say that stats were the foundation of a game character, then skills would be the key to unleashing the full potential of those stats. The fundamentals of combat, defeating a greater opponent with a much weaker strength. In the classic single player games, skills and even stats were incredibly rare apart from Skill Trainer NPCs. However, this Blacksmith Tan Xiong that he ran into right after he exited his house already possessed two skills, and those skills were even displayed as ‘?’ within the status screen. Of course, this meant that the game’s database was incredibly robust, but most importantly it also hinted that players could acquire information on skills through certain means and perhaps even learn said skill.
Yue Qiang had a hunch that both of this blacksmith’s skills were down-to-earth combat skills and definitely not a non-combat kind of trade-oriented skill. The reason was due to this little hint by the system:
Class: Blacksmith (Previous occupation unknown)
The system would not give out a pointless hint. Since it already said so, then it was very likely that this hidden skill displayed in a ‘?’ fashion was connected to the blacksmith Tan Xiong’s old class. Yue Qiang had also made some guesses about the information the system was hiding, that is the information that was displayed with ‘?’. Unfortunately, it would seem that he must obtain the relevant information and even better, relevant information that is important and only then would the system would unlock this hidden information.
This was just like how he repeatedly conversed with the teacher Chen Zi Han and obtained the opportunity to learn ‘Gui Gu Mathematics’. Although he didn’t have enough ‘Tactics’ to learn it, he still acquired some info regarding ‘Tactics’ and unlocked a row of stats from Chen Zi Han’s stat screen.
In retrospect, it would seem that acquiring as much critical information as possible is the foundation for progress in this world.
Confirming his thoughts, Yue Qiang’s need to converse with the NPCs had become even more urgent than before. Moreover, he also realized that in this game he most likely could not ALT skip through the dialogues like other normal domestic single player games and enter combat immediately.
He carefully left clicked the blacksmith and initiated a conversation.
In reflection of the game’s realistic real-time feedback system, no dialogue box appeared below the blacksmith. Instead, the blacksmith Tan Xiong with an indifferent gaze scornfully shot Yue Qiang with a scrutinizing look. A line of Song Ti characters immediately appeared on the game screen: The Blacksmith, Tan Xiong sized you up with a contemptuous look.
Yue Qiang left clicked the blacksmith again but there was still no dialogue box which appeared. Now the screen’s Song Ti characters had changed into: The blacksmith is still ignoring you, but he is now swinging his hammer even harder.
Just as Yue Qiang wanted to click at the blacksmith Tan Xiong for the third time and see if the screen’s message would change again, he abruptly recalled an incident and immediately released of the mouse.
Thank goodness I reacted in time…
In that instant, Yue Qiang had recalled the three bumps on his head. Based off his deductions, the basic stats in this game is twice the amount of the stats in real life. Even the feeble teacher Chen Zi Han could brutalize him with a simple ruler, much less the blacksmith Tan Xiong who had a strength value of 27. Recalling the message ‘The blacksmith is still ignoring you, but he is now swinging his hammer even harder’, Yue Qiang immediately broke out in a cold sweat. If a mere ruler was enough to knock three bumps on his head, then this hammer would…
Yue Qiang did not doubt in the slightest that such an incident may very well happen. Furthermore, up until this point, Yue Qiang had not found anything that resembled a Save/Load option. It’s best to remain cautious for now until he found a proper solution.
Now then, how should he converse with this NPC?
While sweating beads, the blacksmith Tan Xiong continued to strike iron right in front of Yue Qiang. Each one of his swings appeared to be exactly the same; the direction, the angle, and the force used did not change in the slightest. Should he perceive this as the game developers being lazy or that the blacksmith Tan Xiong’s true power had reached a point where he could easily control the heavy hammer with perfect precision?
As Yue Qiang continued to watch the sweaty NPC, an idea flashed into his head. Having observed this place closely when he exited the house, on the side of the street he remembered hat there was an ice storage shop.
Yue Qiang controlled his character and left the blacksmith. He then ran until he was in front of the ice shop. The shop keeper NPC was a proprietress. She was both beautiful and young, and coupled with a realistic traditional clothing, she possessed an extraordinary charm.
Left clicking her avatar, a dialogue box appeared beneath the beautiful proprietress:
Gongshu Shaoyang: “Isn’t this Young Sir Yue? What a rare sight! What’s the matter, why have you come to my humble store in this sweltering weather instead of sleeping inside the house?”
Looks like this character isn’t doing so well in this village, and this was after I put 8 points of stats into my Charm… While Yue Qiang was thinking, his conversation with the beautiful proprietress NPC continued as an option box appeared at the bottom. Apparently, he had to make a choice: to say 1, or to say 2.
[1: From this day onwards this young man shall strive to improve himself, share his father’s burden and slaughter his people’s enemies. It is for these reasons I have exited my home to conduct an inspection.]
[2. It’s currently hot summer and I’m terribly thirsty. I’m here to get a bowl of ice.]
Were he going by the standard gamer’s mentality, he would definitely choose option 1 to improve his relationship with the NPC. But because he had a more urgent need at the moment, he chose 2.
Yue Qiang: “Miss Gongshu, it’s currently hot summer and I’m terribly thirsty. I’m here to get a bowl of ice.”
Gongshu Shaoyang went down to the cellar and retrieved a frosty bowl of ice, “Eldest Son Yue, Ai, if only you would work hard for the people like your father and not be so indulgent in pleasure.”
So it would seem that the plot set his character as a lazy and unambitious son of a rich family. Perhaps his father might even be a small governor with a land of his own.
Yue Qiang clicked the bowl of ice and selected the ‘Collect’ option. Then he turned around and left the shop. The beautiful proprietress NPC no longer said anything and instead let out a sweet sigh from behind his back. Yue Qiang suddenly realized that he had made an incredibly wise choice dumping all his free stats into ‘Charm’ when he first entered this game.
Evidently, the ‘Charm’ stat affected the NPC’s attitude towards himself. If his Charm had stayed at 7, it would’ve been near impossible to act in this world where stats averaged around 20.
Yue Qiang clicked open the Item screen in the system tray. Other than the completed ‘Analects’ and the unreadable, grey-highlighted ‘Gui Gu Mathematics’, there was now a third item ‘A bowl of ice’.
Item Description (A bowl of ice): Made by Gongshu Shaoyang. The Gongshu clan are experts in civil engineering and they are able to store ice in a specially made, masterfully crafted cellar. Even in the heat of summer, it could still ensure that the ice would not melt.
He walked back to the blacksmith and arrived beside the blacksmith Tan Xiong. He did not rush to click the character and talk to him. Instead, he opened the inventory and right clicked on the item (A bowl of ice) to use it.
System Message: You have gifted the blacksmith Tan Xiong with a bowl of ice.
System Message: The blacksmith Tan Xiong has used the item (a bowl of ice).
System Message: The blacksmith Tan Xiong appears to be much more refreshed.
System Message: The blacksmith Tan Xiong is now looking at you in a much friendlier light.
Yue Qiang quietly watched the system messages pop up one by one onto his screen. As a veteran single player gamer, to uncover the depths of the usage of every item was a basic skill. He had no doubt that his efforts in obtaining the blacksmith’s favorability would not be a waste of time. What he was waiting for was the next system message; the communication function that he had been anticipating for a while now.
Sure enough, at the end of those four dull messages, a bluish sentence appeared:
System Message [Green]: Because you have succeeded in changing 2 NPCs favorability towards you, you can now activate the ‘Dialogue System’. Will you activate it?
That’s right, this is what I want!
In a flurry of emotions, Yue Qiang slapped his keyboard and leaped onto his feet.