Bitter 366

The bell rang and everyone got up and went to their classes, chattering excitedly about what they’d just seen. Britta had been so caught up in her own thoughts, she hadn’t been paying attention to how everyone else had reacted.

There had been some general oohs and ahs, as you’d expect for the sheer visual spectacle of what New World offered, but from the way they had gathered together to watch the ceremony, they clearly had a lot of interest in where this game was headed.

Britta hadn’t been aware of how far into the public consciousness the game had reached. People had picked up on this being a potential change to the way life was going to be lived on planet Earth. And that was without actually having experienced it for themselves.

She saw Lewis still sitting, laptop on his lap, head craned forward like he was trying to get his head into the screen.

He was probably rewatching the broadcast, or looking up people’s reactions on a forum where everyone had poorly informed opinions, and lots of them.

“What did you think?” she asked him casually, as though she just happened to be leaving by going all the way around the ping pong table.

He barely glanced up. “Empire versus rebels? Been done.”

It was a dismissive way to put it, but he summed it up very succinctly, making Britta re-evaluate what she’d just watched. “I suppose so. I guess everyone will want to join the rebels.”

“You’d be surprised,” said Lewis. “There are quite a lot of edge lords out there. The ‘Empire did nothing wrong’ types. I’m sure the empire will have plenty of benefits to seduce players with. Best gear and cool mounts. You don’t have to join a faction, though. Or you could even play for both sides. You don’t have to play the game the way they’d like you to. That’s one of the best things about it.” He sighed, desperately longing to be a part of it. “Of course, that’s not the really interesting part.”

“What’s the really interesting part?”

He gave her a quizzical look, like how could she not know the answer to something so obvious. “The procedural story generator, of course.”

She had no idea what he was talking about. Had she missed something important while she’d been trying to figure out what Stan was doing?

“What’s that?” she asked, relying on Lewis’ natural inclination to explain things.

“They’re going to make it so everyone’s doing the same story at the same time, so we don’t all do the same content over and over. It’s never been done before. Nobody’s had the processing power. No? Still don’t get it?”

She would have liked to have smacked him on the back of his head, but she just shook hers instead.

“Usually, I do a quest, I get my reward. Then you do the same quest, like it’s never been solved, and get the same reward. Or a similar one, depending on what kind of RNG they’re using.”

Britta nodded. That much she could follow quite easily. That was how video games worked.

“In New World, I do a quest, that quest is done, and depending on how well I do, it changes what everyone else needs to do.”

“So, everyone’s doing their part of the same quest?”

He nodded.

“Never the same quest twice?”

He nodded again. “Once someone completes a task, it’s done. No one else has access. But it creates a bunch of new tasks that need doing.”

“So, whoever gets to the treasure first get to keep it for themselves? No one else can get it?”

“That’s right,” said Lewis, like he was speaking to a child who had managed to use the potty for the first time. She really didn’t condone violence, but she was reconsidering her position.

“That’s going to make things a bit unbalanced, isn’t it?”

“Depends how much stuff there is to find. But yes, should make for some tense situations.”

Britta thought about it. It would certainly make things more interesting. The first person to complete a dungeon or quest would claim fame and fortune, while depriving anyone else from getting it. It would make it incredibly competitive, and very hard for casual players. If you weren’t rushing around trying to get to the good stuff first, you would quickly fall behind. Unless they had come up with a way to deal with that.

One thing was for sure, though. Dad was going to love it.

“Won’t that make it unfair for new people when they join?” said Britta. The game was supposed to eventually become available to the rest of the world, but what would be the point if the established players had already scooped up all the rewards?

“Were you even listening to the broadcast? Multiple worlds. The reason they only allowed four million players right now is because that’s the maximum capacity for the server. As they bring more online, they’ll create more worlds for people to inhabit. Different types of settings, I’d guess. And once they’re fully developed, I expect they’ll have the worlds attack each other.”

“Really?” said Britta, completely taken by surprise at this prediction. “That doesn’t seem necessary.”

“Interplanetary warfare is the obvious endgame solution,” Lewis said very confidently. “The net is pretty much in agreement about that.”

He was going off what people were saying in some forum on a nerd site, which meant it was pure speculation and unlikely to be true. But it did sound horribly plausible.

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