“But why would the game let them do that?” said Britta. “Why let one group of players become so dominant? Won’t it just make it so the rest of the playerbase get pissed off?”
Dad sat back down. “Yes, very. But it wouldn’t be the first time the people behind a popular game missed the obvious way around their designated path for progression. That’s all anyone cares about— progression. Once you lose that, what are you even playing for? A sense of pride and accomplishment. Ha. Progression, Britta, that’s the gold standard we judge games by.”
“I thought all you cared about was getting meaningless achievements that gave you fancy titles you could put under your character name. And unique hats that no one else had.”
“Sure, that too,” said Dad. “We all enjoy a nice fancy hat. But mostly you want your character to get stronger and find better gear. Most games find that easy at the beginning when everyone starts out the same, but harder once people are doing their own thing. It quickly becomes unbalanced. New World decided to make it really, really hard from the outset, which is fine since there’s so much else to do in the game. Just the novelty of a new world is enough for most casuals. You’ll still build up your strength slowly and then go into the big fights when you feel ready. But they should have region-locked the players, not let then roam around farming the lowest level raids from each area.”
“You’re just guessing, though,” said Britta. “That might not be what happened.”
“True,” said Dad. “But I’ve been playing games a long time, sweetheart. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if there’s a really obvious way to ruin a game, nine out of ten devs will find a way to implement it within the first maintenance patch.”
“You worked on this game too, Dad. Aren’t these devs your friends?”
“Yes,” said Dad. “That’s how I know.”
Britta felt it was too early to be able to tell what had actually happened, despite Dad’s wealth of experience at criticising other people. And even if there were a group of players who were going to dominate the game, APE would step in and do something about it before things got out of hand, surely.
“Are you going back in the game?” asked Britta.
“Yes, at some point. No real urgency, I have no way to catch up to them at the moment. They’re only going to get stronger. But it’s fine, I still have my videos, my fans, that’s the important thing.”
It was almost like she could hear violins playing and then she realised Dad had started a Youtube video of violins playing.
“Come on,” said Britta, “it’s not all about being first and fastest. You don’t need to parade around in the best gear to impress everyone.”
Dad looked at her with intense disappointment, like she’d just told him she was going to go work for Apple, or something equally immoral.
“It’s an RPG Britta. Go BiS or go home.”
“B, I, S. Best in slot. You can’t compete if you’re undergeared. That’s why I’m at home.”
How could a fully grown man be such a self-pitying mess, and more to the point, how had Mum decided this was the man for her? Were there hidden depths to men she wouldn’t be able to see until she was older? She seriously doubted it.
“You’re being a bit ridiculous, Dad. Why can’t you use your videos to get everyone up to the same standard as these mystery experts?”
“I wish you wouldn’t call them that, it makes them sound far too cool. And how are my videos going to help? A series of tutorials on how to defeat the Level 2 raid boss?”
“No, I mean you could find these… players, and get film of them doing whatever they’re doing. If you show everyone how they did it, maybe it would work for the rest of us.”
“Are you seriously suggesting I track them down, steal their secrets and give them away to the general public, completely ruining it for the experts? That is brilliant.”
He was out of his seat again.
“I was foolishly thinking of ways I could get them to let me join their crew, but this is far better. Find out what made them so special, and then take it away from them. When I break this story — this exclusive! — it’s going to make me the most important person in the game. We don’t live in medieval times anymore, sweetheart. You don’t control things with armies and weapons, you control it through the media. Information is king!”
His eyes were shining and he had a weird smile plastered across his face.
“I thought the most important thing to players was progression,” said Britta. “You seem more concerned about creating a media empire.”
“Progression is what players want, but you and me, sweetheart, we’re above that sort of thing.” He started tidying up his desk, turning things off and putting stuff away before someone came in and tidied up for him. He didn’t like it when Mum moved his stuff without asking, which was probably why she did it whenever she got the chance. “People like us don’t try to beat the meta, we make the meta.”
He stormed out of his office like a man on a mission, his motivation revitalised thanks to Britta.
“I’ve created a monster,” Britta muttered to herself as she followed. At least he would be in a world where monsters were welcome. Maybe the next raid boss would be him.