Chapter 1: Charisma?
It was exactly noon. Yue Qiang climbed out of his bed and walked to the grocery store to buy his lunch.
“I want a pack of bag noodles, chicken mushroom flavor please.”
The store clerk is a woman who carried a slight charm to her. However, the moment she saw Yue Qiang with his baggy eyes, unshaven beard and drab looks, she coldly hmphed and tossed the noodles and his change at him without even look him straight in the eye.
Already used to being scorned, Yue Qiang indifferently walked out of the store. As soon as he arrived at his house, he started to boil his instant noodles and switched on his computer.
Yue Qiang readied himself for yet another day of gaming.
As of late, he was rather enthralled by the single player game named ‘The Witcher 3’ and had mindlessly sunk many hours of playtime into it. It was a free roaming game with great graphics and packed a reasonable amount of punch. He planned to continue playing it today at max level difficulty.
He double clicked the game icon. Huh? Was it his imagination or did Geralt of Rivia somewhat resembled him? Maybe his eyes were fogged up by the steam wafting off from the instant noodles? Not to mention the game had loaded surprisingly quick? Although he had spent most of his money to buy this computer, it should still take at least a few seconds for his game to load and it shouldn’t have loaded instantaneously like just a while ago.
It was then he realized that something was amiss.
The interface was definitely not displaying The Witcher 3’s title screen. He was instead greeted by an unfamiliar, yet incredibly gorgeous graphics that emanated an antique feel. At the center of the screen were two artistically drawn ancient Chinese characters, which he barely could read as ‘The Game’, below which was a start button and to the side three tiny progress bars of red, green and blue.
Yue Qiang’s curiosity was piqued. He was sure that he had not click the wrong icon and that he did not move the original icon anywhere else; not to mention he had routinely clicked it everyday so it was impossible for him to make such a mistake.
So that begs the question: What is this game?
Yue Qiang was certain that he had never installed this game before on his PC. Also, wasn’t the title a little bit too odd? You can call a game ‘World of Warcraft: The Game’ or ‘The Witcher 3: The Game’, but what the heck is a ‘The Game: The Game’? Furthermore, a single player game would usually have 4 options: ‘Start’, ‘Save/Load’, ‘Options Menu’ and finally ‘Return to Title Screen’. But this game only has one option, ‘Start’.
Yue Qiang did not click on the game. His first thought was to return to desktop and continue playing ‘The Witcher 3’. First, he tried ALT+TAB (Switch Windows) to no avail, then he tried CTRL + ESC (Open Start Menu) with similar results. WIN+D (Show Desktop)? ALT+F4 (Close Current Window)? CTRL+ALT+DELETE (Task Manager)? But nothing worked. Really? I can’t quit the game?
Although the game interface looked incredibly gorgeous, the textures and animations were all top-notch, Yue Qiang still did not want to play it. The reason was because that the game was clearly developed domestically: from its antique art style to the water paint background effects, plus the classic Sizhu a.k.a Silk and Bamboo music playing from the speaker; they all reminded him of homemade classics such as ‘Chinese Paladin’ and ‘Xuan-Yuan Sword’ series. While these domestic single player games weren’t too badly received, and when he was but a wee he loved them to death – let’s just say that the latest releases left much to be desired.
Anyways, Yue Qiang eventually came to the conclusion that this was probably a malvertisement installing a demo or malware into his PC, and he could quit only after he had progressed to a certain point in the game. Looks like force restart was the only way to quit the game. Yue Qiang wanted to do it right then and there, but knowing that a force restart would most likely damage his hardware, he gave in and clicked the ‘Start’ option.
At the very least, I should see what this game’s all about, right?
The character creation screen showed up right after the title screen faded into the background, but to his surprise, the character was already created.
Character Name: Yue Qiang
The character display was a 360 slow rotating model, he was again surprised that the character somewhat resembled himself. The only difference was that the model wore a traditional Chinese robe, and for whatever reason it made him look… weird, so to say. It wasn’t that the clothes were badly designed, it was just that his natural looks… left much to be desired.
Ouchies. Yue Qiang tried to change his appearance through the character customization screen but found that the option was completely grayed out. He then tried to change his username into something more V587 (T/N: a slang that means powerful and mighty, short form awesome), but found out that it was also grayed out and unchangeable. He continued to scroll downwards, There he found the game’s five initial stats, they were:
Strength: 12 (You’re strong enough to move bricks)
Vitality: 6 (You’re weak and you often fall sick)
Wisdom: 14 (You’re a perpetually calm person, and even the stark reality of your life cannot affect your mind. You can always find solace in video games)
Wealth: 2 (You’re a pauper)
Charisma: 7 (No one loves you, neither male nor female)
He didn’t know if these stats were randomly distributed, but they seriously somewhat resembled his own life. When he was at high school he often participated in sports, so he was pretty fit back then.
However, after he went to university the only things he did were gaming and fapping, the end result is being left with a sickly body. His highest stat was his Wisdom which stood proudly at 14 points – unfortunately, even after reading the description he didn’t know what kind of function it would serve in-game. There really was no need to look at his Wealth: he had just enough to feed himself a pack of noodles daily. As for his Charisma, it was a given. Disdainful looks from his classmates, pedestrians, and even store clerks were the norm to Yue Qiang.
As he scrolled to the bottom of the page, he found a single line at the very bottom of the interface.
It was written in Song Ti font and thus in complete contrast with the game’s antique design.
Free Distribution Stat Points: 8
Yue Qiang rubbed his eyes and glanced over once again. 8 free distribution stat points? Isn’t that a lot?
For a veteran gamer who had dabbled in all kinds of single player video games, 8 points really wasn’t a small sum. Looking at the base stats, Yue Qiang thought that 10 points would be the normal stat average for a new player, but if he had 8 free points and he pumped all of them into let’s say… Strength or Vitality, wouldn’t his character be broken?
It was really strange. Yue Qiang thought that this 8 free distribution stat points would cause the game to be extremely unbalanced. Adding on the jarring mismatch between the line’s font and overall art style only added to his confusion. On the other hand, Yue Qiang wasn’t planning to play this game anyway. He only wanted to play it until the malware allowed him to stop playing. So, he very carelessly dumped all his points into the stat ‘Charisma’.
His Charisma stat now reads:
Charisma: 15 (Everyone loves you, flowers bloom in your presence)
As he slid his mouse and clicked ‘Confirm and Enter’, he accidentally knocked over his noodles over.
Depressed, Yue Qiang set the game aside and went downstairs again to buy a new packet.
“I want to get more bag noodles, chicken mushroom flavor please.”
The somewhat pretty woman handed over his instant noodles – except this time it wasn’t a bag of noodles, but the bowl-type noodles.
We’re having a promotion right now, all bag noodles have been upgraded to noodle bowls.” the store clerk shyly said. Yue Qiang blanked out for a second.
“Also, since you’re our regular and you come here every day, this is my personal gift to you: An ‘Extra’ bottle of chewing gum. Get it?” she winked flirtatiously at Yue Qiang, “May you always have a smile!”
(T/N: There exists a brand of chewing gum called ‘Extra’, pun added for flavor)
Again, Yue Qiang blankly stared at her, he grabbed his goods emotionlessly and headed out of the store. From his back, he heard the woman calling after him,
You’re welcome! Please, come again!”