SPO – Chapter 3

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Translator: Craxuan
Editor: JerryDaBaws

Single Player Only Chapter 3: Quest Reward

Yue Qiang had always been sensitive about numbers, and he would remember in game character stats especially well.

Although this game wasn’t like most others that had quantitative data such as Speed, Agility, Intelligence, HP, MP, Rage and so on – Strength and Vitality were the only attributes that were slightly more common, and the rest Wisdom, Wealth, and Charisma being more similar to The Sims type of games – Yue Qiang still remembered the numbers and its secondary descriptions very clearly. He did not even need to bring up the character creation screen.

According to his earlier deductions, this game should have an average stat pool of 10 points. But the current stat description was a different story from the one he saw at the character creation screen. But with this current version of data, the game’s stat pool should be hovering around 20 instead. So here comes the question: Why are the descriptions of the character stats, before and after he began the game, completely different?

Yue Qiang was pretty sure that his stats was the same as it was at the beginning (before he purchased his cup noodles), and even his 15 points of ‘Charm’ was the total of 7 initial stats and 8 free stats. But the fact was the game had provided two completely different kinds of stat descriptions, and it really confused Yue Qiang.

As he pondered, he suddenly remembered something.

Wait… Charisma…

Yue Qiang suddenly recalled that, when he went downstairs to buy his cup noodles a second time, the store clerk’s attitude suddenly took a very flirtatious turn, as if she suddenly had a screw loose in her head. If he thought hard about it, could it be that it was because his Charisma had suddenly increased? Maybe she changed because he added 8 points into his Charisma?

Yue Qiang shook his head. Ridiculous. Now who’s the one who had a screw loose?

Meanwhile, Mr. Chen Zi Han a.k.a the teacher in the screen seemed to realize that Yue Qiang was lazing around. This time, he did not do his Lion’s Roar but instead pulled a study ruler out from his lap, went through the motions, and slapped it down hard on Yue Qiang’s skull.

KUANG!

He had to say the game’s sound effects was way too realistic. For an instant, Yue Qiang thought that if he was there in person he would have a huge bump on his head right now. Maybe teacher Mr. Chen Zi Han looked like a skinny man, but his strength was definitely nothing to scoff at.

At a whim, Yue Qiang right clicked at the teacher. While he was clicking around the room randomly he had not thought to click on him, and to his surprise, a status screen actually popped out.

Character Name: Chen Zi Han
Class: Teacher (A poor scholar who teaches for a living)

Strength: 22 (Since he often beats his student as punishment, his strength is slightly larger than a normal man)
Vitality: 12 (Studies non-stop and thus is quite sickly)
Memory: 25 (Well read in ‘the Analects’, ‘Le Memoir’ and some other books)
??: ??
??: ??
???: ???

He was right. These NPCs do have an average stat pool of 20 points. Even a teacher had a strength value of 22 points, whereas his character’s sat at a measly 12. With a question out of the way, another one popped up.

The game was only beginning and this was just the first NPC he interacted with, but already there were three attributes that were hidden behind question marks “?”. Next, he was a player and he had only five attributes, whereas a mere NPC, Teacher Mr. Chen Zi Han actually had six. Other than the possibility that this NPC might be an important plot character, it also subtly hinted that the scale of this game might be far bigger than he initially imagined.

As a hardcore single player gamer, Yue Qiang knew very well that the more casual an opening appeared to be, the better it gets as you delve deeper and deeper into the game. There were two reasons to that. One was that the game developer was beyond using equipment or levels or skills as a selling point. The other was that a game that pays attention to minute details, combined with powerful logic and balance would naturally be incredibly interesting and long lasting.

“Looks like this game developer is shooting for the sky,” Yue Qiang thought to himself.

He clicked at Mr. Chen again, hoping to discover more interesting points. As he expected, after suffering yet another ruler slap a choice appeared on top of the teacher’s avatar,

Teacher Chen Zi Han offers you a quest: <<Learn the Analects>>. Will you accept?

Yue Qiang knew that this was most likely the main quest. Just to see what would happen he chose the option ‘No’, and of course, he was smacked with the ruler again.

KUANG!

System Message: You have taken damage from Teacher Chen Zi Han’s ruler attack, and due to your poor Vitality you have become Stunned.

System Message: Teacher offers you a quest again: <<Learn the Analects>>. Will you accept?

Yue Qiang could’ve sworn he felt pain on his own head as he stared at the two bruises on his character’s poor skull. After a moment’s consideration, in the end, he selected the option ‘Yes’.

System Message: You have accepted a quest: <<Learn the Analects>>

Quest Log: The poor teacher Chen Zi Han was entrusted by Mister Yue (your father) to teach you the Analects, a book about the rules of governing.

Quest Objective: Pass Mr. Chen’s test.

Quest Reward: None.

Yue Qiang stared blankly at the big word ‘NONE’ next to Quest Reward before he suddenly felt nostalgic: this really is just like the classic domestic single player games, isn’t it? The plot driven and game progression through NPC interaction; although this quest system was most likely picked up from Western open world single player games. Originally, domestic games did not have any sort of quest system whatsoever, and plot progression was reliant entirely on interaction with NPCs. Sometimes the reason a player became stuck at a certain segment wasn’t because they didn’t have enough levels to beat the boss, but rather because they forgot to talk to a critical NPC. Even worse, the earlier games would not provide you with any hints whatsoever.

Yue Qiang could still remember the time he played ‘Chinese Paladin’ and was stuck at a forest maze for the longest of time. There was a monkey blocking the path and no matter what he tried he just could not go past that point. After searching for a guide everywhere and consulting his classmates, he finally realized that he needed to find a specific banana tree in town and obtain the item ‘Banana’ to feed the monkey, and only then he could walk out of the maze. It was one of the most annoying things about these classic single player games.

As for ‘Quest Reward: None’? You’d be lucky to even get a quest notification!

While Yue Qiang was thinking, teacher Chen’s test had already started. The test itself wasn’t hard, after all, it was just filling in the blanks with some sentences from the ‘Analects’. Even if he had forgotten his primary lessons, he still had mobile Baidu, right? Sure he couldn’t check the Internet on his computer, but he still had his phone.

He quickly wrote down the answers to some questions.

Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?

The student of virtue has no contentions. If it be said he cannot avoid them, shall this be in archery?

Confucius said of the head of the Chi family, who had eight rows of pantomimes in his area, “If even if his uncle can bear to do this, his aunt cannot bear to do?”

And then his jaws dropped. The quest was far more complex than he had thought. At first, Yue Qiang thought that he could casually write a few sentences and complete the quest, but he soon realized that the game actually wants him to type out all 503 lines in the Analects. This wasn’t an ABC objective test question but a complete fill-in-the-blanks. Moreover, since his computer restarted directly into the game he didn’t have any internet connection and by extension no Pinyin dictionary. Yue Qiang quite literally typed himself dizzy as he struggled with all sorts of unusual words.

Yue Qiang had never expected this first quest to be this crazy. Still, holding onto his pride as a hardcore gamer Yue Qiang forced himself to type the hundreds of lines of Analect quotes all the way until the end. The reason was that he knew there was a pattern. In single player games, the harder a quest is, the greater its reward would be, and if this ridiculous quest required its player to do so much research and type so many unusual words to complete it, then its rewards would definitely not be the big ‘NONE’ indicated by the system.

And he was right. After a little past an hour Teacher Chen finally concluded the test, and as he examined Yue Qiang’s test paper his face grew more and more surprised. As if afraid that the player hadn’t noticed it, the system even dropped a huge exclamation mark on top of Teacher Chen’s head.

Chen Zi Han: Young sir, you are truly a dragon and a phoenix among men. Although you may be lazy and mischievous, in fact, you are smarter than most, with terrific memory, and hold the law in high regard inside your heart. This old man is impressed. Very, very impressed.”

More awkward archaic talk. Yue Qiang ignored the NPC’s completely and clicked his mouse to see if the NPC would give him with any hidden rewards, and sure enough, Chen Zi Han said,

“Young sir, you are truly talented. Please, accept this old man’s sliver of refined energy.”

Refined energy? What’s that?

Yue Qiang thought that the system would explain how this ‘Refined Energy’ works, but to his surprise, the quest ended just like that. Even no matter how many times he clicked at Teacher Chen, he would only say, “Young sir had completely mastered the essence of the Analects, this old man is impressed. Very very impressed.”

…Interesting.

If Yue Qiang was completely disinterested in the game earlier, he was now slowly but surely changing his mind. Did you know? Games these days, especially online games were completely dominated with auto-mapping, fixed class, Pay-to-Win (P2W) players dominating everything and other dumb factors. Although graphics and hardware requirements improved by leaps-and-bounds every single day, various gameplay elements such as systems, skills, loot, titles and so on grew more and more complex, it just felt like they were missing some… ‘heart’.

And what is ‘heart’? Yue Qiang couldn’t really answer. He simply felt that games these days were played just for the sake of playing. Leveling up, killing mobs, training, PK, and that’s it. In the past, the old him would have racked his brains all day to the point he even forgot to eat, just to solve a puzzle or a maze without relying on a walkthrough. As his gaming age grew, it became harder and harder to rediscover that magical feeling.

But this game is different.

Maybe the installation process was a little malicious, maybe the quest system was a bit janky, maybe the archaic words are kinda lame, the game is…… a little interesting.

As an old school single player gamer, Yue Qiang’s desire to explore were completely drawn into the open. He began clicking around the entire picture with his mouse by instinct, and lo and behold, at a very obscure position of the bottom right of the screen there was a very tiny tricolor progress bar which caused his cursor to change the moment he hovered over it.

Gotcha!

Suddenly, Yue Qiang remembered. This tricolor bar was already there during the character creation screen, but because it was so tiny he had overlooked it. Now that he think about it, the fact that the game was so graphically exquisite and yet the progress bar so bland and simple was by itself very suspicious.

After a careful examination, Yue Qiang realized that the red and green bars were no different from before, whereas the blue bar had increased by a tiny, almost unnoticeable bit. Accurately speaking, the blue bar was the exact point that had caused the mouse cursor to change.

Does this blue progress bar have anything to do with the quest reward ‘Refined Energy Points’?

Hovering his cursor over the blue bar carefully, he clicked once and as he expected a window had popped into the surface. It was a window that he was quite familiar with by now: the character creation screen. He saw his name, his character model, his five attributes and most importantly his stats descriptions. They were the same as the ones he read previously; the one with 10 stat points as the standard:

Strength: 12 (You’re strong enough to move bricks)
Vitality: 6 (You’re weak and you often get 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 poor as a church mouse)
Charisma: 15 (Everyone loves you, and even flowers bloom in your presence)

At the bottom of these stats descriptions, he finally found the answer he was looking for; an inconspicuous line in Song Ti font that said:

Free Distribution Stat Points: 1

[E/N Just to clarify, the description for his stats IRL and in game are different, will be explained later on.]


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2 Responses to SPO – Chapter 3

  1. habib says:

    Thanks for doing this chapter! 😇

  2. Erovisk says:

    I’m liking this, thanks for the chapter.

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