"Hello everyone, and thanks for tuning in to the World Gaming Network!"
A middle-aged TV host greeted the audience and camera while sitting behind his desk. Meanwhile another gentleman sat to the right of him on an armchair.
"Tonight we have a very special guest for you all, the CEO of Proxit International: Eji Yamato!"
The host gestured to Eji who was sitting in the arm chair. Eji Yamato was an older Japanese man with combed over grey hair. Despite his old age, he was very charismatic and did well in front of the camera.
After the clapping subsided Eji introduced himself.
"Thank you for having me Elijah, and thank you to the World Gaming Network for giving me this opportunity to announce the launch of our game, Mystica Online."
Oohs and ahhs could be heard from the crowd after Eji spoke. Obviously they were awaiting this news.
"Of course Mr.Yamato, Proxit International is the largest producer of VRMMORPG games and your latest title, Mystica Online, is the most anticipated game launch in history."
"You flatter me Elijah, shall we get down to business then?"
"Take it away then Mr.Yamato."
After he spoke a large screen came down behind the pair, then the words "Mystica Online" appeared on it. Eji proceeded to speak once the screen was on.
"Mystica Online is the latest, most advanced VRMMORPG that has ever been created. Unlike other VR games which use a headpiece and track as a gaming device, Mystica Online has its own gaming pod that players will use to completely immerse themselves into the game."
The gaming pod that Eji mentioned appeared on the screen behind him, showcasing its various features.
"That's impressive Mr.Yamato, Mystica Online is quite clearly a step ahead of the rest when it comes to the technological department. But what can players expect from the gameplay with it as well?"
"Good question Elijah! The gaming pod allows for comfortability and complete control over the character you use in-game. This allows for a realistic degree of freedom when playing, as your gameplay is as smooth and adaptive as the real world. Such a design was required for a game of this magnitude."
A curious look appeared on Elijah's face.
"What exactly does that mean?"
"It's best if I just show you."
Eji smirked as he said this, then a game trailer began playing on the screen behind them.
After the trailer finished the entire audience was shocked since this was the first trailer that had been shown for the game, so everything was new to them.
"Mr.Yamato that was amazing! Would you please elaborate on what the trailer meant by 'a new, more complex world than you could ever imagine?'"
"In short, Mystica Online has achieved a feat no other video game has ever done before. Players will all have their own unique story totally catered to their preferences, and their gameplay will have an impact on the entire world. Mystica Online is an ever changing landscape where anything is possible as player choices and decisions have global impacts. Meaning that the game is an adaptive virtual reality!"
The crowd went crazy after hearing this. Many games had storylines that could be altered with player choices, this wasn't a new concept. But an entire world that would adapt and change based off every decision? That was unheard of!
"It looks like everyone is looking forward to the release, when can we expect to get our hands on a gaming pod?"
"Pre-orders have already begun, but the global server goes live January 1st, 2024. Exactly one month from today."
"So soon! Just as we'd expect from the biggest video game company in the world. Anyways, thanks for coming tonight Mr.Yamato!"
"Anything for you Elijah, and I look forward to seeing you all in-game on January 1st!"
"Ugh, why is this so stressful?"
Dante Addams sat behind his computer screen searching for a job. He'd been struggling trying to find one within his field of study for months now.
Dante had graduated from college in May of 2023 with a bachelors in Video Game Design and Computer Engineering. However, despite having two degrees he still couldn't find a job that would hire him. Ever since he graduated he moved to New York City and got an apartment, which was a terrible decision as he could barely afford it.
"I've been at this for hours now, I need to take a shower…"
Dante stood up from his computer desk which was in his bedroom, then walked into the bathroom that was attached to it.
After turning on the water to the shower Dante looked at himself in the mirror as the water warmed up. His physical appearance was actually quite handsome, yet he had only ever dated a couple girls his entire life. His skin was a light shade of brown because he had a white mother and black father. The hair on his head was black and curly, but faded on the sides. He stood at just under two meters tall with a lean build.\
"What am I going to do? If I don't find a better job soon then I'll have to move back in with my parents."
Currently, Dante worked in the IT department of an electronics store. Needless to say it didn't pay well, nor was it his dream job.
Once he finished his shower he threw on sweats before laying down in bed on his phone, scrolling through YouVid, a video production platform. As he was scrolling he noticed a trailer for a new game called "Mystica Online." It caught his attention so he watched it.
"That was the best trailer I've ever seen!"
The trailer showcased the first 7 classes players could choose from, then went on about the endless world of Mystica. There were dragons, elves, warring kingdoms, and everything else MMOs were known for.
With his curiosity peaked, Dante looked at the price of the gaming pod to see how much the game was. Unlike other games, Mystica Online was built into a pod which users would lay down in to play.
"$2,500? That's crazy expensive!"
At the moment, Dante had about $3,000 saved up in his bank account for a rainy day. He could buy the gaming pod, but it would destroy his savings. This created a dilemma for him.
"Spending $2,500 on a game when I don't have a lot of extra money is stupid, but not if I can save up a little more. The game comes out in just under a month, so if I save up my next two checks I can buy it one week after the game is released, and still have about $1,000 in my account."
The inner planner of Dante began to show, or maybe the inner gamer would be a better phrase to use as he was already drooling at the thought of playing the game.
Thanks to this new determination to make extra money to buy Mystica Online, Dante was no longer feeling stressed about finding a new job. All his worries seemed to have washed away in fact.
One month later.
"It's finally here! My gaming pod took forever to ship!"
It was now 9:00am on January 8th when Dante was setting up his gaming pod in his living room. The pod was roughly the size of a twin bed and oval-like in shape, so it fit well in the corner. Dante had been working late nights at his job just to make the extra money to buy the game.
After plugging in the pod Dante opened it up and laid down inside of it. He was tingling with excitement and nervousness at the same time. Growing up he had always been super competitive when playing video games, and Mystica Online wasn't going to be an exception. He was already a week behind the hundreds of thousands of players who got the game on day one. The top ranked players were already nearing level 50, which gave Dante the urge to surpass them as quickly as possible.
Once the lid to the pod closed Dante's vision went white as his conscious was absorbed into the world of Mystica.
[Welcome to Mystica Online]
[Beginning retinal scan…]
A system message came up as it began scanning Dante's eyes to assign his data to the gaming pod.
[Retinal scan complete! New user detected, now beginning first time player processes.]
With a flash, Dante was taken to a character customization screen to edit his in-game avatar. He could change his features to whatever he wanted, but he decided to stick with a somewhat similar look to his appearance in real life.
"There's no need to change my looks, I'll be wearing armor and accessories anyways."
[Are you sure you're okay with your character's appearance? This is the only time you will be able to change it (Y/N).]
"Yes of course."
[Character appearance confirmed, what will your name be?]
"My name will be Dynus."
Dante didn't want to simply use his real name, as that would just be boring to him. His character in Mystica Online was supposed to be a new start for him.
[Name confirmed, you will be known as 'Dynus.']
With his name and appearance finished, Dante was then warped to the start zone of the game.
[Welcome to the Gamer's Hub. Here you can interact with other players and begin your journey in Mystica Online. PvP is disabled as well as all other attack skills.]
Dante opened his eyes and began processing his surroundings. He was taken to an island that was floating in the sky. A massive village surrounded him with various shops, taverns, and more. Players were walking around all over the place which brought a lively energy to the hub.
[To begin your journey, please find 'Gaimus' and choose a class.]
[This quest will automatically be accepted, the user cannot refuse it.]
Quest Name: New Beginnings
Quest Difficulty: Very Easy
- A new level 1 player.
Description: Find Gaimus in the 'Tower of Beginnings' and choose a class to begin the game with.
- Player chosen class.
- Random feat
- 500 EXP
Time Limit: None
"It's finally happening!"
Dante's excitement poured out of him. It had been a month since he first heard about Mystica Online, and now he was finally playing it.
"This world feels so real, Proxit International did an awesome job at making it."
Not only did the gameplay look good, but the technology used to make Mystica Online happen was truly next gen. It literally used a person's conscious to allow them to play in the virtual world.
Now that he had his first quest Dante ran over to a map nearby and found where the "Tower of Beginnings" was in the hub. It was situated near the central zone so it wasn't a far walk.
The Tower of Beginnings was a gigantic stone tower with a cone roof atop it. The exterior was nothing short of breath taking as it was in the shape of a spiral going up. Such a build was impossible in the real world. Looking up into the sky one could barely see the roof due to its sheer size.
Dante admired the architecture of the tower before proceeding inside.
[Now entering the Tower of Beginnings, if the user is in a party it will temporarily be disbanded.]
Unlike other areas, players could not accompany each other into the Tower of Beginnings. Therefore the entire tower appeared dormant, as no one was inside.
"Where is this Gaimus person? I assume he's at the top of the tower...but all those steps!"
Despite it being a virtual world, stamina still existed. It would be exhausting to run up hundreds of flights of stairs.
"Come to me child, I await you at the top…"
A ghostish voice echoed in Dante's head which gave him a minor chill.
"I guess that leaves me with no other choice."
Dante reluctantly began walking up the twisting staircase. The process was draining to say the least.
It took Dante more than 20 minutes to reach the top of the tower. He even took a break halfway through due to his stamina reaching zero. The room he arrived in at the top was like a circular library. Book shelves loaded with books covered the entirety of the walls aside from three windows.
"It looks like my stamina in-game is at square one, meaning it's worse than my stamina in real life. Raising that stat will be a necessity."
Dante never wanted to experience such torture ever again his entire life.
"Took you long enough, I've been waiting for you since you arrived in the hub."
An elderly man stood next to window staring at the sunrise in the distance. He was around 1.7 meters tall and had a light complexion. Although old and with long white hair, his face was clean of wrinkles and blemishes. His clothes were a nicely fitted brown cloth with a red scarf.
"Are you Gaimus?"
Dante didn't originally notice the man when he entered the room, this made him curious of Gaimus's level. However the information above the man's head was odd. Dante couldn't even open up his stat sheet.
Name: Gaimus, Lord of Beginnings
"I can't see his level? That's weird, the other NPCs I saw on the way here all had levels in the 20s."
As if Gaimus could tell Dante was curious, he interrupted Dante's thinking.
"Yes I am Gaimus, and no you cannot view my stats. They are not important anyways."
"Okay that's fine, I have come for other reasons. Lord Gaimus, today I seek your aid in beginning my journey!"
Dante could not control his speech or his character, his AI totally took control for him. This wasn't too much of a surprise though as he read online that in key story moments the game's AI would take over for the user. It went so far as Dante kneeling down on one knee with his head down, something he never would've done if the AI didn't take control.
"Rise hero, there is no need for such formalities. I merely help those who seek guidance to start their journey, calling me lord is unnecessary."
"Thank you, Gaimus. I appreciate your politeness."
Dante then stood up and approached Gaimus who was already facing him.
"What is your name?"
Gaimus spoke in a welcoming tone.
"My name is Dynus."
"Interesting...Then Dynus, you come today seeking the power of a hero. Therefore I will allow you to choose which path you shall take from now into the future. Choose one of the seven cards you see before you.
Gaimus held out his hands and seven black cards with gold trims appeared floating above them. White light emitted from Gaimus's palms as sparkles fell from the cards.
Dante took one step closer and began peaking at each card. Whenever he flipped one over a screen would come up with information about the class attached to that card.
Class Name: Warrior
Gameplay Style: Dealer, Hybrid
Weapons of Choice: All swords, the axe, fists…
Description: The warrior, one of the most respected classes in all of Mystica. Warriors fight toe-to-toe with their enemies in battles of strength and fortitude.
Aside from warrior there were six more classes to choose from: thief, priest, mage, guardian, archer, and summoner. During the week that Dante didn't have the game he was doing research on which class to pick, and he already knew which one he wanted now.
Class Name: Summoner
Gameplay Style: Hybrid
Weapons of Choice: Vary
Description: Summoners are some of the most powerful beings in all of Mystica. They master the arts of summoning which allows them to tame the magical beasts in the world. But tread carefully, walking the path of a summoner is not easy.
"Gaimus, I'd like to choose this one."
Dante landed on the option of summoner for several reasons. First, who wouldn't want to tame the monsters in Mystica? Mystica Online had thousands of types of monsters, each even had multiple variants to them. This gave him plenty of options for taming. Secondly, although the summoner class was hard due to its special characteristics, Dante did enjoy a challenge; the biggest one being the level process.
Within Mystica Online there were multiple ways to earn experience, but the two most important ways were quests and mob grinding.
When completing quests in a group 100% of the experience gained from the quest would be given to each individual player. Meaning if 1,000 EXP was rewarded for completion then each player would get 1,000 EXP. However, mob fighting was different. When facing mobs or bosses, EXP would be split amongst the party. So if a party of five defeated a boss, then each of them would receive 20% of the total EXP dropped by the boss. This was one of many reasons why summoner was an unpopular class so far in Mystica, because the monsters tamed also were affected by this rule. If a summoner beat a boss using two summons, then he would only get 33% of the total EXP dropped because the two summons would get 33% as well.
"A summoner? It looks like you've chosen an interesting class. Are you sure you'd like to become a summoner?"
Dante grasped the summoner card in his hand.
"Yes, Gaimus. There is no other option for me."
"Very well then, crush your card and accept the class change."
Dante broke the card in his palm by squeezing it which caused it to poof into yellow light. A system message then greeted him.
[Class change is now available. Would you like to class change into a summoner? (Y/N)]
After confirming his class change Dante absorbed the yellow light from the palm of his hand and a golden pulse of energy emitted from his body.
[Quest 'New Beginnings' has been completed!]
[Rewarded with 500 EXP]
[Level up! You are now level 2!]
[Obtained 5 skill points]
[Obtained new class: Summoner]
[Obtained new skills: Tame, Summon, Summon Recall]
"Oh? I leveled up already that's great! Plus I got several skills for becoming a summoner."
"You know what, Dynus? There's something about you that makes you different...I just can't put my finger on it."
Dante was taken aback by Gaimus's words.
"What exactly does that mean? Is it a good thing?"
"I'm not sure if it's necessarily 'good,' but it isn't bad per say."
Dante sighed in relief, he was worried he had aggravated Gaimus somehow.
"Go ahead and choose a book off the wall. The book you choose will grant you a random feat that will enhance your abilities."
Feats were a special feature in Mystica Online that granted all sorts of boosts to players ranging from stat boosts to new skills. A feat could be obtained by accomplishing various goals like being the first to discover something, beating a certain enemy, and much more. When making a new character the developers wanted to assist players in getting a head start, therefore they added the "random feat" function which would give new players a random feat after choosing a class.
Dante was well aware of this because he had watched a promotional videos about it on the World Gaming Network, one of his favorite channels on TV.
"Hmm, what to choose?"
Dante began thinking out loud and totally ignored Gaimus's presence for the time being. He proceeded to walk around and view the bookshelves which were filled with books.
"It is random, so I guess picking a specific one doesn't matter."
Dante immediately grabbed the book closest to him and accepted it.
[Random feat has been chosen. Are you sure you'd like to choose this feat? (Y/N)]
"Yes I'm sure."
[Random feat is confirmed.]
[Obtained new feat: Luck is a Double Edged Sword.]
"That's a scary name for a feat."
Gaimus, who had been observing Dante this whole time, was surprised by the feat that he was given.
"I knew there was something special about him, it looks like we'll finally be able to get started."
Gaimus was grinning so hard it looked like it hurt, meanwhile Dante was viewing the information about his new feat.
Feat Name: Luck is a Double Edged Sword
Description: You have been touched by the hand of God, luck is on your side. But be warned, for luck can be a double edged sword.
- +1000 luck
- Status "Tread Carefully" can be applied at any time.
"Oh my god, is luck truly on my side? Or have I been cursed? It doesn't even tell me details about the status, but just the sound of it is scary."
"Worry not young one, this is truly a blessing for you to receive. You'll see in time."
Gaimus confused Dante by saying this.
"I hope you're not lying to me…"
Dante still had mixed feelings about his encounter with Gaimus thus far, and they were not going to disappear anytime soon.
"There's no need for me to lie to you. In fact I'm going to reward you with a gift."
"What kind of gift?"
Greed was simply human nature, and despite his feelings about this mysterious man Dante wasn't going to reject a free gift.
"It's a surprise, I can't just tell you. Once you leave the Tower of Beginnings you'll find out."
"Whatever you say, I'll be leaving now Gaimus. I appreciate your help today."
"No problem, fated hero. I look forward to seeing what you will achieve in the future."
At the moment, Dante just thought Gaimus told everybody this same line after they got their class and feat. Little did he know that this was a special message just for him.
The walk down the staircase was nowhere near as bad as Dante's experience going up them. However, something else surprised Dante after exiting the tower.
[Requirements for secret quest 'Recognized by Gaimus' have been met.]
[Status 'Tread Carefully' has been activated. Your quest contents have changed. You now have reduced time to complete the quest (originally 24 hours.)]
The quest menu quickly appeared in Dante's vision.
Quest Name: Recognized by Gaimus
Quest Difficulty: Hard
- A user who has peaked Gaimus's interest.
- A user with the Summoner Class
Description: You have caught the eye of Gaimus, Lord of Beginnings. Thus, he has issued a secret quest to you in hopes that you could complete it.
Reach level 10 within the next hour.
Current level: 2/10 (20% progress)
- Secret class "Unrivaled Tamer"
Time Limit: 60 minutes (starting after the quest window closes)
Punishment for Failure: Will never be able to obtain any secret classes in the future.
"Reach level 10 in less than an hour? Damn you Gaimus, the feat you gave me is broken! Normally it takes at least a day to reach that level!"
While Dante cursed him, Gaimus simply sat atop his tower laughing.
"Dynus, you will be tested harder than anyone else from here on out. Let's see what you're made of."
A purple energy portal then appeared behind Gaimus. He entered the portal once it was fully opened, leaving the tower empty of any living soul.