Leo squinted his eyes as the bright sunlight hit his face. The sound of the river and birds chipping were almost therapeutic. He did not take the time to enjoy the scenery when he first came here.
He could see the entire map from the top of the tall hill. The Wasted Mines with its red-brown terrain and dead trees and Tuliun Village high atop a hill, surrounded by trees in the distance. The river cutting through the forest and the massive mountain range leading towards Teliun. From here he could see it all.
Leo was mesmerized by the scenery when a sudden sound brought him back to his senses.
System announcement: Incoming chat request from (Flower Priest)
Leo immediately accepted the request and a holographic screen with appeared before him. Leo could see that Alex looked slightly worried. His usual happy and carefree expression nowhere to be seen.
“Alex, what’s wrong?” Leo asked worriedly.
Alex looked at him through the screen, his face changing to that of surprise. It was as if he had just seen a unicorn juggling a cannon.
This only made Leo even more worried, but before he could express his feelings, Alex opened his mouth.
“Since when have you been able to tell if someone’s worried?!” Alex exclaimed loudly.
To him, Leo had always been as good at recognizing facial expressions as a chimpanzee is at flying an airplane.
Leo let out a silent laugh in his heart. From Alex’s point of view he had basically changed his entire personality overnight. To him however, this change had been a slow 15 year long process.
With his brain constantly processing patterns and calculations, anything unnecessary naturally becomes filtered out. As far as his brain is concerned, whether someone is happy or sad, honest or dishonest means nothing.
This is also why he could never become a top tier expert in his past life. His fighting style is brutally honest with no wasted actions. This way of fighting is well suited for fighting monsters with their relatively low intelligence and average players with their lack of ways to counter.
Fighting like this against a true top tier expert however, is nearly impossible. A saying often comes to mind when he thinks about it, “the more perfect something is, the easier it is to see the flaws”.
It’s like playing against a computer chess program. To most players winning is nearly impossible. To a grandmaster player however, seeing through the programs flaws and exploiting them is easy.
“I’ve read a lot of books.” Leo said casually.
“Books huh? I guess your money was well spent after all.“
Alex was still not completely convinced, but didn’t bother to press Leo for an answer.
“Never mind me, what’s wrong with you?” Leo asked once more.
“You know how my old man owns a large clothing company?”
“Really? I never knew! How shocking, to think that in our 10 long years of friendship you never once bothered to tell me about it.” Leo said sarcastically.
“Sarcasm huh? I swear you really have changed.” Alex responded hopelessly.
“Anyways, I told the old man about your interest in this game and how we played together earlier. Long story short, he decided to invest a large sum of money into the game and bought himself a Gaming Workshop called ‘Moonlight River’. He’s setting up the Moonlight Guild in Venzor Town in Alryne Kingdom.”
Leo went completely silent. Although he knew that Alex’s father would invest in the game a few months from now, he did not expect it to happen so soon.
Ekalius Online is a gold mine for real world businesses. The current immersion rate is roughly 60%, which is the main limiting factor behind Ekalius’ success as a newly released VRMMO. Although higher than its competitors by a whole 7%, it still is not enough to warrant leaving already established MMOs.
When Ekalius upgrades its system in a few months times the immersion rate will drastically increase to an unprecedented 97%. The game world’s time will also slow down to ¼ of the real world’s time.
No one knows exactly how the game manages to do this. With the game directly connecting with the player’s brain, it most likely somehow speed up the brain’s processing speed. This is similar to how slowing down a car from a high speed makes the new speed seem exponentially slower in comparison.
After the upgrade the game world and real world would become almost indistinguishable. A clothing company could for example set up a shop in the game and give players the opportunity to try out clothes without ever leaving the comfort of their home. If they like them all they need to do is pay and a delivery drone will have the item delivered to them in the real world.
It’s easy to see the business potential. Companies can easily afford to buy a Gaming Workshop and establish their own Guilds or even just straight out buy a top tier Guild. If the Guild can manage to establish their own villages, towns or even cities, the potential profits will skyrocket.
Player owned villages, towns and cities offers significantly more freedom than buying plots of land in a city. Not only will players be able to design the layout themselves, they can even set prices for land, inns, auction house, blacksmiths and so on.
Most importantly, player owned settlements are not restricted by in-game currency. They can freely choose to accept payment in real world Units.
For Alex’s father to realize that this game is far more than just another VRMMO speaks volumes about his foresight ability.
After a moment of silence, Leo finally spoke up.
“Alryne Kingdom is at least two weeks away by foot from here.” Leo said, finally understanding why Alex was worried earlier.
“Yeah I know. I tried to convince the old man to start in Leomar, but the Moonlight River Workshop is situated in Venzor Town. Apparently the Workshop has many talented players from other games, but haven’t found an investor until now.” Alex responded apologetically.
The only way to get to Venzor Town this early on is to delete your character and start over again. Unfortunately this was not an option for Leo.
“I can’t go with you, I’m sorry.”
“I figured you would say that.” Alex let out a quiet sigh.
He knew that Leo had unlocked a hidden class and probably would not be able to get it back if he deleted his account. Even so, he still had to try.
“I’m guessing that you’ll be representing your father’s company in the game?”
Leo could not help feel a bit sad. Although it is not like they can’t see each other in game ever again, it will be a long time before moving between Kingdoms will be commonplace.
As the game progresses players will become more and more bound to their starting Kingdom and their initial City. Most players avoid changing City as they would have to earn back the reputation from scratch.
Changing Kingdom mid-game is practically unheard-of. At most players visit other Kingdoms due to a quest or to grind a specific dungeon.
Leo specifically chose to start in Leomar Town as that was the original location the company of Alex’s father started at. They would then move towards Ferima City and finally expand throughout the Kingdom.
Leo did not expect that introducing Alex to Ekalius Online three months before he would originally join would change history in such a big way. In his past life he did not start playing with Alex as he played the game for his job and nothing more; he never felt the need to play with him.
He was too careless. He should have known that this would happen. The only reason it took his father’s company so long to join the game last time was simply because they did not see the game’s potential.
They already invested heavily in another VR-game and did not feel the need to switch over.
Leo could only conclude that they had somehow found out about the system upgrade. He always suspected that Elecur somehow knew that the game would become indispensable to everyone on Earth and that’s why they offered him such a ludicrous amount of money to work for them. Despite his suspicion, he never gave it much more thought. In the past it really did not matter if they knew or not.
Leo could only regret being so naive. With such a big company joining in, its only a matter of time before others join as well. More companies investing in the game will increase the amount of players, especially professional players. With such a massive change, history is sure to change even more.