Game of the World Tree - Chapter 224
▪️NPCS AND PLAYERS
Can NPCs become friends with players?
For most players, NPCs are simply tools within the game, serving only to propel the storyline forward, or provide items for purchase, or act as adversaries for players to conquer and enjoy.
Yet, occasionally, players might find themselves drawn to specific NPCs, whether they are exceptionally crafted characters or cherished pets they’ve nurtured within the game…
However, these emotions are typically merely a form of appreciation, a fondness for things that resonate with their preferences or for the creations they’ve painstakingly brought into life.
In essence, these feelings are not on equal footing.
Even in many games where players seem to idolize NPCs, it’s often not because players genuinely like the NPCs themselves, but it’s often due to the benefits they offer or the solace an NPC can provide…
Even if someone genuinely likes a particular NPC, it’s primarily an affection for the image the game designers sculpted, perhaps enhanced by that character’s own backstory.
To players, even the most beloved NPCs are still just that—NPCs; they are, at most, merely characters in a story that players can partake in.
In hindsight, it is just a matter of immersion.
Even when players immerse themselves in the narrative involving the NPCs, or perhaps even when they become deeply engrossed within the game’s storyline….
In the end, they are still players.
Perchance they may be moved by the story, and perhaps they may even cherished it within their hearts.
But they understand that at its core, it’s merely just a game designed to provide relaxation and enjoyment.
Of course, another reason for this state of affairs is that in most games, emotional communication is rudimentary and one-sided…
NPCs…are still NPCs, after all.
Players have real emotions, they possess independent thoughts, but NPCs sadly, do not have such capabilities.
They are mere lines of code, and all their reactions are predetermined by an emotionless program.
Thus in retrospect, the players are the only thing that is ‘real’ within the game.
In this context, if players were to communicate with the NPCs on an equal footing, then it wouldn’t be fair to players since an NPCs behavior is already predetermined.
What if an NPC can have genuine emotions of their own?
Elven Kingdom is essentially a game that blurs the line between virtual and reality, with Earth’s inhabitants assuming the roles of players.
Indeed for ElvKing’s players, this is a game yet also not just a game either.
When players realize how lifelike the NPCs are in this game, how advanced their AI intelligence is in conveying human-like emotions, and how they can behave just like real humans…
In such scenario, what would the relationship between players and NPCs be like?
True, one-sided emotional expressions are unlikely to foster intimate bonds.
But what if it’s a two-way emotional exchange…
Wouldn’t that be different?
As players engage in complex interactions with the natives of the world of Saigües, and as they realize that these NPCs can also harbor deep and profound emotions…
Eventually ElvKing…becomes more than just a game.
For players, it becomes another world!
Of course, this doesn’t imply that players are already considering the game they are in as actual reality, but rather… they have developed a perception that ElvKing can indeed replicate the ‘realness’ of reality in a certain sense.
In other words, although the players acknowledge this as a game…that the surroundings and the world itself may just be constructed from data, the emotions they felt are genuine, and the bonds can genuinely form within this game, even from the NPC’s are in fact, real.
Considering this aspect, Evé never intended to reveal the truth of ‘Elven Kingdom’ to the players…
Earth’s current technology has advanced sufficiently enough to convincingly deceive anyone who might suspect otherwise.
And in the end, believing that they are in a game is what makes these Fourth Catastrophe players so powerful.
Fearlessness even in the face of death!
Such fearlessness makes them exceedingly potent!
If a player truly comprehended that ElvKing was not a game, then that would complicate matters, and there’s a chance they might even feel helpless after learning the truth.
Nonetheless, Players who view ElvKing as a game and also believe they can form genuine bonds and communication with the “NPCs” can coexist.
Other games may not achieve this, but Elven Kingdom surely can.
After hearing Meryer’s response, for some reason, Little Salty Cat suddenly recalled a few words Li Mu had once said.
If you approach ‘Elven Kingdom’ as you would just like any other game, then you might have an excellent gaming experience, but you’ll undoubtedly miss out on the core essence of this game.
It is a game… but it’s also so much more!
This is our fantasy world, our adventure, and we can genuinely treat this game as having a new life…
In essence…ElvKing represents the pinnacle of what virtual reality games can achieve!
And it was at this moment that she suddenly realized a question.
The NPCs in this game also possess their own intricate emotional capacity…
In a way, they can even be considered an existence close to a real one.
Players can befriend other players.
But what about players and NPCs?
How would she react if she were to switch roles with Meryer this time, and he faced danger?
Just contemplating about it, Little Salty Cat was surprised to find that she might feel anger and sadness, just like him.
And if Meryer truly perished in battle, then Little Salty Cat might genuinely shed tears for him.
Humans are beings of emotions.
And when confronted with beings exhibiting similarly intricate emotions, sustained interaction between the two would inevitably form bonds amongst themselves.
Suddenly, the young girl realized that, unknowingly, she had come to view the Little Black Dragon as a friend and a companion.
And perhaps, the Little Black Dragon felt the same way too…
Otherwise, he wouldn’t have appeared so angered when he witnessed her death.
Reflecting on this, Little Salty Cat’s gaze towards Meryer softened even further…
The Little Black Dragon gave her a sidelong glance.
“I’m treating you to an extra meal tonight!”
Little Salty Cat stood up and patted his scales.
“How baffling…” ¹
Meriel muttered, lazily yawning.
Nevertheless, the swaying giant dragon tail behind him betrayed his good mood…
The players took less than an hour to tidy up the entire battlefield.
Afterward, they collected their spoils of war and joyfully returned to Black Dragon Castle.
Elven Kingdom excels in numerous aspects, but in terms of realism, the map is simply too expansive. Without teleportation portals, it takes forever to travel from one place to another…
That’s where having familiars come in handy.
While pet familiars may lack intelligence, they are much smarter than ordinary monsters. With a slight adjustment to their settings, players can command their familiars to carry them on their journey.
In this period, players have the option to either go online or simply log out briefly for a quick nap, reclining on their mounts for some rest. They can then just log back in upon receiving the notification of their familiar reaching their base.
But for those without mounts, it’s an entirely different story since they have to walk on their own. Fortunately for them, they can disable feelings of exhaustion in the system settings.
It was already afternoon when nearly two thousand players finally returned to Black Dragon Castle.
Many lower-leveled players who couldn’t participate in the event received news of their return and curiously gathered to watch.
Despite enduring a day and night of traveling, the triumphant team’s morale was still high and they had quite the momentum.
Nearly two thousand fully armed players, still bearing traces of battle on their gear, lined up in an extended queue while pulling carts filled with loot as they entered Black Dragon Castle…
Soon, they would return to the Chosen City through the teleportation array in the Black Dragon Castle’s hall.
However, just as the players queued up for teleportation, suddenly, on the other side of the hall, another teleportation array began to emit radiant light.
It was the teleportation array leading to Rivendell, the sole route to the underground map.
After a moment, the light finally faded, and to the astonished gazes of the players, a group of dark dwarves materialized a the center of the the array.
At the forefront stood a dwarven priest of death, draped in a black robe whilst clutching a magnificent wooden box.
Behind him, also stood several dwarven soldiers donning a guard attire.
They had arrived in Black Dragon Castle via teleportation and were now inquisitively surveying their surroundings, while occasionally letting out astonished remarks.
And when they spotted the continuous influx of players, the dark dwarves’ curious expressions quickly shifted to shock, and they couldn’t help but exclaim,
“Elves! So many elves!”
“By the grace of Death! Have they… just finished a battle? Has it already begun?”
The sudden appearance of the dark-dwarves also attracted the players’ attention.
“Huh? dwarves? How did they get here?”
“You haven’t seen them before, right? They’re residents of the underground, and we’ve signed a peace treaty with them. You’ll find out when you reach level 11 and go underground. They have a city underground called Blackrock City, and we often go there to sell stuff.”
“I see! It’s my first time seeing them…”
“It’s quite normal not to encounter them since they usually only operate underground. I don’t know what’s gotten into them today though, suddenly coming up here to the surface… Could there be some new event unfolding?”
As players curiously discussed and hesitated about whether to approach the dwarves, Meryer, who had received the news, swung his colossal body over, instantly displacing half of the players out from the castle hall…
With a piece of half-eaten roasted meat in his mouth, Meryer chewed thoughtfully while casting a curious eye on the unfamiliar guests who had suddenly appeared.
The dwarves were taken aback by the Black Dragon’s abrupt arrival, but the leading priest appeared to anticipate it and managed to maintain his composure.
He took a deep breath and respectfully bowed to the Black Dragon.
“Are you… Meryer, under the service of Lady Eve?”
“I am Carter, a priest of the Church of Death. This time, I come under the divine guidance of her Majesty, the Death Goddess, to negotiate with her Highness, Lady Eve…”
He spoke with profound reverence, while raising the wooden box he held above his head.
“In addition… we have information regarding the Orcs!”
¹ 莫名其妙 – Baffling [mò míng qí miào] is a chinese idiom that means that a mystery cannot be fathomed, indicating that what happened is strange and cannot be explained.