Virtual Reality. It has been half a century since this technology has been developed and now, VR systems are indispensable for the world economy.
School is attended through an exclusive terminal and classes are taken through internet in the virtual school. To reduce the costs of maintenance of schools, they have been moved to virtual reality and all schools in the real world were gone by now.
Work too did use the virtual reality for the employees to meet the contractors, all documents have been replaced with digital programs which resulted in cost decreases. Even the company buildings have been replaced with facilities inside greatly-cheaper virtual servers dedicated for corporations.
Because everything with exception of physically necessary things could be replaced with virtual items, the virtual technology has continued to make rapid leaps forward.
Of course, there was no way the game industry would not put their eyes on this technology. Although it still required a little expensive equipment, it has become accessible enough to become a highly popular gift for young people’s coming-of-age ceremony. Although the release dates were unstable, VR games have also been in development. Sakimori Kagami was one of the people who received a VR device upon his coming-of-age.
Being able to complete his work through the VR device from home, he could always eat breakfast freshly made by his mother. There was almost no overtime work for him in his very common company, so he lived his time without any complaints at all.
One day, an VRMMORPG called “Ark-Ars Online" had appeared. It started very quietly from a closed beta, which ended soon after.
Kagami has learned of this minor online game’s existence thanks to a late night TV commercial. This commercial had no sound or gameplay, it only displayed the game for fifteen seconds.
When he connected to it from pure curiosity, he found himself in pure white virtual reality with “Ark-Ars Online" title floating in it. And also, two lines of text.
Open Beta Start. Download.
Feeling interested in how the developers did not sugarcoat their game, he touched the download button. Then after he selected “YES", the installation started. A very common font which appeared in the white-dyed world, did not reveal just what kind of game it was. However, there was something that drew him to it. He was unable to describe what it was, but there was something forcing him, manipulating him to play it.
The installation was completed fifteen minutes later. He immediately started the game and a very realistic home screen appeared before him.
Just like that, his days of sinking into “Ark-Ars Online" began.
Four years after the official service has started. Although there was almost no information regarding the game on the net or in the game press, the amount of players rivaled that of large online games. if anything, it was in fact very strange for this many players to enjoy it when it wasn’t featured anywhere at all.
The game content revolved around the very classic fantasy, but the extent of freedom inside the game was its strongest feature. However, there was one very strange thing about the game - it was the management of it. During the four years since the service started, it has been updated only twice. There was no home page for this game, so there was no information on the developers’ policy or even their names.
However, even including that, the game was overwhelmingly appealing and the very fact that it was not regulated, was what made player be able to do so many different things. And above all, there was literally no bugs in it.
The character that Kagami was playing with, was an old wizard brimming with dignity. It took him an entire day to create this character, who with his white hair and white beard, did resemble a veteran wizard and overwhelmed everyone with his presence. The name of this character was taken from Kagami’s most loved wizard characters from hit movies, a school chairman and a wizard whose adventures related to a certain ring.
The name was Danbulf. His class was Summoner. Although during the open beta he chose the Mage class, he had no idea on how to acquire mage spells. No matter how much enemies he beat, he didn’t acquire any and there were no guides or tutorials.
Although the players were dropped into unknown and left as is, learning everything and playing around on their own was what absorbed the players in the game. Still, there was no way to acquire Wizard spells at the time.
Summoners were able to contract spirit-type enemies they defeated to use them, and also had their special summoning quests that allowed them to acquire new summons upon clearing. So while the Summoners had it difficult, there was a little of information displayed for it that detailed some basics.
Of course, there were many people displeased with the inequality, but when they discovered a system where players were able to create countries after clearing some strict conditions, all players have concentrated their attention on that.
Becoming a king, making the city flourish and creating an army. Attacking other countries, making fortresses and protecting them. Hiring guards. Everyone had become engrossed in making all these things, which were limited to stories until now, with their own hands.
And so, there were players who burned up with ambition to make countries, players who became country’s military officers, players who preferred freedom and adventures, players who made secret organizations, became merchants, mercenaries, or even assassins. The amount of things one could become and enjoy had eventually made everyone forget their displeasure.
Moreover, this freedom wasn’t limited to just that. For example, weapons and armors, medicine already had countless types including legendary ones, but players were capable of making completely new items based on their capabilities. They were capable of making legendary-level items or even beyond that. It was even said that it was possible to make anything out of the real world in the game.
Players who have engrossed themselves in the fun of blacksmithing have all become known crafters and a single sword made by them cost millions. Woodworking was also mastered and construction techniques have led to a player even creating a castle. There was someone who dug a hole and found a hot spring and has become a boss of a hot spring town. There was even a person who has opened a doujo and started teaching a swordsmanship style that he has developed by himself.
What skills were out there, what could be done out there? There were people who invented new sports that used spells and techniques, people who lived the dream of a pirate, people who lived the dangerous life of a information trader gathering information from throughout entire continent. Players have challenged countless things and have succeeded in all of them.
Among all of that, there was a person who had separated enormous amount of skills into a list that had various categories. By approaching various players he asked details on various techniques and gathered them into book. This book released as Ability Encyclopedia has become the game’s bestseller and earned the creator a fortune.
Danbulf was actually a prominent figure who has created multiple special techniques. He has gone through painstaking trial and error to correct the rear guard weakness and develop new techniques which led creation of the secondary class. In addition to being a Summoner, Danbulf was also a Daoist, which was his second class. By meditating under a waterfall and doing training such as hanging from a tree for entire day long, he was able to acquire Daoist skills.
By the way, a month after the game’s service has commenced, the way to acquire Wizard spells has been discovered, which involved putting a catalyst on top of a paper with magic circle drawn on it and burning it with 【Flame】 starting spell.
Four years after this miraculous game has started, Kagami become one of the Nine Sages, a country’s important authority.
One day, monsters have appeared near the borders of the country he was affiliated with and he head out to deal with them. These kind of missions were normal and many players affiliated with the same country took part in executing them on rotation duty. And this time, it was his turn to complete the mission.
He left the tower he had used as his base and as he languidly headed towards the border, he received a call from the reality, with a high pitched voice his little sister told him it was dinner time.
After he finished dinner, he once again dived into the virtual reality and noticed he received a mail. Once he opened it, it was written that the web money he had on his account had nearly expired and he was about to lose it.
In Ark-Ars Online just like in other online games there were items bought for real money. They were all items that played a supportive role in the gameplay.
One of these support items was something that pretty much every player had bought at some point, the “Cosmetic Box". It cost 500 Yen each and by using it, the player was able to change the appearance of their avatar. The reason it sold so well, was because the amount of appearance parts that could be changed was incredibly rich.
Although there were several thousands of appearance parts to choose from upon starting the game, when using the Cosmetic Box players were able to access even more, tens of thousands of parts. A majority of players did not put too much thought into making their avatars when first starting the game, so it was common sense to use the the Cosmetic Box to change their appearance however a player likes.
Other than the Cosmetic Box, there was one more popular paid item called “Flying Continent". It a very convenient item that was a hundred meter long and wide like a schoolyard, and allowed the player to do anything they wanted on it. Furthermore, it was capable of flying and moving around so it was used as a vehicle to travel while ignoring the terrain obstacles. This “Flying Continent" cost 2000 Yen. In-game money could only be bought by thousands, so buying a set of Flying Continent and Cosmetic Box left the player with 500 Yen left which would eventually disappear. Although Danbulf did not have any lingering attachments to 500 Yen from four years ago, his frugal tendencies made him think it is a waste and he opened the list with paid items.
There was a crafters’ room with high class tools for 1000 Yen. Various buildings and ponds, including Flying Continent, 2000 Yen each. And the last item, was the Cosmetic Box.
As a result, the only item he could pick up was the Cosmetic Box. It was made so that he could only get the Cosmetic Box or pay more money. As expected of the adult world.
And so, feeling it would be a waste if he lost the money, he bought the Cosmetic Box. His remaining virtual money turned zero.
Afterwards he restarted the game to head for the monster extermination mission. When in game he manipulated the bracelet terminal and opened the item list. In it he found the lacquered box he had just bought, the Cosmetic Box. It has been four year since the last time he used one.
Back then, his only thought was to make an avatar that was a perfect symbol of manliness, so he did not remember what other parts were available for using.
Suddenly, he got a little curious and used the Cosmetic Box on spot to start the character creation screen for the first time in four years.
The parts were separated into various impression-type categories such as “Vigorous” , “Reserved", “Confident", “Weak-Willed", as well as atmosphere categories ones such as “Mysterious", “Solemn", “Gloomy", “Cheerful" and could be searched by selecting those categories.
After looking through the list of parts, what he felt was a strong conviction that Danbulf was the best character ever.
There was no other character that could surpass him. After all, it was his own ideals made flesh. As he looked at the character creator satisfied at his past feat, a single word entered his sight.
Man. It was the gender of the character he had selected. In that moment, a certain thought has passed through his head. It was that he perfectly reproduced his ideal of a man, but, what about his ideal of a woman?
He changed the gender from “Man” to “Woman” and Danbulf had changed into a girl. At the same time, Kagami was assaulted by a slightly ticklish feeling in his chest. Although it was just a game, looking straight at a girl like that made him feel slightly embarrassed.
But he suppressed this feeling... and slightly excited he started picking parts. He selected the “Confident" category and examined the content sorted under it.
He had no idea how long has passed since he started creating his ideal woman. When he finally made up an avatar that satisfied him he grinned as he stared at it. It was then that a call came to tell him it was breakfast time.
Before he realized, the clock displayed seven o’clock in the morning.
And the instant afterwards, a tremendous sleepiness has assaulted him. When he attempted to touch the “Logout” button in the menu, the world turned black and his consciousness drifted away.