Data.50 – Old Bowman, In Front of the Screen

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After getting out of bed and washing my face, brushing my teeth and getting dressed, I prepared a simple breakfast and then sat down in front of the computer.
Three days had now passed, and the time for the information reveal of the event had come.
As it would be streamed live on the official site and other video sites, I decided that I would just watch it through a screen in the real world instead of in-game.

By the way, it was currently 7 AM.
A bit too early for a true gamer.
However, I was still used to my previous schedule.

“I still have some time left, so maybe I’ll watch some videos.”

I had decided to watch the stream on a site that I visited regularly.
As I waited for the stream to start, I could browse through other channels.
Recently, the quality of personal computers and camera equipment has gone up, and so many people are uploading impressive videos.

When I was still a developer, I would often check out trailers from other companies or would watch animal videos as a way of relaxing.
But these days I just played this one game.
So I haven’t been watching videos much at all.
In any case, I decided to check some gaming related channels.

GrEed SpUnky CHAnNels
Charin-chan Channel/Medallion Online Official
Hatake-san’s Hatake(field)
Fortress of the Righteous Chivalric Order
Dorothy’s Magic Research
Reborn! Gloria Warriors!
Alain Justima

There were numerous channels related to the game…
That being said, some of them sounded familiar.
Like, ‘Hatake-san’s Hatake? What is that…?
If the purpose of that name was to attract attention, it was certainly working.

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…In any case, it seemed like it wasn’t a channel about Hatake-san and his farm.
After all, these were all game channels.
It appeared that it was a channel about him and his friends gathering together and having fun.
I wonder if the channel name was some inside joke.
But judging by what I knew about him, he probably just liked the sound and the strangeness of it.

And Necoco had a channel as well.
Among professional gamers, there were those who made money by entering tournaments, and there were those who uploaded videos and streamed.
She was likely the latter.
As I looked through her videos, I saw that there weren’t that many.
So she really was someone who had appeared recently.

Ah, there was a video of me being killed during the battle royale.
It had quite a lot of views…
Both of us had become more famous after that, so I suppose people came to see it.

That being said, how did they record VR footage?
The video of me being killed was from Necoco’s POV, so was there a way to save that as a video?
If that was the case, then you would have to be careful how you moved while playing.
If you spun around too much, people might get motion sickness while watching.

I started to think about uploading videos as well.
I hadn’t thought of it before, because playing the game was so fun.
It would be simple enough if you just uploaded the whole thing.
But editing would take a long time.
And I hadn’t really studied the process of posting videos.
Well…while I had my savings, it would be better to have a source of income.
And so I’d have to move forward in a constructive way.

Now, there was a channel similar to Necoco’s channel that was called ‘MacocoTV.’
Was this that person she kept talking about?
…It seemed like a fairly old channel.
And there were a lot of videos.

There were Let’s Plays of retro games that were very rare now.
The games I had been making were just made to look like retro games, but they had all the useful features of modern games.
Real retro games were rougher and some might say, less fair.

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Some of it was technical, but the people making them also played them over and over again.
And so they started raising the difficulty in order to make it challenging.
This resulted in some innocent children being sent games with ridiculous difficulty.

These days, there were extensive tutorials and difficulty settings, as well as helpful items that you could use without any demerits.
Some hardcore gamers felt like games were getting too easy.
But I was fine with it.
You have to attract people who have never played games before, or people who don’t have much time, or the industry would start to die.

This wasn’t about disregarding the hardcore gamers.
If anything, it was about trusting them.
While you may all complain, you won’t abandon games so easily.
Well, recently there were also a lot of games with high difficulty modes to satisfy such players.

So you could do both at the same time.
Because even if a beginner can’t beat the hardest difficulty, it would be seen as expected.
And while some may be frustrated if they couldn’t beat a game on normal difficulty, you just needed to add words like ‘Oni’ or ‘Ultra’ to suggest that they are supposed to be hard, and then it will be fine.
It was a good strategy.

…Damn it.
I had a bad habit of getting carried away in my thoughts.

This channel had posted Let’s Plays of retro games for quite a while, and then after a break, had come back with VRMMO videos.
As Necoco said that she respected her, I expected to see VR games.
And I could see that the channel started to gain popularity at this point.
It was a little sad, but the difference in views between retro games and VR games was like night and day.
The name of the game was…

‘Ta-da! The NSO Official Channel Live Stream is about to begin-nyon!’


As I had been opening a separate window, the sudden sound from the stream surprised me…
This happens quite often.
Also, is that how they wanted to start it? It seemed a little random?
And what’s with the ‘nyon’?

‘Famous in some corners! But I think there are 125 times more people who don’t know about it than do! Medalion Online… I’m the artificial intelligence idol that is famous in these parts, Charin-nyon!’

Did I open the wrong page…

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No, that wasn’t it.
This was the official NSO channel.

‘As I already said, I’m originally a different game’s idol/mascot/chief of advertising, but because I also work solo as an idol, it was decided that I would collaborate with Next Stage Online-nyon.”

I see.
In spite of saying that they were going to wait for a while, they had suddenly announced this event.
And now it turns out they were collaborating with a different company.
I suppose it was already planned and they couldn’t just call it off because the previous event hadn’t gone very well.
After all, it was a different company…!

That being said, the girl on screen was definitely unique.
She had long, blonde pigtails and many accessories made of golden medals.
It didn’t really match with her youthful face…

Regardless, unlike the NPCs of NSO, she was a highly capable AI.
And she had thinking ability that matched humans and much stronger computational processing power.
There had been a time when it was the latest technology, and it seemed like every company was creating their own AI as a way of attracting attention.
But these days, due to the expense and other issues, the number of new ones being made has fallen drastically.

They were like a new race that were created by advancements in technology.
A new territory that humans had stepped into.
This was the kind of SF being I used to dream of…only she didn’t really feel like it.
Perhaps it was because of how they made her character.
I felt like the creators had outdated tastes… Like making her say ‘nyon,’ for instance.
However, at least it made her less intimidating.

‘But that’s enough about me.
I’m going to tell you all about the event now-nyon! First, look at this!’

What appeared on the screen was a large map of the world of Nextaria.
Pins made of light were being pushed into it.
There were 12 in all.

‘As for the name of this event! It is Zodiac Maze! While the name sounds very grand, it’s really like a stamp rally! You must go to all 12 points and clear trials in order to collect medals-nyon!’

Details appeared on the screen.
While it was called Zodiac Maze, not all of the trials were dungeons.
Some of them seemed more like mini games.
But you wouldn’t know everything until you actually went there.

However, there were some hints.
Each point was named after the zodiac.

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And the trials themselves would be related to constellations…

‘Furthermore, if you clear the trials with good scores, there will be other prizes aside from medals-nyon! This won’t be a commemorative event item with little use later on, but an item that is already in NSO but is rare due to being very difficult to acquire-nyon!’

So they would give us an item that was usually very difficult to get.
Did she also help plan this event?
If that was the case, she was definitely capable of seeing from the user’s point of view.
For a user, a rare item was the best kind of reward.

‘And that’s not all! Players who finish all 12 trials and acquire the 12 medals will be given the right to take on a final trial-nyon!’

A new light appeared close to the center of the map.
And the words ‘Serpent Palace’ appeared.

‘Those with 12 medals can come to the Serpent Palace for a final battle against me-nyon! And if you are victorious, you will be given an equipable medal with special powers-nyon!’

So she could fight as well.
AI were amazing.
That being said, that was a lot of content.
12 trials + final trial.
The event will have to be pretty long for us to have enough time to go through it all.
Well, it wasn’t a problem for someone like me, who did nothing but play games…

‘We have set the event period to be quite long, so you can take your time with the challenges.
If you think one trial is hard, then try a different one, or finish quests that are unrelated to the event and then come back later-nyon.”

Yes, she really did understand.
In spite of calling herself the idol/mascot/chief of advertising, maybe she was part of management as well?
When she first came out, I had rather rudely thought, ‘what the hell is that!?’ But now I was looking forward to the event.

‘If you want to read further details, then check the official site-nyon! Well, it’s a simple event, so I think I explained most of it-nyon! After this, there will be an in-game concert on this special stage-nyon! It will also be live-streamed, so please watch it-nyon!’

Well, I suppose I’ll watch the concert and think of strategies for the event… Wait, when did it start anyway?
While the explanation had been easy to understand, did she forget the important part?
But Charin had already started to sing.
AI weren’t perfect…

In any case, I would wait for the official site to update.
Surely it was just that she forgot, and it wasn’t that they hadn’t decided on an actual date yet…I hope.
Surely, yes.
Must be…

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