CAPS – Chapter 7: Attributes and Skills

Shen tried to tap on the Level 1 icon and open up a menu screen, but nothing happened. Next, he tried a swiping motion that Constellation used as the menu gesture. Still nothing. He went online and researched how other popular DR games prompted menus and tried those too without any results.

He wanted to know what his current skill level and attributes were—information that was typically confined on the character sheet. It appeared he did not have access, if it even existed. It would certainly be strange to manually input attributes for his living body or to have access to an inventory that could digitally store real-life items.

Failing to get the menu working, he moved onto the next task—figuring how to defeat Maxen Mellinfous and Colossus Industries. He wasn’t entirely sure what that meant yet. In some ways, he wanted a rematch. In another, he wanted Maxen and Colossus to pay for what they did to Constellation and its players. But how could he succeed in these things? Shen was playing the game of real life, and in this game, power and influence determined everything.

He thought about the different real-world ‘classes’ that had a chance to take down Colossus—world leader, corporate CEO, hedge fund manager, politician. For a brief moment, he considered going into a finance class, but quickly dropped the idea. He had no attributes in finance other than a college math background and the few hours he’d just spent learning some accounting.

Like any avid MMO gamer, Shen knew that the attribute and skill advantages a character possessed in the beginning of the game could add up and have massive impacts in the later stages. In Constellation, each race came with different bonuses. He had chosen the Mountain Men race, which gave him 5 extra bonus points in the strength attribute, and 4 extra points in the Rampage Skill, which were both crucial for the berserker class.

The strength attribute greatly determined the damage output of a berserker, while Rampage was the most prized skill of the berserker class, giving the player increased attack damage and speed for a short burst of time. These bonuses gave him a small early advantage over other berserkers that chose other races. As he progressed, he focused on increasing his strength attribute and the Rampage skill in every way he could. By the time he reached level 300, Shen was one of the top three berserkers ranked by strength and Rampage. Although the number of points he had in strength and Rampage was in fact only 4-5% above the players ranked from four through twenty, it was enough to tip the scales in his favor during guild wars and PVP matches. Only 4-5% better, but when he won a battle or a duel, he won 100% of the rewards.

Real-life was surely no different. The ones at the top of their fields were those who were just slightly better than those below them. But they too reaped the majority of the rewards.

He now considered his attributes and skills in the new game he’d been resurrected in. “If I can’t see the character sheet, I guess I’ll just have to do a self-assessment,” he said to himself.

He sat on a small plastic chair before the narrow desk beside his bed and pulled out an old notebook he had used for college. He opened to a blank page and began to write down his stats. He started with attributes first.

“Hmmm,” Shen mused to himself. “First… strength…. My strength is… ugh… let’s say a 3.”

He wrote the number three down beside ‘Strength.’

“Agility… maybe a 2.

“Intelligence…” Shen paused to think. He felt that he was relatively smart. Certainly smart enough to begin and maintain a successful guild. “We’ll say a 9.” It was an arbitrary number, but it made him feel a little better after the previous low skills for strength and agility.

“Constitution… 2. I guess the athlete class is out of the question.” Shen sighed. “This isn’t going very well, is it?”

These were the typical game stats for a fantasy MMO game. But he needed to think about class skills based on the real world. If he were to go into the “class” of finances or business, he would be starting with a Level 1 finance skill, while other people who had spent time and effort putting most of their skill points there since they were young would already be at a much higher level. He’d never catch up. So if that was the case, he needed to choose a field that would take advantage of his stat points. A field that he had spent his time and effort.

But where was that?

Where had he spent all his attributes? What skills had he developed over the years? What was he already good at?

The answer was clear. He was a gamer. A very good gamer, which even those who disliked him begrudgingly admitted to from time to time. He was one of the best in his game, Constellation. He wasn’t the top-ranked PVP player or the absolute best dungeon strategist, but he was generally among the very top, even when Constellation had a population in the tens of millions.

Also, he was always able to adapt quickly and pick up new games with relative ease, though he wasn’t entirely sure if this would be true for all games, as he had spent most of his time in Constellation.

But it was clear. Ever since he was a kid, gaming was where he had spent all his attributes. He was a player of games.

The ideas began to click into place. He would do something related to games. He would resurrect his guild just as he had been resurrected. But not in a game. He would do it in real life. He would start a company. A gaming company. He would use all his knowledge and create a game.

The greatest game.

But what exactly was that? It seemed that every imaginable game idea had already been made. New titles only built upon and tweaked a classic formula. Nothing truly new and outstanding had come along in years. Constellation itself was considered revolutionary but only because it utilized Dream Reality technology, which was the hot new tech when it was released.

The even larger obstacle was Colossus Industries. Their newest release, Edenfel, was already on its way to becoming the most popular DRMMO in the world with over 100 million active players. If the ‘Game Creation Skill’ was a rankable skill like the Rampage skill had been ranked in Constellation, Maxen Mellinfous would be in the top three, and Shen wouldn’t even be on the list. At least not yet, he told himself.

But what could he offer? What could he come up with that would be better than Constellation? It was his favorite game, where he had poured hours collecting rare items, grinding for experience, creating the ultimate avatar…

Shen stood suddenly, knocking back his chair. He stood there for minutes upon minutes as if in a trance. His head was buzzing. Thoughts rushed in and out of his mind, swirling together, building upon each other, then finally condensing into a final and clear vision. A vision for a game like nothing the world had ever seen before. A game that could take on the likes of Colossus.

A game that he wanted to play.

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