WG – Chapter 24-25: Ghost Dungeon

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—Dust to Dust is sweeter than maple honey pudding, and as miserable as the armored knights in the Cave of Trials.

It is a saying that was born in Nekomimi Neko, but only people who play Nekomimi Neko would understand the nuance of it.

It is not exactly because of this, but let me tell you the story of the Cave of Trials’ Tragic Knights.

There would be fields with pronounced cliffs in VR games, and there would be times when players would slip and die.

But there aren’t many stories about monsters falling out of their field and dying.

Why is that?

I don’t know about other games, but the reason is simple in Nekomimi Neko.

Monsters don’t get close to places where they can fall.

With this one simple method, the monsters of Nekomimi Neko don’t die from falling.

The movement sphere of monsters in Nekomimi Neko is predetermined and will only act in that set location.

Well, if they get hit by a debuff or chase after a player, they can go out of that sphere, but that’s basically how it normally is.

Meaning that, if their movement sphere is not set below that cliff, you don’t have to worry about monsters approaching that place and don’t have to worry about them falling.

But there’s a dungeon that does exactly that.

I am of course talking about the Cave of Trials.

It is also part of the reason why this Cave of Trials is called Ghost Dungeon.

The Cave of Trials is a circular shape, and all the monsters there have a movement sphere that encompasses the whole dungeon, moving in a pattern as if they were guards doing their rounds. 

Putting it in another way, the armored knights go around the circular dungeon as they please.

The soldier type AI can deal with gentle slopes, but can’t deal with stairs and big height differences.

However, that normally doesn’t matter.

They don’t set stairs or big changes in height for the patrolling routes of monsters like that, so problems don’t happen.

But the Cave of Trials alone is a different story. 

Because the dungeon is a circular shape, the starting point and goal are the same. 

The cliff is connected to their movement sphere, so monsters end up walking there.

Trying to get to the top of the cliff from the bottom is fine.

They will simply collide with the wall unable to advance, and then turn around and walk off somewhere else.

But what happens when they try to go from the top of the cliff to the bottom?

The soldier AI doesn’t have the concept of altitude difference.

Since it is within the movement sphere, the pitiful armored knight will take that one step to head down the cliff as if it were a normal path, and will fall without being able to do anything.

The fall damage is calculated by the distance and the weight of the person themselves.

It is a drop of several tens of meters, there’s no way a heavy weight armored knight can survive that with no preparation at all.

Moreover, armored knights are the patrolling type that go around the whole dungeon.

It is random what kind of pathing they take, but as long as the dungeon is a one-way path, they will always end up arriving at the cliff.

The only difference is sooner or later, but they will definitely fall down the cliff.

That’s why it will take 2 days at most, 1 day at the earliest for all the knights in the dungeon to be wiped out.

This is the secret behind why there’s no monsters at all even when players come here, the Ghost Dungeon.

This truly is Nekomimi Neko quality!!

That’s basically how it works, but this bug unexpectedly can’t be exploited for profit.

You can’t get experience from fall deaths, and the drop items will disappear after a while. 

Moreover, because the respawn time is 255 hours on top of a random 48 hour timer, it is not that efficient to wait for the respawn.

But that’s where Train-chan comes into play. 

With Train-chan, there’s no need to wait for a long respawn timer.

Just by passing by in her Train Mode, armored knights come back to life.

Also, we already know that, as long as we don’t come out from the dungeon, the pulled monsters from the train will continue chasing after her. 

After pulling a random number of monsters, she can jump off the cliff, return to the entrance, and by just waiting in leisure, the monsters will revive and jump down the cliff on their own. 

But that would simply be wiping out the respawned monsters and the exp will be wasted. 

That’s where you use the darts.

Since version 1.28, when monsters that have been affected by debuffs or terrain damage die, the character that attacked it just before will obtain the exp. 

This was apparently an improvement that was won by the most senior players and a certain poison user player being really persistent with the developers. 

But it was quite the persistency.

When this change was announced, it is said that it was the rare occasion when the comments would show pity to the developers.

It is true that it is a case that you would feel pity towards the PR <Public Relations> team of the development, but it is true that this made it possible to level up in the Cave of Trials.

Darts can deal 1 fixed damage to any enemy. 

Level 70 armored knights have high defense, but Train-chan should be able to certainly deal damage with a dart. 

Next would be to make them jump off the cliff and die from the fall, and Train-chan, who dealt damage to them beforehand, would gain all the exp from that.

The only danger to this is that the monsters Train-chan respawned will take a path that’s not the cliff and reach the starting point, but we avoided that by starting at the middle point of the dungeon.

Can’t really say the danger is completely gone with that, but we can leave the dungeon at once if they attack us. 

But as expected from enemies with slow respawn timers. 

It takes more than 2 hours to make the preparations for it, but she increased her level by 30 levels in just a few minutes.

Moreover, there’s one more merit in this leveling up method…

“Souma-san! I have finished gathering all the items!” (Train)

That we can collect all the drops of the respawned armored knights.

Looks like all the armored knights have fallen already, and we are currently dividing the work and picking the items up.

That’s level 70 monsters for ya, the drops are far better than mythril items.

It is a grade that, rather than calling it for late early game, it would be more like early midgame. 

That’s fine and all, but…

“Ehm, so Train-chan…” (Souma)

“U-Uhm, calling me Train-chan feels distant. I would like you to call me without honorifics!” (Train)

The friendship meter of Train-chan has been shooting up since the incident just now.

Or more like, calling her Train-chan goes beyond an issue of being distant.

(…This is troubling.) (Souma)

I did say that I would help her out and that’s not a lie, but it is also not a lie that I plan on leaving in the near future.

It is honestly troubling for me if she were to get more attached to me than this. 

It would be better to have her wake up for a bit here.

“I am fine with calling you Ina, but I have a condition. Only if you call me Souma-sama from now o—” (Souma)

“Yes, Souma-sama!” (Train)

You miss all shots you don’t make.

She had absolutely no hesitation in calling me with -sama.

It didn’t work to deter her at all.

“Sorry, that was a joke.” (Souma)

I immediately picked my ball back.

Well, I don’t mind calling her by her name.

Thinking about it calmly, calling her Train-chan the whole time is a bit weird, and calling her Train without anything attached also feels wrong.

“I will call you Ina from now on, so feel free to call me Souma or Souma-san.” (Souma)

“Yes, Souma-sama!” (Train)

I kneaded my brows reflexively. 

Is she doing this on purpose? 

No, unfortunately, her eyes are serious.

“Feel free to call me Souma or Souma-san.” (Souma)

“Yes, Souma-san.” (Train)

When I repeated what I said, she reverted to her usual way of calling me. 

But it seems like she is a bit dissatisfied with it.

Did she like the -sama that much?

(How did it turn out like this…?) (Souma)

I sighed inside my heart.

Me prioritizing her leveling was half from good will.

The remaining half is to fulfill my promise first so that it is fine to leave anytime I want. Technically trying to clear myself from nuisances, but I feel like it is having the complete opposite effect.

“Is something the matter?” (Train)

Train-ch—Ina spoke to me from the side in a merry mood, and I responded by shaking my head to the sides.

“No, it is nothing. We have time, so let’s try out the same thing.” (Souma)

“Yes!” (Ina)

Ina responded energetically without knowing my thoughts. 

This time around, we managed to make the train succeed without any problems, and she increased her level all the way to 66 in that one day. 

—-

Game Style Extra

TLN: this extra is a Dragon Quest reference.

Command

   Strength

   Cast

Tools

   Strategy

*Pi!*

Tools

   E Shiranui

   E Beginner Armor

   E Stamina Rings

   Rusted Longsword

Train-chan

*Pi!*

What will you do?

   Equip

   Give Away

Discard

*Pi!*

You are going to discard that?! Unbelievable!

*Pi!*

You are going to discard that?! Unbelievable!

*Pi!*

You are going to discard that?! Unbelievable!

*Pi!*

What will you do?

Equip

   Give Away

   Discard

*Pi!*

Souma equipped Train-chan.

*Deroderoderon!*

How can this be?! Train-chan was cursed! 

Souma has been cursed! 

What will you do?

→Unequip

   Give Away

   Discard

*Pi!*

*Deroderoderon!*

Train-chan is cursed.

You can’t unequip Train-chan.

What will you do?

   Unequip

   Give Away

   Discard

*Pi!Pi!*

What will you do?

   Unequip

   Give Away

   Discard

*Pi!Pi!*

What will you do?

   Unequip

   Give Away

   Discard

→Run Away

*Pi!*

Souma ran away from Train-chan.

But got overtaken! 

You can’t escape from Train-chan!!

  • Chapter 25: VR

The best seller book that was popular ages ago, VR the New Era, had a passage like this.

[At the times when controlling your body in the VR space, we move it the same way as we move our own body, but they move their body as if it were their own.]

It played with words so much it is pointlessly hard to understand, but it might be an expression that illustrates the VR situation of the modern era.

Just like with other great inventions, the world changed a bit with VR.

No, it is changing the world even now.

But, on the other hand, there were people who couldn’t keep up with the new techniques born from VR even if they were few in number.

That also made me feel that there was a wall between me and the people of this world.

“The way of using skills?” (Ina)

“Yeah, how do you use skills normally, Ina?” (Souma)

Ina managed to get to level 66 in just half a day, but battles are not defined by level only. 

And as a gamer who isn’t exactly a battle pro, what I can teach her is the way of using skills.

But I don’t know how this world views skills now that this world isn’t a game anymore. 

I asked Ina the way she activates skills first in order to confirm this.

I simply asked this question as an opening statement for this topic, and I didn’t even expect that this part would be different from the game, but…

“Uhm, like normal. I simply imagine the skill and say the name in my head…” (Ina)

“Imagine the skill?” (Souma)

An unexpected word came out. I ended up asking back unconsciously.

Ina was confused by my reaction and explained to me courteously.

“For example; when I use Slash, I would imagine a clear image of me swinging a sword while chanting Slash. If that image and name is correct, the skill activates, you know…” (Ina)

Ina looked at me uneasy as if wondering if she said something weird there.

Looks like that’s the common knowledge in this world to activate skills.

No, now that I think about it, I think I got an explanation like that in the game too.

However, it still feels off.

“But if you do that, won’t you be unable to bring out your skill when you are in a pressuring situation?” (Souma)

When I asked this, Ina nodded as if this were natural.

“U-Uhm…yes. If you are not used to it, there will be times when you won’t be able to make a clear image because you are agitated and your skill won’t activate, so it is important to train by repetition so that you can properly make an image of it in your mind… 

But isn’t that common sense? 

Is it not for you, Souma-san?” (Ina)

She asked me in wonder, but I am not sure.

When I use skills, I don’t imagine moves, and just Order with the skill name. 

That’s why I haven’t failed in activating a skill, and there’s no need to train it repeatedly. 

If her ‘Order’ is simply to think about it, it really might work differently. 

Just like how it is natural for us modern people to learn our mother tongue, there’s basic controls that you learn in VR called Focus and Order.

Computers have gotten more simple and intuitive in control as time passed, but the foremost end that would in a sense be VR doesn’t need unnecessary stuff like a mouse or keyboard in order to control the machine.

VR is connected directly to the brain.

That’s why you only need to be conscious of it, just think of it in order to do all actions.

Just like how you move your mouse pointer to click the target, or touching the screen of a touch panel, I can Focus on the icon projected in the VR space to select it. 

Just like how you Press the keyboard to write, or Speak in order to use voice writing, you can Order in the VR space for your desired command.

However, there’s a clear difference between simple silence and Focus, and simple imagination from Order. 

It would be a total pain in the ass if you were to select every single thing you direct your attention to, and your screen would be filled up with letters if everything you think were to be written.

Focus and Order were made in order to avoid that.

But if you ask me exactly what they are, I would find it hard to explain.

Focus and Order are things that our generation can do naturally, so explaining the exact workings of it is difficult.

If I had to force it into words, it would be ‘open up your senses, emphasize that part, and push it outside’.

Focus and Order are basic control commands, so it is naturally being used in the VR game of Nekomimi Neko.

Bringing out the menu screen in the middle of the game uses Order and selecting in the menu uses Focus.

Other functions would be Order for the use of skills, and Focus to target the enemy with magic.

These two techniques are what makes the basics to play Nekomimi Neko.

People who are not used to VRs will mostly have a VR software to help them out. 

If you turn ON the VR assistant program in the settings, you can play games without the Focus and Order.

I haven’t used it once so I don’t know, but the way of using skills with VR assistant ON might be the same as Ina explained just now: Imagine the move and chant it. 

Well, I don’t know if that’s really the case.

But at the very least, I can imagine why the characters of this world don’t use Focus and Order. 

Normally, there won’t be meta talk like menu screen, save, load, and log out from the NPCs that would associate this world to being a game. 

They must have thought Focus and Order, which are deeply rooted to the modern era computer culture, to be a clashing concept in a medieval fantasy. 

I do remember peeking at the system messages, and there were no such phrases in the explanation of the game.

I think there were a whole ton of points that they should have concentrated on first before the world immersion, but only on the small details are the developers really higher among their peers.

This is most likely the setting for how the NPCs and Ina would tell you they use their skills even at the time when it was still a game.

I remember it only faintly, but the explanation of the skills from Tutogramps was also: draw the skill activation in your head and chant the name of the skill.

If there’s no concept of Focus and Order for the people in this world, activating a skill with Order might be a hidden command in a way.

That’s fine and all.

It may not be the common way of doing things, but I can still use skills with Order as normal, so there’s no harm for me.

But…

(In that case, it would be difficult to teach Cancel to Ina.) (Souma)

I think this while looking at Ina who has her eyes opened wide from me falling deep in thought. 

The difference between the skill activation of PCs and NPCs.

This seems to be a small difference, but if you are going to do actions that require fine control, that slight difference can be fatal.

Skill canceling is a convenient technique, but you will need to activate the skill at the exact timing. 

That’s impossible without Order to activate the skill.

At the very least, I doubt you can aim for a 1 second Cancel Point window with a fluctuating method like ‘imagine the movement and chanting’.

Leaving aside the matter of whether I should spread the technique of skill canceling, I wanted to try and see if Ina could learn it, but it seems like I don’t even need to.

You could say my way of using skills are all based on the Order method. 

It would be difficult to give her advice on how to use skills.

In that case, the things I can do for Ina are limited.

(I didn’t want to use this method that much, but…) (Souma)

But it can’t be helped.

I tell this to Ina who is still looking at me without moving.

“Next is weapon training. Ina, I challenge you to a duel!” (Souma)

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