The surface of this great green Earth is mostly made up of ocean, of course, much like the white man's world consists of colored people by mass.
All that ocean surface is not created equal, of course. Due to the patterns the wind blows, as well as currents and other considerations that ultimately reduce to the fact that the earth spins and the atmosphere follows by friction (as well as the fact the earth heats radiatively, while the atmosphere warms 2nd hand from it by convection), there are parts of it where garbage floats and collects. Oft times whole plastic bottles, just as oft times a thin sludge of plastic, ground into microscopic bits by the mechanics of travel over distance but still undigested by any sort of life. Just like the oil it comes from.i
Culture is no different, in any sense : carried by the Coriolis Winds of Culture, stuff originates in the West, slowly drifts over the years and years and years and centuries through various Middle-Eastern machineries of great complexity all the way into Central Asia. And it dies there - or at least used to, until recently the little yellow guys found some even more wretched pits of despair even further east of them, and started shipping all manner of "goods" from California to Argentina. Such is the fate of everything, but today of interest will be the RPG.
I will spare you a discussion of this great white beast, it is too complex and imponderable while still healthy, going its own way on the ocean. Once dead however, once the waves carry it belly-up and have their way with what once had a head upon its shoulders, it becomes a very descriptible thing indeed. So let's describe the stiffening corpse of what once was your girlfriend (and not from a good life), the Eastern "RPG".
First off, it has "Stamina", which has to be 200. It may replenish at the rate of 12 per hour or 10 per hour, but it'd better be 200.
Second off, it has quests. There's a mainline and one or maybe a few secondary lines. You must be level X to get quest X, and the only way to even get level X as a level X-1 is to do quest X-1. That's it, they have a list, with some sort of (often unintentionally amusing) text pasted on and that's that. You're solving crimes, delivering plot coupons, getting involved in others' unproductive "affaires de coeur" on a strictly linear, featureless thread.
Third off, it has dungeons. Specifically, a "Normal" dungeon and an "Elite" dungeon that's exactly the same thing with beefed up (Elite!) same mobs and a limited number of tries per day. These come in rows in a special menu. They may be five to the line, or six, or four, but a line they must have, and ideally they're represented by round icons. Inside dungeons, nothing happens. There's an eight to a quarter mile track of land, that your character can walk through in a few minutes. The path is linear, even if that line may be broken up in various (usually right angled) zig-zags. There's mobs there, that attack you for no reason, that you kill for no reason, whatever may be going on. Say the "quest" is to "investigate a murder at the palace". You go to the round button called "Palace" for no apparent reason (and oft times depicting a farm or a stone well or whatever) and kill a bunch of moving things, denoted "Prostitute" or "Rebel Barbarian"ii. That's it, you've "investigated". Go back to one of the half dozen NPCs involved, get your experience and whatever rewards. Guess what you'll be doing when your task is to "punish", "discuss", "photograph", "broil", raise a barn or make some noodles. Yeah, that's right, you go to the BarnBarn button which depicts a large wooden wardrobe if you're lucky, or else a ladybug or a set de unelte, kill the baker's dozen worth of "mobs", plus their boss - which, obviously, is tougher than them, because that's how you get to be the virginal princess Hu Qi - you're better than all the prostitutes that inexplicably reside in your palace at armed combat. Nice robes, btw!
Fourth off, it has a list of activities. This is literally a list of all the things you can do. All of these are level-locked, of course, and most are time-limited also, which gives your gaming experience a very timetable-y flavour. Oh, is it Monday 13:00 already ?! Time to go fight the X! For the same money you could be on conference call. Except it wouldn't be for the same money - doing that usually gets you paid. Except of course if nobody could be paid to look at your tired old mug or listen to the inept platitudes you pour out - in which case you download a "game" and RPG the accountant. Win!
Fifth off, it has the "world boss". This is an inordinately high attack / high hp monster in his own, special dungeon. You hit it a little, it kills you. You come back. Ten, or a dozen, or fifteen or however many rehashes of this, you get a reward - such as a tin of coffee or some pencils you stole from work. Well... "work".
Sixth off, it has the "tower". This is exactly that, you keep fighting slightly harder same-mobs arranged in a tower pattern. Every so many you get a pellet of chicken feed. The most advanced form allows you to pick three difficulties on each level and so you have to sort-of time the difficulty curves to get maximal star count (cuz the hard choice gives three stars and the easy one star and you need this many half-dozen stars for your pellet).
Seventh off, it has a "PvP arena", where you do a dozen or so attacks on another player's (AI operated!) character of your choice ; and some sort of PvP killing field, where you run capture the flag and killcount missions with random people on your side until you drop. This doesn't usually produce food pellets but some sort of separate toplist or whatever.
Eight off, it has a mount, which you develop by feeding and which adds to your base stats. There's a linear progression here, and all the mounts do the same thing anyway (and do it whether you're riding them or not, at that).
Ninth off, it has "crafting", which consists of piling up materials to increase the predetermined number of stars associated with predetermined pieces of gear in predetermined manners. Except the process sometimes fails, which could add some variety except that it doesn't - as the failure rate is fixed, the rng very homogenous and the number of assays you need quite large, the law of averages dictates you'll end up with a very narrow band of total consumption for a defined level. Sure, maybe your friend needed 11`544`333 stones of derpage to get his full orange twelve star set, while you only needed 11`364`333. Big whoop.
Tenth off, it has an endless pile of various currencies that mostly can't be traded for one another. This is the food needed to level the horse, and this is the food needed to rank it once the level's full, and this is the gem you burn when you "craft" and that's the token you burn to replenish stamina and on and on and fucking on. The point of this nonsense is quite obviously bruteforce complexity, why bother to make a game worth playing when you could really just superimpose twelve or so retarded minigames that could barely keep the attention of a six year old for half hour at a stretch and hope nobody catches on ? Considering the intellectual state of the world today, it's not a terribly bad bet, actually.
Eleventh offiii there's a "battle rating", which should somehow make plain the pointless linearity of the whole thing, but somehow doesn't. No player ever wondered how the hell is it that the game can so well predict who'd win in a contest between two players it can even spit it out five to seven significant digits ? Whoa.
Tenth offiv there's of course the "diamond" currency - which you buy for some fiat or other. Dollars usually work - but not always. This can be transformed into most others, but at fixed rates and with bizarro other limits, making you suspect the people now doing eastern RPGs were spawned by women that worked in soviet shops. Which, come to think about it, is also not a terribly bad bet.
Ninth off, they have a "star system", which is a depiciton of, usually, zodiac signs, but any squiggly line with nodes on it will do. The more advanced ones actually make it straight. It's
more bureaucratic better that way. Then you "acquire" (read : are arbitrarily given for no conceivable reason) the token that advances this, which gives you a little health or strength or whatever.
Eighth off, they have the "precious stone" system, which is a very fixed mechanic : you click on a button, spending some base currency (you know, the one that all the mobs carry for no apparent reason other than to give you once you finally come by and mercifully put them out of their agonizingly pointless existence) and maybe get a precious stone, maybe get nothing. If you get a precious stone you also progress, so now you may spend even more currency for supposedly better stones. The stones are colored green, blue, purple, red (with orange sometimes interspersed, or otherwise playing the role of red), and the latter sort is better (usually by a factor of 1.5x or 2x the previous). The stones can also be "levelled up", which consists of burning other stones, so you can spend quite a while pecking at this interface like a beheaded chicken - for which reason some games actually automate the whole thing, at least to some degree.
Seventh off there is the guild, which does guild wars, which are glorified PvP things except on yet another special ledger, so it's all different - honest! Symptomatically for the eastern notion of "guild", nobody speaks, nor are they needed to. Just as long as everyone does their clucking daily everything's as good as it could possibly be - and if they don't, well the only remedy is to kick them and move on. Hurr, such guild, awsom.
Sixth off there's the "item mall" which hawks whatever boosters to people too dazed to notice that if they're about to pay to be saved from their enjoyment the much cheaper, and definitely saner altenative'd be to just walk away. But hey, can't walk away, blinkenlicthen, uuuuu. Which is what this does, keeps popping and blinking and whatnot, quite the instrument of insanity.
Fifth off there's the daily missions, which are usually five or ten or such (which things are dozen-ilk and which things are ten-ilk is perhaps a worthy topic of learned inquiry all on its own). By the time you've seen the first set you've seen them all, literally. They have "stars" associated to differentiate the better ones from the worse ones - but in terms of payola only. Otherwise, they're the same "level up once", "craft another star on a purple item", "feed the horse twice" sorta crap.
Fourth off there's all sorts of coupons, to get you more PvP arena fights, more entries into elite dungeons, more tries with this or that limited item ; also straight up experience, but not usually "game breaking"v items that'd allow for some variety, such as stat uppers, as common as these were in bad RPGs pre-Internet.
Things that it doesn't have ? Well... character selection. In the unlikely event it even bothers to create options at the outset, you may pick between three or five or however many identical cans of soup. Your barbarian's 3rd skill does exactly the same thing as the sorcerer's 3rd - different graphics, maybe, but other than that it's 3k + 1.5% or whatever it is.
Or, for that matter, player choice, of any kind. None whatsoever, zilch, nada. You click along, as if watching TV, while the pre-designed story of your "improvement", meaningless as that may be, unfurls before your eyes, the same for everyone. That more women aren't into playing these is a wonder that defies description, seriously. As it is, I suspect the principal market is estrogen-addled boys that aspire to be girls, but not enough so to actually start talking transmayo.
Because of all the daily usage limits, as well as the scheduling of food dispensationvi, the "game" readily turns into a simulacrum of employment as practiced by shitty "international" companies in rural Asia. Gotta check in every day to do your X, Y and Z, daily missions, potato tree of intimate knowledge, what have you. Gotta check in every day at 17:00 and 21:25 for the free X, Y and Z, stamina, pellets of this or that. There's literally a daily check-in reward just off the top (often enough spread out over five minute increments).
A lord once said, "it is quite obvious, the americans do not want a 90%-chinese nomenklatura 20yrs from now". He might be right. Hopefully he is - because I know of nothing more hideous under the sun warming this great green Earth than the Asian notion of reasonable, comme-il-faut, common sense and commonplace normalcy. It's not just that their faces are flat.———
- Incidentally, have you ever wondered where does the mass of a tree come from ?
Think about this for a second. A tree falls in the forest, just as you've finished the sandwiches and moved on to fucking your girlfriend doggystyle. Hits her smack drab on the back of her head, turning her head-and-shoulders pattern into mush. As you stand there dazed, penis still hard, still ensconced in the butt of a now decapitated, slowly stiffening corpse, riddle me this : where's all the mass of that tree come from ? [↩]
- This, for the record, is a contradiction in terms. "Barbarian" denotes exactly the sort of innocence that's an absolute bar to rebelry ; and rebeliousness requires a certain familiarity with whatever one's rebelling against so as to render barbarism an impossibility. You can't be both, gotta pick one. [↩]
- Do you see the despicably infectious power of stupidity ? When's the last time Trilema ran endless lists ? Yet if I'm discussing the mentally stunted Azns I'm stuck doing it. Such is the power of stupidity! [↩]
- Let's count backards for the hell of it. Not like it makes absolutely any kind of difference anwyay. [↩]
- There'd have to be some thought put into the matter of balancing, and even conceivably adding drawbacks to things in game ? SANATA HELP US! Incoinceivablu! [↩]
- What, you weren't here at 7:05 Thursday morning for the week's oil ration ? Omg you're fucked, how are you going to cook the week's milanesa ratios now! [↩]