Chapter 534: Operation Begins
In a flash, ten days passed, and it had already been a month since Version 2.0 was released.
The overall situation was relatively good, with the number of sheltered refugees rising day after day. The beast hordes that had wreaked havoc were also eliminated one after another. The players had completely assimilated into the new version and were scrambling around, adding to the overall progress of the main task. In addition to providing disaster relief, there was also a competition happening in secret.
All in all, Nagakin’s policy had been pretty effective. As the saying went, even the fiercest lady would be afraid of a stalker. Under the constant propaganda from the Godoran spokesperson, the players attempted to join the Godora faction with the mentality of trying. Han Xiao was not surprised, as trying various different possibilities was the God-given nature of a player, not to mention that the two factions were not in conflict against each other.
The image of Godora within the minds of the players was very weak. After all, it was the first time that they had come into contact with the various factions. They were unlike Han Xiao, who could be considered long-time buddies with them. However, while Godora could not compare to the Black Star Mercenary Group, the benefits given were pretty good, and the magical technology that they employed was attractive.
Nagakin was satisfied with the current recruitment process, and Black Star did not seem to have any intention of interfering.
However, just when he was about to celebrate, a video appeared on the player forums, causing a huge uproar.
Every ten days, Bun-Hit-Dog would release a new recorded video. With his current fan base on Planet Aquamarine, each release of his videos would attract a large number of players to view. However, the most recently recorded video was not a continuation of the Black Star Series. Rather, it was a new series, labelled ‘Planet Aquamarine: The Old Era’.
“It’s not the Black Star Series, eh, disappointed.”
“A new series? Sounds interesting, not sure what the content is about.”
“It’s an international series. Let’s see what it’s all about.”
After the customary roasting session, the players opened the video to have a look with high expectations. While the majority of viewers would beat Bun-Hit-Dog to death if given the chance, they had to admit that the quality of his video channel was consistently good, with humor as the main focus. This allowed everyone who watched it have a good time.
The video began, but there was no opening comment from Bun-Hit-Dog. Instead, it jumped straight into the content, literally starting with a boom. The opening scene showed nuclear bombs raining down from the sky, exploding into mushroom shaped clouds when they landed on the ground. However, the whole process was devoid of sound. Only after the shelling ended did the background music slowly start to play, as though trying to pull the audience into the picture.
This section was familiar to most of the viewers. After all, it was the recording of the Six Nations bombing the Germinal Organization headquarters. However, the video then shifted to a series of tragic war pictures. Some of the topics of the images were vague and unclear, causing the audience to comment in confusion.
“What’s the video this week about? I can’t tell at all.”
“It’s quite the messy start.”
Just as the audience began to get suspicious, a narrative suddenly sounded amid the war scenes. It was Kedan’s voice, and his tone was weak and trembling as he slowly explained their crimes. This confession was made through Bun-Hit-Dog recording and editing the interrogation of Kedan. He had broken down the testimony of Kedan and added imagery, allowing the audience to better understand the meaning behind his words. Such cutscene editing greatly enhanced the visual and audio contrast, giving the audience a sense as though they were recalling the past.
Following Kedan’s words, the atmosphere of the channel became filled with distress and grief.
Toward the end, the images of the war were integrated with the interrogation proceedings, brought out to great effect. This allowed the audience to understand the theme of the video. This was the truth about the Old Era of Planet Aquamarine, and the images in concert with the audio painted a detailed picture of this theme, fully bringing out the grief and sadness. Only toward the end of the video did Black Star appear, and Bun-Hit-Dog utilized Black Star as the core to wrap up his entire video. For this video, Bun-Hit-Dog did not utilize his famed humorous antics but made the video with a heavy and emotional atmosphere. Compared to his past videos, the contrast was excellent, and the impact was great.
Ten days ago, Han Xiao had pulled some strings, allowing Bun-Hit-Dog to interrogate Kedan to learn about the truth of the Old Era. He had been eighty percent certain that Bun-Hit-Dog would take the secret and make it into a video to be shared with the players. Being a video producer, he would definitely use this unknown part of Planet Aquamarine as material to grab people’s attention.
Indeed, it was as expected. Bun-Hit-Dog had a sharp nose toward the smell of news material and found an intrinsic value within the recording. He thus made a video out of it, thinking that it was his good luck to have stumbled upon such a secret. He did not know that this was all part of Han Xiao’s plan. After a long period of interaction, Han Xiao was clear on how to utilize Bun-Hit-Dog as a weapon to sway public opinion. He only needed to hand out a few fragments of information, and he did not need to worry that Bun-Hit-Dog would not be able to come out with a satisfactory video. After all, the guy was a professional!
The response to the video was fierce, and all the viewers were stunned. No one knew that this new series actually held such a shocking secret. In an instant, Planet Aquamarine became a recipient of sympathy.
As for Godora, there was not much of an impression that they left on the players. After being ‘polluted’ by the video channel, they stamped the Godorans with the title of ‘high and mighty’ and ‘arrogant’. The favorability that the players had toward them sharply decreased.
A great portion of the players were actually pragmatic, valuing their own interests and rewards above all else. However, this was not their only motivation. The players also had their own preferences, and their likes and dislikes sometimes outweighed their benefits! Few people would like to interact with those who thought themselves high and mighty.
Furthermore, after Version 1.0, the majority of players had developed some sentimental feelings toward Planet Aquamarine. Thus, they naturally stood on the side of Planet Aquamarine, feeling some anger toward Godora.
In resistance to ‘authority’, this was a favorite activity of many of the players!
The impact of the video was slowly taking effect, riling the emotions of the players. The forum posts for Planet Aquamarine shot up at a staggering rate, and their collective emotions worked to turn Godora into a megavillian overnight.
Even more players began to chant the slogan “Tonight, we bleed blue!”, the blue being a reference to Planet Aquamarine.
Han Xiao had followed the response on the forums. At this point, his objective had basically been achieved. The public opinion target was not to raise himself on a pedestal nor to denounce the enemy, and he did not distort any facts. He merely exposed the ‘secret’, allowing people to see that it was a citizen of Godora that had done such a thing. Regardless of whether they had been instructed to do so or not, Godora had to bear this black mark.
I guess, it could be considered some form of overdue compensation for Planet Aquamarine.
Originally, the welfare of the mercenary group for Godora could not have been compared to that of Black Star, and now that their moral identities had taken a hit, their ability to attract mercenaries to join reached a new low. If their attraction could be likened to stock prices, it would show a continuous decrease.
Under this chain reaction, Nagakin’s recruitment took a sharp downturn. Players who were originally willing to explore the Godoran camp quickly dispelled such thoughts. After all, there were already a few guinea pigs in front of them, and since there was no particular benefits given by the Godoran camp, there was no need for them to be pioneers.
Thus, the numbers in the Godoran camp plummeted, with even players that had previously joined the Godoran camp jumping ship back into the embrace of Black Star.
Confusion naturally clouded Nagakin’s mind. He did not understand; everything had been perfectly fine a few days ago, so how come suddenly the Inhumans had stopped going over to him? What was the problem?
He could not understand, but little did he know that there was a negative public opinion circulating, in an area that he could not see, none of which was positive toward Godora.
In the room, Han Xiao was still browsing the forums. He let out a deep breath. So long as I interfere, Godora is destined not to be able to recruit anyone.
Even though he and Nagakin had fought side by side, it was Han Xiao who had essentially saved Nagakin. If it was not for him being involved in Nagakin’s mission, then the latter would have ended up crippled.
For Nagakin not to give a fart and run over to pick up the fruits of his victory, and furthermore think that he, Han Xiao, would not be angry over it, did that not mean he himself was too magnanimous a person? Since the other party did not want to talk logically, then Han Xiao could only resort to physical means, blackening Godora’s name. This left him in a sunny mood.
After throwing the problem of settling Godora to Bun-Hit-Dog ten days ago, however, Han Xiao had stopped caring about it. Rather, he had focused his attention on the organization structuring of the Black Star Mercenary Group. Following the increased recruitment of players, he put this matter on his agenda not only for the convenience of management but also to allow the players to have a material goal that they could work toward, as a ladder that they could climb up.
The latter matter was more important since it affected the fighting spirit of the players, which was equivalent to giving them a goal in their lives.
Han Xiao had formally introduced the different level systems for the Mercenary Group the previous day. The different levels in the mercenary group system would be linked to the amount of privileges such as discounts or items available within the Faction store. There was a total of six levels being divided, with the first to the fifth levels simply going from ‘1-Star’ to ‘5-Star’. It was an intuitive system.
Truthfully, he had wanted to think of cooler titles, but he had finally chosen an easy to understand route. Just like the Sky Ring Army, the simpler it was, the easier it was to tell apart the differences.
As for the sixth level, also the highest level, it was named ‘Black Star Eighteen Knights’. This level was not fixed but rather set at the top of the leaderboards. For those who had reached the rank of ‘5-Star’, the top eighteen players on the leaderboards would achieve this title, and the corresponding benefits would naturally be a lot higher.
Since the positions of the Black Star Eighteen Knights were determined through the rankings, this would make them extremely competitive. This was the money burning machine that Han Xiao had specifically prepared for those of the guilds and the moneybags.
Players could view their positions in the Black Star Mercenary Group as well as their rankings through their personal mercenary file, but because the majority of the players still did not own an interstellar communicator, they could only request to view their files through Phillip.
There were three factors involved in the criteria for the mercenary level. The first was the Credibility Point of their personal mercenary file, the second was the Faction relationship level, and the last was their total contribution to the Black Star Mercenary Group.
Credibility Point needed to be accumulated through the successful completion of hired tasks. The players would have to continuously complete missions before they could increase their credibility points.
As for the Faction relationship, that was also easy to understand. For example, players who had just joined the Black Star Mercenary Group would all be at the 1-Star level. In order to be promoted to a 2-Star Mercenary, one of the prerequisites was to have the Faction relationship reach the level of [Friendly]. This meant that their contribution point had to be at 1,000 or more. After promoting, however, there was no need to maintain the current contribution points. Even if the points were spent, the level would not be reduced.
As for the last factor, the total contribution amount was the highlight. For example, if someone had 3,000 contribution points and spent 1,000, their total contribution amount would still hold at 3,000. It somewhat resembled a player’s total contribution history in the Black Star Faction. For promotion from 1-Star to 2-Star, a total of 20,000 points was needed.
Once the hierarchy was placed online, the players would immediately start to dissect and study it. They would quickly find out that the loophole that they could exploit would be the total contribution point factor!
Because, for those players whose relationship was below the [Friendly] level of 1,000 points, 50 Enas could be exchanged for 100 Contribution Points. However, when the current contribution level hit between 1,000 to 3,000 points, then the same 100 Contribution Points could only be purchased with 500 Enas instead. Thus, so long as their current Contribution was capped at below 1,000 points, then the total Contribution Point factor could be improved at the lowest cost!
With this discovery, the players would definitely be overjoyed, feeling as though they had found a loophole.
Han Xiao had long predicted this, and he loved to make players feel as though they had taken advantage of the system.
The reasoning was simple. The players had to maintain their current contribution below 1,000 points. Thus, if they wished to save money, they would have to spend all their contribution points. The only outlet would be the faction store, and in order to do so, they also had to spend a corresponding amount of Enas. This formed a completely cycle where he would ensure the players consumed his goods, and at the same time, it allowed the players to think that they were saving on Enas for Contribution Points.
In addition, the other two factors affecting the promotion of the mercenary level were hard requirements with no loopholes present. As such, the players could not abuse the total contribution point method to quickly increase their mercenary levels.
The ‘shortcut’ to raising one’s total contribution points was actually a scheme from the Great Mechanic Han. By taking advantage of the psychology of the players, he purposely left a ‘loophole’, allowing the players to discover it.
Even with the large influx of newcomers in the Mercenary Group, only the dozens of players that had followed him from the start were close to the standard of 2-Star. The requirements to promote were strictly set this time. Judging by the current progress of the players, Han Xiao estimated that most players would be at the level of 1-Star to 2-Star in this version. No player would be able to reach the highest level during this version. After all, this was a long-term plan.
Inside the room, Han Xiao leaned against the back of his chair, propping up his feet as he muttered to himself, “The formal planning for the Mercenary Group is just getting started. Let’s take it slow.”
As long as he gathered enough players, the capability of the players would be equivalent to his own influence. He had enough patience to wait for the players to slowly mature.
At this time, his communicator let out an emergency notification.
Opening the virtual screen, Han Xiao gave it a quick glance. It was an urgent news alert stating that the DarkStar fleet had opened attacks on several other planets with the Mutation Disaster!
Han Xiao immediately narrowed his eyes, his expression turning grave as he sat up straight.
“It has finally begun…”