My name is Benoit Maximilian de Verand. I know, it's a mouthfull. My friends call me Ben.

I'm a twenty-two single guy who spends half its waiking time working in an office and the rest playing pnline games. No girlfriend. A little sister in university and divorsed parents.

My father got remaried and is now living with his new familly. My mother is retired and likes spending her time gardening paiting or reading.

She lives an hour away by car in a small town.

My sister, Annie, moved in with me about a year ago when she started Uni. Needless to day that since then i learned to keep my apartment clean and started to actually cook.

Usually my day starts whith her, we share breakfast, i drop her at school, go to work and spend 7 hours in front of a computer, verifying data logs about insurence complaints for actual insurance company.

I once got a bonus for managing to find a way to counter a client's claim allowing a company to avoid paying a billion dollars to a poor guy.

Yes, life is a joke.

But that's not important what is important is what i do back home.

Once i made sure Annie's day was fine and that she has diner, i lock myself in my room and start playing.

I love games. when i was a kid i used to play all sorts of games then i tried an mmorpg. That's when i got hooked.

From then on i tried them all. Shifting from one to another.

In 2023, the RetroGame corporation lunched their own platform called "The Path". It was a futuristic open world of the sise of Australia where playersnhad to battle invaiding alliens and bandits. Throughout the game your actions would lead you to become the leader of a figting squad, the owner of a land, an outlaw, a spy or a simple soldier.

Needless to say it was the biggest platform ever online. The game quickly began the most played in the world.

I was instantly charmed and awned by that world and started dedicating myself to this sole game. When i started the game I was sweet 17. I created several accounts, one for each class of character and made them all join the same guild, mine. slowly but steadily i rased them. My sister would sometimes help me, borrowing one of my avatars. A few friends would too.

Without my knowledge people started considering my guild, the Verand, an elite group of players shrouded in mytery. This impression re-enforced by my constant refusal of new members exept my friends and some high level players i would sometimes team up with.

Since i would only play for fun i didn't pay attention to the blogs and sites related to the game.

when i became major i started selling my unneeded loot on an online auction site. thats how i became a proffesional gamer. still it was not enaugh to pay my half of the rent hence the crapy job.

But that's not the story. No the story is that two weeks ago RetroGame Corps announced that they would be presenting their brand new gamethat utilises a brand new technology in a live television show.

It is the first one they lunch since The Path so the entire Gamer world is holding its breath. Just like me.

It is now the last friday of january, 19h25 and i am waiting in front of my Tv with my sister for the interview to start. The star presentator of the game specialised channel is talking to a gamer that has tested the game. The guy is around 30 and has black hair.

"So, tell us Jeremy, this new game, how is it?"

"To say it simply it's unlike any other game i've played so far. the platform is the sise of the earth divided in several continents and lands. Each has its own history and culture. the closes foods architectures hirarchic system, climate flora and faune... it changes everytime."

"Whoaw! that indeed seems amaising. tell us more about it"

" Well to help you understand i will tell you about my Avatar."

"Okay"

" My online character is called Jeremy, like me, i also kept the same phisical apearance and shape. i shoosed the Human race, male obviously."

" Wait, did you say race?"

"Yes, i know that everyone was expecting something similar to The Path but this new game couldn't be more different. when you connect for the first time you have to decide your race, phisical shape and appearance, including your facials. Then you have to choose a starting place. As Beta testers we only had two choises but i was told that there would be more at the official lunch."

"Wait a mine, you're going too fast! Tell us about the races!"

"Fine. there is the Human race which allows you to start in the kingdom of Braeen in the East and the one of Shelfir in the south. then there is the Beastmen and Elven race..."

"So its a Fantasy based universe!"

" Haha, yes it is!"

"Okay, thats the first real news so far! you heard people, RetroGame's new baby is a fantasy world! Tell us Jeremy, is there magic, and mistycal beasts too?"

" Yes there is. i once faught against a guenuine Dragon."

"Really how was it?"

"Trusfully i died after 2 minutes without even landing a hit! it was so frustraiting and terrifying!"

" Sounds like the game is difficult!"

"It is! I dońt remember how many times i died! And then there is the Death Penalty too."

"What is it?"

"Everytime you die you respawn back at the last Temporary Base you selected. It can be a safe area like a city or town or a caban in the middle of hostile woods. Its practicle if you want to grind, you set it up close to your hunting area or a healing place and your set for days! "

" I can see the advantages."

" You won't be able to reconect for a whole ingame day through. it helps avoiding camping red players but you always feel frustrated while waiting."

As the host was exchanging plaisantries about red players and untimely character death, i was thinking of this death penalty, up to now it apeared as if the Base ans unconnection system were set up to permit the players to rethink their stategy and come back with full health in the battle.

All in all nothing to call it a penalty. this had also crossed my sisters mind as she said

"Doen't sound so bad to me. where's the trick?"

As if he had heard her the guest Jeremy started talking again.

" What is trully anoying about death is the stats. when you die you loose a stat in your primery caracteristics."

" Which are?"

"Well strength, toughness, dexterity, speed, vitality and inteligence. sometimes other stats gets lowered too, like honor, dignity, or luck. depends on the circonstences of your death."

" Is it permanent?"

"That's where the trick is. you have to regain them by killing a numerous number of mobs but if you level up before you do they are gone forever. i knew a few guys who didn't know it and now have ten level worth of stats than their own levels."

"Wow"

"I know right! Its already hard enough to level after the fiftith level now you also have to keep your stats. thanfully their is the job change."

" Job change? what is it exacly?"

"When you reach level 15 you can go to any guild and ask them to change your job. I started as a basic warrior but through my adventure i became a soldier of the Braeen kingdom, that's where i started, after finishing a number of quest and acheiving a level i became a lieutnant, a comender and finaly a knight of Braeen. For each job there are levels, the Knight job is one of the many exemples. A thief based caracter can become a Royal Assasin, an Adventurer can develop parralel skills like Trap detection... As for the magic based proffesion like mages you start with one branche of magic like the white magic for healing and buffing, the dark magik for debuffing and damaging, the elemental magic or the spiritual kinds. Then you unlock another, then another until you have them all and are called a Wizard!"

"That souds really complicated and exiting!"

"It is! there are also other kind of jobs but the Beta players didn't really look into it because they don't have offensive or healing abilities."

"No use on a battlefield? what kind of job are those?"

" Merchants, architects, scultors, paintors, tailors, cooks, smiths... some are useful and you can choose them as one of your paths or skills."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, my start Job was warrior, i had the swordsmanship skill as my primary Path but since i didn't always have time to go back to a city for equipment repairs or a meal i always foud it useful to have the skill cooking and smithing."

"So you have your Job and a few other skill slots?"

"Not exatcly. Durring your first stage of the game, as you level up to attain level 15 you will develop or be taught skills like in all mmorpg's. the difference here is that you can also follow paths."

"Meaning?"

"If someone wishes to become a magician he will have to go see a magician and tell them so, they will teach them the rudimentary of those who follow the paths of Magiciens but it does not mean that you have become one."

"I am not sure i understand."

"Let us say that one of your path is Priest, the other Herborist, you can compare it to the middle age physiciens, then the Jobs available to you will be in the range of Healer and Magical Healer. However if you also learn a close combat skill like swordsmanship you can become a Wandering Benefactor or a Heartfull Warrior."

"I see! the skills you have will determine the kind of path you follow and those will determine the jobs corresponding to your abbilities, right!?"

"Exactly."

"What about you? your Knight Job, how did you get it?"

"Well the first Path i followed was Swordsmanship, then there was Horsemen, Pure Hearted One and Commender. when i went to ask for a Job the Knight one was proposed to me."

"I see..."

For a few minutes they talked about a few more Paths and Skills. When the Cook Path was brough up the host ask Jeremy

"Is there a hunger stat?"

"Not just hunger, but thirst, hygine, fatigue... if you stinked too much certain kind of mobs would be able to trail you by skent, if you were too hungry your maximum health, strength, toughness and endurance would fall. you can get infections, colds, cough... I once puked because of the stench in a dongon!"

"This is very realistic!"

"Oh, you have no idea how realistic it is!"

The guest laughed as if he knew something the presentator didn't. they then talked of the kind of quests you could expect to get. At the beginers level it could range from the no-combats/ fetch& deliver quests ( E class quests ) to the mithycal ones who would change the status of the whole game platform, the SS class Quests.

"What were the most dificult kind of quests you did?"

"When i was still a beginer level player i was asked to deliver a fishing book to an old man near a river. it souded like easy cash so i did took the request, the problem was that there was a whole bunch of old guys and i didn,'t know who the right one was. I gave the book to a fisherman but it wasn't the good one. as a result the NPC who gave me the quest was mad at me, i failed the quest and didn't get my reward."

"That sucks."

"Another one was to guard a Noble women as she traveled from one castel to another, we were attacked by several groups of bandits and mobs. It helped that i was comending a group of soldiers, archers and a healer."

"Wait, are we talking players or NPC?"

"Both. Players that had choosen the Jobs of Soldiers, or State Magiciens and NPCs too."

"It must have been a relief tohave players with you."

"Actually they were the ones giving me the most trouble: player join those kind of prosessions because of the quest rewards, the mobs experience or the Aknowlegment points with the kingdom. Because of that they ruch at the mobs and bandits without thinking of traps and tactics and often desobey commands whereas NPCs will follow you as long as you have enough influence or leadership over them."

As the two of them were discussing the Influence, Leadership and Aknowledgement stats the time reached 19h55 and the host finaly informed that the interview with the RetroGame Corporation was starting. The screen switched from the two men to a large room filled with sitting journalists, their backs to the cameras and a long table were a group of people were sitting, facing the cameras.

In front of each of them was a small name tag with their position in the company. An old man sitting in the middle of the table stayed up and asked the room to be silent. His name was Hillmond, CEO of RetroGame.

"First i would like to thank you all for coming on such a short notice. It has been a long time since we lunched a game and such a massive responce from the media and players is trully wellcome."

A few whisles could be heard from the media crowd.

"Now let me welcome you all to the official anouncement of RetroGame's first new game in five years, New Roads!"

As he finally anoucened the name of the game the room went dark and a screen lit up behind the table, speakers started started playing an hypnotic music promising adventure and action as an amaising view apeared in front of the crowd. the Tv Screen switched from a far view of the trailer to a direct diffusion on the news channel.

The video started with an avatar dressed in a handmade lether vest, coton trousers and thick fur boots walking though a forest. A belt with several pouchs, a sword and a small letherboud book atracted the most attention as compared to the rest of the brownish clothses it was a bright red. The trees, leafs and soil deninition was breath taking. The man, his head hidden by a hood was walking stealthly between the trees, an arc in his hands, arrow at the ready. He crouched near a muddy spot on the floor and examinded a print.

The view switched to the first person and a pale transparent window apeared.

"Ram footprint

An experienced hunter could tell how big the animal was ans when it passed here by looking at it.

Through your experience of the hunt you know that this is the trace of a heavy adult ram which came here less than half an hour ago.

It might still be around, keep your eyes open"

The avatar then raised its hand and touched the window and tarted walking again. it pulled a map from its leather pouch, the map wasn't very detailed, only four lands were showing on the far right of the paper. once again the man touched the map, choosing the teritory called Braeen Kingdom and said the words " Zoom in" clearly. And that's what the map did, forgetting the rest of the card it enhenced the sise of the land, allowing more details to appear. Rivers, mountains, and cities linked by roads were now present. one city in particular , Hottled Town, had it suroundings particularily well drawned. Once again the player zoomed in, and Hottled town became the center of the map. the small town had its allies perfectly well placed with their names inscribed in between, names of shops, restaurants or guilds were also present. on the other hand a few areas of the town were blank of any informations. the meaning was clear, the player hadn't visited this part of the city so it wasn't present on the map. on the outside of the city walls a path liding to a small forest and surounded by several farms was described.

Then the forest itself showed several paths, clearings and even a cleared dungon. but that wasn't what interested the player, he concentrated his attention on a small river passing through the forest and close to his own location indicater by a blinking red dot.

He then rolled the paper map and put it back in a small pocket of his pouch then resumed walking.

A few minutes passed, showing the player advancing under the trees. Through the branches the sun was shining bright on the upper right. The avatar finally reached the river, its thoosîg water gargoils audible over the music soundtrack, the birds chirpings and the wind passing through the leaves. Crouching behing buches the player obseved the banks, a huge and magestuous ram was drinking in the company of several other of its femalle companions.

The man readied its arrow and as he was about to unleash it the packs attention was suddently percked, the beasts turned their heads towards the hunters location and after a split second of stillness dashed away.

The player didn't stay still eather, the quickly spun arroud to discover what spooked its prey.

"Gnoll Hunter

Level 26"

That was what was written in yellow above the head of a small and crouched grey skinned humanoid creature. the mob shrieked through its tiny but numerous yellow teeth and charges a the player with a rusty curved sword. the man lifted its arms and released his arrow. it planted itself in the shoulder of the sword arm of the monster which droped the weapon through its pain. the player took this time to replace the bow in its inventory and draw his sword from its sheath on his belt. he then walked to his enemy writhing on the forest floor, as he aproached the mob seemed to regain contenance and grabed his rusty blade with its second arm.

It attacked the player withe a wide horizontal slash but was easily parred then in a small red flash the players iron sword beheaded the mob.

Its lifeless body soon turned into a thouthand multicolored luminous pixels that disapeared in the air. A new window popped in front of the player once he sheathed his sword back.

" You have defeated a Gnoll Hunter.

You gained 569 exp points.

You have obtained:

- 56 bronze coins

- a rusty iron short sword

- a piece of Gnoll leather"

The player once again closed the window and turned to the river. not seeing any game he grumbled something about untimely mobs and resumed its hunt. it advenced in the water and started swiming.

As his head went through the water once the soundtrack changed from the peaceful chirping of brids to the one of a raging tempest and crashing waves. The avatar still in first person was now barelly staying afloat in an endless sea, a cord was thrown at it but the hand that sised it weren't the masciline and muscular ones of the hunter but thin and delicate ones. The rope slowly pulled the drowning player back towards a big three mast ship. the female player grabed a rope lader on the hull of the ship and startes climbing up. breathing heavily, water dripping from its woolen robes, the avatar rolled on the deck letting the rain wash her from the salted water. Her attention was attracted by a series of screams and she unwillingly raiser her head, the ship was being attacked by severral fish besed mobs.

"Giant sea crabe, level 31"

"Poisonous sea urchins, level 27"

"Aquaskall, level 26"

Close to thirty sailors were fighting them off with harpoons and canons directed by a man in a long black cloack and thick entangled beard.

The female player then started reciting a number of stange words, her hans glowed a redish light and she pointed them at the Aquaslall, the monster, a humanoid bronched, feet and hand palmed creature armed with a trident and an algea whip. the mob was instantally suroundes by the same glow and its movement considerably slowed, allowing the sailors to attack it at ease. its scaills which previousli repelles the blades slashes could do nothing about a man's piercing attack and it soon died even after the magic ended.

The Urchin was soon blown up by the cannon balls, as for the crabe the sailors kept targetting its articulation ang belly, the only unprotected areas of its massive body.

At the end of the battle, as the sailors cheered their victory a window apeared in front of the female mage.

"As a reward for your contribution in the battle :

-You will receive a 2 silver coins bonus at your arrival at the next port.

-Your familiarity with the crew increased by 5%."

"Due to the amount of available crabe meat, all 6 next meals done by the ship's cook will use it as its main ingredient."

The video then turn black to grey then flashes luminously as a sun ray passed though a window into spatious chambers. a man with pointy ears and angular facial features, undoubtly an elf dressed in silk clothes was looking through it at the busy medieval city profiling under it.

Once again the view went to the first person and we could see through the eyes of the avatar. however this time was different : the city was still here but above the buldings, houses and shops their names and sometimes a hammer icon were present. The wealthy plaiyer touched a smithy by the tip of its finger and a new information window popes up.

"Smith shop #2

NPC run,proffesional level intermediate 7

3 NPC workers, proffesional level beginner 6, 7 and intermediate 3

1 player worker, proffesional level beginner 3

Monthly taxes 1 gold coins

Monthly output 107 silver coins

Last month income 3 gold 205 silvers 47 bronze

Number of smithies in the town 3."

The man closed the Smith shop's window and oppened the one of an empty lot. A list of possible buildings appeared ranging from bar and restaurants to traning centers, spa, and several guild buildings. finally the man sellected to construct several houses, allowed them to be built through quests and be bought by players. A small amount of money was taken from the players inventory and a new window popped up.

"Please set the reward for the new architectural quests."

The man did as asked and a last message appeared.

"The new quests are now available to the players and will be automatically given by the cities NPCs."

"By creating spacious houses:

- the total value of your city increased by 1G 3S and 482C

- the citizens opinion of you has risen by 5%

-the maximum population of the city has rizen by 40."

The elf quit all the windows until the city was once again filling his eyes minus the labells above. he then left the room and started walking in a long coridor lighted by wooden torches. His surounding were slowly replaced and the stone walls switched to the irregular, humid and moss covered ones of a cave. a group of soldiers in uniforms were being led by a heavily armored man. the first line of soldiers were pikemens followed by archers then swordsmen. At the back with the knight three combat mages and healers, behind then a slighly frithned couple of young men kept close. they were holding the reign of two donkeys whose backs were loaded with loot backs. In total there was 67 people.

The group continued its advence, decimating mobs as an organised mini army, taking breif pauses to catch their breath then carring on deeper in the cave until they reache a large cavern. there a " Large Earth Gollem " attached them and after a few minutes of battle the mid-boss mob fell to his death. the soldiers cheered, the boys gathered the loot then cooked for the entire troops while the knight gave a speech about the bravour of his men.

On after another windows popped up, the video changing from person to person to allow the viewers a better understanding.

"Quest complete!

You have defeated the Gollem in the depth of the Delar caves, return to the Earl to obtain your reward"

"You have defeated a Large Gollem.

You have obtained 174 exp points.

You have obtained the item Good Argile.

Because you did it with the help of your regiment familiarity raised by 12%, and leadership by 6."

" Through this battle your men have obtained experience, as a result 3 spikemen, 5 archers and a swordsman leveled up.

Two of your men are dead.

Leadership +1"

"Due to your increase in leadership the maximum number of troops under your command has risen by 5 men and you can now add a Simple Wooden Chariot to your effectives."

"Through repetitive practice cooking has reached Beginner 7, you have learned three new receipices. their effect will automaticly be registered once you've tried them."

The next few seconds showed several roads paths with amaising views points, some shrouded in snow other in luch grass or forest and jungles. one was of a endless desert of sand and the last a pear going towards the sea.

Finaly the screen turned black and golden letter broke the darkness

"Travel the world,

Discover uncharted lands,

Lead your men in epic battles,

Rule and build cities,

Contribute to the rise and fall of entire kingdoms,

Become their King...

Become their Emperor!

New Roads!"

The video ended and the tv switched back to the conference room. the journalists were just starting to react to the 15 minutes long trailer. wispers started low then they became frantic shouting question in disorder.

I too was amased by what i had just seen, the games aesthetics were incredible, several years above anithing he had ever seen, but it was the gameplay that had my attention.

The players avatars mouvements and voice intonations were so realistic it was kinda criping me out. as much as i racked my brain i couldn't think of an advenced enough technology.

It's my sister who understood first.

"A Virtual Reality game! its a VR!"

"Oh, my god! you are right!"

As i thought back at the way the avatar evolved in the game universe it was evident such interactions were not possible on a computer screen game.

Virtual Realities were developped in 2019 to allow the Army to train its soldiers, Air Force pilots and Navy to train in warefare in the most realistic situation possible. It was then developped for the education and practice of medicinal staff, first aid personnel and the public servants such as the police or the firefighters. In 2023 it was privatised for the use of corporations, through the creation of online virtual reality meating rooms furnished with full blown 4dimension presentations and access to the related personnel throughout the world.

But never before was virtual reality used for recreational purposes! Even less a game whose platform was supossed to be the sise of the earth and was sure to attracked millions of players!

No wonders it took five years to develop!

At the conference the CEO had managed to calm the room and was responding to the questions one at a time.

"RetroGame obtain the right to develop an Online Virtual Reality Game in 2024 and we direcly started working on it. when we lunched The Path we were in fact gathering an elite team of Game Creators that worked endlessly on the project. all the profits from The Path were invested in this gigantic game platform."

"The numerical capacity needed to run such a massive virtual environment must be incredible!"

"Indeed, just with our 1 thouthand beta testers accounts of active players we reached a minimum of half a billion terrabites of data circulating through New Roads dedicated satelites."

"Did you just say satelites?"

"Yes. the amout of data needed to be processed was simply too important for the regular public ones so we negociated the lunch of three small satellites that now orbit arround the earth."

There was a small moment of silence before an other hand rose.

"What about the safety of the players? won't their brains be in danger if someone were to suddetly pull them offline?"

"The difference between the programes developed for private use and ingame use is actually the connection system itself. Players would be using helmets that stops a persons electrical influxt from the brain to the rest of their body. Exept vital founctions everything else will be sent to the game avatar. If someone were to take the helmet off with no prior warning, the brain's electrical flux would simply resume to normal activity but your avatar would stay still were you were. it would be like if you had disconnected."

"So its safe?"

"Yes."

"What about the sensorial transition?"

"To ease the players into the game we tried to create an avatar creation interface that would preserve their height, shoulder and rib cage width and the length of their body segments. Those are the most important measures as they greatly determine our body's balance. As a result the first time a player connects itself he or she will need to enter a very special coffin that will measure him during the creation of his or her avatar. Moreover the avatar will be of the same gender as its player and age restrictions will be automatically callibrated during the creation process.

"That's a lot of work for just an avatar."

"That is because we are trying to make the game as realistic as possible. In this spirit only one Avatar will be available per player."

Those coffins will be availlable starting from the 6 march, in any game centers.

After the first connection you will just need the the head gear that will be sold with the game cartridge in all your game shops. you will just need to link the gear to a working internet plug and you can directly log in."

"That doesn't solve the problem."

"Since in general internet plugs are only available at homes it reduces the possibility of a roady environment in witch the ingames players true bodies would be defenceless. but along with this we put several safeties: if the phisical body were to experience pain or difficulties to work as if asleep the player would disconnect automatically. This process has been thouroughly tested and aprooved by the government in its previous use of virtual reality."

"What about the risk of getting addicted to it?"

"The game is only 99% as realistic as real life to prevent this. moreover the flow of time is different: for a day spend in New Roads, six hours pass in real life, as a result people who disconnect themselves at night will remember to eat and live their real lives. in addition to this the time you spend disconnected is considered as sleep for your avatar. Sleep gradualy heals seakness, fills the health and lowers fatigue."

"How much will the game cost?"

"The game and the headgear are sold together at 99,99$with the first month of the game given for free. it will cost 199,99$ for a delux pack that is constitued of a more stilisied gear, a few basic ingames items and three pre-paid month."

"Wait, you have to pay to keep your account active?"

"Yes. each month would cost 19,99$ to keep your accout ongoing. if you do not want to continue playing your avatar will be desactivated, not erased. In other words it will still be there if you decide to take a break from the game for a while."

"Is there any other format you're selling the game?"

"The is the golden pack but its not for sell. all the beta testers will recieve one, along with a thousand players of The Path choosen from those who spent the most time playing or the most reconised ones. The list will be available starting tomorrow on New Roads Official Website, along with a lot of informations about the races, proffesions, kingdoms and starting cities. a lot of the gameplay will also be explained with explainatory videos and several walthroughs from the beta players."

"What is the Gold pack exactly?"

"The gold pack contains a patch wich alows you to access several inedit and random tips about the game, adds a wooping 10 stats points to distribuate, several basic items and an extra proffesion slot. As for the head gear... Well, it's a surprise."

"In the trailer it said Become the Emperor, what does it mean?"

"Just like a soldier can rais its ranks into controling entire armies, players can become the lords of cities, lands, counties. They can become the Kings and Queens of Kingdoms and conquer an entire continent to become an emperor."

"How far did the betas go in the game?"

"The betas as a total of three month to test the game, the higher lever reached was 46 but the total persentage of the platform mapping was 0,8%. The most advenced players were respectfully a City Lord, a knight and a priest."

"That doen't sound like much at all."

"On the contrary sir, we did not expect them to advence this far so fast! it was due to their small number. the lack of competition for experience and loot made it easier for them."

"You're kidding right? how long is the game supposed to last?"

"We've calculated that the starting kingdoms independent quests would take at least three years before complete completion. And thats not counting the ones players can create themselves!"

Stupor ran through the crowd. the man next to the CEO wisperded in his ears and all the others sarted standing.

The second men then adressed the journalists.

"Now with your permision we will proceed with live demonstrations. a representent of all Tv medias will comme with me and connect themselves to the game for their very first time, the guest beta players at their channels will join them and mentor them for the whole next ingame hour. In the mean time the rest of you will be able to follow them directly here on the giant screen."

As a group of a leat twenty bulky men enterd the stage carrying a metalic coffin each and quicly branched the to a power source, each of the men behind the table choose a journalist sent by a Tv channel and guided them inside it, helping them put a helmet like device on their head and lowering them in the horizontaly posed electronic coffins. after switching on the machine they would return to their seats. pull their own helment and connect themselves.

At the botom of the tv screen a small square showing Jeremy the Beta player from earlier also put on a simillar device after sitting confortably on a sofa.

After a few seconds the studio and conference room were replaced by a large city square of a fantasy medieval town. Jeremy in his knight's armor and a second player wearing leather closes under a thick metal breast plate and several small blades placed strategically on him. he was a dark skinned elf named Callum.

He started talking aloud and the view fixed on him.

"We are now waiting for our friend the journalist to finis creating his avatar. He is curently being presented with one of the four starting races: humans, elves, dwarfes and beastmen. He will then choose the aesthetics of his avatar and its name. for this demonstration we asked to call himself Journalist #4. The two of us will then acompany him in the next twenty minutes, in other words his first ingame hour. Normally a player who just started playing wouldn't be allowed to leave the city walls before it reaches level 8 but fot the sake of this demonstration once he finishes his first quest he will be granted enough experience to level up 8 consecutive times."

as he finished talking a new player appearded in a flash of light. He was tall and muscular, wearing only a cloth aroud his waist, his skin was covered by a thik layer of brown fur. Patterns appeared on his face surrouding his yellow vertically slitted eyes. a long tail and two cat ears were completing the humanoid beastman who looked like a panther.

As soon as he appeared the new avatar started moving around discovering his surroundings with astonishment, then his own body. closing and opening his fist as if he could barely believe it.

"Whoa..."

At the sound of its own deep voice the man froze an instant. his open mouth clearly revealing his

Giant carnivor teeth and a pale pink tongue hidden behind.

Jeremy went toward Journalist #4 and presented himself quickly. The the new player turned towards them and asked what he should do now. as if to answer him a young human girl wearing a woolen dresscame too him. she seemed impressed by the beastmen.

"You look like my cat, !"

"Oh..."

"Do you know Mister Tigrou, sir?"

"Hum, i'm afraid i don't have this pleasure, no."

"You should become friends that would be awsome!"

As the girl left them gigling a information window popped up in front of the journalist surprising him. Warily he read it.

"A small girl from the city wants you to befriend her cat, Mister Tigrou. Can you really disapoint her?

Go fing Mister Tigrou!"

"You were forced to accept the quest go find Mister Tigrou.

Prerequisite: avatar of the feline Beastmen

Failure condition: none.

Rewards: a new friend!"

The three of them then started to walk through the city randomly, looking for the cat called Mister Tigrou. they finally found him under a fishermen's shop at the market. he was fixing the fishes with hungry eyes. the Beastmen tried to call for him but his gaze wouldn't leave the fishes so the huge panther resigned himself to buy the fish for 2 bronze coins, effectively using a fifth of his starting money.

He handed the treat to the pet who in thankes purred and fubbed its head on his legs. as the cat went to eat the fish a window popped again.

"Quest complete!

You have found Mister Tigrou and shared a meal with him. the two of you are now friends.

Reward: 11484 exp points"

"Through your interaction with an animal the familiarity with Braeen's Kingdoms domestic animals has increased by 1.

Keep raising it and more quests will become available to you."

"You hane leveld up"

The last window popped up a total of eight times. Callum stepped foward and showed the newbienhow to make the avatar's information window appear.

"You've leveled up 8 times so now you are level 9. It's enough to leave the city but before you need to distribute your stat points. to do so you need to say Open Character Window."

As he said the the last three words a classic mmorpg character window appeared in front of him, showing his equipment on the left, and an inventory whith filtering options on the right. With a move of his hand the window glidded and was replaced by his avatar's status window.

Journalist #4 imitated him and looked at his own status window. the skills and Job slots were empty, only the basic stats were available and they were far more less impresive than Callum's.

"Name: Journalist#4

Race: Beastman

Job: none

Level: 9

Vitality: 100

Strength: 12

Dexterity: 12

Toughness: 10

Speed: 10

Intelligence: 8

Endurence: 8

Luck: 4

Primary Path:

-none

Secondary Paths:

-none

-none

-none

Natural skills:

- Skent track: beginner 1 (0%)

- Enhenced vision: beginner 1 (0%)

- Feline Roar: beginner 1 (0%)

- Hand to hand combat: beginner 1 (0%)

Braeen Kingdom:

- domestic animal life familiarity: +1%

At the right corner of his stats a green 40 was glowing. it was the number of stats points he could atribuate to his avatar.

Callum started describing the Beastmen class for both the newbie and the telespectators.

" The beastmen have superior strength and agility due to their nature but they are less inteligent and endurent whitch makes them often used as front line warriors or thiefs but you can also become a powelful mage or Archer based character usinf their nature to componsate for the low deffence of those classes. Tell me, How do you want to devlop your avatar?"

"Well...I don't actually know."

"It's alright in that case my advice is to put 12 points into STR and DEXT each, 5 into VIT to raise yout Max Health by 25 points, 3 in TOUGTH, SPEED and INT and 2 into ENDU.

It will allow you to keep a ballanced character until you know where you want to go with it."

"Okay."

By the time he finished distributing his points half of the twenty minutes had already gone by. His two companions guided him to the city gates. Once outside they found themselves trapped between the city walls and a series of farms fields. They walked for a while, letting the Beastman discover the area at his own pace.

As he was walking close to a chicken den a fox lunched at him. Startled he fell on his backside and the small mob bit his leg. His health slightly fell and he realised he had just been attacked. his mind focused back on the fox and he wondered how he was supposed to retaliate, thats when a strange sensation spread from his fingers and toes. His claws had come out. Roaring in exitment the giant Panther kicked the fox away, cutting it's health by 30%. As he stood back up a window popped up.

"You have used the natural skill Feline Roar, as a result your enemy is paralised for 30 seconds.

Your skill experience has risen by 45 %"

Journalist #4 jumped on the fox and using his claws to kill it. the small mobs body shattered in light fragments and anothet set ow windows appeared.

"You have defeated a Fox.

You gained 32 exp points.

You have obtain fox pelt"

"You have obtained your first tailloring material.

A taillor can produce clothes from pelts and furrs. the better the skin and the taillors skill the better the cloth."

"By saving the chickens from its natural predator your familiarity with domestic animal life rises by 2"

"You have used the natural skill Hand to hand combat as a result your skill level raises by 24%."

As he was closing the windows, a chiken stopped in front of him a few seconds and left behind a freshly layed egg. Journalist #4 was fixing it wondering what he should do with it when Callum told him that it was a reward from the Hen for saving her from the fox. When he grabbed it another window came.

"You have obtained your first cooking ingredient.

Meals can restore your health and fatigue. a good cook can make good mealśfrom anything."

After that the beastman kept hunting foxes. at the end of the 20 minutes he was nearing level 11 and had a six fox pelts and a fox meat in his backpack. yet it was not enough.

As he pressed the deconnection button he clearly wished he had more time.

The Tv screen returned to the comference room were people were coming back to their real bodies one after another. the journalists went back with their collegues and the bulky men from before took the caissings away.

RetroGame CEO stood up once again and gestured for the crowd to be silent.

"We are now reaching the end of the presentation. The integrality of the trailer and the starting party of Journalist #1 to #23 will be available on the Official Site. To all players of The Path, do not forget to check the Golden Pack list. Finally rest assured that on the at 1 o'clock pm, when the game will be officially lunched the world of New Roads will have been reset, the only advantage betas will have will be their Golden Packs and personnal experience."

As the CEO wrapped up the presentation the host started commenting on the experience with his collegue, Journalist#4. Jeremy would sometimes add some presisions.

But i was no longuer listening.

The only thing passing through my head was the Virtual Reality aspect of the game. By the time the channels program went back to its regulars emission i had decided.

"I want to play New Roads!."

Next to me i heard my sister groawl, saying something about me and video games.