Usually stories are weaved around the actions and tales of heroes or even villains, but this story is different. This story‘s main character is neither hero nor villain; you could say it’s about a mere guardian of a VRMMO1. A guardian of a VRMMO? I’m actually referring to my job as a GM2 in a new VRMMO, Mirage of Eternity, which is currently surging in popularity amongst gamers of all ages and origins and is a major pain in the ass to operate. Especially if you’re actually one of the hidden GMs who have to keep a close eye on the players, go undercover to interact with them directly and find bugs which have to be fixed. But this is not the actual cause of agony for me…
My main problems are my two top tier superiors: the very CEOs of our company, the heads of Night Dragon Corporation, who hold the most power not only in the real world but also ingame. The players love them, and we GMs hate them to the core. Why, you ask? Let me enlighten you about our oh-so-beloved superiors.
Despite their enormous popularity among our dear customers, who have decided to add another million to their numbers and make work even more challenging for me, of all the natural disasters that can happen to any game, our CEOs are the worst of the worst! Cheaters? There were heaps before them. Hackers? I would prefer dealing with hundreds of hackers instead!
If it wasn’t for the good pay and nice work environment – except anything related to my superiors, of course – I would have quit my job long ago! Some probably wonder what could be worse than the previously mentioned groups, but, trust me, after dealing with many of their “great ideas“ for events and game improvement, you’ll learn to love these groups and start hating our superiors. There’s work inside the game? Multiply it by another hundred fold and overtime hours thanks to the mess they cause!
The players love their ideas and events, but we, the GMs, are constantly suffering and the mere mention of “game improvement“ or “updates“ is equal to the scariest horror movie releases combined with the worst nightmares you can imagine. And this is only the peak of the iceberg, as they love to meddle with the game by using the insane avatars they created for themselves and taking over NPCs3 when they feel like it. You’re probably wondering by now what I mean by “taking over NPCs”, right? Our oh-so-great superiors actually can and even dare to manipulate the game itself and “play“ the NPCs secretly just to give the players some ridiculous quests and have some fun. In general, everything they do is for their personal enjoyment; messing up Mirage of Eternity’s world can be compared to childish gods playing with their creations like toys, and the ones who have to tidy up the chaos they leave behind are, of course us, the GMs.
Not to mention, their very avatars are total cheats in and of themselves!
A normal player-character’s race? Of course not! They had to aim for something completely different, exclusive to only themselves, with such insane stats that even the top guilds‘ members ganging up on them wouldn’t be enough to defeat them—provided our bosses seriously were using their avatars full strength that is.
Do you think they would be satisfied with completely overpowered avatars alone? Never!
That’s just the first step for them. Not only have they created insanely strong avatars with special skills no one else can use, they can even change their avatars‘ look to some preset prefered appearances they set up for themselves. I’m not even speaking about humanoid races like most players actually use, but about self-created monsters designed especially for their convenience and fun.
You think it ends there?
When I started to work as a GM at Night Dragon Corporation I also thought that was more than enough, but they put the scale even one step higher and made some fake identities alongside their master-plans.
What fake identities, you ask?
Let me share this secret with you. There are two ingame monsters who are referred as the highest class monsters inside Mirage of Eternity: These god-class creatures who are referenced in many legends ingame are ironically the creators of this world. And now, guess who these two monsters are. Right, our beloved superiors themselves. And these said god-class monsters can be regularly seen inside the game. Officially they are “watching this world‘s progress“ and sometimes appear in rare events to change this world‘s history—not that our annoying superiors wouldn’t do it on a daily basis already—, and players can often see them flying or walking around from a distance.
But they unofficially observe the players, and if they spot anything funny they are destined to meddle with it after changing either to a different appearance—be it a modified actual race players are free to choose or another monster’s appearance—, or taking over NPCs. They always find something to entertain themselves with. Luckily, they are busy most of the time with their “offline work“ as CEOs, but as soon as you spot their actual god-class monsters lurking around somewhere you can bet your life on them starting some mess soon. As long as these avatars aren’t seen you can actually do some work and enjoy the game.
I started to rant about this, but completely forgot to mention their god-class monsters’ avatars‘ names and what they look like for everyone to know what to fear most in this game.
Firstly, there’s the creature called “Kaje“, a majestically white deer like monster that gives off a peaceful and benevolent aura, which is completely and utterly misleading and the opposite of its actual player’s character: a true trickster always up for spying and misfortune, covered by its beautiful appearance and acting secretly behind the players‘ backs and knowledge. It should actually look like a black demon like deer with fire surrounding it instead of plants growing after every step it takes! You spot it ingame? Run for your life. Many players died of mysterious causes, be it by poisoning or suddenly falling off a cliff which appeared out of nowhere, and these are just two of many examples.
Secondly…the worst of the worst: the great black dragon “Fienja“. A true badass…
Normally peacefully—at least to the players‘ eyes, which lit up in admiration while our GMs’ eyes widen more and more in panic and we slowly grow paler by the seconds—flying around the main cities at great heights to scan the area for potential new victims. The players think it’s guarding the surrounding areas against boss level monsters which by “mere mistakes“ of the great guardian, “on some rare occurrences“, enter villages or cities and wreak havoc. Of course these “mere mistakes“ are actually the result of our beloved superiors‘ evil schemes who spawn some high class boss monsters around said villages and cities to enjoy the slaughter and despair of the players.
To make it look like an event and to not lose the “guardian“ image, the Fienja will annihilate—another word can’t fit this overpowered beast any better—some of the spawned monsters and then pretend to oversee a few just to change appearance and sometimes even wreak havoc herself.
“Herself”? Yeah… Both our superiors are female.
One of the worst events where I had to get rid of the “after-effects“ was the great “Mini-Fienja“ boss fight. A giant event in the middle of one of the main cities. Players who wanted to participate could join in a mock battle against an evil boss creature which dared to take the holy shape of Fienja, just smaller and with weaker stats. What only the GMs knew was that it was of course the real Fienja using a different avatar appearance, more precisely that of a miniature-version of her most preferred one and with weaker set stats so the users actually had a chance of beating it…
Which didn’t mean that the number of casualties were low…
Some of the top guilds were completely wiped out by its fire-breath, slashed to death by its claws, crushed under its weight… But, on the positive side, we didn’t see any of the special skills that she can use! God, I’m so grateful for our superior showing this much restraint, or else we would have had to reconstruct the whole city and would have gotten dozens of bug reports from the players for getting wiped out together with buildings by one single attack. This doesn’t mean that the damages were especially low though…
Even two weeks after the event, we had to restore data and recreate some city parts because we have strict orders from above that the game is a “living and changing“ world, thus any major event will have lasting effects and the cities will be changed every time parts are destroyed in such special events. Now, imagine a raging dragon wiping out tons of players, top guilds and even the high ranking players in our top 100 list. and together with them, of course, one third of the city! Our superiors couldn’t settle on less than a third, and they didn’t share their ideas on an event which was announced weeks ago and their plans so we could work on these changes in advance… Nope, we heard about it exactly 5 hours before this “sudden event“ was announced inside the game and started!
I don’t know how many bags of coffee found an early end by a whole army of staff doing all-nighters to fix their superiors’ whims. Results of the event: 25 players survived the raid, took down the evil Mini-Fienja—with a dramatic cinematic video at the end which was created by our superiors in advance instead of actually doing some productive work—and got some legendary weapons as rewards while the fun factor was maxed out for the two evil minds. One of them, Kaje, even dared to appear after the event to make some grand speech by praising the players‘ heroism for challenging the evil of this world and succeeding in protecting the countless innocent lives of those in Mirage of Eternity.
But who protected us GMs? We were the ones being abused in this!
I had to work so much that my own girlfriend thought I was cheating on her since I had to basically live at the company. That day made me finally realise why we have bedrooms inside our company building…
I can continue like this for weeks, but today, luckily, after I logged into the admin area and did the first thing a GM should do—scan the game for the true evil of this world—, I couldn’t spot the natural disasters anywhere, neither soaring in the sky nor walking on the ground, so this day‘s start was as sparkling as a polished jewel. It was a good sign for me to actually do my work without being disturbed or forced to overwork. Now that I was sure our superiors weren’t around anywhere, I finally started my hidden GM life. Unlike the regular GMs, who mostly run around and fix bugs, my tasks were various and nicer . I just have to pretend to be a player myself, speak with some random players for ingame information like bugs, report these to my fellow “natural disaster fighting companions“, write articles about ingame events, take care of players, who cause trouble or use inappropriate names for their characters and find out the players’ wishes for improvement tasks. This is actually the tricky part, because I have to ultimately write a report to these two troublemakers who then use my and other hidden GMs’ reports to wreak more havoc! Thus why I always have to be careful what to report if I don’t want to be butchered by my own co-workers for causing extra work thanks to our superiors meddling. But most importantly: Today I can enjoy the game as a “regular“ player! If there are no bugs at least, my reports for improvements will be written in the last hours of my working day~
And today with the worst evil not being around I can fully enjoy this game without worries.
Normally, players only have one character per account, but we hidden GMs, unlike the other GMs, have three different characters available due to our online research tasks—or should I call it “spying work”? Naturally, to collect as much data as possible we have to use different characters and also have to interact with as many players of different races and occupations as possible. After all, gathering data from a higher variety of races and occupations makes this task much easier to accomplish.
Inside the admin area I chose my most favourite character: A Twilight Assassin called “Keruna“.
This one belongs to a so-called hidden class only obtainable by solving special quests, which change on a regular basis to avoid too many users playing these rare classes. Thanks to the benefits of being a hidden GM, I could choose one hidden class. Any other of my characters have to belong to one of the regular classes though, and it’s impossible to change them to another hidden class. We also don’t appear in the top tier player list, sadly.
Why are we granted one of these rare hidden classes?
That’s the entry ticket for us to play in the top tier guilds to be able to gather more information about bugs and irregularities inside the game, especially since the members of top tier guilds and pro-gamers often discover interesting parts of the game world which can need urgent fixing by us GMs. Though, I sometimes really feel sorry if they spot some profitable bugs which mysteriously vanish soon after being discovered, but, hey, that’s my job after all, and one of the reason why I prefer choosing a hidden assassin class for this kind of tasks.
Strangely, up until now they never even thought about there being a “mole“ inside their ranks who backstabs them in any way and related it to the most obvious class for such work aside from the spy class.
Let me explain the difference between the basic classes, special—also called specialised—classes and hidden classes. The basic classes are of course the normal classes of Mirage of Eternity; they can be chosen by character creation. Alternatively, in case a player can’t decide on what class he wants, he can make this choice inside the game at a later moment by visiting the job center. It’s also possible to change one’s class there, but this rule only applies to the basic classes. If such a basic class absolves quests for a specialised route or reach a certain level with approximate stats, they can change their class to one of the many special classes; every basic class has around five to ten special classes to choose from, often with better stats than the basic ones and with stronger skills belonging only to this specific class. Aside from these two types, there are the previously mentioned hidden classes, the rarest of the available classes. They are the rarest classes because it’s required to already use a special class before one can absolve specific quests which are hidden somewhere inside the game—mostly in difficult weekly changing chain quests—and players often have to meet additional requirements.
So, even if a player discovers a hidden class quest by chance and reveals it, they are only valid for a week before changing. This, of course, is only a fact known by us GMs and developers, and even we GMs don’t know all the quests and exact requirements for each class. Though there aren’t many players who dare reveal informations about hidden classes in the first place—after all, the few people who actually discover one want to stay unique and gain some advantage over other players. Hidden classes always have the highest stat difference of all the class types and the strongest and most unique special skills. Pro-gamers are especially eager to discover these classes, because of the many benefits of the hidden classes, and also being able to join top tier guilds more easily.
Regretfully, I’m not the only Twilight Assassin. There are two others roaming the world of Mirage of Eternity, but I have never met these players. One of them is an elf character, the other, as much as it somehow saddens me is, this is no joke, an orc: a huge green hulk like orc playing a noble Twilight Assassin who’s normally elegantly disposing of their enemies with agility based skills. Until this very day I fail to imagine such a bulky crude orc moving like a majestic panther in the darkness to assassinate its enemies silently just to suddenly laugh over their sudden demise with an evil smirk and reveal themself as an honorable Twilight Assassin. Every time I imagine this, I can only let out a huge sigh of regret and sorrow while facepalming.
I’m fine with the elf, this one is fitting, but an orc?
Hell no, please spare me from this image! As you can see, I’m very proud of my Twilight Assassin class despite me “getting it for free“ without having done anything special, but I see it as a small compensation for dealing with these two superiors. I forgot counting at some point how often I dreamed of assassinating them in real life—another reason why I choose this class!
Of course I took a lot of time finding the perfect race and appearance for my assassin and ended up with a handsome—this part was written down like a golden unchangeable law by our superiors just for them to ogle and drool over their GMs’ characters—black haired demon. My character’s eyes are of an amethyst colour while his body is clad in a black leather armour with golden patterns and the emblem of the guild I belonged to on the front of his top, while the crest of the Twilight Assassin was engraved on the edges of his two daggers.
This crest appears on every dagger a Twilight Assassin uses in order to mark our hidden class, a special courtesy of the troublemakers messing with the special features for making them even more outstanding, even in appearance.
As for the demon race, it is one of the many “dark races“ who get stat bonuses at night and in dark places like caves, and some dark attribute related skills.
Every race belongs to one of the categoric races, like “celestial races“ with special attributes related to the light, the previously mentioned “dark races“, “nature races“ with alignment to nature itself, or those not classified into these categories like the human race and the “elemental races“, which have attributes divided by the four basic elements: water, fire, earth and wind. Every race has their own specific race stat bonuses and skills, so either you can make up for the shortcomings of your class by choosing a specific race, or specialize even more in certain areas. As an example, you could choose a fire elemental related race for a fire elementalist class to double its control over fire, though you can also easily end up with a nasty weakness like our prior example has against water element related races. This means you can hugely affect the way you play and how you benefit from your class just by choosing a specific race.
Because of my class, I chose one of the dark races, and the demon race was just perfect for a Twilight Assassin. The dark elves were also good candidates but were rejected because of the mere fact that our superior Kaje was really fond of them. So, to not end up as a stalking victim, I preferred the choice of demon race, which is also more fitting to my mental state whenever I see one of those troublemakers!
1. Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Game
2. Game Master
3. Non Player Character
Proofreader: Ich and Jacuzzi