Video Game Thoughts: Risk Your Life: Path of the Emperor

Risk Your Life: Path of the Emperor was a 2002 massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) by CiB Net Station and Youxiland Digital Co., Ltd. for the PC. It was a Malaysian game and very popular there. I originally played it on the Malaysia server. At some point I found out from other players that there was an American company, Planetwide Games, planning to do an official American release. They had setup some basic forums, but there was no game to play. They had plans to do a beta test with fans on the forums getting the first invites. I was really excited for this. I wanted to help them out and make a really cool game.

When the beta test started, I was one of the lucky ones invited. Not everyone got invited. It was largely based on how helpful or popular they were on the forums. I’ve never been any good at talking in person, but on the forums I was comfortable writing anything. I portrayed a really laid-back, positive personality in my forum posts. I think that’s what my personality in real life would be like if I was more comfortable around strangers.

I spent hours playing the beta test. They had told us everything would be reset eventually, but I didn’t care. I did it for the attention. I became known more and more in this little community. To this day I have not beta tested another game as much as Risk Your Life. That attention led to even more success when I was promoted to be a volunteer Game Master. I prided myself on helping players with tech support. My routine every day after school was to open the game forums, tech support chat system, and the game itself.

I loved being able to make announcements in the game. Players would then flood me with private messages trying to get attention themselves. I also sometimes had to punish or ban players that had broken the rules. We had a timeout system where we could lock out a character on someone’s account. We also could ban the whole account for varying lengths of time. I loved all this power. I was very happy at this time. The company even rewarded all the Game Masters with a free MP3 player and a free lifetime subscription to the game. Things changed though.

As I got older, I stopped caring about the attention. I was happy with who I was whether someone liked me or not. The excitement to log in and help people disappeared. There were other games that came out that I wanted to play. I slowly stopped logging in. I regret that I never said goodbye. It was really immature to just disappear like that. Worse still, it happened twice. Six months after disappearing, I was bored one day and decided to come back. They were nice enough to reinstate me as Game Master again, but my interest only lasted a few weeks. Then I disappeared a second time. I hate that I did this now, but at the time I didn’t care.

The game itself had some unique aspects, but it was largely overshadowed by the then-recently released World of Warcraft. Unlike World of Warcraft it had a one-to-one combat system. There was no targeting enemies to attack them. The player would just click the mouse. If the target was in range, it would take damage. As far as MMORPGs go, Risk Your Life was way before its time in this combat system. I didn’t see this again for probably five years.

Like most Asian MMORPGs, Risk Your Life had a Player vs. Player (PvP) arena for players to fight against each other. Most of the game was leveling up, but at the max level it was just about slowly getting better items to compete against other players. There were a few bosses for players to fight together, but most of the max level content was fighting other players. Players could get points for each kill. There was a ranking system that would show the top one hundred players on the server.

Risk Your Life had not gotten great reviews and was struggling to get subscribers. In an attempt to spur sales, the developers came up with a million dollar tournament. They created a new server just for the tournament, so players would all start at the same time. Then it was a race to see who could get the most points and be number one in the PvP ranking by the end date. Well, the game wasn’t equipped to handle this. Hackers kept finding ways to overpower their characters or instantly kill other players. In the end, the developers had to abandon the tournament. This was a huge PR blow. The game was made fun of all over the internet. Within a year the game was shutdown.

Despite the game’s failure, I still remember those times fondly, from testing the game to doing my best as a Game Master. It taught me some real life lessons. It’s what got me started writing online. Before that point, I would just read what others wrote, but now I was actively thinking of ways I could contribute online. Since then I have posted on many, many video game sites. Now I’ve combined my writing with my faith to create this website. I will probably always be a writer, not for money but for entertainment and to serve others.

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