The Crafting of Chess is a book by Kit Falbo, published on February 19 2019 on Kindle. The book details the journey of a teenaged boy, who tries to make money through crafting the equipment for a newly released MMO RPG, all the while trying to keep his grandfather on a straight and narrow path.
Nate lives with his grandfather, who often runs scams. As a result, they have to move from one town to another, once people find out about his scams.
But Nate wants more from his life than running scams, and moving around. So when a game called Fair Quest gets released, he decides to use it to get a steady paycheck. But even this path is challenging, as he soon finds out.
My reading experiences:
So, there’s this immersive RPG called Fair Quest, in which, you have companions. If you wish to win the game, you must beat a monster of some kind, and bring an item from its heart as a proof. Once you do that, your companion will become a king, and you will be rewarded the price of two million dollars.
Nate is a chess player. And the book opens with one, where he’s trying to hustle a man, running a wager with him. Naturally, cheating is involved, but Nate is genuinely a great chess player, as we learn later in the book, when he beats the AI in the game on ten rounds without losing.
I initially thought this will be a generic player ends up in a game kind of story. Where the player basically finds loopholes after loopholes, and games the entire system for his advantage, all the while behaving like an immoral bastard.
Instead, Nate ends up just picking a class, which would help him in creating equipment, and starts to do that immediately. He decides that he’ll just craft the equipment, and then exchange the game currency for the real-world money, and bring financial stability that way.
The book is usually presented through the first-person point of view of Nate, but there are two more characters who get their fare share of limelight. One is Casey Ellis, the lead programmer of the game. When Nate, using the moniker of Chess in the game, starts to make waves, the company gets worried. Things get so bad that Casey is sent to confirm the identity of Chess, whether he is truly a teenaged boy, or someone else.
Another character is David, a victim of stroke whose body is paralyzed. He often uses the game to escape from the dreadful reality, and works as an assassin in the game.
First, let’s talk about the things which the book manages to do right. I like how it presents the life of a person trying to make money from playing games. This is not a fantasy though, as many people have actually made real money from selling the virtual items in the game. China even used prisoners in the past, to build credit in the online games like World of Warcraft, though they still do that now or not, is currently unknown to me.
Second, the toxicity of the gamers. A lot of the players treated their AI companions like shit, using them as pack mules or treating them badly. When their behavior was called in action, they of course protested, all the while the tension with NPC characters just kept building. It wouldn’t have surprised me if the game itself declared the war upon its own players for killing helpless NPCS, and destroying villages.
Even the main character is not safe from this toxicity. When Nate hires some players to complete a high-level quest, where a lot of combat may happen, they actually just seal him in a cave, and left him to die. After all, why care about death when he’s going to just spawn back?
When you read a story like this, the main character ends up overpowered very early in the book. After that, only special bosses can pose a threat to them. Nate however did not participate on the combat, aside from few tussles. he instead just crafted his equipment, and made his companion the king by the use of politics, which is very much appreciated for its unique take.
Now, let’s talk about the wrongs. First, there are few typos. Second, a lot of things do build up to, but are never capitalized on. Third, and the biggest problem I have with this book, is its ending.
It ends abruptly. You see, when Casey tracks down the woman who is said to be Nate’s mother, they just meet. And, and, and, and nothing!
I mean no questions, no tears, just nothing. Nate doesn’t even doubt this woman at all.
Then, what about the fallout from Nate’s companion becoming the king, especially the way he did? What about the monster slaying quest now? What do the other players think about that, and do they try to kill Nate because of this? What about the division in the company itself?
Overall, it is a great book. And I most certainly recommend it. but it either needs a sequel, or a proper epilogue to tie everything together.
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