“A Fighter?” Overgrown Foliage was very lost. “Aren’t you a Mage?” He secretly used his Appraisal and confirmed that Thousand Miles Drunk was without a doubt a Mage.
Gu Fei shook his head. “I don’t have any interest or need to earn money through the game.”
Overgrown Foliage chuckled. The professional gamers in their workshop were well aware that the average players would never consider their work as a formal occupation when, in reality, the online gaming industry was thriving these days, and a workshop that depended on the fertile land of MMOs to survive had already become an important segment in the entertainment industry. Whenever these established workshops entered a game, their exploitation of the in-game resources allowed them to make a run for the players’ wallets just like the game company, and the amount of profit they generated every month was not as paltry as what the average person had imagined. Even though in the early days, a good number of these workshop only focused on chasing after greater profits by infiltrating en masse , only to end up destroying the in-game economy with their presence and negatively affecting the game. But as the industry began to pivot toward greater legitimacy, this business method of ‘killing the golden goose’ had long since become obsolete. The workshops in this time and age were even more hopeful than the players to ensure that a game would have a more favorable and harmonious environment for all. Especially a large and renowned workshop like Remarkable Flair, which was a formal company that had an official business license, they were even expected to pay game companies a satisfactory amount of money through formal channels whenever they tried to establish themselves in some MMOs out there. It could, thus, be seen how even the game operators had to acknowledge these workshops’ existence after they began to standardize themselves.
Similarly, Overgrown Foliage had heard what Gu Fei had just said plenty of times from the traditionalists with more conservative views because of their unawareness about the glorious future outlook of workshops in the MMO industry, and this was especially true in the completely new gaming environment the VRMMO Parallel World offered. Players in this game had a myriad of needs and wants, and it was unknown just how many different avenues these workshops had tried to develop in an effort to find more ways where they could generate greater profits. Gone were the days when employees of workshops only did boring activities like gold farming, material farming, equipment farming, and whatnot.
The white dust in Baishi City, the private ferrying in Linshui City, the lantern- and torch-making in Xiawu City… Just how many of these businesses had taken the game by storm when they had first been launched?
Overgrown Foliage once met someone who arrogantly believed that he had quite the salary – a spendthrift who could be regarded as a pay-to-win player that was the envy of the masses. In the end, that man realized after asking around that the wage he was so proud of was the bare minimum a porter who exported white dust for Remarkable Flair workshop could make. From that point onward, Overgrown Foliage became all the more confident that all he had to do was randomly show an employee’s paycheck to those people who did not think much of his profession, and that would be enough to shake them to the core. Presently, how huge was the efficient monster grinding routine business? Based on the numbers he had roughly estimated, if he were to tell them the expected profit for this, perhaps the number one slayer in Parallel World would find himself petrified to the point that he could not control his bowels?
These thoughts flashed through Overgrown Foliage’s mind at once, and he decided to drop the numbers to give these two bumpkins a proper shock. Thus, with a fairly casual tone, Overgrown Foliage said, “He he. When it comes to money, is there really someone who doesn’t wish to earn more? Why would either of you reject being able to randomly play the game while casually earning a few millions’ worth of pocket money?”
This time, before Gu Fei was able to answer, Eternal Dominion snatched the chance by patting his dimensional pocket and acting like a wealthy man. “It’s only a few million gold coins; I’ve already got that.” He had already pocketed the portion of profits from the previous lessons, and adding the income he had earned before, the amount of gold coins he was holding had already surpassed the million mark.
As Eternal Dominion gloated over this fact, Overgrown Foliage was assured in his assessment of how wet behind the gills these two men were, so he tossed out his next sentence with an utterly unperturbed face. “No, I don’t mean gold coins. I mean real-world money.”
“Real… Real-world money?!” Eternal Dominion mouth hung agape. A few million dollars was considered a fantastical sum to someone like Eternal Dominion.
Overgrown Foliage was extremely satisfied with Eternal Dominion’s reaction, thinking to himself that this man was indeed someone who had not seen much of the world, getting a fright from just a figure of several millions. It seemed that the average person simply could not imagine the huge turnover workshops would rake in. Even the Five Unyielding Experts were just that; it was unknown just what sort of reaction that so-called top pay-to-win player Svelte Dancer would have when faced with such a revelation herself. Overgrown Foliage continued to wonder to himself even as he sneaked a peek at Gu Fei. He felt a little uneasy when he saw that the Mage was still showing that placid smile. Thinking that the man was acting rather conceited, he decided to stoke the flames further. “Hmm… Actually, I’m being a little more conservative with my estimation; after all, we are not really in cooperation yet, so we have yet to conduct a detailed market analysis, but roughly speaking, given how there are over 50 million players in Parallel World right now, as long as we can push the efficient monster grinding routine to just 10% of this number, with the current market price of 99 gold coins, then that can come up to about 495 million gold coins. With how the gold coins to currency market has stabilized recently, and our rate of exchange going at 30 dollars per 100 gold coins, that 495 million will translate to 148.5 million dollars.”
“148.5 million dollars!” Eternal Dominion sucked in a sharp breath of cold air.
“It’s all in RMB 1 ,” Overgrown Foliage reminded him.
“So what is all this about?” Eternal Dominion was having a mind-boggling fix right now.
“It’s basically a few friends opening a small business together, but now a big corporation is interested in the prospects of this exclusive operation and wishes to acquire it to expand the enterprise; am I right?” Gu Fei explained it to Eternal Dominion before verifying with Overgrown Foliage.
“Yes, that sounds about right!” Overgrown Foliage nodded. He had just given a calculation of the estimated profit, which was somewhere above a hundred million RMB, yet this Thousand Miles Drunk had not shown any sort of reaction to it, and this made him feel somewhat unsettled. Such a huge sum isn’t enough to tug at his heartstrings? Just what sort of background does he have…
“148.5 million RMB…” Eternal Dominion was still muttering that number under his breath. “I don’t even need that much either…”
“Dream on. That’s the total revenue from the whole business; we don’t know how many people that will be split among!” Gu Fei said as he asked Overgrown Foliage. “If we’re splitting it, how much will he get?”
Overgrown Foliage immediately realized that this person was acting like this because he had yet to affirm the profits he would get. Unfortunately, Overgrown Foliage was unable to make the decision on how the profits would be split, so he did not dare to say another word about this, afraid that it would affect future negotiations. This was of course the time when his superior would step in, and while Proud Sovereign was just the person in charge of their branch in Yueye City, he still had a bit of authority in order to conduct such business. At this moment, he did not dare to come up and make promises but just very calmly related, “If you two gentlemen are interested about this, why don’t we find somewhere to sit and slowly discuss about it? Fourth Street in Yueye City has a barbeque joint that we, Remarkable Flair, run. It’s got quite the ambience, so why don’t we head over there and chat over a bite or two?”
Barbequed meat was still the staple food in this game, and even though Chinese cuisine had different variations and combinations of the dishes, requiring plenty of necessary and complex ingredients like onions, garlic and ginger, where would players find such things in the game? Many players were tired of eating just barbequed meat skewers at this point, and their taste buds clamored for cumin flavor, which left these countless grill masters stumped. Countless culinary masters dove into the forest and began taste-testing the herbs and wild vegetation, hoping that they could find something that could replicate the cumin taste.
“Now? We haven’t even had dinner yet!” Gu Fei said.
“Aren’t we headed to eat this way?” Proud Sovereign asked.
“I don’t mean in-game…” Gu Fei wiped his sweat. Interacting with these gamers was really annoying; they treat the game too seriously.
“Oh… So that’s what you mean! In that case, gentlemen, please go ahead and have your dinner. Shall we get in touch at a later time?” Proud Sovereign did not make things difficult for them in any case. Thousand Miles Drunk was originally turning to leave without much regard, but the man did not reject the notion outright after he heard the sum involved. With this sigh of relief, what followed would simply be a matter of how the profits were split. He could take this chance while the two were off to get their dinner to contact his superiors, find out what was the bottom line that they could base their negotiations. Proud Sovereign was already making all these plans in his mind even as he spoke to the two men before him.
Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage were not wrong in their assumption; Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion were indeed rather ignorant when it came to matters pertaining to games; neither of them had expected workshops to be able to earn so much money. Of all the people that Gu Fei had come into contact with in this game, making the barest of acquaintances with players like Nightmare of Death and people like Southern Lone Blade’s team, whom he was more familiar with, all of them seemed to have quite a hard time making a living as professional gamers, and their income did not seem to be anything substantial. However, the tone and boldness that these two workshop employees demonstrated was entirely different from Southern Lone Blade’s group. Could that be the difference between a big corporation and a small company? After both parties added each other as friends, Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion discussed the matter as they made their way back to the city. When they reached the spawn point, the two men respectively logged out. Gu Fei soon got back online in a hurry after he was done with his meal, and Eternal Dominion was even more anxious than he was, already waiting in-game for Gu Fei to show up at the spawn point.
“You’re finally here. I was almost about to log out and give you a call,” Eternal Dominion said.
“You’ve got my number?” Gu Fei was puzzled.
“I asked your dad!” Eternal Dominion answered.
“Ah… Have you contacted them?” Gu Fei got right down to business.
“They asked me to go over, but I told them that I’m waiting for you. They told me to head to a street barbecue joint once you arrive; they’ll be waiting for us there. Do you know how to get there?” Eternal Dominion asked.
“Why didn’t you ask them if you don’t know how to get there?” Gu Fei randomly picked one of those people and asked how to reach the Fourth Street, departing with Eternal Dominion in tow.
At Yueye City’s Fourth Street, the Remarkable Flair workshop’s barbeque joint was one of the more popular locations. Both men saw a very eye-catching flag outside with the word ‘Barbeque’ sewn on it. Walking over, they messaged Proud Sovereign. “We’re here.”
The door to the joint was flung open just as the message was sent, and they saw Overgrown Foliage walk right out and look around; the two quickly waved their hands and hastened their steps. The expression on Overgrown Foliage’s face did not seem to be as joyful as before, plainly saying ‘please come in’ when he saw them before he took the lead to bring them into the store.
The smell of barbecued meat, as well as all sorts of alcohol, permeated the inside of the store. This style of store, which allowed patrons to eat and drink at the same time, was far more popular to the players than the taverns, allowing the business to thrive well. Gu Fei lifted his eyes and glanced at the menu pasted all around the walls and saw that the names listed, such as ‘Grassland Wild Boar,’ ‘Uni-horn Wolf,’ ‘Three-eared Grey Rabbit,’ and ‘Redtail Snake,’ had their prices written, as well as the level of said monsters, right below. The higher the level, the pricier the meat, making it seem as if the players were not eating it for the taste of the meat but its level.
As player-operated stores, Remarkable Flair and Ray, the owner of a bar in Yunduan City, shared the same idea of partitioning rooms from the main hall. However, there were evidently more talented people in Remarkable Flair’s workshop as the overall arrangement in the barbecue joint was a lot more curated, unlike the tables and benches that were carelessly strewn about at Ray’s Bar when it opened. The style of the entire store was very different from the taverns that players would often spend their time and coins in, letting people know the moment they stepped in just what this store was about.
Overgrown Foliage led the way and brought the two to a room that was in the furthest corner of the establishment. Gu Fei stepped in and saw that it was not just Proud Sovereign seated within; another player was present as well. Like Overgrown Foliage, Proud Sovereign’s expression was gloomy, but that instantly changed into one that exuded warmth and passion the moment he saw Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion step in. “Gentlemen, please take your seats.”
Gu Fei nodded in acknowledgement, and he seated himself next to Eternal Dominion at one side, while Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage sat right across them. Meanwhile, the new player whom they had not been introduced grandly took up the seat at the head of their table.
“Gentlemen.” This person took the initiative to greet. “Let me introduce myself; I am a director from Remarkable Flair who is in charge of six cities: Yunduan, Yueye, Baishi, Hongyan, Muyu, and Chenhui. You may call me Five Nights.”
“Oh, hello there.” Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion greeted the man back. Gu Fei caught that flash of contempt in that glare Overgrown Foliage and Proud Sovereign shot at Five Nights’ introduction, elucidating the relationship quite a bit instantly. This workshop was truly institutionalized, and it was apparent that Overgrown Foliage and Proud Sovereign would get quite the outstanding achievement, reward, and possibly promotion if they successfully sealed the deal on this acquisition. Meanwhile, this Five Nights, the self-proclaimed director of six cities, looked to be a direct superior of Proud Sovereign, and for the man to intervene at this time, he clearly intended to steal a good portion of their labor, so it made perfect sense why both men had such a disgruntled look to them now.
This organization’s members competing over rights and profits in this manner was very similar to how the guilds in this game would have disputes and bad bloods, which made it difficult to distinguish who was in the right and who was in the wrong. Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage were staring at Five Nights’ action with great disdain, but who was to say that when the two were sitting in his position, would they not do the same when dealing with such a potentially large business? Everyone, whose survival depended on the system, would mostly end up assimilating into the said system, while those who chose to grit their teeth and reject the system would either be eliminated or become the protagonist…
This unexpected discovery had let Gu Fei realize that this collaboration was no longer something small-scale like what one would find between players, which was ultimately done for the sake of entertainment. With such a huge business deal on the line, if they really wanted to negotiate this out, they might perhaps need to sign some legal contract that bound either party. Gu Fei did not have too clear of an understanding toward the game, but he at least still had this bit of common sense.
“Uh… With regard to the future prospects of the efficient monster grinding routines, I believe Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage have already given you a very clear overview, right? Right now, I’d like to listen to what thoughts either of you have about this, and please don’t mince words; say whatever comes to mind.” Five Nights did not preamble and immediately began to bluster, and his attitude in which he was doing this was far more pompous.
There was without a doubt that Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion possessed the capability to develop efficient monster grinding routines, but Five Nights believed that it was definitely impossible for these two to attain a level of propagation that could reach the entire Parallel World without the promotion from a workshop. Despite it being Remarkable Flair that had approached these two now, it did not mean that they would be begging for their cooperation in this matter. This business might be impossible without these two, but similarly, there was no way that the two men could maximize their profit without Remarkable Flair’s support; meaning, either party was indispensable to each other. If they were to give off the look that they were pleading for this collaboration, it was unavoidable for the other party to negotiate for a higher price; this was why Five Nights had purposely acted a bit more high-handed in an effort to let the two men realize their worth to the workshop, not to overvalue themselves. At the same time, Five Nights was entertaining another thought in mind: Why are Thousand Miles Drunk and Eternal Dominion able to develop these efficient monster grinding routines? If I can get a hold of the key to this knowledge, I can completely kick these two to the curb. Even if the contract has certain restrictions to this end, it doesn’t mean that we can’t take the initiative on this front.
Five Nights’ thinking was not mistaken, but it was a pity that he simply did not have a clear understanding of Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion; the mentality and concept of value these two martial artists shared was entirely different from the average player.
Gu Fei had no need for money, and what he was pursuing was something spiritual and not material. Thus, no amount of money offered would tempt him. Meanwhile, even though Eternal Dominion lacked money, he shared the same pursuit, which was beyond material gains. As such, he might be tempted to have enough money, but no matter how much money was being offered on the table, that temptation would not scale accordingly. Eternal Dominion already said, “I don’t even need that much…” when he first heard that he could earn 148.5 million RMB. The average person might think that he was silly for saying that, but the truth was that it was this martial artist’s concept of value which made him say something as simple-minded. To them, satisfaction, happiness, and contentment were things that money could never buy, so what was the need for money? It was nothing but a means to guarantee survival.
No matter how high-handed Five Nights acted, could it be more elevated than Gu Fei’s attitude of sheer disregard? Hearing Five Nights’ question, he turned his head and glanced at Eternal Dominion. Gu Fei had no such pursuits, so when it came to actual money matters, he left it for Eternal Dominion, who was the one in need, to decide. In the end, Eternal Dominion gulped, looking a little nervous, and opened his mouth to say, “You go…”
Gu Fei was not one to hesitate and drag things out, so the moment Eternal Dominion gave him full control of this conversation, he did not bother to be courteous. “We don’t have any thoughts about it. We just wish to hear your conditions.”
“Conditions? Ha….” Five Nights chuckled, feeling as if these two men really had no talent when it came to negotiations. To be so direct, did that not reveal just how anxious you are? Perhaps we can lowball such sort of people… With such a thought in mind, Five Nights began to expound, giving a description of how they operated as he poured out his grievances to the two. When drawing them in, these workshop employees boasted of how incomparably capable their organization was, but once it came to the actual negotiations, each part of the process was ‘truthfully related’. This was an attempt to inculcate the belief that their workshop was essentially on the verge of collapse to the other party. Mixing all sorts of fake and real reasons, he aimed to communicate to them all the difficulties they faced on their end; how they must show some understanding and be more cooperative and how important it was to show sincerity. Now that they were also very sincerely offering a price, it was the two’s turn to show good faith.
At this point, if the other party was convinced by the confusing litany of words, they would feel embarrassed to give a high price, as if doing so would reveal a lack of sincerity and offend the others, only worsening the situation.
But after saying so much, all Gu Fei did was turn his head to ask Eternal Dominion, “How much do you need?”
“Wait a minute; let me do the math. The current expenditure for my three meals every day, daily expenses…” Eternal Dominion crouched over the table and began making calculations.
Gu Fei threw him a scornful look. “F*ck! Must I find out how many years you want to live, too?”