Chapter 732: The birth of Plants vs. Zombies!
Translator: Legge Editor: - -
An idle chat had turned into business talk.
Wu Zeqing's elder sister was likely a woman of her word, so since she brought up the issue as the conversation had somehow steered toward it, she was probably really hoping to get an influential celebrity's endorsement for her company. At the same time, Zhang Ye was not the type to plan things. He just took things as they came and was also a more easygoing type of person.
As a result, they hit it off very well.
They settled an important matter in just a few lines of idle chatter.
Fat Sis thought that this was somewhat hasty, not because of herself, but because Zhang Ye had promised her so freely. Therefore, she decided to give him a brief introduction to her company. "I set up my company some years ago with a partner, with me being the majority shareholder. The company is in the PC gaming industry, and mainly focuses on browser and puzzle games. We're just a small, indie company that cannot compete against those large video game publishers who deal with huge game projects. However, even though we're an indie company, we aren't that small either. We do have a name carved out for ourselves in the industry and have ambitions to get into bigger projects. Some time ago, after our company completed long-term research into puzzle games, we came up with a new project we have invested heavily into. We hope that it can compete with the top dogs in the market, but as you know about the video game industry these days, the competition is very fierce and depends heavily on advertising campaigns. In many of the recently published games, the ad budget has even exceeded the game development budget for some companies, so we can see just how important ad campaigns are."
Zhang Ye nodded as he listened.
Fat Sis insinuated, "We have also discussed this in our last few meetings and were considering several celebrities, hoping to discuss an endorsement deal with them. But those were all just small-time celebrities. For a big shot like you, truthfully, we haven't even given it any consideration since the endorsement fees are so high, therefore..."
Zhang Ye suddenly interrupted, "I can sense that you're insulting me."
Fat Sis said, "Not at all."
Zhang Ye said unhappily, "But you are. What big shot? What famous person? I'm just a small-time celebrity. What about the endorsement fee? Can you not ridicule me like that?"
"But we have to talk about the money no matter what."
"If you wish to talk about money, then I won't be doing the endorsement for you."
"Little Zhang, are you looking down on me?"
"Not at all."
"But you are. If we don't discuss the endorsement fee, I can't possibly make you do it pro bono, can I?"
"Old Wu is my friend, so how can I ask you for any money? Why are you so funny? I don't need a single cent. All I need is a word from you and we can sign the contract!"
"Little Zhang, it's meaningless if you put it that way. Business is business, even if you're my sister's friend. Anything between the two of you remains so, but business is business!"
"But I think of you as a friend too, unless you don't treat me as one?!"
"It's you who's not treating me as your friend! What you're saying is totally pointless!"
"It's you who's being pointless! It's just an endorsement for a game. All you need is to take a few photos of me and publish them, so why are you still bringing up the issue of money with me? Aiyo, aren't you getting tired of this talk?"
The two of them nearly started a fight, speaking in quick succession. But of course, it wasn't really a fight. The two of them were actually speaking with humility in every line they said. This kind of a conversation style could only be seen in Beijing throughout the entire country. It was typical of the Beijing style and couldn't really be found anywhere else!
Until noon, the two of them squabbled over the issue of the endorsement fee.
"3 million. I can't afford it if it's any more than that."
"I won't take a single cent from you!"
"With the reputation of Zhang Ye out there, it's worth 3 million, so that's settled!"
"What reputation? I don't have any reputation at all! Who the hell would know who I am?!"
"You're being pointless again, Little Zhang! Really pointless!"
In the kitchen, the food for lunch had been prepared.
Old Wu set the table and placed the dishes on it. Then she looked over with an air of gracefulness and said, "Enough, you two. You've been squabbling for the past two and a half hours, ever since I began preparing lunch. Do you two still have energy?"
Only then did Fat Sis take a breather, take her cup of tea from the table, and gulp down the cold tea in several mouthfuls. "Hoo, I was dying of thirst!"
Zhang Ye, finding it to be the right time now, said, "So it's settled then, Fat Sis."
Old Wu agreed, "Little Zhang's not an outsider anyways. If he's willing to endorse your game, just go ahead and use him. The endorsement fee can just be a symbolic one. Aren't the finances for your company a little tight?"
Fat Sis sighed. "That's not right, that's not right at all! Little Zhang might be a B-list celebrity, but everyone in the industry knows that he commands an A-list endorsement fee, especially in the wake of The Voice. No one would believe it if his fees don't reach several million. Even a payout of 3 million is too shabby!"
Old Wu laughed. "At worst, you can wait until the game is released and everything has stabilized before giving Little Zhang his share through a share of the profits. It's not really that big of a deal."
Fat Sis said, "We still don't know how the game will perform in the current market. The National Gaming Expo is coming up, and the demo version hasn't even been completed yet. There are still many details and kinks that need to be ironed out, so if it fails when the time comes, how would I be able to compensate Little Zhang?"
They began eating.
Zhang Ye was getting tired from talking. He sat at the dining table and immediately picked up the chopsticks to start eating.
Old Wu also sat down, speaking as she ate, "I don't know anything about video games, but you can discuss it with Little Ye. He has a quick mind and many ideas as well."
"Right, I can advise you on some things," Zhang Ye said, still chewing on his food.
Fat Sis did not take this to heart, and even picked up a piece of meat and put it in Zhang Ye's bowl. She said, "Game development is quite different from making TV shows. They are two completely different fields, so even though I know Little Zhang's planning skills are very strong, it's unlikely that he knows much about video games. The genre of this new game that we're developing is a type of strategy-puzzle game in which the player can command a group of soldiers. There will be various types of weapons available while the enemy will be the computer AI's group of soldiers. The different types of weapons and soldiers will deal a range of different damage to the 'enemy.' The player's objective will be to capture a central flag on the map, but even if they do, they will just advance to the next stage where it becomes harder and harder to win. Of course, there will also be boss characters for them to come up against."
She gave a general overview of the game's rules.
Finally, Fat Sis said with a headache, "The game's final version has generally been completed now, but regarding the battle between the soldiers, many of the staff at the company feel that it's too traditional and boring after they playtested the game. There's no novelty to it, nor are the features outstanding. However, the advantage that we have is that our gameplay is quite strong, with many stages available. The preliminary design has 68 different levels, so the only thing left to ponder is how to make the game more interesting and creative."
Listening up to here, Zhang Ye raised his head and blinked several times. "Does it have to be about soldiers fighting a battle?"
Fat Sis glanced at him. "It doesn't have to be. We can change it any time we want."
Zhang Ye hesitated for a moment and smiled, "Then let me share with you an idea. Tell me what you think."
"Go ahead." Fat Sis did not take him too seriously.
When it came to his girlfriend's family, Zhang Ye was unconditional in giving. "Could we change the soldiers that the player will be controlling to different types of plants and fungi that have their own unique offensive or defensive capabilities? And the enemies would be changed into different types of zombies."
Fat Sis was stunned. "Plants? Zombies?"
Zhang Ye stopped eating. He put down his chopsticks and found a pen and paper, and started scribbling on it. "The gameplay that I'm talking about is similar to your game overall. The difference is that the player-controlled assets would be static, which means that it's essentially a kind of tower defense game. With the scary zombies about to invade, each type of zombie would have its own unique features. For example, the Buckethead Zombie is extremely resistant to damage, while the Digger Zombie can dig beneath the yard to bypass plants that are planted on the lawn, and so on." With every explanation, Zhang Ye sketched out simple forms to illustrate it to Fat Sis. "The player will have to defend against the zombies by placing different types of plants on the lawn. There will be several dozen types of plants with different characteristics, like the Cherry Bomb that can instantly kill all enemies within a certain range, while the Chomper can devour the zombie closest to it. The players will have to strategically plan their placement of the plants in accordance to the weaknesses of each type of zombie to gain victory."
Fat Sis was so enthralled by the explanation that she no longer cared to eat. She anxiously asked, "Will there be enough stages though?"
"Why would there not be enough? You mentioned that the game your company designed has 68 levels? In my opinion, that isn't what I'd call enough. If it is according to my design, every plant type would have different attacks, special abilities, and purchase costs. It's also a developing process, with puzzle pieces to collect. There can be different game modes, such as adventure mode, survival mode, puzzle mode, mini-games, a zen garden, etc." He explained the overall concept of each mode before finally saying, "Then, including different areas on top of Day, like Night, Pool, Fog, and Roof, I dare say that this type of game has levels that are...virtually limitless!"
In the half-hour talk, Zhang Ye sped through his explanation, speaking with more and more excitement as the number of pages he used to illustrate his proposal increased to more than a dozen on the dining table!
Zombie characteristics and design...
Almost everything was covered in detail!
Fat Sis was incredibly stunned and amazed. "What is the title of this game!?"
Zhang Ye smiled and said, "I hope you can name it...Plants vs. Zombies!"