Fang Zhao observed Curly Hair for some time to make sure he understood the lecture before taking him back to the office.
It was true what Zu Wen had said—the label had set up a new hangout for Curly Hair. As soon as he stepped onto the 50th floor, Fang Zhao saw several pictures on the wall. Some were taken by Zu Wen and company during their recent trip to the Muzhou grand finals; others were official pictures from the prize presentation ceremony. The walls had originally been dominated by posters of Polar Light, but now Polar Light and Curly Hair each accounted for half the area. As Zu Wen put it, both of these characters were products of the virtual projects department, even if Curly Hair was Fang Zhao's personal pet. Fang Zhao was the head of the department, so Curly Hair was part of the department too.
Curly Hair's new digs took up an entire room. It was custom-made, complete with a turf carpet.
"Curly Hair is here? Oh, my little munchkin!" Zu Wen smiled so hard when he saw Curly Hair by Fang Zhao's feet he was wincing. A cheesy term like "munchkin" carried over from the competition to the office.
There were reasons why they allocated and renovated an entire room for a dog. First, Curly Hair's market value had gone through the roof and he was now world-famous. Second, everyone had bet on Dongshan Farm winning and Curly Hair taking MVD honors when they were in Muzhou. They had raked it in big time. Folks who had wagered smaller amounts were now regretting their decision. Zu Wen was one of the major punters, earning at least 2 million. That's also why he was so excited to see Curly Hair that he called him "little munchkin."
"Boss, I hear the label wants to cast Curly Hair in a movie?" Zu Wen asked.
"That's why I'm here."
After dropping off Curly Hair on the 50th floor, Fang Zhao headed to the penthouse suite to see Duan Qianji.
He had read through the details on the offers that Duan Qianji had sent over. He'd picked a few commercials and a hit online TV series. It was a guest-star role for one episode, not heavy lifting. He'd also agreed to a few public interest announcements, which were also recommended by the label.
The public interest ad was about stray dogs. The main purpose was to urge people to take the responsibility of buying a pet seriously. Sure, you would be free if you tossed your pet after a few days, but not every abandoned dog ended up in a centralized pound. Stray dogs were common in the suburbs and beyond. Not only were they a potential means of disease transmission, but they occasionally attacked humans too.
Many people knew that Curly Hair had been a stray dog before being adopted by Fang Zhao, but few had expected this stray dog would end up an MVD with a market value of more than 100 million dollars. It made sense for the label to consider it for public interest ads. The ad was financed by Silver Wing. A few stars would appear in it and Fang Zhao had a cameo, but the centerpiece was Curly Hair.
After deciding on the offers, as the owner, Fang Zhao tagged along on the shoots.
Likely as a result of Fang Zhao's reminders, Curly Hair appeared more normal on his shoots. He was still smart, but "normal" smart. There were lots of smart dogs in the world. Muzhou was home to many shepherd dogs with high IQ, so the production crews on the shoots didn't think Curly Hair stood out.
The ads were quite straightforward, be they the commercial shot by a regular Silver Wing partner or the public interest ad shot by Silver Wing itself. Shooting went smoothly. Given technological advancements in the New Era, both shoots were completed back-to-back in a day.
The online TV series took longer, with the shoot lasting a few days. "City Hunter" was a detective thriller. Quite a few major stars were involved. Ads featuring Curly Hair were rolled out once his role had been confirmed. Some folks joked, "Even the dogs used in 'City Hunter' are big shots."
While Fang Zhao was tagging along on the shoot, he noticed that quite a few folks were following news about "Battle of the Century." Fiery Bird had released a new ad, which was more revealing.
During a break, some folks projected the ad so everyone could see.
The ad featured a dilapidated city resembling a wasteland. Several helicopters were charging forward.
As they watched the scene, someone shouted, "I know what that is! That's what was known in the Old Era as a tractor!"
Fang Zhao waited for one of the others in the audience to correct the speaker, but after a few seconds, all he got was silence. He turned his head and realized that everyone else wore an expression that suggested "mystery solved."
After letting out an imaginary sigh, Fang Zhao said, "It's called a helicopter. This one's for freight."
"Helicopter? I could have sworn it was called a tractor!" The speaker was skeptical, but a quick search yielded the correct information on Fiery Bird's official website. The words "mid-sized double-propellor freight helicopter" were highlighted.
"Oh, it's really called a helicopter. I remembered wrong, haha." The speaker laughed in Fang Zhao's direction. "Brother, you're good at history. Are you a gamer? They're quite meticulous when it comes to historical details, no?"
Before Fang Zhao could answer, the speaker's attention was drawn by something else in the video and he started a discussion with the person next to him.
Fang Zhao was sitting far from the speaker, so he could see the projection clearly too. The images were realistic, as if transporting him back to his previous life.
Even though footage from the Old Era existed, Fiery Bird splurged on a 100-person team of consultants to recreate those times perfectly. The team comprised world-famous researchers on the Period of Destruction. There were historians, scholars who studied the history of science, biomedical experts, weapons experts, and so on. The point was to recreate the era comprehensively and realistically.
Apart from the promotional video, Fiery Bird also launched an online feature that introduced daily items from the Old Era, from food to daily necessities to modes of transportation. If you had a gaming console, you could start practicing using the items.
There was a big distinction between the two eras when it came to guns and forms of transportation. It helped to familiarize oneself with them ahead of time.
After Curly Hair shot his scenes, Fang Zhao returned to the office. He was caught up on all his outstanding tasks. The shoots for the ads and the TV series had been completed. There wasn't anything else left.
It was noon when he arrived in the virtual projects department. His staff had gathered for lunch. When Fang Zhao walked in, they were discussing items from the Old Era.
He had already heard his share of complaints from members of the production crews for Curly Hair's shoots.
"How come automatic transmission isn't the same as automatic driving? Why is the steering wheel round? Why are the gas pedal and the brake pedal so close to each other? Why was it so hard to drive in the Old Era? I need to switch to a luxury car that places the gas pedal on the steering wheel."
"What the hell is a bicycle? Why doesn't it run on its own when you get on it? Why is it so hard to maintain your balance? Wait, there are also electric scooters, motorbikes, and experiential vehicles. Forget it, I'll pass on the bike."
"What the hell can you do with so few bullets in a clip?"
People in the New Era were used to easily operated and smart technology. Relics from the Old Era struck them as clumsy and a hassle. They even wondered why these things existed in the first place.
Zu Wen and company were also discussing the practice tools launched by Fiery Bird. Obviously, they were still getting used to them.
"Boss, we were discussing Fiery Bird consoles in our tech discussion group yesterday again. I steeled myself this year and ordered a cabin-style console from Fiery Bird. It's an upgrade from the ninth-generation console. They say the cabin-style console is more realistic than the helmet-style one, but word has it they're coming out with a new design for their 10th-generation console, but they haven't announced any details. Boss, the one you're getting is a 10th generation, right?"
"So it's the 10th-generation console 'Rhapsody'?' The one announced on the official website? The one coming out along with the ninth-generation upgrade?"
"Is it being delivered to the office?"
"To my house."
Zu Wen and company were instantly disappointed when they heard Fang Zhao's response. They were thinking that, if the console were delivered to the office, they could pose for pictures with it.
In fact, Fang Zhao had originally planned on having the console delivered to the office, but after rethinking it, he'd had Fiery Bird send it to his house. He could play freely at home, but being too reckless at the office would cause a bad influence. Even though Fang Zhao was given free rein, others were working. He didn't want to sow the seeds of jealousy or prevent other departments from going about their business.
After noticing that his body had mutated, Fang Zhao had also set up a gym at his home. That would free up the company gym for others. He could also exercise more freely at home and keep his secret under wraps.
"Boss, do you know how to drive a regular car? Or ride a bike? Or use a gun?" Zu Wen was firing on all cylinders. "Tools from the Old Era are too difficult to use. I've already summoned the level of determination I had for my college entrance exams."
"I do," Fang Zhao responded.
"You've figured it out already? But I did too, hahaha. Among our group, only Wan Yue is still learning," Zu Wen said with a laugh.
Wan Yue wore a massive frown. She found the tools a handful. "We'll be fine as long as you guys know how to use them. We're going to play together anyway, right?"
"No worries. You have me," Zeng Huang said.
"Right. Right. If you can't figure out the tools, we'll help out," Zu Wen said with a nod.
Fang Zhao restrained himself from raining on the parade. He hadn't played the game yet, but he was skeptical as to how accurately it could recreate the Old Era.