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January 5th, Wednesday…
Chen Kangtuo and Hao Qiong sat in the coffee area of the Fish-Catching Internet Cafe. Each of them had a laptop in hand, tapping away.
It looked as if inspiration was gushing through their minds. Their fingers were constantly moving, except for when they paused to organize their thoughts. Then, they would pick up the coffee on the table and take a sip.
Both of them were working on the plan for the haunted house.
During their time in the United States, they lived a dream-no, a nightmare.
“Smog Mountain’ State Mental Hospital was an abandoned hospital, which had been termed the most terrifying haunted house in the world.
During the past five days, the group of them had repeatedly walked through the haunted house. The suffering that they had experienced could not be described in words.
It had left a lasting impression in their hearts. They had learned so many things. In fact, every time they went to sleep over the past few days, they would ‘gain new inspiration’ and ‘relive the blurry memories’.
So once they returned to Jingzhou, Chen Kangtuo’s and Hao Qiong’s minds became filled with inspiration. They could hardly wait to write all of their experiences down, so that they could transfer them into the haunted house project that they had been put in charge of.
However, they did not copy whatever they saw. Instead, they criticized and analyzed their experiences.
They had spent all yesterday and this morning writing. Thanks to their highly effective working model, the basic plan for the haunted house had already been written.
“Come on, let’s compare notes,” suggested Chen Kangtuo.
Both of them sent their written documents to each other.
Ever since they returned, both of them did not communicate much. This was to avoid interrupting each other’s thoughts and inspirations as far as possible.
They had each worked on their own plan. They planned to only combine the documents after discussion so they could achieve the best results.
Of course, both of their plans contained common points. Those were the points that Boss Pei had given them about the haunted house’s general direction.
Boss Pei’s opinion had to be taken as the core standard. They could not ignore it.
‘Make it a destination where the courageous cannot spend much, and where the timid can only watch on in fear without entering.’ Those had been Boss Pei’s own words.
After Chen Kangtuo and Hao Qiong read and digested the standard requirements, they managed to draw two key points:
There would be three projects, and the fear factor would increase sequentially.
By offering discounts and refunds, they would charge the more courageous visitors less, and the timider visitors more.
That would allow them to maintain the haunted house’s reputation and profits. At the same time, they could take care of both types of visitors.
The only thing was that neither of them had thought about how to design the individual projects.
Thus, they had to look for inspiration from more successful haunted houses. Now, they had been inspired and frightened. It was time to come up with the actual plan.
Both of them scanned each other’s proposals.
Chen Kangtuo looked surprised. “It looks like we’re on the same page for many things. Perhaps it’s because we both have experience in the game industry as well. Maybe that’s why we are used to thinking of problems from a gaming perspective.” Hao Qiong nodded. “Yes, maybe.”
Both of their plans had converged in some areas, even though they had not discussed things beforehand.
The first project would not be that scary. It could be a game where people would be allowed to socialize.
Chen Kangtuo thought about making it a classic horror-themed escape room. On the other hand, Hao Qiong thought about making slight modifications to Be Quiet and turning the online game into a real one.
Of course, neither of them had thought much about the details yet. They had only come up with the general direction.
The second project was going to be moderately scary, and it would act as the transition from the first project to the third project. Basically, it was going to be like a single-player game. This project could have a small location, but the horror effects would not be lacking. People who could make it through this section would be qualified to experience the third project.
Both of them had thought about the same thing for this project: they would use a narrow space, measuring from a few square meters to a maximum of twenty square meters, so that visitors could go experience the project alone. However, Hao Qiong had an additional suggestion: the project could be made out of shipping containers. The shipping containers would have different settings and wheels at the bottom. That way, they could make adjustments to the project whenever they wanted, and visitors would not be able to guess exactly which setting they would be put through.
The third project would be the scariest. Both of them aimed to recreate their experience at ‘Smog Mountain’ State Mental Hospital.
However, both of their plans were different from the set-up at ‘Smog Mountain’ State Mental Hospital.
At the moment, most haunted houses had not grasped the pace perfectly.
Small-scale haunted houses in the country mostly set one fixed path, which led visitors from beginning to end. There were no exits available even if visitors wanted to escape midway through. Thus, they would have no choice but to grit their teeth and complete the journey.
The good thing about those simpler haunted houses was that no workers would be roaming around inside, and the jump scares would not be that frightening. Almost everyone would be able to complete the journey.
Large-scale haunted houses would be much scarier and would have much longer journeys. Those haunted houses would have to install sufficient exit doors along the way so that visitors could leave safely once they felt like they could not withstand it any longer.
Of course, there would also have to be enough surveillance cameras installed to observe the visitors’ mental states.
Take extremely large haunted houses like ‘Smog Mountain’ State Mental Hospital for example. Understandably, there had been many exits along the way. There had also been employees stationed inside the haunted house, ready to safely escort visitors insisting that they wanted to leave out of the place.
However, after visiting this haunted house, both men had had the same thought: ordinary people could not complete the entire journey in the haunted house, and so it became a waste!
In fact, the group had not been successful the first time that they visited the haunted house.
Bao Xu and Hao Qiong could not even hang in there for ten minutes before they admitted defeat. The ones who stayed in the haunted house for the longest time had been Lin Wan and Li Yada, but they had only hung in there for twenty minutes.
Of course, Li Yada had been forced to stay by Lin Wan. Otherwise, she might have beaten a retreat at the moment that she had entered.
According to their observations, they had not been acting out of the ordinary. After the visitors had bought tickets, they had been made to queue in the waiting area. There, most of them had been almost scared to death by the introductory film, which was meant to heighten the tension. As a result, most of them had given up as soon as they had entered the haunted house. Chen Kangtuo and Hao Qiong both thought that this was a pity.
The company had worked so hard on producing a terrifying haunted house, but most visitors were being scared off before they even entered. It was an absolute waste.
As the saying went, one had to fatten the pigs before killing them.
It was the same for games. If a company created a torturous game, it would be normal for some people to back off after the initial stages. However, if more than half of the players were backing off at that stage, it meant that there was a problem with the difficulty level.
The difficulty should slowly increase throughout the game. Even if the game really was meant to torture players, it had to give them opportunities to get the hang of the game. It could not torture them and scare them off right at the beginning. If their own haunted house copied ‘Smog Mountain’ State Mental Hospital’s set-up entirely, nobody would end up interested in it.
‘Smog Mountain’ State Mental Hospital could only get a steady flow of visitors because it had already been coined the scariest haunted house in the world. Its reputation had already been established.
On the other hand, their haunted house was going to be in Jingzhou. It had no reputation, and it could not attract visitors from all over the world yet. If they set the barrier too high, they would not be able to recover their capital for sure.
Thus, every visitor would be important.
Chen Kangtuo and Hao Qiong each thought of a different resolution for this problem.
Hao Qiong’s plan was to sell tickets that would allow visitors multiple entries. At the same time, the initial horror level would be adjusted downwards on purpose.
In the beginning, there would be relatively fun and less-scary tasks for visitors to do. The purpose would be to persuade visitors to stay.
At the same time, every ticket would allow each visitor multiple entries. They could increase the price of the ticket to make up for this. Then, visitors would be allowed to warm up and calm themselves down before attempting the challenge once again.
That was what Hao Qiong and the others had done in the United States. In fact, the haunted house had been extremely scary the first time that they entered. None of them remembered what they had done. All of them had gone through the experience while in a trance.
Subsequently, when they had entered again, they had done so with certain expectations. It was then that the haunted house had slowly become more interesting.
However, ordinary visitors would not purchase tickets and line up again just to torture themselves. Naturally, they would not have experienced what Hao Qiong and the others had.
Thus, Hao Qiong proposed allowing multiple entries for one ticket.
That way, even if they scared visitors off, it would only be temporary. Since the tickets allowed visitors multiple entries, they could take some time to calm themselves down before entering the haunted house again.
That would also generate a group of second-time visitors for the haunted house.
On the other hand, Chen Kangtuo’s plan was to design the project as a roundabout. The middle of the roundabout would act as the safe house.
Every time visitors completed a minor stage, they would be allowed to rest at the safe house. They could use that time to calm themselves down.
Most visitors would not be able to wander around a haunted house for more than an hour with no rest… like what was expected of them in ‘Smog Mountain’ State Mental Hospital. That meant that most people could not complete the journey.
That would become a serious waste of resources.
Thus, Chen Kangtuo thought about using common strategies in games to resolve this problem.
Many horror games included things like ‘save points’ or ‘safe houses’ so that players could rest from their highly tense state. After they calmed their nerves, they could resume the game.
Thus, Chen Kangtuo thought about including a safe house in the haunted house. That way, players could calm their nerves at regular intervals on the journey, and they would not be so easily scared off.
Both of their plans were different, but they did not conflict. They could combine all the ideas together.
After reading Chen Kangtuo’s plan, Hao Qiong looked slightly worried. “Would people find our haunted house too easy to complete if we do this? If visitors can complete the haunted house in their first try, they would not have to enter a second time, right?”
Chen Kangtuo shook his head. “I think the ultimate aim of any haunted house is not to scare visitors until they cannot complete the journey. If visitors are scared away before they finish the first stage, it wouldn’t matter how well-done or frightening the rest of your haunted house is.
“We’ll naturally have more chances to scare visitors if we allow them to complete the journey. “In fact, whether visitors complete the haunted house or not, they likely would not visit the same haunted house again.
“If most visitors are scared off at the beginning of the haunted house, they probably would not rate the haunted house highly. That wouldn’t help the haunted house’s reputation. Other potential visitors would probably also change their minds once they see that the haunted house had scared some off right at the beginning.
“In that case, we would be much better off trying to make visitors stay. We should increase the difficulty slowly, so that they can form a lasting impression of the haunted house. That would aid our reputation and draw in more visitors.”
After some thought, Hao Qiong nodded. “Yes, that makes sense.
“Should we report our progress to Boss Pei first, or should we come up with a more detailed plan for the projects?”
Chen Kangtuo replied, “We probably won’t be able to come up with all the details so soon. The first and third projects would be harder to design. We need big locations and complicated gameplay. That means we need to take more time to plan them.
“We could think about locations for two bigger projects first. Then, we can recruit employees and plan the details at the same time.
“The second project would be made up of many smaller projects, and so it’s relatively simpler to do. We can think of all the details for the second project first before letting Boss Pei see our whole plan.
“Once he gives the nod, we can start work. While the second project is being constructed, we can think more about the first and third.”
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