Chapter 120 – Asrian Festival (2)
“Oof, finally, all the preparations are done,” Robert Connor, one of Asrian’s developers, said while wiping off his sweat.
Mary, who was next to him, scolded him while laughing.
“Haha, I finished everything a week ago.”
Asrian was a game that didn’t need any special maintenance.
They couldn’t change anything without authorization from Kwon DaeHo, so it would be more accurate to say that it wasn’t necessary to do any maintenance.
That’s why they usually didn’t have anything to do. Because of that, only Robert and Mary were there most of the time.
But that day, the entire development team was present.
It was the first time everyone was present since Asrian was launched.
“It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that everything I’ve done in my life was for this moment. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do something more amazing than this,” Kang SeongCheol said while sighing.
He was one of the most prominent figures in the Artificial Intelligence field.
“I agree. For physicists like me, it will probably be a shock equivalent to when they announced the theory of relativity or when quantum mechanics first appeared.”
Robert chimed in.
“If we’re going to compare it with something, it should be at least the industrial revolution or the invention of the internet.”
Mori Wataru, a genius of programming and simulation, agreed with what Robert said.
“Tomorrow will be a turning point for mankind.”
Everyone agreed with those words.
Eight years before…
The reason why Kwon DaeHo had created a team that consisted of the best scientists wasn’t just to create a game.
The game was used as a base for the research, and it also created a ripple effect that maximized the results.
Of course, even with the announcement, most people would still think of Asrian as a simple game.
The average person couldn’t distinguish between a ‘game’ and a ‘simulator.’
But in a few years, no, months, everyone would get to know the real value of Asrian.
Until then, humanity had lived in a prehistoric era, and now, they’d finally found a new ‘fire.’
“Is everyone ready to surprise the world?” Kwon DaeHo said after doing the last inspection.
“Okay, this is the last day before the festival; let’s go and celebrate!”
* * *
On the first day of the festival…
Asrian users, and even some people who weren’t interested in games, had been waiting for that day.
Kwon DaeHo’s big announcement was the headline of all news.
Some articles had correctly guessed a possible relationship between Kwon DaeHo’s announcement and Asrian’s Festival.
All of their doubts would be answered that night.
Although the festival hadn’t started yet, the venue was already full of people.
The venue where the event was going to take place was the biggest exposition center in Korea.
At the time of construction, people had wondered if there was a need for the place to be so huge, but even that place looked small at that moment.
“Oh, I’m sorry… We’re already fully booked. That’s right, we don’t have free rooms until the Asrian Festival ends.”
All of the hotels near the event venue received calls from all over the world asking if there were any available rooms.
The employees were thankful for the invention of the auto translator.
“Darling… Is it okay to come here? You said that the movie wasn’t finished yet.”
“Oh, it’s okay.”
One middle-aged couple was leaving the hotel accompanied by their kids.
The middle-aged man was Steven Young.
He was one of the most talented and famous movie directors.
“There’s only the CG work left, so I can check that later.”
Steven had reserved the suite room of the Busan Hotel.
His wife was happy at the sudden proposal to travel to Korea, but on the other hand, she couldn’t hide her doubts.
Did he say that the reason for traveling to Korea was because of a video game event?
Someone who had never been interested in games had bought a capsule and spent hours inside the game.
Not only that, but he’d spent almost a thousand dollars in Asrian.
“This is also part of my job,” Steven had said while laughing.
He still remembered that scene vividly.
He had been changing TV channels when he’d seen Salon.
At that moment, Steven felt as if lightning had struck him.
He saw the actions he wanted to express so much on the screen.
How about the actor? You could feel the pressure in his facial expression.
‘Is there a movie like this?’
It was impossible that he had never heard of a movie like that…!
Then he’d discovered something while looking at the screen in astonishment.
It wasn’t a movie, but the scene of a game.
Steven was so surprised that he’d stared blankly at the TV.
Since he hadn’t been able to calm down, he’d written an article at midnight and posted it on the internet.
‘They said he isn’t an actor, but a normal person…’
He remembered Salon’s face again.
‘And that girl isn’t a real person, but an NPC with artificial intelligence…’
And the girl with a white robe…
To be honest, he was more impressed by the NPC girl than the user named Salon.
He probably wouldn’t be able to forget the scene of her shedding tears with her teeth closed.
‘Kwon DaeHo… What did that monster create?’
Steven Young was one of the few people who knew that Kwon DaeHo was the one in charge of Asrian.
Due to his great interest in Asrian, Young had done some research.
Using his own influence as a director, he was able to find out information that was hidden to the public
Steven didn’t think he was a normal person, but he thought that Kwon DaeHo was certainly someone bigger than him.
He was probably one of those rare geniuses born once in a million years.
Steven heard the news of Kwon DaeHo’s big announcement after arriving in Korea.
After seeing the news, he confirmed that his feelings were right.
‘As expected. I don’t know why, but I felt that I had to come to Korea.’
Maybe he would even witness the starting point of a great revolutionary event.
If his thoughts were right… It would be as if the movie industry had received a camera from the future for free.
No, every industry would’ve gained something as valuable as that.
‘I haven’t been this excited since I was a kid.’
Steven smiled while waiting for that night’s cataclysm.
Translator – Daniel Shin
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
SeoHyun woke up early to leave for Busan.
After he arrived at the event venue, the watch marked 11 o’clock.
The festival was going to take place in a giant venue where multiple events usually happened simultaneously.
But the entire place had been reserved for Asrian’s festival.
That meant that most of the people there were Asrian users.
“Woah… What’s up with this crowd…?”
SeoHyun felt like he was in the amusement park during the children’s day.
With so many people, Korea’s biggest event venue felt small.
Hyun saw a group of people that stood out while he looked around the venue.
‘What’s up with them?’
Hyun tilted his head after seeing the group of suspicious people.
It was a group of middle-aged foreigners wearing suits and walking somewhere.
They were talking about something with very serious expressions on their faces.
‘They don’t seem like people on a holiday…’
Hyun hadn’t brought his translator, so he couldn’t understand what they were talking about.
Those average-looking middle-aged people were actually scientists of great authority.
They’d traveled a long distance to hear Kwon DaeHo’s important announcement.
‘Are they foreign NFM staff? But they seem old for that.’
SeoHyun was unaware that there was an academic conference going on next to where the festival was being held.
Most gamers didn’t care about academic stuff, so most had similar thoughts to SeoHyun.
‘No, maybe they’re users. Just because they’re middle-aged doesn’t mean they can’t game.’
After capsule-based virtual reality games appeared, the age spectrum of people who enjoyed playing games widened.
Especially Asrian Online. This game was the first to use sensory synchronization, marking a milestone in video game history.
They said that even older people who had trouble moving had begun playing Asrian.
‘Although I’m not sure why they’re wearing suits.’
Distracted by his surroundings, Hyun soon forgot about them.
He had become distracted by the sheer amount of things to see in the event hall.
There were lots of capsules you could use to experience certain events.
There probably wouldn’t be another opportunity to try out the numerous jobs available in Asrian.
Many stands also sold things related to Asrian.
Some guilds were even given big booths.
SeoHyun saw Korea’s former top-ranking guild Hwarang’s booth.
Although they used to be ranked 1st, they had dropped from the top 10.
That was because guilds that were, in reality, professional gaming teams had taken control of the top positions in the rankings.
It was obvious that something like that was going to happen. After all, in Asrian, more than the items, your skill in controlling the character was more important.
‘Should I change my capsule?’
A new model of capsule caught Hyun’s attention.
It seemed like it had extras like automatic cleaning and muscle stimulation, allowing you to game for more hours without harming your health.
‘Hmm… I don’t like that you had to be nude to use it.’
After looking for a while, Hyun shook his head.
He had to avoid making compulsive purchases just because he had more money now.
He would probably be able to find a more effective capsule if he really wanted to anyway. Hyun looked at the time.
‘It’s about time.’
It was about to be 12:00 pm.
It was about when he had arranged to meet up with Ain.
Hyun felt a weird sensation while looking at the number he had saved on his phone.
He had heard Ain’s voice numerous times, but it was his first time calling her!
When he thought about it, except for family members, wasn’t it the first time he had saved a girl’s phone number?
Those feelings disappeared as soon as he heard Ain’s familiar voice.
“Hyun, where are you?”
“What about you?”
“I’m near the giant statue of an Angel.”
“Oh, you mean near the statue of the Angel of Truth, right?”
“Yes, come here. I’ll be waiting for you!”
If it were other people, that shouldn’t have been enough information to pinpoint someone’s location, but for both of them, who were very familiar with everything related to Asrian, it was the most obvious place possible.
SeoHyun walked through the multitude and went outside.
Just as if it were an amusement park, the outside was full of various facilities.
‘Just how much effort did NFM put into this festival…?’ He was surprised.
After walking around the sculpture while looking around, SeoHyun saw Ain, who was wearing a hat and a face mask.
“Hyun, you came!”
Had she heard Hyun’s voice? After making sure it was him, she walked toward him.
She grabbed Hyun by the collar and took him to a place with fewer people.
It seemed like she’d noticed Hyun’s gaze.
“I usually walk around like this.”
“Wearing a hat and mask?”
After asking that, Hyun realized something…
He thought that only famous people walked around while wearing those kinds of things, but when he thought about it, thanks to Asrian, Ain had become quite famous worldwide.
In a place where there were so many Asrian users, Ain was a celebrity.
“Without these, things will get annoying.”
Ain took off her mask and smiled.
Ain’s face which he always saw inside the game was in front of him.
Her height, face, and atmosphere were exactly the same.
Although her hair was a little bit longer… That was probably because she’d changed her hairstyle before meeting Radiette.
“So this is the real Hyun.”
“You’re saying another weird thing. Were you expecting a fake one…?”
Ain seemed to be having more fun than ever.
He could feel her excitement from her steps.
Since Ain wasn’t looking around, it was Hyun who checked out their surroundings.
Many people were already looking at them because Ain had taken off her mask.
“I… think that you should wear a mask.”
Ain realized the situation after looking around. She smiled while showing her white teeth.
“See? It’s uncomfortable!”
Most people that went to the festival knew Ain’s face.
Because her appearance was very similar to her game appearance it was understandable that she dragged a lot of attention.
Ain put on her mask again and mumbled.
“This is why I’ve said you should be careful about appearing on the videos. If I’m dragging this much attention, imagine how bothersome it would be if people knew your face.”
After calming the overly excited Ain down, they began walking.
There were lots of things related to Asrian at the festival, so they didn’t have time to be bored.
Not only that, but Ain was more talkative than usual.
She had finally met Hyun in real life. Not only that, but she’d gone with him to the Asrian Festival. That’s why she was more excited than usual.
He felt she would keep talking forever, so Hyun changed topics first.
“First, let’s go get something to eat. Let’s keep looking around after that.”
Suddenly, Ain’s eyes widened.
She showed him something on her phone.
“I’m going to buy food. I can eat for free!”
“Hmm? What are you talking about?”
“I received a VIP invitation. Hyun, you didn’t receive one?”
It was the first time Hyun had heard about that.
Hyun checked the details of it on Ain’s phone and was astonished.
“What, there was something like this…?!”
Free hotels, travel tickets, and special event items!
The VIP invitations were limited to the top 100 users of the Hall of Fame and a few special users.
Ain was one of those special users.
‘But then why am I…?’
Hyun looked at Ain’s phone with a blank face.