A Day in the Life: The Man Behind the MMO


A Day in the Life is a new weekly series about working in Korea’s game industry. We’ll talk about current projects (as much as we can), upcoming events, and trends in the making.

Before I started working in Korea’s game industry, I lived a former life as journalist, counting all the pennies I earned while subsisting on cup rameon. Every now and then I still do the occasional spot of freelance writing. Last week I was presented with such an opportunity that I couldn’t resist.

Seoul Selection, the publishing house that operates KOREA magazine for the Ministry of Cultre, Sports, and Tourism, was in search of someone to interview Jake Song, CEO of XL Games, and the mind behind Lineage: The Bloodpledge. He is considered one of the most important designers in the Korean game industry and is largely responsible for launching the country’s online gaming culture.

So, last Friday my interpreter and I headed down to the XL Games office in Pangyo, just outside of Seoul. I can’t give the full details of the interview until it is published, but some of the topics included his take on the origins Korean game industry, politics, the international release of Archeage, and the upcoming release of Civilization Online.

Meeting Mr. Song was particularly interesting for me because I worked on the initial round of localization for Archeage (before Trion made their changes) and I have worked on the translations of design documents for Civilization Online. Even though I can’t share interview yet, I can share what it was like to be a part of Jake Song’s projects.

An MMO Worth 1,000,000 Words

Archeage was an incredible project to work on. We started it right off the heels of another large, multi-lingual translation for Webzen’s Continent of the Ninth.

The game had somewhere on the order of 1,000,000 + words to translate and review. We knew ahead of time that Trion would be making their own adjustments to the game (as is often the case when third party publishers are involved), so our job was just to make sure that the translations were consistent and easy to understand. The glossary for the Archeage alone had nearly 80, 000 unique words in it.

This meant that at times we had logistical nightmares to take care of. Projects of this kind of scale have a lot of moving parts, particularly when the deadlines are relatively short. Multiple translators meant more time invested into the QA process to ensure consistency. In the end, there were some 24-hour shifts pulled to get it done but the coolness factor of working on a game of this scale made it well worth it.

Civilization: The Time Warp

When I first started work on Civilization Online, I had coincidentally just started playing Civilization V. It was then that I learned that it had the reputation for being loathed by girlfriends and wives all over Korea and had a reputation for being a “time warp,” as in, you start playing Friday night and what seems like five minutes later it’s Monday morning.

Unfortunately it’s a game I can’t say too much about given that it hasn’t even had its first round of closed beta tests yet.

I did see the early art mock-ups for it and they look amazing. They went with a cartoony look that you can see in the video below.

It will launch later this year with four different playable civilizations: China, Rome, Egypt, and Aztec. Players will be able to choose from engineers, miners, soldiers, or farmers for their classes.

There is a chance I may be able to join the CBT coming up at the end of the month, so check back for more insights on the game.

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