Kakao Talk Odds & Ends: Kakao Games Celebrates 2 Year Anniversary

kakao-talk-anniversary

The team at Latis Global is glad to send Kakao Games a big congratulations on their 2nd anniversary. For the past two years, the mobile gaming platform has gone from a small up-and-comer with just a few games, to one of North East Asia’s most important distribution platforms boasting hundreds of AAA and indie titles. To celebrate, we’ve created an infographic to show just how far they’ve come in such a short time.

kakao-games-birthday

 

As always remember to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, for more great articles about games in Korea.

 

 

A Day in the Life: The Man Behind the MMO

online-mmorpg-archeage

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.

Got a question about XL Games? Want to know something about working in the Korean game industry? Leave a comment below! If you like this article, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive more like it. You can also find us on LinkedIn for weekly updates.

[Speaker Profile] Chaynor Hsiao – PlayNext

playnext logo

A developer and publisher of cutting edge mobile titles,  PlayNext has a team with a ton of experience in the game industry. Chaynor Hsiao is a Project Manager, working on development projects for Mobile and the publishing side of the PC business. Most recently, he moved into the Production team and has been focused on the art production for X-Men: Battle of the Atom. Here’s what he has to say about life at PlayNext.

You used to be Aeria games, but were recently bought out and are now in a transitioning phase. Can you tell us a bit about that? How is the transition going? How does PlayNext differ from Aeria?

We actually sold our PC business off to ProSieben. The transition is pretty much all but done. We have a services agreement that allows us to provide support during this time, but in general, we’ve fully transitioned over. The true branding work has just begun (creating logos, contracts, press releases, website). If you’re asking about what’s changed…. mostly our focus and the expansion of tools in our toolbox. We retained a lot of the knowledge and core competencies from our PC publishing business, while rapidly developing new capabilities to help us succeed in mobile game development. The above was a great test of our adaptability – we had to do something that we were never did before. I’m happy to say it worked out well.

PlayNext recently launched Marvel: Battle of the Atom. What kind of challenges did you face creating a game around such a world famous IP? As a first game for PlayNext, how is the launch going?

The launch is going well! Probably the biggest challenge surrounding X-Men was developing a game when we had never done something similar before. We essentially converted a web development/portal team into a game development team and we did it in a very short period of time. Meeting milestones, implementing feedback from licensors, and then bringing it all together in a package that players enjoy was a very challenging endeavor.

Now that you are focused more on mobile gaming, what do you think the most important distinction is between mobile and PC?

The key differences right now between Mobile and PC are numerous, but the noteworthy few that I’ve experienced are: PC provides a more immersive experience, but device fragmentation is very high (No two systems are the same). Troubleshooting problems is harder. Hacking is more prevalent. Analytics is not a standardized practice, so metrics vary from game to game. The market is frankly narrowing, and it’s harder and harder to provide a compelling experience without seriously long development times and a nuclear proliferation level rise in demands on computing power.

In contrast, Mobile is more “casual”. Play sessions on PC are measured in hours, while on mobile they’re measured in minutes. Device fragmentation on iOS is very small. Hacking is less prevalent, troubleshooting is easier, and analytics solutions are more standardized, making it easier to see how you’re doing in relation to other developers and apps.

The most important reason is that the mobile market is growing faster.

What do you think the most important mobile trend will be for 2014 and how will PlayNext approach it?

We think with the market becoming more crowded that publishers will be needed to sustain overall pace of mobile growth. In that, we aim to apply our core strength, which is our long experience working with overseas developers to publish Asian games in the West. As more talented studios seek to expand mobile games into NA territory, we will be looking to replicate many of our PC publishing successes on iOS and Android platforms.

 

[Speaker Profile] Kiyat Games CEO, Sun Cho

The Kiyat Games team.

In part two of our speaker profile series, we introduce Kiyat Games. Kiyat Games is a bridge between East and West, bringing games from Korea to the US market. We talked with their CEO, Sun Cho.

Why did you decide to start Kiyat games?

With over a decade’s worth of experience in free-to-play games I knew that I had what it takes to create and run my own company, this time with my own vision. I felt that with my time in two different countries (Korea and the United States) I had also gained the varied experience to be able to properly bridge the gap between these two very different cultures.

You’ve started three games so far, how are they going?

All three titles are in different stages, right now. “Nomocraft” is being prepped and not yet released. “Cannon Whiskers” is out in the Oceania territory in its own ‘soft launch.’ Our team is working on getting it ready and polished for its main release in the United States soon. The big project we are working on is “Tiny Conquerors” which is still in the prepping stages. It will be ready by this summer and we are incredibly excited for that title.

What are the biggest challenges of bringing a game from the East to the West?

There are a number of factors involved when bringing a title from a completely foreign territory to the West. The biggest challenges we’ve faced have all been due to the culture difference. This can be expanded into in-game text issues, to also difficulties in communication between the developers and the publishers.

What is unique about East Asian games that western gamers probably don’t know about?

East Asia, in particular Korea, has had a lot of experience in the free-to-play/microtransaction based model and it is considered ‘normal’ and even expected in games. The West, on the other hand, is still fairly new to this monetization system and has had some issues fully accepting it as the ‘standard.’ The East Asian developers have aptitude with this model and have been very good at implementing it into their games. The developers can make it fair to gamers without ever really crossing that threshold and turning the game into ‘pay-to-win’ model which many Western gamers despise.

How much change do you give your games in the localization phase?

For text localization we actually do quite a bit as straight translation rarely ever fits or even makes sense. Culturally, a lot of word play can also be completely lost in the translation. Sometimes a joke that makes sense in Korean (or Japanese or Chinese) just sounds weird in English. Our localization editor takes the game theme/genre/context into consideration before they make the appropriate changes so that it would best suit the audience and the overall atmosphere of the game.

Do you expect we will ever see more cross over from East to West, or will it always be slow trickle of only the most successful games that make it in either region? 

As the mobile market grows there will come a demand for more games. There are developers in the West who are creating their own titles but there will also be publishers who will want to find existing successful games and bring it over. At this point, the mobile game market is still in its early stages so we don’t know exactly what will happen but it looks promising. We expect more titles from the East making their way to the West as there is a growing desire to expand out of existing territories and into newer turf.

Get in touch with Sun Cho or follow Kiyat games online:

Sun Cho Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/suncho/

[Speaker Profile Series] Anna Cho – Storm8

storm8 logo

Next week, Latis Global Communications and KOCCA will be holding a discussion panel in Seoul to talk about issues in game development and marketing. We’ll be introducing some of our panelists on the blog throughout the week, so keep checking back for more updates.

Anna Cho - UI Engineer, Storm8

Anna Cho – UI Engineer, Storm8

Anna Cho is a UI Engineer at Storm8 in sunny California. Her job involves many interesting areas of game production including brainstorming cool UI and game screens that designers create and implement with Engineers. She also works with Product Managers and Game Designers to improve features on games. She says there is not a single part in the game that is not relevant to User Experience.  Here are her thoughts UI, the game industry, and working with Storm8.

 

 

 

 

What do you like most about working in the game industry as a UI engineer? Can you give us some insight into the environment at Storm8?

I love the live interaction with players all over the world. Mobile gaming is such an amazing and still a new media compared to other traditional entertainment media like TV or film, so it’s very exciting.

In terms of the work environment, Storm8 fosters a very collaborative culture where we all work together as a team. Storm8 tries to make our office environment fun and encourages everyone to play games. Of course we are pretty rigorous on our product quality and follow a fast-paced release schedule as well.

What are the major differences between American UI’s and Korean UI’s?

The primary difference is that Korean UI has Korean letters. We spend quite a large amount of resources to localize our games – and it is not as easy as it sounds.

Is there any difference in designing UIs for Apple vs. Android? If so, what are those differences?

We try to make all players happy through a game’s core mechanic, which is the same for both platforms. The difference in developing for the Android platform is that there are so many unique devices with varying screen ratios and capabilities. With that, it can be a challenge for game developers to be able to test and optimize for every single type of Android device since there are many varieties. UI testing in Xcode is simpler because it is uniform in all of Apple’s devices.

Last year Storm8 launched its third party publishing platform. How has the first quarter of 2014 been for that business?

We’re very excited about the launch of Storm8 Publishing and looking forward to engaging with talented developers around the world to help expose their games to our strong network of users worldwide.