A Q&A with GamePrix big cheese Seongwan Hong as his MMORPG approaches launch.
As the MORPG game ‘Divine Soul’ is entering its last phase of development and concluding service contracts with overseas publishers, it is also seeing a fast rise in public awareness in Korea. Divine Soul is an action-oriented MORPG developed by the new game developer, GamePrix, and was first acknowledged for its potential overseas than in Korea. The most surprising point is that GamePrix was founded in January 2009, which is barely two years. Naturally, it took them less than two years to develop Divine Soul. Nevertheless, Divine Soul falls short in few areas when compared to other games, and rather excels in some sectors. The following is an interview with Mr. Seongwan Hong (CEO) about GamePrix and Divine Soul, who achieved such visible performance in only a short period of time.
Q. Not many users know about GamePrix. Please offer them a brief introduction.
A. Several people who worked as developers in numerous game companies grouped together to develop games. This was the beginning of GamePrix, and what achieved this game through the endeavors of the experienced after they realized the potential of this game. The development team had only 13 founding members, but it now grew to a team of almost 40 people.
Q. Then it has not even been two years’ time, and the level of completeness in comparison with the development period of Divine Soul seems to be substantially high. Do you have any special secrets?
A. Thanks for your favorable opinion. Since I’m at the position of investing, it’s true that we’re sensitive towards the period of development. Although I wasn’t experienced in developing games, and was rather experienced in PM, I took direct control over PM from the start of the development for thorough management.
The first part that I took care of was the parallel process. Previous processes of developing games mostly utilized the process of going over to the next step only when the former step was completed. For instance, the developers don’t start their graphic work if the original sketches aren’t completed. That’s what I started to fix. I worked on modeling even if the sketches were incomplete, and created motions to conjoin the rest of the work together.
Eliminating the waste of manpower naturally made it possible to develop efficiently.
Q. This was your first attempt at developing games. Were there any difficulties?
A. Of course, there were. The most difficult problem was people-related. We experienced continuous problems in the early phases of the development in regard to meeting the deadlines or solving conflicting opinions. Particularly, I worried a lot over clean solutions to emotional problems. Since we’re making finishing touches to the development, things have quite become stabilized.
Q. It’s known that you’ve made your first publishing contract overseas.
A. Frankly, we have been contacted by domestic publishers. We’ve been approached by large-sized publishers that lead the industry, but we had differences in our opinions in contract conditions and such. We released our alpha version last November and a North American publisher like the game and made first contact. We also released CBT in this May and July, and have been continuously approached by publishers in Europe and Southeast Asia. We’re currently receiving love calls from a substantial number of publishers in Europe.
Q. The game is really popular overseas. When are you planning to launch service overseas?
A. We’re scheduled to begin tests at this year-end for the United States and Southeast Asia. We’re planning to launch services at the beginning of next year in Japan, if things go according to schedule.
Q. How are you preparing for the servicing methods and schedule for the Korean market?
A. We’re first making contacts with domestic publishers, but we’re also considering publishing ourselves if the situation permits. It’s not a bad idea to make channeling service contracts with large publishers while servicing ourselves.
As for the servicing schedule in Korea, the answer is no comment. As you know, domestic users expect a lot. We’re thinking about launching domestic services after complementing the problems that arise from overseas services, and after preparing more contents.
Q. You’ve chosen MORPG. Lots of MORPGs serviced in Korea are currently facing difficulties from lack of contents. Do you have any solutions to this problem?
A. We wanted to develop an action-based game, and the genre that fit was MORPG. I believe that MORPG lacks contents because of the lack of circulatory contents. We intend to induce the users to enjoy the game continuously through factors including PVP and RVR.
Q. Still, not all users enjoy PVP. How do you intend to solve this issue?
A. The most important point is objectives. Users won’t shun PVP if there’s a good reason to do it. Of course, we’re preparing systematic factors that are considerate towards users to increase the approachability of all users to PVP.
Q. The game can be enjoyed in 3D imagery. Is there any reason for adding this factor?
A. We had an opportunity to demonstrate our game at the United States Game Developer Conference. The NVIDIA personnel at the conference saw Divine Soul and made the first proposal, saying that the game would look good in 3D. We applied it thinking that it was a good opportunity since NVIDIA would support all the technical aspects and the equipment.
Q. What is the realistic objective of Divine Soul?
A. We’d love it if Divine Soul would reap great success, but we’re not chasing after ghosts here. We’ll consider it to be initial success if we recover the development costs and have room to develop the next game. Above all, we’re content with the fact that we’ve contracted with multiple overseas publishers. We’ve already entered the planning stage for the next project. We’re planning to commence actual development around next mid-year.
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