The CEO of Jandisoft, Mr.Yun recently (That was like THREE WEEKS AGO!!) did an interview with Inven, the biggest Korean gaming website in Korea. The following is a rough translation of the interview which I haven't finished yet. I'm about half-way done so come back time to time to check the rest of the interview. The original interview can be found here.
Inven: The name of your studio is unusual. Jandi (meaning grass in Korean). Why did you choose this name?
Yun: I wanted a very unique name full of personality when I set up the company. I looked around and every studio had an unusual sounding name. Like Pixel Soft, Dote Games and such and such. I thought coming up with an unusual name was becoming a trend making those names usual instead which I didn’t want. Plus, I wanted a name easy to remember. So I came up with Grass which sounds rather old-style but It was intended. At first, some of the members didn’t like it but now it’s stuck on us.
Also, when you think about grass, it’s something that you see often on a daily basis when you are walking or something. It’s not something big and spectacular, but when they get together and become a field or something, they are magnificent. Not only that, even if you step on them, they get right back up. There are many things you can learn from grass.
Inven: I was surprised when I first saw Mad World. Not just because it was an MMORPG developed with HTML5 but also the artstyle surprised me. It’s very western.
Yun: That’s probably because we are not just looking at Korea but all around the world. We needed artstyle that would grab western user's’ attention as well as stand out on its own regardless of where the audiences are from. Luckily users are responding to it the way we had wanted which we are happy about. Our goal is to make it more unique so that when users see a screenshot or artwork of Mad World, they will instantly recognize it’s Mad World.
Inven: How many people are working on it right now?
Yun: 15 people. The average number of experience of our staff is around 10 years, which makes fast development process possible despite of the small number of staff. Our programmers in particular are much experienced in MMORPG, which gives us tons of advantage.
Art wise, our artists have their own minds, a quality hard to find in today’s environment. They are responsible for all the unusual artstyle. Some of them had drifted off to other industries and came back to the gaming industry, and this gives them an ability to look at things differently.
Inven: I’m curious to know why you decided to develop a HTML5 game.
Yun: It took a lot of thinking before I decided to go with it. When we set up the studio in 2013, HTML5 wasn’t even standardized. So initially we thought about making a mobile MMORPG which at the time was the best choice if you wanted to raise fund. But it hit me that mobile MMORPGs might become a trend after 2 or 3 years where everyone is developing them. I also didn’t want to make an MMORPG catered to mobile devices. If I made an MMORPG, it had to be a true MMOGPG.
The problem was though, the demand for PC MMORPG had shrunk dramatically over the years. We were cornered to make an MMORPG for mobile platforms. There was only one way I could solve the problem and that was HTML5 which was something I had kept close eyes on for quite some time. The biggest advantage HTML5 games have is it breaks the boundary between platforms. At the end, players are what matters the most, and if there was a game they could enjoy on any platform, wouldn’t that be just great? There’s a happy\ending right there.
There was a user who mentioned that Mad World was the kind of MMORPG he had waited for all his life.
Besides, you don’t need to download anything, and play the game anytime anywhere. So in the initial phase, HTML5 wasn’t standardized but we had to move fast and jump right into it because time is gold.
Inven: What are the challenges you guys faced developing this game? It must’ve been a tough process building your own engine in stead of Unity or Unreal Engine.
Yun: From a technical stand point of view, building the engine wasn't very hard. There were some ups and downs of course. We spent about 1 year on research and development, and thanks to those days, development is going a lot smoother now.
What was tough was forming the team we have now. HTML5 was a new technology especially in Korea so people were skeptical about it. Compared to then, things are better now.
Inven: Jandisoft was founded in 2013 so you guys have been in development for 4 years?
Yun: To be precise, it's been 3 years. In the first year of those 3 years, we focused on R&D. It was before HTML5 was standardized, so we were testing the water so to speak. Then came the standardization in 2014 after which the development of Mad World officially began.
Inven: Some say HTML5 will be the next gaming platform. What are your thoughts on that?
Yun: Before I answer that question, I actually want to ask you. What do you think?
Inven: Now that we are hearing more and more that mobile game market is stagnant, if a succesful HTML5 comes along, why not?
Yun: I'm with you on that. I think HTML5 will replace most mobile games in the future. Right now, people see HTML5 games and go "who would you play them when you have mobile games?", but it wasn't long ago that people thought the same thing about mobile games before the gold rush. Saying we're living in the age of mobile gaming is an understatement.
The rise of mobile gaming was led by casual games. With the current HTML5 technology it's not hard to develop those light games. It's just that Korean developers are not paying attention to HTML5. I think once the momentum gets going, it will not be long before we see tons of HTML5-powered casual games flooding in, and once one of them becomes a hit, more will come.
People started paying attention to HTML5 from about late last year so I'm expecting next year to be a turning point.
Inven: I'm sorry but did you say casual games? Isn't Mad World far from being one?
Yun: I'm just saying, just looking at how mobile gaming got big, that seems to be the way the industry flows. But if we are going to make a HTML5 game anyway, why not just jump ahead and make something more awesome. (laugh)
Inven: Some may see HTML5 games just another browser games. What is the difference?
Yun: First HTML5 games don't require you to download anything. It is general perception that browser-games don't require downloading but that's not true. Flash games require you to install flash, and the same goes for Java-based games albeit a small size. Second, HTML5 games offer way better quality than browser games thanks to the HTML5's hardware rendering feature. No downloads with good quality makes it a way better choice.
Inven: Aside from it being an MMORPG powered by HTML5, not much information about it has be revealed. Could you tell us what kind of game Mad World is?
Yun: Mad World is an mmorpg with dynamic combat, vibrant community, and unique aesthetic. The most important of these three is community. A good MMORPG makes even just talking to other players fun.