Epic Seven is a mobile turn-based RPG from Smilegate. It challenges players to unique visuals and strategies to challenge all players at all times. We had the chance to speak with Content Director Yuna Kim to learn more about Epic Seven.
MMORPG: Epic Seven maintains a strong following as a mobile RPG. Tell us about building the game.
Yuna Kim: Super Creative was founded during the hot summer days of August 2015. We all had a vison of creating a truly incredible 2D RPG, one that felt like you were really playing an anime. At the time, though, we got a lot of confused reactions to our choice, since 3D games dominated the market in Korea then.
The 2D aspect of the game, we hope helps players feel a bit of nostalgia, since I think we all have great memories of playing 2D games in the past. With that in mind, we set out to deliver a 2D game that offers an unparalleled level of animation quality to tap into that nostalgia.
To reach our goal we started developing our in-house YUNA engine. The engine allows us to utilize highly efficient 2D resource compression and animation that couldn’t be produced with a regular 2D engine. We also put in a lot of effort into optimizing the game so no matter what device you’re playing on the game will have dramatically reduced loading times.
The stories and quests, as well as the art assets that we integrate into the YUNA engine are also very important. Early on we focused on a story where the in-game world was a place that had been destroyed and reborn six separate times, giving us lots of opportunities to create some really interesting storylines and visual representations of that core idea. Our Art Director, Hankyung Ryu, has over 20 years of experience in animation production and we have an incredibly talented team of artists helping us fully realize the world of Epic Seven.
This combination of art and technology has come together over the past three years and we’re very satisfied wit the result – Epic Seven!
MMORPG: You have been able to release content quickly for fans, what is your secret?
Yuna Kim: Our biggest enemy when it comes to new content is time.
It takes a lot of time going from early planning to actual content in the game. It can take up to three months to create a new hero, complete with in-game effects, cut-ins, and animations. We also have to create the various stages of for that particular hero, too. For our latest update, So The Roses May Bloom, work actually began three to four months ago to ensure that we were able to deliver a really epic update for our players.
EpicSeven was first launched in Korea on August 31, 2018, and at the time it was difficult to determine how quickly we should release content. This was mainly based on the fact that player went through new content at different rates. To address that, we refined our internal process and hired a good number of talented developers. As a result, we were able to work ahead to stockpile future content and have a stable planning and development process by November 2018. We are now preparing some awesome content updates to cover the rest of 2019. So, to our players, stay tuned. We have a lot of great stuff coming out the rest of this year.
MMORPG: How do you make sure you stick with the storyline and meet the standards set by fans?
Yuna Kim: The world of Epic Seven and how players experience its story is entirely dependent on the capabilities of the talented creative writers we have on our team. We are very grateful and fortunate to have writers who are not only fast, but also talented, flexible and collaborative.
By sharing feedback and opinions with each other from an early point in the planning process, our creative writers are able to create storylines that easily meld together across the whole game. In this process, we look heavily at fan feedback to the past storylines and try to use that feedback to create new stories that they would enjoy and that fit into the overall universe of the game in interesting ways. So far we’ve gotten extremely positive feedback from our overseas players, who even go as far as to create their own fan art. So, this helps keep us motivated to create even more great content for them.
MMORPG: Give us some background on So The Roses May Bloom, what goes into creating this story?
Yuna Kim: Having a storyline that depended on the player choice was something that we had always wanted to try out from the first day we started developing Epic Seven. And, Valentine’s Day seem liked a perfect opportunity for us to finally get it in to the game.
To increase the feeling of story immersion, we cut out as many battles as we could, which was quite a bit of a departure considering battles play such a key part in the regular game. We were aware that some players don’t read or get into the story at all, so we were a little worried about how this new story approach would resonate with our players.
In addition, in the early stages of designing the update, we had a lot of ideas around being able to give gifts and falling in love with other characters, similar to what other character simulation games do. Although I think we had some pretty fun ideas, we were able to implement everything that we wanted due to our PvP Guild War update, which was being developed almost at the same time. In response, the team decided to focus more on the player choice aspect of the update and the special equipment and items they can be rewarded with.
So far we’re really happy with player feedback to So Roses May Bloom update. And, please keep an eye out for an update to that storyline in our 28th Feb update. In the future, we’ll be trying out more special ways to give our players great storylines and content like we did for So Roses May Bloom.
MMORPG: Is it hard developing narrative content for a mobile game?
Yuna Kim: Epic Seven basically has a very fast update cycle where a new hero and related storyline are released every two weeks. On top of this, we are also adding new content on top of that for the game at the same time. We also work on special storylines around season events, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. So, since we’re always working on something, our storylines have to be created quite quickly.
Unfortunately, our creative writes can’t write a novel for every single update, so all the work they do has to fit into the game system and the limitations of production. This means our writers have to work fast, but also have the benefit of being able to fix or change a storyline script quickly if a problem arises.
Due to the fast paced and short session nature of mobile gaming, it’s difficult for players to spend a lot of time reading long lines of text when they play. And, depending on the player, we know that some players don’t even read the storylines at all. It’s difficult, then, in conveying important and meaningful moments in a storyline. To compensate for this, we actively use images and short video clips to get those important moments across to players.
Localization is also a difficult task, but we’re considering additional languages support during 2019. In order to get a better quality localization, the deadline is especially tight these days. We appreciate Smilegate’s Localization team’s hard work to put this all together into so that players can get these great stories regardless of what language they speak.
We are very proud to have a game that has so far overcome all these challenges and become not only a great RPG, but also one with an ever evolving story and how you interact with it as a player. We’re going to keep doing our best to add to that story and add several support languages, too.
MMORPG: Tell us more about the upcoming story for Epic Seven as you plan out the rest of 2019.
Yuna Kim: Currently, we’re planning a number of time-limited events, as well as some special sub-story events.
One interesting piece of news is that we working on a collaboration with a very well known and legendary IP. It’s an IP that you would instantly recognize. With this collaboration, we want to give not only fans of Epic Seven but also fans of that secret IP an incredible RPG experience.
Lastly, we’re working hard on a brand new update where players can experience “Cidonia,” previously known in-game as the ‘Rotted Earth,” which we expect to release the first half of this year.
So, keep an eye out lots of great things fro Epic Seven all year!