We Have a Grandmaster in Our Team? Interview with Kingdom Game Designer: “Eco-friendly Cake”
Generous Vitamin. Sorrowful Beetle. Clear Alchemist.
Do these seem like random nicknames? Or are they familiar?
These are the nicknames that can be see on CookieRun: Kingdom Arena rankings, particularly Master 2 ranks! We’ve no idea who exactly outranks these folks! But... newsflash! We’ve recently learned that one of the Grandmaster ranked players in the CookieRun: Kingdom Arena is... closer than we thought?! And a game designer on our team?! We just had to conduct an interview with this individual and receive tips to reach the highest ranks. For privacy, we’ll refrain from using their real-name and instead refer to them as “Eco-friendly Cake”!
Q. Please introduce yourself.
Hello, I’m Eco-friendly Cake, the one of the game designers for Cookie Run: Kingdom.
I joined Studio Kingdom’s Product Experience Design Group - Game Design team for CookieRun: Kingdom about ten months ago.
Q. What does the Game Design team do?
The team plans and designs various content for the game, from Cookies to Kingdom features, packages, and in-game events. When the concept and design phase for a new Cookie is completed, one my tasks is to conduct battle testing and find missing or unbalanced elements in the gameplay.
Q. We've heard you were ranked Grandmaster in the Kingdom Arena. Is that true?
Yes. For every season, I’ve tried to reach Grandmaster 1.
My first attempt to reach Grandmaster 1 took about ten months. I started playing CookieRun: Kingdom when the Dark Cacao Cookie update was released. I chose the Pure Vanilla server on purpose, since it was the most populated server. I may have sacrificed a bit of sleep to find out more about Cookie teams that were being used by the top-ranked players. I really wanted to experience the types of battles that they were playing at the Grandmaster rank.
It’s not easy. Grandmaster 1 is the highest rank possible, and I plateaued at Grandmaster 2 for about three months. Those three months were filled with worrying, conducting even more research, and lots of time in the game. And then, it happened! I reached Grandmaster 1 and I couldn’t help but shout “I did it!” out loud. Since then, I keep trying to stay informed and enjoy the Arena as much as possible.
My Experience Serving as Inspiration for Creating Gameplay
Q. Wow, it sounds like an arduous journey. Did you enjoy the game straight off the bat?
I’ve been in love with CookieRun ever since I was a kid. Once I get hooked into a game, I tend to cling on to it until I’ve fully completed it. For me, it’s not a question of playing it well but closer to playing it until the very end. I think it’s thanks to this that I’ve reached the top tiers and, one day, I want to become the #1 ranked player in CookieRun: Kingdom. (Laughter)
Q. What kind of games have you played so far?
I’ve played all sorts of games, from PC to consoles, and all sorts of genres. In my opinion, games like Starcraft or Tetris needs high degrees of control. The Super Mario series or puzzle games are simple to play but need some strategic thinking. Roguelikes are also a favorite of mine. Last, but not least, my current favorite is CookieRun: Kingdom.
Q. Is there a reason you decided to turn your hobby into a career?
My first job wasn’t in the game industry. At the time, neither the game industry or other related jobs were available, so I really didn’t have a chance to consider it. But as time went by, the mobile gaming market just got bigger and bigger. I thought that it’d be more than perfect to work in a career that was directly related to my hobbies. Then one day, I cam across the opportunity to work at a game development company for a short period of time in earnest. And since then, well, here I am.
Q. There are so many jobs related to games. Why exactly did you choose planning and design?
There wasn’t a specific field for me when I first started my career in the gaming industry. I was interesting in gaining experience in the field and it naturally sort of landed me in the planning and design phases. I’ve had both good and bad experiences while playing games, and I often felt that if I truly liked a game that I worked on, then others must feel the same. A game designer’s job is to focus all efforts into making the player’s experience a positive, memorable one, and so far my own personal experience with games have been a great help. I’ve been drawn towards the designing and planning aspect of development and I think I’m truly happy here, especially when receiving positive player feedback.
Q. Do you think your experience with games is what drives you to become a better game designer?
I’ve experienced many, many games and it definitely helped me adapt quickly to the gaming industry. Ever since, I’ve always strived to provide more fun and enjoyable content with updates, grounded in my own personal experiences. I think another reason as to why my experience helps with my job is, for example, after reaching the Grandmaster 1 rank or any top tier in a game, most players will have their own takes and theories and apply such thinking to other games as well.
A Special Relationship with a Particular Cookie
Q. I heard you had special ties with Cookies.
Devsisters is where I really started to grow my career in the gaming industry. Despite changing jobs midway and working at another company for a short period of time, I kept thinking about the Cookies and looking for new info about them. I’ve been connected with the Cookies for a long time and, naturally, developed an affection for them. I realized that I was happiest when I spent my time with these Cookie friends of mines. At one point, I couldn’t get them out of my head. So it felt natural to reapply for and join Studio Kingdom and their CookieRun: Kingdom project. After rejoining, I definitely felt at home with the Cookies.
Q. What do Cookies mean to you, Eco-friendly Cake?
Cookies, for me, are friends that I can keep going with together. CookieRun was the beginning of my career in the gaming industry and its had a meaningful impact on my life. I remember contributing to the first update in CookieRun for Kakao. I remember, not only planning the Cookie skills’ balance and gameplay, but also arranging and placing Jellies and Items, drawing jumplines, and other such tasks in the design phase. After all that effort, seeing a Cookie running on the map that I designed... I mean, just wow, I’ll never forget how proud I felt. These Cookies are like friends, I’m really fond of them and they’ll stay close to my heart.
Q. When was the proudest or happiest moment in your career?
I still feel proud and happy for myself when I’m learning things that I didn’t know before.
Sure, I need to keep improving myself but I’ve also realized that you can never learn too much. Whenever I’m able to learn something new and improve upon it, I get a rush of satisfaction and achievement. I feel that the company itself as whole feels this way too when such moments happen.
Q. What is your idea of an ideal office colleague?
I want to work with colleagues from whom I can learn a lot. One person cannot do everything. When I was having difficulty adapting to a different working environment, or struggling to understand a certain process, or just getting used to the company vibe, thoughtful comments and encouragement from my colleagues is what keeps me going. It’s things like that this that make me feel that this a team with whom I can work with and I’m certain that good teamwork is born from learning experiences.
Q. Lastly, do you wish to give a piece of advice for those who wish to reach the highest ranks of the Kingdom Arena?
It’s not easy to reach the highest ranks in a short period of time. It’s important to steadily go through the game’s contents one at a time. If you’re starting CookieRun: Kingdom for the first time, play through the ongoing events to help you grow your team of Cookies. In tandem with the events, make sure you also play the World Exploration mode, enjoy the story, and take the time to decorate your Kingdom. It’s okay to do different things in the game and the more you diversify your activities, the more your Cookies will will grow stronger and help you reach those higher milestones in the Arena.
This concludes the interview with Eco-friendly Cake.
Hopefully this interview brought some good insight into the work being done and, if you want to reach Grandmaster, heed Eco-friendly Cake’s advice!