A Possibility Named “Cookie” - CookieRun: Kingdom art directors Ghim Naheun and Jeong Hyejin
Who would have known such an epic tale would unfold after one small cookie escaped from the oven? From exciting adventures on a vast continent featuring the adorable Cookies and the design of our lovable protagonists, all the magic starts from the CookieRun: Kingdom Art Creative Group. Please join us as we interview the two heads of the Art Creative Group who are also the art directors of CookieRun: Kingdom!
Q. Can you give us an introduction about yourselves?
Hyejin: Hello. I’m Jeong Hyejin, the Group head of the Art Creative group and the art director of CookieRun: Kingdom. It’s been 5 years since I joined the company. Before becoming an art director, I did concept art for battle background art.
Naheun: Hello. I’m Ghim Naheun, the co-art director with Hyejin. As of June, it’s been 10 years since I joined the company. Before becoming an art director, I was the head of the illustration team, being in charge of overall illustrations in the games such as titles.
Q: What exactly does the department CookieRun: Kingdom Art Creative Group do?
Naheun: The Art Creative Group is mainly in charge of the art and story for CookieRun: Kingdom.
Other companies usually classify the story and game design into one team, but CookieRun: Kingdom classifies art and story into one group. Therefore, it has an advantage in the development of narrative and visuals as they can be discussed more freely in the pre-production stage. It gives a high degree of freedom as we discuss the concepts together from the start. Which is why as an art director and head of this group, I participate not only in visual directing but also in story planning as well.
How to add story into Cookies
Q. What are the unique characteristics of the Kingdom Art Creative Group?
Naheun: Instead of simply visualizing the story we decided on, we develop together from the concept, which gives a high degree of understanding of the contents, and there are people who can take an analytical approach to the trend and emotions of people. I collaborated with those who have internalized the contents, those who think about "what was good about this narrative, where this narrative is in this stream, and what my taste is," and those are the fun ones to work with.
Hyejin: I prefer someone with flexible and non-defensive thinking when it comes to communication. At the same time, productive results come out of working with people with strong views on what they want to do, saying "I can’t really give up on that!" There are many people who are not afraid to speak up when something’s questionable, so discussion and debate are nothing new. Those things often turn into good insight for overall direction.
Q. Do you have a piece of work that you’re most fond of while working?
Hyejin: Working on the Dark Cacao background was very fun. Overall, our team really got together and strived a lot for that update, so it’s quite memorable. Dark Cacao Kingdom also had a lot of Korean vibes in it, so the reaction was very positive, which felt so good.
Naheun: I love Pomegranate Cookie the most. The portrait of Pomegranate Cookie I drew is my favorite design. I really like female shaman characters, so when Pomegranate Cookie was released, I was so happy like, "CookieRun has finally gotten a female shaman!" Another person did the character design, but I made the narrative centered on Pomegranate Cookie such as the relationship with the Dark Enchantress Cookie while thinking, "this design has no choice but to have a narrative like this."
Q. Do you have any memorable experiences besides your artwork?
Naheun: Before the launch of the CookieRun: Kingdom, I helped create the past narratives of the ancient cookies and Dark Enchantress Cookie as well as related lore. And it was wonderful to see the contents I experienced and liked while growing up show in the ideas I brought. These were opinions I came up with unconsciously, but then I realized that because I grew up with them, it is why I came up with these ideas. Sometimes, when I see the creations of other people, I can sense their personal taste and empathize with them. Those experiences were fun.
Hyejin: When doing a huge amount of work in a limited time, it just gets really hectic towards the end. I think it was fun to get a rush of dopamine when employees in relevant departments gathered together to make quick decisions within a short period of time. (laughter) Work was hard, but I built a good relationship with everyone whom I collaborated with and the fact that I can laugh with them is certainly memorable.
The story that expands in diversity and balance
Q. Is there anything in particular that you try to convey to CookieRun: Kingdom’s art and story as an art director?
Naheun: I try to express various fresh things in a fun way. Even a subject that might be too sensitive when discussed in the human world may feel softer in the world of cookies. Of course it isn’t easy to discuss everything, but we try to reflect it to our games by balancing the overall reaction and trend.
Hyejin: I tried to express diversity. CookieRun: Kingdom itself follows clichés but sometimes makes a twist, which makes it attractive. It tries to break down the stereotypes by expressing ideas that aren’t usually accepted in a humorous way.
Q. As the art director, what do you think is the charm of CookieRun: Kingdom?
Hyejin: CookieRun: Kingdom is a game that's just right for telling long narratives, which makes it attractive as it can tell a deep story. There are also things we can show you as they are not humans but cookies, and sometimes they jump over the hurdles that humans can’t overcome. It’s also fun to find hidden parts like Easter eggs under the grand stories. When CookieRun fans recognize what we tried to convey while developing the CookieRun IP, we are grateful.
Naheun: I think it's nice that we can show a richer, deeper world in CookieRun: Kingdom by connecting concepts and ideas from the previous CookieRun series. While the original cookies were just running, we wanted to show where cookies settled down to live. It’s also great that we can parody many contents and narratives loved by many people for so long through our Cookies.
Q. What does Cookie mean to you?
Hyejin: To me, Cookie means possibility. When developing a story, the cookie comes out first, and the lore gets richer as we imagine what adventure or narrative this cookie will go through. In terms of background for instance, it can start from a small design of the Cookie. Which is why I think the cookie is the starting point where anything can begin.
Naheun: We said that we try to parody stories in the human world with our cookies, so cookies are like miniature human beings. I think people like it and find it funny and lovely when a Cookie, which is something small and edible, agonizes over difficult situations and has a weight on its shoulders, just like other humans.
Cookies have been on exciting adventures so far, and even more exciting stories you can't take your eyes off await you. How wide can the world of cookies expand? Please look forward to the story of cookies, which are ready to meet you guys!