CookieRun for Kakao 11th Anniversary: Behind-the-Scenes Interview with Kilhyeon, Eunji, and Yeokyeong


“Do you remember CookieRun for Kakao’s release 11 years ago today? Grab Energy Potions to play the nostalgic CookieRun game and run together~★ Run! Run!”

A game that had been asleep for a long time has awakened like buds sprouting in spring. To celebrate its 11th anniversary, CookieRun for Kakao is back with Strawberry Shortcake Cookie. Let's now hear the behind-the-scenes story of the game from the three people who brought it to life.

Q. Please introduce yourself.

Kilhyeon : I am Kilhyeon Cho, the new CEO of Devsisters. It’s been a while, but today I am greeting you all as the co-producer of Studio Kingdom.

Eunji : It’s been a while! I am Eunji Lee, the CIPO of Devsisters and co-producer of Studio Kingdom.

Yeokyeong : Nice to meet you. I am Yeokyeong Seo, the chief artist of Studio Kingdom.

Q. Everyone was surprised and happy to hear that CookieRun for Kakao, which had stopped updating for 7 years, had resumed updates. Why did you decide to update the game after such a long time?

Kilhyeon : CookieRun for Kakao is the game that started the CookieRun IP. It was released on April 2, 2013, and was so popular that it was known as a household game at the time.

After the sequel was released at the end of 2016, the company went through some changes internally and we changed direction, focusing on the development and operation of other upcoming games. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to update CookieRun for Kakao for a long time.

Still, many players continued to play the game out of love, and there were fans discussing the game on various communities and other media outlets. And since our team was deeply attached to the game, CookieRun for Kakao was always in the back of our minds.

However, updating CookieRun for Kakao was put on hold for years due to various practical issues. Then in 2023, Kakao Games notified us that if we don’t update the outdated SDK version of the game we cannot maintain the service any further, so we decided to change that.

Eunji : Because it was such an old game, updating the SDK version required significant recovery work and enhancements and the existing CookieRun for Kakao team didn’t have the resources to handle the extra work. We were very close to terminating the service.

But this game holds precious memories not only for us, the developers, but also for countless players. It's the game where all the CookieRun IPs started.

Additionally, there were many players who loved our game for such a long time. That is why we were determined to continue the game’s service. So those who shared a passion for the game, including myself, Kilhyeon, and Yeokyeong, stepped forward to start the project to revive the game.

Q. How did Studio Kingdom take over CookieRun for Kakao?

Kilhyeon : When we first heard that CookieRun for Kakao may need to shut down, we only had a few months left. There were many issues to handle to update the game, and in order to address them within the time limit, we needed people who were really determined to handle a large volume of difficult tasks in a limited amount of time even if it meant going the extra mile.

Luckily, several people who had developed and operated CookieRun for Kakao were at Studio Kingdom where Eunji and I are co-producers. We thought that with them, we might be able to manage somehow, so we transferred the operation rights of the game to Studio Kingdom. We then reached out to the people who had worked on the CookieRun for Kakao project and persuaded them, saying, “We have to do something. We can’t let the original CookieRun game end like this.”

Eunji : Those who had developed and operated the game really cared about the game, and that’s why they came together with a shared purpose, took on additional tasks, and helped prepare the update despite their already busy schedules. In the end, we managed to complete the update in time. I think this experience made us realize how much people cherished the game.

Yeokyeong : I think that the CookieRun games have a special charm to them. I think it’s what moved us to revisit old works and put together each piece under a tight time constraint, which was a challenging task even for those who were in the CookieRun for Kakao team before.

With deep affection and fond memories of the game, all team members actively sought out and addressed issues, successfully completing the update on schedule.

Q. The 11th-anniversary update in April was met with great enthusiasm from players. What was the focus of the 11th-anniversary update?

Eunji : Although we finished the SDK version update in January, we decided to do another update because we were very much grateful for the players who still loved our game. We couldn't celebrate the 10th anniversary, but not wanting to miss the 11th anniversary, the team gathered once more and put in extra effort for another update. We wanted to thank the players who have continued to enjoy the game even though there haven’t been updates for a long time, especially as we celebrate its 11th anniversary!

Kilhyeon : We aimed for players to experience the same rush of feelings they would have when meeting their old friends after a long time when they logged into the game for its 11th anniversary. That's why we paid attention to every detail, from the title image that showcased all the past titles of CookieRun for Kakao, to the captivating opening scene, the introduction of new Cookies, and KakaoTalk messages that would bring back old memories.

We wanted to reward loyal players in the January update, but we couldn't do much due to time constraints. So in this update, we worked on some balance adjustments, bug fixes, resolution enhancements, and more because we wanted to offer something extra. Although it wasn’t a lot, many players were delighted and supportive, which made us incredibly grateful and emotional.

We wanted the players to know how grateful we are through the 11th-anniversary update.

Yeokyeong : Everyone involved in developing CookieRun for Kakao put their heart and soul into the game out of their love for the game. We wanted to make sure the title alone was exciting enough for everyone to celebrate the 11th anniversary update, ensuring that all past titles were visible so that everyone could reminisce together. Every detail of the opening scene was carefully crafted, too.

We especially wanted to share Strawberry Shortcake Cookie’s lines like "Do you like running? I love it!" with players because both the players and our team genuinely love running. After all, we have been running alongside the Cookies for 11 years!

Q. The new Strawberry Shortcake Cookie released for the 11th-anniversary update was received very well. Could you share the story behind creating this Cookie?

Eunji : Introducing a new Cookie after seven years for the 11th anniversary posed quite a challenge. We wanted something simple yet delightful to fit the game, and also something significant to players.

Then, an idea struck me, which was to make a Cookie out of a Cake Hound. Actually, I’m a big fan of Cake Hounds. (laughs)

Here's a little insider information: it was YeoKyeong who designed the Cake Hound.

Yeokyeong : Yes, that's right. In the Kingdom Project, I initially worked on designing monsters, so this character was designed as a mascot while designing the Cake Monster Army. I personally liked the design because I found the combination of a piece of cake and a dog very interesting, so I was really pleased to see so many people love this character. As a side note, I felt sorry for troubling the 3D team because the design resembles a flounder with eyes only on one side.

Kilhyeon : Whenever we made a plushie or a figure based on the Cake Hound, Yeokyeong felt a bit uneasy because there was nothing on the other side. (laughs) When we made the Cake Hound into a Cookie, we thought a lot about narratives too. In fact, Yeokyeong wrote the Cookie's story lines herself.

Yeokyeong : That's right. I wanted to bridge the seven-year gap and capture the in-game context as well as the general context of the game. After giving it much thought, I came up with the story of a long-dormant Cake Hound waking up to find themselves transformed into a half-cookie, still eager to play with their owner.

I slipped in some personal wishes too, because I myself have a pet.

Just last year when we discussed the design of the new Cookie together, I really doubted whether we could release a new Cookie for the 11th anniversary. Yet, we somehow did it. Sketching out every detail of the Cookie was so exciting.

Q. Could you share with us some memorable moments from 11 years ago when you worked on CookieRun for Kakao?

Yeokyeong : I remember hearing the New Year’s bell while drawing Snow Sugar Cookie. (everyone laughs)

What else… Let me think…

Oh, I remember discussing keywords in a small container box meeting room before we started designing Cookies. I remember discussing various ideas with Eunji who was an artist at the time. Looking back now, over ten years later, I would say that time was a turning point for me in many ways.

I've always been drawn to mythical creatures, so I found it interesting that Cookies were non-human creatures modeled after humans, and that we had the liberty to poke fun at us humans while making them look super tasty.

When developing ideas further, I always thought about what made this character so unique and how it connected to the nature of Cookies, and I especially wanted to make sure these ideas would come across as humorous.

I wouldn’t say everything turned out perfect, but I’ve always put a lot of thought into my work.

Every time players recognize and appreciate the effort I put into designing the Cookies, it really makes me happy as a creator, especially because I, too, was someone who also fell in love with other worlds and characters from games. It feels like I’m giving back by delivering joy with my creations, and honestly, that kind of joy is what kept me running so far.

Eunji : I think for me, when I watched everyone bring meaning into our simple game and its simple characters with such passion, that’s when realized the potential of the CookieRun IP.

Every time I see players enjoying the game by imagining the intricate relationships and daily lives of the Cookies not shown in the game, and every time our team, inspired by that imagination, creates new experiences, I feel that we are more than content providers and consumers, but partners building this world together. I want to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who is helping make CookieRun with us.

So much has happened, but I would say a particularly memorable moment for me was Halloween 2013. While figuring out how to celebrate our first Halloween, some artists came up with the fun idea of the Cookies dressing up and having a costume party. Now we have a costume system in our newer games so it’s not unique to see Cookies changing costumes, but back then, it was a crazy idea. We had to go through the motion files of every Cookie released up to that point and redraw each frame. It seemed like an impossible job, but we did it anyway, powered by a few cups of coffee and sleepless nights, because we thought players would enjoy it.

As of right now, we have many artists working on different games and content that involves CookieRun. We always tried to remember the core values we had when we first started this project as we grew as a creative team.

I wanted to build a team that is passionate about creating entertaining and deeply moving experiences without compromising quality or originality, and the entire art team now is exactly the team I envisioned. It’s an amazing team that crafts and delivers the complete experience, covering everything from designs to stories and other artwork of the Cookies and their world.

Back when CookieRun for Kakao first launched, there were only two artists: me and Yeokyeong. We were both in the same class in college and joined Devsisters together during our semester off. We really went through a lot together. We heard the New Year’s bell while working overnight, and the whole development team would work until sunrise. We were so young…

And Kilhyeon was practically living like a homeless person, setting up a tent in one corner of the office. (laughs)

Kilhyeon : That’s true. Back then about ten members were trying everything we could to keep the company going. I was in charge of the gameplay and Cookie development, but I also got involved in game design, balancing, and coming up with operation plans because I wanted to make sure our game was easy and enjoyable for as many players as possible.

I also remember suggesting and personally developing the Energy and Life Potion system for Cookies to prevent common issues for other running games, like the game ending too early or Cookies running endlessly. We refined it so everyone could enjoy the game without getting too stressed, while experiencing a sense of achievement. Along with my teammates, I spent nights running through maps we created, adjusting the difficulty to make it challenging yet enjoyable.

Of all of our memories, I will never forget the moment when we settled on the name “CookieRun.” We felt that the title of the previous game, “OvenBreak” might not be very straightforward for Korean players when they first come across it. During a team meeting, we held a naming contest with a prize for the winner. I came up with “CookieRun” and ended up winning the prize! (laughs)

It was a special moment for me because the name “CookieRun” later led to the birth of an IP that hadn't existed before, which has now been cherished by not just Koreans but also global players over 11 years.

[Team photo taken in May shortly after CookieRun for Kakao's launch in 2013]

Q. Will you continue to update CookieRun for Kakao in the future?

Kilhyeon : Realistically, it might be challenging to frequently introduce new content because of the old technology and tools used in the game, but we do plan to continuously make improvements by addressing any inconveniences, or refining events, balance, and more. We would love to update more often, but there are other challenging aspects. It is not easy to maintain and update a game that was released over 10 years ago, not to mention that there are also other live CookieRun games that require our attention.

However, backed by the overwhelming support from players for our 11th-anniversary update, we are planning to push forward to do even more, despite the challenges. After all, love and support from our players are all that matters.

Eunji : As you can see from the update for CookieRun for Kakao, our members creating various CookieRun games are not separate teams. They are interconnected. Your love and support for all of our CookieRun games will actually motivate the whole CookieRun team to improve all of our games.

Each CookieRun game has its own unique charm.

CookieRun: Kingdom, CookieRun: Witch’s Castle, and the upcoming CookieRun: Tower of Adventures are unique in their own ways, and there’s CookieRun: OvenBreak, with attractive worlds and rich content, and CookieRun for Kakao, which are both running games, still unique in their own charms. CookieRun for Kakao evokes nostalgia, and CookieRun: OvenBreak offers a diverse range of experiences. We hope that you’ll see the charm of all our games—because that’s what we’re striving for.

Q. Any last words before we conclude?

Yeokyeong : As an artist, you don’t get a lot of chances to revisit old projects to celebrate anniversaries, so I was excited to have this opportunity.

I’ve been busy with the development of other projects and live service games since CookieRun for Kakao, but I feel like working on CookieRun for Kakao has really shaped a core part of myself.

It was truly touching to know that so many players are still enjoying the game. I’m deeply grateful. Thank you.

Eunji : Do you remember this day 11 years ago? Back then, I was a passionate young artist in my early 20s, working day and night on CookieRun for Kakao. Some of you might have been shy elementary school students, enjoying CookieRun with your friends, while others were studying abroad, playing CookieRun to ease homesickness in a foreign land. I've heard so many inspiring stories from all of you since I’ve been involved in this massive project called CookieRun for 14 years. Knowing that a game can create shared memories that could last over a decade, is what keeps me moving to create new, entertaining games. It is an honor to be part of such a wonderful project, and I am delighted to have the chance to connect with all of you once again.

Kilhyeon : To me and to many others, CookieRun is more than just a fun game; it’s a cherished friend filled with memories. Over the years, we’ve created stories and memories together. Even when we get busy and lose touch for a bit, it’s always a joy to reconnect, just like the way it is with old friends.

I sincerely thank everyone who has been with CookieRun for over 11 years. Your warm welcome and support for the 11th anniversary update have been incredibly motivating for me and my team.

I hope that the precious memories we share through CookieRun will continue to last for many more years. Let’s all keep running together! Run! Run!

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