2021.12.27 EN

The Originality | Design Director, Game Design, Jaehan Ko

There is a new world in games. We experience new things there and are deeply touched by the growth that we could never experience in reality.

A new joy can never be created on its own; it is created through combination of different experiences and passion of different people, which is channeled into new possibilities. People are gathered to create one game, and their different capabilities and passion for quality create a new game.

We create another world, collecting pieces of different experiences.

Diverse superiorities < The Originality >


“There is no right answer when it comes to game design. However, there is one that is close to being right You don’t necessarily have to experience flying to express a flying moment. But those who have felt an air resistance while flying will be able to create a much dramatic expression of a free fall. A variety of experiences is the key to come close to an answer.”

Design Director, Game Design, Jaehan Ko

Game Design
Game development is largely divided into three areas, including design, tech, and art. Game design is to design games and to complete them through cooperating with tech and art teams. Design directors propose directions for game design and design games with designers based on such directions.

Ultimately, game designers should think about the experiences to be provided to players and what to express and deliver to provide such experiences.

Beginning a career in game development 
I started my career as a designer through designing combats. I mostly designed combats with monsters. For instance, I designed the kind of actions that players should take when they fought against monsters and emotions that they should feel. Based on such design, I determined the background story based on which monsters would appear and the exterior information, movement, etc. to be visually expressed; I also planned and materialized the space where players would fight against monsters, the monsters’ skills, etc. The development process was carried out through close cooperation with tech and art teams.

I gradually expanded my scope of work and participated in various content development projects. At last, I took the current role as a design director. Design directing decides what kind of game we are going to build; it starts projects and gives directions for them. To carry out work with many people in an efficient way, design directors themselves should have a solid foundation.

No single day is the same
We cannot predict what would happen on the next day, if we are servicing the game 24/7. Responding to unpredictable situations is one of the missions that are given every day. Something new that is completely different from the ones that took place a day before happens every day.

The game that I am responsible for at the moment carries out updates every one or two weeks. Over the long term, we develop and execute the update plan for one year or more. Since all content productions are carried out based on predetermined plans, I keep adjusting the size of workforce and the amount of time invested in content production and designing affiliated content based on the production output.


Creativity grows based on inputs from many people

Mesmerized by the special creativity that games entail
I started off my career in a financial institution, which was quite irrelevant to the game industry. I used to like to play games when young but did not know that there was a profession called game designer. I had many interesting experiences in service planning while working as an intern at a telecommunication company. I developed passion for a designer’s role, watching technologies being transformed into functions. I joined NC to get closer to dream to become a designer. I did not know that my experience as an avid game player would help me that much, but the experience in playing all kinds of game gave fundamental support to everything that I did in NC.

Maybe that was why I gradually developed my passion for game design. I studied about the game industry. I frequently reviewed the interviews, news reports, and lectures about famous directors and developers from overseas online magazines. Instead of reading them once, I read them thoroughly twice or even thrice in an effort to try to understanding them. I found it very attractive how they used special imagination to express content and how the content reached the users.

‘Joy’ is created through ‘thinking’
I have always had the passion for science since I was little. I got mesmerized by marketing and planning in a class that I took coincidentally. After then, I changed my major to business administration. I think that is how I have developed my character as a person that is in between liberal arts and science.

The most important thing in games is to think seriously about the experiences that I want to deliver and how to express what to that end. All of this starts from your capability to think. To enhance such a capability, I enjoy content from various cultures. I not only enjoy it, but also dig deeper to understand why a content was expressed in a certain way and how I would express it if I were in the shoes of its creator.

Intellectual stimulants are important, too. Not only meeting people and talking to them, but also everything that I experience and carry out every day is related to game design. In the end, the games that we service are operated based on people’s experiences.

Clues found from various perspectives  
After joining NC, it has become my routine to exchange various opinions with other colleagues that are very passionate about games. I enjoy talking to them, discussing the parts in movies or movies that were well expressed, the details entailed in them, and how their creators successfully completed them despite the issues that they are believed to have gone through.

Meanwhile, I get much inspiration from the friends that are not interested in games. I have friends who are a teacher and a fashion designer working in a completely different industry, and they respond to games from very new perspectives. I discover new things that I have not thought about through my conversations with them. I never miss the important clues that I could discover from such new perspectives.

Common priorities 
Directors start projects; however, as the projects progress, they would engage an increasingly larger number of people. When the priorities conflict against each other, there must be conflicts when the outputs are combined or we are forced to make decisions. Someone has to start their work from scratch.

Directors start projects; however, as the projects progress, they would engage an increasingly larger number of people. When the priorities conflict against each other, there must be conflicts when the outputs are combined or we are forced to make decisions. Someone has to start their work from scratch.

There is no right answer in game design; however, we must produce an answer that is the closest to it. Also, sometimes our direction changes in the middle of the project based on interim results, and that is why it is always fun and new. We could achieve a result that is closest to the right answer only if we share the same direction and priorities.


Standing on the shoulders of giants

Stepping forwards towards the change of ‘us’
I try to summarize the direction of our games and to frequently talk about it with my team members. I share information about precedents where things similar to our project have happened and regularly suggest new directions in order not to repeat the same mistakes.

The obvious truth today may not remain true tomorrow, and that is why we should keep looking back on ourselves and stay suspicious of ourselves. We should keep our eyes on how others are working and why outstanding people are acting in certain ways.

Constant comparison for growth
To create a good game, you have to excel in many areas. To achieve such a goal, you have to play many games. What is important is quality, not quantity. It does not matter whether you are playing a game for a long time or not; what you have felt in each instance while playing the game is important.

To create a result that exceeds a certain threshold, we need to make more efforts and invest more time than usual. Sometimes, it is challenging both physically and emotionally. However, you cannot compromise easily to improve yourself.

In order not to compromise, I constantly compare my work with other excellent outputs and pursue the pioneers that have already walked through a path that is similar to mine. I have continuously read the lectures and materials that have introduced how to develop successful games and relevant knowhow for the recent few years. I believe that they would help, even though they would not be of immediate help in the near future. Also, it is an interesting process. Since it would be difficult for me to have an opportunity to meet them in person, I try to listen to their thoughts in an indirect manner. I believe that such indirect experiences that I have accumulated so far would help me push forward to try new things.

Experience helps you find an answer closest to the right one
Games are very complex creations; they combine various areas, including humanities, social science, and applied science. Knowledge, activities, and experiences in all areas could give you inspiration for game design.

You do not have to fly in the sky to express what it feels like. However, those that have felt what it was like to fly in the sky even for a moment through sky diving, for instance, would be in a better position to express the moment of free fall. You may have direct experiences; however, you may also make an induction based on indirect experiences.

There is no right answer when it comes to game design. However, you must try to get closer to it. Trying to understand people through various experiences would definitely help you get closer to the right answer.

* The above presents the personal opinions of the interviewee and not the official opinions of NCSOFT.