With the recent launch of Tower of God : New World, we got the opportunity to speak with Netmarble N2’s Project Director Jeong Eon-san and Art Director Kim Yong-won in an interview.
Jeong Eon-san started off his career in the games industry with the development of an online board game – CheTics back in 1999 and has been developing a variety of PC/mobile games since then. He had been involved in the development of mobiles games since 2012 and has assumed the role of Project Director with Kuya Draw Party and is currently in charge of Tower of God: New World for 3 years.
Kim Yong-won kick started his career in 2004 within the game industry as a character designer and has been improving his craft in both character designs and being a special effects team leader at the same time. He is now currently serving as an Art Director of Tower of God: New World.
Implementing A Different Artstyle
The first question we asked Kim Yong-won was given how the artstyle for Tower of God: New World is significantly different from the Webtoon and Anime, were there any elements of the art direction from the original source material did the team try to emphasize and explore.
Kim Yong-won replied that the team had put in a lot of investment into featuring high-quality animation. He continued by saying that many developers would use written references for their visual arts during pre-production. However, with this game the team had worked with talents who specialises in drawing animation storyboards., which resulted in being able to better express the skill cutscenes more vividly and dynamically.
He mentioned that the animators used to work manually but used motion capture to improve the realism of the animation production.
How Far Will The Game Adapt?
Considering how the Tower of God franchise has a dedicated following, the next question we asked Kim Yong-Won was how far will the game’s story follow the Manhwa’s progress.
“Season one’s stories will be covered at the Tower of God: New World’s launch. Most of the main events will be featured in story cutscenes and through conversations within the game. Some may think we aren’t adapting enough, considering Season three is currently being serialized. But rather than catching up with the story in a hurry, we preferred to focus more on the quality of our animation so that players can fully enjoy the experience and be absorbed in the game.”
Tower of God is very story heavy with an intriguing plot and a colourful cast of characters. We asked Kim Yong-Won if fans could expect the story segments in the game to be fully voiced to better immerse themselves in the world.
To which, Kim Yong-Won said that the story segments will have full voiceovers in English, Korean and Japanese.
Webtoon Adaptations in Mainstream Media
With Webtoon being more internationally mainstream with projects such as Solo Levelling getting an anime adaptation and Black Knight with its Netflix series; we asked Jeong Eon-san if he considers Webtoons to be the next big IP goldmine.
Jeong Eon-San mentioned that Webtoons had always shown value and they believe this trend will continue.
“The Tower of God: New World IP has also been extremely popular among fans, and we aim to provide enjoyment to players through a unique narrative and in-depth stories surrounding each character from the original webcomic.”
Catering to Fans
Considering how Tower of God: New World retells the story of the original Webtoon, we asked Jeong Eon-San how did the team find balance between catering to long-time fans of the series without alienating new individuals who might experience the story for the first time.
“We focused on staying true to the original webcomic, following most of the main themes and characters. Even as we were developing our own authentic stories for the game, we tried to remain loyal to the original spirit of the source material. We hope that players will enjoy the new storyline, even if it’s their first time with the Tower of God IP.”
Shinshu Link Mechanic
Tower of God: New World offers a unique gameplay mechanic in the form of Shinshu Links, which is very useful for people who don’t have the time to level up multiple characters. We asked Jeong Eon-san if he could go in-depth with this specific mechanic.
Jeong Eon-san explained that the Shinshu Link System is a way to grow slots that would be used during combat, unlike other games which required you to grow each character on their own.
“We developed this new system because if growth was tied to each individual character, the number of characters you would have to level up would continue to increase exponentially the longer the game is live. That could negatively impact the overall play cycle for players, so we developed the Shinsu Link system to simplify the entire process.”
Jeong Eon-san mentions that players can increase the Shinshu Link through the Gacha system and regardless of which character they acquire, they’ll receive Soul Crystals according to its birth grade. Player can use said Soul Crystals to increase a character’s grade and levels can be raised by using growth materials acquired through battles.
Considering how most games in recent time make use of MMO elements which are considerably time consuming, we asked Jeong Eon-san were there any reason why they decided to implement idle elements in the game.
He said that despite having idle elements, Tower of God: New World is not an idle game. as Jeong Eon-san mentions partly providing idle functions only for convenience. The team thought they could alleviate players’ burden of repeatedly farming the same stage when they get stuck. Jeong Eon-san wanted to provide idle capabilities as a break reward so that players could focus more on attacking the stage itself.
Balance Between Full-Auto and Having Control
As a follow up to our previous question, we asked Jeong Eon-san how the team find balance between making the game full-auto and letting the players have control over the game.
“It is impossible for players to directly manipulate characters, but they can engage in strategic battles by utilizing character placement. We designed the system through continuous simulations, making multiple variables appear according to the battle arrangement and testing different results depending on the character placed each time.”
“Players can also consider Elements of the character; they can increase the attack power and acquire additional Buff Effect for their teams when they place three or more characters of the same Elements.”
Given Netmarble’s previous track record of publishing Ni No Kuni Cross Worlds as a normal game and then updating it to include NFT mechanics later on, we asked Jeong Eon-san if we could expect the same with Tower of God: New World.
To which, Jeong Eon-san firmly replied with there won’t be any blockchain features planned for Tower of God: New World.
Favourite Zahard Princess
Our last question directed to Jeong Eon-san was a lighthearted one. We asked him who his favourite Zahard Princess was.
“Endorsi Zahard is one of my favorite characters. While having idol characteristics, she can be cold-hearted and yet have a soft inner side at the same time.”
Thus, concluded our interview. We would like to give our thanks to Jeong Eon-san and Kim Yong-won for taking the time off to answer our question in regards to Tower of God: New World. We would also like to thank Netmarble for setting up the interview.
If you like to hear our thoughts on the game, check out our first impressions here.