2 to 23 months? Raffin’s growing season

  • subject: From team play to start-up, indie game Lapin development journal
  • Lecturer: Kim Min-jung & Lee Kyu-won – Studio Dudal / Co-CEO
  • Presentation area: development, planning
  • Lecture time: 2021.11.18 (Thu) 14:00 ~ 14:50
  • Lecture Summary: Lapin – A story that deals with the real problems of the indie game development process from the initial planning stage.

  • ■ Winter vacation two-month challenge that came by chance – Just two months! Make a game in two months

    Two months, two months, literally means two months, two months, a company studio co-founded by Kim Min-jung and Lee Kyu-won of Lapin, a story-based 2D pure platformer. Developing a game in two months was a near-impossible project, but the two CEOs, who were full of ambition, started their journey like that.

    Lapin is an unreleased game. It has been in development for two months, of course, and is currently in the 23rd month. Even, it may still take about a year or more. Kim Min-jung, whose major major was Korean language and literature, was always interested in films and various cultural contents, but naturally made information culture as a related major.

    And I met a male student in the front seat there, programmer Lee Kyu-won, who was the co-representative, and I became close while working on a final project together. After successfully completing the project, CEO Kim Min-jung was burned with a desire to create a game as a team outside of school. Naturally, I proposed game development to programmer Lee Kyu-won, who has several game development experiences.

    Kim Min-jung, who had made an offer for the first time, but had nothing to offer compared to programmer Lee Kyu-won, who had already made several games, said he knew that programmer Lee Kyu-won would reject it. However, programmer Lee Kyu-won willingly accepted the offer.

    That’s how two months of the studio started. The motif of Rapin originated from a banner that CEO Min-jung Kim accidentally found while taking a walk in Montmartre Park in Seorae Village. “Parks where rabbits are abandoned and rabbits abandoned, it is a shame for all of us.” Feeling the need for awareness of organic rabbits, CEO Kim Min-jung decided to make a game with rabbits as the main character.

    ■ 6 months of hard work in vain– Rapin, who overcame hardship and adversity and made a fresh start

    Raffin is not a ‘serious game’ whose theme is to convey only the reality of abandoned rabbits. Studio Dudal tried to combine delicate storytelling with fun platforming. Initially, it was planned to be a mobile 2D platformer with an organic rabbit as the main character. The two-month project Raffin started like that. At the end of December 2019, by gathering the necessary talents, Studio Dudal (6 members) was officially formed, and Studio Dudal took the first step with enthusiasm.

    However, as I said before, making a game within two months was an impossible goal. And several problems were encountered fairly quickly. The initial planning intention of the studio two months to combine fun story and platforming was a mobile game. However, it was difficult to capture them simultaneously on mobile.

    The proportion of the story is quite large, but the structure was not very convenient if it contained a large amount of text on mobile, and there were not one or two complicated parts. So, for two months of studio, PC is more suitable for mobile, and the fact that Raffin’s current direction is more suitable for PC is sympathetic to all team members, and everyone agrees to change to PC even if the development period is extended.

    On January 28, 2020, the second month of development, the game concept will be completely revised. Nevertheless, in the first half of 2020, negative reactions were predominant in the continued playtests, and although detailed planning and story changes were made 2-3 times, the evaluation itself did not change significantly.

    Raffin’s turning point is around July 20. In the beginning, the human park construction schedule, the setting of platforming outside to explore a new place to live in accordance with the upcoming date, and returning to the rabbit hole after completing the exploration, the repetitive structure made the game boring. It was difficult to give the players immersion and tension, and the fact that the platforming and the story felt like they were playing separately was a fatal flaw.

    It would be the easiest option to revise the story within a set planning framework, but this inevitably has a high probability of causing the same problem. So, the studio two months decided to change the viewpoint itself through repeated meetings. The starting point was to leave the oyster where construction had already begun.

    Still, the fundamental question did not leave my mind. In the end, it was a moment when all the existing stories and settings were deleted, and the eight-month labor from December 2019 to July 2020 was wiped out in an instant.

    I wrapped my head around the team to solve the fundamental problem, and came to the conclusion that it would be better if the main concept was changed, so I discarded all the lines and settings and started planning a new main story. It was difficult, but when I did this, the team members and my team believed that Raffin could be better for two months at the studio.

    Currently, the characteristic of Raffin is that there are five main characters instead of one. We do not go on an expedition alone, but we do it together, so that the process is not awkward.

    After a complete revision, Raffin began to be recognized little by little. It was enough to worry about stopping game development in 2020, but it was introduced in a Japanese game magazine at the end of 2020, and at the end of 2020, it even succeeded in funding a tumblr. In addition, it was named in various competitions such as the top 2 indie game planning and development competitions by the Korea Creative Content Agency in 2021. What was most valuable above all was the strength that this game made by two months and six people in the studio was worthwhile.

    Before full-scale development, we faced a practical problem. Programmer Lee Kyu-won revealed the process of having the most basic ‘development space’. It’s a very realistic story, but it was a very useful and helpful part for those who had a dream to actually make a game.

    Two months of the studio, which started as a non-face-to-face meeting in the aftermath of the corona virus, are said to have actively used Slack. There is only one reason why I chose Slack. The reason that screen sharing and graffiti function are also shared. But even this couldn’t be better than face-to-face. In the end, programmer Lee Kyu-won met with co-representative Kim Min-jung and people he could meet whenever he had time at a cafe, etc.

    However, if you continue to rent spaces such as cafes, it is not easy unless you have spare funds. Programmer Lee Kyu-won, who was in crisis, moved into a shared office through an acquaintance, but had to come back soon for remodeling.

    The solution was to get a full office. I found an office (near Seoul National University Station) with a monthly rent that I could afford with the prize money I received from Hanconjin.

    Now another issue was ‘time’ to invest in development. Most indie games start from sub-projects and hobbies, and the same was true for two months of studios. In order to graduate, I couldn’t miss school classes, and after forming the team, I actually went to school in parallel for about a year. The main was school, and Raffin was a side project.

    During the hiring season, programmer Lee Kyu-won succeeded in finding a job for the first time by helping each other with self-introductions and mock interviews. Corporate life was satisfactory. It was good to talk and collaborate with various people, to draw and create a much bigger picture, and to create something that we worked hard on.

    However, the more I do it, the less time I have to invest in Raffin. Anyway, programmer Lee Kyu-won’s part is programming, but it was fatal to lose more time. The easiest way to solve this was ‘retirement’. Programmer Lee Kyu-won said that the reason for his decision to resign was that he had his parents’ support as he had some achievements from 2021, and that he also gained confidence in himself.

    As I was more actively immersed in the development of Raffin, I fell into trouble with hostile characters. Basically, it is known that the rabbit’s natural enemy is the weasel. Active obstacles in the game make the game more colorful. First, we studied enemies in other similar games. The methods varied, such as following the player after a second or two or ignoring the terrain. The thing that fits the concept of Weasel and Raffin was just running the shortest distance.

    The start node and the destination node were found, and the path was found and moved using the shortest path algorithm. The problem is that 2D side-scrolling is only affected by gravity, so running and jumping. The movement is not linear, and it is a structure that cannot go up without a wall. Conversely, the 2D top-down view has no gravity, so you can just go.

    So I manually connected the links to all nodes by hand. I got a sense of it, and found regularity through so-called Nogada. Turn the rules into code – playtest – weasel is behaving strangely – check the partial link relationships – fix the code – play test again. I kept repeating this.

    After many twists and turns, I found a path, but it was not easy to move accurately. For example, if you were told to go to (10, 5), you shouldn’t have moved like this (10.3, 4.9). There was a problem that it did not fall from the terrain where it had to fall, and even a slight overlap was judged on-ground. Now, I can’t change it with the position coordinate control, and I’ve come to the point of calculating the position coordinates where the character will be in the next frame every frame by predicting it.

    ■ Q&A

    Q. I wonder why you moved from mobile to PC.

    The biggest reason is that a lot of text comes from a lot of fatigue on mobile, so I thought PC was more suitable.

    Q. What specific vision did you present to your team members?

    In the beginning, it was difficult because the results of the competition were not good. However, after receiving the award in 2021, I have hope.

    The driving force behind our games lies in making the games we want to play. The reason why I joined the company as a rookie planner is because I am given time to show my 1% imagination even though I know that most of it will be document work. But, I wanted a game I made. The biggest attraction is the fact that we are the subjects, not by the above, but by ourselves.

    We coordinated that part together so that we could have the motivation in the role that was right for us. Everyone’s wants will be different. Some people want money, others want to see good results on Steam, or simply want to make a game with rabbits. We continue to talk about whether we need to be a part of this team or create an environment where we can do what we want through communication.

    Q. It is a common concern of many indie game developers. How are the wages handled?

    That’s a key question (laughs). It is unpaid until Raffin is released. As everyone knows, it is a PC indie game, so there is no clear BM structure until release. That part is actually really hard. However, it’s not that they don’t give them at all, they share the prize money as much as possible and do their best not to use the money to develop Raffin.

    Q. I wonder if you plan to go back to the company after making Raffin.

    To be honest, when I decided to leave, I was confident that Raffin would not be a big hit, but I was confident that I would avoid it. I was confident in comparing the profits when I calmly attended the company for a year and the profits when I was not in a hurry. Corporate life was fun, but it’s not easy to reflect my opinions unless you’re a director.

    Q. Are you thinking of finding a publisher? Any other game development plans in the future?

    Try to save it if possible. The standard is that the market we are targeting is Japan and Europe, so I hope we have an influence there. Of course, having a publisher is nice, but indie games don’t necessarily have to have a publisher. There are no concrete plans for the next project, as Raffin has about a year left. I only have thoughts about whether it will be a game centered on a little more special art and story.

    Q. What is the concept of design or difficulty?

    Rabbits go through adventures, with up to 6 chapters. We designed various topographical features with various planning concepts such as parks, ponds, and rabbit civilization. Raffin is basically a 2D platformer game.