On the 16th, Nexon Korea producer Han Jae-ho gave a talk on “Mintrocket's development strategy through the example of ‘Dave the Diver’” at the G-Star 2023 GCON held at BEXCO in Busan.
Producer Han Jae-ho first discussed the current state of Nexon and Mintrocket. In the 2010s, Nexon's various releases were not very successful. As a result, Nexon was somewhat conservative in developing new games, until it came up with a game that fit the Nexon brand.
He introduced some of Nexon's internal projects that weren’t released at the time. These included "Project Anyway," which was developed as a cooperative adventure game where two players try to solve puzzles. Instead of a single answer, the game utilized a physics simulation to generate a diverse array of answers.
During its development, it was realized that the game was a good fit for the "Crazy Arcade" IP, so a new development stage started. However, since it was Nexon's flagship IP, the requirements were higher. As a result, the development costs increased, and the project was suspended at the end of 2020. There were other projects with diverse attempts at development, such as “Force,” “CS,” and “Red,” but none of these saw the light of day.
This all changed in 2019 with the introduction of the Big&Little strategy. It is a strategy divided into two parts: Big Projects involving long-term development and a large number of people; and Little Projects involving rapid development with a small number of people. In particular, the company decided that Little Projects would require a director who is more focused on creativity than a director with multiple skills.
Therefore, online meetings were held during COVID-19 to identify individuals with unique insights and creativity, and a process that allowed anyone to submit new work was built, so both people and projects with potential could be identified.
Mintrocket, the creators of “Dave the Diver,” kept their team small. The team believed that the director's touch should be accessible to all team members, to keep the creativity of the project alive. However, if there was a shortage of manpower, the team would create the parts of the game that were inherently fun, while the central organization would help with other elements.
Feedback was also minimized, to avoid stifling the director's creativity. The producers were asked to keep their opinions to themselves as much as possible, and there were no so-called "hurdles" or executive reviews - just one or two hands-on opportunities. However, there was an objective validation process in place to help the directors reflect on their progress.
A separate internal verification organization was also prepared, and the game's satisfaction among the target audience was validated. It was found that, in fact, "Dave the Diver" outperformed other projects at the same stage.
Whereas big projects are "even hexagons," little projects can be described as "sharp hexagons," pointing in one direction. Therefore, sales strategies had to be changed. To this end, new brand, called Mintrocket, was created. This allowed Nexon to break away from the traditional image and focus on the fun and essence of the game.
Finally, Han Jae-ho emphasized that "as a Little Project, the most important thing to focus on is fun and creativity." "When you explore a new type of fun and focus on that, the market will respond," he concluded.
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