Grand Cross : Age of Titans is an upcoming Strategy Simulation RPG title and prior to the game’s launch, we got the opportunity to interview Netmarble F&C CEO Woo Won Seo, and Project Director Min Suk Kang.
Woo Won Seo kickstarted his career in the games industry back in 2009 at Galaxy Games. After refining his experiences by being involved in the development of titles such as Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross, he eventually took up the mantle of CEO at Netmarble F&C since 2013.
Min Suk Kang started off his career at Teiran as a Development Head back in 2005 and had past experiences with developing strategy game titles. Ever since 2020, he has been taking the role of Project Director at Netmarble F&C and has been involved in the process of the development for Grand Cross: Age of Titans.
Titans At Its Core
As with Strategy Simulation RPG titles, its commonplace to see battalions of units with special Hero characters that are stronger than the average troops. Grand Cross: Age of Titans goes one step further with the introduction of the Titans. We asked Min Suk Kang if he could expand more about this core mechanic in the game.
“Titans are unique special units that can change the course of the war with their superior battle stats. Similar to heroes, they are divided by rarity, with Legendary being the Titans that all our players will want to own. Just like with troop types, Titans have their own designations”
“Our players will find that some Titans are more useful on the frontlines fighting in close combat next to infantry and cavalry, while others can deal damage from afar as long-range units, just like archers. In total, there are seven Titans currently released, five of which can be owned by players individually, while the two remaining Titans will be able to help their Alliances overpower their enemies in intense battles.”
When it comes to mobile games, a big majority of them are adaptations of pre-existing IPs. However, it seems like Netmarble is taking some swings on Grand Cross: Age of Titans. We asked Woo Won Seo if he could tell us about the company’s interest in pushing out more original IPs.
Woo Won Seo mentioned that Netmarble F&C had been developing its own original IP – Grand Cross for a long time. He also brought up that strong IPs have been able to dominate the global market through various media projects.
“Witnessing this evolution of transmedia and the success of our game The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross, we realized that we can also create such synergy by creating our own “universe”. We set a goal to develop our original IP and started in February 2022 by establishing a studio which specializes in creation of webtoons and web novels.”
“Using different media is in line with the very concept of Grand Cross, which refers to the phenomenon in which dimensions overlap and merge with one another. This concept enables characters from different backgrounds to appear in various types of content, media, and platforms, which means that in the future the characters of Grand Cross: Age of Titans will also appear in other projects and media, such as webtoons, web novels, and other games, and vice versa.”
Developing Mobile Games With Modern Technology
The gameplay of Grand Cross: Age of Titans offers impressive large scale battles that features numerous units, more than other mobile Strategy Simulation RPGs. We asked Min Suk Kang if Netmarble had only been working on this title now that technology had caught up.
To which, Min Suk Kang said that it was a new attempt for them to combine elements such as anime graphics and webtoon content, all while taking advantage of the fun the authentic strategic games. He mentioned the team used more traditional RTS elements to allow players to move around the battlefield freely and lead the play.
“We also added a lot of functions, often used in other strategy games, including the customized troop designation. The use of world skills such as teleport and charge will allow players to overcome the terrain, such as the rivers, or approach the enemy unexpectedly to reverse the tide of the battle.”
“In addition to real-time controls and the MMO aspects similar to regular real-time strategy games, Grand Cross: Age of Titans also has the advantage of a more approachable and exciting gameplay. We tried to double the fun of strategic tactics by applying appropriate balance to special troop types, such as our strong Titans and air units, Liege skills, and strengthening players’ autonomy in controlling their troops in the world.”
Implementing A Webtoon Flair
The story beats in Grand Cross: Age of Titans are presented in Webstoon-style segments which are also fully voiced, giving the game a breath of fresh air with a unique concept. We asked Min Suk Kang how this feature came to be.
To which Min Suk Kang replied by saying that they have actively applied the strengths of the Webtoon genre in the game, and that they’ve tried to ensure the cutscenes to be complementary to the basic gameplay. To achieve what they set out to do, the team have been testing all of the related content along with the gameplay, and making adjustments accordingly.
“Through these iterations, we were able to express various emotions between the characters in the cutscenes, as well as match various events to depict the progress of the story. Moreover, the rich animation effects and voice acting help our users immerse themselves into the story.”
“We have been receiving a lot of very positive feedback about the quality of the art and the acting, so it seems we managed to do justice to this content.”
Strategy Simulation RPGs
The Strategy Simulation RPG genre has been dominating the mobile gaming market scene recently. We asked Woo Won Seo if Grand Cross: Age of Titans was developed with that thought in mind.
Woo Won Seo mentioned that Netmarble F&C had developed numerous titles such as The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross, Iron Throne on a global scale. He also mentioned that the development teams who participated in the development of those games had decided to create a strategy game that everyone can enjoy based on the experiences they’ve gathered.
On top of that, Woo Won Seo brought up that many of the developers in the team had been playing strategy games themselves, and they felt that there was a barrier in this genre in which players might be hesitant to start.
“The game was born from our long discussions about how to convey the charm of strategy games that are just as interesting as RPGs. We have tried to make the game appealing to a variety of players by mixing the fun of strategy games with anime graphics, an immersive webtoon universe, and adding SNG, RPG, and CCG elements.”
Woo Won Seo said that this plan to expand the strategy game player base had led to the creation the game, which fits for all types of players. He continued by saying that if players enjoyed the genre, they’ll be able to enjoy Grand Cross: Age of Titans since it involves step-by-step strategy building, and if players enjoy the subculture genre, they’ll have fun collecting heroes.
On the other hand, if players enjoy webtoons, they can unlock various contents to see more of the story, and if players want to socialising aspect in a game, they can look to the Alliance and interact with other players.
Woo Won Seo believes that it’s necessary to attract new generations to the existing player base, who are now in their 30’s and 40’s to try and cater to their tastes and reflect the changes in the market.
“We are trying to appeal to a variety of players by introducing a new anime graphic style in the strategy game market where dragons and zombies are dominating the trends. We are hoping to stand out and attract non-strategy gamers with our immersive webtoon stories and detailed tutorials, making the strategy genre more accessible to a broader audience.”
Coming Up With The Theme
Grand Cross: Age of Titans mixes in fantasy elements with futuristic ones is undoubtedly an interesting design choice. We asked Min Suk Kang whether that had been the core design pillar for the game during the early phases of development.
“The story in our game begins with the main characters, high-school students Eugene and Mio, being summoned from the real world to another world by Destina, the Princess of Skyna.”
“Skyna, once a thriving kingdom, was invaded by the power of Chaos. Destina’s prayer touched the Star Fragment and shot into the sky, causing the so-called Grand Cross phenomenon where a crack appears in the sky creating a link to another dimension.”
Min Suk Kang mentions that the team have developed an exciting story where the two worlds collide, imagined through webtoons drawn in an anime style. However there had been some concerns in regards to the two main characters from the real world finding their place in Skyna.
To indicate the different settings each character belongs to, the team came up with the current designs of accessories, hair style, and costumes, all of which point to the individual characteristics of the heroes in the game. In the case of the titans, Min Suk Kang mentioned that their design were a perfect mix of robot-like looks and medieval weapons, cloaks, and armour.
Having The High Ground (And Other Terrains)
Grand Cross: Age of Titans implements a gameplay mechanic that isn’t often seen in this genre of games, which involves terrain and specialised units. Min Suk Kang was able to share with us the design process for including said mechanic.
“Grand Cross: Age of Titan’s world is made up of various terrain, including hills, mountains, and rivers. While usually these features have an aesthetic role of making the world map look beautiful, we implemented the air units to be able to use the terrain as an element of strategy and enrich our players’ gaming experience. The air units can attack the enemy troops by crossing high walls and difficult terrain.”
“On the other hand, our long-range troops, which can shoot at different heights from a distance, have leverage that can help resist the dangers of having the air units approaching your camp. In this way, players can not only freely move around the world map using the air units, but also carry out high-level tactical strategies using troop leverage to bring victory to themselves and their Alliances.”
The last question we asked was a more lighthearted one. Given how the titans in the game look great, we asked Min Suk Kang whether they were designed in a way that it would look good as potential merchandise, more specifically model kits.
Min Suk Kang mentioned that he’s a big robot enthusiast and that since the development team aimed to make a game that can be enjoyed by users as well as themselves, personal preferences were naturally reflected in the game design. Hence, the team was able to pour more affection and passion into the development process.
“As for the merchandise, we will definitely consider it if our players show interest in such content. After all, as we mentioned earlier, we are striving to expand the Grand Cross universe through the transmedia approach, and merchandise can be a part of it. Who knows, maybe some Titans will embark on their own adventures?”
We would like to thank Woo Won Seo and Min Suk Kang for taking the time to answer our questions regarding Grand Cross: Age of Titans. We would also like to thank Netmarble for setting up the interview.
Grand Cross: Age of Titans is set to release globally on 9th August 2023. For more information, do check out the game’s official website here.