Mobicle visit - Part 2

Here is the second part of my visit to Mobicle. In the first part I discussed their game TK Online. In the second part YJ and I talk about the Korean gaming market and where Mobicle is headed. First we talked about how the gaming markets differ between some countries. The most obvious difference between Korea and the Western gaming market is that Korean games, with few exceptions, are free. Korean games, as we know, work mainly on a microtransaction model. You get the game for free, and as you play you can purchase small things like XP boosts, costumes and other things like that to change your game.

The Western model typically has one buying a game and getting the complete game. Later you can buy expansion packs to add to the game. In recent years a lot of publishers and developers have been experimenting with downloadable content (DLC), to the chagrin of some players. Many Western players take exception to this model, especially when DLC is available at release time, feeling it should have been included in the game. However, Koreans are quite used to having to buy their extras. Another big difference is that most games available in Korea include no single player content, campaign or story.

YJ said that they prefer the current style of microtransactions. He sees it as better for consumers and developers. People have more control over what they buy and what is made.

He also said that the Japanese market was difficult to crack. It is different as well in that the Japanese prefer single player games. So it is harder to get an online game to catch on. TK Online is currently in development there, but it is yet to be seen how popular it will be.

I mentioned to him that I found the long closed beta style of a lot of Korean development to be a bit of a tease. Sometimes you'll see a game added to a portal and be put into closed beta a year or more before it is playable. I felt that Some players might get tired of waiting for it to come out and give up on it or move on. He told me that most gamers here are used to that so they don't see it as having any kind of major impact on their business. He said that sometimes there are a lot of unforeseen delays.

The game portals here are like the publishers in other countries. They are currently shopping TK Online around and have had interest from Neowiz, CJ, and WeMade. Their goal is to eventually tie it in with one of the sites and get it off its standalone site. Good thing we can sign-up for most of the sites, I should warn him away from Mgame and Nexon.

When asked if he preferred developing mobile games or online games, he said that they were very different, so it was hard to pick one. He said that Mobile games can be developed pretty quickly. Less than 1 year usually, while online games can take a very long time to develop, as we've seen.

He said he was very interested in Netmarble's upcoming "Marble Station". This will be a standard platform for web-based games. Due to their partnership with CJ who is tied into Netmarble they'll be able to work with it. This plays into their company's direction.

Mobicle wants to focus on three things right now: iPhone/mobile games, Social Networking Games and Online games. They've released a few iPhone games already as I mentioned last time, and have several more on the horizon. They've integrated some of their games with Open Feint, a popular social networking app on the iPhone, but actually want to develop their own replacement for it.

Mobicle sees that socializing is key factor to game enjoyment. They want all their games to have some kind of chat and interaction built into them, it is why they have such a heavy multiplayer focus with their games. YJ feels the gaming trend is pushing to MP, and I'd have to agree with him. As much as I enjoy good single player games, it seems the market is moving very heavily towards multiplayer with a lot of shooters coming out with very short campaigns which are little more than the tutorials of old. No more 30 mission stories like Doom gave us. You barely work up a sweat and all you have ahead of you is multiplayer. At least I haven't heard too many 12 year-olds screaming in my ear here.

I quite enjoyed the visit to Mobicle and hopefully if they have some big happenings in the future I'll get to go up and see them again and write about it here.

Undead Defense Champion

Undead Defense Champion is a bit of an oddity. Despite the website address this game isn't an online game. This is a free to download zombie defense game. Download and set-up is pretty easy. You don't even need an account. Head over to the site, click the link, wait for the main site to come up and choose "game download". Install, during which you can choose an English option, and you're done. The English choice seems to only be for the installer. The game itself is still in Korean, but it's pretty easy to figure out.

Controls are standard for a game of this kind. You can carry 4 weapons at once. A knife, grenades, a pistol and one main weapon. As you defend against the zombies different areas will open up and you can get additional weapons in those areas. Hit 'E' to swap weapons. The menu is fairly straight forward. Half in English. I just changed the resolution to 1920x1200 and set it to "high". According to fraps I was getting about 40~ frames per second. It's a decent looking game.

The game progresses in rounds. After you clear all the zombies in the round a new round will start. There does seem to be a time component as well. If you don't finish one fast enough and there is one or two stragglers it will start a new round. There are a few "boss" rounds where there are some very tough zombies. One of the most difficult I've found so far is round 20 where there are 3 or more chainsaw wielding zombies. They're very tough and the second time through I didn't pass them. The game can go on for up to an hour. I assume, I haven't gotten past about 30~ minutes so far. You have 2 extra lives to help you last. Some zombies will spawn with guns later on, and zombies will have various speeds and toughness mixed together. Sometimes they will be both fast and strong. you want to be fleeing and dropping grenades or shooting backwards at that point.

The pathing is a bit off in this game. There is a spot where you can stand, pictured below, where if you step through the doors most of the zombies will turn around and go back around the other way. If you're in a bad way it's a good spot to exploit the AI and pick off a couple and step back through causing them to turn around. This does not always work. I would say only about 70% of the time so far. If zombies are close to you they will follow you through and the odd one will charge through anyway, so don't completely rely on this trick. It's pictured right and you can see me exploit it at the end of the video. If your health is below 25 when the round ends you'll be bumped to 25. Zombies will drop ammo boxes and med-kits. Med-kits seem to heal around 50%. Other than that, there is another bug where zombies will just walk over stuff, including debris. There is fire on the stairs. Don't try to jump over it you won't make it and you'll die fast. You cannot use the fire extinguisher you find in one hallway near the trick corner either. Trying to open it does nothing and it's very explosive. After the 20th level you need to head upstairs or you'll catch on fire.

All in all it is a pretty fun game. A good time killer. I'm hoping to make it to the end sometime and see if there is anything special there or not. I just need a good strategy for the chainsaw zombies.


Thanks to Stanly for pointing this one out. Battery is a first person shooter due out this summer. I missed it because it isn't directly connected with any game portal. Even though Naver does a pretty good job of indexing new games, I still find games I miss from time to time. All I know so far is that it's coming out this summer, and they are using motion capture for the models. I'm going to attach a few screenshots I found. This is being brought out by Webzen and seems like it will run on an independent site and not as part of a portal. Webzen is also responsible for Huxley and if you have an account from the old Huxley website, it looks like it works. I seem to have an account already for this game and the only way I can imagine having it was from when I created an account for Huxley last year.

Mobicle visit - Part 1

I went up to Mobicle a couple days ago. As you know Mobicle produces TK Online which is the first Korean game I've found that actually has an English option. Even though many developers are now targeting the English speaking market overseas they forget that there are tens of thousands of English speaking foreigners in South Korea who are potential customers as well. True, not all want to play video games but even if a few hundred were interested in a game it could provide a boost to many games out there.

Mobicle is a company that has embraced the foreign market. In addition to providing TK Online in English, they also have contracts in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, China and The Philippines. They have a dance themed game that they've been working on in The Philippines for about 4 years which has around 4000 concurrent users called "iDate". They're hoping to try and bring it to Korea later. The company currently has around 53 employees. On Monday I met YJ who had just come back from a business trip to China where he was meeting their partner. YJ and I got a chance to talk about their business, their games, and the Korean gaming market in general.

Mobicle's bread and butter is their mobile games. They were founded in June 2004 as a mobile games company and it wasn't until 2006 that they started to branch into online PC games. They are responsible for the very popular Ma-gu Ma-gu a baseball game. They have a partner ship with CJ Internet to develop some games for them. As I walked around the office I could see many poster boards for the various cell phone games they make. Some were instantly recognizable. Recently they've begun to release games on the iPhone as well. From the list YJ sent me it looks like they have nine games out for the iPhone now including Cubetrix 3D which has gotten some pretty favourable reviews.

The first thing we really talked about was TK Online. It is what had drawn me to the company after all. TK Online has actually been in development for about 3½ years. However, 2 years ago they had some server issues and had to redevelop the server code from scratch. This is what has delayed the release so long. Also they are pushing the games in foreign markets right now. The game just completed its 3 closed beta in Malaysia, and is also being developed in Japan right now. Mobicle wants to finish the game overseas and then bring it back to Korea. So this means we may actually be waiting a little while for it. We can always hope that they will keep some kind of open beta open for us though.

I asked YJ what inspired TK Online's style. He said that Starcraft is a powerful force in Korea and competing with it wasn't exactly what they wanted to do. he said players enjoyed combining items to make different gear and that helped to set it apart from games like Starcraft. He also compared the game to Avalon, which is a similar styled game being released under another service. These kinds of games are helping Korea develop the RTS market. They feel that a company like Blizzard has so many years of research and data under their belts that their games come out very good and polished. Other companies who want to get started don't have access to that kind of experience and resources so it takes them time to reach that level. Perhaps in a few more years we'll see some very good home grown RTS games here in Korea.

Up Next YJ and I discussed the Korean gaming market and how it compares to other countries they do business in and the Western model.

Upcoming Tests

Looks like Warcry is finally going to be open for play. June 18-20 will see the game open up. I will do my best to get on for a bit and record some video and get a few screen shots. Maybe we'll get a chance to find out if this is going to be interesting or not.

Battlestar is entering "pre-open beta" on the 10th. Not sure exactly what that is, but maybe it means that open beta is not that far off. You can watch a decent video on the main page right now that shows off the game. It looks like a very interesting FPS/RTS combo similar to Natural Selection, if you remember that old Half Life mod from long ago.

Apex just finished a closed beta test a week ago. Hopefully we'll see an open beta before too long.


Today I went up to Mobicle. I met YJ their international business lead. We talked about TK Online as well as their other games and Mobicle in general. We even got into discussing the Korean game market and international markets. Mobicle has spread out globally and has several international contracts. I'm just going to toss up a couple pictures right now, and later I'm going to write up the various things we discussed. He gave me a tour of their office and I took a couple photos.


Blackshot is a first person shooter from Gametree. I have also found the game in beta on a site in Germany. I haven't checked that version out yet, but I assume that this version has a much lower ping. As I mentioned before Gametree doesn't allow foreigner registration. So either borrow a friend's ID or get them to make an account for you. Once done, head over to the site.

Installation is straightforward. Hit Game start. It'll give you a pop-up about downloading the game. Hit Okay. It'll ask where you want the download, choose a place and let it go. In the screenshot you'll notice I unchecked a box. This box sets Gametree as your home page. So probably you want to uncheck it. After it's done downloading, installation will start automatically. Next next that to completion then head back to the page. Hit Game start again and it'll give you some message about an update. Press game start a third time and it'll launch the update launcher. Once that is done, it'll auto start the game. Once in the game you'll be allowed to make a character.

For some reason I can only choose female characters. Perhaps because my friend's ID is female or maybe you need to unlock the male characters. It's rather odd, and there doesn't seem to be much explanation yet. My choices seem to be either a skinny scout or a rather hefty M16 toting linebacker. I'm going with the scout as I like to do a lot of running around and flanking at times. I'll update later if I'm able to unlock the other characters. There are two character slots available. I'm not sure if that is the max or if more can be unlocked.

Blackshot offers some unique gaming modes. One of those modes is some kind of bunker defense game. You can play solo or with up to 3 companions. The goal is to defend the bunker for around 8 minutes. Enemies will constantly spawn and sometimes some of those enemies will be suicide bombers making a dash for your bunker. You need to keep the bunker intact so the more enemies you kill and especially the bombers, who take 2% off per explosion, the longer it stays alive. After it's over you get some XP, and both times I tried it I got a free piece of armor. Once or twice random helicopters will show up and clear the area for you. Some of the enemies will drop grenades and guns but you can't leave the bunker. You need to mouse over them, they will have a green icon, and press "G". You'll auto-equip them. You can only carry one gun, so you'll switch out the one you have. Your pistol has unlimited ammo.

I played this for a few hours tonight, the intro was written a few hours before and I stopped to play, and all I can say is that it is rough. Compared to Unit, there seems to be a steep "getting used to it" curve. It will be hard to avoid comparing this to Unit since I'm enjoying Unit more than I thought. Right now I'm ranked around #100 overall in Unit. On Blackshot I don't think they've invented a number low enough to describe my rank. I was going 1/15 in my early games. I got slightly better as it progressed but I never surpassed a 1:2 kill:death ratio. This comes from a combination of factors.

Grenade radius seems to be larger than Unit. So many times I thought I was safe and I ended up losing 70-80 health. I didn't last much longer after that. Guns seem to be extremely important in this. My starting gun seemed extremely under powered compared to what I was getting hit with. I'd empty half a clip into someone and it seems like only 2 or 3 bullets from them would kill me, even when they weren't head shots. 99% of the time I got the drop on someone they responded with a head shot. The rest of the time the head shots didn't seem excessive. I really don't know what it was, but every time I caught someone looking the other way or I'd come up behind them, they'd spin and it'd be a head shot.

This was very frustrating. Compared to Sting which was head shot crazy this is kind of middle of the road.

Guns can be purchased a couple ways. You can buy them by the hour or purchase them for a single match. Hourly purchases range from 1 hour to 30 hours and in game purchases run for about 10% of the price of the hourly rate. For example one gun cost around 500 points for an hour rental, but about 40 points for a single match purchase. You can average around 200-300 points per match even as me getting slaughtered. If you are in game and want a new gun, press the "B" key and you'll get an overlay to purchase a new gun. This helped me slightly, as did increasing the mouse sensitivity, but I think I'd need a lot of practice at this game. I was pretty good at flag capturing though and made up some points through that. A kill is worth 1 point, a flag worth 5 points, but somehow in the end kills still seem to be worth more money and experience wise. Grab a lot of flag points and get slaughtered and you won't find yourself really getting more experience and money than someone who has half your points but they're all from kills. Armour seems to be only available from this map. After a win you get random pieces and other odds and ends. You can't buy it in game and the store doesn't seem to have a big selection. So you might want to play some bunker maps to build up your character.

The other play mode is set the bomb. I did better at this, even winning a couple maps. However, my luck ran out and I ended up getting slaughtered non-stop in the next round. Everyone caught on to my tricks.

Overall I think this is an interesting game. The survival bunker map is kind of interesting. I'm not sure how much more I'd play this because I'm enjoying Unit so much these days, but if I get bored with Unit I might give this another go. Perhaps in a couple weeks I'll do a "Weekend with Blackshot" and see if I can't change my luck with some time getting used to it. Menus are standard, nothing fancy or unusual here. I'll see if I can annotate a screenshot, but looking at the menus for of the other games I've done should tell you what is going on.

I decided to try Youtube for the video this time. I've been less than happy with the quality of Viddler recently. I think the next video I make I'm going to try and get it at 720p. I've been recording in Fraps at half size, but I'll need to record full size to do that.

Warcry UI Movie

The folks over at Hanbiton have released a UI video for Warcry. This has been in beta for some time now so I'm hoping these last few teasers are a run up to the actual game being released. This Is Game tells me that the game has been in service for about a year and a half. I'm not sure how long it was developed before that, but I think Korean games need to come out faster. The teaser time is exceedingly long. So I think they really need to keep them a secret longer. It's one thing to build some suspense, it's another thing to string people along for a year and a half waiting with no announcements about an expected release date, or at least not one I can actually find.