Chapter 1 part 1: A Run-Down Game Store
“About this project, no one has any objections about steering it towards being mobile-oriented, right?”
‘No, I disagree with that, you bastard…’
However, like always, I kept my thoughts to myself . God damn…
“By the way, for this project, how much time do we have to make the final deadline?”
“The beta will go live next May, so won’t we have to finish it by February?”
‘What? They’re giving us only 6 months to overhaul the current project and remake it from the start? Are they playing with us?’
I’m boiling with anger . The company CEO has been picking his nose and stupidly nodding his head from his seat . He probably thinks that with just 2 months of working on the game, after about a month of advertising the game, the money would start rolling in .
No way that’s happening . I can bet my 10 fingers that this project will be an utter failure .
At that moment, one of the directors must have seen the disapproval showing on my face and opened his mouth .
“Mr . Junhyuk?”
“Yes . ”
“Do you have a problem? Why is your expression like this from awhile ago?”
“Director Han, the concept of this project is completely different from what we planned out in the beginning . The game will charge the users serious money; if we release the game like this, the users will be definitely displeased . This won’t fare well for our company’s image . ”
As I said that, Mr . Han looked at me with a wrinkled eyebrow . He has the habit of wrinkling his eyebrows like that whenever someone even slightly criticizes his project .
“I even extended the deadline of the last project for you . You should remember exactly how that turned out . . ”
‘F*** . You interfered in the middle of that and overturned everything!’
I had a ton of things to say, but I’m not stupid enough voice my opinions . All that would happen is that CEO, who is picking his nose, will remain oblivious, and Mr . Han isn’t the type of person that would stick up for me either .
“As you all know, the gaming industry of our country consists mainly of mobile games . The PC games that we thought would go on forever have rapidly decreased in popularity . Anyway, the focus must be on mobile . In the past, ‘NetBlue’ had about the same revenue as us but they instantly grew to a conglomerate in the top 5 rankings after releasing one mobile game . You guys don’t feel anything after seeing this? You don’t have any thoughts on how to make the company hit the jackpot?”
“Yeah, that’s right . Director Han speaks well~”
The CEO sided with Mr . Han .
NetBlue… They hit the jackpot after releasing a mobile version of “Blue Marble”, but after a while, due to a scam with the billing process being exposed, the users left the game .
“And the company, GameTown, which was smaller than us, is releasing new titles every quarter . However, look at us . We haven’t released anything new for the past two quarters . Does this make any sense?”
The CEO agreed with Director Han again .
“Yeah, that’s very good . ”
The more I hear the executives speak, the more baffled I become . For the last project, if we strictly followed the initial plan, we would have finished last April . However, everything went south when changes were constantly made in an attempt to increase the potential revenue for the game . The project was inevitably delayed due to these constant updates .
And on top of that, the game was switched to a mobile platform so the effort that we put into this project, since last november, was lost . Director Han was in an arrogant state with the CEO backing him up .
“I was thinking it would be best for the Team Leader of this project, Mr . Kang Junhyuk, to drop out . How about moving to the customer service department for awhile? You like interacting with the users, right?”
“Mr . Junhyuk, the kind of games you make are too player-oriented . In the perspective of the company, it doesn’t make much money at all . We’re not some kind of a charity service . If you make a free download game, you should be thinking of ways to extract money, not showering the players with free items . Anyways, I’ll personally lead this project . Mr . Junhyuk can go to another department for now . Or you can just stay at the customer service department and take care of the players forever . ”
It’s obvious that the result would be garbage; you want me to clean up your trash?
And the fact that a design Director who doesn’t know s*** about programming is going to take charge…
The faces of the programmers for this project were ugly .
“What’s the problem with everyone’s expressions? If you have any complaints, speak up now . I’ll put you in customer service along with Mr . Junhyuk . ”
The room was silent after Director Han spoke .
It was because getting transferred to the customer service department was the most humiliating experience for programmers .
“Fuck, I can’t do this anymore, Team Leader . I can’t work under Director Han, that bastard . ”
End of the shift .
I started a conversation with Mr . Lee, whom I had a deep friendship with . The hour hand on my wristwatch was now pointing at 10 pm . Phew… To think that I would be working overtime the day before my department transfer .
After I organized my belongings in a box, I came out of the No . 2 Inventions Office .
“Team Leader, are you really going to leave like this without saying anything?”
“What if I do say something? Do you think Director Han would listen to me?”
“But you should at least try . ”
“It’s fine . I’m done with this . The current CEO and the past CEOs’ mentalities are completely opposite of each other . Didn’t you see what he was saying next to Director Han?”
“You’re too much, Team Leader Han . If you persuaded me to join the company to make a great game together, then you should have at least stayed in the Team Leader position . ”
“Then you want to follow me to the customer service department?”
“That’s not what I’m saying~!!”
“I’m really sorry . I didn’t know the situation would go this far . “
“You must be in a terrible mood, I stepped out of my position and vented my anger . ”
“But it’s a relief that at least you are staying . Cooperate with Director Han and accomplish the next project well…”
“Yes, I will try my best . ”
“If you have time, do you want to grab a beer together?”
“Ah, because of my wife, beer at this hour is a little…?”
“Smack! That’s fine . Alright then, I’ll see you later . ”
(TL: Lip smacking sfx, not hitting…)
“Have a good night, Team Leader . ”
After saying goodbye to Mr . Lee, I felt the cold night air as I stepped outside . Is autumn coming already? I stopped and looked back at the company as I was heading to the parking lot .
I’m 34 this year . I have 15 years of experience as a programmer, but tomorrow, I’ll go to work as a customer service representative… I’m speechless .
I thought I could make make any game I wanted when I first entered this gaming company, but I was busy making other people’s games for the first 8 years . This was no different after I got promoted to Team Leader .
The games that I made, instead of showing what ways my game will be entertaining, I had to give a presentation on how much profit the game would bring in compared to the production costs .
In the end, the games that I made were not big hits . Of course that was to be expected… while in the process of developing the game, many people added their inputs so the end result was completely different from what was planned in the beginning .
On top of that, due to the deadline being rushed on many occasions, the games were often riddled with bugs and server problems .
Recent trends in releasing a mobile game was always speed . After releasing a game for 2 weeks, the developers would make a decision on whether or not the game would be a hit or not and decide whether or not to discontinue the service . If it seemed that the game would be a hit, the industry would copy the game, make slight changes to it and argue that everyone else copied their program .
It was as if I was watching the Korean version of the ‘Atari Shock’ .
In the 1980s, the American game industry went into a great recession, and it was known as one of the darkest moments in gaming history . Numerous games that didn’t go through a proper testing period flooded into the market . An example of this was the game developed by Atari called E . T .
The game, Extra Terrestrial, was developed in 5 weeks to be released in time for Christmas and needless to say, it was a disaster . Millions of unsold game packages were dumped in the middle of a desert in New Mexico .
An industry of almost 3 billion dollars shrank to about a hundred million after this incident and was known as the ‘Atari Shock . ’ The current situation in Korea was almost no different from back then .
(TL: Atari owned about 80% of the gaming industry’s shares so it’s understandable)
“There’s no one waiting for me back home . Should I grab a beer for myself in a bar near my house?”
I grabbed the car keys from my pocket and headed towards the parking lot . I’m 34 for this year, and I’m still single .
Was this one of the benefits of being single? I parked my car at my house and got myself drunk with 2 bottles of Soju at the nearest bar . Yeah, how could I not get myself drunk on a day such as this~ Keke .
In my drunken stupor, I got myself completely hammered and roamed the streets while cackling to myself . Tomorrow, I will be working a completely different job than game development . Fucking hell… my dream of being a game developer is ending like this?
At that moment the sound of a beeping tune caused me to stop in my tracks .
It was like a sound you would hear from an old arcade shooting game, but my surroundings were nothing but old shops .
However, I hear this for sure . This is the sound of a missile shooting from an old arcade shooting game… Being immersed in my childhood memories, I hastily look around my surroundings and chased the noise .
This time it’s the SFX that Super Marigee makes when he jumps? Perhaps there is an arcade around here? However, from what I know, arcade rooms should have disappeared by the 90s . On the notion that there was an arcade, I hastened my footsteps toward the noise . It might sound funny, but these beeping noises were like a memory of an old pop song to me .
How long have I wandered around like this after midnight? A brightly lit store in a remote alley came into my view . On the glass display was an old TV box . The display contained rows of game cartridges packed together .
“Welcome to my shop . ”
Inside the store, a gray haired old man stared at me while smiling .
“He-Hello, senior . ”