Magazine SO-EN, November 2023 issue: Interview VOL.4 Two personalities that make up “Livly Island”
※This article is machine translated.
Thinking with Cocone
How to become a fashion designer working in the virtual space?
VOL.4 Two personalities that make up “Livly Island”
Today, attention to “avatars” for spending time in virtual spaces is growing much more intense. In this context, the work surrounding avatars is being eagerly watched as a profession for the new era. In this series of articles, we will learn about the work of avatar designers along with Cocone, who is famous for his Pokecolo series. In this fourth installment, we focus on two people who create a smartphone application for training “Livly”, a mysterious pet born from alchemy.
What is Livly Island?
In 2003, the game was created as a PC game for raising pets called “Livly”. The game became popular for its cute and tongue-in-cheek characters and item designs, and in 2009, the number of registered users exceeded 1 million. In 2008, Cocone acquired the rights to the game, and in July 2009, it was reborn as a smartphone application. The smartphone version also includes an avatar “homunculus”, the player’s alter ego, through whom the player can enjoy life with Livly, such as taking care of her, changing her clothes, and harvesting nuts by growing trees that grow on the island.
Right: Ms.Naoko Utsumi
Joined Cocone in 2014. Creative Director of “Livly Island”.
Left: Ms.Mei Maki
Joined Cocone in 2013. Product Design Team Leader for “Livly Island”.
Talk between Ms.Utsumi and Ms.Maki
The nucleus of “Livly Island”
Maki: I was struck by the fact that “Livly Island” is different from “Pokecolo” and “Pokecolo Twin” as an avatar application. I think it is in the design of Livly.
Utsumi: “Livly” itself is a weird creature born from alchemy, so there is a sense of venom and humor in the design of our products. Also, many customers deeply consider the meaning of the motifs and the intentions of the creator, which is challenging for me as a designer.
Maki: In the classic version, it was a PC game, but now it is a smartphone app, and the concept of Livly’s death has been eliminated. The playing environment and historical background are different between the classic version and now, and the premise is very different. In this context, I hope that everyone on the team will not stop thinking so that we can think about how we can replace the underlying things that were good in the classic version with the app version.
Utsumi: I am also conscious of never stopping to think. When devising product themes, I always place importance on thinking about how common events would take place in the world of Livly. For example, the “Forgotten Wedding Hall” gacha we released in June received a unique response from Livly.
Maki: When we create a wedding theme at Livly Island, we often ask ourselves questions like, “What kind of happiness? and “Who are you going to marry? We think about the theme from the beginning.When we announced the wedding, we dared to show only the bride, and then we introduced a ring item called “Gift for Livly,” which caused customers to ask, “Is that Lively who I’m marrying? This caused a stir among customers.
Utsumi: The atmosphere of the theme was also unexpected, as we dared to create a dark visual for a wedding, and some customers became interested in it. I think there is a psychological tendency to want to actively create a story when there is a theme, and I have the sense that we are challenging ourselves to create an opportunity for everyone to imagine a story.
Maki: Many of Cocone’s customers are creative people. We leave blank spaces for them to play with in item descriptions, etc., and make connections to past themes and items.
Utsumi: I want to create something that will make the person who discovers it want to tell others about it with enthusiasm!
What Ms.Utsumi values
Deliver a lot of excitement before the release
Livly Island is still in the process of taking on a variety of challenges, as it has only been a short time since the release of the app version. What hasn’t changed, however, is that we must consider how the customer feels when they receive the item. If that is the case, I think it would be a good idea to think about the items backwards from the ” how to deliver ” of the item. For example, when announcing an item before its release, or in the catalog section of the sales page, we can show images of the item like a picture book, or make it look like a stylish black-and-white magazine. In some cases, we did not show any visuals before the release of the product, but instead published a novel. Don’t get caught up in the formula that an announcement is a “story + product introduction” – When you are feeling excited about buying clothes, don’t they all look attractive? We put a lot of effort into how to create that kind of excitement before release. I think of it as a dialogue between the “customer” inside me and “would they enjoy this?” I think about it as if I were having a dialogue with the “customer” inside me.
Ms.Utsumi is so active that he enjoys going to the snowy mountains to ski and snowboard in winter. At the same time, he also enjoys reading and says that many books inspire his work. The picture book “The Dream-Eater” (bottom left) is one that Ms.Utsumi, who used to be afraid of scary stories, found fascinating. From there, he has recently set a goal to “challenge myself to do things I haven’t done before or haven’t been exposed to. She looks at “Northern European Folk Tale and Mythological Illustration” (bottom right) when she is looking at the visuals to develop ideas.
What Ms.Maki values
Creating an environment where designers enjoy creating
I am currently building the organization of Livly Island. Since I was a designer during the “Pokecolo” days, I have felt that customers respond to things that designers enjoy creating. It is very important to “create an environment where people can enjoy creating. For this reason, we emphasize communication within the team. At Corona Disaster, we often work remotely, so there are few opportunities to get to know each other. So we divided the team into three groups, one for each role, to increase density and create an environment in which everyone can easily express their opinions. We were especially careful not to make people feel that they “lost out” by offering their ideas. When asking people to give their opinions, I made sure to convey my own sense of temperature, told them how we used the survey results, and provided feedback on the ideas they gave us. It is a small thing, but such a trusting relationship is important for everyone to feel at ease and enjoy working together.
Her hobby is “collecting gadgets”. In particular, he is addicted to keyboards after ASMR, and even makes his own keyboards for the sound and appearance of typing. Just like wearing nail polish makes me excited, using my favorite keyboard makes my work more enjoyable.
The “Gold Ray” gacha (three items on the left), which shows the world of the theme like a picture book, and the “MODE” gacha (right), whose item introduction page is based on “the theme of a stylish magazine in the daily life with Livly”.
Summary of this month
The free creativity that emerges from a healthy team creates a special worldview!
SETAGAYA PORT (Setagaya-ku, Tokyo) Co-hosted “The Birth of Future Designers? Children experience the work of digital fashion designers
Exhibiting at Japan’s Largest Professional Exhibition in the Licensing Industry & About Cocone’s IP Business
Sanrio Characters x Livly Island! First collaboration event was held!