Magazine Software Design August 2023: Interview “The birth story of the popular dress-up application Pokecolo” with Yongshik Cho and Eunmi Hong [ Part 1 ]
※This article is machine translated.
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Part 3: The birth of the popular dress-up application “Pokecolo”
In this issue, we explore the history of the ” Pokecolo ” application, which allows users to enjoy dressing up their avatars, and which was released in September 2011 and has grown to become one of Cocone’s leading applications. How did it come into being, what challenges did the initial version face, and how were they overcome? Mr. Yongshik Cho, who knows how the app was launched, and Ms. Eunmi Hong, who is currently the development team leader, look back on the birth of the app.
– Please introduce yourself.
Yongshik Cho (Cho): My name is Yongshik Cho, Cocone Service Infrastructure Development Office. I have been working as a client engineer since my previous job, especially in services that use avatars for a long time.
Eunmi Hong(Hong): I am Eunmi Hong, Team Leader of Pokecolo Development, and it has been 10 years since I joined Cocone M (formerly Cocone Korea) and moved to Japan to develop “Pokecolo”.
Designers’ Enthusiasm Gave Birth to “Pokecolo”
– When and where did the idea for ” Pokecolo ” come from?
Cho: Around the beginning of 2011, Cocone began to make inroads into services for smartphones. At the time, Cocone was providing a web-based language service and was creating videos of various conversational situations using avatars as teaching materials. This led to a voice from within the company saying ” If we are going to release an application for smartphones, we want to develop one that focuses on avatars ” The designers in particular were very enthusiastic about the idea.
Hong: Cho is a founding member of ” Pokecolo ” and knows the history, and everyone calls him ” father ” because he takes good care of them (laughs). At that time, I think the feeling of enjoying avatars and characters on smartphones was not yet familiar to people.
Cho: We repeatedly considered how we could make it more enjoyable. We had to temporarily suspend development due to the Great East Japan Earthquake in the middle of the project, but we released the game in September 2011, incorporating the dress-up function and dona (in-app currency). Although it is no longer available, the initial version included several mini-games.
– I heard you started with iOS.
Cho: We released the iOS version first because the iPhone was just starting to become popular, and the specifications of the iPhone were still low, so we were still trying to figure out how well it could perform.
Hong: After the iOS version, we decided to release an Android version, and I, who was at Cocone in Korea for the Japanese release, joined the Japanese development team. In Korea, about 90% of smartphones were Android, so in order to release ” Pokecolo ” in Korea, we had to develop it starting with the Android version. We first developed the Android version in Korea and then ported it to Japan. As a result, we decided to develop it in C++ and call it from the server.
Cho: For iOS, there are only iPhones, so the designers can create the colors as they want, but for Android, there are many models, so we had a hard time.
Hong: It’s the same item, but one model would ” Why is it so red?” and sometimes there were differences in color expression.
– What technical challenges did you face?
Cho: We have been developing the product so that we can realize the designers’ particular needs. I and many of the male engineers don’t understand ” cute ” (smiles).
Hong: For example, we want to put outerwear over a dress, a scarf over a scarf, extract hair color to change the color of another item, or make the movement of avatars and glitter subtle and smooth, etc. The requests are wide-ranging.
Cho: In response to the designer’s request, we added more and more layers. Now there are 12 layers in the table, and we have dozens more within it in a nested structure. In the early days, we struggled because the specifications of smartphones were low and adding more layers made the movements heavier. Also, communication lines were slow at 3G, so we had to keep the data volume down. However, reducing the data size of an item could reduce the quality of expression.
Hong: Since the abundance of items and rich expressions are directly related to the appeal of ” Pokecolo,” the data tends to increase. Downloading all of the huge number of items can amount to several GB. We try to download only the items necessary to start the application at first, and the rest can be downloaded gradually later.
Cho: To keep the movement light, we wanted to keep the data volume low, so we used vector images for the images. We also developed our own format for Pokecolo.
It was only after the introduction of the mess that it became popular
– How was the business side of things?
Cho: When we were able to realize the designers’ ideas with our technology, they were very happy, which made the development team happy and gave us a lot of encouragement. Even other departments were envious of the Pokecolo team ” The Pokecolo team looks like they are having fun” (laughs). However, business was sluggish. There were times when the termination of the service flashed in my mind.
Hong: Momentum began to build after we introduced the gacha.
Cho: I think our prospects started to look brighter when our daily sales exceeded 1 million. We were still not in the black, though.
At the time of launch, the Pokecolo team consisted of only 12 engineers. Moreover, most of the designers were part-timers, not full-time employees. Now we have about 100 members developing ” Pokecolo”. Many of them are designers, and they “cuteness” of Pokecolo.
Hong: ” Pokecolo ” is not only about loving the coordination of your avatar as cute, but also about showing it off to your friends. It is nice when your friends “” This is cute. Sometimes, you can exchange items and enjoy communicating with each other. From my point of view, it is an application that not only women but also men can enjoy.
To be continued in Part 2.
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