Magazine Software Design November 2023: Interview “Historic ‘Livly Island’ Re-launches with Smartphone App” with Shingo Inoue and Yuma Takafuji [ Part 1 ]
※This article is machine translated.
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Part 5: Historic “Livly Island” Re-launches with Smartphone App
Born in 2003, “Livly Island” began as a pet-raising service for PC browsers; Cocone acquired the rights in October 2020 and relaunched it as a smartphone application in July 2021. The worldview remains the same, but the game has been moved to a new environment and the fun that is typical of Livly Island has been extended even further. We interview Shingo Inoue and Yuma Takafuji of Cocone Livly Project about the background of the release.
– Please introduce yourself.
Shingo Inoue (Inoue): I am Shingo Inoue from Cocone Livly Project. I was involved in the launch of the browser version of Livly Island in 2003. After working on client development for several Cocone products since 2018, I have been in charge of client development for the Livly Project since its inception. My guess for Livly is TOBINE.
Yuma Takafuji (Yuma Takafuji): My name is Yuma Takafuji, also from Livly Project. I was in charge of server development for arcade games and social games development and operation at my previous company. At Cocone, I was in charge of server development and operations for Pokecolo and Pokecolo Twin, as well as the launch of Hallow Sweet Days and Livly Island services and server development and operations. My favorite Livly is PYGMY.
Improved to bring out the best of Livly’s charms
– Could you briefly tell us about “Livly Island”?
Inoue: This is an application for raising a mysterious creature called Livly. It was initially offered in the browser and ended once in 2019. Cocone later acquired the rights and will relaunch it as a smartphone app in July 2021. Cocone’s intention was to utilize the know-how and assets gained from the dress-up app to grow Livly Island, which is a deeply rooted and popular app.
Takafuji: Customers raise Livly through their alter ego, Hom, on the island where Livly lives. The color of the Livly changes depending on the color of the food (insects), and the gems that the Livly ejects can be collected and exchanged for items. This is an application where you can enjoy communication with your friends by nurturing your favorite Livly and showing them to each other.
Inoue: In the past, the game has been offered as content for cell phones and as software for the Nintendo DS. Since it has a history of nearly 20 years, when we relaunched it, we received some welcoming comments such as “I used to play it on my parents’ computer when I was a child. It brings back memories”.
– How did you port it to a smartphone app?
Inoue: Since everything was transferred to us, including the source code, we have run it on a pseudo basis within the company to check its operation, but basically everything was rebuilt from scratch. Since it is based on browser Flash (ActionScript), there is no way to reuse it. The client for the smartphone version is developed in Unity, using C#.
Takafuji: At that time, we wanted to deliver our products to customers as quickly as possible.
Inoue: In order to reduce man-hours, we cloned existing Cocone projects that could be converted to Livly Island and added what was needed.
Takafuji: However, at the first in-house trial play session, we received the opinion that we were not making full use of Livly’s charms and that we needed to make it more accessible to customers. In a desperate move, we extended the development period by three months and made a number of improvements, including the addition of new functions.
Inoue: Initially, only one Hom and one Livly could be displayed on the screen, but we made repeated detailed adjustments until we were satisfied, such as making it possible to display up to three Livlys and reviewing the changes that occur when Livly is taken care of and the direction of the gacha.
– What preparations were made on the server side?
Takafuji: Initially, we were running on Google Cloud, but eventually decided to run Livly Island on AWS. Most of the data was replaced by AWS services with similar functionality, but since BigQuery was used for KPI and other aggregation, a few adjustments were necessary, such as moving the data (Figure 1).
Inoue: The decision on which cloud vendor to use is based on Cocone’s overall technical strategy and technology trends. Fixing on any one vendor would result in a bias of in-house technical know-how, and it is difficult to make a decision depending on timing.
Takafuji: On the server side, we use the Go language, MongoDB for the database, and Redis for the cache. In addition to the server staff for each application, there is also a team that oversees the infrastructure across the entire company.
EC2 instance changed in a hurry due to higher-than-expected load
– How has the response been since its release?
Inoue: Thankfully, we have had more customers download the software than we had expected. The number of downloads reached 300,000 in August 2021, one month after the release, 1 million in February 2022, and has now surpassed 5 million downloads worldwide. We had imagined that it would grow because of its name recognition and history, but everyone on the team was surprised that so many customers had accepted it.
Takafuji: On the server side, we test for load before release, but the number of customers using the service exceeded our prior assumptions, so we had to take countermeasures against the load in a hurry.
Inoue: I can only express my gratitude to the many customers who have been eagerly waiting for this project. The database was the one that was seriously overloaded.
Takafuji: At the time of release, we were running MongoDB on an AWS EC2 instance. Since MongoDB was configured as a master/slave system, we could scale up one instance at a time and get by without service outages. We were able to get through the service without any service outages. We first attempted to scale up to eliminate the load from the customer’s point of view, and then we took the form of tuning the heavy Query afterwards.
– The ability to scale up quickly is one of the nice things about the cloud.
Takafuji: I am glad that we were able to get through this period without stopping the service, but as an engineer, I feel a little embarrassed (sweat). The load was higher than expected, so we could not get around to preparing KPI summaries, and there was a period of time when we were unable to conduct evaluations. Although we did not cause any inconvenience to our customers, …….
Inoue: It was pretty bad (sweat).
To be continued in Part 2
*Please note that we are talking about backstories and thoughts that are separate (Metafictional) from the main story of Livly.
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