|SNUGDC is open to all students as their main focus is to enjoy playing and developing games. Photo provided by SNUGDC.
Sheep, owls, and penguins dressed in vibrant sweaters visit the user on the smartphone. They share experiences of life with a home owner, who buys specific materials to attract the animals.
“Home Alone” is a smartphone application developed by Seoul National University Game Developing Club (SNUGDC).
SNUGDC was founded in 2009 by the students interested in game development. It is open to anyone who would like to join as their goal is to enjoy and develop games. Currently, there are 30 to 40 members in the club, all from various majors. Most of the games are developed during the winter and summer vacations. SNUGDC used the finished games to participate in the club support programs organized by companies such as Nexon and LINE plus.
As game development is conducted during the vacations, SNUGDC spends the rest of the semester preparing for the work by presenting and deciding upon which game concept to expand and develop. Every week, club members gather to present their basic outlines of the game and at the end of the semester, members choose the one they would further develop.
“Rather than selecting a concept, people gather around an idea that they like,” said Won Ji-ho, the president of SNUGDC. “Those people form a group and develop a mere concept into an actual game.”
As there are multiple groups working on different games, their group structures vary from each other. The fundamental four roles are: the planner, artist, programmer, and project manager (PM).
“Though there are many roles, the person who originally suggested the idea becomes the center of the process once in development,” Won said. “We do not have guidelines on how to develop the games, so each process and method may vary. They can follow the original idea step-by-step, or add on details as they go along.”
“Home Alone” is one of the games SNUGDC created that gained much popularity. Depicting a university student living alone, “Home Alone” introduces various animals that come and go, sharing their own college and social life.
“At first we wanted to do a simulation of a student living alone,” said Park Se-mi, the PM of “Home Alone.” “But I soon realized that it would merely simulate doing housework all the time. Then, I remembered that friends visit frequently especially when you live alone near campus.”
Building upon this idea, the “Home Alone” group shifted the focus of the game by adding new characters and their own personal stories. During the process they faced some difficulties.
Since the club members are amateur developers, they have to take on multiple roles. Also, as developing games continued during the semester, they have to manage their studies and game development at the same time.
In four months time, “Home Alone” was finalized and released to the public as an actual smartphone application where it gained much popularity. The personal stories of the cute and friendly animals empathized with many of the users and their own stories. Surprisingly, “Home Alone” was highly ranked in both Android and iOS application markets.
“I was very happy that ‘Home Alone’ had gained such popularity and it was thrilling whenever people recognized our intentions in the game,” Park commented on the success of “Home Alone.” “But as its popularity increased, it became harder to maintain. I had pains in my wrists from April and had to visit the orthopedics to get an injection. Also, different interpretations of the story greatly bothered me when I had to deal with them.”
SNUGDC attributes their prolific activities to their love of games.
“Rather than continuously brainstorming ideas, I think it is more helpful to develop small, simple games and work from there,” Won said. “Also, playing various types of games and looking into its characteristics, advantages and disadvantages help the brainstorming process.”