Korean and Western Aesthetic together: Exos Heroes development insight, by LINE GAMES.

Today, LINE Games released a valuable developer interview that gives fans around the world insight into the global release of the newest game, Exos Heroes. 

Exos Heroes is a unique Hero collection Mobile Game that, has unanimously among the Gacha gaming community,  been praised for its beautiful visuals and iconic aesthetic. The uniqueness of the characters is also among high community praise.

The developer Interview is with the games Art Director and primary Game Director. Son Min Suk, a former player of the Exos Heroes series, has dedicated his art style into giving the newest game something visually new and distinctive -- a blend of "Korean and Western aesthetic together".

Game Director, Choi Young Zun, explains how ideas for the game often come up through imagining what characters would do or feel like if suddenly transformed or thought up in a new circumstance. One of these instances is the instance of characters being turned into a small, cute yet mighty tribe of hamsters!

Below, you can find the full English transcript of this interview.

Young Zun Choi: Hello, I am the Director of ‘Exos Heroes’, Young Zun Choi


Min Suk Son: Hi, I’m Min Suk Son, I am Exos Heroes’ Art Director and I’m in charge of character Illustration. I was also a player of the previous title ‘Exos Saga’ and as I became in charge of making its sequel, succeeding the series’ story and background as much as possible has been my primary focus. My goal was to make a new style for the new Exos series, which will stand out on its own but still maintain a meaningful connection with its predecessor.

Besides the game’s gorgeous graphics, we wanted players to be able to deeply immerse into the story of each character, so that’s how we began conceptualizing the game. The overall atmosphere may seem like based on western fantasy, but modern and multinational design codes can be found here and there to convey the hybrid fantasy of Exos Heroes to players. We expect future story updates to present a number of design concepts that incorporate Korean and western aesthetics together. 


Young Zun Choi: Above all, when rendering a 2D illustration into a 3D model, the most important part for decreasing the gap between the two was played by AD Min Suk Son, who directs and checks the process every now and then. Also, we have our own shading technique that enables us to technically decrease the difference even further.

Our AD looks into every single texture and makes adjustments for all, even for special effects! Well, he constantly creates work to do, and for us watching him do all that… we feel we can really trust and rely on him. 


Min Suk Son: “How can we blend this illustration style into the game seamlessly?” “And to do that, what process and technique will we need?” Solving these questions involved a lot of trial and error, but the texture in artwork illustrated by the flow of color the textures applied by the shader, the flow of light described in the illustration, all these elements were separated and applied as if they were individual layers, and with these, we focused on closing in the gap between the original artwork and the actual data throughout the whole development process. We systemized the process itself from A to Z.

Even when we were matching colors, we didn’t pick colors that just ‘looked right’ but assigned exact code for each color value. We created a set color table that could serve as guidance when designing so that the overall work will look even. The color itself, not just the characters, was a crucial element of 'Exos Heroes’ graphics. We wanted to present vibrant colors so that players can enjoy the game’s bright and romantic mood.

*He points to a color*

That color was the "weight" of the game.

Looking at Exos Heroes, you will notice that its character illustration style is not heavy – it’s light and casual. Personally, I think ‘lightness’ is one of the essential elements for mobile games. Yet, we knew that such visual style, its ‘lightness’, if not approached carefully, could become ‘cheap’. So we also needed some ‘weight’ to balance out this part. These two features are opposites of each other, and it’s kind of ironic. So positioning 'Exos Heroes’ graphics exactly in the middle was our greatest challenge and important checkpoint. Actually, ‘lightness’ in Exos Heroes, the mechanism that presents Exos Heroes in such style, is cartoon shading. While applying cartoon shading, we paid special attention to those textures that typically do not go well with this type of shading style like metallic textures and so on, and as we were balancing, we managed to reach an equilibrium. 


Young Zun Choi: When we decide design direction, the first case is designing based on the game’s scenario, and there is this case where we just start off from ideas, like ‘say how about we try this concept?’ For example, Fate Core. Among the concepts, there is a theme called "The Past" It was created by thinking about what the character went through to develop such personality traits. By the time this video goes live, you will find Fate Cores that present a number of characters as this cute, hamster-like ‘Banga Tribe’. What would it be like when the characters are transformed into this form? That’s how we started when designing this Fate Core series. 


Min Suk Son: As he explained, when our Director selects the characters and the theme for their Fate Cores, the first thing I start thinking about is whether to maintain the identity of this character or throw it away boldly. This is very important since this decision can dramatically change the concept of the design. And when the design direction is set like this, we mostly refer to the game’s background and story for inspiration. And sometimes, when we have to design outside of the game’s original background, we refer to the current trend in the industry. 


Young Zun Choi: As for me, well, actually we are done designing up to Season 4. We work on the details by looking at each character, see if the character needs to be enhanced or toned down, and so on. That’s how we are making the game. Since we write the story after deciding the characters’ concepts, the story has never been tangled so far. But when we are working on the scenario since Exos Heroes is a hero collecting RPG, there were some difficulties, like staging inevitable battle scenes, and since there were a lot of characters we worked hard to make sure each character was unique there were no similar characters.


My case is kind of similar to what our AD just said. I make a graph, like a palette that lists characters by types. So if I see a lot of empty slots on this side of the graph, I create the characters we lack to fill in these spaces and balance our character pool. So first of all, we will carry out a Season 2 update for our players who have waited a long time for the next story chapters to finish the story, up to Season 4 In terms of service, we will continuously communicate with the players to show how we get better every time we update the game. We are so excited to meet with players from all over the world.


Min Suk Son: In whatever way possible, we hope to make Exos Heroes as a game that can tell and show a lot of story to players. 

Young Zun Choi: We will strive to make Exos Heroes a game that everyone can be satisfied with.

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