Grand Cross: Age of Titans Interview shares insights on the development and future plans

Netmarble‘s brand-new animation MMO RTS game Grand Cross: Age of Titans offers a dynamic combat system in the game allows players to use a variety of tactics on land and in the air to win battles. While the game’s interest resolved naturally, the interest in uncovering the game’s behind-the-scenes was something we at GamingonPhone sought. So we sat for an interview with the key figures behind the game, including Woo Won Seo, CEO of Netmarble F&C, Min Suk Kang, Production Director of Grand Cross: Age of Titans, and Jai Hoon Lim, Art Director of the same game. Let us look at the insights into the game’s initial concept, gameplay mechanics, and upcoming plans with this Grand Cross: Age of Titans Interview.

Could you please introduce yourself in brief for our readers?

Seo: My name is Woo Won Seo, CEO of Netmarble F&C. I established Funny Paw, which is the predecessor of Netmarble F&C, and developed The Seven Deadly Sins: GRAND CROSS, a game loved by many players around the world. I am responsible for the development of GRAND CROSS, which is an original IP of Netmarble F&C.

Kang: My name is Min Suk Kang, a PD of GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS. I started to work as a game developer in 2005 focusing on strategy games. I joined Netmarble F&C in 2020 and will be introducing GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS to you.

Lim: My name is Jai Hoon Lim, AD of GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS. I participated in the artwork of various animation films such as Yobi, the Five Tailed Fox and Aachi & Ssipak before starting my career in the game industry in 2006. I participated in background /concept illustration of games like Dragonica and Ragnarok Online. I also led the background concept illustration of The Seven Deadly Sins: GRAND CROSS at Netmarble F&C. Currently I am an Art Director of GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS.

Congratulations on the successful launch of GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS. Tell us how you feel.

Seo: We are excited about the positive feedback we have been getting from our new players, as well as the players who have stayed with us throughout the Early Access period and the Grand Launch. It is only the beginning, so we are working tirelessly to live up to the expectations of our players, constantly improving their gaming experience and bringing more exciting content they can enjoy.

Grand Cross Age of Titans cover
Image via Netmarble

There aren’t as many strategy games being released, compared to many other genres, so every game is closely scrutinized by the seasoned fans. We have been working on keeping them excited, but at the same time we are happy to welcome so many fans of RPG, CCG and subculture games who joined us in this journey. Our goal has been to make their entry into the strategy genre as easy as possible, and judging by the feedback, they have been enjoying themselves a lot.

What was the inspiration behind creating the title? We see some similarities with Rise of Kingdoms.

Kang: Netmarble F&C had developed global strategy games like Iron Throne and the globally popular RPG The Seven Deadly Sins: GRAND CROSS. Art and sound experts of The Seven Deadly Sins: GRAND CROSS and developers of Iron Throne are developing GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS. We decided to make a strategy game that anyone can enjoy using the know-hows and expertise earned.

Most of the developers are also strategy game players and thought it is unfortunate that many players are hesitant to play strategy games. We put much effort into delivering the joy of playing strategy games, which are as great as RPGs, and came up with GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS.

Did you encounter any challenges during the production period? For the story narration, you could have gone with games of action or idle RPG genre. Any particular reason behind the build and battle gameplay style?

Kang: It was challenging because we wanted to apply anime and webtoon-style graphics while maintaining the core features of the strategy games. We had to go through multiple trials and errors to find the ideal balance so that players are not hampered enjoying the game. In the end we could drastically increase the joy of playing the strategy game by enhancing the autonomy of controlling the troops, adjusting the affinity of different types of units, and adjusting the balance of special units like Titan.

Grand Cross gameplay
Image via Netmarble

This game has strongpoints of strategy games while having features of SLG, RPG, CCG. We also made it easier for players to access the game by adding anime graphics and features of Korean webtoon. In other words, this is a game that fits all types of players. Gamers who already play existing 4X strategy games can enjoy GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS as well. Players who love subculture games will enjoy the hero collection aspect of our game. People who love webtoon will have an opportunity to unlock various contents to see the story, while players who love to communicate with others will be able to actively participate in Alliance activities.

It’s always interesting to hear stories behind an art style. Could you please shed some light on this game’s art style?

Lim: GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS features anime-style graphics and webtoon to allow the players to immerse themselves into the story of the game. We wanted to express characters’ emotions more effectively by focusing on the smallest details from character’s accessories to facial quirks of characters in order to deliver their personalities.

Grand Cross gameplay
Image via Netmarble

Webtoon style allowed us to express various emotions between different scenes and to display various events at once. It ultimately provides a more vivid experience of the story when combined with works of voice actors and dramatic effects. Regarding the special unit Titan, which is the core concept of the game as implied by the title of the game, we referred to various super robot animations in terms of Titan’s frame, moves of the different sub-parts, and use of weapons.

What is your favorite aspect(s) or feature(s) in GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS?

Kang: As implied by the title of the game, Titan is one of the core contents that distinguishes the game. Titan is marked by a unique appearance and capacity. As a giant unit, Titan works as a unit that reverses the situation on the battlefield. Just like other units, there are different types of Titans: Infantry, Archer, Cavalry, and Combat Engineer. Titans are also categorized into those that can be used by players individually and those that are available for Alliances, which allows players to find unique ways to utilize Titans in different situations.

The second distinguished characteristic is a story based on animation graphics and territory customization. Chaos is driven away from the territory in the process of rebuilding the kingdom, and players can acquire heroes and other items. Players can also develop their own territory while completing the story. There are different types of buildings (military, resource, and decoration), which players can freely place on the territory and decorate according to their own taste.

Unique combat system cannot be missed as well. Players can organize and upgrade their own troop considering types of units (Infantry, Archer, Cavalry, etc). Special unit Catapult can even attack distant regions and thus enables players to experience enhanced strategic play. Titan also allows players to enjoy powerful battles. Collecting heroes of different capacities will allow players to strengthen their power.

RTS elements of gameplay and world skills are also distinguished characteristics of our game. Players can select troops and freely move around to create their own tactics. World skills also add dynamics into strategy. For example, teleport enables players to move their troop to a designated region while charge allows them to attack the enemy quickly.

Lastly, we would like to introduce large-scale battle content available for different types of players. GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS has PvE content, such as Single Stages, which tests individual players’ strategy and combat power, and PvP content, such as Castle War. Single Stages provide joy of victory by forming various strategies as the level of difficulty increases level by level. Castle War is the core content of our game. It determines the greatest player of the kingdom who becomes its ruler through a large-scale war. Capturing the Royal Castle allows the winning Alliance to own the Legendary rarity Titan. This Titan has teleport skill which allows the Alliance to attack the enemy by instantly moving into a designated area.

The characters/heroes in the game are pretty unique. Some names seem to be inspired by mythical characters say Adrien and Sekhmet. What was the workaround for this?

Seo: Netmarble F&C has been developing and sophisticating our own IP, Grand Cross, which also refers to a phenomenon that connects different dimensions. We established Studio Grigo in 2022 to produce webtoons and web novels based on the IP. We have also been trying to weave different stories and characters together to connect and expand the Grand Cross universe.

GRAND CROSS: AGE OF TITANS is the first game that attempts to do just that. Some in-game characters such as Beom and Jangseung originally came from a Grand Cross webtoon called ‘Down Came the Tiger.” Meanwhile, Freyja, Sekhmet, and Haemosu are characters inspired by mythical stories of different times and places. Such characters from various sources will keep appearing in our game. It is also possible to expand the stories of our original in-game characters in the future.

The reward system is generous, but how will it be moving forward? Will we be getting free supplies in a frequent manner?

Kang: We want our game to be accessible for everyone and keep our players active in the game. We want players to stay motivated and have fun through completing missions. That is essential to strategy games like ours that require many active players in large-scale content. As players complete missions in Chapters and Chronicles, they receive plenty of rewards, but that is not all. Active players can also receive abundant rewards through frequently released new events and content.

There are a lot of purchasable starter packs in the game. How does the game fare for free-to-play players compared with the ones who make in-game purchases?

Seo: The essential parts of our BM include ‘heroes,’ ‘resources,’ and ‘speed ups.’ However, all these are obtainable not only through package purchases. As you mentioned in the previous question, our reward system is quite generous, so players can get items they need over time. 

Grand Cross Age of Titans gameplay
Image via Netmarble

When it comes to hero summoning, for example, prayer books are supplied abundantly, so that players can get heroes quite easily. Other essential resources, and even troops, can be also gained through the prayer books, which helps players make progress in the game, including leveling up heroes. Even Titans, the most unique feature of our game, can also be obtained through in-game activities at no cost.

The advantage of spending mostly lies in the speed of progression, as you need a lot of resources and speed ups to progress through the game. Even when it comes to battling and choosing the right heroes for their battle style, free-to-play players can focus on lower-rarity heroes whose growth materials are easier to come by. These heroes are very powerful when all their talents and skills are upgraded to the maximum levels and used for the right purposes. 

The game is designed to be F2P-friendly and promote collaboration among players with different power levels, which they will be able to see specifically in large-scale content where teamwork of many players really matters.  

How regular would the updates be? Could you give us a glance at what’s to come?

Kang: The first KvK content after the Grand Launch is currently under development. The details will be announced later through our official forum, but the dev team is carrying out R&D to ensure the highest possible technical quality and fun game play.

Before KvK, we are planning to release a PvP content soon, where all players from different kingdoms can meet and get to know each other’s battle styles first prior to the ultimate confrontation.

Our game will be run on a seasonal basis, which means new servers (kingdoms) will be continuously opened so that new players won’t lose motivation to fight or be scared away due to a power gap with the existing players. Special troops such as catapults and (air) bombers will be upgraded in each season and be used as necessary elements for growth to effectively overcome changing terrain on the world map and fight in object capturing wars. These special troops will provide new meta along with the existing troops. 

Grand Cross gameplay
Image via Netmarble

In the coming new season, the webtoon story will be updated and new heroes and Titans will be introduced as well. The characters in the game will be continuously developed and enriched under the expanding Grand Cross universe. We are exploring various ways to utilize the game’s story and characters, and events focused around in-game characters are being conceptualized.

The dev team is trying to decide what would be the optimal time between updates and listening to players’ voices carefully to provide the best possible gaming experience. 

That’s all for our Grand Cross: Age of Titans interview! Did you feel we missed out on any query in this Grand Cross: Age of Titans Interview? Let us know in the comment section below!

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