If children were allowed to design workspaces, they would probably look something like King’s Stockholm office. Meeting rooms are the colour of pick’n’mix sweets, departments have names like Big Top Mountain and Wild Jungle and the canteen is filled with picnic benches and group seating areas in the shape of fairground carousels. Staff can spend their lunch hour playing vintage pinball machines and console games, enjoy some quiet time in the library (home to wingback chairs and a roaring faux fire) or embrace their creative side in the craft room.
This colourful studio is home to the team behind Candy Crush – the smash hit mobile game where players solve puzzles through swiping candies. (Think Tetris, but with sugary treats instead of blocks.) The game launched in 2012 and has since been downloaded more than half a billion times – making it one of the most successful and widely played mobile games of all time.
Alongside Candy Crush Saga, King has released two follow-up titles, Candy Crush Jelly Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga. Both involve swiping candies but with some fun twists – such as battling a ‘jelly queen’ in Jelly Saga.
King has now launched a fourth game, Candy Crush Friends Saga, which features 3D visuals, new gaming modes and a greater focus on its cast of oddball characters. Players can now select a character – from Tiffi, an eight-year-old girl with pigtails – to a loveable yeti – to guide them through the game. Each character has a unique special power which, when triggered, gives players boosts to help them progress. Players can dress their chosen character in a range of outfits and tap on them to trigger animations.
The game launches with 380 levels and new modes in which players can find animals hidden underneath ice tiles, free octopuses trapped in the game board and collect candy hearts (because, well, why not?) New levels will be added along with new characters (the original Candy Crush game now has over 3,000 levels, with new ones released each month).
DESIGNING CANDY CRUSH
These levels are created by a small team of designers, who start with a blank grid, adding objectives and choosing candies to place on the board. Each level has to look visually appealing and strike the right balance between being challenging and achievable – whether you’re eight years old or 80. Most levels can be completed in a few minutes, but designers told us that players have to feel tested – otherwise, they will lose interest.
The team work together to test each others’ levels and each designer has their own process (one designer told us she finds inspiration in architecture). Given that each level features the same sized grid, and the same mechanic, you’d be forgiven for thinking that levels are somehow created automatically – but there’s a surprising amount of human creativity and thought that goes into each one.
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