Candy Crush Friends.
Breathing new life into the world’s most successful mobile game franchise.
CONTEXTSix years after the release of the original game, the newest title in the multi-billion dollar Candy Crush Saga franchise brings its colorful, candy-fied characters to 3D for the first time.
Following the success of the original Candy Crush Saga, and its sister titles Candy Crush Soda Saga and Candy Crush Jelly Saga, King Games wanted to create a new game that appealed to existing players while also attracting new and lapsed players. What resulted was Candy Crush Friends.
WORKOne major opportunity to create more engagement among players was to address the lack of character recognition, which we learned through extensive user research. Despite the previous three titles having hundreds of millions of players, it was clear that players didn’t even know the characters’ names. How do we make use of our vibrant art assets and existing characters to get players to engage with our games?
As Candy Crush Saga grew into a mega hit over the last six years, we wanted to use the colorful cast of characters to tell fun stories and contextualize special events and features in the new game.
As the Lead Narrative Designer of the new game and entire franchise, I worked closely with the Global Narrative Director to write, revise, and retrofit backstories for the game world and its characters across all of the Candy Crush games.
The 200-page set of guidelines for the IP helped the game makers (and other cross-functional teams) tell consistent, cohesive, and creative stories about the Candy Crush universe. We updated it frequently, continuing to add to it and revise it as needed, ensuring consistency throughout all the games in development.
Since mobile players tend not to read, we aimed to tell stories with as much visuals and animations as possible. Once we had guidelines in place, I collaborated with the designers, character artists, animators, UI artists, and developers to tell the stories and develop the characters through the visuals in the game — including loading screens and menu UI.
As I mentioned in my GDC talk “Storytelling in Small Spaces: Practical Narrative Design for Mobile Games,” it’s was about finding ways to work with the team and optimize narrative opportunities wherever possible. What resulted was the most story-driven Candy Crush game ever released.