Meet Yonna Ingolf. She is a narrative designer for one of the most popular mobile games in existence — a game you have DEFINITELY played on your phone, and that you’ve probably been addicted to at some point in your life. You guessed it — Candy Crush!
Yonna has worked as a game designer for five years, beginning her career at Sony in London. Then, two and a half years ago, she transitioned to a position at King, the company that produces Candy Crush and many other beloved mobile games. Yonna started as a Level Designer for Candy Crush Saga, designing MORE THAN 800 LEVELS of the game.
Now, she is a narrative designer for Candy Crush. So what exactly does she do? Yonna is responsible for developing the story that drives the Candy Crush franchise (there are currently three games). She designs the plots, helps decide the characters’ journeys throughout the game, and helps create the world where it all goes down, Candy Kingdom.
Here are three days in Yonna’s life as a designer for a piece of pop culture that literally millions of people interact with on a daily basis.
4:20 a.m.: Just woke up, not sure if it’s too late or too early. Might as well make coffee and stay awake.
8:30 a.m.: Been awake for a while now, it’s kind of nice to wake up before the world around me does. Lost count of how many cups of coffee I’ve had, and how many Hearthstone matches I’ve played – time to go to the tube.
9:10 a.m.: Every morning when I see my desk, I think that this might be day I clean it up, to make it feel like I have everything under control.
10:20 a.m.: Found a compilation video of guinea pigs eating lettuce, and they’re keeping me company on my second screen while I work on a presentation I’ll be holding soon for Candy Crush. It’s about the history of the Candy Universe and the story so far in the Candy Kingdom.
12:00 p.m.: Spending my lunch with a book I’m reading for a dystopian book circle I just joined.
12:40 p.m.: Going to find a quiet space to meditate.
3:00 p.m.: Had a meeting in one of the big hammocks in the office. It was deadly serious! Somewhere between trying to not sit on each other and deciding which pillow was the best pillow, we came up with some really nice ideas for new characters!
7:20 p.m.: On my way home, I picked up newly released World of Final Fantasy. I’m glued to the couch with the first Julmust of the year (some will say it’s too early, but they are lying liars) and ready to be emerged in a wonderful RPG-world.
11:00 p.m.: I’ve been awake for way too long, sooo ready for some sleep.
6:45 a.m.: Woke up at a proper time today! Celebratory coffee brewing.
8:50 a.m.: Eating all of the fruits for breakfast!
10:00 a.m.: Met up with artists from Candy Crush Saga for a feedback session on texts I wrote for a new live-op. Made a couple of iterations together with them for the copy to better match the final art.
11:00 a.m.: Sitting in the office library, my favorite place in the whole building. When I need to really focus and work undisturbed, this is my go-to place. Watching the latest episode of QI and writing about cakes and fat horses (it’s work-related, I promise).
12:20 p.m.: I usually eat by my desk, but today a group of us went out for lunch, and I ordered too many dumplings for me to handle.
12:50 p.m.: I’m now officially more dumpling than human.
1:30 p.m.: Brainstorm about new themes and stories for live-ops in Candy Crush Saga, talking about what characters would be fun to use and what weird problems they could need Tiffi’s help with.
2:15 p.m.: The internet works in mysterious ways. What started with me googling types of Japanese sweets — as research for a new episode of Candy Crush Soda Saga — ended with me now reading about the most advanced types of decorative knots? Along the way I also realized that there are more types of doughnuts than I ever knew, and I learned how spun sugar was first created. Remember kids, never judge a writer by their browser history.
5:00 p.m.: Meeting up with my writing club! We write on different themes every other week, then get together and read our stories. Coziest time of the week <3
8:45 p.m.: Heading home from writer’s club pub.
10:10 p.m.: Getting ready to fall asleep, listening to creepy podcasts about ghosts and monsters and murderous clowns!
6:30 p.m.: Managed to get up before my boyfriend to wrap his birthday present in a shopping bag. Such is life without wrapping paper…
10:30 a.m.: Have been attending a couple of stand-ups with different teams to see what they’re working on and if they need any support from me.
12:50 p.m.: Forgot about lunch, played Super Smash Bros. instead. I guess it counts as food for the soul, maybe? Now sitting down to meditate before a hectic afternoon; before a lot of socializing I need some alone time.
1:30 p.m.: Story meeting with the Candy Crush Soda Saga team! I love these meetings; we get together and brainstorm about how Kimmy’s journey will continue and what kinds of wacky characters she’ll meet along the way. The best part about working with stories in the Candy Kingdom is that it’s supposed to be weird, and (almost) anything can happen.
2:40 p.m.: Just got some details on a new feature that’s being developed in Candy Crush Saga. The team wanted my input from a narrative point of view, and to make sure that I know what everything is about when they’re ready to order texts for it.
3:00 p.m.: From out of nowhere, I hear a stampede of people moving really fast in the same direction. I worried that something bad had happened, until I saw the email about free cake in the kitchen.
3:30 p.m.: Storytime with the Candy Crush Saga artists! Talking about new episode ideas and what kind of new areas Tiffi will explore within the Kingdom. Brainstorming for inspiration and new ideas – it looks now we might have to go out and buy some candy as well. You know, for research.
7:00 p.m.: Still at the office, finishing up some documentation and other fun stuff. A fridge in the kitchen reminded me about food; leaving soon for a birthday dinner, fingers crossed it’ll consist of 90% vegan cheese!
1:30 a.m.: Trying to sleep after watching Channel Zero, wish me luck…
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