Jason Woo Interview

Author notes: - This interview was conducted with Jason in Korean, with the help of my Korean friends who were kind enough to translate things for me.

I translated the original Korean text Jason sent to me through an online translator, and had my Korean friends who are fluent in English check this out and edit it. This English version is as true to Jason's original intent as we can get. If you'd prefer to read the original Korean text, you can find it here.

A screenshot taken from Glass CIty

What was your original position at CJ?

I joined the agency on April 1st 1997 and was promoted to Section Chief in 2000. I was the Glass City Part Director.

How did you get to work for such a big company?

Prior to CJ, I worked for the LG Group's IT company. I was scouted to join CJ later on. I'm proud of myself that at the time I was only in my early 30's but very capable.

You said you started working at CJ in 1997. When did you first hear about Glass City?

When I joined CJ in 1997, my department was a strategy planning team. The team was tasked with discovering New Business, and a colleague of the same team was a programmer in charge of Glass City. At that time, the Glass City team was all one programmer. It was the programmer who later joined me when we became an independant company from CJ. He was part of Glass City three years before I joined the team.

Do you remember who was in charge of Glass City before you?

That would be the programmer I mentioned in my previous question. His nickname was Cityman. I joined the company with him, but I worked in a different part. Cityman was the only person in charge of Glass City at this time. Previously, the company wasn't interested in Glass City. It wasn't until 1999 that I started to increase my team members, and in 2000, I was promoted to manager of the Glass City team.

Do you remember what you heard about how the original Glass City was made?

Please refer to history_of_avatar_glasscity.docx

A screenshot taken from the original 1997 Glass City world outside the Bank

Did you ever visit the original Glass City? (The 1997 version based on Habitat II's Elysium world)

I did not.

If you did visit the original Glass City world, what was your favourite region?

I did not visit the original Glass City.

What was the name of your avatar?

My avatar name was 'fisherman'.

Did you ever hold an in-game announcement event or post a notice in the world when you operated Glass City?

I didn't do it myself. There was an employee who was only in charge of operations.

They were ordinary citizens in the world. In-game announcements and notices were only allowed only to be performed by the operating staff. Other non-operating staff also didn't get items free of charge or receive special treatment. Glass City operated in a clean and transparent manner, like it says in the name LOL!

How did you become the leader of the Glass City team while working for CJ?

The parts were different, but since 1997, I was a member of the same team as Glass City. In 2000, I was promoted to section chief and became the leader of Glass City when I took charge of the Internet business within the team. In addition to Glass City, I was also responsible for CJ's On-Line Education Business.

When you became the leader of Glass City, was there any members of the team that worked on Glass City since it first opened in 1997?

Cityman worked there from the opening in 1997.

Do you remember how many people were on your team and what they did?

In 2000, there were four members who later joined my team when Glass City became independent. Since then, I had 2 or 3 programmers, 2 designers, 2 additional service planners and 2 operators from CJ until 2001 when they stopped the Glass City service.

Let me explain further. There were two programmers who worked with me, each of whom was responsible for the server and the client. In 2000, when I was promoted to section chief, I was assigned to head the company, and one of the new people who came in then was a client programmer.

I remember that the name of the server programmer was cityman. Cityman later quit working for me once Totoworld had launched. The rest of the client programmers left the company at the same time Cityman and formed a new company with him for a while.

What was your average day like on the Glass City team in 2000?

I was very busy. I had to appeal to CJ management about the potential success of Glass City to make sure we kept receiving funding. Also, the CEO was very interested in Glass City at the time, so I often reported to him.

Do you remember any interesting stories from your time running Glass City?

There are many. One of the things that comes to mind is that there was a Marriage system and we could also adopt children, so we could make an actual family in a virtual society. Therefore, there was a sense of solidarity with the real world's family.

Was there a special place within the world that only you and your team members could visit? Did you spend a lot of time in the world?

There was no World just for my team. Each of us had a separate civilian life. When I came to work, I visited and always logged in during my working hours.

What was your favorite Glass City world? (Emerald/Topaz/Peridot)

It was all good, but I wanted to be good at English while chatting with foreigners in Peridot (Peridot was the world English speaking users visited the most). I couldn't do it for long though because I had to work at the same time.

As I remember, the Glass City software was based on the Japanese Habitat II software. Did you communicate with the Japanese team? I wonder how code sharing came about between the two companies.

Three of my team members went to Japan for the last technology transfer in 2000. What I heard back then was that Fujitsu in Japan had eliminated all the Habitat II related manpower and decided not to do business any longer. I have not received any artwork related CD's since 2000. All the data I received in Japan about the artwork is found here: '번역_0812.hwp'. The rest of the documentation is stuff I created myself.

Do you remember if regular backups of the Glass City world were taken?

I backed up every day because there were frequent server downloads.

Do you think the backed up Glass City world is still somewhere out there?

I think Cityman has it.

Do you remember if there was a test world for the Glass City team? A world where ordinary users couldn't enter.

Yes, of course there was a test world. When distributing new items or new revisions of artwork, we checked for abnormalities in the test world and uploaded them to the official world.

Do you remember who created new regions in Glass City?

I had an employee who was in charge of operations that did this. This employee also solved complaints we received inworld too.

Did you have a "SceneBuilder" client that you used to create Glass City regions?

I don't remember the name exactly because only the operating staff used to use it, but I remember there was a tool to make a regions with.

How did you get new art in Glass City? Did you get any art from Habitat II or did you create new artwork specifically for Glass City itself?

The new art was created by either a freelance designer or an internal designer. I taught them how to use the inworld palette, for sure.

Were members allowed to create new artwork to be used inworld?

Yes, I allowed it.

Editors note: This one is a question that slipped through the cracks that didn't translate perfectly. I believe I was asking if they created new paint codes for items themselves. However, it got translated into a question about asking about source code. I've left the question intact though.

Did you make the spray code that was in Glass City? Or is it from the Habitat II code?

It's from Habitat II in Japan.

A screenshot taken from the day that the Peridot world closed in Glass City. Peridot was the English speaking users world.

Do you remember that English speaking users came to Glass City in the year 2000? Can you tell me about that time?

At first, some people were introduced by Korean members naturally via word of mouth. After a while, the number of foreigners increased and so we opened a separate world named Peridot. I had heard that the English skills of Korean users in Peridot were very much improved because of being able to interact with English speaking users regularly. I tried to go to Peridot often to learn English, but I didn't really have much time.

What did the Glass City team think about the huge influx of foreign users at that time?

I thought it was very good. We expected to increase the number of foreign users to become an international service.

Have you ever visited any of the other WorldsAway based worlds? Such as Habitat II, J-Chat, VZones or MetroWorlds?

Not often, but I tried to visit.

Did Glass City ever make you feel any strong emotions?

I was very sad as a manager when CJ said that the Glass City service had to close. I was very happy when I took Glass City and spun it off independently after CJ gave up on it. However, I was shocked that the developers resigned less than two years later after going independent with me. Since then, the after effects of the failure of Glass City are still present for me, both psychologically and economically to this day.

A scene taken from Dream City

Can you tell me about Dream City? Whose idea was it?

It was my idea. It was part of a modern effort to improve the graphical fidelity of the Glass City experience.

Do you know who created the 3D art style?

I asked a freelancer I knew. They were my colleague from College.

Did Dream City work out the way you planned it to?

It didn't work out as well as I expected. It was an attempt to keep up with the 3D gaming trend, but it was more like 3D mimicry in a 2D based environment, or 2.5D if you will.

Were there any other plans that you had for the service that you couldn't implement because Dream City closed early?

Sorry, I can't recall.

What happened when CJ decided to close Glass City? As the team leader, were you the first person to hear the news? How did you feel?

It was my decision to close the door. CJ was not willing to invest any more in the service so it was pointless to continue. The team members were nervous about the future of the service too. So I suggested closing the door if they weren't going to invest in the company.

How did CJ feel about shutting down the service? Were you upset that you didn't make as much money as you thought? Or were you relieved to quit?

I was very upset. I didn't even get to do anything right.

When CJ decided that Glass City was no longer profitable, whose idea was it to spin off the service into an independent company?

Glass City was shutdown and four of the original key team members met frequently shortly after to see if we could rescue the service. Our server developers agreed that after looking at the Glass City source code, it was possible to rewrite and improve upon the code to expand the shortcomings of the software. So the four of them agreed to become an independent company that operated Glass City.

Was it difficult to negotiate with CJ for ownership of Glass City?

It took me ten months. Finally, the decision was made after a face-to-face meeting with the CEO of CJ.

I negotiated primarily with CJ's legal team. Fujitsu Korea was not very interested.

Do you remember that the website of the new Glass City was called "world60.com"? Do you know why that name was chosen?

I don't remember the name World60.com very well. The website was called Glass City. I don't know if the name of the world was world60.com.

What was your original plan when you founded this new Glass City company? Did you want to keep the original Glass City world running? Or did you want to upgrade and make it better?

I wanted to upgrade and create a virtual society service that was linked to the Web. My dream was not only to pursue fun, but to work closely to enable economic activities in the real world through the Glass City client.

A scene taken from the Gcity2002 service which used a copy of Graceville/Dreamscape as its base, just like the original Gcity99 service had done

Was Glass City 2002 a temporary service you planned to be operational until Totoworld was completed?

Yes, it was.

Do you remember the difference between the Glass City 99 software and the Glass City 2002 software?

There is no significant functional difference.

I remember that there was also the Dream City software and Glass City 2000 software as well. What was the difference between these versions?

Dream City used newer image editing software and 3D modelling and techniques to provide a unique perspective.

I heard that Glass City 2002 was a paid service. Was it successful?

In the first half of the year, all of our existing users were trying to help by supporting the service. However, sales gradually decreased due to the delay of the upgraded version we had planned.

A screenshot of Totoworld

Whose idea was Totoworld? Do you have any stories about it?

It was an idea that we planned for 6 months after becoming independent from CJ. Something the team all created together.

Was editing the Glass City source code and turning it into Totoworld a lot of work?

It took almost a year and a half, but it didn't solve any of the important things. For example, the DB division or the worlds simultaneous access restrictions.

How long did it take for Totoworld to be built?

It took about a year and a half.

What did the Glass City team think about Totoworld? Did they like it?

When Totoworld was finished, the developers left the company immediately, so we never got to talk about their feelings regarding Totoworld at all.

Why did Totoworld close?

The only two developers we had left the company immediately after launching.

What did you do after Totoworld closed? Did you have any plans for Glass City or was it over?

We tried to hire new developers, but we didn't have any business funds.

Have you tried to sell the assets of Glass City to someone since Totoworld closed?

We immediately went into business with another business item, so we couldn't try to sell it.

Have you talked to the members of Glass City or the staff since the Glass City company closed?

I heard that the developers talked a lot with the planners who left the company. Eventually, the developers left because they weren't good enough to develop the service any further in my opinion.

Have you ever heard of a private Glass City service operated by other people from 2007 to 2010?

I understand that the retired server developer named cityman let one of his staff run it. That person was named Eyemage.

What would you change if you could go back in time?

I want to separate the DB and create a service that integrates more with the web. I'd also want to change the graphics to more sophisticated ones.

Tell me one thing you were most proud of whilst running Glass City

I was so proud of the deep affection that the users had for Glass City and it makes me feel responsible for that.

If Glass City ever came back in the future, what would you like to see happen?

I hope that it would be a global service, not just a local service. I think Glass City always had the potential to be a global service.