Koro Karewe – Keeping Players Playing

Koro Karewe

Every morning and evening, I-Kiribati will climb coconut trees to shave a cut flower and collect the produced liquid. This process is called koro karewe (koh-roh kuh-reh-veh) or cutting toddy. While most other countries ferment it into an alcoholic beverage, in Kiribati it is also very popular as a fresh drink, and this is especially true on the outer (remote and less developed) islands where alcohol is often considered illegal.

Te koro karewe is very important in the Kiribati culture. It is an art, and a specific knife is set aside solely for the cutting of toddy. Each young man must learn this skill while growing up.

As such a central part of Kiribati society, it seemed essential for me to include this as a mechanic in my game. The main question was how to go about implementing it.


Because of the style of Kan Rebe! being an RPG with Clash of Clans-like interaction in the overworld, it seemed natural to add a time-based element to it. Thus the obvious solution would be to prompt the player to cut their toddy every morning and evening in real-life time, akin to how it is done in Kiribati.

A screenshot of Kan Rebe! showing a coconut tree with two notifications above it, one of a coconut, and one of a knife.
Tapping on the coconut tree gives the option to Koro Karewe when available

The next issue I needed to address was how to incentivize players to keep coming back. If done properly, this mechanic could also be a tool to keep players playing the game.

The Two Types of Addicting

This is very important in game design, as you want your game to be addicting on two levels:

  • The player doesn’t want to stop
  • The player wants to come back after a break

Both are essential, so it’s important to make sure you’re doing it effectively.

A screenshot of the Koro Karewe mini game showing a successful cut
Swiping in the correct direction successfully shaves the spathe and earns points

There are multiple way to utilize this mechanic. While I don’t have the time to outline every possible one, I ultimately decided on adding a health mechanic to the coconut tree for my game. The closer you cut your toddy to the allotted time (and also the better you cut the spathe), the higher the health of the tree and the more karewe (toddy) is produced. This is effective because it:

  1. Rewards the player for returning (You get more karewe)
  2. Penalizes the player for not coming back (Tree’s health is lowered, you get less karewe)
  3. Gives the player a timeframe, which acts as an incentive to not procrastinate and come back sooner.
A screenshot of the Koro Karewe mini game showing a swipe in the wrong direction.
An incorrect swipe subtracts points and hurts the tree

These points are important when considering adding a time-based mechanic to your game.

Hope you learned something new, whether about Kiribati or making games.

Tekeraoi ngkami! (Good luck to you all)


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