Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The decay of MMORPGs: MapleStory's story

     MapleStory is a free to play 2D MMORPG developed by Wizet and published by Nexon. It was created in South Korea, released there on April 29th, 2003, still has one of the largest fan bases in all of MMORGPs, and it got majorly fucked.


     A little background: back when I was a wee lad, I would hop on the internet whenever possible. Back in 7th grade was when the majority of my gaming was done on MapleStory. This game was basically my life. I would finish up school, come home, play MapleStory until dinner time, finish homework, watch TV, and sometimes when my parents went to bed, I would hop on for a bit and play (hhhehehhehheh, so sneaky). From what I remember of back then, that's how it was. I didn't feel guilty for spending that much time on the computer, I didn't feel like I was wasting my time. This is also where I met my good friend (whom I'm still friends with): Mark.
What a cutie
     Me and Mark hung out a lot during our game time. We formed parties, chatted, met new people, went to places wayyy too far above our level and got pummeled by enemies. It was pretty fun.

     Anyway, enough background. Let's take a look at the changes that I think hurt the game the most.

Changes in MapleStory

The World Maps

The only map available in early versions of the game (when I played)
     This was great back in the day. There was only 1 map which was for Victoria island where only noobies hung out (for the most part). On the other islands (Ossyria, aka Orbis/El Nath, and Ludibrium) there were no such maps available for navigation. Not only did this incline people to explore for themselves, it helped people talk to others to figure out where things are. Isn't that what MMORPGs are about? Talking and getting help from people?
Nexon whyyyyyy..
     Now there are maps for everything. Sigh. No more asking people where things are, no exploration needed.  I would even be okay with a bulletin board in-game that has the world map, but having it on you at all times just seems..counterproductive? I think that's the right word. It's just outright counterproductive; it creates less incentive to talk to other players.

The Cash Shop

     Oh boy..where do I even start. Most people know about cash shops in free-to-play games. Basically they run on a "you can play the game for free, and if you want, you can buy items in-game to improve your character or experience in some way". It's a pretty interesting business model, the only problem being the majority of businesses do it completely fucking wrong. There are so many ways you can completely screw over any and all players who don't buy from the cash shop, and it seems like most businesses couldn't care less about this. There's a term for these kinds of games, they're called "free to play, pay to win". MapleStory being one of them. Luckily, I had started losing interest in the game when this started to happen. When I first began playing, however, they used the Cash Shop effectively and extremely smart. The Cash Shop used to be only used for aesthetic items like clothes to make your character look cooler, or pets that you could train and would pick up items quickly for you. 
Wow. Such cool, much aesthetics.
     But as time went on, Nexon apparently needed more money, so they began implementing items that would make your character much stronger than others. This especially created a problem at high levels, because in order to be viable in fighting bosses, you needed to buy these items to upgrade your equipment effectively.
Creates "untapped potential" on items
(Basically created random additional stats on items)
I'm actually okay with this item by itself,
it's in conjunction with the others that it becomes bullshit.

Allows user to reset  potential stats
     So there you go, that's how MapleStory got completely screwed over, and why it's now "free to play, pay to win". I had fun with it while it lasted, but it's become so much about damage-whoring that there isn't much reason to even try anymore unless you want to spend $50 or more on upgrading your items. The business idea is solid, but actually doing it takes away immensely from the overall enjoyment of the game. Hopefully they realized that and won't do it for any more games, that's a big "hopefully" though. I don't expect them to do anything of the sort. After all, why stop making as much money as you can?