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MapleStory developer destroys the world, then this interview


Cataclysm? Ha! A couple chunks of earth missing here and there and a nasty footprint left on the walls of a castle? That's not world destruction; that's moving the furniture around! Look no further for true heart-rending, life-altering, earth-shattering, massive destruction than MapleStory's new update. Well, I might be pushing it a bit far, but really -- it's pretty dramatic. If you're not familiar with the game, you either have an all-weather stone roof or this is your first visit to Massively. MapleStory boasts one of the largest playerbases in the world, despite offering more "primitive" graphics.

The game's accessibility doesn't mean that it has no depth. Multiple classes and tons of quests as well as a robust cash shop offer something for everyone. Throw in the fact that this recent patch updated the graphics and added a new dimension to the game, and you will understand why the servers and website were crushed after the update. Well, we decided to interview Crystin Cox from Nexon to help make sense of all the changes.

Join us past the cut to read the interview!

Massively: For those who might not be familiar with MapleStory or Big Bang, can you sum up the update?

Crystin Cox: Big Bang is a three-part, major update to MapleStory that completely revamps the game from the ground up. The first phase went live on December 7th, 2010 and contained a lot of major changes for the game as a whole. All existing classes had their skill trees revamped and rebalanced, the experience curve was drastically changed, the UI was redesigned for easier use, and the game world itself was reorganized. This part of the update was created based directly on feedback from players and contains many long awaited changes.

The second phase introduces the Resistance in the form of two new classes: the Wild Hunter, a ranged class that rides and attacks from on top a tamed jaguar; and the Battle Mage, a tough, magic-wielding class that has access to powerful buffs that help the entire party.

The third phase will complete the Resistance by adding a third class: the Mechanic. The Mechanic attacks from within an advanced mech that is capable of devastating melee and ranged attacks that often hit multiple targets at once. All three phases contain a ton of events for existing and new players along with the addition of three new worlds (servers) to the game.

You have rolled out the second part of the update just this week -- how was the first part received and how is the second part being received so far?

The reaction to the first phases was very positive. Players that really know and love MapleStory could appreciate that almost every aspect of the game had been examined and rebalanced in what was almost a relaunching. Returning players in particular seem to enjoy the changes we've made and are finding the game much more approachable and are able to progress more consistently.

So far, the reception for phase two has been overwhelming. We're really happy to see so many players in the game trying the new classes and enjoying the events.

Even your website was slowed down by the crush of players last week during the update. Was the response pretty much what you expected or was it more?

The response has definitely exceeded our expectations. We felt confident that Big Bang was a huge advancement for the game and that we were releasing the best version of MapleStory ever. We feel really fortunate that players are returning or trying the game for the first time now. We feel like now is the best time to get into MapleStory or introduce a friend if you're already playing, and we're just happy so many people seem to agree.

The Black Mage has returned, so are players going to be able to confront him? If so, what can they expect?

Fortunately for the Maple World, the Black Mage is not yet attacking Maplers openly. For now, players still need to contend with the Black Mage's evil followers, the Black Wings, but should the Black Wings succeed in restoring the Black Mage to his former power, it will be an incredibly difficult battle. In fact, player levels are probably not high enough now to come face to face with him.

You also rolled out a "graphical update" to the game. It seems to me that now there are new graphic options, but mainly the ability to use a higher resolution -- what else was changed? And are you worried about players with older or cheaper PCs not being able to run the game?

Along with the higher resolution, most backgrounds, monsters, NPCs, and maps were redrawn to add more detail and clarity to the visuals. Even with these upgrades, the game still has a very inclusive minimum spec requirement and we feel it remains accessible to most online users.

MapleStory is quietly one of the largest games in the country. What would you say to a new player, a reader from Massively for example, who wanted to try the game but worried about its "kiddie" nature?

The idea that MapleStory is a "kiddie" game is a misconception. The average age of our players is 19, and the game, while easy to get started in, is really quite deep. There are 15 classes, hundreds of skills, group play, competitive play, crafting, questing... really everything you expect from a robust MMORPG augmented by seven years of content updates. The art style is not dark, but we feel there is no age limit on the enjoyment one gets from beating up an adorable mushroom. If you enjoy ironically bent humor and pop-culture references, we think you'll find a lot to love about MapleStory.

Lastly, how do you top this update? What can players expect in 2011?

Looking ahead to 2011, we have some very exciting updates for MapleStory. Some new zones and Party Quests are scheduled for this spring as well as some exclusive new content to celebrate Global MapleStory's sixth anniversary. And this summer we are looking forward to bringing Chaos to the Maple World with even more class refinements and the long awaited addition of PvP. Of course, it's too early to give dates or details, but Big Bang is by no means the last big addition to MapleStory.

We'd like to thank Crystin for taking the time out to answer our questions, despite all the dust and rubble around her office.

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