It’s 2017 and MapleStory is still alive and kicking. I keep returning to the game every now and then since I quit around 2012. The experience of returning is a struggle between nostalgia and curiosity.
MapleStory Global is the game that shaped my humble beginnings as an online gamer back in 2006. I had never played online with other people before and MMO’s (Massive-Multiplayer Online games) were scary. Those games seemed full of trolls and mean-spirited people that only wanted to take advantage of noobs. Yet, that year changed my perspective because I had the opportunity of playing online with my real life friends. In other words, I was getting used to the multiplayer concept by being part of a group that created a safe space. I felt that I was part of a sub-community within the MapleStory community.
How was this possible? How was MapleStory different from other games?
Low-level barrier of entryThere was a low-level barrier for introducing new players into the game. The game’s hardware requirements were average and it was free-to-play. [No change. Yet, many players have been critical about the cubes. MapleStory introduced cubes into the game which gave players the opportunity to pay for higher stats equipment. This might have created an imbalance of power between players, making them choose between spending lots of money or leaving the game.]
Kawaii CultureThe cuteness of the game portrays the games as more welcome than other dark/bloody games at least for American and Global audiences. [No change]
PvEThe game is focused on Player vs. Environment experience. The competition is about leveling up and finding ways to help yourself by helping others. [No change. While other games are individualistic in their gameplay and scoring, MapleStory allows players to plan and cooperate for common goals.]
SimplicityPlayers could role-play a specific character with a known set of skills and stats. Guides were very simple and easy to follow. [Big change. It seems that MapleStory wanted to keep their audience from leaving the game. Developers took another route and forgot about designing for those that were playing it as a stepping stone into MMO’s.]
So now I’m back in the game and feeling nostalgic. The reality is that I’m not getting those moments back because I’m not part of their audience and my community is not there. It’s 2017 and that’s fine. Hopefully, there are other new players out there finding safe spaces and creating amazing memories the way I did. Memories about Guilds, Alliances, and making friends (sometimes enemies) while waiting for a PQ.
Shout to my many RL friends that became my family after playing together for so many years.