MapleStory is the world’s most popular 2D side-scrolling MMORPG, with the original Korean server celebrating its 7th anniversary this year. MapleStory Global, publish by the developers themselves, Nexon, was recently updated with the biggest expansion to date, the appropriately named, “Big Bang.”
This expansion essentially changed many of the game’s core mechanics, including leveling curve, balancing the classes, and more. In this interview, we will find out if the Big Bang update made as much of an impact as its name suggests.
Q: Hello, this is cinderboy, journalist from OnRPG. Can you please introduce yourself to the readers?
A: My name is Crystin Cox and I am the producer for MapleStory at Nexon America.
Q: GMS, as the players affectionately calls Global MapleStory, is 5 years old this year! Congratulations! Did you foresee the game lasting this amount of time?
A: Five years is a huge milestone and we’re very grateful to our players for allowing us to get to this point; without them, there really would be no MapleStory. Of course, you always hope your game will last forever, but really, five years is pretty astonishing even to us. It was clear from the start that MapleStory was fun, but we really had no idea how many people would log on, but we are glad they have and now with the huge revamp of Big Bang we are looking forward to five more years!
Q: Big Bang. I read a while back that there was an event asking players to rename the Big Bang expansion. Why the decision to stick with the original?
A: Much to our surprise, the players voted overwhelmingly for keeping the name “Big Bang.” I think it speaks to how the original name is so great that it spoke to both users in Korea and North America.
Q: What was the reaction within the GMS team like when originally shown the concept of Big Bang?
A: We were very, very excited. Big Bang came directly from player feedback. We received hundreds of messages from our players every week and we take that feedback seriously. Suggestions from gMS players were taken heavily into consideration when the original plan for Big Bang was created. We are always excited when we can make player suggestions a reality. Additionally, after working with MapleStory for 5 years, we shared many of the concerns and frustrations that our players did about the game and we felt that the changes in Big Bang were going to advance the game further than it had ever been before.
Q: Were there any of the changed features which were actually proposed by the GMS team?
A: It’s tough to give credit to any particular team for the changed in Big Bang, these where things we had all wanted to see happen for a long time. That being said, I believe that gMS was the first to really start pushing for the changes to the EXP curve. So much content has been added to the game since its original launch over seven years ago, that the slow leveling experience just didn’t make sense anymore.
Q: Phew, with so many changes made to the game, I don’t know where to start. Let’s start right at the beginning. The leveling system has been revamped to minimize grinding. Can you elaborate more on “how much” and give us an example?
A: The overhaul to the EXP curve is one of the most significant changes in Big Bang. The amount of EXP needed to achieve level 70 has been reduced to 20% the previous amount and higher levels have been reduced by half. Of course, we have rebalanced quest rewards and the EXP gained by defeating monsters as well ,so you won’t literally level 5x faster than before for every level, with balanced play you should gain levels about twice as fast as before. More emphasis has been placed on questing and party quests, so these activities give better EXP than just hunting level appropriate monsters.
Q: I understand that the new group of characters, The Resistance, will initially have the Wild Hunter and Battle Mage as new additions to the roster. Can you give us a short introduction to these two new classes, their specialties when soloing and what role do they play in parties?
A: The Wild Hunter is a ranged class that prefers a crossbow and attacks from on top a tamed jaguar. This class is versatile and has strong, multi-target ranged attacks but can still do damage up close with the jaguar. Wild Hunter is a great choice for solo play and is the only bowman that can attack while moving.
The Battle Mage is a magic user that wields a staff, but attacks up close. This class is much tougher than other mages and can take quite a few hits making it a great choice for those that want to play a magic user that can take care of himself. The Battle Mage is also an excellent party member due to his powerful, party wide buffs called auras.
Q: Will the game, with so many elements redesigned, cause the veteran group of players feel like total strangers in a game they have played for years?
A: Absolutely not. In a lot of ways, I feel that Big Bang is really most interesting for long time Maplers. These players will most appreciate the changes made to skills and class balance and will enjoy exploring the new world that still feels like Maple World but has a lot of new things to discover.
Q: The Korean server rolled out the full Big Bang patch in 3 different parts and different times. Will this be the same for GMS? When can the players expect to see the much anticipated Mechanic class added?
A: Yes, Big Bang will arrive in three phases for gMS with the final member of the Resistance arriving in January of 2011. (the class has since been added into gMS recently)
Q: A really burning question of mine. Will players eventually get to face and fight the Black Mage?
A: Fortunately for the Maple World, the Black Mage is not yet attacking Maplers openly. For now players still need to contend with the Black Wings. With the arrival of the Mechanic this January, Maplers will be able to gain the upper hand on the Black Wings, but they are unlikely to give up easily. Should the Black Wings eventually succeed in restoring the Black Mage to his former power, the resulting battle would be more difficult than anything the players have face, in fact, player levels are probably not high enough now to come face to face with the Black Mage.
Q: Thanks for your precious time!
A: Thank you, and I’d also like to thank the readers.