What Happened to MapleStory?
Date Published: March 20, 2017
MapleStory was a game I was absolutely obsessed with for several years as it became a prominent title in the MMORPG realm, it had everything I ever wanted from a game, great music, fun gameplay, an interesting world, the ability to play it with others, and the best part, no game over screen.
It was a great time to be a part of the MapleStory community, however, as it goes with everything else, my time with the game came to an end eventually, and I never had time to reflect on what made the game so special until trying to play it again, and sadly I found that my interpretation of MapleStory is no longer.
I began playing MapleStory (MS) in late 2005 on the Global NA server, the game was new and exciting, it featured an interesting world with great art and music to go along with its addictive grind/reward gameplay. It wasn’t long until all of my neighbors and friends got hooked and were added to my Buddy List.
While playing with my local friends was fun, the real excitement I got from the game was meeting new and interesting people who were my age from all around the world. I’ve made some great friends and memories and the game, at times became more of a conduit to hang out with others rather than grind and level-up.
It took me roughly three whole years to finally reach level 70 with my Thief/Bandit, and when that time finally arrived it was quite an event for me and my friends who stuck with me throughout my long and grindy journey, but that’s what made it worth it.
It wasn’t long after all 3 of us close friends reached our 3rd job class with our main characters, that we started seeing our names pop up less and less in the login notification bubble, and the reasons were somewhat of a combination of not wanting to grind anymore, no new content, and of course burning out on the game.
It was in late 2008 that I, my childhood friends and my MS friends were entering high school, and with that came new interests, hobbies, obligations and responsibilities, which all factored into sadly leaving MapleStory behind. However, despite moving on from the game for quite some time, I felt inclined to check out what was new once the Big Bang patch came out towards the latter half of 2010, and it was safe to say that the game got a complete makeover.
The 2010 Big Bang update was a pivotal change to what many MS players had been accustomed to before, leveling-up became substantially easier, damage was increased across the board, content was added, and expansions were looming. It was an exciting revamp that lit the fire under the game once more and consequently hooked me back in.
Although all of my friends who have played with me in the past left the game for good, I played the game sparingly until late 2011. I kept busy by exploring the new areas, creating new classes, and reaching levels I never would’ve imagined possible back in 2006, nevertheless, it just wasn’t the same.
There are two schools of thought that come into mind when looking back at how the changes affected the game, the first being that MapleStory pre-Big Bang was too hard. Leveling up was only done by those who wanted to put in the long grindy hours, and due to the enormous population of players, finding good training spots wasn’t easy. Valuable resources were scarce due to the game’s relatively low drop rate, and lastly from a gameplay sense, players would hit a wall in regards to doing something else but training or chatting. There just weren’t that many activities available.
The second school of thought is that MapleStory post Big Bang was too easy, experience points were practically handed out for little to no work, the game’s economy saw a drastic crash after equipment, and other resources became quite easily attainable, and the game’s overall meta changed from less player to player socialization to a more of a linear player to NPC interaction.
It definitely was a tough transition for me as I found the game I was once accustomed to playing with many friends, had become an empty landscape with nothing more than game quests prompts and monsters to grind. MapleStory was never about the lore of the world, but more about the people who occupied it, and so after realizing that, I knew it was time to hang it up for good.
In retrospect, the feature of the game’s difficulty my friends and I complained about in 2006, made up the reason why I loved the game so much, as I perhaps wouldn’t have had so many great memories hanging out around town, talking and laughing, had leveling-up and resource farming been so easy from the start.
It’s fair to say that after the game’s Big Bang update, future expansions and updates continued with the trend of filling the world with more content, adding new classes, servers, items, game modes, and catering to newer players by making the game easier. The game’s constant emphasis on expansion thinned out its servers, consequently leaving the game in a seemingly barren state and so while the game was filled with things to do, the people who made it fun doing it with have long dispersed.
It was a bittersweet experience of going back to MapleStory in 2017 to check out the scene, it was quite fun seeing my old characters once more, reminiscing about the times I spent with them more than a decade ago.
However, everything has to come to an end, and my journey with MapleStory was no different. The game changed, and so have I, yet, it still saddened me that the thing that made the game special in 2007 is no longer there for me, and may never be for players of the game’s new generation.