The Ride To Orbis | A MapleStory Tale
Date Published: 10 September, 2022
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or what are better known as—MMORPGs, have been around the video game industry for over 20+ years now. And within the last 20 years, it is without a doubt that the players of the MMORPG genre have experienced many fond memories, as well as have countless of both told and untold stories to tell, regardless of the specific game.
However, this story has to do with a single journey. One that involves an airship, a looming threat, and camaraderie, albeit only for a short time.
Not many years after the turn of the century did the MMORPG boom take place, and while in the modern era, “The Big Five” which a loose term to designate the most popular games in the genre, consisting of Black Desert Online, Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and lastly The Elder Scrolls Online, there was a time when MMORPGs were a dime a dozen, however, not all managed to stand the test of time.
Notwithstanding, MapleStory, alongside games like RuneScape, World of Warcraft, and a few select others did manage to stick around in one way, shape, or form. As a consequence, these legacy games in the genre hold a rich history as they have expanded and evolved with time.
However, as an ode to the days of old, it would only be fitting to travel back down memory lane to the year 2005, and reminisce about a trip many took for granted, but in hindsight, was much more than just a journey through the clouds.
A Brief History of Victoria Island
Prior to journeying over Ossyria—the second continent of the Maple World, we first need to speak to its main continent’s significance—Victoria Island. Home to four major towns, one small port town, a sandy beach, and a vast dark swamp with a mysterious cave in its center, in the early days, it could be said that Victoria Island was MapleStory.
Other than the tutorial of the game which occurs on a small island dubbed Maple Island, players could only traverse around Victoria Island, which is where they would make their decision on which job or role they wanted to take on.
Prior to getting to know the major towns, there are two areas in the game which are not tied to any specific class. The first is Lith Harbor, the port town which homes arrivals from Maple Island as a welcome to Victoria Island. And the second being Sleepywood, a seemingly silent place deep within the swamps, leading to a massive cave which only gets colder the further explored, culminating at an ancient temple, which has since been cursed.
However, with those two independent areas aside, The four major towns in Victoria Island consist of Henesys, Kerning City, Perion, and Ellinia
Henesys, the home of the Archer, is a neat and friendly destination, as well as one of the largest towns in Victoria Island, and although never made official, the town seemed to be a central hub for players, acting as a pseudo-capital city in the world of MapleStory.
Kerning City, the home of the Thief, is arguably the antithesis of Henesys as it’s a gritty urban city filled with broken down construction sites, graffiti everywhere, a subway system run down by monsters, overall encompassing a sense of being rough around the edges to say the least.
Perion, the home of the Warrior, is the oldest of the four major towns, as it is located at the top of a high plateau, with dry and rocky terrain surrounding it, and an excavation site being researched for clues regarding its history.
Ellinia, the home of the Magician, and the final major town, is the most nature filled area located at the top of a green tropical forest said to be constructed out of light, resulting in the trees growing to a tremendous height. It is also the town which houses the gateway that bridges the two major continents—Victoria Island and Ossyria.
Aboard The Airship
Before fast travel items and navigation portals were added to the game and became more so the norm for traveling, moving around the Maple world was a chore to say the least. Taxi cabs would only take you to the major towns, only Thieves and Magicians could use skills like Haste and Teleport to make traversing on the ground a little quicker, but as a rule, traveling on foot was the only option, and a slow one at that.
In a fitting fashion, when MapleStory debuted the Ossyrian continent, traveling over to it, was no hop, skip, and jump away. It required roughly a twenty minute wait. Travelers would have a 4 minute window to board the airship in Ellinia once it had arrived, and another 15 minute wait on the ride inside of it.
Once aboard, travelers could choose to either wait on the deck, stay inside the cabin, or go to the lower exterior platform which holds the ship’s powered crystal. Often, low level travelers would opt to stay inside the cabin, as it is both the safest and surest way to guarantee arrival at Orbis.
In hindsight, for travelers inside the cabin, the 15 minute ride served the exact concept of the term ‘MMO’. It led to strangers with different paths and goals to spend some time focusing on the peer to peer aspect of the game, as opposed to the usual grind and quest gameplay loop.
With over 15 minutes to spare, travelers would often spend that time talking, playing minigames, making friends, and telling stories. It provided a break from the main focus of the game, giving players a nice change of pace.
However, the ride to Orbis also came with its own occupational hazards, the first is that disconnection from the game while on the airship, would lead you back to Ellinia Station, having to wait for the ship to return, so you could board it once again, prolonging your journey.
Though, in the case no connection issues arise, the reason most would spend their time hiding in the cabin, was due to the fact that a certain pirate airship would make it a habit to attack travelers attempting to make it over to the Ossyrian continent.
This occurrence wasn’t always guaranteed to happen, however, when it did, travelers would be made known right away, as not only the visual cue of the pirate airship appearing out of thin air, but also a distinct musical change would take over the map letting everyone know that the Crimson Balrogs have arrived.
Even now in the modern age of the game, Crimson Balrogs are not foes to take lightly, as they can still pose a threat to travelers not ready for their attack. However, in the days of old, the Crimson Balrog was by far the strongest monster in the game, often needing a party involving a healer, and a warrior to defeat.
The ride could be completed without ever going near the Crimson Balrogs who were hijacking the exterior of the ship, however, it was almost always guaranteed on every ride for someone to try their luck in defeating the major threat, while many did succumb, few did prevail.
A Successful Voyage
In the chance that the Crimson Balrogs were ineffective in their attempt to disrupt the travelers journey, and after everyone on board said their pleasant goodbyes to each other, the airship should have touched Ossyrian ground, landing in the city of clouds—Orbis.
Orbis, albeit having its own attractions, with an interesting story behind it all, neighbored some of the more unique locations in the game, specifically an icy village located in the mountains, as well as a city which is entirely submerged.
Nonetheless, the cloudy city would become the first area travelers would be accustomed to seeing upon leaving Victoria Island, yet, it would also serve as a hub for all intercontinental travel. As MapleStory continued to expand over the years, Orbis was a conduit to it all.
In conclusion, the ride to Orbis, while seemingly arbitrarily long at the time, definitely served its purpose. It not only signified a new beginning as players would finally be able to explore outside of Victoria Island, but it also reminded players of the reason why the game was meant to be experienced with other people.
Be it laughing inside the cabin, or fighting the Balrogs outside of it, the time spent on the airship was a great reminder for why MMORPGs can be so special. The journey, while sustainable as just an individual, is often made even better when accompanied by others.
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