164: My Korean Fantasy Life

My Korean Fantasy Life

"The plan was a simple one: Take a hardcore player of Western MMOGs (myself), turn him loose in an Eastern game for a week ... and see what happens. I found myself wondering what exactly I was getting myself into as I first loaded up Nexon's Mabinogi. Developed out of Seoul by devCAT (one of the Korea-based publisher's internal studios) and released in Korea in mid-2004, Mabinogi hit North America just this past March. Despite being inspired by pre-Christian Celtic mythology, one look at the colorful, manga-esque characters splashed around the official website betrays its Eastern roots. There was no mistake; Mabinogi - proudly termed 'Fantasy Life' - was as Korean an MMOG as they come."

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interesting article, i have readed about that mmo, and ive been thinkin in give it a try, it looks interesting and sometin new with the artwork and that, but well, i still dont win money of my own and all that.

Ah, see! The point, I believe, isn't as simple as "I should have made friends", but really IS as basic as a difference between Eastern and Western philosophies regarding MMO design.

I tried Mabinogi after having seen it advertised on Penny Arcade. I usually steer clear of Koren MMOs; I've tried a few, and I had never found any aspect of any of them which appealed to my interest. Korean MMOs seem to revolve around PvP (which, I admit, is a social activity). While Eastern MMOs do FEATURE PvP, very few successful Western titles exist that focus on this gaming style ahead of PvE (some Westerners may only play FOR the PvP in games like WoW, but the majority of the content is still PvE).

I had technical issues with Mabinogi at first, and once I landed in the game, I had the same experience as the author did; There were quest-givers that I was told to speak with, but beyond that, it seemed that there was no real impetus to DO anything structured.

I think that there's a lot of good ideas that Western designers can take from Eastern titles to get out of the "WoW Clone Rut", but as far as I am concerned, there will always be a stark dividing line between the Western and Eastern design goals for regional MMOs.

I don't usually play MMO's but Mabinogi's pretty good. Maybe a little to "open" for me though. The reason I don't play them is because there's no real goal in mind. Congratulations, you've spent 100's of hours becoming the best player in this virtual world. The question is: what now?

Wait. You played an entire week's worth of the game without getting the point of the game?

Shouldn't you go back and do it right this time?

Moreover, given the author's status as a developer, why didn't he try to get involved with the people around him? Just saying; I only had a week and thought I'd never touch it again really isn't an excuse. It's like he deliberately (though unconsciously) tried to skew his experience. Weird.

I agree, the whole thing reads like it's written to deliberately overblow and exaggerate the supposed confusion that the author was feeling. You can do it with whatever game:

"Oh, how weird, the quest guy told me he needs 10 wolf pelts! Whatever could he need them for?? It appears the best way to defend the realm from its enemies is to gather wolf pelts?? How confusing! And then I went and killed a wolf and it turns out for some baffling reason that only 1 out of every 4 wolves that I kill actually even has a pelt! How utterly confusing! I actually had to kill like 30 wolves to get my 10 pelts... Baffling! And then when I went and turned them in, I got another quest... to gather 10 kobold candles! Now why would someone need 10 wolf pelts AND 10 kobold candles?? Is he going for some elaborate decor in his living room that I don't know about? I just feel like I'm missing the point here!" etc, etc.

Dude, this is basic, basic stuff you're writing about here. Apart from the open-endedness and the breadth of customization options, everything you feel "confused" about sounds very fabricated and trite. (Note I'm not saying any of this is actually conscious on the part of the writer - just that it comes across that way).

Edit -> On the plus side, this article has inspired me to download the Mabinogi game client and give it a whirl for myself, so that was good.

Hmm, Mabinogi, I may have played this a while back. Is there a chance that the English title of it is "Maplestory"? Nexon were the developers of Maplestory and the game used NX Cash.

Although they're both wastes of time, Mabinogi and Maplestory are different games.

Verily much.

But I think at this point MapleStory is the better option, at least until Nexon figures out that wandering aimlessly about in a game world isn't as fun for the Western thumb-suckers as it first seems.

Even in the older versions of Maple, there was a set guide of quests to at least bring you to the upper levels where you can get through at least the first job on just quests, and maybe a little grinding inbetween quests on up through the second one. With Mabinogi, I got lost as soon as I stepped in. There was no guildlines, no set classes, and it seemed the major activity was... picking grass and sheering sheep? Definitely seemed to be more of the "life" part and less of that sexy "fantasy" bit that I personally play games for. An authority figure of some kind, an NPC "friend"... something to drive the story along a bit more than "here's a quest. now go do it before time runs out on it" would be acceptable.

I guess I went in with the mindset that I was going to be playing a game, not an online fashion show, which is more of what Mabinogi seemed to try and be from my standpoint, mostly because the only way to get strong enough to kill anything above spiders is to grind continuously for about... a month... Not even going into my personal annoyance that anything worthwhile is locked behind a money-activated gate. I didn't know that the premium option was the only way to get into anything more than the eternal list of pointless fetch-quests that there seems to be- at least, that's how I heard it. Could be completely wrong, because I didn't sink anything more than the NX provided when I first activated my account with that game...

Its just my opinion, but I didn't put more than a few weeks worth of total time into it, made a few friends, who pretty much ended up ignoring me and going on about their ways with other friends who were more experienced than they and I were...

Ronmarru:
Although they're both wastes of time, Mabinogi and Maplestory are different games.

Well, thank you for the clarification, I don't recall asking for an opinion on them though. I actually enjoyed playing Maplestory a few years ago, it was quite fun.

I can't take it anymore.

I have resisted making this comment since this story has been posted:

My Korean fantasy life doesn't involve video games. *ba dum tish*

You may now resume your normal thread.

tropico, I think you either never played one of these eastern mmo's or you grew up with them. I've been playing all types of games for twenty years and few experiences have been as mystifying for me as a eastern mmo. Trust me when I say that although it sounds like 'basic stuff' it's actually very different. It's like eating breakfast but all the cereal boxes and yoghurt come in blank packages and you can choose between several colors of yoghurt and milk and several cereal boxes with the same color but a different texture. Eating the breakfast will still be easy and basic, but not knowing what you're choosing and whether there's even a difference is mystifying.

I think it's a similar difference between western and eastern movie (although I admit, I've never seen a korean movie, mostly japanese): Here movies tend to have a very strong purpose, a goal so to speak whereas eastern movies are more about reflecting life and less about having a narrative.

Exactly the differences between the two genre of mmogs, east and west is grand, although i wish he would have spoken more of the life skills of the game, combat is combat, but this is one of the first korean mmorpg's that have such an open playing field.

A poorly written article. The author sounds like he's never played an MMO before - he certainly couldn't get past all the sheep shearing.

For those of you on the fence, you should really check Mabinogi out if you like your games a little different, especially if you enjoyed the Harvest Moon series. The game isn't an MMO in the conventional sense - it's more like a Japanese RPG online. You can cultivate relationships with NPCs, your character ages and needs nourishment (eating too much will make you fat though), the combat system is tactical, and all these other nuances that make Mabinogi different from other Eastern MMOs.

Capo Taco, can you expound on why Eastern MMOs are mystifying to you? They are literally just like Western MMOs save for a few deliberate designs choices: 1) Eastern MMOs are grindy because the majority of Asian gamers play them in Internet cafes (which is also a major factor into why Eastern MMOs are click-to-move: so you can smoke with your free hand), 2) PvP is a larger part of the gameplay experience; character customization is less robust than in Western MMOs so that servers can easily render a 60-man battle, and 3) Manga and manhwa - unlike comic boks in the US - are actually mainstream, so that's why Eastern MMOs are brimming with pretty boys and women who can shrug off mortal wounds while wearing nothing more than a sundress.

Expound on why something is mystifying to me? It's rather hard to elaborate on something mystifying. It's almost a self-defeating question.

I'll try though. All the eastern MMO's were in beta, which may have contributed to the feeling and the only non-eastern beta MMO I played was WoW. I think the way in which you receive feedback is rather different in eastern games and not nearly as direct and clear as western games.

I had a similar moment in princess maker 2, where while questing I meet a genie who gives me the advice that it's definitely cheaper to eat out if you're eating alone than to prepare your own meal. This was apparently to part with some life experience, because there was no 'eating together' or 'eating out' in any of the game itself.
My character responded with a aghast "I didn't know that!".

Princess maker 2 was very clear on the statistics that were being kept in the background and that's one of the things that all eastern mmo's weren't and those things were also expanded on in the article this thread relates to.

To summarize in one sentence: The feedback you get is very different. To me, a lack of certain feedback is mystifying.

 

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