Monday, March 06, 2006

First day as a noobie

I decided to sign up for a MapleStory account several weeks ago and mentioned the idea to my students, becoming instantly inundated with advice and ideas about what world to play in and what job to take (magician, warrior, thief, or bowman). I even took the time to call my cousin and ask for his advice. It wasn't until nine days ago that I actually signed up for the account though, using a couple of e-mail messages my cousin had written me to guide my decisions. I even gave him a call as I got my username and password, just to make sure I was doing everything ok.
My cousin had mentioned that he could "train" me in the game, but as I began playing I realized that I was stuck on a training level, apart from the main game where he was playing and thus, unable to be "trained" by him. The idea of "training" levels in games is relatively new, a product of the digital native generation. As I child I used to pore over manuals to video games I had just bought in attempts to understand exactly how the game worked and how it was played. Such a resource is rarely necessary in modern video games though, as the manual to play is frequently built into the game's first levels and players are either forced or encouraged to go through some sort of initiation stage to learn the basics of game control and operation.
Believing the training ground to be the only barrier between myself and my "training" at the hands of my cousin, I was overly anxious to leave the training ground and join the main island of players. Had I joined the game without prior knowledge and advice from my students and cousin though, I'm sure I would have been more receptive to the lessons being taught on the training island of MapleStory.
I did learn more about the basic operations of the game in the training ground though, mainly how to complete a quest for a non-player character (NPC) and how the map function operates in the game. I also learned how to use the chat feature of the game as my cousin answered various questions I had about the training island and how to advance to the main island in the game.
When I finally did make it to the main island, I immediately contacted my cousin about training me. He informed that there was a good area to train near Hensys, a town I located on the map and headed towards. On my way to Hensys I passed by several NPCs and talked with them, accepting more quests and learning about which animals I could defeat easily and which were too difficult for me to kill. Playing for only a couple of hours, I quickly learned the controls of the game, strategies for moving within the world, and how to communicate with another player with the game's chat program. The second day I would learn more about the most important aspect of the game: levelling.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Maple Story Week 1

Well, I've just got the green light from my professor to use this blog as data (how often do you get to make up your own data to use in a study?) so I guess I better get to work before I forget too much. I won't waste your time by telling you about the game itself, if you're curious you can read all about it on wikipedia here. The first time I heard about the game was from my aunt, who was appalled by two things about it: one that her two sons (ages 7 and 12) were both so engrossed by it, and two that it was free for them to play. I was familiar with MMORPG's, specifically EverQuest, the attributes of which had been explained to me in minutae by a former co-worker at The Olive Garden several years ago during my table waiting days. When I was a young lad though, one of the main draws for new video games was improved (more realistic) graphics. The fact that EverQuest had an immersible, three dimensional, and fully interactive world with which to engage enabled me to at least somewhat understand the appeal. You can imagine my surprise then, to see MapleStory for the first time as a side scrolling two-dimensional game much closer in visual resemblance to Super Mario Bros. then EverQuest.
"What is the point?" I asked my cousin (age 12)
"There is no point," he explained. "It's for little kids, but it's really addictive."
I lost interest pretty quickly at that point, but each week when I returned for dinner with my family, I noted the absurd amount of time my cousins spent in the game. I may have even asked a few more detailed questions of my cousin in attempts to better understand the game, but the truth is that the idea of interacting with dozens ( much less hundreds or thousands) of people at the same time was intimidating to me.
"What will they think of me? Will I be a joke? Will I be ridiculed?" were all thoughts that passed through my head while merely thinking about playing the game. I should explain that I'm not a very competitive person by nature, but I don't like losing either, and the idea of a game where there aren't any losers was still difficult for me to grasp. I suppose the reason I was hesitant to join the game earlier (aside from being very busy) is similar to the reason I don't start surfing: I don't want to go through the "newbie" period that all beginners must suffer through.
What finally grabbed my attention with MapleStory though was when I noticed how many of my 6th grade students were involved in the game. At that point I started asking my cousins more about the game and when the opportunity came up to do a case study for my Ed 690 class, I immediately thought of MMORPG's and MapleStory. I'll post more tomorrow about my first day as a Mapler. -joe

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Maple Story

Well, it seems as though another project for me to blog about has entered my life. This time the culprit is the popular MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game) Maple Story. A couple of days ago I joined the game as part of a Case Study I'll be producing for my Introduction to Evaluative Research class. I meant to start blogging my experiences as soon as I signed up, and now that I think about it I probably should have started blogging about it all as soon as I thought of the idea. Now I've already reached Level 7 and I still haven't said a thing. I'll do my best to remedy that situation as soon as possible. -joe