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ct_news_notice_notice [12.01] GM Blog: December 2020 - Posted by Joong

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Hey everyone.

It's December. The year of 2020 is at its twilight. But unlike the sun, fun won't set in MapleRoyals! This GM Blog arrives together with the long-awaited, traditional Christmas events! We have prepared various topics we'd like to touch on below. So strap yourselves in, for this will surely be a December to remember!

First up...

A Big Thank You to Our Retired GMs
As some of you may already know, several members of Staff have left us during this autumn season: Kai, Gert, Josh, John and Eli. We are very sad to see them go. But for those who are taking the time away from Royals to pursue their education, career, and bettering themselves, we are also very happy. And we are eternally grateful for their dedication, experience, knowledge, and sacrifice to make this server a better place.

Kai was one of the longest term GMs of the server. His involvement spanned over 5 years on the server and over 3 years as a Staff member. He was very vocal on the forums, always updating players, helping with Ban Appeals, Reports, and Character Issues. He helped build an extremely useful bot for Discord to help new and old players alike. Kai was also never one to let an issue rest and was always pushing to better the Royals experience.

Gert was always out to help people, inside and outside of Royals. He spent much of his time trying to solve others' problems, no matter how trivial they may have seemed. He had a heart that was big enough to be fitting of a man at least 6 feet in height. He will be sorely missed, his compassion was very infectious to other Staff members and he worked very hard on making this server a better place to be, to spend time, to game on, and to enjoy.

We also need to mention Josh. If there was ever a GM who took it on himself to personally escort serious offenders to a permanent ban, it was this guy. He would spend day and night searching for those unsavory people who wanted to manipulate this game and extort money from naive players. Even though he was not here long, he cut down so many of them we know they won't recover from this.

John showed great interest in listening to player feedback, and pick up on important bug reports. He was immensely active in banning hackers and keeping the game as clean and fair as possible. Within Staff he contributed greatly in discussions about game balance and new content. He was always happy to help test out new content and make sure everything worked on release. He, like the others, will be sorely missed.

Last but certainly not least, Eli has also decided to take leave of Staff. We want to thank him for his contributions to discussions about the game, with his extensive experience of all classes in the game he was always ready to share that knowledge in a very thoughtful and detailed manner. Eli's expertise has certainly helped the best decisions be formed.

Thank you all for your help and dedication. You will be remembered!

Buffing of Monster EXP Values
Now on to something different. In the latest patch, Update 69, you may have noticed that several early- to mid-game monsters had their EXP values buffed. This change is subject to alteration, and we will be monitoring the effects of it in the months ahead. The reason behind the buff was simple: previously, there was a massive disparity in EXP values in this level range, which lead to only a small subset of areas being explored and used. For example, popular monsters like Slimy or Wind Raider, had HP:EXP ratios of 23.2:1 and 20:1 respectively. That is, for each point of base EXP, you had to deal 23.2 or 20 points of damage to the monster. At the same time, monsters like Tauromacis in Sleepywood, or Buffoons in Ludi Clocktower had HP:EXP ratios of 55:1 and 47:1 respectively. This meant that the latter monsters were less than half as good, in terms of absolute HP and EXP numbers. When combined with the fact that oftentimes these inferior monsters reside in large, scarcely populated maps, the gap was further increased.

The purpose of this change was not to shift the meta away from what is currently considered the optimal route of progression, but rather to open up the possibility of training in other areas, without feeling like it is not a good use of time. Our hope with this change is that players who have fond memories of various areas, or simply have a personal interest in them, will be able to grind in them with an enhanced sense of reward.

Furthermore, the decision to increase base EXP values rather than increasing spawn rates was deliberate. We believe that this route will be more healthy for the game in its current state, and minimise potential consequences and side-effects.

Next up...

Thanksgiving and Christmas Events!
At the time of posting, the Thanksgiving Event is in full swing, and the Christmas Event just started! The Staff has been very hard at work to be able to deliver these events in a timely manner, and we hope that you will all enjoy the festive maps and fun activities we have prepared for you!

With all the things going on in the world, let us come together in the warmth in MapleRoyals, and spread the holiday cheer! You can read more about our Christmas event here, and our Thanksgiving event here!

Community Events: Design a Chair & Halloween Costumes!
This year's Design a Chair event, and the popular Halloween Costume event have both concluded! We've been blown away by the participation and enthusiasm surrounding these events, and hope you've had as much fun with them as we have! The creativity of the submissions seems to grow bigger every single year. Expect to be seeing the winning Chairs in the next major patch! Thank you all for participating, and look forward to more community events ahead!

Exploring New Frontiers: Soon™
What's that? Rumors of a new land? Brave new frontiers? That's right. Something is brewing in the Maple World, and you'll all get the chance to explore this new area with us in the near future! Stay tuned, Royallers!

Thank YOU!
As the year draws to a close, we would like to think back on 2020 in MapleRoyals. This year, which has certainly been a tumultuous one a global scale, has also been a special one here, in MapleRoyals, with its own ups and downs.

The year kicked off with the hiring of several new, much-needed GM interns, who all grew to become beloved and important GMs in the community. This broke a stalemate within Staff, and ultimately sparked a fire within us to grow and improve, which still persists. The desire to expand in order to meet the needs and demands of you, the Community; to communicate better; to increase transparency both inside and outside of Staff; to exercise introspection and investigate our own ways and choices, and improve wherever possible. Concisely, we have, and will continue to do our best to create a better atmosphere within Royals. As outlined in the first GM Blog: "We are always in a transition to a bigger and better MapleRoyals, and we cannot do this without your help. There will be some bumps along the way, but we will work through them."

Not long after, the Spring months saw the release of the higher resolution client, which had been long in the works, as well as the fixing of numerous issues of instability which had plagued the game for so long. We are of course talking about the fixes to several of the most common GFX issues. At the same time, with the pandemic raging outside, the playerbase saw a massive explosion, with online numbers reaching as high as 3,500 online at once. The effects of this still persist today, and we are happy to say that many of the players who found us at that time are still with us today! The grand Update 65 also brought with it some hotly debated changes, which we will return to below.

Then came the Month of May, which marked MapleRoyals' 7th birthday, and made us the oldest server around (and perhaps to have ever existed). This also means that MapleRoyals is far older than the version of the game that it is trying to emulate ever was. And as you can expect, this brings with it many quirks, both good and bad. It means we stand without a map of the road ahead, and can only look to the direction that the official game took, and draw conclusions about what we don't want to do. It sparks many questions of what we all want out of the game, and how we can hope to continue developing the game without stagnation, whilst maintaining the sense of nostalgia. Nonetheless, our age also serves as a reminder of the hard work of the community and Staff over the years; and the culture that has evolved within the confines of our server is certainly unique. Players and Staff alike, find themselves feeling nostalgic, not only about MapleStory, but about MapleRoyals. This should perhaps hardly come as a surprise, given that the rhythmic ebb and flow of seasonal events, and the memories of friendships and relationships formed, combine to create a feeling that MapleRoyals is indeed a small universe of its own; and one we hope might continue to thrive for many years to come.

Later, during summer, we began formulating the idea of the GM Blog, as one step in our plan to close the gap between the community and the Staff. We wanted to not only convey that we listen closely to your thoughts and ideas, but also to enable you to listen to ours. These blogs, which may not always contain the flashiest of reveals, or grandest of news, we hope will still serve as an expression of our desire to involve you in the development and forging of the game and its future. We hope that they have, and will continue to humanise the exchange between us. Each month we are looking forward to your feedback on them.

As the summer transitioned into fall, we premiered several nostalgic (but new to Royals!) events. While we understand that some events have become iconic, we certainly enjoy exploring new possibilities, and ensuring that the game never becomes stagnant. We hope to be able to find a good balance between classic Royals events and exciting new ones! For now, only time will tell what the future holds!

Not long after, the Halloween Event followed, followed back-to-back by the Thanksgiving Event, and as of today - the Christmas Event. Yes, as mentioned earlier, we've truly been hard at work trying to deliver these in a timely and (hopefully mostly) bug-free manner, and now look forward to enjoying the results together with you all!

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But, alas, the year is now nearing its end. Our plans for Royals, however, are not. We are already looking ahead, to new opportunities and ways to improve. We know that there remain many kinks to iron out, and that there are many of you who have ideas concerning what we could do better. We know that we come across as strict sometimes, and that we have made mistakes. We, too, are human after all, and we try to do our best with what we have, and to carefully tread the line between innovation, quality of life, and staying true to our original goal of providing a nostalgic experience. We try to make the best of our own history and baggage as a server, and of all the quirky and awkward things that come with it.

To strike a balance between faithfulness to mid-2000s MapleStory, and not wanting to be wholly limited to the confines of the original, quirky design choices, is no easy feat. In some cases, individual branches of the original developer, in attempts to promote their in-house designs, made questionable decisions which aimed to attract players (at least temporarily) to the latest release. The effects of such things are amplified in Royals, which strives to be much more timeless and long-lasting that the original developers had ever planned for. In other cases, inherently flawed or at least suboptimally executed features of the game continue to haunt us since the inception of the server. These constitute some of the most common and well-known issues and points of complaints we see in the Community. Such being the case, the Staff has to work with a rocky foundation, utilising various contrived workarounds and patches in attempts to slowly but steadily make up for the not-always-perfect kernel. To hone and construct a game with aims to stand the test of time under these premises, will never be a perfectly smooth venture. Add to this a core desire to maintain and promote a diversity of gameplay; social interaction, teamwork and an immersive atmosphere, and the result is that sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. As the game ages, and its ins and outs are explored, and the playerbase matures, more light is cast on the imperfections. The Staff exercises its best judgement, using community feedback, to stake out the path ahead accordingly. Changes to the game are not made on a whim, nor with the intent to punish honest players. The autobanner, which the Staff, perhaps more than anyone, is waiting for, will hopefully make the direction more clear, and make the changes feel more sensible. Still, we can only do this with your input, and we only ask you to consider this bigger picture, and the multi-faceted issues outlined above, which both drive and confine us.

With that being said... we also remind ourselves that these quirks and features are part of what makes the game special, and certainly what makes Royals completely unique. And while each and every one of us may never see eye to eye on every issue, we believe that the only way to move forward is to do so together. By sharing our ideas, constructive criticisms, and carefully staking out the path ahead. After all, we work on this game for you, and for ourselves who grew up playing this game. If it weren't for you, Royals wouldn't be what it is. So we would like to finish this GM Blog off by extending a very warm thanks to you. Yes, precisely YOU who are reading this, for helping to make Royals what it is today. We look forward to concluding this year with you, and to enter next year with hopes of many a good things to come.

Thank you.

- The MapleRoyals Staff

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