By "we", I mean myself, the community, and the VFMs and Nexon employees that forward this thread to the team that will inevitably throw this thread into the trash.
Masteria is an area that's been a staple of GMS since 2007, and has gone through many changes. Ever since the original team behind Masteria left Nexon in the first half of 2009 (with Crimsonwood Keep PQ being their final addition to Masteria), it was left in a state of purgatory, with Nexon not knowing where to proceed with it.
The first addition to Masteria was Haunted House Season 2 in October 2009, which consisted of the Olivia boss fight as well as Rotting Skeletons, Dead Scarecrows, and Twisted Jesters (with an awful story, but I digress).
The next addition was the Destroyed NLC / alien invasion content, which reorganized the map layouts (even oversimplifying the Crimsonwood / Phantom Forest area to where you could walk 5 linear maps to get to the Keep). It was highly despised by the community, only being liked because the Alien monsters gave a ludicrous amount of EXP for their level. The Destroyed NLC content was reverted in February 2014, while keeping the aliens nearby and changing the Crimsonwood exchange quest to include iTCG items, such as Stirgeman items and more.
Following that in March 2016 was the addition of Masteria Through Time, a blockbuster serving as a backstory to the area. There are a myriad of issues with the story, with contradictions, retcons, and plot elements that don't make sense, but that's not what I'm here to discuss. This update also changed a few map layouts around in NLC and Crimsonwood closed the Haunted House and Crimsonwood Keep Party Quest, the latter of which was promised to be reopened "later this year" in this announcement post: https://maplestory.nexon.net/news/7663/crimsonwood-keep-pq-closure
. It's currently October 2020 with no sign of it being reopened any time soon, and while I understand that priorities change, they haven't said a peep about the area since.
In December 2019, Nexon hyped up a Masteria revamp, with many players (including myself) being skeptical, given Nexon's track record towards reworking the area and messing with its lore. Nonetheless, Anna, our current producer, wrote in a memo (https://maplestory.nexon.net/news/54907/maple-memo-v209-status-update-december-12
) that it would contain "new powerful set equips that can be obtained and enhanced only through playing the content", and that "Our internal teams have some special feelings about this content so we’re putting in a lot of effort to make it more enjoyable". The former statement didn't specifically state how
it would be enhanced, and the latter statement ended up becoming further from the truth, as I will outline below. Even though a lot of people hate the revamp and would be fine with its removal, I actually want Masteria to remain in GMS; as I said, it's a staple of GMS, and I also want the content to be enjoyable.
The way I will outline this thread is covering the issues in dedicated sections, mentioning the core issue with the content and proposing alternatives / solutions.
New Leaf City and MesoGears:
Admittedly, New Leaf City (NLC) is the area I have the fewest issues with. While I do miss the original maps in the Krakian Jungle, I'm okay with the new map designs and music. The main issues I have with the area are related to map spawn rates and quests, which go hand-in-hand to a degree.
Issue: Map Spawn Rates and Mobs
Some of the earlier maps, such as the City Outskirts area, have decent spawn rates and map layouts, but could be better. However, the maps with Jungle Bugs, Mighty Maple Eaters, Aliens, I.AM.ROBOTs, and both types of Jungle Monkeys all have terrible spawn rates and/or terrain; the two Jungle Monkeys having long respawn animations does not help either. The spawn rates for all the Warriors and Gryphons are decent, but the map with normal Gryphons (Where the Valley Ends) will send you a few maps back if you fall into the pit (and a lot of Gryphons end up flying toward the bottom of the map). While this was also a feature in the pre-revamp NLC, it is outdated and archaic since the game has shifted more towards clearing hoardes of monsters as fast as possible. Side note: Gryphons and Aggressive Gryphons are identical except for the name; would it be possible to add a couple differences in design or stats?
MesoGears's maps have below average spawn rates and mediocre terrain that hasn't been updated in years, with girders and steel beams getting in the way from moving around. Fire Tusk and Electrophant are also immune to fire and ice respectively, meaning that they take 1 damage rather than half damage from those elements.
The best solutions for the mobs would be to increase spawn rates in some of the inferior maps and speeding up the respawn animation speed for the monkeys. For Where the Valley Ends, I'd suggest either adding a platform at the bottom like most other maps, or having the pit send you to the top of the map (like the Black Heaven Inside maps in Scrapyard). Another addition I propose is the inclusion of Star Force maps (maybe 150 SF requirement) in NLC: one in the City Outskirts area, one in the Krakian Jungle, and one in the Alien Excavation Site.
Some of the Phantom Forest’s Crimsonwood Mountain maps are decent in terms of spawn rate, but the Forest itself is underwhelming, and could use some spawn boosts.
As for MesoGears, I suggest making some of the girders and steel beams into background objects, rather than foreground objects (like how Lachelein's curtains used to be disruptive platforms that were later turned into background objects). Fire Tusk and Electrophant can have their immunities be changed to 50% damage.
Issue: Quest Drop Rates and Rewards
This sort of ties into the previous issue, but is enough of a problem that it can be its own section. The quest items in NLC, namely Flora Samples from Mighty Maple Eaters, Ecological Samples from Aggressive Gryphons, and Soil Samples from Violent Jungle Monkeys, each require 50 drops, but the drop rate is so low that you will kill more than 300 of each monster before completing it. The quest EXP is also mediocre, giving at most 5 million EXP per completion. For reference, Kritias, another Level 170 area, has some quests that give upwards of 28 million EXP.
The solution to this is simple: increase the drop rate for each item, maybe by more than double. Refined Lianium from Aliens could also use a drop rate boost, but not as badly as the other items as those are part of a side quest. The EXP from the quests in NLC could also use a boost.
The main crux of the issues with the Masteria are within the Phantom Forest, as most of us already know.
Issue: Sanity System
The sanity system was added to the Phantom Forest, slowly causing your sanity to deteriorate as you spend more time in the area, whether you take damage or move from portal to portal. Various effects will occur, including distorted colors, screen shaking, reduced HP/MP/EXP/damage, reduced drop rates, and flying monsters that can lock your potions. I have recorded a video showcasing the area at its worst:
While you can recover your sanity up to 5 times a day, the sanity system turns players off from this area, for several reasons:
1. The effects will cause lag and memory leak for many players, even those with high-end computers.
2. The effects, especially the distorted colors and screen shaking, can cause motion sickness for certain players.
3. The flying monsters that attack you will eventually cause you to die if you aren't careful, leading to lost EXP.
4. The reduced EXP, drop rates, and damage prevent this area from becoming a realistic training ground.
5. The amount of time required to complete this area's Daily Quests will take at the absolute minimum 1 hour, seeing as how you have to hunt a specific
Elite Boss in the area (will cover that more in the next section).
As it stands right now, the area actively turns players away due to how badly it's implemented. A lot of monsters deal double lines of damage with no invincibility period in between (like the Shadowknights and Stormcasters), and your sanity decreases quickly. It's a terrible sign when even the Community Manager cancels a livestream of the area at the last minute (likely out of concern for the players' health and safety).
The most obvious solution is to do away with the Sanity system altogether. I understand that it was meant to make the area stand out, but in its current format it's more of a gimmick than anything else (and it isn't even a good gimmick).
An alternative solution, if Sanity removal isn't an option, would be to rework it and make it less resource-heavy on computers. A few people I've talked to theorize that the Sanity system was a prototype of Giant Monster Gloom's Fear gauge, which came out about a month after in KoreaMS. This version, while it has its gimmicks, is a lot less resource-heavy and could potentially serve as an alternative to the existing Sanity system.
For those unaware of how it works, instead of slowly deteriorating over time, you have a Fear meter that slowly increases as you take damage during the boss battle. Once full, you are put in a state of Fear, blackening the screen and summoning a bunch of monsters that try to attack you. Eventually the meter depletes, restoring you back to normal and beginning the process again. While the Fear gauge does have a few cheap moments, it is eons better than the Sanity system, and could serve as a basis for a modified Sanity system.
Issue: Daily Quests
The Phantom Forest Daily Quests in their current state provide 3 quests to hunt normal monsters (granting 3 Raven Ninja Coins each), 2 quests to hunt the area’s special Elite Monsters (granting 1 Shadowknight Coin each), and 1 quest to hunt one of 3 special Field / Elite Bosses (granting 3 Shadowknight Coins). Completing all of these will grant an additional 5 Shadowknight Coins, but there is little incentive to complete all of them for the following reasons:
1. Some of the monsters have mediocre spawn rates, most notably the Phantom Trees.
2. You will have to hunt for minimum 1 hour to get one of the special Field Bosses (Masters Killian and LeFay, Large Phantom Tree, and Phantom of Naricain) to spawn, since it works the exact same as a normal Elite Boss (Black Knight, Mad Mage, Vicious Hunter, Rampant Cyborg, and Bad Brawler). This means that hunting for an Elite Boss will not result in getting the correct Elite Boss to spawn, as it is completely random.
On that note, I’d also like to see the Elite Bosses
be more challenging rather than having a couple attacks that do minor damage, while the Elite Monsters
should be less challenging, as some of them can 1-hit KO most lower level players.
The most practical solution is to have the Daily Quests require killing any Elite Boss, rather than a specific one, so that players don’t have to spend an hour for a chance
at the Elite Boss they need.
An alternative solution is to reduce the time spent to summon the Elite Bosses by at least 50%, as well as to make each boss spawn in specific maps. For example, Masters Killian and LeFay can only appear in the Crimsonwood Mountain region, while Large Phantom Tree and Phantom of Naricain can spawn in specific maps within the Forest itself.
A third solution I can propose is to make all 3 bosses into free-spawning bosses that spawn in specific maps, similar to other Field Bosses (Mano, Leviathan, Ghostwood Stumpy, Sky Guardian, etc), like how the Headless Horseman and Bigfoot spawned in the area pre-revamp.
A fourth solution I can propose is to have the Elite Monsters and Elite Bosses's spawn cycle work like the Lion King Castle's Rose Garden, where you kill a set amount of monsters to summon a Special Monster (the Golden Bee), and then a Boss (King Castle Golem), with a repeating cycle of Special Monster + Boss. In this case, the Elite Monsters would serve as the Special Monster and the Elite Bosses would serve as the main Boss.
Issue: Shadowknight Coin System
The Masteria’s Legacy Set was advertised as powerful, and upon initial release it was noticeably strong with a 10% Critical Damage boost in the set bonus, as many players discovered via the use of Pet Item Ignore. However, this boost was nerfed to 5% Critical Rate
, and players soon discovered that Shadowknight Coins were a necessity to Star Force this accessory set, at a rate of 5n + 5 (i.e. 0->1 requires 5 coins, 1->2 requires 10 coins, 2->3 requires 15 coins, and so on).
The worst part is that the Star Force success rates are exactly the same as any other equipment
, making the entire set worthless except for the Glona’s Heart ring. Players have also calculated that, on average, a single equipment from this set will take on average 4.7 years
to get to 22 Star Force. For comparison, Morass and Esfera’s Arcane Symbols take about 1 year
to go from Level 1 to Level 20 without any events. Nexon has attempted to mitigate this by throwing more coins our way (such as with Sunny Sundays and Gollux’s Mountain Mumur shop), but most players end up avoiding the area like the plague.
ZeroByDivide made a video showcasing his efforts in farming Shadowknight Coins to Star Force a Glona’s Heart ring.
While he is a controversial figure within the MapleStory community for many valid and justified reasons, I feel that his video is the best example of how ludicrous the Shadowknight Coin system is. He also made a very poignant statement on the system in the video (paraphrasing): “Anyone who thought this was okay probably has never Star Forced anything to 15 Stars before.”
The most practical solution is to remove the coin cost, which could be tough because Nexon Korea already doesn’t take too kindly to the Superior Gollux Set being better than the Boss Accessory Set (which raises the question of why Nexon spent so much into effort and resources to create the Masteria’s Legacy Set).
An alternative solution is to massively reduce the coin cost for Star Force. As it stands now, most players only gain coins from Gollux’s Mountain Mumur shop (which I will cover in a later section) due to how inefficient the Daily Quests are. Given the effort required, the coin cost should be reduced by more than half, maybe in multiples of 1 or 2 instead of 5.
A third solution, which could be implemented alongside Solution 2, would be to increase the Star Force success rates exclusively for this set. Currently, the set has the exact same success rates as a normal item. Given the effort to reach just 17 Stars for a normal item, much less 22, the success rate would need to massively increase for this set to be worth considering.
Issue: The Magician’s Trial
This quest is part of the Level 190 Masteria questline, and I felt it was necessary to include as its own section due to how restrictive it is. As it is right now, one of the quests named “The Magician’s Trial” requires you to have one of each class archetype in a party (Warrior, Magician, Bowman, Thief, Pirate) and have them talk to the NPC to complete the quest. Each person has to have the quest either in progress or already completed, but it’s unnecessarily restrictive. Side note: I feel that this quest is Nexon’s subtle way of hinting that CWKPQ is never coming back, but it fails because it’s a single quest rather than an accompaniment.
The solution would be to change the quest requirement, maybe to have players kill a set number of monsters or complete a mini jump quest rather than its current requirement.
Issue: Phantom Forest Familiars
This issue is pretty minor, but given how we have familiars for both old and new Crimsonwood / Phantom Forest monsters, we can't obtain either version. The old ones (such as Windraider, Stormbreaker, Firebrand, Nightshadow, etc), can no longer be obtained, and the new ones (Corrupted Windreaver, Corrupted Stormcaster, Corrupted Flamekeeper, Corrupted Shadowknight, etc) do not drop at all.
The solution for the new monster familiars would be simply to have them drop from their respective monsters. The solution for the old monster familiars is actually quite simple as well: convert them to Crimsonheart Castle monsters and have them drop from the monsters in that area (the Level 130+ theme dungeon where Gollux used to be).
I felt that Gollux’s revamp was a mixed bag. I understand the motivation for making him tougher to fight, and I appreciate the changes to the way drops are distributed (including making coins instanced and having the heart be a monster we can attack rather than an object to click on). However, there are a few issues that need to be discussed.
Issue: Gollux Shops
Gollux has two shops: one for Pennies and one for Coins. You can only obtain Pennies from doing Easy or Normal (Level 1 or 2) Gollux, and you can only obtain Coins from Hard or Hell (Level 3 or 4) Gollux. The problem is that players who can only do the former are unable to make use of the Pennies for any accessories, and players who can only do the latter cannot obtain any of the collectibles / usable items such as the Trait Boost items and the Mineral / Herb Pouches.
In addition to that, the Mountain Mumur shop in the Gollux reward map sells items that are too costly worthwhile, especially since clearing the highest difficulty of Gollux only grants 25 - 30 Coins a day. For example, an Eternal Rebirth Flame costs 250
Coins, and you can buy 10 Shadowknight Coins a day for 5 Gollux Coins each.
For the first shop, I suggest adding a coin exchange between Pennies and Coins, maybe at a 1:10 ratio (or some other arbitrary ratio). For the Mountain Mumur shop, I suggest reducing the costs of most items sold for Coins by 90% (for example, Eternal Rebirth Flames can be reduced from 250 to 25 Coins), and selling Shadowknight Coins at a 1:1 ratio ratio than a 5:1 ratio.
"Issue": Gollux Mobs
To be honest, this is the most minor issue here, but I felt it was necessary due to the revamped Familiar system. While I like the new monster designs, having 4 Corrupted Veilstone familiars in the Cursed Badge is confusing when the new familiar cards all look like this:
. The other monsters that had different variants are all identical now. For example, Corrupted Wardlock, Mutated Wardlock, and normal Wardlock all look like this now:
. Black Perdit, Clear Perdit, and Red Perdit, which came in those respective colors pre-revamp, all look like this now:
. The monsters are also Level 140 - 150 (with the Perdit Seeds being Level 45), despite Gollux now being Level 180+ to enter.
The only suggestion I have for the redesigns is to add different color variants for each mob to differentiate them, and to raise the monster levels to Level 180.
In conclusion, I am suggesting these changes not because I hate Masteria, but because I want it to be significant in the game’s current state. It's kind of depressing when ChinaMS and TaiwanMS, two MapleStory versions with zero standards, haven't picked up the revamp yet and chose to stick with the pre-revamp version instead. Please take this into consideration, Nexon, and don't let us down.