Mabinogi Won’t Fix Itself

I have a long history with Mabinogi. The following discussion is aimed for people who have experienced the game at some point. If you have not played Mabinogi, I recommend not playing it and waiting until I move onto another subject. There was a time when I could recommend this game, but that time is long gone.

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My first MMO wasn’t World of Warcraft or any of its clones – it was RuneScape, a freemium sandbox MMORPG with amazing player freedom and quests full of cutscenes and memorable characters (I will always remember you, Zanik). Since I was a poor kid at the time, the only way I could venture into new territory was to try free-to-play Korean imports.

I started Mabinogi around the time Goddess of Light was released. I was much younger back then, and a bigger fan of anime than I am now. After countless bad experiences, I finally found a game that had the freedom that RuneScape had, but with better graphics and a condensed single storyline.

One Long Recap Later…

Fast forward to now. The game I loved is now a shell of its former self. The engine has become considerably worse, more outdated and buggy than ever before. Whatever balance this game had has been completely ruined by new talents, AP overload, and the ill-conceived “Renovation” updates.

Even Trigger, a staple of the Mabinogi playerbase and father of magic – the same Patreon funder who recommended the game to MMO Grinder – posted an amazing and informative steam review against this game. He hit the nail right on the head. Feel free to read his review before moving on.

At the end of his review, Trigger states:

“That about wraps up my deconstruction of Mabinogi‘s many current flaws, all of which contributed to my leaving the game and none of which have thus far been addressed. I don’t expect any of them to ever be addressed, either, because Nexon’s Korean development team basically just develops for the Korean users, and the players on the North American servers get whatever Korea gets. If you play this game, know that you have absolutely no voice in the game’s future direction. You will exist merely as a cash grab for Nexon.”

He’s not joking about players being cash grabs. Just recently, Nexon released a gachapon containing archangel wings that price at 60m. No, your computer monitor is fine. The economy is that messed up.

What’s worse is that in Korea, the wings cost almost $300 dollars to get during a limited event last year. All for some feathers on your back.

I think there’s more to the game’s lack of improvement than Trigger states. There’s only so much that can be done right now. So far, the new director has been shelling out bug-fixes and large “Renovation”-style updates. But the two biggest issues will never get fixed. You can quote me on that.

The Engine

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The people behind the Pleione engine are long, long gone. The game needs to be built from the ground up, and that’s a hard, expensive sell for any company to overtake. It may have happened with Final Fantasy XIV, but Square Enix cares about its brand (in its own weird, incompetent way) and communicates with global users in a meaningful way. Nexon has never done that. All that we have is a community team and a tech monkeys running the servers.

It would be more realistic to develop a sequel, but given the constantly-shifting state of DevCat, Vindictus’ deteriorating state, and the shutting down of Mabinogi 2: the Dissapointening, I don’t see that working out.

Bad, Bad Balance

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Mabinogi is the continuation of a great experiment on new combat and progression game concepts. And in my opinion, nobody at that time knew that we were doomed from the start.

The basic progression system – lack of a max level, permanent stats given from skills, and huge differences between players who pay and those who do not – is power creep incarnate. The only thing that prevented this from happening sooner was slow progression.

Over time, this problem has been worsened a thousand times over. Past directors, in an attempt to lighten the load on our playerbase, have introduced systems that speed up power creep and increase the gaps between vets and newbies; gachapon hoarders from free players.

What’s been patched in?

  • Free weekly rebirths
  • AP granted from events, talent upgrades, generation quests and talent progression
  • Insane gachapon rewards that make actually playing the game seem completely trivial and unnecessary
  • A barrage of badly-planned skillset releases that allow players to power up their main talents without actually using them, with incredibly fast rates of stat gain
  • More free AP over time from daily quest completion
  • Pets that heal players and buff enemies, sometimes at the same time.
  • Totems from events and the upgradable totem from Alban Knights dungeons that give permanent stat increases when activated
  • Event and gachapon-only secondary titles that give insanely stupid bonuses

Top it all off with Reforges, the worst upgrade system I’ve ever seen in any game ever.

Why even release new content anymore? Why make things challenging? In mere months new content will go from “relatively challenging” to “I don’t even have to faceroll.” Like the dragon raids. And theater missions. And G19 raids. And lord missions. And MA tourneys. And abyss dungeons. We will soon reach a point where a majority of the playerbase will be more powerful than the hardest Alban Knights training dungeon.

Improved enemy AI will do nothing. It’s the numbers that are broken here.

And if the developers decide to fix this by removing systems and nerfing players, people will quit in droves because instead of protesting these systems we have fully embraced them. No sane developer would do this without losing his job. This is a genre full of people who complain about small percentages of damage being changed in a minor update.

The train isn’t going to stop.

If you want to play a game that improves over time and is worth your money (if you choose to spend it), don’t play this game. Like me!

Ultimately, I can’t convince people who have already drunk the Kool-Aid to stop playing. It’s up to each and every gamer to define why we game. I just know that I can’t recommend this game to anyone.

While the market expands en masse, our free time does not. Keep that in mind.

 

Mabinogi players, what do you think? How is the game faring for you right now? Feel free to comment below.

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6 thoughts on “Mabinogi Won’t Fix Itself

  1. Oliver May 10, 2016 / 8:00 pm

    Most of this information is false and can easily be clarified by an experienced Mabinogi player. The only true information given was that the engine has aged and it’s showing.

    – There is no power creep (all skills are as efficient as the new) thanks to cool down update
    – These is p2 get ahead not to win. As players don’t have to pay for event items.
    – No max level is amazingly good.
    The most p2w stuff has a level wall behind it exclusively for characters who already reached the end game and want to start fresh.

    Like

    • Steven Williams May 11, 2016 / 10:25 am

      Thanks for replying! Just touching on your points here:

      -I mean power creep in the sense that players are getting more and more powerful at a higher rate. High-level players have access to content that lets them level up at a considerably faster rate than lower-level players. Older content (g7 and 8, theater missions, most shadow missions that aren’t spamable or dailies) really isn’t done that much anymore.

      -I never stated that this game is pay-to-win. I agree with you that it’s “pay to get ahead.” How much people can “get ahead” has increased and worsened with new content updates (reforges, putting demonic gear in gachapons shortly after releasing them in-game, the new quality-of-life potions like trade unlocks and repair protections). And the fact that buying 3 or 4 pets with summon abilities can nullify the need to use the healing skill.

      -No max level sounds good in concept… Until you tie that feature with everything else Mabinogi does wrong. If you like pressing 1-2 buttons and facerolling 99.99% of current content, good for you. If you like playing a well-designed game, look elsewhere.

      -You don’t need to be that far in the game to purchase reforges, pets, quality-of-life potions, bags, whatever shitty gachapons are on sale,

      But yeah, most of the information here is completely false and not written by an experienced Mabinogi player. Because it’s easy to deny that something is true by commenting that something isn’t true. Why haven’t I tried that?

      Like

  2. kendrik45 August 24, 2016 / 8:50 am

    I agree with the article 100%. I’m Daikira from the Alexina server and leader of Heros, and I can honestly say that I would have done anything to have this game be better.
    There are things that no one seems to address (maybe people like this, idk), they are:

    1. The newer skills, especially ninja and gunner, are far to spammy for people with lives. Spam is a lazy design choice in my opinion.
    2. Afk events instead of active events just make the community stagnate and boring; in spite of having the greatest community that I’ve seen in an mmo.
    3. The long wait for content that we sadly can solo.
    a. Because of the constant ability to solo, the need for a party is nullified. In fact, parties usually just mean soloing rooms/areas instead of working together.
    b. Solo may seem great to players, but it just proves that Nexon can’t balance their stuff.

    I didn’t learn until I was already in love with Mabinogi that Nexon NA didn’t listen to it’s player base on design choices (or pricing), so I constantly believed that I could make a difference by just making a big guild and letting our voices be heard.

    I think their could be a few issues that would remedy some of these problems, but I doubt any veteran would like these:
    1. Make certain events permanent features in the game. Because many of the events weren’t fighting based, so it takes the focus off of the fighting and back on Mabinogi’s roots, socializing.
    2. Take away or significantly lower the skill training counts for all skills. This would allow players (the beginners especially) to just rank up their skills the moment they get the ap; thus decreasing the gap between players.
    3. Add in more guild features, such as a real guild war (a fight between 2 guilds and maybe one of their allies), a guild type of homestead (instead of that static guild hall), and perhaps even a guild restricted auction house.
    4. Forget about following Nexon KR if that is at all possible. Perhaps then we would see significant changes to some problems.

    I really miss Mabinogi, and I just wanted to find somewhere to talk about my issues/ideas about the game. I know the community doesn’t care about any of these things and actually enjoy the game (even though many of them just AFK), but I think somewhere along the line we lost sight of the joy we all had truly working together. I don’t mind supporting them with my money, but I can’t do that if they won’t at least help me out by showing me they are trying. I guess this is my heartfelt goodbye to Mabinogi, I met some fantastic people playing this game.

    Long live Heros,
    Nobliss Oblige~

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Williams August 24, 2016 / 11:42 am

      Thank you so much for your comment!

      I agree with a lot of your points. Some skills are too spammy and, and getting rid of that system would make the game a lot easier for players. I don’t think it will change the fact that high level players are getting more AP at a faster rate than new players.

      I keep racking this problem in my head and the only solution I can come up with is to decrease the stats gained from skills, remove reforges entirely from the game, and introduce a low, hard stat cap. This will never happen, however – we are too far into this game’s lifespan and too much money has been spent from consumer and company alike towards the trainwreck of a progression system we have in place now. It’s too late to fix this.

      I really want a new game to be released that takes the concepts Mabinogi introduced and refines them. But I don’t want Nexon to make it.

      It’s really hard to say goodbye to an MMO. It means saying goodbye to a source of enrichment and community that one has been part of for so long, that the world feels a little emptier.

      I had to fight coming back to Mabinogi numerous times after I left. A lot of my friends play it when they can’t afford their Final Fantasy XIV subscriptions (which happens a lot) and they consistently ask me to join them. Sometimes I did come back, hoping that after this one big update the game would be magically fixed. It wasn’t. And it likely never will be until the day it shuts down.

      If you ever want to join me in Final Fantasy XIV, my guild is always looking for new people. 😀 I’m on the Balmung server, however, and its almost always full. You’d have to create an character on an older server and do a paid transfer when the queues are lower.

      Like

  3. Sera March 3, 2017 / 11:28 am

    I can’t relate to all of the things you talked about, but I guess I’m glad I read this before I delved too deep in.
    I played Mabinogi back when an EU version existed, and I loved it to death. It was so unique, it was skill-based, the community was so tight-knit and the options in terms of non-combat content were limitless (note that the game only was Gen 1-3 at the time). We begged and begged and finally got the Iria update in the end, an expansion that allowed for more varied play without destroying thw original balance.

    But the game was bugged and broken beyond repair and since there was never any even remote effort to fix anything (we players later found out the EU team had been abolished long before the version shut down, so all our cries for help were basically sent to the void), pretty much everyone (including me) gave up on the game and moved on – to FFXIV 1.x, in my case, because appearently broken games attract me or something.
    Mabi EU finally shut down after a while, and of course there were no character transfers to the NA servers or anything for the remaining players, because really, why WOULD anyone want to keep the work they spend hundreds upon hundreds of hours and a significant amount of money on? *rolls eyes*

    I made an NA account anyway (especially since during the time, FFXIV was down for getting re-released as A Realm Reborn), but having to start over at 0 in a place where everyone was comparably incredibly overpowered..not fun. To be honest, the move away from the pure fantasy life and move towards pink motorbikes and rapidly flashing fake wings was not to my taste either, but I could have endured that if everything else was fine. But it wasn’t. Payments did not work in any way, so I was forced to play the pleb way, and as someone who loved Mabinogi for how self-expressive I can be there, the limitations of that destroyed any potential of this becoming nice. I tried contacting support, but never got an answer.

    Actually, that’s not true. After 7 (!) months, long after I had given up on the game for the second time, I recieved an Email from Tech Support, telling me they are rather busy and asking me to be patient for a while longer, they’ll “adress my problem eventually”. Never heard from them again to this day.

    I did not look back (although I always missed certain features of Mabinogi and did not tire asking FFXIV’s devs to implement them :P) but today, out of nostalgia/lack of patience in waiting for the next expansion/getting reminded of Mabinogi lore thanks to the Dun Scaith raid..I wanted to give it another chance. Not even necessarily for the social part, just experiencing the story for a while and wandering about the lovingly designed areas seemed like a nice idea.

    It’s been 18 hours since then, during which I had to master the online aequivalent of American Ninja Warrior to try and get it to run, from the homepage just throwing endless error codes at me when trying to create a new account, finally remembering my old account probably still exists, having to wait 3! hours for the verification email to arrive, the launcher crashing in the middle of downloading and from then on refusing to continue the download, reinstalling, launcher not doing anything, reinstalling, changing settings of my PC, spending hours on the internet searching for solutions, finally managing the download which results in the launcher not being able to start the game so I finally abandon the launcher altogether and just start the .exe, FINALLY make it in the game, want to costumize my character but realize the payment issue from 4 years ago has STILL not been fixed (which is maybe why tech support never replied until today..) and upon closing the game (because I have some stuff to do) recieve an error, and from then on the launcher always interferes, telling me the game is already running, EVEN AFTER DEINSTALLING THE GAME. Trying to find an official solution, I search the official homepage and their help section, where I soon realize half of the links are broken and lead nowhere.

    But hey, at least I can play without bothering with the launcher! Oh wait, I can’t, because from the 16th this month onwards, Mabinogi can ONLY be started from the launcher 😀
    Because taking workarounds away without providing solutions to the problems the workarounds were made for is appearently a good idea.

    I fully realize somewhere along the way this devolved into a Nexon rant. But that’s because the poor programming and non-existent support are my main reasons for not playing anymore. Broken ingame balance absolutely sucks, but at least you can mix up the gameplay yourself, actively stay away from maxing every skill (or using certain ones), not use titles, etc. Or, at worst, focus on the social aspect.

    But if the game is unplayable and you have no means of fixing it and that’s the entire experience over a span of many years, you can’t even have that :/

    Like

    • Steven Williams March 3, 2017 / 7:52 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story!

      I think all Mabinogi rants delve into Nexon rants, and that’s because both problems are synonymous. Nexon NA isn’t capable of forwarding player feedback, providing quality live support, or working on QA in-house. They have to rely on DevCat, a Nexon-managed studio that has changed directors numerous times, every new director lacking any means of hindsight about what made Mabinogi good in the first place. This reflects on this game’s content and service.

      The bard update recently came out, and they added a cool dungeon people can do before the rewards are inevitably disincentivized by gachapons. It doesn’t fix anything, it just adds more to the outdated engine. Pressing the “C” button is beginning to lag as hard as opening the chat log by pressing “L” now, because the character menu is loading too many tabs full of too much badly-optimized, literally lag-inducing font text that has plagued this game for years.

      And people wonder why modding is so rampant.

      I’m sorry you had to go through such a frustrating time. 🙂 Thanks for commenting on my blog! I should get to adding to it. It’s been a year since I posted. Holy crap!

      Like

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