Friday, July 14, 2017

Ruminations of an INTJ Pt II: Memories of Maple

Part 1: Nostalgia
Part 2: Purpose & Self Esteem (Background)
Part 3: Pre-Foot Times (More Background)
Part 4: Boss Squad
Part 5: Game Mechanics: Class Balancing
Part 6: Economy and the Black Market
Part 7: Reboot
Part 8: Maplestory Statistics
Part 9: Grinding & Competition
Part 10: Carry Culture
Part 11: Bossing
Part 12: Nexon's Failures
Part 13: Livestreaming & Public Shaming
Part 14: Guild Dynamics
Part 15: Enemies
Part 16: Guild Dynamics II
Part 17: Post Reboot
Part 18: The End

Note: Opening a picture in a new tab allows you to view a picture more closely.

Part 1: Nostalgia

Even as a person that has spent time down memory lane, I understand that reading about other people's nostalgia is boring. Nostalgia is a deeply personal thing. It’s about who a person was… what it felt like, the music, smell, environment, thoughts, conflicts… And I know being nostalgia over video games isn’t a unique thing. On occasion I’ve browsed for tracks for Runescape on Youtube and the comments are full of people reminiscing about the past.

 ‘My childhood’s home I see again,
And saddened with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There is pleasure in it too.’

That is how Abraham Lincoln’s poem began and is one of my favorite stanzas as far as poems go. The video on nostalgia by Vsauce is great here. In 1688 Johannes Hofer coined the term ‘nostalgia’ by combined the Greek words nostos (returning home) and algos (pain). It was originally seen as a quite serious medical condition, affecting soldiers who missed home so much they broke down and were unable to fulfill their duties. The only cure as Hoffer saw it was to return to their home..

If you take the Memory Retrieval Curve as mentioned in Vsauce’s video to heart, people tend to remember memories encoded during later childhood to early adulthood. This is the time period where people form their self-identifies. Because we want our continuous identities to be positive, we tend to be nostalgic for positive things. This leads people to remember the past as better than it actually was… or to ‘view the world with rose-tinted glasses’ as I like to call it.

I’ve said multiple times in the past that the human brain when it comes to memory is like a hard drive with data integrity issues. In some ways it’s actually worse, because the brain often fills in details when recalling them whereas a corrupted file on a hard drive just throws up an error. Like worsening eyesight, degrading memories happen gradually. This makes the problem worse than many people give it credit for. I have not been as good as I should have when it comes to writing down what happened in the past. For sure I have forgotten so many jokes and failures and friends and enemies from the old days of Runescape. It’s gotten so bad, it’s getting difficult to be nostalgic about a past I no longer remember. If only there was a way to visit the past like the pensieve from Harry Potter!

Some say to know who you are you have to know where you came from. How have past events changed you as a person? After forgetting details of my past it feels like I am cruising along in my life without being entirely sure where I came from or where I am going. The time I spent that did not directly contribute to my career or intellect I might have had fun… People say that time one enjoyed wasting wasn’t wasting, but what if I have a hard time remembering now that I had enjoyment?

Part 2: Purpose & Self Esteem (Background)

Many people are looking for a purpose to their life. Without a purpose, things can slide uncomfortably towards nihilism. For me that problem was easily solved: The purpose is to be very good at something. When I was in 6th grade we had a chart for how many books we read and passed a test for. So, I read a single 250 paged book a day, day after day.

Some say life is in some ways the ultimate game. It's a very complicated game. Actions today may have unknown effects far into the future. In a MMORPG getting more money typically has a direct, measurable, and reliable increase in stats. And instead of working hard and hopefully getting a good job and having it all over a decade later, in a MMORPG it's possible to be at the top of the food chain in months or years at most. I think this makes MMORPGs appealing to people who feel like life is out of their control. In their world of the video game they are in control. They can live a second life where their accomplishments mean something and others can recognize that fact.

While that might sound sad, I can present a better case for MMORPGs. This is something I don't think the older generations understand. These damn kids, they are spending all of their time at their computers! They need to go out and play! ...Of course, there are advantages to going outside and having some exercise, for example. Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted. Some level of bonding in a game and the wonder of exploring a game can help make a childhood. The particular game that is triggering the nostalgia differs, especially from generation to generation, but it's real. I still remember walking to school one morning to my elementary school, humming the main theme to Runescape. Many people say that Runescape is not what it used to be, pointing to bad updates that ruined the game. But the truth is even if Runescape took a time machine and traveled back in time 10 years, it still wouldn't be the same for us because we have changed.

Most people have a childhood they remember with fond memories. Maybe life wasn't perfect back then, but we want to keep our rose tinted glasses on for a while. When I talk about my past I know it's something other people don't care about, and I don't expect them to. Do you ever associate some piece of music with a period of time in your life? Usually it happens because it's a new song I'm listening to and I play it a lot. Whenever I play the first few lines of The Truth by Tristam I remember when I first started giving out carries at Hard Hilla.


After I quit Runescape to study for college and I couldn’t get my head into college, things got weird. For once in my life there wasn’t a central obsession which all other things go around to accommodate. Waking up with the idea of just doing whatever struck my fancy that day was a strange feeling.  Over time, I pass the time by wandering from project to project… from religion to audio to computers. It keeps me preoccupied. I have a reason to live because there are projects to do and different hobbies to pursue.

My time in Runescape started at 5th grade and ended after high school. While it was the dominant game in terms of hours spent, my memory of those times is compromised. This time I’d like to talk more about Maplestory. My time in Maplestory started at 7th or 8th grade, and ended in a year. Then, it began a year after high school for a year (2012-2013), another half a year (2014-2015), and finally yet another half a year (2016).

In middle school my self-esteem was at the lowest it ever got in my life. I wore the same clothes every day and some kids were nasty about that fact. Some people are just mean. They would attack me for what seemed like no reason at all. It was a time when hormones were going insane, so I was very irritable and horny all of the time. It was probably the lowest point in my life for my self esteem. I just wanted to get through any given day of middle school without screwing up and getting laughed at. I couldn't approach any girl I liked. It just wasn't in the cards. Objectively perhaps my life wasn’t that bad, but subjectively it was pretty terrible.

On Maplestory I met a girl I had a lot of fun playing the game with. One day she told me that she liked me more than her boyfriend. Eventually I went to visit my father in Taiwan for a month and failed to tell her for some reason. I wanted to log back on at Taiwan to tell her why I went missing but Maplestory was split into regions and I couldn’t log onto North American Maplestory in Taiwan. When I came back to America, she was gone. That brief period of time showed me that I wasn’t terrible and infinitely uncharismatic. It’s possible for a normal person to like me (or in that case, my personality since she never saw my face). I don’t know what happened to her and whether she thought about me at all once I went missing. It’s very likely she has forgotten me. Sometimes people make a small gesture to you at the right time and it has a lasting effect. I never managed to contact her again, and at this point I’m not even sure I remembered her username correctly anymore. She is among the graveyard that is my friend list on Maplestory. Listening to ‘Missing You’ (Ellinia Slime Tree) reminds me of her.

While I seem to be a little more resilient to depression and loneliness than than the average person, I cannot pretend to be the model INTJ and say I'm a perfectly logical machine. Logic gets you far in life but emotion makes it worth living. Finding something I was good at with a guild of people to boot fit a hole in my life. I wouldn't exaggerate and say we were a family, but it was still something, and something I would understand better myself if my memory was better. It's still a bit weird as a guy to talk about feelings, but sometimes things are important enough such that awkwardness should be ignored.

I don't have many friends left and what few I have left it is often getting harder to relate to them and talk to them. Most of them were spread out over California, with no way to reach them by car. (You're reading about a guy that drove off the map - LITERALLY - in less than a 30 minute drive to his friend's uncle's house. Road trips are not a thing in my world.)

It's possible to not know what one is missing. It's possible to have a vague feeling (or even lack of feeling since the entire problem slips by unnoticed) that life is not quite perfect, that there is something missing.

I go on Facebook and I see people complain about their emotional problems and they all seem to get attention, but communicating everything in this blog post... I would not get any attention at all.

Part 3: Pre-Foot Times (More Background)

After middle school I didn’t go back to Maplestory until a bit after high school. The game has changed dramatically since then and achieving maximum level (200) became much easier. At this point I was still strapped for real life cash so I never went crazy with buying in game currency. I do recall training in a ridiculous 48-hour grind fest, where I went from level 120-198. (There was double experience day for two entire days, which was unprecedented… so I responded in kind with an unprecedented training spree.) I met people like Lyoriex and Ciciz. I remember trolling Lyoriex in her Skype call by never saying anything with my microphone on so she can only hear me type. When she was about to leave I’d say ‘She’s leaving? I guess there’s no point in talking anymore’ and she would hop right back to her computer and stay there. I still remember being Buns Taiwan and low key flirting.

The other person is Ciciz. I actually met her when I stepped into a general store in the game during Miracle Time. In Maplestory most of people’s strength relies on their gear instead of their level, and to improve armor the best way of doing that is to “cube” it. That means using a cube from the cash shop to reset the potential of an item. A potential is a set of bonuses a piece of gear gives. You want all 3 possible lines of bonuses to be the best possible, but the chance is astronomically low. The cash shop is a place where players can spend a currency called “NX” to buy items, some of which are cosmetic. There is also a megaphone that allows the player to speak to the entire server one time. NX is purchased with real life currency (USD, etc). Miracle Time is a rare event where the chance of tier up and getting offered a better set of equipment effects is doubled.

Ciciz had a bigger guild (named Rhetoric) than Lyoriex and was a very high level player herself, far beyond me at the time. What appealed to me about her wasn’t her status though, it was her personality. She was among the kindest person I have ever interacted with. When I stepped into a general store one day during Miracle Time. I chatted with her about Miracle Time and she offered to use a special scroll that would tier up my gear for free. I decided to take a leap of faith and gave her my item. (The only way for her to use the scroll is to have the item in her inventory, so I had to give it to her.) Of course, she gave it back and the scroll succeeded. Imagine just handing out free stuff to people randomly just because you are nice. This is somebody who, after complaining about being defamed by somebody, sent me 330 million mesos worth of envelopes to bring my fame back and then some. (Fame is a value that can be increased or decreased by other player. De-faming players is a way to troll others.) She would call me her dodo bird. Somebody even wrote a poem about Ciciz. Unfortunately I lost the screenshot.

In the end, Ciciz vanished and the guild fell apart. Later on I found out that she got hacked. Somebody went around hacking people to sell their items for real life cash. Some people are just bad people. They will lie and cheat and steal. Sometimes they ruin the lives of people you know.
It was in this time period that I experimented with hacking, although not hacking as in compromising other people’s accounts. I paid for a tool that allowed me to manipulate monsters on the map and automate the training process. Eventually I got banned and started a new account. I went clean since then.

Finally, I also met a girl who ended up liking me. Being quite young, she got really excited when it turns out we lived near her and I was driving to her to hang out. We had a mutual friend chatting with us, when she asked me if I have a girlfriend. After saying I didn’t, she said I should since lots of girls like me. My natural response was ‘how would you know?’, to which our mutual friend replied, ‘She likes you, you silly. She says lots of girls like you because she’s one of them’. That logic blew my mind. Anyways, being young, she got over me after about 3 months. But it was an interesting experience.

Part 4: Boss Squad

This was when I really got serious about being strong. I first joined Foot. I still remember my ill-fated Gollux boss run with Specialest. Gollux was one of the few bosses in the game that took away player XP when dying, so dying over and over again at a higher level means losing a lot of time. I lost all of my lives and said I would never do Gollux again. Of course, I did eventually do Gollux again. Foot was run by a guy named Danny. My own dealings with him haven’t been terrible, but he was always an odd one in my book. He asked me to join out of the blue, but requires people who ask to join to submit to an interview. What he could hope to learn from such an interview is mostly beyond me… especially since I was simply let in. At that time I was not well-known or remarkable in any way. It seemed like a dumb and contradictory way of trying to make a guild more exclusive.
Also in the guild was Mort1ca, WALKEDya, Hankduals, and SauceyKaiser. That was us: The Six. We went out killing bosses together and having fun. Hankduals and WALKEDya in particular had a great sense of humor. Eventually Danny wanted to have a new guild HQ, which basically was a place guild members would AFK at. Sometimes a person is out doing something in real life, like sleeping or going to the store; they can park their character along with others somewhere. I really like Sleepywood, so I voted Sleepywood. I made an offhand joke about paying people to vote for Sleepywood as the guild HQ, which I guess Danny thought meant I might actually go and do it. When I got back home from work, it turns out most of my friends have left Foot thinking Danny threw out the vote over totally baseless accusations of voter fraud. It was a real stretch to think I would actually cheat, and throwing out the vote before talking to me was the wrong move. Still, the accusation wasn’t conjured out of thin air. Apparently Danny had sufficiently annoyed or creeped out my friends and this was the last straw.

We all left for a guild WALKEDya’s friend made. His name is Kenny and he liked to make really anti-PC jokes. The guild had basically himself in it, but now it housed us and some of our friends we poached from Foot. It was very nice to have a guild of just friends. We were GUILDLESS (odd choice for a guild name).

Nothing is every perfect, and while things were good people get used to the good and take the good for granted. I’m no exception. I remember getting quite annoyed and Mort1ca. The problem is that the game revolves around daily cycles and resets at a certain time of day (at the time it was 12am PST). Boss kills and daily activities often reset during this time. That means whatever I wanted to get done needed to get done before the reset. I was doing some event and got very annoyed because Mor1ca was suggesting an inefficient and flawed way of getting things done. Part of it was due to lack of knowledge, knowledge I actually didn’t have at the time. There were a set of maps that looked the same before and after a given quest, but are actually technically different maps with stronger versions of the same monsters. This made it impossible to meet up with Mor1ca to get the event done on time. So, I ragequitted on my own to try to get it done and failed. I want to get things done efficiently when I am short on time and have to go to work the entire day the next day. That’s what gets me impatient.

Then there’s the grinding aspect. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the strength of a player depends mostly on their gear instead of their level. Gear is mostly improved by spending real life money while training still involved old fashion grinding at a map and killing monsters. So, what I spend most of my time doing in the game was training even though it affected my damage much less than my gear. Often music reminds me of a certain time period, and I still remember the songs associate with this time period… I had a Final Fantasy 13-2 music playing often, along with ‘Waiting All Night’. Tracks like Ronald Jenkee’s Piano Wire remind me of striving for the best.  Polish Girl reminded me of earlier times at Foot, Animals by Martin Garrix was played during bosses. Oh, can’t forget Final Fantasy 14’s Footsteps in the Snow which I was in love with at the time. Finally, there was Cloudlight. To pass the time I listened to random Youtube videos, including music.

I cannot fail to mention one of the biggest issues of that time though: Money. Spending real life money was what made me by far the strongest player out of all of my friends. This led to imbalances: Instead of working together, I was carrying everything.

Farming all day long I started asking myself sometimes, 'well, what is the point?'. My brain slides a bit towards the nihilistic abyss. I remember bringing this up back when Christii still played. It reminds me of when I spent $4000 or so in Bera. I was playing Dearly Beloved on Youtube and doing the jump quest for the tiger title. What am I doing? I was supposed to study and do something great. Then one thing led to the next, and I'm spending significant amounts of money playing this video game. And it's all temporary. That was the epiphany I had, which caused everything to crash downwards.

People don’t want to play the piano well. They like the idea of playing the piano well. If they truly wanted to play the piano, they would have already practiced and gotten good at it. When a person sees a person playing with skill what they don’t see are the hours of practice that went on behind the scenes. The same can be said about being strong in a MMORPG. We are talking about games where stats matter more than skill and perseverance is constantly rewarded. Either a person wants it badly enough or they don’t.

It gets annoying to get a compliment and slowly realize that the person just gives out compliments too often. Then I realize what I got wasn't worth anything, and I wasted my time thinking about the whole thing.

It's nice to get compliments, but there's a cost associated with it. Obviously it costs a lot of time or money to maintain a high standard that makes it worth of a compliment in the first place. The suffering mostly takes place out of sight and out of mind. But to get compliments itself is to give me a certain type of burden as well. It makes me expect compliments, and the lack of compliments starts to become disappointing. The high is not high anymore, it's normal. One can accuse me of living too much for others instead of myself at this point.

It's not a good feeling for people praising you to catch up more and more, until they no longer need you. When I give carries (kill a boss for somebody else to help them) I know I am accelerating that process, but I won't that sort of toxic competition deny others what I wished other gave to me. Being sensitive, jealous, and uptight about other people and how they are doing in the game makes me a worse person to be around and that's not good.

Everything in moderation. The end goal is to be happy in life. How do we maximize happiness and minimize suffering?

The main problem with Maplestory is that it is incredibly pay to win. This means that spending real life money was a far better way of getting stronger than playing the game to the point where it becomes like comparing who has spent more money. There are stories of Koreans spending over $50,000 on the game.

I recall talking to Kenny about spending so much money on the game. I bought Mesos because it’s what I want right? So no problem, it’s what makes me happy. Well, is it really? It’s possible to do things that aren’t healthy to oneself. It’s possible to do things that are nice in the short run but terrible in the long run. It’s also possible to do things despite knowing it’s not the right choice to begin with. Or to misevaluate what brings about happiness. Does having it all in Maplestory really bring about happiness? I was working extra shifts at work to supplement my cash since all of it went to Maplestory. Was this what I wanted? I think I got what I asked for but not what I truly wanted.
In the end I bid everyone farewell. Enough was enough. I went and sold my gear.

When I log back to Bera in Maplestory I can barely stand it. GUILDLESS and my friend list are graveyards. Then I log back out.

Part 5: Game Mechanics: Class Balancing

Maplestory is a game that requires the player to pick a class, and that class affects everything the person does. The way a class plays, how strong the player ends up being, and the equipment all vary from class to class. Maplestory has A LOT of classes and Nexon is not very good at balancing the game. This is very problematic. If Nexon leaves everything alone, there will be classes nobody ever plays. Not only is that a joke, a lot of the content Nexon works on would be neglected and the time spent would be wasted. If Nexon attempts to balance classes, it upsets the status quo and upsets everybody affected by a change.

There two ways of making a class more relevant. The first is to buff a class so it is stronger in some way. This can be from something like utility to others. Being able to buff other players so they are stronger in a party makes an otherwise lackluster class useful. A popular buff is Holy Symbol, which increases XP gained by 50%. People used to pay for ‘HS’ service, where a Bishop enters a party just to buff the entire party with HS and gets paid for it. There were dedicated spots in training parties for a Bishop for the sought after HS buff. Another type of utility apart from buffing would be debuffing the enemy. The primary example of this are called ‘binds’. They are abilities that freeze a boss, rendering it unable to attack for several seconds. In some situations, those several seconds can be decisive.

The other way to buff a class is to simply make it stronger somehow. Or, Nexon could debuff every other class instead.

If class A gets buffed, then my class gets weaker compared to class A. However, I can take some comfort in the fact that the same problem occurs for class B, C, D, and E. Those guys are hit too because they are weaker compared to class A. The only guys that can upset the old balance are the guys in class A, so they are still a minority. Then, it just means a buff to A means a smaller nerf to all other classes.

If my class gets nerfed then all other classes are stronger relative to me. Whereas in the first scenario I am in the majority who gets screwed by class A and I am still competitive with most people, now I am simply worse off than I had been compared to anybody else. Therefore, it means a nerf to my class is a buff to everyone else. It also means that the first situation is bad but not nearly as bad as the second situation.

Most people just want buffs and don't think about how changing the game constantly or rampant buffing could negatively affect their standing. In some MMORPGs players are buffed too much to the point where it is obnoxious.  It leads to rampant inflation. Any progress made today is worth less tomorrow and even less the day after that. If I have to think about situations in the past, I have to recall the time period it took place or I wouldn't have a grasp on just how momentous the occasion was. If everybody is strong then nobody is strong. Seeing higher lines of damage might give a cheap rush, but at the end of the day it just means the boss one is now able to overcome is worth less.

In Maplestory it is one of the worst I've seen. I was tired of seeing damage inflation producing numbers so large, my brain could not keep track of all the digits. It became like knowing the age of the universe. The number is so large, it just becomes numbers and my brain can't compare them with ease.

The constant pressure of maintaining my lead by acquiring more and more wealth along with an ever-changing game with new mechanics and bosses got worse with every character constantly shuffling around and changing relative to each other. In a MMORPG if my class was nerfed, I could not change classes. It meant I simply had to take it. It is unsettling to know that anything could happen next year and if I want a change I have to drop everything I've worked for to start anew, and of course even that has no guarantees. I prayed just to get the status quo. Don't even buff me, just don't screw me over.

When Kaisers got nerfed in Maplestory with their combo system essentially destroyed it wasn't just a significant nerf. It removed a game mechanic that changed the way I had to play the game. It did this by drastically slowing down my ability to transform (which was one of the main highlights of the class) and my way of dodging. It didn’t just nerf Kaiser’s strength, it nerfed its fun.
It is true that the most balanced class system would objectively be the most boring class system. That’s the only way to be sure something is perfectly balanced. But once a class is over double the damage output of another class doing the same exact type of things, something is seriously wrong with the game. Having this class system makes gameplay more interesting and introduces many new play styles a person may identify with, but there are drawbacks to this approach too.
Risk aversion is the tendency to avoid risk. A person might turn down a fair bet simply because the person would rather prevent losses. Losing $5 might feel more bad than it feels good to earn $5. It is an idea used in economics and finance. I see it as the tendency to want the status quo.

Part 6: Economy and the Black Market

The problem with Maplestory’s economy is inflation due to hackers. 1 billion Mesos costs only $2.50 on the black market today. Money is generated by selling loot to NPCs or picking up Mesos directly from monster drops. No legitimate player on any non-Reboot server can ever hope to make 1 billion Mesos from this method. More on Reboot in a bit. The value of game currency on the black market tells us the state of inflation in the game. If money is cheap that means, it’s easy to obtain a lot of it and vice versa.

Maplestory is not like Runescape, where there are many skills to train and intermediate goods along the way. For example, in Runescape a log is cut with an axe, then fletched into a bow. Somebody else picks up flax and strings it into a bow string and sells it to the fletcher. The fletcher then assembles the bow, then gets more wood, fletches arrow shafts from the logs, and buys arrow tips from a smith who has to mine the ore and smelt the ore and then finally smith it into tips. Instead in Maplestory two things are traded: gear of varying qualities and NX. Let’s go over both.
One of the interesting parts of Maplestory is the way the equipment system is set up. For example, with a weapon we have the stats of the sword which gives say, +50 strength and +100 attack. Do you know how much strength a single point of attack is worth? There is a formula for that. Then there’s the matter of set effects. Sometimes wearing multiple bits of gear in a set gives varying amounts of bonuses and more than one set effect would often be in effect on a player at any time. Then there’s scrolling. You use a scroll on a weapon and it has a set change to succeed. Fail, and some scrolls destroy the item.  Otherwise, the use up a slot. If a slot was used up due to a failure it can be remedied with a clean slate scroll which costs a significant amount of cash. Different scrolls fetch different prices and have different effects.  Scrolling can even be done via traces, but I won’t get into that. Once scrolling is done a person might enhance the weapon, which involves paying a sum of cash for a set change of success, with higher bonuses and expenses as you move up. As you move up close to the maximum, the price goes up drastically and a chance of item destruction is added. Then there are souls, which charge up to give the player various effects or attacks. And finally, there are potentials. You can have up to 3 lines of potential, and there is a set of possible potentials for a given tier of potential, each with a beneficial effect. Potential can be rerolled via cubes which generally have to be bought with NX with real life money. Each time a potential is rerolled there is a chance to increase the tier, with Miracle Time doubling the chance. And then there’s bonus potential, which are basically 3 extra lines of potential with inferior bonuses. Suffice to say, gear can be of vastly different qualities. A red cape can be worth so much more than another red cape of the same kind based on the improvements the cape went through.

There are NX. NX can mean the currency in the game shop to buy things which come from real life money or the cosmetic outfits from that shop. People buy NX and offer to sell it to players for mesos. What we end up with is a hyper-inflated currency that dictates the value of NX which in turn affects everything in the game. The main source of gear improvement comes from cubes which primarily come from the cash shop which can only be purchased via NX. Even if you sidestep NX and try to buy a piece of gear with mesos you can only afford the inflated asking price because everything was inflated to begin with and your money came from a person hacking. Buying NX outfits and selling them for mesos is technically legal, yet buying gear or Mesos with cash is technically illegal; but in this topsy turvy world of pay to win madness, I don’t think any of those 3 are worse than the other 2.
During the time with Foot I spent $5000 on the game. It was absolutely insane. If it’s more efficient to buy cash than to work for it, then it just makes sense to work for real life money to buy Mesos. But that leads down a slippery slope of buying more Mesos than one has made and just getting sucked dry. And since this is the black market, not everything is on the up and up. If a person is a scammer, too bad. However, I am happy to say that I have not been scammed in my time on Bera server with Foot. I have bought and sold most of my gear without a hitch. I did not scam others and others did not scam me.

The black market is a revolving door between the eager noobs walking to try to get good and the disillusioned veterans walking out after they realized being the best wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. We know how money is in real life; strive to earn 50k, achieve the goal, then your goal just shifts to 100k. It’s like trying to solve a problem that never ends. You will never be happy this way. While caring about getting better at the game was the impetus to play and enjoy the game in the first place, too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. There’s a real price to pay for being at the top of the game which most people don’t understand. This is why I recommended others to enjoy their time and not be overly envious of my position.

Part 7: Reboot

April 31st – October 2016
Going chronologically, we finally have Reboot. Reboot is a server propped up sometime late 2015. Maplestory is separated into servers. A person can create characters in different servers but barring exceptions they cannot ever meet. It’s generally the same game across different servers but with varying population and economies. Channels on the other hand are different instances of a server which players of that server can change. Channel  1 is always the most populated channel. If a person is walking along and their favorite training spot is taken they can “cc” or “change channels” to find one where that spot is empty. I used to be in Bera only, which for a long time was the second most populous server. Reboot is a very different server and plays be unique rules.

The biggest difference is the lack of free trade. The iconic free market with player owned shops are no longer a thing. Without an effective way of trading goods people have to rely on their providing for their own equipment. Real world trading where a person sends some money via Paypal and the other person meets you at some random free market channel to hand you billions of mesos.

There are other changes. For example, training in Reboot is easier because the monsters give more experience. Getting good gear is already hard to get since a person has to make the gear themselves, but also because bonus potential and scrolling has been removed entirely. Instead of spending real life money on cubes to cube equipment or gear through the black market, the typical way of improving one’s “range” or damage, is by killing monsters over and over, picking up their money, and spending it on cubes instead. Yes, in Reboot cubes are bought with in game currency instead of real life money. Cosmetics still all require NX instead of mesos, but Nexon has to keep the lights on somehow.

The point is, Reboot is not a pay to win server. You are not supposed to be able to walk in, spend $10,000, and all of a sudden become super strong. This, along with my friend Mark deciding to play on Reboot, are the reasons why I came back to Maplestory.

Mark is a real life friend and we have had a hard time getting back together. It’s worse now that he’s a hundred of miles away. We no longer play Runescape and him deciding to play Reboot was a good way to get back into the groove again.

At first we made matching characters. We both played the new Kinesis class, and I was named Gamsky while he was named Ivanchuk. They are names of chess grandmasters. Kinesis' secondary weapon is a chess piece, so we thought it was fitting. While Mark later decided to play as a Paladin for support's sake as Asuramaru, I decided to make another Kaiser like the one in Bera. Stockfish is the #1 chess engine in the world, and that engine got its name from the food item stockfish, which is a type of air dried fish.

I decided to buy a bunch of NX boxes one day hoping for Orchid's outfit. Because there is no free trade the only way to get a specific outfit is to open a ton of boxes and hope I get the outfit I want. IN the end I decided to run with whatever I got.

Much later on I decided to go back to a crazy chicken costume for comedic effect and decided to stay with the look. From then on I was Stockfishies the Chicken Kaiser.

Unfortunately this story will not feature Mark because he stopped playing a month in. I specifically requested that he continue playing with me, because he had a track record of leaving me behind in Maplestory to play by myself. I left Bera because I decided Maplestory was not healthy for my mental well-being and if I were to join back then things have to be different this time around.

He left as he told me later, because I was always ahead. Having me carry him is not as fun as working together. In a MMORPG that means we would forever be hobbled by the slowest person in the group. If I was ahead I had to wait until he caught up. Imagine if one of us couldn't play for a week or two. What is the other person going to do? I don't think I'm as crafty and remarkably efficient as Mark said I was when I looked at the change logs and participated in the events that I found gave me the best rewards. It's a matter of simply reading the material and trying what seems promising. Still, there was a gap between us and I was always going to put in more effort than he was willing. Plus, he had other games to play.

We met from playing Runescape. If somebody has only a few hobbies and I can't play the same game with them anymore then I struggle to find a way to fix the situation. I guess I sometimes assume people I get along with have similar hobbies as I do and find similar things interesting, which is not always the case. Today I lack the will to get back into MMORPGs. The constant grinding is too much, and I have other things I would rather do with my time. When I work on Skyrim textures, I am more sure that my work will not go to waste. With MMORPGs like Maplestory, one day it's worth the world, and the next day it's totally irrelevant. This means I can't make myself play some MMORPG Mark wants to play anymore. I know how I treat MMORPGs and the baggage that comes with that. How many times and I going to go in and go out before I say no more?

The question with somebody like Mark, and the problems with people from Bera, are problems I can't find a good solution to. People just scatter and for one reason or the other they just drift away. It makes it seem like no relationship ever lasts and everything ends sooner rather than later.

Part 8: Maplestory Statistics

I try to approach Maplestory in a paint-by-numbers approach. This shouldn’t be surprising given I was a cheerleader for Time Value Cutoff in Runescape as a method of increasing efficiency. There are two main problems I see when it comes to efficiency in Maplestory. The first is the fact that there are many different stats which have a relatively complex relationship with each other and the enemy’s stats, making it unclear to most people what stats are better for what. The second problem has to do with probability and its role in cubing.

I won’t go into the nitty gritty details but I will list some of the things I did look at while figuring out the stats. Different classes use either strength, intelligence, dexterity, or luck as their primary stat. They also have a secondary stat that is worth about a fifth of their primary stat. There are exceptions which is to be expected given the numerous amount of classes in the game. For example, Demon Avengers use health as their main stat and Xenon benefit similarly from any of the 4 basic stats. There is also attack, which is most commonly found on weapons (although some special capes and such can have the stat as well). A single point of attack is always worth more than a single point of a primary stat like str (strength), but the value of one attack relative to points in str is a ratio that depends on how much str and attack one has in total. Lines from potential can give % bonuses. If you have +10% str you can add up all of your strength and add 10% to that result to get your actual amount of str. The same can be said for % attack. The consequence of all this is that these four elements (primary stat, stat %, attack, attack %) are all related and the value of one relative to the other changes as your stats or gear changes.

Then there’s % damage, or %dmg for short. If you were going to do 10 damage, +10% dmg means you will now do 11 damage. The fundamental truth of how % dmg and % attack work is that they are equal if you have the same amounts of both. However, that never pans out in reality as it is far easier to obtain huge amounts of %dmg compared to %atk. If I have +300% dmg and I get another +30% dmg I have +330% dmg, but the actual net increase in damage is actually only 10%. If I had no %dmg to start with and I now have +30% dmg then my net increase in damage is actually 30%.

One has to add up all of the stats of each item they have but also all of the small miscellaneous bonuses like codex, character cards, link skills, class specific passive and active buffs, and buffs from gear (active skills granted from a few select lines of potential). There is an ability in Reboot all players have that increases a person's %dmg by 1% for every 2 levels gained. At level 220 that means +110% dmg alone from this ability. This causes %atk to be far more valuable than %dmg.

Then there’s critical damage. When I was playing critical damage was split between 3 factors: critical chance, minimum critical damage, and maximum critical damage. Critical chance is just the change of triggering critical damage. Take the average of minimum and maximum critical damage to find average critical damage. Then to figure out the value of +10% critical damage or chance you can simply do some basic math.

There’s also enemy damage reduction and ignore enemy reduction. Here the terminology is a little confusing. PDR stands for ‘physical damage reduction’, but since generally bosses have the same physical or magical damage reduction PDR really just means PDR + MDR or simply ‘DR’ for damage reduction. The problem with calling it DR is that DR is already used as an abbreviation for ‘damage reflection’. Even more confusingly, ‘physical damage reduction’ really means ‘ignore enemy physical damage reduction’ colloquially, even though it makes no sense. The true name for ignoring enemy defense is IED. PDR really means what it its words stands for contrary to the loose language some people use. If I will do 100 damage and the enemy has 50% PDR, then I will do 50 damage. However, IED allows me to ignore some of the enemy PDR. If I have 50% IED and would normally do 100 damage but the enemy has 50% PDR I will do 75 damage. The higher leveled bosses all assume the player has ample IED since they have above 100% PDR. So if I had no IED I would always do 1 damage.

To add to the complexity, IED is described as a percentage but lines of IED bonuses do not combine additively. There is actually a formula for calculating ending IED. It is better to have 1 bonus of 30% IED rather than 2 bonuses of 15% IED. Because IED is often a line for potential and there are only so many lines of potential each piece of equipment can have and there is a limit to the amount of equipment a player can wear, IED has an opportunity cost. If we know that the maximum line of IED bonus is 45% and that the maximum line for %atk is 21%, the question then becomes whether 45% IED is better or 21% atk. The player has to take into account how IED bonuses add up or ‘stack’ and the PDR of the boss in question. I prefer to assume the worst case which all of the toughest bosses have, which is around 300% PDR. Believe it or not there are other stats to consider and things to calculate but I have covered the most important bits here.

And finally there’s probability. Probability’s a funny thing. I believe statistics as a field of study is a relatively new field, which just shows us how unintuitive it is to the human mind. Casinos exploit this fact for their gain. Serious statistics is arcane, but one doesn’t need a major in statistics to see that it is a valid field and use basic concepts to make decisions.

When cubing in an attempt to tier up the potential level to get access to a better pool of effects there are two main cubes people use. There is the red cube and the black cube. The black cube costs more but has a higher rate of tiering up along with the ability to pick to keep the old potential. To be more clear about how the tiering process works: Using a cube on an item with rare (most basic potential level) will reset its potential to some random lines of effects. Every time it is reset there is a chance the item will go up a tier. In other words, if my goal is to reach legendary tier and I have the funds to see it through I don’t really care if I get a cool rare or epic or unique potential. It will be lost as soon as I try to tier up again. It’s very possible for a particular rare potential to beat an epic one. For example: If I am a warrior and I use str and I get %str effect on rare potential due to sheer luck and I get %int from epic tier then the rare effect is better for damage. But the maximum bonuses of rare is very low so I should only stick with the better effect with the lower potential tier if I am afraid I don’t have the money to tier up and get something decent. So anybody well prepared for an extended cubing session should have the funds to hit legendary, which means the ability for a black cube to allow the player to stay with the old potential is useless.

And I’d argue even with legendary potential using black cubes is dumb. Part of the appeal of black cubes is its higher rate of tiering up. If we’re at max tier, there’s no benefit there. Yes, if I get a really good roll for my legendary tier I might be tempted to play it safe with black cubes and keep using black cubes and reverting back to the old potential until something better comes along. But that has a cost. A black cube costs almost double of a red cube. By choosing to play it safe a person is deciding to almost halve their chances of getting anything better. In the long run a better effect will always come. It’s just a matter of having enough funds lined up to minimize risk.

Then there’s a bonus argument: Black cubes grant a higher chance to get better lines. Note the distinction between better lines and a higher chance of tier up. In the grand scheme of things tiering up a minor part of a top player’s Maplestory career. Once a person tiers everything to legendary tiering no longer matters. But chasing the best lines possible at legendary tier is a never-ending quest. I was very skeptical of this claim about better lines from black cubes. The evidence I was given was anecdotal. The plural of anecdote is not data. I have not gone back to look at the latest testing however.

Pages and pages of calculations... Maybe some of it was trash, but in the end I had to think about the game objectively with numbers.

At any rate, my main frustration is with people’s tendency for superstition and self-deception. People tend to think their experiences are far more important than they really are. If I know a hard drive has a failure rate of 1% and I get hard drive that is dead out of the box, I would not recommend it to others. Yet if other hard drives have similar or higher failure rates it would irrational to do so. I would have to get many dead hard drives out of the box in order for me to contact the manufacturer about a possible defective batch. Even then that is not enough sample size to change the failure statistic. So when people say they get “lucky” with red cubes or black cubes they are simply telling me their experiences instead of rigorous data. It’s easy to remember the hits and ignore the misses when one has a bias and poor data is not data at all. As I said: The plural of anecdote is not data.

The solution to stupid ideas like lucky cubing spots or some cubes being lucky is to use many cubes and log the results. Lenria, Christii, and I decided to combine our data and form a Google spreadsheet. We counted every single cube we used. In the event of Miracle Time where the chance of tier up is doubled each cube that did not tier up was counted as two, and each that did tier up was counted as 1.5. A cube that tiered up in Miracle Time might have tiered up with 2 cubes normally or just 1. The average is 1.5. We managed to get several thousand cubes and managed a decent sample size. Combined with data from Reddit we have figured out that for the purposes of tiering up red and blacks are similar enough.

The other bit when it comes to probability is starring of Tyrants. Normally enhancing a piece of armor is relatively cheap and brings with it relatively little gain. Tyrants follow their own unique path, with each stage of enhancement far costlier and harder to obtain. The benefit is the unique attack bonuses of each enhancement. Enhancing Tyrants is very expensive in Reboot. Going to 10 stars (stage 10) is a very difficult thing to achieve. The chance of destruction is quite high. While the benefits for each star is the same for each Tyrant item, different Tyrant items can be easier or harder to obtain relative to other Tyrants. The order from easiest to hardest to obtain is Cape -> Boots -> Belt -> Gloves. Not only is the cost high in mesos, it is costly in terms of gear. The chance for a Tyrant piece to be destroyed goes up with each star past 5.

A person can try to measure the typical cost per range improvement with this chart. This type of analysis makes much more sense for starring capes because they are easily replaceable.

The many facets to gear improvement (potential, scrolling, enhancing, souls, sets) and other types of character improvement (traits, character cards, link skills, codex) really appealed to me. The best gear for a given task was relatively simple in Runescape but not as much in Maplestory. The ability to fine tune equipment along with anviling an item to look like something else really gave each piece of gear its own unique flair. Something like link skills involves training other characters of different classes to certain levels, which helps introduce the many classes to the player and discover new ways of playing the game. It is also an opportunity to train with friends who otherwise would not be training with you, since high level training today is a very solo affair.

One more example I point to to demonstrate the objective and efficiency orientated way I looked at the game is what I called 'the pen method' when farming. As a Phantom, there is a cycle that is optimal for profit. Money has to be collected from the ground within 2 minutes of it showing up or it will disappear and the platter and illusion attacks stay in place with different timers. This means I would replace only illusion for 2 runs, and on the third replace both platter and illusion while gathering money on the way. I had to know which part of the cycle I was in. In order to do this, I placed a pen on my desk. Every time I had to move around again I checked the position of my pen and rotated it one more time clockwise. The direction the pen points lets me know exactly which part of the cycle I was on.

Part 9: Grinding & Competition

Then there’s the grinding. There is no way to be at the top of your game without farming no matter what you do. Even if you hack for money you will be caught... eventually. Farming at NH (Northern Heights) was the best source of money. It’s one of those maps that KMS (Korean Maplestory) did not have which dropped a lot of mesos. (Maplestory is Korean and they get the updates before we do, although there is regional exclusive content.) Let’s quickly run some numbers here. The average amount of mesos to reach legendary tier from rare would be about 1b (1 billion mesos). An hour of effective farming in the era I was playing was about 280m per hour. The rates varied depending on the specific time period we are analyzing but there’s no need to go that much into the weeds. Okay, killing the daily bosses on character nets what, 50-60m at the most? That’s more than 16 days of daily bosses for one legendary tier. And then there are what, 22 items that need to be legendary? That’s just the start, too. Getting to legendary just means getting to the best pool of possible stats, it’s another thing entirely to get something totally awesome after getting legendary tier. That’s 352 days of daily bossing just to get legendary tier on everything. A year for something that should be completed in a month.

First there’s the fact that NH is a single map that can only be farmed effectively by a single person. There are 20 channels in each server, so only 20 people can be farming at maximum capacity at any time in Reboot. Since getting mesos is a more effective way of improving one’s strength than training, people are generally looking to farm. NH maps were hotly contested. Once June, July, August came around things got bad. Maplestory becomes far more crowded during summer time and this was the first summer with Reboot, so Reboot became the most populated server during that period of time. It was very hard to find NH maps that were open. Once a person is able to find one they generally want to stay there for a very long time otherwise the bother of getting the map in the first place wouldn’t be worth it. This forces people into very long and grueling shifts. And during those peak months holding the map still meant dealing with incoming ksers (kill stealers). A map is held if somebody is actively attacking in the map. It’s a social contract more than anything else. People decided that we should form a line at the bank and that the people in front get to go before the people in the back. Whether a person gets to leave the line to use the bathroom and go back to their previous position in line is up to social negotiation. It’s the same here: People have decided that as long as you are fighting in the map you are holding the map and anybody that contests for control of the map is kill stealing, or trying to steal the map from you. Lines get a little blurry when it comes to using the bathroom, meaning your character isn’t attacking but rather standing still. Another grey area is losing connection, and sometimes this is the players fault but can just as easily be Nexon’s fault as the game is not that stable to begin with. Kill stealing is generally not allowed in guilds, but some people try to skirt around that by having their farmer character not be in any guilds so nobody knows who the person is.

Imagine sitting there farming for 12 hour shifts while random people pop up into your map. You don’t know if they will come by and quickly try to change the channel or if they are here to fuck up your day. When they try the latter I always try to fight back. My philosophy is that if nobody gave an inch to people who steal maps then nobody will ever steal maps because it would be less costly to find a map like a normal human being instead of stealing other people’s maps. Sometimes I enlisted the help of others in my guild to try to totally smash the earnings of the person trying to take my map. The response to a kser is to stop kishing the map so the spawns go down and do everything I can to decrease the earnings of the kser. When I have helpers I tell them to never admit out loud that they are getting bored, because that gives the kser hope that people will leave and he will gain control of the map. As a Phantom, I can control the right side with two arrow platters which no legitimate player can defeat due to Arrow Platter being amazing for ksing/kicking out ksers and my ping being very low. The left side is controlled with Arrow Illusion, which is a weak spot.

After summer was over the population in Maple fell but Reboot was still pretty crowded since it remained the most popular server. Then the hackers came in. There was a hacker hacking openly on his main character in some guild. After surviving for a very long period of time I believe others got emboldened. The hacking really started to ramp up. At its worst, half of all channels were taken by hackers in NH. Up until now hackers existed, but they never dared to step foot in NH. Remember, NH is THE farming map in Reboot. It should have been patrolled around the clock by GMs (Maplestory staff). In some cases, it took over 12 hours of nonstop hacking in the hottest map to get caught. It should have been suicide for hackers to step in that area, and the fact that it wasn’t told us that Nexon (once again) was doing a terrible job at managing their own game. Towards the end though the hacking died down a bit at NH and I was actually (finally) able to find a map in NH in the middle of the night usually at my first try once I checked every channel.

Because farming is such a central part of Reboot and NH at the time was the only real map to farm in, people have taken time to try to optimize farming at NH. While nobody went so far as to list the exact procedure to optimize every facet of farming, we did know that there were two main classes that worked for farming: Kanna and Phantom. Because of this, most people made characters just for farming, which is sad because the XP from killing the monsters, while relatively little, add up over time. And before one can properly farm they must have dumped a few billion mesos on drop rate gear.

Anyways: Phantom’s ability to steal some skills of other classes means that they are able to deploy the skills that are important to attacking as much of the map as possible at one time with minimal downtime. So, a phantom would drop an arrow platter up on the upper right, then set down Arrow Illusion on the left entrance, go back down to the bottom right corner and hold the final arrow platter down. The downside to a phantom is that they cannot steal Kanna’s famous kishin ability which increases the amount of spawns and decreases the spawn time. The remedy is to have another computer and account ready to kishin for you.

Now this is a grey area. Logging in with two computers is might not be explicitly illegal but Nexon has taken basic protections to prevent a legitimate player from opening two instances of Maple at one time on a single computer. Still, Nexon has not really pursued people who dual log in on two accounts. It is seen as more legitimate to have two computers and two instances of Maple than to have dual login on a single computer, bypassing Nexon’s protections. There’s also the matter of the actual act of kishin. A person can put a weigh on a space bar to spam kishin automatically, but that is considered macroing and is actually illegal. It’s a hardware macro instead of a software macro like botting.

So, I put together a crappy desktop with a Pentium Anniversary Edition chip, a z97 motherboard, basic ram with my old power supply and case. I got a crappy monitor for $8 from Craigslist and to quickly switch between the two accounts I hooked up my kishin PC with Teamviewer, allowing remote access of the computer so I can quickly change windows and press kishin.

Me building the Kishin PC, racing against the Horntail clock before I got kicked out (for fun) with Eva.

Then there’s the fact that in order to work towards Tyrant Gloves at the time, I had to report for a Kritias Invasion, or just invasion for short. The actual work required in such an invasion is very minor especially for a person like me with loaded drop gear (which improves drop rate of items). Invasions start every 2 hours from I believe 8am to 10pm. If I farm during an invasion I have to leave for it and park my kanna at NH while I go off to do the invasion. Without a kanna there holding a map my map would be lost. As soon as a person pops into my NH map I had to very quickly pretend I am farming in the map. If I farmed in the early morning hours of the day to try to find a map when most people were sleeping, I will end up wanting to go to sleep after a very long shift when invasions are going off every 2 hours. Waking up every 2 hours was extremely taxing on me physically. I had to somehow squeeze in daily activities in with that schedule. Needless to say, all of my other hobbies were put in the back burner.

The boredom was top notch. I was sitting there doing the same thing for 12 hours a day, 2 days a week. Games are supposed to be for fun and I was not having fun. But I could still quickly switch podcasts or reply my favorite farming playlist. I even streamed a farming run and talked to the chat. I could talk to people on Discord. Still, by no means was it easy. A big chunk of life was forfeit to farming and invasions, and that would be the case for the foreseeable future. All of the wealth a person has in real life is irrelevant in Reboot, and that is both the blessing and curse of this server. I came into Reboot thinking that it would be better since I had to farm for mesos and it would prevent me from spending too much money at the onset. But while Bera sucked my money, Reboot sucked my soul and my health. As a person with sleep apnea, I wake up multiple times when I sleep, and those are just the times where I remember waking up. Less severe blockages of breathing kick me to a lighter stage of sleep, still decreasing the efficiency of my sleep. I lost weight and my boss asked me if I was sick. I was sitting for 12 hours at a time. Once I didn’t eat for a bit over 24 hours and after a farming shift it felt SO GOOD just to be able to eat something and drink Gatorade.

In Bera people were in awe and wanted to get on my level but I tell them to just enjoy the game, hoping they would lose the damage race but win happiness. There’s a toxic part of my personality that forced me to try to constantly up my game and chase higher and higher damage. I just couldn’t play the game casually. While I was farming here in NH I was farming in real life at work for money to buy better gear via real world trading in Bera. I was really in the same situation as the past only worked even more to death.

It is harder to be be halfway decent in strength outside of Reboot but not very hard to get strong if one is willing to open his wallet. In Reboot it's the reverse. It is easy to be halfway decent but approaching the end becomes exponentially more difficult. Without spending real life money it's very hard to improve one's potentials in Bera. In Reboot killing bosses and training nets enough money to lift a person out of poverty. A big reason is because mesos dropped by monsters are in much higher quantity in Reboot.

The reason why getting to the top in Reboot was much harder takes a little longer to explain. First there's the stuff like bonus potentials which don't exist in Reboot, yet the bosses don't get easier. Gear is harder to get because there isn't free trade, and currency isn't inflated for the same reason. Farming takes a long time and can only go so fast. There are also the Tyrants. Outside of Reboot the normal way to enhance Tyrants (which add a lot of attack) is to use a Cash Shop scroll to prevent a scroll from being expended should the scroll fail, and then to use an enhancement scroll with no chance of destruction on failure. It is an expensive procedure but far cheaper than farming constantly for mesos and hoping a normal enhancement will take. If a normal enhancement fails the player loses a star, not to mention the chance of destruction. For this reason Tyrants are extremely expensive.

I bring up this fact to highlight the role which luck has to do with Reboot. Outside of Reboot it is very easy to sidestep chance: Just go buy gear that has already been finished. I understand the idea behind 'regression to the mean'. Over the long haul everyone has average luck statistically. But that assumes we get to the long haul in the first place. If we're dealing with enhancing Tyrant Belt or Tyrant Gloves we are dealing with months of work which can turn into dust based on chance alone. It can be very discouraging to lose so much time and effort in this way. Gambling with games of chance might be a way Nexon tried to get people hooked on buying cubes in other servers, but here in Reboot is serves as just never-ending dejection.

The truth is that if somebody wanted to get on my level they already would be on my level unless they were just starting out. People like the idea of being strong but they don’t want the grueling hours of work that it requires to get to that level. Most people have had every chance in the world to go and farm and get to where they say they want to be but they chose not to. You either make it happen or you don’t. Rich or poor, you have to get in line and get down to work in Reboot if you want to make a name for yourself.

And sometimes there are up and coming new people that are making waves and making gains. Kawaiienoz and Exeseed for a while looked like they would be the successors once I left. I once thought GenoLightbringer  was strong but he remained very stagnant and was soon overtaken. He  left Undertale after feeling like he was doing all of the work in the guild since the founder was off Maple. Exeseed left Undertale not long after as did MelloD. Kawaiienoz was around for all of the invasions but didn’t farm much after a while. He did bring up paying for carries, saying that tons of people did it, which was a topic I was reluctant to discuss because it implicated me as well to some extent. See, getting carries illegitimately was happening in the background and it would be naïve to think otherwise. It just wasn’t a thing people discussed though. In my mind I held a somewhat contradictory position of justifying my own actions yet looking more harshly on others who did the same things for the same reasons. It seems like a human thing to do.

Shadeke started making some gains and then exploded which I will explain later. In the end it was Douwe who kept going after Altaire died. Good for him. I still remember when I first hung out with Exeseed and Douwe, and Douwe was weaker than Exeseed. Douwe was on stream and I took them to Chaos Pink Bean.

My position as at one point the strongest person in the entire alliance was not one I took for granted of course. I knew any week I take off is a week others get to catch up. For some reason I was more competitive with the people in my alliance than outside of it. I suppose it was because I was in contact with those people more often. Maybe if I was in a bossing guild with the top players, I could not hope to compare with them and I would not feel the need to compare myself to other people in the guild. I didn't really like the big Maplestory streams, and part of that was probably jealousy. They were strong and they were famous. It's not healthy to live in constant fear of being beaten.

I was not willing to give up my part time job at the weekends despite the fact that double xp weekends were mostly at weekends though (hence the name). If you think NH was full during summertime at 3 in the morning you’re going to love NH during double xp (since it’s also double drop time). For those segments if I was free I would train with double xp bonuses to try to quadruple xp, etc. NH is absolutely toxic during double xp so I stayed well away.

The truth is we were jockeying for position in some way or the other. If other people were too strong relative to me then I would not be seen as the clear strong person in the alliance. If other people were too week relative to me then I don’t have committed people I can rely on to tackle difficult bosses. It’s not the end of the world, as staying in Altaire in a post-Sunny era means I am choosing friends over having access to the strongest people on the server in one of the top guilds like Elite or Spring. It’s not to say that I could never be friends with those people, but I had friends here.

Everything passes, everything changes, everything palls. In retrospect feeling jealously or anxiety about my strength relative to others in the guild was a net negative. Jealousy can be good in that it inspires one to get off their ass and get things done, but too much jealousy is self-destructive. After all is said and done and Altaire is functionally dead what was the point? The positions of power and respect came partially from my damage yes, but mostly from other people’s opinion on my character. Even if I was alliance leader once again (guilds have Jr Master who can kick and invite, a single leader, and an alliance is formed of multiple guilds, and each leader in a guild is a Jr in the alliance with a single leader of the alliance being the leader of everything) what would that have given me? I’d be a king of a lunchbox. A leader of nothing.

I actually wanted to quit Reboot thrice. During the first time I was still not even level 200, and to decide whether I was going to quit or not I enhanced my Ghost Ship Exorcist to 15 stars. The cumulative chance of item destruction was coming up to 10% and I knew the gains going from 12 to 15 stars (the area with chance of destruction) was very small. I also know it was the best badge at the time and it was unlikely that a new one will come along any time soon. There was no replacement for the badge should it have exploded. But as fate would have it, I passed the 15 stars.

The second time was because I got tired of having to chase Dojo rankings. Dojo is a minigame and success in that minigame depends primarily on damage output. One of the main rewards were Dojo Gloves, which were awarded to people who placed first in the server that week, first for their class, or second for their class. The gloves were valuable to me, so it ended up pushing me to try to be the best Kaiser in Reboot. You can see how this pushed me into doing things I didn't want to do. I began to know who each Kaiser was on the leaderboards. Ultrosmaveth lost interest in the game. We talked for a brief period of time and that was about it. While I held my position on the leaderboards the pressure was great because there were always new people trying to take my spot. I know I wasn’t hacking, but I didn’t know if others were or not. At least one of them were, and in that case Nexon actually banned the guy (mhmyup).

I did not want to compare myself to people outside of the alliance. That would be a game I could never win. Being #1 in a class means nothing to me. A person's utility in a party is what matters. Anybody could play a class that sucks and doesn't have any players, making it easy to be #1 in that class according to the Dojo. I did not want to be #1 Kaiser on Reboot. I just wanted to be very strong. The problem was the Dojo changed that.

I recall snapping at Gavin (Blooboo) because he linked me a video of a Korean Kaiser player who spent tens of thousands of dollars on the game and became insanely powerful. Good for him. It's not relevant to me in any way. I was fighting my own battles on Reboot, the last thing I wanted to do was compare myself to a player halfway across the world playing a different game than I was (KMS). I don't want people to compare me to Ultrosmaveth, who used to be the strongest Kaiser in Reboot. I am my own man. I am not a shitter version of Ultrosmaveth. I am reminded of the time when Ultrosmaveth became the first Kaiser on Reboot to finish the entire Dojo. When that happened people sent sever wide messages congratulating him, and my own alliance responded by asking how I would respond. It reminded me of something: All of the competition I freely explain from my point of view is to a good extent present in other people and the way they think... they just don't decide to talk about it.

The problem with Dojo to summarize was twofold: 1) It maintained a constant, weekly pressure to perform at a high level and to keep up. 2) It forced me to compare myself to others.

Later on I found out that my obsession with the gloves was wrong because my calculations showed that critical damage lines available on Tyrant gloves as potential outweigh the bonuses of the Dojo Gloves. It was Taliky who originally suggested this idea to me, which I originally resisted due to inaccurate calculations. After more thought while farming I realized my error and realized I was free. Well, free might be overstating it. The pressure of the Dojo was great, but losing a Tyrant Glove while enhancing it… was a liability I had to live with. Losing the gloves meant not being able to cube it for the critical damage lines I wanted in addition to losing months of painful work. It was getting harder to maintain my rank in the Dojo, as no matter how hard I tried others kept catching up. Without the Tyrant Gloves I was pushed back into the Dojo.

I always wanted to be the best and I was willing to go far to make sure that happened, even if it meant having dealings with the black market. However, given the choice to eradicate cheating even if it means I could never cheat, I would take it every time. I don’t want there to be cheating in games. I wish it was never possible and hacks were never created. I believe MMORPGs should be about time and skill instead of real life wealth. We play a game to have fun and get away from reality. Some cheaters rationalize their cheating by saying that some people get good at games by playing it, some get good at it by making money and spending it on the game. Not good enough. This is not what games are for. Games are for playing. This is not the stock market or the bank. Buying your way out of everything should not be possible. But it was.

Part 10: Carry Culture

Because the strongest players in the servers cannot flood the market with a ton of high level gear in Reboot, gear that used to be cheap and easy to come by end up being hard to get. Some gear sets which people traditionally skipped are now viable stopgaps before hitting the next tier of gear. Some of what I will now begin to talk about are no longer as relevant to Reboot, but they were reality when I was playing. While it’s not possible to directly trade in the game, it’s possible to offer to kill a boss for somebody and let them loot the gear. This is called a ‘carry’. It brings up the obvious loophole in the idea of a non-p2win (pay to win) server. A person can offer to give the person carrying them monetary incentives to help them out. The strictly illegal way is to pay somebody real life money to help you. To top it off it is general considered even more illegal to hire a hacker to carry you. The grey area is paying somebody NX or gifting them NX items in exchange for your help. The pretty legitimate route is to kiss up to somebody who is strong, beg them for help, or try to help them in some way.

The less obvious problem has to do with friends or acquaintances begging for carries. Different people approach carries differently. Some people felt that people should earn their carries. I understand that constantly offering carries is like offering free stuff to other people. A person can be spoiled and feel entitled to my help. When I joined Altaire Sunny was already tired of carrying people and there was some strain the relationships in the higher ups about how to handle boss runs. (You might notice a parallel between this and the strain in the relationship between Perpaloo and myself when I failed to get the Hard Magnus runs I wanted. Boss runs had to be done in my view, and a guild ideally should get them scheduled in the best way possible.)

I look at the problem largely from the opposite perspective. When I was weak nobody offered to carry me. Could I have sucked up to people to try to get them to help me? Yes. Could I ask to inconvenience others for my sake? Yes. But I decided not to, it just wasn’t worth it to me. Instead I turned to the help of people in the black market (who were hackers) to carry me instead. It doesn’t make it right, but I can see the logic in that and I can see others thinking along similar lines. If people have to gain strength quickly and nobody around them wants to help, more often than not they will turn to less legitimate ways of getting what they want. That in turn affects not just the player but also the prestige and atmosphere of the entire guild.

I remember when Christi and I began farming together, and we egged each other to be better. I didn't know what I would feel about carries later on. Most people go into carries willing to help others, but it's the problems that crop out later on that make some people dislike giving carries.

Then I became strong, among the strongest in my guild and alliance. I wanted to give what others never bothered to give to me. And it’s not always a straightforward greed that makes somebody want a carry. In order to make money normally one has to pick up money from the ground after they have killed a monster. That’s a very annoying process and drastically slows down mesos gained per hour. Instead, a person can opt to get pet(s) which will autoloot for them. A person can choose to buy pets from the cash shop with real life money, or they can kill Hard Hilla who usually drops a pet. But if you are weak you cannot take on Hard Hilla alone. So, without a pet a person’s ability to help themselves is drastically reduced. In my eyes getting people pets is making sure other people around me get the bare necessities to play the game.

There’s also a very real opportunity cost in having better gear later on. While most of the strength of a player comes from their gear and most of the strength of a piece of gear comes from their potential, upgrading to a better set of armor has very real gains that add up over time. It’s not wise to spend a gazillion hours pimping out a weapon of a subpar tier because all of that work will not directly migrate over into a stronger piece of gear. Yes, there is a transposition system which I will not get into here. Still, a question looming over the minds of many players is: Do I save up and wait until I finally get the good gear and go HAM on the upgrading or do I upgrade my gear now? It is a tough position to be in.

If I were to look at carry culture very selfishly I would say that I worked hard for what I have and others should do the same. For reasons I already outlined it’s not that simple. In addition, these are my friends, guild mates, and alliance members. These are not strangers.

Still, I have experienced the result of a person who has been given everything they have. A boss I used to carry was Gollux. Gollux is a weird boss because you can pick the difficulty of the boss and in turn the tier of the rewards by killing various body parts before engaging the head, which is where the real fight begins. There I was one day, carrying somebody and I asked them to clear out one of the body parts for me while I was working on the other end of the body. He did not follow my instructions. After meeting him at the center I asked him why. He told me he didn’t know if he could kill the body part I asked him to help me with (as a time saving measure). The exact details are a bit fuzzy to me but let me throw you some numbers.

We were probably killing normal or hard level Gollux, and to carry somebody through this effectively they must be able to kill Gollux with 10% of health left so I can leave the party and not use up a clear. (A person can only clear Gollux once a day but may attempt multiple times, letting my carry multiple people so long as I leave the party and don’t clear Gollux at the last minute.) Such a person would need to have around 300k range. The requirement to kill Gollux body parts would probably be around a third or sixth of that. Yet, this person did not know this, and there is only one possible reason why: This guy has never even TRIED to do Gollux on his own. He never bothered to learn how to do the boss since he expected everyone else to hand carries down to him. This is why he didn’t know he could easily kill the body parts I asked him to kill.

Quick word about following directions. I provide help to those who need it, but I expect people to follow my directions. That means do what I say when I say in the manner I described. What I tell others to do I do for a reason and openly questioning them just sows discord and confusion among the entire party. To get the ball rolling quickly people have to pay attention and follow simple directions. Needless to say, it annoyed me when people refused to do what I asked. It was also annoying to have people show up for a carry unprepared (sometimes people didn't even do the necessary prequest to even do the boss).

Part 11: Bossing

The toughest realistic carry at the time was CRA, which is Chaos Root Abyss. Chaos means it’s hard mode. CRA is a slew of 4 different bosses, each dropping a different piece of gear in the CRA equipment set. The hardest boss there is called Cvel, or Chaos Vellum. I have wanted to be able to solo the boss for a long time to provide the rest of the alliance with CRA weapons, which for most people would be the weapons can stop at. The problem is that Cvel is a very difficult boss to kill.

A group effort requires a group of people, and there was not a lot of people able to help me in any meaningful way. There was OverpricedFP who I will talk about later. This guy was not interested in helping any of us. Echo was in Overpriced’s guild and left to play a private server. Sunny was long gone by the time I was able to do any meaningful damage, and Taliky was off doing his own thing with his new guild. Eventually I started attempting Cvel with DIVERTIDO. For most of that time I was very bad at doing Cvel and failed miserably, spending hours getting nowhere. We have Cvel glitch out once when we could have killed it, and me dying at the very end to a stray explosion and failing the run. While I eventually got better and succeeded 2 out of 2 times with SasukeLord, that was at the very end of my Reboot career and the sun was setting.

I could not simply grab a party of 6 and hope for the best. A weak party member is a liability because it’s one more person to have to organize and having them with me inside the boss room makes things harder for me. Not only would there be more animations flying everywhere making things harder to see, the amount of tails increases with more party member. Cvel is a giant crazy lizard man and his tails protrude from the ground, and getting caught is instant death. The more people there are inside the room the more tails the entire party has to avoid. With a party of 6 inside the boss room it becomes pretty ridiculous.

Cvel for quite a while was my arch nemesis. Cvel is a boss unlike Magnus. Dying in Magnus can often be attributed to bad luck as often as it is to bad skill or slow reaction times. Dying in Cvel is the player’s fault most of the time. There you are directly confronted in a contest of skill. Failure brings the sad fact of your inadequacy from your periphery vision to your focus. While I was streaming and there were 25-50 people watching me, people saw me begin practicing at Vellum and failing. Look, in the end I am probably not retarded. Most people are around average. The bell curve is a thing. If others can do it, so can I. I just needed to work harder.

A person can watch videos on how to swim or drive a car until their eyes roll over, but that alone is not enough to learn how to drive or swim with any measure of proficiency. True, there are small details an observant individual can pick up which others have to learn by experience. But theory only gets one so far. Funnily enough, the same can be said for my mathematical approach to the game; most of it is overshadowed by skill or lack of skill as the dominant factor. Hell, I had real troubles clearing Chaos Queen before I knew that her mirror attack only shows up during the heart phase and only once per heart phase. So yes, sometimes good intelligence can go a long way compared to frustrated repetition. Theory and practice are two sides of a coin.

Anyways, at the end of the day a person has to actually swim or drive for theory to coalesce into something tangible. The same is for Cvel. Over time my reactions got better and I needed to think less about what to do. Things are moving along in real time. I have to watch out for tails, head, falling rocks, green puddles (and falling rock indicators that get buried under the green puddles), and the giant fire attack. In the meantime, my buffs will have to be recharged, and I have to swap gear on the fly to use the buffs the items give me. I also have to be constantly aware and in the zone for at least 10 minutes.

Whereas in Bera I could hide behind the excuse that I just didn’t spend enough money to be strong enough, I now I could have gone a lot farther had I known exactly what I was doing. A moron driving a race car can go quickly but they’re not going to win the Daytona 500.

The annoyance level was pretty high. On one long 7 hour Cvel session of failure after failure with DIVERTIDO I started to feel everything was pointless. It was weird and I can’t quite explain that of all things was what got to me instead of the bazillion hours I spent farming at NH.

As you can imagine, when theory and experience came together and I was able to become a serious team member in a party for Cvel I was proud and glad I finally got to where I wanted to go. In the end I could take out maybe 78% of Cvel’s health before the timer ran out. Then having paired up with SasukeLord we managed to destroy Cvel.

It’s not just rewarding when practice meets experience. It’s also rewarding when the fruits of my NH farming labor are evident. When I am able to take on a boss I did not know I was able kill, it is always a moment of discovery and joy. This is what the person taking handouts at Gollux did not ever experience. I knew I wasn’t a retard, but over time when I achieve things like Cvel or Chaos Zakum I prove it to myself. And while people mouthed me off over failing at Cvel, I believe I was simply being candid about the difficulties I faced and I showed others that if I could do it despite taking so long, so could others. In the end I got to where I wanted to be.

DIVERTIDO, Taliky, and I had some ups and downs killing Hard Magnus together. It was a boss that needed to be killed twice a week to try to get more Tyrant equipment. Since destruction of Tyrant gear while enhancing them is inevitable and the limit is only 1 kill per week with another kill per week with a reset ticket, we could not afford to miss a week. Since Sunny ravaged the guild and Overpriced was a douche, I ended up having the pick up the pieces and try to work out a bossing party that worked. For a while Christii ran off with some people she knows to boss. With Perpaloo as the leader barely playing the game I got frustrated. Later on I managed to boss with DIVERTIDO and we were the duo. But before that we ran a few times with Taliky. There were a few notable runs of Hard Magnus.

On one run I managed to last the entire Hard Magnus run dying only once; and that one time was at the start. Hard Magnus had restrictions put in place at the time to prevent hackers. Hard Magnus used to be impossible but that time is long gone, yet the restrictions stayed in place and began to make less and less sense. For example, killing Magnus before 15 minutes is up results in no good drops. DIVERTIDO and I actually killed him <3 seconds too early once. Sometimes Hard Magnus would just glitch out. He would stop attacking and if somebody keeps attacking him everyone will be kicked out of the map. This, along with the 5 minute maximum respawn timer made it difficult to carry people since lives are shared. This is a roundabout way for me to say I essentially killed Hard Magnus in a party without really dying at all. Unfortunately, it was the one time I failed to record with FRAPS.

Another run was on FRAPS. It was right after a change to Hard Magnus as implemented. Magnus had a blue field around him. Any person standing out of the area around him will deal 10% of their normal damage and potions will only heal 10% of their normal amount (there is a potion cooldown so this can be dangerous). While engaging Magnus outside of the zone was ineffective, stepping outside of the zone was an important resource for dodging falling boulders and paralyzing poison gas. A change was brought over from KMS which made it so stepping outside of the blue zone dealt 10% of the players HP every second. This made the boss much more difficult and made some previous strategies no longer viable. This was a dubious decision from Nexon in my view. They moved over the penalty outside of the blue zone yet did not remove the pointless restrictions KMS took off (15-minute timer, etc). What’s more, KMS had access to better gear than GMS players like us had. In other words, Nexon gave us the worst of both worlds. Taliky and I went to Magnus right after the change and things were looking very bad. Then, on the very end with only 4 lives left combined, we all decided (runs had to be in groups of 3s or more, any less and all good drops are denied due again, to stupid restrictions) to do one last Hail Mary. We double bound. A bind is a valuable ability that locks most bosses into place, stunning them for a short time. Magnus gets much more dangerous as his health depletes since the amount of failing boulders increase as the fight goes on. By the last 25% things start to look apocalyptic and it was a full time job to not die. Being able to lock Magnus into place at the end was critical because it removed Magnus’ attacks which allowed us to focus on attacking him. We still had to dodge boulders, but the bind was good and poison gas had no way to reach us. After the bind was over from the 3rd person who up until now did very little, Taliky followed up with his own bind. And that was it: We managed to take out 15-20% of his health with one last Hail Mary.

On a more fun note, I remember Divertido and I both donning chicken costumes and jumping Hard Magnus. That was fun. There was one more time where I survived for a very long time before the out of blue zone damage update was implemented. Skill is important, but there is a real element of luck here. For example, a Kaiser attacking Magnus cannot ever dodge his spin or forward slash attack unless he is transformed as a dragon (in which case teleporting out of the way is possible). What a transformed Kaiser loses in precision in where he will land (a big problem in Cvel), he gains in just sheer distance covered in a sudden burst movement. Stacking transform with a bind to inflict maximum damage (along with other details like Angelic Buster link skill) is important. Details like the left side having two poison gas areas while the right side only has one are also important. Binding Magnus onto the gas kills the entire team, since it is extremely hard to dodge the gas without stepping outside of the blue zone for too long and dying. If Magnus is insistent on sitting on the gas then everyone must lure him closer to the center.

I still remember playing The Truth by Tristan while doing my original carries for Hard Hilla. I still have video footage of that… old alliance members who are now gone, DkforDays hanging around for fun… Hard Hilla is one of those bosses where dying means losing XP compared to most other bosses which did not, so there were some stakes in dying. The technique needed work but it turned out alright.

Most of my bossing experiences were positive, as people worked together to overcome obstacles. There were always problems, like trying to come up with a party to clear Hard Magnus, but once I managed to duo Hard Magnus or Cvel the problems went away.

Part 12: Nexon's Failures

Maplestory just wasn’t managed well by Nexon. In normal servers we have the most pay to win game I have ever played, with a currency so inflated a billion mesos went on sale for less than 3 dollars. The currency got inflated because of hackers sucking in so much money from monster drops. People would send server messages advertising the sale of game items for real world money. In Bera the most famous hacker when I played was a guy named Cody who sold items worth an immense amount of money. He got this from duping, which means he managed to find a game glitch that allowed him to duplicate items. Before his time there were items that were perfectly enhanced and crafted sold for cheap prices which were duped as well. Most of those items simply vanished one day, leaving the people who bought them hanging. For some reason Cody didn’t get busted and went on to sell more and more things.

I’ve already mentioned the hacking problems in NH. Something else related to NH was the broken kishin. A game update totally broke the effect of kishin. This had large effects on players training in other servers but had a huge impact on Reboot. Farming is the lifeblood of Reboot. No farming, no money, nobody gets anything. For a while people managed to get some money from killing the Ursus boss due to a double reward event. It was a contrast to farming which was very much a solo activity. When that died the party was (temporarily) over. First kishin totally broke, then it decreased spawn times. Eventually Nexon stated that this was as far as kishin was going to go, since it was never meant to be as overpowered as it was previously. What this means is Nexon knew kishin was overpowered and broken for years, since kishin has existed for years. In other words, Nexon had a giant glitch that drastically affected the game for years and never bothered to do anything about it.

If kishin gets destroyed, the people who farmed for a long time before the nerf will get a huge advantage over others. If farming became barely faster than other forms of moneymaking, then the way of life for many players will change. Needless to say, many people were very angry at Nexon and lashed out at staff members. After a month Nexon finally caved. Farming at NH was back to normal.

Then there are the maintenances which occur weekly on Thursdays. The only exception are weeks with content updates in which case an update would occur on Wednesdays. Players have a very cynical view of ETAs for maintenances and updates. While Nexon doesn’t flub every other maintenance, they do have incidences that involve extended maintenances that take longer than estimated, and extended extended maintenances and well… you get the point. Since logging back in at the very end of a maintenance to be the first in the free market area or in NH (depending on server) was important, I had to wake up before the end of a maintenance in case it ended early and be prepared to stick around for hours before I could log in... and only then could I start farming again.

The dojo was led by hackers week after week. Hackers posted times which were impossible and nothing ever happened to them. Not only do hackers and the black market wreck havoc with guild relationships causing public and internal witch hunts with innocent causalities, inflate the currency, and damage the value of the achievements of legitimate players, they also deny first place title and gloves from hard working players by being the first to finish the dojo for their class. The funniest example is for the Blaze Wizard class, which is notorious for hacking. It’s rare to see a Blaze Wizard that wasn’t hacking, and a peek at the dojo class rankings for Blaze Wizard shows a giant line of people with impossible dojo times dominating the class leaderboards.

I would have assumed that either Nexon would be overzealous in their pursuit of hackers or the exact opposite would happen. Both have upsides and downsides. Yet Nexon managed to screw it up; on one hand they let a ton of hackers free even though it’s ridiculously obvious they were hacking. On the other hand, famous players like Rhinne and Clanta were falsely accused of cheating. These players were famous because they were strong and skilled players but also because they livestreamed on Twitch. By banning them Nexon is denying them a revenue source they once had. In the case of Rhinne he got his vindication. There was a huge controversy surrounding his situation because he was an outspoken opponent to hacking and he did have a bit of an ego sometimes. A video circulated on Youtube purporting to show Rhinne hacking. Yet the uploader was suspicious (enterprising and resourceful players traced the owner of the Youtube account to a hacker who was likely busted by Rhinne in the past in one of his public outings). Rhinne showed how the video could have been faked and upon further investigation Nexon let Rhinne off the hook. Clanta got banned long after I quit so I don’t have good details on that story. But suffice to say my sources tell me he must have been innocent and had proof beyond a shadow of a doubt. In the end that was not enough; he was permanently banned.

Part 13: Livestreaming & Public Shaming

I was on Discord, which is a communications platform designed for gamers. I was talking to a few people while farming because it helped pass the time. I believe Porktrump, Shadowneko, and CrazyTanuki were on the chat with me but for a while I was talking while they simply responded with text. I started talking about my opinions on various things. They apparently enjoyed what I had to say and nicknamed it the ‘Stocky Podcast’. I still remember the Studio Ghibli jazz remix playing in the background which Tanuki played via the bot. A few of those guys suggested I start streaming on Twitch. Up until then I had never really used Twitch. I have been on Twitch once when Nekopichuu, Perpaloo, Blueboo, and I were having fun playing card games in Maple and doing some bosses but that was about it. My first stream was a pilot stream that involved great amounts of delay. A delay is inevitable, and it’s when what the viewers see happened quite a bit after what actually happened in the game. For example, in a normal stream what the viewers see is actually 30 seconds in the past. In that case it was more like 10-15 minutes, and I was so preoccupied with tweaking the stream and chatting on Discord to the point where I left a guy I was carrying out in the cold. I did apologize later.

Streaming was a way of bringing attention to Altaire. Douwe streamed and got a few people into the guild from his stream. If I could do the same, all the better. Still, I never knew where I was really going with streaming and I didn’t expect anybody to pay attention to me. I was wrong.

There were a few reasons why my stream caught way more attention than I anticipated. Maplestory still had a decent player base but the ratio of players to streamers in GMS was favorable. There were very little people streaming. There were dead zones where nobody of note was streaming Maplestory. I was the only high level Kaiser that streamed. Playing Maplestory on a relatively high level was also an attraction. Having known Douwe who was a streamer might have given me a small advantage as we introduced both of our streams and interacted. Luck was certainly a huge factor. But another big factor was timing. One reason timing was important is that I had money lined up to start cubing soon after the streams began. I also wanted to start practicing Cvel at around that time. This meant I was doing more interesting things more often than normal instead of farming all of the time.

What I didn’t think was a factor was my personality. I’d like to think my paint-by-numbers approach to Maplestory garnered some support but that’s likely not the case. I don't think I'm that entertaining of a personality but then again many big streamers don't seem very entertaining to me either. I talked about this briefly with Porktrump after finishing Normal Magnus with him. Back then I didn't really use Twitch at all so I didn't fully get Twitch in the first place, so maybe that's one reason why I didn't understand the success of my own channel. That was after the second day of streaming, after I caught some attention since the first stream had no viewers.

The streams I did were about 5 to 8 hours, once hitting 12-14 hours since I streamed part of farming. I remember finishing the stream one day, finally able to relax. Streaming in front of an audience means I had to watch how I behaved on camera. While I was doing playing the game I had to think about how I wanted to handle the chat and what to talk about next to keep the audience entertained. Having turned off the stream I could finally relax, and I remember pulling out my fresh salad and going back into the Discord voice chat. Streaming was a tough task for me. Private conversations could only happen off stream, so sometimes people started asking me if I was live before talking freely.

People told me I was squinting like crazy at the computer screen, which led me to wear my glasses (and to wear glasses all the time later). I wore headphones so the sound from my speakers didn’t go back into the microphone. I taught some people some things and I learned a few things from the people I was watching.

There were three specific things that brought my stream to the attention of many people, trending me as the top post on the Maplestory subreddit twice. The first two were about the Absolab Shoulder and Hard Magnus glitching. The third is the booming of the Tyrant Gloves. I peaked at maybe 110 viewers after somebody hosted me (they stopped streaming and set their viewers to another stream).

Right before I started streaming Damien carries popped on the black market. I knew it could not have involve a legitimate run because nobody could defeat Damien in a party, let alone solo. (Funnily enough, shortly after the controversy blew over Damien was defeated on Reboot for the first time legitimately in a party.) It was possible to beat Damien in non-Reboot but not Reboot.

Damien has to be killed in order to get the Absolab Shoulder, which was the best shoulder. As context, there aren’t that many good shoulders in Reboot. Tinkerers were out because it came from item boxes from the Cash Shop which were removed for Reboot out of P2Win concerns. The Reverse Shoulder required enough Kritias Invasion currency to buy half of a Tyrant Glove which was not feasible because a Tyrant Glove takes higher priority. The Meister Shoulder would have been difficult to obtain, but the fact that making a Meister Shoulder could result in an average, below average, or above average shoulder added some risk… and drove me to aim for an above average shoulder. The data is scarce on the chance of an above average shoulder, but I knew it would likely involve at least 10 shoulders being made which would have drove me insane. I could have continued to work on my then current Magnus shoulder, but it was putting money into a dead end. That shoulder will have to go sooner or later. I explored unorthodox alternatives like possible Empress shoulders but it just wasn’t in the cards. And so, I bought a carry from a hacker.

The Absolab Shoulder was better than any other shoulder, but shoulders themselves don't make a very large difference in range. Upgrading to an Absolab Shoulder by itself will never make or break anything. The advantage I got over others was very small, but on the other hand it was something I had over almost everyone else. Reboot makes it easy to increase one's range to decent levels, but much harder to raise it to the highest levels. Towards the end, what is there even to work on? Starring Tyrants which cost huge sums of money and make boom on a whim, causing me to wait another 1-2 months to obtain another? It's all chance, and if I get unlucky, there goes 20 hours of farming, doing the same thing all day. Cubing? At what str% are we going until it's ridiculous? 30%? A small % increase in str would require far more cubes.

To summarize: While the Absolab Shoulder barely offered extra damage, the small amount is worth a lot because it's hard to improve past a certain point. Alternatives were very strenuous partly because I would not settle for merely an average Meister Shoulder. I already talked about how important progression was to me. Again, I was very painful as a person with sleep apnea to farm 10-12 hours and then wake up every 2 hours for invasion.


It was stupid and reckless of me to decide to stream with an item stronger players knew was impossible to obtain. Even if I hid it in the inventory the truth will get out sooner or later. I didn’t expect much of anyone to visit my stream, so I guess psychologically the danger didn’t feel very imminent.

I remember the likes of WashingtonDK and Clantafamo (abbreviated Clanta, called Clanta the Lightnord as an inside joke) asking me about the shoulder. Washington must have felt some suspicion, but Clanta was more openly suspicious. I still remember his face he character made when he asked me how I got my shoulder when I ran into him… on stream. I don't know Clanta as a person, and with this I just shrug and go 'whatever'. I do remember Clanta telling Perpaloo about the shoulder, and Shadowneko told me that he talked to him too.

Some of the other people were less charitable. A semi-notable person stalked me on air and kept spamming messages about how I am a dirty hacker and shoulder be banned. Needless to say it made for a very awkward situation. I tried to lose the guy but I was on air, so it really came down to the guy getting bored. I had to ban a few people in my Twitch chat for being out of line. Being thrown into the spotlight at that scale was off putting and I was on a foreign platform, live. It was a scary situation.

My philosophy about Twitch has always been that the streamer is the final authority save for Twitch employees. Going to somebody’s Twitch and starting shit up is like going to somebody’s house and hosting a rally inside. Viewers ought to respect the rules of the streamer otherwise they should leave. This is not the government, there is no free speech.

Reboot was founded on the idea that pay to win should not be a thing. That meant not buying your way into success. The way the gameplay panned out was that farming over and over for mesos was the way to progress. These two things make people feel more self-made. This is why cheating is looked down upon in Reboot far more than in other servers. I remember people openly advertising the sale of gear for real life cash in Bera, which was par for the course. However, I heard that advertising carries for NX is very commonplace now. Still, I expect Reboot players to be more hostile against cheaters than in other servers.

The shoulder problem was exacerbated when DIVERTIDO and I had a long streak of terrible Hard Magnus runs. It was just one of those bad weeks that happen to anybody, except it was on air now. I even got angry at DIVERTIDO because he started to leave for Cvel and had to go out, leaving me hanging for Hard Magnus on stream. Organization is important and puts some stress on everyone. Part of it was a problem with communication, since DIVERTIDO is from Brazil and his English is poor.

After the stream was over I saw that I was the top trending post on the Maplestory subreddit. It showed a stream clip of me using Wingbeat and the tornado disappearing for no reason, and then the boulders dropping in Magnus freezing. (Magnus with frozen boulders is very easy to kill and freezing the boulders is a known tactic to hack Magnus.)

I was very surprised of course, and asking the stream if they saw this. My reaction was genuine and I think it looked genuine. The takeaway from the chat was that somebody was hacking. Somebody on Reddit accused me of accidentally hitting a shortcut on a trainer, triggering the boulders to freeze. This is nonsense since there is no hotkey that does such a thing on any trainer. This is the kind of defamation that people get away with posting on the subreddit since there is little accountability.

DIVERTIDO showed me that everything was normal on his end. He got killed from what looked like nothing, which must have meant he got hit by a boulder. I had some suspicions about the 3rd person, who we were carrying. Our run after the incident was also glitched. I was getting damage that I would normally get outside of the blue zone while inside the blue zone, and no damage outside. 

There used to be a stereotype of the Spanish speaking players hacking, but I don’t think it has any bearing on reality anymore. That didn’t stop some from accusing DIVERTIDO of hacking. At this point, not only was I known as a high level Kaiser streaming, I was also known as the guy with the impossible shoulder who is in a suspicious position in Hard Magnus. This was when I hit the peak viewership of 110 viewers. I went to Lotus, which also has falling objects and saw that the falling objects accumulated up top and failed to drop. I did so because I saw a video of members of Spring, perhaps the most well regarded bossing guild, walk into a frozen debris situation in Lotus where things failed to drop. Among them was Clanta. However, in that case everybody in the party saw the glitch and promptly got out. Somebody suggested I restarted my computer, since it had not been restarted for about 25 days according to Whatpulse.

I closed the Stream and got ready to restart. I quickly joined back to the voice chatroom on Discord. The others noticed the situation. Tanuki asked me if I was really going to restart, losing a big chunk of my viewers in the process. I felt there was no choice. I could not allow the glitch to continue. The person stalking me on air messaged Perpaloo and told him I was a hacker in an attempt to get me kicked from the guild. Perpaloo tried to blow him off by sarcastically implying that Altaire is a ‘hacker only guild’. And thus, the ‘Hackataire’ meme was born. After restarting the glitch stopped. After the stream I visited DIVERTIDO. While we had some frustrations due to lack of communication and difficulty finding a time to boss together, in the end we still had a good relationship. DIVERTIDO thought the best of me, thinking that the frozen boulders were due to my computer and my shoulder was from an event. (There was an event that gave an Absolab Shoulder to one person, and who got it if any was and is still unknown.) I admitted that the shoulder was less than legit, even though the freezing boulders made things worse for my PR even though I was innocent of that crime. At the end of the day I think DIVERTIDO didn’t think it was a really big deal, and while he was mentioned negatively a few times by the public, he didn’t get much negativity and didn’t think badly of me either.

The guy I bought my Damien carry from thought I was being stupid by streaming with it, and told me his clients typically don’t even wear it in public, save for bossing situations. What he thought was far more stupid though, was the backlash I got. Since I was not bragging about my shoulder and just trying to play the game, he felt I did not deserve the backlash I got. Many of the people criticizing me themselves do not have clean hands. That’s how the black market got so big in the first place. His philosophy is to screw what others thought about me at this point and just to do whatever I want to be happy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. I felt I stood for a certain level of ethics and I was doing my actions under Altaire’s name.

That was one of the two times I trended the subreddit. Some people brought up the shoulder and decided that since I had the shoulder I must have been a hacker and cheated on Magnus too. The comments were basically there to slime me in every way possible. It was kind of interesting; the people who knew nothing saw the falling boulders and concluded I was a hacker. The people who knew some things knew about the shoulder and accused me of being a hacker with the Magnus scandal being confirming evidence. The people who really knew what was going on (the Fearcely and Clantas of the world) knew that the Magnus scandal was probably superfluous, but the shoulder was undeniable evidence of guilt. They were right.

The time came where I had to make a choice on what I had to do. The accusations were piling up and thus far the other two leaders of the guild, Perpaloo and Sneko (Nekopichuu) have remained silent on this topic as far as I could tell.

And so, I decided to tell them what was going on in a group private message. It felt like I was confessing that I was a traitor to a 2-person committee.

When hacks exist some people will use them and the ones who do will beat the ones who do not. More people will use it as a result until people who don’t want to cheat felt they had to cheat. I recognize that I was harsher on others than myself. Other people just looked like cheaters who lied to me. When it came to myself I understood my motivations and how I ended up where I did. While Perpaloo had no problem getting people who were caught cheating kicked from the guild, when it came to me they gave me much more freedom to decide what I wanted to do. I did not know for sure going into the conversation what was going to happen but I felt like I had to do it.

Hackataire was funny but we all knew long term it was a problem that was much less funny. There was no way to ‘anvil’ my shoulder, which means to change is appearance so it looks like something else, because the purpose of anviling is for cosmetic reasons for the character. Since shoulders did not show up when looking at the character outside of the equipment screen, there was no reason to allow anviling of shoulders. Long term a guild cannot retain its good name with memes about how it's a hacker guild. It was a problem and we all knew it.

Again, I don’t want to dramatize this on purpose so I have things to write. But remember, this was my world. The guild was my social circle. For a while I was so isolated in my house it started to feel weird speaking English. Maplestory was what I did every day, day after day. It consumed all of my thoughts. I would not have gotten up every 2 hours after farming respectively for 12 hours to do invasions otherwise. People who don’t play games would have a hard time understand just how seriously I took things. I lost weight farming at NH.

Sneko replied first. She said that everyone I know knows how hard I work and she understood why I felt frustrated that other people were catching up to me with a fraction of the effort. Stop comparing myself to others, try to be the best you can be. Some people don’t care about Maple so they hack to reach end game so they can move onto some other game. At the end of the day I had to decide where the situation sits on my own moral code and I should act accordingly. But the guild’s image will drop if I continue to stream with the shoulder.

Perpaloo responded with a private message between Clanta and himself. There he heard that I admitted to getting carried by a hacker on stream. Clanta said he heard that I admitted to getting carried on stream by a hacker. It was an awkward situation on the stream and I felt that by being honest and admitting my mistake the audience would recognize the gesture of honesty and authenticity. I was being naïve. Reddit tore me to pieces. As Clanta put it, you cannot stream with the shoulder on, period. I did, so I got a good bashing.

As Perpaloo put it, ‘No point in hiding it, everyone already knows. No point in dropping it because people don’t let things go.’ Don’t hate yourself because there are more important things in life like food or water. But if you care about guild integrity you cannot stream with that shoulder on, which sucks because some people actually like the stream. Sneko and Perpaloo both agreed that hiding it would cause an even worse backlash sometime down the road when I get discovered.

Fearcely was one of the strongest players on Reboot, and I ran into him on one of the first few times I went to NH. I asked to add him to my friend’s list so we could tell each other about open NH maps if we found one. He was on his farming character so I didn’t know it was him. I discovered that he had deleted me from friend’s list. I asked him why and he put it succinctly: He does not want to associate with hackers.

It was late Friday night after the stream. For most of the weekend when I was working I was thinking about it. I had a hard time sleeping. I felt conflicted. I wanted the shoulder but I knew it came with a very high cost. The following Monday I dropped the shoulder on the stream. Being strong was important, but also important was the welfare of the guild. Other people should not suffer because of something I did. The people in the alliance deserve better than that. Some people in the chat were laughing, thinking that dropping it changed nothing. For anybody important it did though.
I never talked to Clanta since the incident. I can’t anymore since he is banned. Fearcely added me back, since he felt dropping the shoulder was a genuine gesture.

To most of the public dropping the shoulder was an admission of guilt and didn't change the past. But what else could I have done?


I visited ImRhinne weeks after I quit. He still remembered me and we didn’t have any bad blood. I think his take on the whole shoulder and hacking controversy was that he didn’t know the details and didn’t care to know the details. Maybe he was too tired of getting falsely accused to be interested in whatever accusations people had against me. He later told me to leave the cancer game that is Maplestory and not come back. I guess that's his personality showing though. :) Rhinne and I used to be in the same alliance in my early days, so we've talked a little in the past, although not all that much.

On Reddit some people continued to talk shit about me, with one go going so far as to impersonate me. Clearly some of these people need to get a life. They are otherwise bullies too, and witchunting gives them a more socially acceptable outlet to bring people down.Cultures vary a lot from subreddit to subreddit. The Maple one well... you get the picture.

I guess I was lucky in a small way. Around that time Rhinne came back with ‘Rhinnocent’, where he started to make his case that he was innocent. A lot of attention soon came to him instead. Rhinne was still a much bigger figure than I was and received far more hate and controversy. I have always remained neutral in his case. But when he was vindicated later on, I accepted that as proof that he was innocent all along.

It's one thing to watch a witch-hunt. It's another to be the victim of one. It really helps you put into perspective how terrible people can be, and how getting slimed by others affects what bystanders think of you. All of those people who judged me did not know me or my struggles. Nothing I can do. They've moved on by now, so that's what I go to for comfort.

A seperate bit of drama was with my Tyrant Gloves. After sending a smega (super megaphone message to the entire server) that I was streaming the enhancing of my first pair of Tyrant Gloves, the stream got real crowded. Tons of people were egging me on to go more for stars than I did. I previously already got more stars on my belt and boots than I planned last stream, playing the Super Saiyan 3D music over and over. I boomed my Tyrant Gloves going to 8 stars after being egged on by the stream viewers. A few people came to me telling me not to do it.

The viewers did not suffer the consequences of me losing my glove, and they wanted a show. Nothing is spicier than some high risk activity. It didn't take me long to realize that my decision to go for 8 stars on my gloves was stupid. My belt had 7 and since the belt was easier to obtain and costed the same to enhance, it made no sense to enhance the gloves to a higher star than the belt. Again, I trended Reddit. While a few people just accused me of somehow hacking my way into getting Tyrant Gloves, there wasn't much drama there. Shadowneko Googled 'Tyrant glove boom' and it turned out that the Reddit thread about me was the first result.


There was a side to streaming besides just hackusations and drama of course. Streaming was an opportunity to do something different. Playing a game in front of many people was a unique experience, one which many people do not have. I was able to teach the audience some things and the audience was able to return the favor.  I assembled a large playlist of songs to play in the background as I played the game. It's always good when somebody discovers a song they really like from you. I remember singing Paradise by Coldplay one early morning when I was streaming. Boy, at that moment I was in a place I could not have imagined a year ago. Streaming in front of many people, singing publicly while farming on Maplestory? Talk about new experiences.

While to this day I don't fully understand why people found my streams entertaining and worth watching, as long as people thought so then it was good. Whatever value they got out of my streams I was happy to deliver and am glad I was able to deliver. Some people recognized me from the streams. A few people came up to me and gave me words of encouragement, telling me how much they loved the stream. I remember popping back to my friend on the training grounds one day to chill with him. And his guild mate was surprised that he was a friend of me, the streamer. To be clear, I wasn't the hottest Maplestory celebrity. And the shame and the fame were both at a relatively mild level. But it gave me a taste of what it is like to be famous. Again, talk about new experiences.

You can't have the good without the bad here, right? The fame comes with scrutiny. Can't try something new without a risk of failure.

One final thing I'd say is that a few people wanted to criticize the way I played my class. I was always open to a better way of doing things. The only person that loses when I refuse to acknowledge facts is myself. The way I billed myself was I was a Kaiser that farmed a lot and tries to look at the game objectively. Nowhere in that description did I say I was some sort of super genius. When I was trying to look at the stats of Maplestory I often got things wrong. But criticizing my technique without offering a better alternative is not constructive.

The Moral Calculus

What is acceptable or not in Reboot? That is a complicated question and different people will have varying opinions.

Getting a carry from a hacker is not the same as hacking oneself. The most obvious difference is paying to get something done out of sight and out of mind compared to doing something yourself and putting yourself into the thick of it.

An easy example is factory farming. Every time a person buys meat from factory farmed animals they are supporting an industry that is causing vast amounts of suffering to an unimaginable amount of animals. While I grant that a single human life is worth more than that of a cow, that comparison assumes we are dealing one one human life versus one cow life. In factory farming we are dealing with the lives of  many animals, so the suffering compounds. Whether you like to think of it or not, by buying meat you are probably supporting animal abuse. Paying to have something done is not the same thing as doing it yourself.

Intentions matter. I've already discussed how people can misread intentions and make assumptions about a person's character and it's to be expected. But intentions and remorse do matter. I don't believe in free will, so fundamentally I believe nobody actually deserves anything. We are simply a collection of atoms that act due to the laws of physics, like a very complicated machine which reacts to inputs in a chaotic way, but with no free will. So to me vengeance makes no sense. The other thing I would say about intentions is that whether a person chooses to get carried by a hacker or hack themselves can be a manifestation of a person's intentions. A person that gets a carry from a hacker is probably cheating just to get gear, like most people. (Again, Absolab is not the same as CRA so that is a factor as well.) A person hacking themselves knows how to operate the software and purchased a license. This is motivation to keep hacking. I believe people who would hack a boss themselves have a much higher chance of hacking their mesos as well, something I see as much worse. This is why when Clanta told Shadowneko I either got carried by a hacker or was a hacker myself, I felt those two options were distinctions with a difference. To just call all things not strictly legit (whatever that means) the same, to just paint it with a broad brush saying they are all just terrible, the end... I find that to be very sloppy thinking about ethics.

Paying for services with real life money is objectively illegal as far as game rules are concerned, but in many cases Nexon doesn’t care. It's unclear if if spending that real life money on NX and gifting NX is technically illegal. There is a difference between what is technically legal or not, what will be enforced, and what the public thinks is okay or not.

I don't think there is a big moral distinction between paying money for a carry or paying NX. The idea is the same and the result is the same. If the person you are paying hacks to get the service done, then almost all people see it as bad. If the person got to where he is from hacking for performs the service legitimately I believe the line of accountability drops off when it comes to me.

I can hack in a way that does not directly hurt other people’s enjoyment of Maplestory, which is what happens with hacker carries. Or, I could clog up the game with hacks and render NH unusable to other people when I try to sell mesos to other people. While trading is not allowed in Reboot, buying accounts with money in them is a workaround.

I already explained why the Absolab Shoulder was important to me, and what I thought about the fallout. I have described the emotions I went through. This is a luxury I have to the people I know. It's not a luxury I have for the Maplestory community at large. And it's mostly understandable.

Did I provide the same benefit of the doubt to the hackers I kicked from Altaire? No. But to be fair, those members were mostly new members that didn't do much for the guild and almost always lied about the situation after I caught them. Did I lie about the shoulder? Technically no. I picked my words carefully: I said I got carried by a friend. The other half of the times when asked I answered frankly.

Does the public have time to investigate what goes on behind closed doors after the streams? No. They read a post trending on Reddit and they make a snap judgement on things, just like everyone else. There's not enough time in life to carefully investigate everything every time. This is why it's understandable for somebody's reputation to drop when accused of something, even if they were found not guilty. Sure, innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law is good, but humans don't really operate like that individually. Maybe it's mob mentality, but you do see people going off on other on Twitter over some sort of mistake or stupid thing somebody said. People get overly outraged, punishing that person disproportionately while everyone else gets off scot-free. Witch hunting might be necessary in some guild settings, but a group witch hunt is never helpful.

On the other hand, the people who kept harassing me about the scandals were trolls. I mean this sincerely because I really do not believe those people were morally outraged at the scandals I was involved in. Maybe in the initial incident I had some people who fit that description. But the people who stuck around and kept shitposting on the stream and on Reddit were out to kill my reputation. They enjoy the process. If anybody really cared about the controversy, I offered to talk about the situation with them one on one. That's how you get my side of the story. Not a single person from the public took up the offer, and even offering to discuss the issue privately was a sign of naivete when dealing with a community like the Maplestory one. The people I've thus far encountered in my guild and alliances were for the large part okay people. Stepping outside of that is another matter. A guy went as far as making a fake account with my Maplestory username and writing idiotic comments to tarnish my reputation.

It sort of puts me into the shoes of the people on the other side of a problem. I can sort of see how people come up with rumors and misunderstandings about how something happened. People might see my face in a video and come to their own conclusions, but they do not know me as a person. They don't understand me or the struggles I had, so they were not in a good position to make a good judgement about it.

I've said it before: Without blood, sweat, and tears to back up carried gear, the player is going nowhere in Reboot. Unless if you hack... maybe. That's how a person bypasses the suffering I went through to get to where I was. Now, I understand why the shoulder put some doubt into the legitimacy of my farmed mesos, especially to the casual spectators. But I know I worked hard for what I had. This is my justification for kicking hackers without feeling like a giant hypocrite: The cost of a carry (legit or not legit) is far lower than the effort to get anywhere with farming. And so, bypassing the gear part with carries is not as bad as bypassing the farming process in my mind. Yes, the calculus is very complex and the fact that Absolab Shoulder was an impossible luxury made it different than CRA carry, which was seem as standard high level gear which made a much larger difference. Very little in the world is black and white.

Is what I did really that bad though? The grey areas of the black market aside, I am just one person, and all I did that stood out was get an Absolab Shoulder and stream at the same time. There are people out there hacking away at some remote map in the game, making money (both real and virtual). The Dojo is topped by a bunch of hackers. I didn't taunt others with the shoulder or anything.

People commit far worse crimes to their fellow humans all the time. I could say given the same situation I wouldn't do it again, but I don't know if that's perfectly honest. Without being thrust back into that competitive mentality of never ending progress I can't say I could say today what I really would do. Either way... food and water and crimes against humanity mattered but I was in my own world in Maplestory. It's easy look back in retrospect and declare the entire situation a ridiculous waste of time, but that gives no weight to human emotion. Logic only goes so far in curbing emotion. After my first rejection from a girl I was quite dejected. I knew in the long run everything will be okay despite whatever I felt then, but that couldn't override the sadness I felt.

...I guess I just want to say that I tried to be a decent person to other people. I would not write this incredibly long blog post unless these issues really mattered to me. I really cared about the hacking controversy, both from its ethics standpoint and the guild's standpoint. Yeah, I made a mistake and to be perfectly frank, but back in the same situation with the same pressures I can't definitively say it wouldn't happen again. Given how fierce the competition was and how others are still getting ahead (questionably), I think it's an understandable mistake. But beating me up over and over about it is not going to achieve anything. The people running clients after clients, botting the crap out of Maplestory and making real life money off of it are the real villains.

Shadyhex and I always joked about loving Christi (pictured) so much, we would do anything she wants. This is one of the few pictures I had of her character.

Part 14: Guild Dynamics

There was one major fallout from the hacking scandal. First let me explain to you how the guild came to be from my point of view. Altaire was founded early on in Reboot, and in those times Sunny, Taliky, and Eva were good players who went on to be among the first to kill Cvel in Reboot. The further back you go in time, the more valuable a CRA carry is. Even today it is very valuable.

Imagine the flood of requests they must have gotten. Sunny got tired of people asking for a carry, and there were tensions between them. Organizing bossing runs was getting more awkward as the guild expanded. They had to spread out and do multiple runs. Sunny eventually grew to be stronger and stronger than the rest. Sunny was always a bit self-righteous and stubborn. To add to the problems, Eva once did Hell difficulty Gollux and took a pendant drop (which was very valuable). The jury is out on whether Eva picked it up on accident or if it was a miscommunication. Perhaps she took it out of selfishness. Eva has apologized, but being weaker than Sunny by quite a margin at this point, there was nothing she could do to make it back to Sunny. Sunny no longer needed help with Gollux anyways. On top of all that, Taliky took a break from Maplestory so it was just those two between them three.

This is what I joined into when I came to Altaire. The elements of frustrations were already there as all of those things have already happened. I did watch Eva talk to Sunny and apologizing but it wasn’t good enough. Back then I was just the hopeful fledgling Kaiser that has yet to make a name for myself. In normal guild chat people acted like not much was wrong. One day Sunny left, and took a bunch of people from the guild with him. Most of the top brass left with him. A stranger once whispered me and told me that Sunny wanted to poach as many people as he could from Altaire to Elite which he joined and took pleasure in it. I still have no idea who the stranger was or how he knew me.

But what I did know was that Sunny talked to one of our alliance guild leaders and the leader promptly pulled his guild out of our alliance after the talk. Sunny talked to him about the Gollux drop and must have given a very unflattering recount of events. Eva wasn’t on at that moment to defend herself. In my eyes, Sunny was a major cause of an alliance guild leaving and it was telling that the guild leader pulled out without ever trying to get the story from Eva’s point of view.

I had since that time run into Sunny and said hi, only to have him ignore me every time. The guild was getting weak. The old alliance wanted to form a new one to get rid of the less active alliance guilds, but Eva decided to stay behind. One of the guilds that left was Ravers, which is where I met Rhinne. Eva struggled to fill the positions and one guild leaving was not helping things. Taliky was still missing and only a few people left were of decent strength. In other words, bossing at a high level was out of the question. Eva played a Bishop so she was support. There was nobody there to do the damage to kill the bosses. That was when Christii and I came onto the scene and worked very hard to get stronger. I wanted to be able to do the carries to support the guild.

Eva eventually left Maplestory and Perpaloo took over as the leader. After summer though, he was inactive for a while and it was frustrating because work needed to be done… alliances filled, bossing runs planned, etc. So, I was left on my own for the most part as the most active member. Things eventually picked up and got better as Perpaloo and Sneko really stepped up.

I do not have a favorable view of Sunny. I believe he left and sabotaged Altaire, first by leaving and convincing others to leave us, and second by getting an alliance guild to leave. Not once did I ever get an apology or response from him. Any time I greeted him after running into him in the game he ignored me. A person on a burner character whispered me one day. The person complimented me by saying I wasn't "fake" (though I still don't know what that means) and then accused Sunny of purposefully poaching members from Altaire. It's as confusing to you as it is to me.

A week or so after Fearcely added me back I got a message asking if I was there. I later responded and asked what’s up, and he said nevermind, the situation is taken care of. Then I was talking to my friend PreciousDB only to find out that Sunny wanted her to get kicked from Elite. Fearcely, Sunny, and PreciousDB were all in Elite. Fearcely asked if I ever carried PreciousDB, and I answered yes, for Hell Gollux. I did a run of it live, so I demonstrated I could beat the boss. I forgot about carrying her for Chaos Pink Bean, but that was a boss without consequential drops and was very easy to beat for a Kaiser. Apparently Sunny said I carried PreciousDB for Cvel so she could get her CRA weapon. I believe this is a willful lie. Sunny knows I did Hell Gollux live and could clear it. Sunny also knows prior to that I was practicing Cvel and failed epicly because I was just starting out. Sunny accused me of helping her in the one carry I could not do on my stream on instead of anything else. How coincidental. What’s more, Sunny himself carried PreciousDB quite a while ago, so either Sunny knew this or had a short term memory. PreciousDB was quite upset at this since it was guild protocol to get her kicked. And because she was upset, I was upset. I am glad Fearcely came to my defense on this matter since I dropped the Absolab Shoulder. I told him, yes, I made a mistake and I owned up to it. But PreciousDB didn’t know I got the shoulder and even if she did she of all people would not know the implications of that fact. She was entirely innocent. Fearcely agreed with all of my statements. In the end Sunny was forced to apologize to PreciousDB, but they didn’t speak anymore.

In my eyes, Sunny sabotaged the guild I dropped my shoulder for out of some stupid vendetta against it and Eva and willfully lied to get my friend kicked out of Elite. PreciousDB and Sunny were even sort of friends too, but nobody was spared from his wrath. Fearcely explained that he has always had a serious hatred for those who hacked and in his eyes I was a cheater and probably always will be. Fearcely reached out to me and offered to give a good word to see if I can still join Elite despite what went down publicly (although he could not prevent Sunny from speaking his mind), and suggested that perhaps Clanta would accept me as well. In the end I began with Altaire and I ended with Altaire.

The entire hacking scandal was complicated and made more awkward by the fact that I caught many hackers. I’ve probably kicked at least five people from the guild. For example, Mariawnx. But he’s not somebody we interacted with. BlankLie however, we did. The name is kind of ironic. He was Sneko’s friend and I met him originally when he was attempting to kill Cvel. I was not much help because this was before I practiced Cvel. He joined the guild, and I not long after I got a whisper saying he was hacking in some random map in the middle of nowhere. He was kicked.

BlankLie wanted to talk to Sneko, but Sneko felt a little awkward about the conversation. Perpaloo and I were in the Discord call with her, and Perpaloo got us to hide in the middle of nowhere, deep under the sea, where we hid in the corner of a map under a stalagmite. There BlankLie showed up along with his friend. BlankLie offered a sincere apology and said he did hack once, but only for a little bit months ago. He was hacking because he wanted materials to build a Meister Shoulder. I think Perpaloo at this point was screwing around and a bit of his body stuck out from the stalagmite. BlankLie’s friend then caught us on our act. Perpaloo continued to screw around and was asked to leave. At this point I was laughing my ass off. While the conversation continued, Perpaloo reentered the map as a snail somehow, and moonwalked backwards into BlankLie. It’s too bad it wasn’t on video (I hit the wrong key on FRAPS). Anyways, if you read my confession message in the picture several pages ago you would know I talked about him later on. He grew in strength at a pace that was impossible and rumors are that he got banned.

I even got word that InfiniteHTT was hacking. This is a tough one because he was married to Eva on Maplestory. Eva started the guild. I decided not to kick him, but I did demote him. However, later on he got his rank back. I confronted him with it, and he denies wrongdoing. The person who told me about the problem was InfiniteHTT’s friend and was able to locate him. Infinite was away from the keyboard, hacking the crap out of a random map with a Kinesis character. I recall what Eva said when she randomly popped back in one day. The rules stated that hacking will get kicked if CAUGHT. She said she herself along with many others did get carries that were not legit. Her regret is that the guild caught hurt by the controversy, but what’s done is done. She felt the guild would collapse without her. Whether this is true I don’t know. Had Sunny not crippled the guild and I lost interest and school start again, the guild would have been fine.

Look, I felt kicking hackers was my duty. I was helping the guild. I know to some extent I was being a hypocrite. I don’t like that hacks exist. But they do. I don’t want to have to go around suspecting fellow guildmates of wrongdoing. But there are consequences for failing to act on intel.

Tanuki said in chat that he had a private topic he didn’t want to discuss publicly. We went to a private group chat where Tanuki said that Josh admitted to putting a weight on the space bar to spam attack and get money while he was away for 30 minutes. In the end the people decided I should breach the topic with Josh. Putting a weight on a space bar is macroing and counts as botting and cheating. It felt like Josh wasn’t sure that it was, and when I talked to him he started going on this negative feedback loop of negativity. I told him that if he wanted back into the guild he had to drop some of his gear to lower his range to show he was sorry and to remove whatever advantage he got from that macroing. (Obviously this idea was related to me dropping my shoulder.) He said he doesn’t ‘deserve Altaire’ and said he won’t rejoin after his ban lifted. I told him the offer is open should he change his mind. He didn’t. Later on Tanuki told me Josh went on to continue hacking. Maybe Josh felt remorse, but it just turned him into doing worse and worse things. I cannot say I view him positively after all of this.

Part 15: Enemies

The final example me playing hacker cop is the most infamous example: Shadeke. We used to be friends and he used to say I was the best streamer ever. I keep track of the Dojo as I scout my competition. I notice when somebody moves up the Dojo ladder way too quickly. That was Shadeke in a nutshell. This is not equivalent to reading tea leaves. People do their best in the Dojo and when their best doubles or triples in a short amount of time there can only be one explanation: Cheating. I have been to most of the top floors and I know that the difficulty of the stages he was covering were way harder than the previous ones. He also managed to level his Jett to incredible levels despite doing so netting him almost no gain practically.

And just like that, Perpaloo banned him from the Discord. Later one I caught his actual character hacking in New Leaf City. He never made any amends.

There is OverpricedFP. He was the leader of Prestige. He went missing for a long time and after he logged on with his guild dead, I talked to him. I requested a merge between Prestige and another guild. I was carrying out what Sneko, Perpaloo, and I wanted to happen and Perpaloo still holds the title of alliance leader. I felt I had authority to tell him what to do which in retrospect was probably counterproductive with an ego like Overpriced. He felt I was telling him what to do, and asked why he wasn’t told about this. Well, the answer is obvious: He was gone for a long time and I had no way of contacting him. I was going to tell him that I was telling him now, but by then he already blocked me and removed Prestige from the alliance. He had no problems with Shadeke hacking, by the way.

Since I already talked about Sunny, I guess there are really only a few things left to cover. There's the lying some people did (or purposefully keeping me in the dark about things). Outright boasting was relatively rare, although we all know we were watching how each other were doing. Some people did brag about how they had a super secret farming spot better than NH which they won't tell me about -- which I view as not only a lie, but also a brag. There was even a guy who felt anybody who got over 2m range was a cheater... which simply means that person cannot imagine anybody dedicating over a month on any task. Talk about short attention spans and lack of willpower.

Yeah, it's a game. But any time you add in people to the mix, things get more complicated.

Part 16: Guild Dynamics II

The name of the alliance when Perpaloo was in charge was called Starbound. He along with a few others quickly set up the Starbound Discord channel. It was a cool thing... We organized players by changing their username to reflect their guild. When had a channel for introducing ourselves. I remember saying how I am Stockfishies, Jr. Master of Altaire.

We had conversations in the voice channels. A few guys had a movie night or two. Perpaloo and Sneko talked a lot, and the group chat I started to talk about the shoulder ended up being a place to chat between just us three. I mentioned the time Perpaloo, Sneko, Blueboo, and I went to play cards. It was funny, because I didn't realize my microphone wasn't working until hours into the stream. They taught me how to play the games in games area of Maplestory.

Instead of running for the best free market location in Bera, after maintenance I always find an empty NH map. I always succeed because my computer was relatively fast. Once before the maintenance the usual crew along with Douwe went to play some sketching game and some other random games. It was random and at the wee hours of the morning. We were all dead exhausted I decided what the hell, I'll just stay up with these guys.

There's also the Stocky podcast... I remember coming out of Sneko's Sleepgeon (AFK channel) and seeing others on in Discord. There was another channel called 'Perpaloo's Fungeon'. Later on I made a channel called 'Stocky's STREAM HOWSE'. Sadly today most of the people are gone and Starbound Discord isn't the vibrant place it once was. However, a few of us are still around. Not much, but it's something.

Having a high guild contribution helps the guild with guild skills which was important for Dojo. Contribution is primarily earned through killing bosses. And since almost all bosses have a daily kill limit, we would do our daily boss runs, or 'dailies'. We would ask around to see if anybody needed help on some boss, like Normal Magnus. It was a chance to do something together on Maplestory, be we sure as hell aren't going to farm together (poor efficiency).

When I was farming in NH I remember OmgitzChelz or DKforDays popping up just to talk at the start. I remember DK just standing there with no motivation to play the game, although he did jump to help kick out ksers trying to steal the map. To this day I'm still throwing dumplings in his general direction for his jam. :)

With DK after Maplestory I watched him stream The Last Remnant while I taught him how to play the game, and then he streamed some Final Fantasy 15. But after that he felt there wasn't much to stream, and we didn't have that many common interests. I've said early on in this blog post already: It's a real struggle when we leave a game and we find out there's actually not that much to talk about anymore. I can't just assume everyone I got along with had the same interests as me. I guess that really brings up the question of how well I really knew anybody online. In the end I'm not sure I know anyone else in the entire world that well to be honest. It's always a bit harder online because we were not evolved to socialize over the internet.

And it's also the fact that people see just one aspect of somebody else's personality. The people viewing my stream got a very limited view of who I am and the way I thought about things. Behind closed doors with my friends they got to see another side. Internally there were things I wasn't ready to communicate. Outside of gaming there are other aspects of me that come through, some which you could predict given the way I act (if I'm charting cubing and ranting about sample size I'm more likely to chart people's overclocks for their CPUs on a forum for example). And I act one way in real life to people I don't know and people I do know, and even that is a broad generalization. Do we really KNOW anybody else?

Anyways, with somebody like Shadowneko, we've still talked since, since he still plays Maplestory had is sometimes looking for something to pass the time. So once in a while we watch a movie or listen to a podcast. A shared interest in computers and some interest in stocks also help.

The other thing worth discussing is honesty. In the case of Shadowneko, I skirted the truth because I wasn't sure how I was going to approach the issue. I was being hit with a lot of things at that time, and eventually I fessed up to everyone. But in all honesty, I really do try to be honest whenever I can. I think a lot of problems people get into stem from lying when they didn't need to (but felt like they did). Obviously when I dealt with hackers I was dealing with deception and outright lies, but I did have to deal with alliance members lying to me.

On my death bed, what will be my regret? Will it be that I didn't farm more mesos or that I wasn't rich enough? Probably not. We all know that the end is coming, yet we act tacitly as if we will live forever, as we bicker over the small things in life. I'm no exception. I wish one day I could really see the bigger picture. Maybe then I will say the things that needed to be said and cut out the crap that I didn't need to say.

Part 17: Post Reboot

There still seems to be some confusion about my why I quit among people outside of my inner circle. I quit because I was tired of farming all day at NH because I could not play the game casually. The other reason why I quit was because the guild was falling apart. I was the official leader of the alliance for a very short period of time. For fun I renamed the alliance leader rank to 'chicken'. Evaraia's still offline today with the rank of 'chicken'.

I decided to sell my account. My kishin PC costed $200 and I wanted to cash out. I eventually sold my account for $400, netting me back $600. Then I get a message from Hookie that the guy I sold the account to trade the account for his and then took cheated him by taking both accounts. I had to convince him that I was no scammer and managed to do so due to the scammer leaving a trail I managed to find. Having cleared my name and proven that the scammer (VVelqis) was the scammer, I was free to take back my account from VVelqis in the eyes of the staff at the black market site. So I did. I was not interested in having my money chargebacked from Paypal a month later, losing my money. Vvelqis then complained about getting ‘scammed’, to which I told him now he knows how it feels. A Google search I neglected to do earlier showed a history of scamming. That was a stupid mistake on my part. I guess I had too much faith in humanity from selling my assets in Bera.
Somehow news got out that I was selling the account AND that I ‘scammed’ somebody. I have no idea how this got out and I don’t believe Hookie would slander my name in that way. Of course, once I tried to set those people straight on the situation, the trolls didn’t care for the truth. They only care about smearing me even more in shit. Jeffery mentioned that these trolls were well… trolls. Jeffery was a person that was pretty technical minded when it came to Maplestory and left due to college reasons. He made a farewell thread in which some people dumped on him for. That’s how people are. People don’t give a shit about your story and some people will have you know that very well.

The final messages on the private chat I started to address the shoulder controversy which turned into a chat between the leaders of the guild ended this way:

‘I thought you’ll be playing a bit more.’
‘Me too.’
‘I had a lot of fun with you guys.’

Without a leader, Altaire died. At the time of this writing Douwe is still in Altaire, although the inability to manage Noblesse skills is leading to some tension. You once again, might notice a parallel between this and the strains in scheduling bosses. They are different, but similar in that the guild is expected to provide something, and without it relations suffer.

I talked to Eva, who now maintains her position as alliance and guild leader. She wasn't willing to hand it over to anyone else to assign Noblesse, yet she wasn't willing to log in every week to assign the points. She feels the guild declined because she wasn't the leader... so she ended the guild on her terms by kicking most people. She even told Douwe not to add new people to the guild, an instruction he did not follow. It's weird. At the end of the day I didn't push Douwe's issue with Eva. Most of my time in Altaire was after she left Maplestory. I do not expect my words to carry any weight.

That's the other thing. To some extent I hoped that my position in Altaire gave me some negotiating power to sway things my way. It's not a dictatorship and I wouldn't want that anyways, not to mention the fact that people will just leave. But I hope that having been given the position and power I was, that I filled in those shoes and handled the power fairly. We all have days when we are great and days when we are down, but on average I think I did fine... and I'm talking about a personal relationship level as well. Maybe respect is the word I'm looking for.

She never changed the rank title of alliance leader though. I changed it to 'chicken'. That was amusing. I sort of wish I spent more time talking to her to figure out how she thinks and what she thinks.

Part 18: The End

Was it all worth it? Yes. I have no regrets. The events happened the way they did and I cannot change the past. They made me the person I am and this Reboot run gave me new life experiences, playing for a bunch of people. There were trolls but there were people who approached me in the game who I never knew and told me how much they enjoyed the stream.

You can say I am still cynical about the race to the top and the eventual downfall/retirement. It all goes on without me. The black market will continue being a revolving door.  I'm Stockfishies, but I'm not God. I did some things but I had my day. Like I said to Taliky one time in Sleepywood, he was the old guard, and I was the new guard. I ran the things in Altaire now. Now being back then of course. There were people stronger than me but they were irrelevant, possibly because they stopped playing. And now I've stopped playing and I am irrelevant to the up and coming players, hungry to get to the top. I'm a washed-up has-been.

I got some notoriety/fame, but it was on a small scale compared to many people. My life is not as exciting as some other people's, but it is my story, my experiences, my life. It matters to me. On the other hand, I don't want repeat the same old stories, like I'm some old guy telling the young kids 'Back in my day...'. I was relevant when I was relevant. Taliky was relevant when he was relevant. Both of our times have passed.

Today it still annoys me to talk about what happens on Maplestory today. The power creep and the newbies getting things easier than their predecessors ticked me off. People don't factor in the time period when they think about accomplishments, so what I accomplished will not stand the test of time. The standard always gets higher (more time since Reboot started means people had more time to farm and range goes up and people seek to outdo each other), and sometimes it's simply due to new gear coming out.

The Starbound Discord was set up very quickly and the four colors represented the four guilds that came together to form the alliance. It was full of inside jokes taken out of context. Today it is a shadow of what it once was. When I log back into Bera I am reminded of what an empty graveyard the place is. GUIDLESS is full of people that haven't logged on in ages and my friends list shows nobody online. Seeing the emptiness, I could hardly bear it anymore, so I logged off.

This is what every person who farmed in Reboot signed up for. They join knowing full well that none of this will go on forever, and once they quit Maplestory their mesos would be for naught. Everything is transient and ever-changing, nothing is ever standing still. If you are still you are old and forgotten. Continue farming and there is no end to farming.

Today I am largely forgotten, and the Magnus and Absolab controversies feel so like a distant memory. At this point I don't think anybody else cares, but the things that happened happened to me... so I care. Stocky is not cool, just lukewarm and dead fish! :P


When I came to Maplestory I thought I would be proud of how strong my character would be. I won't lie. I am proud that I got to the level I did. But I am also proud of the esteem which others held for me as a person for determination but also loyalty and moral character. I was challenged with tensions in the alliance which came and went and I have gained life experience from it. I went pretty far given the era I was playing in. I was never the best in the game, but I was good enough. I will hold onto these memories even when my life continues to change.

Friends… well they come and go. When times are good I guess I don't really notice them. It's after it's all over that I realize those were the moments that I want to remember, yet I was still bogged down by relatively petty concerns. Never did I stop and think... 'You know what? The memories we are making right now, they are the ones I will look back on with fondness.' I’ve always said that community college can quickly be an oxymoron if you let it. Without living with students it is easy to go to class and go straight home, and for community college to turn into antisocial college.Friends scatter after high school. That’s why I came to Reboot, because Mark wanted to play Maplestory. And as much as I look back on the past I am forgetting with fondness and zero regrets, I don’t know if others look at it the same way. In my experience from Bera those friends I had fun with will scatter as the game goes away. The game was the glue that bound us together. It gave me friends from different walks of life, but after it was over we were left thinking about how little we had in common. Maybe that is the punchline for our generation: More friends but they are all less reliable. No matter how many jokes we had, how much fun we had, in the end everything comes to an end.

Although really, the same can be said for our lives. So, maybe try not to be sad that it happened… be glad it happened. And if you’ll allow me one more cheesy line, maybe I did not go where I intended to go, but I ended up where I needed to be. A person once said that just because a high school romantic relationship didn't last didn't mean the entire enterprise was a waste of time. Through it, a person learns and grows and experiences new things. The same can be said for Maplestory. This is probably something the older generations don't understand. It's a game, but it's more than just that. The people and experiences were real.

We all know it all ends sooner or later. And when that day comes we will realize that we spent our time doing and caring about the wrong things. We know this epiphany is coming yet we bicker and we let out neurosis run astray. The reality of life is now and it's important to connect with the present moment. The past is a decent place to visit but not a good place to stay, and hopefully fully describing what took place in the past I can move on to the future.

Il0v3yo0h, Sean7788, Ciciz, Lyoriex, Mort1ca, WalkedYa, Hankduals, Specialest, SauceyKaiser, Perpaloo, Nekopichuu, Porktrump, DkforDays, Shadowneko

This is the best compliment I have ever received in my life.