Monday, April 30, 2007

MapleStory and the PC Gets a Makeover

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday trying to help Isaac with problems with his MapleStory online game. It would not work. He had tried installing updates and patches to no avail. I did a complete removal and reinstall and that did not help. In fact I eventually wound up doing a complete reinstall of my Windows 2000 system from scratch on a second hard drive, which involved hours of downloading and installing drivers for the audio, video, and network components of the Intel motherboard, BIOS updates, and then dozens of Microsoft patches including updates to Internet Explorer required to install the updates.

That didn't change anything; it still didn't work. The client would always claim that it could not contact the game servers.

It wasn't a total loss; I now have my partitions set up more like I want them. I also took the opportunity to remove my Fedora Core Linux configuration and install Ubuntu. I don't do serious work on Linux at home but every once in a while I try to do some work with various languages and tools: Open Dylan, GHC (a nice Haskell compiler), etc. I've been meaning to try Ubuntu. It installed very easily, so we'll see how it goes. Linux has too many distros. To really gain acceptance on the desktop one of them needs to garner a larger market share and a lot of momentum. Ubuntu seems to be the best candidate for that, although if I were running a server I might consider CentOS instead.

Anyway, I finally found on one particular forum an answer -- it seems that MapleStory SEA abruptly and without warning blocked access to all players outside of "SEA" (Southeast Asia).

A lot of players have put many months of effort into building characters, acquiring items, etc., and there are hundreds of messages from angry players talking about this.

Now, MapleStory SEA was free to download, and free to play, so obviously the people running the game don't owe these players indefinite free access. However, there's a twist on this. There are some items available in the game that you must purchase with real money -- via PayPal, I believe. We never actually put money into it, but apparently many players have -- sometimes spending hundreds of USD. And they are mad, and it seems to me that they have a right to be mad, since they have lost use of these game items that they paid for in meatspace.

There is another version of MapleStory -- a so-called "global" version allowing play by region. I downloaded that client and installed it. Where the SEA client always gave me a message indicating that it was unable to connect to the game servers, this one starts up, showing the splash screens and all that, but then displays a dialog that says (forgive my ASCII art):

| |
| |
| |
| ------ |
| | OK | |
| ------ |

That's it. No other information. When I press "OK," the client quits. Perhaps an error message that is missing a localized string? In any case, it's a bit hard to Google for that particular error message!

Anyway. I am guessing Isaac won't be playing MapleStory any more. It's a bit of a shame. He's merely disappointed, but some folks are mad!

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