Rates in maplestory private servers

High Vs Low Rates in Maplestory Private Servers

An infographic comparing and contrasting rates in maplestory private servers

One of the freedoms that come with playing on your own maplestory private server is the choice to decide what rate(s) you want to play on.  Typically people modify the original exp and drop rates and usually make them higher than 1x.  In this post I want to talk about the different rates in maplestory private servers and which ones I think are most optimal for a private server’s long term health.

The 4 different tiers of rates in Maplestory Private Servers

In the community, we currently have 4 different rate types: low, medium, high, and custom.  Low rate servers are 3x and below, medium are 4x to 16x, and anything 16x and above would be considered high rate.  Some servers are extremely high rate (i.e. offer 100x or even 1000x).  

Custom rate servers change the exp rate depending on your level, some servers make your exp rate progressively higher (like maplems) or progressively worse (like old school maple or mapledestiny).  I would still say that you can classify custom rate servers into low, medium, or high rate based on the average rate that you experience when playing said server – though it is certainly more complicated.

Low rates In maplestory Private Servers and the insane grind

A player complaining about getting items with low rates in maplestory private servers

In terms of long term server health, its without a doubt that low rates are typically the better choice.  When your rates are low, the game has a much longer life cycle (it takes much more time for players to reach end game, farm equips, etc).  It takes longer for players to accomplish their goals on low rate servers which typically leads to a longer playtime before things begin to get dull.

The economy is less prone to inflation and typically stays more consistent over time.  Essentially when items are scarce and meso production is low (due to low rates), mesos and items retain value over time which promotes a stable economy.

However, low rates have a huge drawback – they require a significant time investment from any player to accomplish any meaningful task.  Simply leveling to third job can take upwards of 50 hours on a 2x rate server.

On a 1x server expect that figure to be over 100 hours.  Many players right now simply do not have the time to grind it out on a 1x or 2x server for what seems like very little reward, even though the end result is probably the most stable and rewarding.

As a result, even though low exp rates are most conducive to long term server health, they are not what is necessarily best to cultivate a playerbase, which is probably the most important thing for a maplestory private server.

Medium rates In Maplestory Private Servers – The Lukewarm Compromise

Medium rates are, in my opinion probably the optimal rates for a maplestory private server.  By making the initial rates higher, players feel like they are making meaningful progress for the time they put into the grind.

Unfortunately, when the drop rates are also put at a medium rate, the economy can easily be devastated by inflation where mesos lose all value and end game items become currency.  However, this does have some solution in the form of meso sinks (game features that destroy mesos).

Ultimately, however, I do think that medium rates are the best rate for a maplestory private server because it has just the right mix of extending the life of the server and making gameplay feel rewarding.

However, I would still argue that drop rates should be kept on the lower side, even if exp is allowed to wander to medium.

High Rates in maplestory private servers – The Instant Gratification

A player with a ton of equips with high rates in maplestory private servers

High rate servers are typically a very bad idea.  There is a reason that if you go look around you will see almost no active high rate servers.  

The problem with high rate servers is that players reach end game in an extremely short time, get bored with the server and quit.  This ultimately keeps the population very low and the servers usually die.

There are ways to properly execute high rate servers, but by doing so you would need to change the design of maplestory to inherently extend the games life cycle so that it still takes a significant investment to reach end game even with the higher rates.

The Optimal EXP, MESO, and DROP rate

I think that the best rates are 3x exp, 1x meso and 1x drop.  The 1x meso and 1x drop rates are required to make sure that the economy does not inflate out of control, and the 3x exp allows for a hard (but not impossibly difficult), yet rewarding grind.

The meso and drop rate need to be kept low because each player is essentially a meso printing machine.  The meso and drop rates basically define how quickly each player can print meso. If you want a server that can scale with a lot of players, you need to find a way to keep the economy from inflating into infinity – and keeping drop/meso rates low is a good way to accomplish this.

As for defining optimal exp, I will admit that it is largely preference.  I simply gravitate towards 3x because after having played on various servers of all sorts of rates, I found 3x to be the best mix between a difficult grind that still felt worthwhile.

Conclusion

Server exp, meso, and drop rates have long lasting ramifications down the road for a maplestory private server’s life cycle.  It is important to think about the effects each of these rates will have on your player base and economy.

Low rates are optimal for extending a servers life and maintaining a stable economy, but are not optimal for drawing in a large player base, as players typically tend to prefer higher rates.

Thus, as a server owner or player, it is ultimately up to you to decide what rates you want to play on and what is best for you.  I personally recommend the rates of 4x exp, 1x meso, and 1x drop because I feel that it is the best combination of rates in order to ensure a large player-base and a stable economy.

HP Washing In Maplestory Private Servers

HP Washing in Maplestory Private Servers

A nightlord that has undergone the HP Washing process

HP/MP washing is the process of increasing your characters mana and health.  Typically this is something that’s fairly standard for MMOs. However, in maplestory private servers, HP washing is a controversial topic due to how convoluted the process is and how it is often a noob trap.

How HP washing works

At its core we know that HP washing is simply a method to increase your characters HP and MP.  In this section let’s dive into how it actually works.

HP washing has 2 basic steps.

Step 1: Gain some EXCESS MP

Every class gains some random amount of MP per level (the amount is also different for each class).  Usually they gain a few points of excess mp as well.

You can increase the amount of excess mp you gain per level using your INT stat.  Every 10 int you have will net you 1 extra MP when you level up.

So, if you have 100 int, you’ll get 10 extra MP.  Equips count as well, so if you have gear that adds int and you wear it as you level up, you’ll get more MP.

You can also take this a step further by mp washing to gain even more MP, but that is beyond the scope of this post.

Step 2: Turn your MP into MP

After you have gained a lot of excess MP, you now have the privilege to transform that MP into HP.

Once again, the conversion rates for each class is different.  For some classes (warriors) it’s a bargain, for others (mages) it’s pretty much a scam.

But the process here is to put an ability point into HP and then use AP resets to subtract your MP and increase your HP.

The Problem With HP Washing

If you read above, HP washing might seem fairly simple.  You basically just get MP and then turn it into HP. However, the issue is that you cannot easily get MP at any point in your character’s development.  You must level up with INT in order to gain extra MP.

This means that players who were ignorant/uninformed are left with characters who have little potential to gain extra MP, and as a result HP.

This problem gets further intensified when HP washing is required for nearly every character to boss efficiently in end game.  

New players often fall into the “Noob Trap” of hp/mp washing – they make characters without trying to gain extra MP and end up with dysfunctional characters that can’t boss efficiently in end game.

Solution 1: Make HP washing NOT a noob trap

This solution aims to make it so that new players do not need to discard their old characters.

This can be done by boosting the amount of MP each class gains per level up naturally, so that players can HP wash without manually increasing their MP via INT.  

Essentially, when a new player gets to high level and finds out about hp washing, they can already hp wash even if they did not invest in INT while leveling up.

Solution 2: Make HP washing OPTIONAL by introducing other ways to gain HP

This solution fixes HP washing by making the process optional, because you can just use other gameplay elements in order to increase your HP.

Some examples of this would include introducing custom questlines that increase your HP, adding special boss drops that increase your HP, adding bonus HP to best in slot gear, and more.

Solution 3: Remove the HP washing mechanic

Here, maplestory private server owners simply decide to crap the HP washing mechanic and just let the server go on without it.  Typically I see this as a really bad solution because it severely nerfs some ranged DPS classes – though some servers add in alternative methods to increase HP alongside with this to lessen the blow.

Conclusion

Ultimately, HP washing is simply the process of turning your extra MP into HP.  The main problem with it is that it requires significant setup and background knowledge – which overtly punishes new players who do not prepare.

This feature has many solutions, but I think that the best one would be to simply make the process optional and allow players to gain extra HP at any point in their characters development.

Even though the process is somewhat complicated and counter intuitive, I truly do believe that the process washing is a beautiful aspect of maplestory that adds significant depth to the game.  It creates an interesting trade-off between early game strength and late game bulk – a trade-off that varies for each player depending on the extent of how much HP they want to gain.

Leeching In Maplestory Private Servers

Leeching In Maplestory Private Servers

A Bishop leeching in maplestory private servers

Leeching in maplestory private servers is a controversial game mechanic where a player can effectively train another player by simply being in the same party.  Some people love it, some people hate it, but before we get into that, I want to talk a bit more about how exp works in maplestory private servers.

EXP as it relates to Leeching in Maplestory Private Servers

Typically, whenever you kill a monster all by yourself, you will get 100% EXP.  This means that you will get 100% of the exp that the monster was suppose to give.  So let’s say you killed a brown teddy, you will get 60 exp (brown teddies normally give 60 exp each).

Party EXP as it relates to Leeching in Maplestory Private Servers

However, now let’s say you are in a party with a friend.  Now for every kill, you will get 80% exp and your friend will get 40% exp (assuming you are the same level, the higher the level difference between you and your friend the less exp the lower leveled person will get).  

So this means that by simply leeching, a leecher can gain exp at about 40% the rate you would get exp by simply training solo.

Let’s go back to the teddy example.  For each kill you would now get 48 exp, and your friend would get 24.

Adding in Holy Symbol

This becomes even more efficient when you add in holy symbol (a party buff that increases EXP by 50% when in a party of 2 or more).  The attacker will get 120% exp, and the leecher will get 60% exp. Essentially, this means that leeching in maplestory is EXTREMELY efficient, you are getting 50% of the exp of the attacker while doing 0% of the work.

Going back to our teddy example, you would get 72 exp per kill and your friend would get 36.

Do you see some weird here?  You are getting MORE EXP with a leecher than with solo play.  So having a leecher is actually increasing your exp (not draining it).

The Straw That Breaks The Camel’s Back

Now, if the above mechanics I described was all there was to leeching, there wouldn’t be too much of an issue.  However, there are additional things that combine with leeching that make it the most efficient means to gain exp.

The Requirements To Leech

The requirements to leech exp in vanilla maplestory are very, very lax.  You only need to do 1 of the following:

  1. Attack the monster and deal at least 1 damage (this is very overpowered for boss leech)
  2. Be within 5 levels of the monster you want to leech
  3. Be within 5 levels of the person killing the monster you want to leech

The lax requirements means that you can party with high level characters and leech off them with ease.  You can just hit a boss for 1 damage and leech off a high level attacker class for insanely fast exp (remember you will get roughly half the exp that the attacker gets), or you can leech off a 4th job mage hitting up to 15 mobs at a time.

The end result is that leeching becomes significantly faster in terms of exp gain than normal grinding (which is the original intent of how Maplestory was meant to be played).

Why some people find leeching in Maplestory Private Servers problematic

I want to start this section off with a quote from the MapleLegends forum from user Hito:

The other day on Legends I watched a guildie go from 70 to 135 in something like a week or two as they self-leeched with their Bishop. Congratulations for them but that makes me feel terrible, my effort in levelling is useless compared to those with mules who can level faster due to leeching, let alone them being tankier, moving faster, and earning more mesos with mules.”

Essentially, some people feel that leech makes the game uncompetitive and unfun because people who leech / self leech have a significant exp advantage over players who simply grind their main class.

The other reason people rage at leech is because a character that is not actually playing the game (but rather sitting afk leeching) is progressing faster than they can when manually playing their own character.

Others dislike leech because it forces people who want to play efficiently to make mages first to leech their main class.  Some people find it ridiculous that they need to create a class just to level the class that they want to play.

I personally find all of these arguments somewhat flawed (in that these arguments are often sentimental and charged with jealousy), though they do have basis in the fact that leech is the optimal way to play maplestory private servers.

The real reason leeching is imbalanced

In my opinion, the real reason leech is imbalanced isn’t because of overpowered attackers who can kill bosses in minutes, or overpowered mages who can clear an entire map in seconds.  Leeching is overpowered because of how party exp is split. Our 80/40 ratio means that leechers share too much of the exp that attackers gain.

We can fix this by adjusting the ratio to make it so attackers gain more exp and leechers gain less.

How to balance leech

The simplest way to fix leeching in maplestory private servers is to change the party exp formula from 80/40 to 90/30.

Doing so keeps leeching as the most efficient means of gaining exp, but makes party grinding your character not so much more worse in comparison.

At this point leech is more balanced because you now have a tradeoff between making a mage to leech your character versus playing the character you want to play from the beginning.

If you invest in making the mage for leech, it will take you a very long time before you see a return on your investment, whereas if you just start playing your attacking character, you will see a return immediately.

Of course if you play for a long period of time, the advantage of having the mage will in fact pay off and be more worthwhile.  However, the person who is playing the attacking class will not be as far behind as when the exp split ratio is 80/40.

Conclusion

The root of all evil when it comes to leech lies in Maplestory’s party exp split formula.  If we change the split to favor attacking over leeching, we can significantly balance leech and make maplestory private servers that are more enjoyable for all groups of players – those who hate leech and those who love leech.

Real World Trade In Private Servers

Real World Trade In Maplestory Private Servers

Real World Trade in maplestory private servers, trading hundreds of dollars for high attack red sock

You can buy a lot of things with real life money – but you should be able to buy anything?  Are there things that you should earn – not buy? In this topic we are going to discuss real world trade (also known as RWT), and whether or not Maplestory Private Server items/services are something you should be able to buy with real world money.

Defining Real World Trade

On the surface, RWT is the act of trading anything that is not directly tied to Maplestory Private Server gameplay for anything that is linked to gameplay.  So for example, paying US dollars for in game equips, mesos, or services like leech would count as real world trade.  

Paying for in game items and services for anything earned in game, however, would not constitute RWT and would widely be considered fair play.

Real World Trade and Pay2Win

Real world trade and Pay2Win are very similar in that they share the same problematic consequences.  They both make the Maplestory Private Server non competitive as they both allow for people to significantly progress without actually working hard on the server.  However, RWT is especially bad in that it creates incentives to exploit the server for real profit.

Real World Trade encourages Exploit Discovery and Abuse

When there is an option to trade in game items for real world money, people are incentivized to find ways to abuse maplestory private servers and create meso / item exploits.  Once an exploit is found, a player can simply gain “free mesos / items” and then sell those free mesos / items to get “free” real world money.  

Some players have even been doing this on mapleroyals for years and have earned significant money from doing so.  

This adds a second level of uncompetitiveness to the Maplestory Private Server.  Not only can some players get ahead of you buy paying real money, other players can get ahead of you by straight up cheating!

What can we do about it?

To be honest, there isn’t a solution to RWT.  The only real way to fix “RWT” is to make it so people who try to do it cannot profit, and this is simply not possible.  One feasible way to attempt this is to make all items untradeable, but then people will just sell accounts.  

At the end of the day RWT is like a pest in your house that you can’t eradicate.  You can employ pesticides to keep the problem under control but at the end of the day, there will always be some real world traders hiding in the shadows.

How To Discourage Real World Trade

Although we cannot stop RWT from occurring, we can try to do some things to limit it.

Make Real World Trade a Bannable Offense

At the very least, by making RWT a bannable offense, you can pressure people into not doing it.  Also, you can probably catch people who blatantly RWT – though it is unlikely you will be able to catch everyone.

Make Users Aware That You Have Logs Of the server

Simply posting a “mapletip” (basically an occasional ingame chat popup) claiming that you have ways to track RWT would make people think twice about breaking the rule (whether or not you can actually track real world trade).  A common way to track real world trade would be to keep logs of the server, like trade logs, drop logs of specific items, etc.

Foster A Community That Looks down on Real World Trade

This is a fairly difficult thing to implement.  But, if you were somehow able to create a community that as a whole found real world trade disgraceful, the social pressure exerted by the community would turn a lot of potential RWT buyers away from participating in RWT.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the problem with RWT is not that it makes the server uncompetitive, but that it incentivizes exploits and bug abuse to unfairly create items / mesos in maplestory private server.  After all, there are a lot of people would love to simply get free money.

There isn’t any hard solution to completely fix the problem, and the best that we can do is attempt to discourage real world trade via community building and rule enforcement.

Vote2Win In Maplestory Private Servers

Vote2Win In Maplestory Private Servers

Vote2Win GTOP Bot detection

If you play any Vote2Win Maplestory Private Servers I am sure that you are well acquainted with the following scene:

A little bit of background info

Currently, the way that Maplestory Private Servers are ranked is based on how many people “vote” for the server on GTOP.  The more people that vote for your server, the higher the server is ranked. In order to encourage people to vote, Maplestory Private Servers often give players in game rewards for voting.  Typically players can vote 1 time per unique IP address per day (as per GTOP rules).

The definition of Vote2Win

Vote2Win is what people call a server when the rewards for voting are extremely high.  Basically, you can win by just voting and not actually playing the server, since you make so many mesos by just voting.

Why Vote2Win becomes problematic

Inherently there isn’t anything wrong with voting and getting free nexon cash (unless you think it is uncompetitive to gain anything outside of in game actions).  However, the problem with Vote2Win is the incentives it creates.

As a player, you are incentivized to vote as many times as possible to get as much nexon cash as possible.  Some people try to abuse the voting system by voting on multiple different accounts and abuse VPN to get a unique IP address for each vote.  This becomes problematic because the vote abusers get an unfair advantage over other players who do not vote abuse. Essentially, we get the same problem that Pay2Win inherently creates.

A player who just abuses the vote system and does not play would end up with a far superior character than someone who doesn’t abuse the vote system but instead works hard training their character by playing the game.

The Ad Hoc Solution

To counter vote abusers, most Vote2Win servers make the act of commiting vote abuse (which is voting on more than 1 account per 24 hours) a bannable offense.  Which means that if you get caught vote abusing, these maplestory private servers will attempt to stop you from playing on their server.

Unfortunately this solution doesn’t work out too well in practice because people can employ sneaky tactics to hide their vote abuse and reap the enormous benefits.  Furthermore, permanently banning players isn’t a viable solution because players can once again employ sneaky tactics to hide their identity.

Essentially, the Vote2Win system that most servers use is extremely abusable and makes gameplay less competitive and fair.

The Vote2Win Trap

Unfortunately, a lot of maplestory private servers are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to addressing Vote2Win.  It is in the servers best interest to reward players for voting because when players vote, the server’s rank increases (which attracts more players, and thus more money for the server).

If a maplestory private server does not properly reward voting, players will vote less, making the servers rank drop.  As a result, most of the Vote2Win servers are forced to use the sub-optimal solution of trying to ban vote abusers while letting the sneaky players who don’t get caught make the server less competitive.

A better way to address Vote2Win

The ideal solution to Vote2Win is to prevent the system from being abused in the first place.  The main reason that the Vote2Win system is abusable is that players can profit from voting on many different accounts.

So the best way to fix the system is to make it so that people cannot profit from vote abusing.  There are multiple ways to achieve this – from removing items from cash shop all the way to making everything that you can obtain from voting untradable.  Of the two solutions I think the best one is to simply make everything untradable because then players are still incentivized to vote for their server.

Even if the rewards from voting are untradable, the rewards can still be a strong enough incentive for players to vote on their main account and keep there servers rank intact.

If this is done, then you can simply let players vote abuse all they want and not have to worry about rules that are difficult to enforce.  If players cannot profit from vote abusing, then doing so doesn’t make the server less fair or competitive.

In Conclusion

The Vote2Win system is too easily abused and makes Vote2Win servers significantly less fair and competitive.  Vote2Win servers can fix this by making it so that vote abuse isn’t profitable.

Pay2Win Vs Play2Win

Pay2Win Vs Play2Win In Maplestory Private Servers

Infographic contrasting play2win and pay2win

Imagine that you’ve spent months playing on a maplestory private server.  You’ve grinded for hours to earn millions – or even billions of mesos to fund your overpowered attack gear, perfect weapon, and yellow scrolled equips.  Then, some random person comes along, spends a few hundred – maybe even a thousand dollars on the server and purchases gear that’s even BETTER than yours.  How would that make you feel?  In this post, I’m going to dive into pay2win, the phenomenon that plagues most free2play MMOS and explain how it applies to maplestory private servers.

Defining Play2Win

Before we go further its very important that we have a clear definition on the terms Play2win and Pay2win.  Play2Win means that in order to “win” you must play. By win, I mean obtain significant advantages over other players, for example winning can be having more expensive gear, being higher level, or just doing more damage.

Basically, a maplestory private server is only play2win if playing said server is the only way to gain significant advantages.  A server can only be play2win in the absence of Pay2Win.

Defining Pay2Win

Pay2Win is the polar opposite of Play2Win.  Instead of playing, the way that you gain an advantage over other people is by spending real life money to purchase items in game.  For example, take a server like MapleMS where you can donate real life money and sell donor credits for mesos. This means that if you want to purchase an expensive item in game for mesos, you can just “buy” the mesos with real life money and then instantly purchase the item without having to had work for it at all in game.

The Problems With Pay2Win

A new player angry at pay2win

The main issue with Pay2Win is that it severely undermines the accomplishments of people who Play2Win.  If their months of hard work can be matched with a few hundred dollars, what’s the point of even working hard to make a strong character in the first place?  Overall, it makes the maplestory private server less “competitive”, as all the top ranking people are not necessarily earning their rank via gameplay.

The problem with Play2Win

Money, a problem that pay2win does not have.

There isn’t any problem with play2win in itself – but there is a problem that it doesn’t solve that pay2win inherently does.  Maplestory Private Servers are not free to run – they cost money each month in the form of hosting. When a server is Pay2Win, they have easier access to funds from their user base than a server that is Play2Win.

Of course you could always just take normal donations without giving tangible in-game benefits on a Play2Win server – but I would imagine that the revenue from this would end up being sporadic, and may or may not be able to 100% cover all the hosting costs.

Although Play2Win is probably the ideal philosophy for Maplestory Private Servers to abide by, sometimes it is just not practically feasible.  For a Maplestory Private Server to be sustainable in the long term, it needs to be capable of producing enough income to sustain itself (unless the owner is just willing to let the server leech on his/her pockets for eternity).  That being said, I do think there are some solutions to this problem.

A New Idea – Pay4Advantage

Pay4Advantage is basically a compromise between Play2Win and Pay2Win.  A server needs to generate revenue to feed its existence, so the server can offer people who donate specific advantages while keeping the server competitive (whether or not you donate shouldn’t impact core gameplay or ranking).

Example of Pay4Advantage

A example of Pay4Advantage being implemented happened in the private server Croosade.  In Croosade, players who donate could purchase a cash item called “auto buff”. Auto buff would basically automatically cast certain skills before they would expire so that the players who had this item could spend an extra second or so attacking instead of rebuffing – effectively increasing their DPS.

However, the increase is so miniscule – for most classes this would result in less than a 0.5% DPS increase.  The advantage gained from donating to the server is real, but it is small enough such that it does not affect competitive gameplay.

Other ways to implement Pay4Advantage would be to introduce special quality of life items that can only be obtained by donating to the server.

Essentially, Pay4Advantage, when executed properly would provide real, tangible incentives for players to donate to their server, while keeping the server competitive for all players.

Concluding thoughts on pay2win

Pay2Win hurts the competitive aspect of Maplestory Private Servers and severely alienates players who do not want to or cannot donate.  Play2Win keeps Maplestory Private Servers competitive and fair but doesn’t allow for a direct way for a server to generate revenue.

Ideally, we would prefer it if a Maplestory Private Server could be Play2Win while being able to support itself purely from donations from the community.