I actually didn't ask this when I was in Korea. What is MapleStory created with?
MK: Like what engine?
Yeah. What's used to make the art? It almost looks Flash-created, the characters, but I'm pretty sure it's probably not.
MK: Right. I don't know what they call it in the States, and it's probably the same thing, but it's called Dot. We basically just draw every pixel.
Oh, so it's actually hand-drawn pixel art?
Oh good. That's nice. I really appreciate that.
MK: The cool thing about that is, if you look at MapleStory, all the characters are the same proportions, so that was a genius move. Because the first game that we brought to microtransactions was a game called QuizQuiz, and that was originally a subscription product.
MK: Yeah, like in '98 and '99. Once they turned it subscription, out of the beta, everybody was dropping off. And we were like, "How do we get people to come back in? Let's try to sell avatar customizations and whatnot."
But the problem was all the characters were a different shape and size, so when you develop one hat or hairstyle, you have to make seven different iterations for seven different body or head types. So for MapleStory, they just made it one size. So if you just make one hat, it fits everybody.
That was a good one-size-fits-all-type thing. Speaking of MapleStory, do you have any updates on the DS game at all? When I talked to the Korean team...
MK: When did you talk to them?
November. They were still working on it. I've seen footage of it, and it seems like it's going to be more of a single-player action experience.
MK: Yeah. I think the DS is making a huge push in South Korea right now.
I've seen the ads in the malls and stuff.
MK: In Korea, right?
MK: It's very cool. I'm surprised it's taken off like that. All the kids want it, and that's huge, because when I was growing up, kids weren't allowed to have things like that. If you were to go to the video arcade, your elementary school teacher would run in and pull you out by the ears. Now that we've become parents, we're buying it for our kids, and it's cool.
Do you know when it's going to be done?
MK: Last I read, and I think it was posted somewhere in the news, I think it was supposed to come out sometime this year, but I don't have full details, especially in North America, because I don't know if we even want to release that.
You should! I mean, the DS market's pretty rough now for third parties, but I think that MapleStory's got...
MK: Yeah. And I think what's cool with MapleStory is that I was reading an article that was saying that the Nintendo relationship with us was really good and that they've been giving us a lot of support.
But then I read some articles that say that they haven't been giving a lot of support -- but for us, they have. That's because they want to move into the Korean market so badly, and it's a big IP.
I know that the Kyoto office is actually helping with the development of the game. This is the Korean side, so maybe you don't know, but I'm wondering how they're going about putting narrative into it, because if it's single-player, they're going to have to write a story and things. So that's pretty different.
MK: Yeah, from what it is right now, because it's a persistent world and kind of free-form. They're probably just going to build a lot of quests and stuff, but you're right, I'm not fully aware of the details. All of the projects internally are top secret. They don't open it up to everybody.