MapleStory: 12 years old and still growing

MapleStory: 12 years old and still growing
“MapleStory” chief concept artist Koo Kyo-seong (right) and business strategist Shim Gyu-yeon.

Koo Kyo-seong has a lot on his mind these days.

Whether riding his skateboard during lunch hour or sitting at his office desk surrounded by animated figurines, all Koo thinks about is how to make "MapleStory" more visually engaging and entertaining.

As the chief concept artist for MapleStory, Nexon Korea's fantasy adventure multiplayer online role-playing game, he is faced with the heavy burden of making the company's all-time favourite PC game sustainable in this rapidly-changing mobile environment.

The pressure has increased as MapleStory marks its 12th anniversary this year and joins a very small league of Korean games, including NCsoft's "Lineage" that has kept going for more than a decade.

But Koo likes to think of it as a challenge and opportunity to reboot MapleStory and its pixel-art characters.

"We want to do what's never been done or seen before, like make the Maple World and its characters cooler, classier and fancier, rather than just being cute and little," Koo, 36, said in an interview at Nexon's headquarters in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province.

This doesn't mean that his team will completely makeover the looks and stories of the characters, whose roles range from warriors and magicians to pirates.

It will still have that "retro game look" that people in the 80s enjoyed while playing console games such as "The Legend of Zelda," Koo said.

The concept will remain the same ― small-size characters with bright and light colors in a battle between good versus evil, he noted.

"That is the MapleStory identity. We will keep that," Koo said.

While behind his desk trying to create the game's visual stories, Koo draws inspiration from artists like Hayao Miyazaki, Moebius and KAWS.

The chief concept artist said he tries to reminisce the old days when he used to love playing with toys and watching Japanese animations.

"MapleStory characters, as you can see, have drawn inspiration from Japanese animation," he said.

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