Mabinogi (Hangul:마비노기) is an online game released by South Korean Game Distributing Company Nexon, and developed by devCAT studio, one of several development teams in Nexon Inc. The Welsh word mabinogi is found in the original manuscripts of the Mabinogion. Mabinogi offers a multitude of skills and a high level of diversity among players and environments.
The game engine features hand-painted textures stylized with edge detection outlining, which enhance the characters. The game world is developed continuously, through the release of important patches (referred to as "Generations" and "Chapters") that introduce new areas to explore, additional features such as pets and new skills, and advancement of the storyline. The user interface is simple and designed in the likeness of Microsoft Windows' task bar, allowing the player to easily navigate the menus (experienced players can also make use of keyboard shortcuts, to simplify certain tasks).
Commercially, Mabinogi is built on a hybrid Value Added Services model (which varies slightly for each game localization), that allows free gameplay and the subscription of paid packages, purchased through the game service shop, which unlock the full game experience. In South Korea, beginning with the Chapter 3 patch, Mabinogi now allows free 24-hr gameplay, but the Item Shop has been opened, where players can buy special items like the Skill Untrain Capsule using Nexon Cash. The Premium Shop, selling Character Cards, etc., still exists.
The game service is currently available in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, North America and most recently New Zealand and Australia. During the 2007 Gstar game show in Seoul, South Korea, Nexon announced an Xbox 360 version of Mabinogi.
The North American closed beta test began on January 30 2008, at 2pm PST.The pre-open beta only available to Fileplanet users was released on March 5 2008. The full open beta was released on March 6 2008, at 3PM PST. The North American localization of Mabinogi was officially released on March 27th 2008.
The player is not limited by any class other than the character's race, and is free to level up any of the different skills available. The combination of skill choices, age, items, physical constitution, and other variables such as user titles, is what makes up the character. The gameplay is largely skill-based. To learn and improve skills, Ability Points are required.
There are also various social aspects, like sitting around a campfire, playing music, having a friendly chat, sharing food, as well as making use of different facial expressions to make user interaction more colorful.
Character creation and development
Character creation screen (Japanese version)Characters are created by using Character Cards. There are two kinds of cards: basic and premium. One basic card is given freely when there are no characters (such as when an account is newly created), but not more. Premium cards allows more customization options.
Currently there are three races: human, elf (since Generation 5, Chapter 2) and giant (since Generation 6, Chapter 2). When creating a character, one may choose an age between 10 and 17. The character will advance one year in age every (real) Saturday. Different ages yield different initial stats and affect the amount of stats raised when leveling up.
Rebirth is an important factor. To rebirth, a Character Card must be purchased and applied to an existing character. Rebirth allows the player to change the character's age, gender, appearance, and reset the character's level back to 1, while keeping all previously learned skills.
At the age of 25, characters will not gain Ability Points from aging, which is required to advance skill ranks, and leveling becomes increasingly harder and slower. Therefore, to accelerate character advancement, players must use the rebirth system.
The player's eating habits affect the character's build. Eating certain foods in large quantities will increase their weight and may also raise/lower some stats. For example, berries has a slimming effect. These transformations happen over time.
Each (real world) day of the week grants players specific bonuses, such as getting a higher experience rate for certain skills, higher item creation success rate, aging, gaining AP, etc.
In manual combat, predicting the enemy's next move and making use of different offensive and defensive skills is key in this game. However, there is also an automatic combat mode.
Some monsters are aggressive and will attack and pursue on sight. The high artificial intelligence of the enemies makes combat more engaging, reducing the existence of bots.
Dying causes loss of experience points, and sometimes equipment (lost items can be retrieved at an NPC at a cost). Fallen players can be revived by other players, or by the in-game NPC, Nao, if a Soul Stone of Nao (game shop item) is used. If the character has zero experience points and suffers a death penalty, negative experience points will accumulate.
There is a wide range of Life skills which give the player the chance to experience a different side of the “fantasy life”. Players can perform tasks such as tending to the wheat and potato fields, making flour, gathering wool from sheep and eggs from hens, weaving and making garments, mining for minerals and crafting weapons, playing and composing music, cooking dishes, etc.
Using a system called Music Markup Language (actually a variation of Music Macro Language, which is completely distinct from the notation format usually referred to as Music Markup Language), players may compose their own arrangements or use music scrolls created by other players. In the North American version, these are known as the "Compose" and "Play Music" skills. Different musical instruments, such as lutes, ukuleles, flutes, and others can be used to play. There are legal implications of playing copyrighted music, and Nexon officially discourages such actions.
NPC interaction is important. As the player talks to different non-player characters, more dialog keywords will become available. These will reveal plot points and NPC backgrounds, unlock quests or skills, etc. NPCs also offer a variety of services such as shops, item repair and upgrade, skill apprenticeships and more. Players can also request part-time jobs from some of the NPCs, which can be useful to obtain items or earn gold (the in-game currency). By interacting frequently with the NPCs, they will be able to remember the player's character.
Mabinogi has mainstream story campaigns (these were subscribers only). These campaigns have connected story lines that reveal the background story of Erinn and several important characters.
There are 3 stories in sequential order, each implemented at their corresponding Generation updates.
Generation 1: Advent of the Goddess
Generation 2: Paladin
Generation 3: Dark Knight
Generation 5: Desert Elves
Generation 8: The Drake of Iria
Generation 9: Alchemy
Generation 10:Goddess of Light
Generations 4 through 7 don't have any story campaign, which is reason of complaint among part of the player base.
Quests, exploration and part-time jobs
An NPC giving the player a new quest (Japanese Version).There are many different quests that players can complete throughout the game. Different types of quests exist, some are party quests, others involve monster hunting, item collecting or other tasks, for instance, skill-based quests like cooking or tailoring.
Some of them are received by the player at specific points or after certain quests are completed, others are given by the NPC's, some can be purchased as quest scrolls and, finally, there are also exploration quests that the player can enroll in through the Quest Boards.
Quest rewards may consist of experience points, Ability Points, gold, items or a combination of these rewards. Quests help the player to discover the game's regions and to find out about the many available NPC's, as they require traveling to different parts of the game world and talking to all the different non-player characters.
Exploration quests typically involve finding certain hidden objects using a pair of L-shaped rods or by finding landmarks or animals and making a sketch of these. Different exploration quests are available according to the player's exploration level. There is also a player rank for the completion of each quest. When a character completes exploration quests or simply comes across these hidden landmarks, the character's exploration level will increase, and as they level up, the character will gain Ability Points, and access to new exploration quests.
Another type of special quests are part-time jobs, which are given by the NPC's. Part-time jobs (called Arbeits in all regions but North America) are only available at a specific time of the day for each NPC and have a time limit to be completed. The player must complete the requested tasks (i.e.: delivering an item to another NPC, crafting a certain number of items, collecting objects, doing farming chores, etc.) and report back to the NPC to choose their reward.
Repeating these part-time jobs helps to raise the intimacy level between the player and the NPC (giving certain items to the NPC may also help). When a "friendship" has been established between them, certain merchant NPC's will reveal a secret store to the player with special items to purchase.
Time and weather
The game has its own internal clock (36 minutes of the real time corresponds to 1 day of the game), as day gradually turns into night (a dynamic weather system is also in place, with effects such as rain, thunder and sand storms). Each real time day of the week offers players the opportunity to take advantage of specific gameplay bonuses, such as increased skill success or lowered NPC store prices. Weekday names used in-game reflect the Celtic mythology that the game evokes. In Mabinogi, the days of the week are represented by seasons:
Alban Eiler (Monday)
Alban Heruin (Wednesday)
Alban Elved (Friday)
Achieving certain conditions will reward the character with a title. Titles, when applied, can change the character's stats, with the potential to be beneficial or detrimental.
"Bear Slayer with Bare hands"
"Defeated by a Fox at 17"
"Noob Elemental Master"
"The Ogre Slayer"
"The Fishing King"
"The Beta Tester"
"The seal breaker of Ciar Dungeon"
"Friend of Malcolm/Nora/Trefor/Deian"
"Paladin/Dark knight/Falcon/Savage Beast"
Some titles are unique in the server, and only one character in that server can be awarded with the title, this is usually achieved by breaking down a Seal Stone. There are also a few titles awarded for completing an event, participating in the Closed Beta period or completing Mainstream Quests.
Other game systems
Players can set up stores to sell their items. Incidentally, items cannot be looted, as it frequently happens in other games, since any item dropped from a monster cannot, as a rule, be picked up by another player for a reasonable amount of time. Items can be safely traded through the trading panels. As another safeguard to item loss, items dropped by a player as a result of the player's death are automatically recovered by an NPC nearby, where they can be retrieved.
Generation 3, in later updates, added housing areas between Tir Chonaill and Dunbarton, and also between Bangor, in an area splitting off of Dugald Isle, and Emain Macha, in an area splitting off of Sen Mag Plateau. Through this housing system, players can bid for a house and pay rent for it afterwards, in order to keep it. Houses may be used as stores, and players can purchase items to decorate their homes.
As in many other MMORPG's, player characters can get married in-game, by requesting this to a marriage NPC. A pet system is also available. Players may purchase Pet Cards from the game store and summon them in-game. Pets can help in combat or, in some cases, even be used as transportation, allowing the player to travel at a greater speed than on foot. Each pet has a fully customizable AI system, allowing the owner to give it preset actions he or she desires. Pets can even be played by themselves. Like the player characters, pets also grow as they age. Unlike player characters, however, pets automatically learn skills based on their level
Other features worth mentioning are the friend, party and guild systems. Guild creation requires the purchase of an extended play package from the game store. Guilds can expand/level up by meeting an increasing quota of points (called Guild Points, or GP), which are earned by the guild's members by staying in-game. PvP combat is also possible in special arenas, as well as between Paladins and Dark Knights at any location.
In-game screenshot: a player catches a fish (Japanese Version).Each character can develop a large number of skills, although some can only be learned if the character is of a certain race (Human, Elf, Giant). Skills are divided into four categories: Combat, Life, Magic and Alchemy. Combat refers to melee and ranged attack skills, as well as defensive moves. Life refers to crafting and performing skills, such as fishing, cooking, composing, tailoring, smithing or potion making. Some of the Life skills available are also mini-games. Magic comprises three kinds of elemental magic (fire, ice and lightning) and non-elemental magic, such as healing and recovery skills.
Ability Points (obtained when the player levels up, ages or has completed important quests) are required to take each skill up a level. Each skill is ranked from F to A and then from 9 to 1 (F being the lowest and 1 being the highest possible rank of a given skill). By practicing different skills, the experience for these skills (and also for character level) will go up. If the player performs a certain skill until it reaches "perfect skill" training (before advancing that skill to the next rank), they will also receive special bonuses. Skill levels cannot be lowered once they are advanced, unless a Skill Untrain Capsule is used (only available on the Item Shop and can be bought using Nexon Cash). Additionally, the AP required for ranking up may differ between Humans and Elves in certain skills.
Paladin and Dark Knight Skills
Players can acquire special Paladin skills, which allow their character to transform into a Paladin and use power-up skills, after completing the Generation 2 mainstream plot. They can also convert their Paladin to a Dark Knight by solving the quests available in Generation 3, Season 4. Dark Knights and Paladins strongly oppose each other. Dark Knights have an additional skill, not available to Paladins, which gives them the ability to control monsters. The player can only transform into a Paladin or a Dark Knight once a day (in-game time). The Paladin or Dark Knight timer resets at 6:00 AM each morning (game time).
The Mabinogi World
Mabinogi World Map, as of Generation 5 (Japanese Version).In the Mabinogi world, there are three beginning towns in Generation 1, named:
Tir Chonaill (a beginner area)
There is also a wide variety of other maps, such as the fields which connect the towns, dungeons and quest maps, the "Soulstream" (where Nao appears) and "the Gate".
The game world is expanded continuously through subsequent major patches. Generation 2 introduces a new town to the world of Erinn, Emain Macha. Generation 4 adds a new region, Rano, which belongs to a whole new continent, named Iria. This continent is quite large (when fully implemented, it is about three times larger than the size of the Urla mainland, where Generations 1 through 3 take place).
Generation 5 reveals another region of Iria, called Connus, and implements a new race of characters, the Desert Elves. It also adds the elven town of 'Philia'. Generation 6 brings yet a new kind of race, the Giants. A new area called Physis (a place eternally covered in snow) and a town called Vales are added at this point.
Generation 8 adds another extension to the continent of Iria, Zardin, where a new mainstream quest takes place for the human characters. This area features active volcanoes and sulfur geysers, and is "not a part of Erinn," according to the game.
Generation 9 adds some new regions and a new town, Taltin. Taltin is a town of Alchemy, where most of Chapter 3 main streams take place. Taltin is on Urla mainland, next to Dunbarton.
However, Tara isn't yet updated, but it seems to be updated on Generation 10.
Moon gates and Mana tunnels
"Moon gates" in Urla connect remote areas and allow players to teleport through them. The destination of moon gates changes every (in-game) day. They are periodic and can be mapped and predicted (as many Korean and Japanese fan sites already do). At a particular night, all moon gates teleport to one place. "Mana tunnels" in Iria connect different points across the continent. These, however, work differently from Moon gates. Mana tunnels can only teleport players to a mana tunnel that the character has used before. The light cycles are important to these portals: Moon gates are active only at night, while mana tunnels can only be used during the day. Mana tunnels, when active, replenish the players' mana if they are standing close to it. Players can also move from one continent to another by boat or by selecting "Continent move" from the main menu.
The giant spider in Alby dungeon is one of the weakest boss monsters.Mabinogi uses an instanced dungeon system, with random map generation, that allows dungeon exploration by multiple players at the same time. When a player enters a dungeon, they will find a lobby with a statue of a goddess, and a platform before it. A separate dungeon instance is created for every unique type of item thrown on the platform. Depending on what the player drops, they might end up in a dungeon instance with players already in it.
Dungeons maps consist of connecting rooms and corridors. As they explore the map, the player will encounter chests or other devices which will, if opened or activated, summon monsters that must be defeated in order to progress in the dungeon path. At the end of each dungeon, there is a large room, which will usually have the boss enemy of the dungeon (sometimes escorted by a number of other enemies). Once the boss and its minions are defeated, a treasury room is opened, with the rewards for clearing the dungeon. The number of treasure chests inside the treasury will be equal to the number of characters in the dungeon (at the time of opening the door). Players can thus explore the dungeons in teams.