Spent some time to analyze the whole Revo-Classic movement that GRAVITY has been doing starting with thRO to more recently iRO and it's been getting me theorizing what they're trying to accomplish.
Ragnarok Online first launched in Korea in 2002 and it's been through a myriad of changes:
- The kiddie script hack, which got rid of a lot of neat stuff that RO would otherwise have like the day/night cycle and weather system.
- The 3-1 Classes being released as Rebirth Classes while the 3-2 Classes became linear 3rd Classes.
- Renewal changing a lot of combat formulas and adding stuff like EXP and drop penalties as well as fixed cast times.
- Cash shop introduction releasing a lot of game-changing stuff like Convex Mirrors and Battle Manuals with game-breaking stuff like cards.
- Botting and subsequent zeny inflation.
- Implementation of 3 job class systems (Core, Expanded, Doram) that made it near impossible to balance for PVP and War of Emperium.
- Changes in development teams caused game scripts to be inconsistent and bugs harder to pin down.
- Lack of care in documenting updates sent to official servers caused foreign servers to be behind the developer server in years rather than months.
With all that damage having been inflicted on RO over the course of 15 years, it's understandable that the current development team is rather overwhelmed in trying to fix things. So what's there to do for an old game that's been beaten to a scripting pulp?
Start over from square one!
With GRAVITY replacing publishers left and right and the implementation of Revo-Classic servers, that's just what they're doing to restart global RO. But therein lies the problem of veteran players that simply don't want to abandon their time investments on old servers that are broken beyond repair. Obviously, GRAVITY can't really force players to abandon everything to start over (again). They've already gotten plenty of bad press from disgruntled RO players that have chosen to support private/illegal servers.
However, Revo-Classic would fix the current issue of official servers being out of date as well as the problem of private servers reverse-engineering the engine as it appears the Revo-Classic servers are basically Renewal 2.0. But it remains to be seen if GRAVITY can keep the new version of the engine out of private server hands since they didn't really do well on that end with Renewal. Electronics Extreme doesn't seem too willing to share their anti-bot measures with other official servers, which resulted in Indonesia RO (idRO)'s Revo-Classic server getting infested with bots. If bots can overrun the Revo-Classic servers just as badly as they can with Renewal servers, I don't see the future of Revo-Classic RO being any better than current RO. But hey, since the current development team has been doing focus group tests and surveys to get newbie feedback, they just might surprise us.
On that note, I'm starting to doubt that Gravity Interactive didn't know what the Overseas Care Packages (jRO gear boxes) would do to their more kRO-centric servers. Surely they're aware of the fact that jRO's servers have much different mechanics from kRO so any items made for their servers are designed to suit their particular formulas. Putting such items on servers based on kRO mechanics is like giving an old dog rabies. I mean, really, how can iRO revitalize their PVP and WoE scenes when they're faced with the same bleak prospects as the development team in that they have to balance 3 different job class systems? From a business standpoint, holding on to a customerbase that's full of disgruntled people that are finicky about the company's direction is more detrimental than trying to attract new customers and cultivate a newer community. It's a harsh reality to let go of the old to survive on the new, but it's just business to them. I, like many others, aren't happy about it, yet can't fault them for doing what they can to survive.
Will I play on the Revo-Classic server (and hence the new generation of RO)? Possibly. I'm not happy about having to abandon my Ragnarok DS items on the Renewal server since I did pay for them, but I am curious about the new direction that RO is going in. I'm still keeping expectations low since Renewal was an overall disappointment for me, even though I like the linear EXP requirements over pre-Renewal's exponential curve. Gotta take the good with the bad, I suppose. I do look forward to seeing all the removed maps again as well as the Willows being back on their Willow-shaped map. (Yes, I could do just that by visiting Classic server on iRO, but it'll be more interesting to be on a server where everyone is starting over from scratch.)