WarCry: Are there any differences between Pioneers of Iria and the same content that was released in smaller updates in the original Korean game?
Most of the content in Pioneers of Iria is directly from Korea but we wanted to cater to North American MMO players by delivering an expansion pack, which is how most players here are used to seeing their games updated. We felt like presenting such a major expansion to the game - for free - would really highlight what a value Mabinogi is for MMO players. Plus, the North American team is hard at work to provide players with exclusive content.
WC: The two new races, Elves and Giants, both have "Beast Forms." Can you elaborate on what these are?
The "Beast Forms" are the Elven Falcon form and the Giant Beast Mode form. They're essentially Elf and Giant versions of the Human Paladin/Dark Knight transformations. Health, mana, stamina, and stats are all increased in these forms and gain access to new abilities. Players can keep their characters in Beast Mode for a certain amount of time depending on the level.
WC: On the site, the two new races kind of sound like rivals, or opposed to each other in some way. Will this be reflected in the game, and how?
They sure will. Elves are kill-on-sight in Vales, the Giant town and vice-versa for Giants if they decide to visit Filia. Elves and Giants also compete for the support of Human characters. If players are flagged for PvP, then they're fair game for the opposing faction.
WC: What's new in the new continent of Iria?
New dungeons and a new dungeon system, new abilities, hundreds of different quests, monsters and beasts, raid bosses, and much more! And obviously - Elves and Giants are both natives of Iria so their introduction to the game wouldn't be possible without the exploration of Iria.
WC: Mabinogi is loosely inspired / based on Celtic mythology. How has this continued in Iria?
Iria is focused more on the introduction of Elves and Giants into the game. However, the previously paid content that held much of the inspired mythology is now available to all players for free!
WC: With all the fancy new features the Elves and Giants get, are poor normal Humans going to be left behind?
Absolutely not. The Humans have established themselves in Iria, setting up Qilla Base Camp as a sort of base of operations. From there, they can explore the lush, freezing, and arid lands of Iria. Humans also get a very powerful attack called Final Hit.
WC: Can you elaborate on the new Paladin and Dark Knight transformations? How will those work, and do you still have to complete the storylines in question?
The Paladin and Dark Knight transformations are the Human versions of the "Beast Forms" mentioned earlier. Players must quest through G1~G3 to obtain these transformations. In G3, players have the option of deviating from the holy path of the Paladin in order to become a Dark Knight. There is an option to skip the storyline in G1, but why would you want to do that?!
WC: Why did you decide to make the storylines part of the free-to-play game instead of the paid content? Will paid content users be getting anything extra to compensate?
We did this because we wanted to align ourselves more with Nexon's free-to-play philosophy. When we first launched Mabinogi, we really saw the main storyline quests as an add-on to the game but as the game has progressed, we realize that it is part of the game experience and Nexon truly believes players should experience the game for free - and choose to spend money to enhance that experience. We also want to show our appreciation for our players who have already completed the main storyline quests. To do so, they are eligible to receive a free pet.
WC: Will the next update to Mabinogi be a major "expansion" like this one, or will there be smaller content updates as well?
We haven't decided how the next update will appear in Mabinogi, whether it's a large expansion, or a traditional update. Smaller content updates can always be expected to show up on a rough month-to-month schedule.
WC: Why the decision to do Pioneers of Iria instead of the gradual content roll-out that the Korean game originally had?
North American MMO gamers are accustomed to and like major game expansion packs. And we are localizing this product to suit the needs and desires of the local player. We're excited with the reaction from the players so far and hope they're really enjoying the effort we put into delivering them such a major content rollout in one swoop!