Madoka Magica Online Interviews
This page contains interviews and other behind-the-scenes information about Madoka Magica Online.
4gamer January 2013
4gamer interviewed a Madoka Online developer named 松岡比呂美 in January 2013. The interview was hard-hitting and focused on problems that were of concern to players. The developer explained the company's reasoning and plans to improve its service. Notes added in [brackets] were not part of the original interview.
Madoka Online had 200,000 players registered before the start of service, and 300,000 shortly after launch. [Note: In January 2013 the total reached 400,000] Since this exceeded expectations, the company had trouble handling the load with the severs they had. It took a great deal of trial and error to improve their internal processes for maintenance and implementing updates.
Some campaigns are pay-to-win oriented. The game's marketing mislead consumers into thinking they could expect to get the best weapons easily by buying platinum tickets. However, the chance to get them was so low that some consumers felt hurt after spending significant amounts of money and getting unlucky drops. Doesn't this cause problems if players aren't willing to spend 30,000 yen?
When the head dev joined the team, the game's target was too narrow to maintain long term gameplay. Therefore, near the end of last year, they decreased the money needed to roll plats. However, 30,000 yen is a must in order to get the strongest items. [Note: 4gamer brought up the 30,000 yen figure, not the devs]
There exists a law that online games or browser games cannot use money to gacha the same items over and over again. However, rare items in Madoka Online are very difficult to get. The devs are taking that seriously, but are currently still finding solutions. [Note: The box system was revised on 2/8/13 to players won't re-roll the same items before the box is reset]
Why did players lose trust in PMMMO?
Maybe due to mis-distributed rewards. We will improve the reward mechanism by setting the reward to be distributed automatically instead of by manual labor.
A large number of platinum tickets were distributed by accident, instead of special tickets, and emergency maintenance was carried out to perform a rollback. Not all items gained from these plats were rolled back. Management response: "That is okay." However, they have been working to improve their management processes, so the probability of such things happening in the future is lower.
The random number generator is a black box. Is it really fair?
The dev claims that it is completely random and is not tampered with or biased in any way. The article included a screenshot (taken by Japanese players) of four 1's being rolled in a row, and suggested reviewing the quality of the randomness.
There's a common rumor that gacha machines in arcades are more likely to give out prizes at specific times, such as 50 minutes after the hour. Can time seeds be taken advantage of to get better items from the platinum box?
The dev claims that you can't get an advantage by rolling at a certain time. [Note: Many computerized random number generators suffer from streaky results. That is, the long-term distribution is statistically fair, but the results might not be spread out evenly, so they can be "unfair" in small sample sizes. There are well-known methods to even things out, but it's not clear whether this game is using such methods. There is not enough data to independently verify whether players can experience streaks when rolling for items.]
PVP is a one-shot fest where things like traps don't matter.
The devs realize this but find it difficult to change the status quo.
The article explains the system of disbanding to get a collective advantage in pvp.
The dev says that it's not very desirable to have a situation where PVP battles are not competitive, but it can't be helped.
The interviewer asks how pvp matching works.
At regular time intervals, the server updates and the list is picked up by the client. Your login state does not matter. Matching is based on the level numbers, etc., and we consider the various conditions. It is separated by level bands within each rank. [Note: Experiments suggested that the game orders players within each rank based on how old their accounts are. The game searches for opponents in the same rank whose levels are within a certain range of the player's, and chooses opponents who are among the oldest eligible accounts. If not enough eligible opponents are available, the game may take people with very different levels or newer accounts.]
The devs like to design maps in which optional detours add map complexity, but the shortest path remains small so that the map's size won't be cumbersome.
Co-op had difficulties in match synchronization that could cause various problems including item rewards being lost. However, the devs have found a better solution and believe it can be put into effect during February. There will be two different modes of co-op. The first is synchronous, which was used for the first implementation of co-op.
The new co-op is going to be asynchronous. The devs rushed synchronous mode out because they realized it was a problem that there was no "online" aspect in their online game other than disconnects, so they wanted to add a multiplayer feature even if compromises had to be made in its implementation.
Walpurgis is canonically far more powerful than other witches. Many players expect that her in-game version will be an extremely difficult high-level witch. Will she be impossible for most players?
No, Walpurgis will have different difficulty settings, so players of all levels will be able to fight her.
- -Walpurgis Night content can be enjoyed even at lower levels.
- -Walpurgis Night will be co-op. It will not have a solo mode.
- -The Walpurgis quest system will be a new one, not a repeat of the systems used for story and special quests.
- -The current story arc will reach a climax with Walpurgis. A new storyline has been prepared to start after the battle with Walpurgis has been resolved.
What about the NicoSeiga Original Meguca Illustration Contest?
The devs have been working on the implementation of the white magical girl who won the contest. She will appear in the game.
What about guilds?
They don't have anything ready at present. Guilds are still far away.
Will there be trading?
Although the devs would like to introduce a way to exchange items between players, this would cause problems with with RMT (real money trade).
- -When the interviewer mentioned that he wouldn't mind playing in an RMT environment, the dev pointed out that issues such as account hacking still need to be prepared for.
Why is chat so terrible? You can't do one-to-all chat in the main window, and many players are using twitter as a substitute for the in-game chat. [Note: Our megucas use IRC to communicate while playing together. This wiki lacks a guide explaining the in-game chat because it was considered too impractical to use.]
The dev believes that fixing the hard-to-use nature of chat is important in order to help advance the game, but they have limited development resources and other things are higher on the priority list.
The lobby screen will be updated. You'll get to choose whether and how to display your own character, and they'd like to make the lobby more meaningful rather than being a random, out-of-context collection of megucas. [Note: An explanation of the existing lobby system can be found here.]
Gems are being held back because of the impact they'd have on game balance.
Weapon elements are planned for the future. For example, a weapon may be extra effective against only a certain witch. [Note: Such weapons were added on 2/8/13. See the Walpurgis Night page for an explanation of some of them. There are also anti-Charlotte(Rebirth) weapons.]
In the survey [Note: See the Past Events in December 2012 for a translation], the majority answer was "What me to improve the contents of the status quo" [Translated by Google Translate]. The devs plan to add more content.
A new platform (server) will be introduced. [Note: The game recently became available on Yahoo Mobile with the Mermaid server.]
4gamer April 2013
4gamer interviewed a Madoka Online developer in April 2013. This interview focused on the Walpurgis raids.
Writeup from 4gamer
The main content of Madoka Online was divided into four categories: Normal quests, PVP, Co-op, and special quests. Co-op, which has been through repeated testing, has not returned yet. PvP was the main focus for a long time, but the rewards have been removed, leaving the motivation to play PvP quite low. Now raid witches have been introduced, and the endgame focus is on gathering anti-witch weapons and earning raid points.
Elsa Maria and Gertrud can be defeated by low level players fighting alone. Elly could be defeated by strong players. However, Walpurgis was designed to require teamwork. Low level players had no hope against her, so they would inevitably call for help. The reward for assisting was reasonably large, so the system could build win-win relationships.
The problem is that the gap between players is so great that the strongest could solo Walpurgis but the weakest couldn't defeat her even when fighting in groups. In addition, witches grew stronger after each defeat, so high level witches could become too much to handle. Elly was particularly problematic, since she grew to have as much health as a low level Walpurgis, but appeared much more often. Not many girls could deal with this within the 10 turn limit. When this happens, it's increasingly important for even high level players to work together.
In the concept of the game, you should have bonuses to reward cooperation. However, since there were cases of players using multiple accounts, it would be difficult to introduce any system that simply rewards increasing the number of characters involved. The developers hope to adjust this in the future.
The biggest problem was probably the ranking system. The ranking rewards themselves were really not that good to be honest. A collector could get an N gym clothes Sayaka without much effort. However, it's human nature to climb a mountain because one is there. A lot of players had large stockpiles of AP potions and consumed them rapidly. The writer's example involved burning through a stockpile of 100 potions in two weeks. By doing special quests, which are quite short, one could spend 5000 or 10000 yen in 5 or 10 hours of playing. Not many players could keep up with this pace, so many became exhausted and dropped out of competition. Tension in the second round of raids wasn't as high.
The Walpurgis content was interesting because friends were not meaningful in gameplay until the raids, so the battles deepened communication. Anti-witch weapons are enormously powerful, but only work against one witch. It seemed like having a separate weapon for every raid witch would be too complicated, so they were focused on Walpurgis and special quest bosses. Leveling anti-witch weapons up is very expensive, but having special weapons can reduce the amount of AP needed to kill a witch. Anti-witch weapons are one way to deal with the problem of continuing weapon progression without inflating item power, but they're only used once, so they aren't investments.
As many of you know, April 30 is the date of the real life Walpurgis Night. Would there be a new improvement in the third round of raids, which will cover this date? (Note: this is 4gamer speaking, not the developers. April 30 is a maintenance day.)
How is Walpurgis Night?
The friend function, cooperative play, is fully used and you can share rewards and happiness with friends. However, the cons are that it's too simple and the witch always becomes stronger (lol).
So how are the anti-witch weapons? Will the Prologue weapons become useless when the Prologue is over?
We will consider that, especially those weapon collectors, or "should I collect this?" Also, the "must get anti-witch weapons" and "must level up anti-witch weapons" problems will be addressed.
Lately there haven't been any events about collecting cards to get prizes. Why?
Collecting cards takes up too much inventory space. Right now we're revising this to make the events more enjoyable.
How are co-op and the treasure map?
These two are causing a lot of trouble when implemented, so we're still trying to fix them for future enjoyment.
Since ATK is about to reach the limit, will we still have ATK rankings after that? Will there be DEF or HP rankings?
Currently ATK is the main stat in the game, but we will consider that.
Changing equipment for different situations can be frustrating. Should we have an equipment setting shortcut?
We will consider that.
What's the "becoming witch function mentioned in the questionnaire? (Note: A recent player survey included a question about what features players want to see implemented, and one of the choices was "becoming a witch.")
Just think of that as a "becoming even stronger" function. (heh)
Please tell us about the future plans for MMO.
To make things more enjoyable for players, to improve functionality, and to let players play more comfortably. Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu. (Note: that's a standard business greeting, which you will have seen if you ever did co-op with Japanese players)