Malistaire... not but a ghost of the past now - lost to the Spiral. For those wondering, "King Artorius" (Jesse Scoble) confirmed that Morganthe had no hand in the Malistaire arc or the death of Sylvia. So her motives for bringing him back must have been elsewhere. However, Artorius also confirms that Malistaire is currently lost and absent from the storyline.
During his brief appearance in the second arc, he joined Morganthe as the mysterious Dark Servant for much of Azteca, though his identity was no mystery to anyone familiar with Malistaire's appearance. The familiar eye buttons on the robe, the body shape, the dragon staff...
Hooded figures aren't something new for China's version of Wizard101. In fact, they're quite used to covering things up. A interesting article was posted HERE back in February of 2012. In China, it would seem that gaming is a lot bigger than here in the U.S. As such, certain limits are placed on games, and they stop rewarding players after certain periods of time.
But changes didn't stop there. Pay-by-area hadn't been successful in China, so the entire game is free. Yes, free. What subscribing does it simply make the game easier. Or manageable, rather. While we cringe at the thought of the lion defeat-and-collect quest (8 elusive items if I remember correctly), Chinese players have a higher tolerance for these types of quests. As such, the number they'd need might be 16 instead. But if you're not a subscriber, that number would become 32.
Perhaps some of the most major changes involve skulls, however. I hadn't realized that quite a few players either hadn't read the article or didn't realize - Every exposed bone, skull, and skeleton had to be hidden. Not just because it might be culturally offensive, but because it might also simply be scary or subversive. Think, for a moment with me, of all of the skeletons in Wizard101.
Wraiths, skeletal dragons (spells, pets, AND a mount), skeletal pirates, warriors, etc. But not just spells and items, either. Skeletal enemies - all over Wizard City. And Dragonspyre... Even in worlds like Zafaria, you see skeletons that need changing. Think of every skull and candle on every shelf. It must have been exhausting just to find them all, and then to change them would have been a whole other thing.
That meant doing something interesting to Malistaire the Undying, whose skull-like face didn't work for China. He got himself a bronze mask.
Here's the interesting part, though. Concept artist Nik Overdiek actually designed a version of Malistaire this way from the beginning. This implies that each concept that might meet the criteria from this point on will involve a non-skull version, which should be interesting to look for. I sure hope Pirate101 never goes to China. That's a LOT of bones.
Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!