Archive for the “O teh dramaz!” Category
Well, the big Reveal has taken place at Blizzcon, and we now know details of the next expansion. Hopefully you followed #TeamFaff at Godmother’s liveblog. I had to bail out right after the reveal because we had our weekly planning meeting at work, and the boss was most unsympathetic to the cause.
Now that the dust has settled, and I’ve had time to breathe, let’s talk about it.
I made some cheeky predictions, so let’s see how I did!
There will be an expansion announcement and it will be called "Warlords of Draenor"
That was a pretty easy one, really. If they didn’t, it would have been ugly. The title this time was given to us by the trademark offices in several countries. +2 for me.
It will involve a new "lost" continent of Draenor
It’s Draenor, Jim, but not as we know it. Instead of a lost continent floating about in the Twisted Nether, we’re going back to the past. Specifically, Garrosh escapes captivity and through means as of yet unrevealed, journeys back in time to prevent the Old Horde from becoming subjugated by the Burning legion. What we, the denizens of Azeroth, then face is the Iron Horde – the united fury of the Orc clans united and at full strength.
My score: –1 (net total 1)
Alleria and Turalyon will return
No, they won’t. Though, to be fair, the new world of Old Draenor doesn’t have them to begin with. Since the First War didn’t happen, they didn’t get trapped when the Portal was closed. But THAT is a whole new can of worms, something I’ll exposit in another post.
Score: –1, for a net of 0.
It will involve the Burning Legion
Not so much. While it’s obvious that the Legion will be involved at SOME point, the net effect is that the Orcs turn their backs on the Legion and the power it offers. But the overall theme of this expansion is All Orc, All the Time.
Score: –1, now netting –1.
Ethereals will be the new player race
There will be no new player races.
-1 for me, for a net of –2. Oh dear.
Outland will not get revamped
Technically true, though they do move the door a bit. Since the history leading to Outland hasn’t happened, Outland becomes an alternate timeline, and thus its entrance is moved to the Caverns of Time. Which I have to admit, is a pretty good way to deal with it.
I’m going to claim a win, netting me back to –1.
The new level cap will be 100
Got that one right. So we’ll see a realm first Level 100 in 2 days, not 1.
+1, back to breaking even.
There are no indications of any new classes
Got that one right, too. This will make WoD the first WoW expansion where neither a new class or race was introduced.
+1, and I’m back in the black.
Release Date: Holidays, 2014
No mention was made of a release date. This is my surprised face. Though I keep hearing rumors of a Q1/Q2 release timeframe, there is nothing official to back that up that I am aware of.
No points either way.
You face Jaraxxus!
I was close, but he appears in Hearthstone, not WoD.
-1 to zero me out again.
I totally didn’t call it, but it’s such a big one that I think I deserve to be dinged for missing it.
And that’s the news: all character races are to get remodels with higher poly counts and a lot of new emotes and expressions. The samples shown – especially for the female Gnome – were amazing.
There IS a tiny bit of drama here, in that it’s stated that there are currently no plans to offer a free appearance change when the changes go into effect. But the door’s been left open just a crack, so let’s wait and see.
-1, putting me back in the red.
Every Blizzcon, Blizz tends to offend someone, and this year was no exception. After the buzz died down, people started noting a highly testosterone-driven theme to this expansion. Female characters, when mentioned at all, were either minor in comparison, or they were told to go home, take care of the baby, and make Thrall a sammich.
I’ll revisit this at some future time. Other than to say, if you throw your keyboard over this, you know what happens? It breaks, dumbass. So I guess you showed them.
So I get a point there, bringing me back to even.
The overall results are
As is usually the case with this sort of thing, if you guess wildly the best you can really hope for is 50/50, which I did achieve. I was wrong as much as I was right. But I’m not displeased with the result.
And now the other stuff
One of the big things for this expansion seems to be "systems", our friend GhostCrawler’s domain.
There’s a big change to bags and inventory – a lot of items are going account-wide similar to how companion pets are handled now. This’ll clear up tons of space in our bags. A lot of materials are going from 20 to 100 per stack, freeing more room. And Tabards are a possibility for this, hooray! Also, quest items, though I’m worried for Archmage Vargoth’s Staff.
Another big "system" change will be "item squish". Basically, the huge numbers we currently have will be reduced by several orders of magnitude, possibly to double or even single digit values, with some sort of hidden scaling system to keep it manageable.
Related to that, itemization is changing drastically, with most secondary stats like Hit and Expertise going away and primary stats possibly varying by spec, effectively ending the spec-change-shuffle.
You will be able to bring one character to 90, or "boost", per account. So if you decide to change to a different raiding main, for example, you won’t have to spend weeks getting up to raiding level. I’ve been pushing for this for a while, because I hate that the lower level zones continue to get gimped in order to make life easier for raiders. Raiding and the leveling game are two different activities, and changes in one should not make life harder or less satisfying for either group. By allowing a character boost, they provide raiders with what they want without punishing those that are not raiding. Right now, it’s one per account, but I suspect that there will be infrastructure in place to make additional boosts possible as a paid service. And I think that’s a good thing.
This is actually an "in"-convenience feature, but another bit of drama – including threatened or actual sub cancellations – is that flight will not be available in Draenor until at least the 6.1 patch. I’m okay with that. In fact, if they want to get rid of flight completely, I’d be completely behind it. But a lot of people are NOT thrilled.
Garrisons were an unexpected new feature, which more or less amount to a cross between player housing and the Tillers farm. Other trade skills in addition to cooking will be involved, you get minions, and they can do things for you even while you’re offline. It’s all rather non-specific right now, and it’s hard to get a read on it, but overall it has been well received.
The big change to raiding is that all levels of raiding will be flex in WoD except the highest form, which will be called Mythic, and serves a step further than Heroic. The raid difficulty is tuned for 20 players, which Blizz claims is important since tuning at that difficulty will be too complex otherwise.
And that’s a wrap. I will be revisiting several of these topics in upcoming posts, but I wanted to first set the stage, as it were, for what is to come. Specifically, I want to discuss the lore, Blizzard’s ongoing PR issues, the game mechanics that are changing, and probably more lore, because, damn
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Hi, how ya been? It’s been weeks, I know! But it’s for a really good reasnon … see, Grimmtooth Actual done went and got himself a job, and it’s been keeping him as busy as a Goblin at a bank vault explosion site. It’s been pretty crazy, is what I’m saying. So time to think, compose, write, and otherwise participate in all things bloggy has been in short supply. There’s also the fact that with my WoW time somewhat reduced, I’ve had a bit less inspiration to write anything, anyway.
SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT, HIGGLEY PIGGLEY WITHOUT CONSIDERATION FOR ORDER OR PROPRIETY.
FAIRLY WARNED BE YE, SAY I.
Read the rest of this entry »
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Something said at Be MOP reminded me of somewhere else that I had read of a hat-based business model.
So this probably happened at Blizz:
Note: this webcomic is by the same team that does Penny Arcade, plus one, which may turn some people off. So, avoid if you are ethically inclined to do so.
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The all-consuming concern of the week is, in case you were asleep, the Fall of Theramore scenario. I didn’t participate in it on Monday when it came out but last night I got to take Jasra in Disco form.
Having not healed much in the last two-ish years, she’s still getting the hang of the Smite/Heal process, so the scenario was a good place to practice that, since the other two members of our squad didn’t need much healing.
So, things break down into two areas of concern: A) the scenario itself, and 2) the lore.
Running the Scenario
It starts with a cinematic as a goblin drops a mana bomb on Theramore and blows the place up. How Jaina managed to survive while everyone else did not is not adequately explained here. I think it has something to do with Rhonin’s selfless act, but I’m not certain.
As you zone in, you’re on the (presumably) last surviving Alliance ship, and from there you’re given a series of tasks to accomplish. First, survive a couple of waves of attackers, then kill three ship captains, torch their ships, and slaughter all Horde in sight. From there, you charge to Jaina’s side, carry out a couple of tasks for her, and then cover her while she extracts the Focusing Iris from the bomb.
The mechanics of the fight were fairly clear. Objectives were easy to determine, the mini map was used well, and, as far as scripted events go, it worked well. I liked how the quest tracker area was repurposed to display objectives clearly. Nice touch.
So, mechanically, at least, I call it a win. If future scenarios work the same way mechanically, this is a new feature that deserves a permanent place at the table.
One final thought here: the Embersilk drops were insane. Jas came out of there with at least six full stacks, and the other tailor in the group got as at least that much. I’ve run entire raids without seeing that much cloth drop, and with two tailors in the group, it’s even more impressive! Hooray for murderating your fellow humanoids, I suppose?
The Elephant in the Room
Let us preamble this with the observation that the story leading up to this event, and the event itself, is told in the book Tides of War. This is a continuation of the now-traditional shunting of lore-heavy events into books. I must admit that the excerpt that was dropped a few weeks ago really put me off wanting to read this book – I’m sure that wasn’t what they had in mind, but the attempts at romance were cringe-worthy. There is no amount of lore, no amount of badassery, that will suffice to get me to suffer through that again. I suffered Asimov. I suffered Jordon. No more, I say!
Based on Alas’ comments about "Emo Jaina", I feared we’d get more of what we had in Icecrown. I was actually pleasantly surprised when I found that "Emo Jaina" in this case was "Angry Jaina". She talked some seriously good smack. More, please, plus some actually smacking, in the future, one hopes. I cannot emphasize this enough: Blizz has got to get away from writing strong female leads only as Dark and Sinister. Righteous fury has its place. Or, whoa, just for the hell of it, write a strong female lead that doesn’t have to be angry all the time.
At any rate, everything about this scenario seems to be hell-bent on disrespecting the lore surrounding the characters, factions, and places involved. And that’s what’s got people fired up.
Saxy @ I Like Pancakes summarizes best of all how badly this scenario and its alleged lore clash with previously established lore. Some questions she asks, such as how Garrosh seems to be acting without thought for consequences, appear to be rhetorical, since we already know that he’s under foul influences and not acting rationally, even for Garrosh. But she also brings up more macro issues around all this. The Horde just crapped in its own bed, and the world should be rightfully turned against it now.
What about supposedly neutral factions? Do you really think the Argent Crusade will want to have anything to do with the Horde after they’ve done this? The Cenarion Expedition? The Earthen Ring? The Scryers (who know a thing or two about mana bombs)? The Aldor (who know a thing or two about cities being leveled)?
And then there’s Dalaran. Why does Sunreaver’s Sanctuary still exist? Why is any horde player not killed on sight upon entering Dalaran? Are you seriously suggesting, Blizzard, that the Kirin Tor is going to allow anyone even loosely associated with the Horde anywhere near Dalaran?
And now the Dragonflights. Why are the Horde allowed near any Caverns of Time instance? Why are they welcome at Wyrmrest Temple? Why would any member of any Dragonflight trust any member of the Horde with any task?
Now, I’m sure she knows as we know that those are all points from elsewhere in the time stream, but ALSO she’s correctly pointing out that actions have consequences, and we should see them, but we won’t, and that’s disappointing from a lore fan’s perspective.
It’s interesting that, after all these years, my little alts Orlee and Yarlee have found a sympathetic voice.
Orlee is one of two orphaned Draenai that I took in when the portal opened. Her brother, Kutath, was able to stay centered and cope, but Orlee became bent on revenge. To her, the only good orc is a dead orc, Horde in general would be better off without them, and her entire reason for staying on Azeroth in the first place was to find more orcs to kill. It’s all perfectly logical to her. It’s quite simple. We kill the Orcs.
Yarley was one of the many Night Elves unhomed by the Warsong in Ashenvale. She had started out as a warrior, as many of her gender do in Night Elf society, but her outrage at the way the Horde violated the land motivated her to learn the way of the Druid. She’s routinely offended by what she sees of the Horde’s treatment of Azeroth, and figures that if they’re not put down, they’ll destroy the entire planet and leave it as they left Draenor – a pile of filth at best, shattered and drifting in the Nether at worst.
Sidebar conclusion: when I read Saxy’s angry screed above, Orlee and Yarley were in the back of my head yelling, See? See? We told you. Would you listen? NOOOOOoooo! So they get some perverse satisfaction in the fact that eyes are opening around the world right now.
To be honest, the lore violations would have been more palatable had they been couched in some sort of bread crumb quests and so forth, and Saxy has yet another good screed on that topic.
[...] this was the Wrathgate sequence. It was without question the most epic questline in Wrath, involving plot, new mechanics, real interaction with heroes, betrayal, etc. Anyone who did this questline will tell you that Blizzard did an excellent job of not just telling the story, but letting you feel like you were living through it. That you were an integral part.
Wrathgate was the sort of thing that, after I had experienced it, I went out and told people that it was something they would want to play the game for.
There aren’t many opportunities for a Wrathgate event. I believe that the fall of Theramore was one.
A minor quibble here is that Wrathgate was a mid-game event, and Theramore is either an end-of-game or start-of-game event, depending on how you want to view it. But otherwise, I totally agree: Blizz had a chance to shine, and they blew it.
It Gets Worse
Big Bear Butt has read the book, and has some thoughts on it.
First of all, if you thought the lore issues were merely because of poor execution on the part of the development team, think again. Golden’s book is full of the same sort of thing, and it rankles. I’m not going to blame Golden for the plot points. She got handed an agenda and had to write a story that fulfilled its requirements.
Unfortunately, those requirements pretty much had no respect for the lore surrounding the people in the story.
The one that sticks out the most here is how Thrall – excuse me, Go’el – has become hippie-orc and is fully aware of the mess that Garrosh has made of things, but doesn’t seem to care. This is not the "honorable" Orc we’ve had preached to us for years. It’s like a few tokes and getting some sexy tiemz with Aggra has somehow removed his integrity. John says it best.
Thrall walks on into the new throne room, sees Garrosh standing there with the Blackrock Orc, wanders around listening to some of the news about guards and the Blackrock smacking around anyone that voices dissent, hears about how some vanish in the dark, gives a quick chat to Baine and Vol’jin..
Are you seriously telling me that he couldn’t stop it?
With two sentences he could have shut the whole thing down.
“You are a disgrace to the memory of Grom Hellscream and an enemy of the Horde. Get out of my sight or I will kill you where you stand.”
He’s Thrall. He forged an Orc nation from nothing and brought his people out of despair, forged an empire and saved the world. Fuck an Orc that grew up in some pussy place like Draenor, where there are so many animals to kill and eat nobody has to farm in Nagrand.
Seriously. Thrall. Disappointing, man. That shit is weaksauce.
Maybe they feel like it’s time to put the ol’ fella out to pasture. No, sorry, you don’t get to do that. Heroes don’t go off and sit in drum circles until they die in their sleep from food poisoning or something. No, they go out in a blaze of glory. That’s just the way it is in Heroic fiction. Nothing else will do.
So, character-wise, and lore-wise, Thra — ‘scuse me, Go’el — is completely inconsistent with the story of Thrall / Kal-el that Blizzard has given us so far.
Cleaning up the broken glass
The community has been pretty vocal about this, and it’s good to hear that maybe Blizz is taking it to heart. From a recent Q&A, Dave "Fargo" Kosak has this to say.
I’ve been watching the Theramore feedback closely, and this comment seems pretty universal. We tried to keep everything all in the scenario, to make it really self-contained, but not burden it with lots of story that you have to slog through every time you played the scenario. It’s pretty clear from the feedback that people wanted more story. We should’ve surrounded the scenarios with more quests or explanations to help round out the story for the people who wanted to know what exactly was happening. Lesson learned!
Compare this to the Old Stratholme instance in Wrath, where there was that long RP-ish event that people got TIIIIRED of after a dozen times. Somewhere in between these two extremes there is a sweet spot.
Let me say this: I don’t think that Scenarios were ever planned to be lore-establishing events with lots of RP-ish elements like Wrathgate. But Wrathgate points the way to doing it right. We don’t need to stick a ton of cinematics and RP in a Scenario or Instance. Preface them with individual quest chains in which each person will get to experience any cinematics and story elements once, and at their own pace, and then you don’t have to worry about RP-ish elements in Scenarios.
The Fall of Theramore scenario didn’t receive any beta testing. There are those that say that it didn’t make it to beta because it was savaged badly by internal testers and there was no time to fix it. That they know it was crap and didn’t need to hear more about that. This does not jibe with something that Ghostcrawler said in the Reddit AMA:
Q: Are you going to finish the Neptulon storyline? He was taken by Ozumat in throne of tides and then, nothing. His fate is unknown.
A. We weren’t happy with the way Abyssal Maw was shaping up. It managed to take on a life of its own in players’ minds, but believe me, if it had been an awesome raid, we would have shipped it. One of the hardest parts of this job is killing a feature you’re excited about because it doesn’t meet our quality bar. I suspect you’d see far more complaints if we had shipped a bad raid than not shipping one at all. We took the resources and put them back into Firelands and got a couple of extra bosses out of it.
The conspiracy theorists imply that it was withheld from beta because they already knew it sucked and were unable to do anything about it. One of the lead developers tells us, with a specific example, that if something sucks, it won’t ship. I’m going to go out on a limb and believe Ghostcrawler, but make up your own mind on the merits.
That does beg the question, though. Are the internal testers that disconnected, that naïve? I don’t know, but I cannot envision a scenario in which somebody didn’t raise a red flag and say "guys, this doesn’t jibe" or "Hey, people are going to be confused!" I can’t envision a world in which this sort of thing gets past what I see as a very rigorous internal QA team.
The overall take-away for me is a sense of ennui. I can only carry water for Blizz for so long before I start to see logic in the arguments of those that claim that Blizz has lost its touch, or its soul, or its ethics – or all of the above.
I get the sense that MoP is going to be the expansion that makes or breaks this franchise. If they do well, get their footing back, then this game will continue to flourish with a varied and informed playerbase for years to come. If they don’t do well? There are MMOs aplenty out there that represent the true End Times.
Maybe Murozond was right.
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Recently, Blizz announced that raiding content in MoP will be gated, which is to say, on Day One there will be no entry to raid instances.
This, of course, is regarded as a bad idea by some people. Not, mind you, people that I am in general agreement with.
On September 25, 2012, Mists of Panderia will go live. For most of us, that means lots of new content. But to a small subset of people, a sliver on the Big Pie Chart of WoW Subscribers, it means that they need to race AS FAST AS POSSIBLE to level 90 so they can start wiping on the first raid boss. This triggers the start of the race to World First boss kills.
Now, the reason I don’t see eye to eye with these people is because it seems to me to be abjectly stupid to pay for something that you’re not going to use most of. And, if you’re ever followed my angry tweets, you know that one thing that really gets my kilt in a twist is abject stupidity.
Now, if you’re at all engaged at this moment, you’re probably wondering why I give a damn what someone else does with his or her life. And that’s a very good question. Best I can explain, I’m just sick and tired of enabling the foolish and entitled people of the world. I’m just over that. Time and test cycles are best spent elsewhere.
Yes, I realize this comes down on what is considered the lesser side of the casual v. hardcore debate. I don’t really care. The opinion of those that feel entitled to a leet hardcore experience, at my expense at times, is something I just don’t give two waggles for.
I’m glad to see Blizzard finally getting just as tired as I am of this sort of stuff. It’s as if they’re saying, "Fine, you want to ignore all our hard work and go straight to endgame? Be our guest. Next week, after we’ve stabilized things enough to care about .05% of the player base’s complaints about how the endgame content isn’t juuuuust right."
Maybe you feel I’m being harsh. Well, I know what harsh looks like. Have a look.
At least I haven’t insulted anyone’s mom.
At any rate, I think it’s a great idea for keeping the anticipation going as we may or may not bump up against the gate. Maybe there’s an achievement for a full clear of the previous raid’s Heroic content before the next comes online. Maybe they’ll tell a story as part of the gating. Whatever it is, I insist on having fun doing it,and feeling not the least guilty about not being in the top one percent of the top ten percent, or whatevers.
I hope that doesn’t offend anyone. But if it does, feel free to call me out on the forums. Or, here, if you want an actual response.
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Is there an echo in here?
I think I have a release date nailed down: Sept 25, 2012.
Somebody’s feeling a bit smug now.
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I was cycling my mailbox, minding my own business. I had just reposted all of the Inferno Inks I had made for the day (there’s virtually no money in making cards now, but leveling scriveners in a hurry still buy ink) and was pleased to see that they sold almost immediately.
I use TSM to automate posting of auctions based on a few simple rules. For ink, one of the rules is that if nobody else is selling, post at 75g per ink. Someone will surely undercut, but there will be some decent profits on the race for the bottom. Apparently, that’s what happened this day.
WIM popped a private tell up, some guy I never heard of before.
Noisy: 75 g per ink? Are you serious???
Hm. Rarely does somebody complain about pricing.
Me: I sell at market rates. Did you just buy all my Inferno Inks?
Noisy: Yeah, that was me.
Me: Were you wanting a refund?
Noisy: No …. I used them already.
Me: We’re done here.
Seriously, if you’re stupid enough to pay that much, don’t expect sympathy. That’s why my buying is all done by hand. I recommend that for anyone that buys and sells mass quantities.
In this case, the guy just ate 5000g worth of Inferno Ink to make, I dunno, origami eggplants or something. That’s gotta hurt. But I bet he’s more careful in the future.
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(200 quatloos to the person that completes the quote and names the source)
Yesterday was an explosion of beta madness.
Sadly, there was angst and drama as some that "paid for beta access" (via the Annual Pass program) were incensed that SOME people that DID NOT PAY got in AHEAD of them. To them: Listen very carefully. The terms were "guaranteed" access, not "exclusive" or "preferential". I’m willing to bet there are many people out there that were outstanding beta testers for Cata that they want to get back into the process before the tourists come mucking about. So, chill the fel out and go kill some womp rats for a bit. I have faith that you’ll get a turn. Love ya, buh-bye.
Okay, done being judgmental and vindictive for now.
Let’s talk fun stuff.
With there being no NDA for the beta, and thus having access to the full-on list of glyphs at this point has future glyph mongers like Illume polishing their pestles with glee. To others of less mercantile intent, the list provides insights into what Blizzard means by "moar fun" in this expansion. Druids are absolutely thrilled at many minor shape-enhancing glyphs specific to various forms, such as Stag, Orca, and Chameleon.
What really floats my barge are likewise superficial.
Glyph of Nightmares – Your Felsteed and Dreadsteed can cross water while running and leave a trail of flames.
Throw in a flying demon steed, and I’ll call it even with Death Knights.
Glyph of Felguard – Your Felguard will equip a random two-handed axe, sword or polearm from your backpack.
What this seems to imply is that every warlock out there will have the option to personalize his or her Felguard in a fairly unique way. Of all the glyphs I’ve read about so far, this one seems to have the greatest chance of being dropped – because how many weapons will they have to deal with, right?
A big fear I have right now is related to something said by a Blue a while back, that being that eventually we’ll be seeing both male and female succubii. Or succubii and incubii, more properly. I can see it coming out like this.
Glyph of Succubus - Your Succubus will take on a male form.
Why can’t it be
Glyph of Incubus - Your Incubus will take on a female form.
Even better would be this.
Glyph of Demonform - Your Demon form will be male.
Why? Because this game defaults to a male-dominated mindset entirely too much. Shake up the dudes. Or, at least split the difference between the demon form and succubus defaults. I’m not saying it would undo close to a decade of we-are-the-patriarchy-bitch buffoonery, but it would be a step in the right direction.
On the other hand, how about an even more brilliant step, and making it a game option and not pissing off anyone? Yeah, that’d be cool, too. A couple of little flags is all it would take, guys!
Enough with the negativity on my part. I’m looking forward to learning more about how all the new stuff will work out. This is some good stuff!
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You may be aware of the most recent installation of the "Gold Capped" series on WoW Insider. You may also be aware of the "advice" given there, namely, that Inscription isn’t profitable.
I’m at 600K now, almost all earned by selling glyphs. I’ll be at a million within a month or two.
I stand by my own advice on this matter.
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"I realise there is a portion of the gaming fraternity for whom getting online and talking racist, sexist, homophobic smack talk is part of the fun, but they are not my community and I’m not interested in any websites which actively engage with them. I’m also not interested in playing any games with them. LTM (learn to moderate)."
That in a nutshell will do for me, as well. Well said, succinctly put, madam Spinks.
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