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Murder, FFXI, and Ninety-Nine Nights

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the busy-day dept.

31

Gamasutra has a few great writeups of some of the sessions I didn't make it to. Murder, Sex, and Censorship covers some of the moral elements that go into game creation. Creating a Global MMO was a talk given by some of the folks behind FFXI, on the challenges of creating a multi-hemisphere online title. All about Ninety-Nine Nights was an examination of the character design put into the 'massive warfare' title for the Xbox 360. Interesting stuff. The morals session actually became quite heated, thanks to the presence of CA Assemblyman Leland Yee. From the article: "'How many people do you think have been hurt by video games? How many people have been helped by video games?' Gee asked. 'This technology will allow us to have a full spectrum chemist, or a full spectrum virus,' which school children, scientists, or doctors are able to experiment with in a safe environment. Gee also noted that, socially, legislators should care not only about keeping children from harm, but also about helping them."

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31 comments

the second link is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14995459)

thanks

Ninety Nine Nights (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14995465)

I've played the demo, and it seems to be just a button masher. I expected a lot better from the Rez/Meteos guy. Maybe someone who's had more time with it can say if it has any depth/skill/strategy to it at all?

Corrected link (3, Informative)

Bluey (27101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14995476)

Here's the correct link to Creating a Global MMO [gamasutra.com] .

Double standards (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14995506)

"Think of the children" appearantly only applies when it doesn't cost money. Or, worse, time.

It doesn't cost you money to go all crazy about "porn" or "violence" in games. You can hype yourself into hysteria and when the game creator finally gives in, you feel like you've accomplished something.

At the same time you use TV and computer as a cheap replacement for a babysitter. Spending time with your kids? What a horrible idea! Spending time with your kids at something they want to do (like, say, playing computer games or surfing the 'net)? What an incredibly horrible idea!

Instead you install net-nanny on your kids' computer and hope it keeps them away from the dreaded porn. And you make sure they don't get to play anything more violent than Barney in Teletubbyland.

Then they go out and get their lunch money taken away...

Prepare your kids instead! Life ain't fluffy and cute. If you keep them from learning and keep them gullible, you pretty much work into the hands of every con artist out there.

Or why do you think scams are so efficient?

Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14995714)

I just used up my last moderation point, on a post that I feel is far less deserving than this one. The above is a message that's been repeated a lot, but it's a message that needs to keep being repeated, lest it be forgotten.

Re:Mod Parent Up (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14995869)

I've been accused of stating the obvious before. I know it's obvious (at least for me, it is), but since it is, why can still so many people not see it?

Maybe because it sure is comforting for the own consciousness. Neglecting your kids isn't something you should do as a responsible parent. Now, it takes a lot less energy and time to get hyped up about something than it takes to actually do something sensible with your kids. Unless you do it with some efford, but then it feels like you're REALLY doing something.

Unlike when you, say, play some game with your kids. That's not really something. That's just playing.

But when you go out and rally some other parents behind you (who, in turn, take this as the cheap exit in their attempt to be a "good parent"), you feel in charge. You're moving something. Where, why or how soon doesn't matter anymore, as long as you got the feeling you're doing something GOOD for your kids.

That your kids need something completely different, namely YOU being there for them, listen to their problems (the real ones, not the ones you imagine), that doesn't matter anymore. After all, what do your kids know, huh?

Concerned parent coming through, who cares about collateral damage?

Re:Double standards (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14995950)

Prepare your kids instead! Life ain't fluffy and cute.

There is no hunter. Little red riding hood gets herself and her grandmother killed because she talked to a stranger.

The little mermaid DOESN'T marry prince charming, she turns to foam on the sea waves.

The Iron Giant just gets blown up, he doesn't magically reassemble.

Etc.

Re:Double standards (1)

mink (266117) | more than 8 years ago | (#15027952)

"The Iron Giant just gets blown up, he doesn't magically reassemble."

But The Iron Man (Giant for Americans) does. He is alien tech on a level that seems like magic. The book(s if you want the Iron Woman) are quite good, and many things were not brought into the film.

In fact the book starts with The Iron Man falling off a cliff and getting broken to pieces. He then starts re-assembling.

Unlike your good example of The Little Mermaid, The Iron Man does not fail and die at the end of the story (it does not exactly have a perfectly happy ending either). I notice what looks to me to be reference to reincarnation in The Little Mermaid, and that was surprising when I first read the fairy tale again as an adult.

If you want to get angry about the film changing anything then how about the part where the dragon-like creature comes form deep space and starts demanding people to eat.

Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14995602)

The title should be something like "Why not ask the World of Warcraft developers about global MMORPGs?" but that's way too long to fit, so, what's there will have to do.

FFXI has, according to the article, 500,000 subscribers. WoW has 6 million subscribers and is also a global MMORPG.

So why FFXI? Because they were the only MMORPG company stupid enough to dump the entire world on the same set of servers. Technically challenging? Of course. Allowing people from China, Japan, North America, and Europe to play together on the same set of servers is an interesting technical challenge.

It's also a completely worthless one. As most people know, very few people in America speak Japanese. Many people in Europe would also like to play with people who speak their native language. Which means that most players would like to be segregated by region anyway. (In fact, Blizzard had to add "Australia perferred" servers which are hosted in North America, since peak Australian hours are almost exactly opposite peak NA hours.) Dumping the entire world onto one set of servers is essentially worthless, since most players will attempt to segregate themselves back into regional groups anyway.

Then you get the latency problem. Between the east coast and the west coast of the US I get, on average, anywhere from a 70ms to a 100ms ping time. Between me and Japan, it's considerably higher. (We're talking 200-500ms, well beyond reasonable.) With WoW, I get local servers and a good ping time. With FFXI, I'd get a lousy ping time because I'm connecting to Japan. (Well, maybe not directly to Japan. It's speculated that they use "edge servers" in each region which then use a single dedicated line back to the "core servers" in Japan, but the article never mentions that, and that's still an added hop.)

Oh, and I wonder if anyone else found this amusing:

They also focus on making game updates as smooth as possible by having the player download only the bare minimum of files required for functioning, as they want to make sure anyone with narrow bandwidth can still play the game. For any massive updates they just make sure to include it in the expansion packs.

When released in NA, the game required a 7000-file download to update. The first new expansion pack in NA required a 1500-file download to update. The update servers are frequently down, and the entire thing is often a mess.

Compare with World of Warcraft. They distribute a single update file via a custom BitTorrent client. The client has to download the torrent, and then the torrent downloads the potentially large update. Much less hastle than FFXI's "one file at a time" method.

I really think I prefer WoW's approach to global MMORPGs far, far above FFXIs.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14995748)

Blah blah blah Anonymous Coward hates FFXI blah blah blah.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14995924)

Where, exactly, did I say I hate FFXI? I said I think WoW solved the global server problem better, that doesn't mean I hate FFXI. I do think WoW is a better game, but then again, it's also a more recent game than FFXI, and had time to improve on FFXI's faults. But that still doesn't mean I hate FFXI. I should think it would be fairly obvious I played FFXI and purchased the expansion pack, otherwise I wouldn't be able to have made the closing comment on their update system.

What is it with the defensiveness of most MMORPG players when they think someone insulted "their" game? Any time someone posts about some problem they see in an MMORPG, someone will come back and make some silly post like the parent in an attempt to discredit the flaw. It's silly - there are no perfect games, all games will have some flaws, and it's worth pointing them out so that future games can attempt to minimize the flaw.

I don't play either FFXI or WoW any more, but I don't hate either game. I happen to believe that WoW solved the "global server" problem better than FFXI, and if you disagree with that, explain why!

Here, I'll give you a free one. European players can't (easily) play on NA servers with friends they may have "across the pond" in WoW. FFXI doesn't have that problem as all players use the same servers. (And then, because nothing's ever free, I'll just casually mention the Inconvenience Fairy [penny-arcade.com] .)

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (3, Interesting)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14995936)

I bought FFXI totally because it gave me the opportunity to practice Japanese with real people without having to leave the country. Unfortunately, my textbooks hadn't included the phrase "punishing level grind which you have to repeat multiple times". But it was a worthwhile experiment, and while there was a certain segment of both the JP/NA (North America) playerbases that was rather unhappy with the arrangement and wouldn't dream of grouping with The Dirty Foreigners (TM) I did get in quite a few groups that had a great time despite language barriers. Incidentally, "You can practice English here without paying by the hour!" was a selling point in Japan.

Now, the reason for an Aussie preferred server isn't that Aussies like playing with only Aussies. The reason for an Aussie prefered server is Aussies (and you can throw me in there, because now I live in Japan and are closer to their timezone than the US's) have peak playing hours which are waaaaaaaaaaay off the American ones, and when WoW is in its MMORPG moments you need a bunch of people playing together to make it fun. For example, our weekday raids last four hours starting at 1:00 AM in the morning California time, and require 20-40 people. Or, much more irksome, PVP starting up on a server requires several dozen players simultaneously online, attentive, and desiring PVP. Designating a server as Aussie preferred just lets everyone know "Hey, if you go here you can find people in your time zone".

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14996089)

As most people know, very few people in America speak Japanese. Many people in Europe would also like to play with people who speak their native language.

Says who? The only reason you hear WoW players complaining about it so much is because theres no built-in translator function so if you can't speak English, you're automatically labeled a gold farmer.

In fact, Blizzard had to add "Australia perferred" servers which are hosted in North America, since peak Australian hours are almost exactly opposite peak NA hours.

Or maybe Australians got tired of playing in a game world where it was virtually constantly night time because the in game clock was set for North American players only.

Between the east coast and the west coast of the US I get, on average, anywhere from a 70ms to a 100ms ping time. Between me and Japan, it's considerably higher.

The FFXI servers are located in Southern California, not Japan.

The update servers are frequently down, and the entire thing is often a mess.

WoW updates have been known to take down the entire system for days at a time.

Compare with World of Warcraft. They distribute a single update file via a custom BitTorrent client. The client has to download the torrent, and then the torrent downloads the potentially large update.

Except even then it doesn't work because you have MILLIONS of people downloading the torrent at once. Mirror sites don't work properly either because updates are often times 100+ MBs, so the whole game is more or less shut down everytime theres an update. At least FFXI has the "We have to cater to the lowest demominator, the PS2" reasoning, what reasoning does WoW try using?

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14996326)

Did you play the same FFXI I did? First off, the "built-in translation function" is essentially a phrase-book of game terms, and an incomplete and poor one at that. For example, "break" turns out to mean break as in "take a break" and not "sleep's about to break." Secondly, even with it, I've never been in a party which didn't have at least one bilingual member who worked around the glitches in the translator.

Or maybe Australians got tired of playing in a game world where it was virtually constantly night time because the in game clock was set for North American players only.

Speaking as someone who usually played WoW after it turned to night, I highly doubt that. Peak time is generally from 7-11PM - night time. It really makes very little difference. There are lots of people who played WoW soley at night. I remember playing on a PST server from EST and thinking "wow, so this is what Azeroth looks like in the day!" That's one thing FFXI got right, an accelerated day/night cycle, so you didn't spend all your time playing at the same time ingame.

The FFXI servers are located in Southern California, not Japan.

OK, same point, replace "long ping times from NA" with "long ping times from Europe and Japan" then. No matter where you place your servers, someone on the globe with have terrible ping times to them simply due to the speed of light and number of hops required. This is why WoW's approach of placing local servers in each region is better - no one is forced into bad ping times.

WoW updates have been known to take down the entire system for days at a time.

Never happened during the time I played WoW, which was admittably a while ago. I, quite literally, never had an FFXI update that didn't fail to download multiple times.

Except even then it doesn't work because you have MILLIONS of people downloading the torrent at once.

Lots of small downloads (something like 80KB, I think) per user, distributed among many different clusters, compared to everyone downloading a large download off the same set of download servers... I've never had a problem downloading the torrent update.

Not to mention, in WoW, the servers you download the update from are region-local, so you're only really competeing against others in your region. FFXI (or, more accurately, PlayOnline) appears to have all the servers housed in one location - although they could be region-specific, I dunno.

In any case, you still have the "80KB for all users from one source" vs "20MB for all users from one source" problem.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14996864)

RE the FFXI update servers:

Which version are you playing? I've been playing the PS2 version since it's launch in the US and haven't had any trouble with updates at all. I'm on broadband though.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14997296)

I, quite literally, never had an FFXI update that didn't fail to download multiple times.

Maybe you should finally upgrade that 2400 baud modem, grandpa.

Phantasy Star Online had good region handling (1)

Myria (562655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14996467)

PSO had a good way of handling regions. There were servers that were located in each region (and they were clearly labeled). However, you could travel to them whenever you wanted.

This lets you stay with people that speak your language, while at the same time being able to go to other regions whenever you want to.

This is out of the question with World of Warcraft, because Blizzard has a huge interest in keeping them separate. The Chinese version is *much* cheaper than the American version, and American players would flock to the Chinese payment system the instant they could do that and still play with other Americans.

(There is also the problem of gold farming, but because so many people have a racist viewpoint on it I'm not going to bother discussing that.)

Melissa

Re:Phantasy Star Online had good region handling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14996550)

I should point out (because it appears, based on other replies, that people have missed it) that I only said WoW's was better than FFXI's, not that it was perfect. At one point I had included Guild Wars, which is set up similar to the way you describe PSO, but decided to remove it because many consider it not to be a "real" MMORPG. I like the "can play in other regions, but don't have to" option better.

FFXI is really the worst of both worlds - no localized servers, and your character is assigned to a random server. No choice.

When it comes to server setup, I like Guild Wars approach the best - all characters in the same world, and you can freely travel to any "local zone" you want to. However, it's not exactly a "real" MMORPG, and I'm not entirely sure it would be possible to implement a system like that in most "real" MMORPGs.

But being allowed to create a character in any region you choose with regional servers is probably the best (or at least, most user-friendly) solution. WoW's is second-best, offering good ping times and people you can play with. FFXI's is simply the worst - offering poor ping times (to someone), and a regionally splintered population within a server.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14996525)

For a start, WoW just sold the rights to have servers in other countries (check out the problems they are haveing in china with lag) and, as others are pointing out, some of the best and most rewarding play in mmog can be with people you don't know, i remember learning all the nasty words from some friends who played DaoC (/wave siberia) and of course had a great time doing it.

Another truely global MMOG is Eve online, one server, all nations (heck, it isn't even based in NA), theres sometimes a language barrier, but you work to reduce that.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

dracocat (554744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14996666)

Let me guess, you had a bad experience mixing with other nationalities as a kid and you had a bad experience with FFXI?

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14996876)

I will say this about he communication issues in FFXI. It's quiet compared to the other PS2 MMORPG EQOA. There's little group chatter at all, because of the language barriers. And there's little just sitting around in Bastok just kibbitzing, via say or shout. In some ways FFXI is less fun than EQOA because of the lack of that chatter.

I personally think putting PC and PS2 players together was a good idea, but mixing Japanese, American and European players was a noble experiment, but a failed one.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14999116)

Each to their own, can't argue with the success of WoW, but I hardly consider FFXI a dismail experimental failure you seem to feel it is. I rather enjoy the fact that I can talk to someone in japan and actually COMMUNICATE WITH THEM. Unlike WoW, where all you can do is /spit or whatever the command is (that's considered global how?). I can log into my FFXI server at pretty much anytime of day and instead of finding a population 1/2 what it normally is, it's always roughly the same level.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15002270)

I never said FFXI was a dismal failure. Just that the server setup was a dismal failure.

I rather enjoy the fact that I can talk to someone in japan and actually COMMUNICATE WITH THEM.

Do you speak Japanese? If you don't, then you're not really communicating with people in Japan - just the small subset that can speak English.

Not that it matters, because only the Japanese client versions of FFXI and PlayOnline can actually write Japanese text. They actually went out of their way to remove that functionality from the NA/EU version of the client. I'm amazed they left in the ability to read Japanese text.

Unlike WoW, where all you can do is /spit or whatever the command is (that's considered global how?).

I'm sorry, what? You can't talk cross-faction, that makes it non-global? WoW is available just about globally. That makes it a global MMORPG. It's also a hair (1200%+) more popular than FFXI, making the troubles they faced with running a global MMORPG much more interesting than FFXI's.

Again, not saying that FFXI was a failure. Just that WoW's approach to creating a global MMORPG is much better and much more interesting than FFXI's.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15002557)

Uh. You do know that FFXI has an translator with a rather large number of phrases available, right? It's entirely possible to communicate with somebody who doesn't speak English.

And the reason they removed the IME from the US version was because they didn't create it, they licensed it. They didn't want to pay the license fees for the US version when almost nobody would use it.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15002884)

The translator feature sucked ass. It's a small phrase book of ingame terms, that generally speaking translate poorly. Common examples include "break" meaning break as in "take a break" and not break as in "break off a piece" and "help me out" meaning "save my ass" and not "please help me". Other good examples are a lack of word for "tank" or "pull" - two very common MMORPG game terms.

I have never been in a bilingual party that didn't have at least one bilingual member working around flaws in the translator. Nifty concept, poor implementation.

And the reason they removed the IME from the US version was because they didn't create it, they licensed it. They didn't want to pay the license fees for the US version when almost nobody would use it.

Windows contains IME features. Not using the built-in Windows IME is just the height of stupidity. And, yes, you can install them in the American Windows XP version.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15006569)

Eh? Crappy? I just organized an Optical Hat run with French, English, and Japanese players, and was quite succesful. How'd I do it?

{Optical hat} {Do You Need It?} 14/18 {White Mage} {Can I have It}

Wow, that is such a crappy setup, I mean, how can ANYONE understand that, when each of those words is translated into the language of the player.

Sorry, but from someone that's actually played this game quite well, the Auto Translator while not perfect does the job, does the job better then any other game out there that I've seen, INCLUDING WoW.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15006601)

Further to add, for tank and pull there's {Shield}{Party}, or just {provoke}{Can I have it?} and {Fishing}{Monster}, I've seen both English and JP's use those terms. perfect? no, usable? hell yes. Have fun talking with your Japanese / French co-players in WoW. Oh wait, don't they have seperate servers for different countries?

{Take Care!}

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

Troglodyt (898143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15000666)

But why ask Blizzard? They didn't go and make a global mmo now did they?
I like how I can party with people from all over the world when grinding, it makes it more interesting. The ping is just FUD, it works fine for a MMORPG. The updates are a little bit messy, but that has nothing to do with the global thing here.
Twice each month I can't get into the game for patching reasons, how often do you have to wait in line to get to grind in WoW?

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

mjhacker (922395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15005068)

You, sir, are an ignorant WoW fanboy. Your response is -exactly- typical of retarded FFXI bashers.

And exactly what do you have against Japanese people? Are you some kind of bigot? I can communicate with them just fine. In fact, I find the exchange rather enjoyable. It sure as hell beats talking to little 13 year olds on WoW who spam "n e 1 wan 2 dual me? lolz" I swear to God that Blizzard must've gathered the stupidest people on the planet and gave them free copies of WoW and said "Go forth, little fanboys, and taint this perfectly good game with your immaturity and lack of grammatical or typing skills."

About latency? FFXI's servers are FAR, FAR more stable than WoW's. Besides that time almost a year ago when SE was having DDoS attacks from China (you can also thank them for most of your 6 million WoW subscribers, by the way), I have never been disconnected or had any problems unless it was on my end. I'd rather be having a 200-500ms ping and always be guarenteed a connection than have WoW ping and -still- see people warping around like they were on dial-up. I'm not even mentioning the queue problem.

FFXI is cross-nation, cross-platform, and cross-language. WoW doesn't even come close to that versatility. Maybe that's why FFXI is thought of first when one thinks "global MMO." Because all I can think about when I think about WoW are stupid fanboys.

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15005275)

FFXI's servers are FAR, FAR more stable than WoW's.

Tell that to the suckers playing on "Bahamut" [playonline.com] who apparently have had server problems for two days in a row. And that's a nice long list of server flaws that S-E has been having. (To their credit, they're much more up-front about it than Blizzard is.)

Besides that time almost a year ago when SE was having DDoS attacks from China

There were no DDOS attacks. Yes, S-E claimed there were, but as far as anyone was able to determine, they just had server problems and blamed it on a DDOS. There was the time they got blocked by an ISP for requiring people to connect over the mail TCP port, though, which was their own stupidity biting them. WoW has never had an outage as long as that one.

Not to mention, WoW's server problems are essentially related to having more subscribers than FFXI has ever had in each individual region, all trying to access the servers all at once. If FFXI was trying to handle 1-2 million people (which WoW has in a single region) they'd be running into the same problems too. FFXI has a max server population of about 4,000 based on previous server splits. WoW has a max server population of somewhere around 10,000 (assuming equal distribution, dump everyone in one zone, things go south).

FFXI is cross-nation, cross-platform, and cross-language. WoW doesn't even come close to that versatility. Maybe that's why FFXI is thought of first when one thinks "global MMO."

Guess what. WoW is cross-nation, cross-platform, and cross-language. FFXI includes two translations world-wide: Japanese and English. WoW has been translated into English, French, German, Korean, and Chinese - and maybe more, I'm only aware of those translations.

Besides, "cross-platform" support really isn't all that impressive. I learned about hton/ntoh family of functions ages ago, too. Hey, look, you can access Slashdot from a wide variety of platforms too! Amazing!

When it comes to "global MMORPGs" FFXI has only been released in three regions: Japan, North America, and Europe. WoW has been released in North America, Europe, Korea, China, and Taiwan. I'd call WoW a tad more global than FFXI.

Because all I can think about when I think about WoW are stupid fanboys.

Gee, and all I can think about when I think about FFXI are emo-losers who think that they're so cool because they "speak Japanese" at a preschool level. Hey, look, I can make stupid insulting generalizations too!

Re:Why not ask WoW about global MMORPGs? (1)

mjhacker (922395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15029250)

I won't say that you didn't make good points, AC, but when I said "cross-language" I really meant that you can communicate with people from an entirely different language. WoW has no translator, and it never will. It is not global because while everyone around the world might play, you cannot communicate effectively with those people, so it makes no difference anyway. You could translate the game into freaking Latin, but there's nothing impressive about it unless you had an English-to-Latin translator.

Good job, AC, you managed to defend World of Warcraft without sounding like a fanboy... not.
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