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Future of Ritual, Sin Episodes In Question

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-as-episodic-as-one-would-want dept.

Games 39

The Escapist blog is reporting that several key employees have left Ritual. With the ongoing episodic title Sin Episodes up in the air, one has to wonder if any additional installments will follow the somewhat tepidly received first entry. From the article: "After five and a half years as the CEO of Ritual, Steve Nix turned up on the official id Software site as the new Director of Business Development. His reasons for leaving Ritual were not made public. Over two months ago on September 16th, Shawn Ketcherside also left Ritual after nearly six years with the company. He was the lead designer on Sin Episodes: Emergence. Today, former QA lead Michael Russell updated his blog with word that he was also looking for a new job. Last week, Russell had made a post calling out poor QA practices at Sony. He claims that the article was not the reason for his leaving the company."

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Ding, Ding, Ding (3, Insightful)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165306)

And the winner is... Episodic content. Remind me how this benefits gamers?

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (3, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165392)

You get to be relieved of the terrible burden of excess cash.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (2, Interesting)

rwven (663186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165412)

It would work fine if the episodes were longer than three hours long and if they werent complete crap on top of it. Sin EP1 was one of the most craptastic fits of gaming idiocy I've ever played. It was a massive step backwards in "fun factor" compared to most things out on the market.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

MojoBox (985651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165530)

It was about on par with the average amatuer mod coming out for Half-Life in 2001. Reminded me a lot of Chemical Existance actually, which is a good deal for free, but crap at $19.99

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

Some_Llama (763766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165538)

"Sin EP1 was one of the most craptastic fits of gaming idiocy I've ever played"

The original SiN wasn't anything to write home about either.. it was ok for a bargin bin pick up, but if I had bought it at full retail price I would have felt ripped off...

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165976)

I think SiN is the ONLY, I repeat ONLY franchise whose anime was substantially better than it's video game.

That is, starting from a video game and THEN moving on to anime.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168404)

The,err, Original Sin wasn't at all bad for it's time. Not much story line, but that was normal for shooters. I played it agian recently, and it was fine (allowing for its age). Sin EP1 was just total crap. The enemies were just aimbots, almost no AI at all, and they'd fire directly at you even when they couldn't see you.

Any FPS these days should bring the AI up at least to the level of the original Half Life!

Also, of course, there was very little variety: only a couple of weapons, only a couple of opponents, very limited map and texture design, etc.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

Merusdraconis (730732) | more than 7 years ago | (#17170432)

Sin was okay for its time, but unfortunately Half-Life came out at the same time and Sin dated quick.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 7 years ago | (#17170612)

Half-Life certainly raised the bar, but I'd say that Sin was as good as anything else out that year except Half-Life. The graphics were fine, the level design was interesting, etc. Heck, in terms of everything except graphics it was better than Sin EP1!

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17165552)

Episodic gaming might work if the episodes were able to be released on a weekly basis and you purchased a subscription rather than a single episode.

think television series... you have to solve all the production issues of episodic programming and there is much to be learned from the television industry. What doesn't work is having 1 Battlestar Galactica episode every 6 months. So you have to work in cycles where you have n episodes in the pipeline and QA is performed at least 4-6 weeks before the episode is released. Its inevitable that problems will crop up, but those bumps can be worked out over time.

6 monmths to a year is way too long between episodes. If you want a 2 or 3 hour episode, it needs to be released once a week with production done well in advance, and perhaps having an off season to catch up.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166250)

Kind of like how Telltale Game is doing it for Sam & Max? It's one month between episodes with the exception of a two month break between episodes one and two. Weekly they are releasing a mini video related to the game and you can purchase the full "season" and play the games as they come out.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17165596)

I just bought it for the digital boobies.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

stg (43177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166128)

I played the whole thing, and while I don't think it was *that* bad, it certainly wasn't good.

That has nothing to do with being episodic though, I got Half-life 2 Episode 1 too and it was great, I can hardly wait for the next episode of it. It was perfectly good value for my money.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168424)

Well, I didn't like HL2 EP 1 much, but I agree the problem isn't the "episode" format. Sin EP1 suffered not from lack of play time so much as lack of complexity.

HL2 Ep1 at least felt like the first third of a complete game design, though IMO they shouldn't call a game "Half Life" when you don't have the crowbar (and, in general, it was more of a puzzle game than a shooter, which I guess is fine for many people).

So episodic content HELPED you? (3, Insightful)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166282)

So you paid $20 and didn't like what you got, and won't buy more episodes.

Correct?

So how is this worse then paying $50 and getting MORE of what you don't like but at a higher cost?

Re:So episodic content HELPED you? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17166588)

PC games generally have a demo. You usually get to try out the first "episode" for free.

Re:So episodic content HELPED you? (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17167246)

I see no problem with what you said...but it really doesn't anything to do with my comment.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#17167312)

I agree the Sin Episode 1 wasn't very good. However, the Arena mode that they added afterwards is quite fun. ratchet down the difficulty and it is quite fun to run around a map killing bots until the time runs out.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (2, Interesting)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17168118)

I bought it as soon as it was available on Steam, as I very much enjoyed the original Sin game.
My CD of Sin has received some scratches over the years, and when I tried to install it the other day it wouldn't: So since Sin: Emergence also came with the original Sin as an extra, I thought it to be quite a bargain for 17-something dollars (pre-release price on Steam).

Whereas I enjoyed the (very outdated) original Sin, I didn't quite get into the main game: Somehow I got really annoyed by being limited to three weapons (iirc, the second episode would add more), and the gameplay wasn't very good.

It's a shame when the original game (which runs on the Quake 2 engine) beats the sequel several years down the road: There could have been way more versatility within the gameplay/story, but I think the way that Valve is able to 'tell their story' has raised the bar for quite some other single-player-only developers.

Got to give credit where credit is due though: Sin: Emergence has one of the most memorable introduction ever : You are woken up by the 'bad girl' (who's just injected you with some sort of virus), showing some very realistic *cough* bouncing physics on the tits area. :D

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165572)

The new Sam and Max episodic series sold very well and its next episode is due out in January. For $9 you get a new episode every 2 months, or for $35 you get all 6 (plus shipping if you want the optional CD at the end of the season). At about 2 hours per episode this works out to be quite a bargain.

Half Life 2: Episode One is the best episode/expansion/add-on for any game ever. Period. It's so great that I actually wrote my first ever game review [demodulated.com] shortly after my second run-through. HL2:E1 sells for $20 for 4-6 hours of gameplay (it took me 4.5), but I got $2 off since I preordered. Episodic gaming (not including SIN, which sucked in my opinion) is successful and is only in its infancy. The Sam and Max game really illustrated to me just how stagnant and one-dimensional television is in the 21st century. It's time to get involved in the lives of our favourite protagonists.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17167204)

These are all the key points

Epesodic CAN work. So can full game, in a retail box, on the store shelf. They can also both create horrible games! (SiN EP1 and SiN1 are good example of these).

Sometihng that is interesting to me is that the Fun:NotAsFun ratio was much better in HL2:EP1 then in HL2 (to me). Was this something to do with the fact that it was a bitesizes bit of gaming that could avoide some of the problems that longer games run into? I dono, we will probably only find out as more episodic content is released.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166198)

I think if it was done right episodic gaming could be a real benefit to certain types of games. If you enjoy games that tell stories (different from "interactive fiction"...still a game), you don't really have anything in the game world to choose from except the "novel". There's no short story format for games. If you go the visual entertainment route for your analogy, all we have are gigantic epic films. There's no half-hour sitcom. (Say what you will about the sit-com, there's a few out there that are good :) Where episodic gaming comes in is that you can have a two hour game that tells a story and doesn't leave the player feeling robbed. They know they can tune in next week/month/etc. for the next one, and enjoy the same characters/world/gameplay etc.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

LoofWaffle (976969) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166380)

If you enjoy games that tell stories (different from "interactive fiction"...still a game), you don't really have anything in the game world to choose from except the "novel".
Do you mean like those old "Choose your own adventure" paperbacks that presented a choice and had you flip to a certain page based on that choice?

"If you want to watch Alyx dance around the fire pole, goto Episode 1.1. If you want to hang out with Barney and drinks beers, goto Episode 1.2"

That would be pretty amusing, lol.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17167352)

How about those old Tex Murphy games? Somewhat cheezy, but they had fun puzzles and storylines. They suffered a bit from the "OMG CD-ROM interactive movies!" phase, but they were still fun none-the-less. The adventure genre has always benefited from interesting and compelling storylines. (Let's face it, you can replace the story from HalfLife/Halo/Doom/etc with any sciencefiction/horror plotline and it will remain just as fun a game). When the pace of a game is a bit slower, there's a little more you can do with laying out a story. I hope the Sam & Max episodes really do spawn a new era of adventure games. I think given the write toolsets and talented writers & designers you could churn out an episode pretty quickly and cost effectivly, as the scale is reduced. On games I've worked on its always been that last 15% - some feature or portion of the game that's wonky. That level you can't cut that always runs at 5-10 frames under your target FPS, etc. With episodes you could get an engine working and then work on content - pipeline it and have a couple teams working in parallel on small, focused levels.

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166254)

Do you have a points of comparison?

- .HACK [dothack.com] uses episodic content in four episodes. How well would it work in a single edition, especially when you consider how well things can pack on a single disk? Also, why should a person be forced to read all the "prequels" to a given story to read the current one?
- Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross follow a different type of episodic content known as sequels.
- Doom 3 is the main game that is used as an engine demo. The developers released an "expansion pack" for the game.

Episodic content might not be good for gamers, but killing out all forms of episodes would leave too many people unsatisified - the result would be improvised fan fiction that sometimes conflicts with the "official story" and other fan-fics. We wouldn't want that, would we?

Re:Ding, Ding, Ding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171148)

Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross are both 40+ hour games released on different systems. I wouldn't call that "episodic". There's a reason we call them sequels. Episodes are generally really short in this context. Also if you go by this logic you could call a whole genre episodic (Wolfenstein 3D to F.E.A.R. - Same style of gameplay. Story boils down to "Kill those dudes!". ;-).

I agree that Doom 3 was just an engine demo, but the addon/expansion pack was just an extension to this demo which said "Hey, we also do physics.".

Normal turnover...? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165474)

I'm not surprised if someone leaves a company after five or six years. Seems like normal turnover. Whether Ritual can maintain its own business after key members left is a good question. Was it built around personalities or a solid business plan?

(On a related note, I'm still bitter that I never got a write up in Slashdot after being at Accolade/Infogrames/Atari for six years. I guess lead testers don't count for anything.)

Re:Normal turnover...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17169886)

I guess lead testers don't count for anything.

Lead testers count as the deranged, retarded cousin Billy who everyone speaks about in a hushed whisper at Thanksgiving dinner.

That's not fair (5, Insightful)

MojoBox (985651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165498)

I don't think you can call your game "Episodic" until you've, you know, released more than 1 episode. Until then it's just a really short game.

Re:That's not fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17167202)

No kidding, this is one of the main reasons I hate episodic content, you could end up getting suckered into the game's story and then they just drop support with no real conclusion.

Funny enough, Ritual is also is responsible for Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2, which had a "to be continued" ending. Of course it could be licensing and game sales issues, but it did tick me off to get all the way to end only to have it left unconcluded.

Same thing happened with Sega's Shenmue series, only got a 1-2 of a 1-3 game(with 3 allegedly being the final game), which was somewhat amazing considering how many chapters the creator wanted to do. With the amount of problems that plagued that game, a third one is very unlikely.

It would be nice if they did a next-gen 1-3(that could carry stuff over, like the Japanese/UK Dramcast versions did), but considering the stupid way Sega handled it(dropped #2 DC US version, ported to Xbox without a S1, it is now a mmorpg, now it might not be, etc...) and just how bad their games have been as of late(hello Sonic), I really wonder if I want to see them release that.

New CEO (3, Informative)

ZombieNormality (1037408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165664)

http://www.ritual.com/ [ritual.com] We made a press release announcing our new CEO this week.

Episodes is fine if they are often enough (1)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166428)

Having a couple to several months between is just crazy, and doesn't really appeal. I bought HL2:E1 and even SIN:E1, The HL2:E1 was great and I was sorry to see it end so quickly. SIN:E1 I started up watched the openning sequence screwed with it for a couple minutes in game play and then pretty much tucked away as a waste of the cash...eh more of the same.

I like the Idea, I thinl HL2:E2, and E3 are going to be great, but the delays are killing me. I think the problem and solution are paradoxical. HL is a franchise is great because of the great skill and attention to detail of Valve, they don't want to let something out the door until its truely done. However if they were to really push the episode thing to give us more more often it would quickly become tiring, eh more of the same since the innovation would suffer and the attention to detail would suffer.

On the whole several months wait for more content is better than several years it would take for a full HL3 (please tell me they are already working on that).
Still perhaps a longer pipeline where 3 is at the beta stage when 2 is at release, and 4 is being fleshed out, with 5 on the drawing board would be nice. (I know they are probably not going that far as 3 is the only confirmed further release).

What we really need is something that can randomly generate new levels and story elements, with the developers tossing in new content elements from time to time in updates. Infinately playablity.

Re:Episodes is fine if they are often enough (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171728)

What we really need is something that can randomly generate new levels and story elements, with the developers tossing in new content elements from time to time in updates. Infinately playablity.

So you're still playing Diablo, right?

What we need is not random content. What we need is better ways of generating non-random content. That's procedural generation, that's better dev tools, tighter dev practices, and better software overall. Then we get the same kind of thing -- developers toss in new content from time to time -- and whole generated worlds in insane levels of detail, with developer attention to detail all over the place -- but it's not random.

Doesn't even have to be infinite, just easier to manage. That's why we have things like forest generators right now -- it has an idea how to make a tree, and how to place them, so you hilight an area and it grows a forest. What we need is more tools like that that suck less -- it doesn't have to generate the whole world, but it would be nice to have it generate stuff that doesn't matter, like, say, every building in the Matrix that doesn't have that cool lobby in it.

Re:Episodes is fine if they are often enough (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172604)

Definitely agree with you. I think one of the biggest issues game development is facing is the spiraling cost of generating mass amounts of highly-detailed hand-generated content (take a look at Gears of War for a good example of this). I think a good deal of programming effort is going to be focused on creating smarter tools and algorithms to automatically create "filler" area interspersed with hand-crafted details.

This is definitely an area of interest at our studio. Although some minor functionality in our world editor is automated / algorithmic, too much still requires explicit hand-crafting by a level designer. The future is going to belong to whoever can create the most and best content in the fastest amount of time. And it's going to be up to the programmers to develop the tools that can do this.

Re:Episodes is fine if they are often enough (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17174468)

Although some minor functionality in our world editor is automated / algorithmic, too much still requires explicit hand-crafting by a level designer.

Build it into your engine, not your world editor. Of course both will have to support it, but the filler content should be generated on the end-user's machine, allowing it all to scale up more.

And it's not all "filler". Do it for your main content, too. Hire people who make interesting WinAmp visualisations and such, get shader people, have them think of ways to, for instance, generate a wood grain fractal, instead of having 16 different textures for a wooden plank.

I'd actually love to be developing tools like this, and I'm glad to hear it's needed in the real world. Unfortunately, I flunked out of college and have no experience with this, so I'm working in web development and trying to find spare time to play with it.

Re:Episodes is fine if they are often enough (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17175824)

We already do some of that. The game I'm working on is a network/MMO game, and when we download some data, we actually use a lot of advanced generation techniques to reduce download size. For instance, we actually use the video card hardware to expand some of the data on the user's machine.

I agree, the best algorithms would be supported in the engine. That way, an entire world could be nothing more than a transmitted seed number (plus the content to build it from). We're still a ways out from this sort of technology being fully realized though.

Re:Episodes is fine if they are often enough (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17186318)

an entire world could be nothing more than a transmitted seed number (plus the content to build it from).

What do you mean by "the content to build it from"?

I'll refer you to .kkreiger, an FPS in 96 kilobytes, as well as many of the other fun things from demoscene -- if by "content" you mean "reusable textures/materials and models", realize that those, too, can be generated.

The only content you should have to send is where you're deliberately changing a world generated from a scene. For instance, generate a city, then tweak a building. And almost any "tweak" you make could be a seed + a re-usable algorithm. You could have a "person" algorithm, which includes a hand algorithm, an arm algorithm, and so on...

Sequenced music, generated animations...

Of course, at a certain point, you have to decide that it's worth it to just let people devevlop content the way they're used to, and figure that it's OK to sacrifice a meg or two for a 100% hand-crafted final boss or something. But even here, you'd want tools to help it be more procedural -- use curves instead of triangles (and generate the triangles from the curves), use texture generation algorithms rather than re-using textures (every plank of wood should look different)...

I'm actually wanting to get deep into this stuff sometime next year. Having content look every bit as good, but fit inside a few kilobytes, opens up a few more possibilities that I'd like to keep to myself for now, but are probably obvious to anyone ambitious enough.

Re:Episodes is fine if they are often enough (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17186982)

Yes, theoretically you could build a world completely out of algorithms. I've put a lot of thought the same processes that you've described, and I definitely feel this is the way of the future. Games are getting so massive that we need to find new ways of generating the huge amount of content for these virtual worlds.

But quite honestly, I think what you're envisioning is not really all that practical quite yet - at least for our technology / game. The goal for us, at least in the near term, is to find a balance between hand-crafted and generated material. When I say, "the content to build it from", I simply mean whatever you consider the "core" components to be - those would typically be more expensive to build algorithmically than simply modeling and storing in a library for reuse. This core content could be textures, models, or even algorithms.

A simple example - office furniture could likely be described algorithmically, but doing so would be a huge waste of programmer time. An artist can create a large library of furniture for a higher-level algorithm to place in office buildings, and the furniture can be tagged with logical descriptions for these algorithms to use. And, it would certainly look much better than anything an algorithm could generate. This way, you can generate an entire skyscraper (both exterior and interior), and every single floor would be traversable.

I'm well familiar with the demoscene, but believe me, there's a huge difference between putting together a small demo with the luxury of generating any content you wish, and creating the required content for a commercial next-gen game. Anytime you use an algorithm to generate content, you are making a trade-off. The lower-level the algorithm, the more generic looking the final outcome, but the broader the range of possible variants. Higher-level algorithms have the advantage of creating more unique and creative-looking results, but typically draw on pre-fabricated components in order to achieve this, and thus have a limited number of permutations.

In general, I'm not really disagreeing with you *in theory*, but for us, seeing as we actually have to ship products, it simply makes more sense to move toward that goal a bit more incrementally.

Re:Episodes is fine if they are often enough (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17187324)

A simple example - office furniture could likely be described algorithmically, but doing so would be a huge waste of programmer time. An artist can create a large library of furniture for a higher-level algorithm to place in office buildings, and the furniture can be tagged with logical descriptions for these algorithms to use.

True enough. I do believe that there could be tools which would help with this kind of thing, though. For instance, an artist (not a programmer) could create a generic-looking chair by starting with something that kind of looks like a chair, and storing the modifications between that and a chair. It's possible that storing a table + instructions to generate a chair from a table is cheaper than storing the chair and table separately -- but either way, the software could choose the cheaper one automatically.

Probably, you'd want both, so that people who have already downloaded the chair can download the chair-to-table "patch", and vice versa, assuming the "patch" is smaller than the resulting object. Such a "patch" could be a set of steps you'd take in a modelling program to change one into the other, so it could essentially be a recording, but I'm thinking you'd want much more intelligent tools -- given any two objects, try to generate a patch between them.

Furthermore, the artist would define a generic chair -- for instance, an office chair -- wheels, armrests, could be cloth or leather -- and allow some permutations. It'd take some experimentation, and it'd probably take more time than just creating a bunch of prefab chairs, at least until the artist really got a knack for how to do it this way. But you can imagine -- some office chairs are lower, some are higher, and depending on how profitable the business, some might be missing an arm or two...

The idea is, at least: Create all chairs by starting with other chairs, or with a generic chair, and for that matter, create all objects by starting with other objects. Ideally, even if you have a finite set of chairs, the system should be able to distribute any one of those chairs as a "patch" to another one, and store them as the difference between that chair and some "base" chair.

So, you have prefab chairs, just like you describe, but they take less space, and your tools to generate small variations may not make it into the game (at least not for chairs), but they may mean your artist has to do a lot less work to generate a lot more kinds of chairs.

And of course, do this for your textures, also. You might generate some textures algorithmically, or allow some kind of materials to have algorithmic deviations -- my chair is made of a cloth that looks like a very fine checkerboard (probably the weave), but it's a little wavy, partly dependent on the way it's wrapped around the chair, partly sheer randomness. That way, the same exact chair model your artist created above could look slightly different in places that count for realism, but not in any way that throws it completely off.

And, it would certainly look much better than anything an algorithm could generate.

I'm not convinced of that, but the payoff of doing the chair algorithmically -- actually having one true "chair formula", rather than what I've described above -- wouldn't be worth the insane amount of effort it'd take.

The lower-level the algorithm, the more generic looking the final outcome, but the broader the range of possible variants. Higher-level algorithms have the advantage of creating more unique and creative-looking results, but typically draw on pre-fabricated components in order to achieve this, and thus have a limited number of permutations.

I see what you're saying here, and I partly agree. In the same way, a very generic "wood" texture could be re-used for all the wood in the game, but then it would all look the same.

I'm just thinking you want permutations everywhere, even when they don't seem to be doing much -- it'll show on a next-gen game. In order to do that, you want the artists to be able to manage those permutations.

You also want random-ish algorithms all over the place, too.

So, you have your skyscraper with its completely generated floor plan, except the penthouse (which is probably partly generated but you've mostly customized it to fit the character you've created to live there), every floor filled with prefab office furniture that's actually quite uinque and still space-efficient (because it's all related), and all that furniture has subtle permutations so that when you get two identical office chairs next to each other, they look subtly different, and people don't keep noticing the same exact pattern in the wood grain of every conference table.

All that, and you should actually be saving space (and download bandwidth) at every step.

I don't know how much of that is possible yet, and how much I may have to invent when I start playing with it. I'm curious to find out where I've been over-optimistic...

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