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Auto Assault Goes Sunset Tonight

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the cue-taps-please dept.

Role Playing (Games) 39

Mytob writes "Today is the last day of service for NCSoft / Net Devil's Auto Assault. The game, which has never proved that popular, will have its service terminated at midnight central time. Refund emails have already been sent out, and end-of game events have been happening since last week. From the Auto Assault Website: 'We are now in the final week of Auto Assault and to mark this occasion on Friday night we'll be doing all sorts of nutty things in-game — whatever you request, we'll try to make happen. Most of the fun will be in and around Ground Zero (don't worry if you don't have a high-level character, we'll boost you), but we'll be doing other stuff all around the game. We plan on starting around 9PM CDT (if not before) and should last right to midnight when the servers are shut down for the final time.'"

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And so the first one dies. (1)

ShaneThePain (929627) | about 7 years ago | (#20423197)

Who wants to take bets on when World of Warcraft will be shut down. Im putting my money on December, 2012.

Re:And so the first one dies. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20423259)

Who wants to take bets on by how much the suicide rates will jump when it does, no matter when.

Re:And so the first one dies. (0, Troll)

aicrules (819392) | about 7 years ago | (#20423951)

There will be just two. The last player and last GM in the game when they pull the plug. They will have been the only two people in game for the last 2 years the game is running. The developers actually planned on taking it down December 2010, but the GM was the big boss's nephew. To keep him going they kept one player in the game with the final expansion released in January of 2011 raising the level cap to 400. The next two years the one player spent grinding 35 characters on 7 different realms to the level cap. Got half of them into wormhole riding mounts. And was just about to finish soloing She-ra (level 300 raiding boss) when the plug was pulled. Thankfully, they will only really have committed suicide in-game. It will take them nearly three weeks to realize this, however. The player will finally figure it out when his 90yo mom breaks down the basement door because the smell has gotten into the kitchen again. The GM will figure it out when the Blizzard janitor turns on the lights to mop up the urine stain the GM left when he thought it was all over.

Nice try, but (mostly) too shallow (4, Interesting)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 7 years ago | (#20423315)

I've played in the beta, and AA had a few nice aspects that almost made me buy it.

The good things were
-halfway decent driving physics (albeit not perfect)
-innovative and interesting crafting system
-nice graphics

and the bad:
-Absolutely no death penalty, making combat somewhat meaningless
-got quite repetitive after level 20
-combat way too dependent on level: a mob 5 levels below you could hardly hurt you and vice versa...
In the end it was fun for three months of beta but by the release time I had grown somewhat tired of it. Now playing EVE which is still fun after 8 months :-)

Re:Nice try, but (mostly) too shallow (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20425257)

I must have tried it too early in the beta. I remember the graphics being awful, especially in "town" where your person looked incredibly stiff and unnatural. I don't remember being too impressed by the crafting system, but I don't remember exactly why. I like the highly level dependence of combat. It bothered me a lot in WoW and EQ that you could constantly be bothered by things that gave you no experience if you took the time to deal with them. If you're going to go with the explosive gains in power, you might as well go all the way.

I'd like to see a game go the opposite way, though. You make noticable gains in power as you play, but even the smallest things are still a threat and those small things can still give rewards.

Re:Nice try, but (mostly) too shallow (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 7 years ago | (#20426389)

I was in the beta, too. Uninstalled it after about a week, then reinstalled it when a Netdevil shill swore up and down that things were different and vastly improved and... yes. Play was just as dire, the engine issues were still in evidence, and as much as I wanted a Car Wars Online, AA was definitely not going to be it.

I still wince when I recall the adolescent writing for the background and the quests. It was like they tried to parley their earlier vehicle-based MMO, Jumpgate, into a new setting... minus the charm of the original, and the PVP content that kept JG's hard-core players loyal.

I'd like to see a game go the opposite way, though. You make noticable gains in power as you play, but even the smallest things are still a threat and those small things can still give rewards.
That might be interesting, assuming that mobs were spaced out well enough that you could avoid them easily, or if travel powers/mounts/teleportals/ferries were fairly ubiquitous. Otherwise everyone will end up getting stuck on the trash mobs that are between them and their quest objectives. While that's good for time sinking (and gold, if you've got repair costs), it's not so good for player retention these days.

Re:Nice try, but (mostly) too shallow (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 7 years ago | (#20431647)

I'd rather say those smaller things flee and don't try to attack you when you're powerful enough.

Re:Nice try, but (mostly) too shallow (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20425757)

I agree. I got a preorder so I could get into the Beta. I spent a few weeks with it, and came to the same decision as you. In addition to your reasons, I had the following:

- Far too much of it was geared toward single-player. There wasn't a whole lot of multi-player content involved (at the low end, at least), and what was there was often something that could still be beaten alone with some persistance. (The non-penalty for death factored into this. Go in, survive for a bit, attack for as long as possible, die. Repeat until the mob wore down enough to be killed.)
- Sometimes the drops would be too numerous, causing me to stop and clean out the inventory every so often; or the drops for quests wouldn't happen nearly often enough, causing lots of constant backtracking and waiting until mobs respawned, just so I could collect the last of the "Get 10 cans of gasoline from Level 12 Pike Sandcrawlers"
- Again, at least at the lower levels, it didn't really matter what class you played; the missions were all exactly the same within a race.
- Finally, and most importantly, for a game called "Auto Assualt", you'd think there would be more, well, actual assault. Especially with 3 races, it would've been cool to have "border areas" where you constantly engaged in raids against the other factions. But, outside of the ultra-high level stuff (Ground Zero), the only way to do real PvP was to enter special arenas where organized matches occured. (ie. This *SHOULD* have been something closer to "Car Wars Online")

Re:Nice try, but (mostly) too shallow (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 7 years ago | (#20426591)

Ironically, the bad points you mention are fairly representative of WoW, except possibly the one about repetitiveness. I guess I don't know if you mean repetitive in that the mechanics don't ever change (like WoW, which is fine with me), or that the content stays the same (ugh). Weird that if those are the bad points, that AA isn't doing as well as WoW.

At any rate, no death penalty is the best thing to ever happen to MMOs. I wish every game did that.

Poor auto assault (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | about 7 years ago | (#20423331)

I found Auto Assault to be a SUPER fun game...except for the fact that there was hardly anyone around.

Unfortunately, it was a vicious circle that caused things to get to this point...no one wanted to play it because the world was so empty, thus causing the world to STAY empty.

Shame...I loved it.

Re:Poor auto assault (4, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 7 years ago | (#20423625)

This can really kill any online game. It's a chicken-and-egg problem, although even if that problem gets solved, it can really kill a game if subscriber count dips for any reason.

For example, this is a basic VERY concise history of Dark Age of Camelot:

Game launches successfully (I've heard that it is still regarded as the least buggy MMOG launch ever. This is sad since DAoC still had lots of annoying bugs.

First game expansion is well received

Not realizing that the reasons most of the DAoC subscriber base were playing DAoC instead of Everquest was because they hated certain aspects of EQ such as sitting around camping a rare mob spawn for hours on end, Mythic decided to try and capitalize on EQ's popularity by releasing a new expansion (Trials of Atlantis) which had very EQ-like mechanics. (Super-rare mob spawns as opposed to the previous DAoC model of super-rare drops off of mobs or drops off of super-hard mobs requiring lots of teamwork to beat.)

Playerbase almost universally hates ToA and constantly bitches about it to Mythic. Mythic ignores the bitching because people aren't quitting. Mythic does not realize that most of the complainers are just waiting for another place to go - While they like DAoC far less than they used to, there still aren't better options.

Eventually, Blizzard Entertainment provides just the option that over half of DAoC's playerbase is waiting for.
DAoC's subscriber count drops rapidly over the period of only a few months

Mythic finally realizes just how much ToA was hurting them, and starts fixing it

While the game is vastly improved (and in my opinion, is far better than WoW in terms of game mechanics), the fact that the playerbase is totally skewed towards hardcore players shifts RvR (Realm vs. Realm) mechanics in such a way that casual players can't compete. As a result, despite the reason for people originally leaving for WoW being gone, the reduced playerbase of DAoC makes people stay with WoW (or other games - EVE in my case).

DAoC is stuck in a chicken-and-egg situation in which they can't gain new/casual players until they gain more casual players.

Game mechanics-wise, I would rather be playing DAoC than EVE. But the decimated playerbase means DAoC is no longer fun, despite good game mechanics.

Re:Poor auto assault (1)

Pojut (1027544) | about 7 years ago | (#20423651)

I don't think any game ever elicited more trash talking at the weekly LAN party I attended than when we were RvR fighting in DAoC...good times, good times.

Re:Poor auto assault (2, Informative)

swordgeek (112599) | about 7 years ago | (#20425239)

Interesting history. I had played DAoC from fairly early on, and had brought two characters up to level 50 by the time ToA was released. I had also become a Legendary Grandmaster armourcrafter, which took twice as much time as leveling two characters. At first the rule and game changes looked like they were designed for better balance, but then they started to get silly and frustrating. Then there was the cheating: I worked with a guy who got up to the same crafting level as me in a week, by using an auto-crafting program, which were explicitly forbidden. I complained to the powers that be, and got no response. I appealed to the in-game support folks, and got ignored, even when he was USING THE PROGRAM AT THAT MOMENT--they simply refused to check into it.

Then ToA came out. Despite their promises, they quickly started to hold official events in the expanded area, and if you hadn't bought it, then you were left out. So much of the game's upgrades which _could_ have been implemented realm-wide required owning ToA, that it became pointless to play if you didn't shell out the extra $45.

It became abundantly clear that the Powers That Be weren't interested in running a fair, honest, or fun game--they were out to soak their customers for as much money as possible. Expensive game, expensive (and effectively mandatory) upgrades, AND a monthly fee, and as long as you paid your bill, you could cheat as much as you liked. No thanks Mythic, I'll keep my money.

I see that the cheater mentioned above still exists. Apparently in-game crime _does_ pay.

Re:Poor auto assault (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 years ago | (#20450779)

You think Blizzard isn't out to soak their customers for as much money as possible?
The only difference is that Blizzard realizes you can soak much more money from them if you manage to keep your customers happy enough to keep paying.

Re:Poor auto assault (1)

swordgeek (112599) | about 7 years ago | (#20474635)

First of all, I didn't mention Blizzard at all--I'm not paying for ANY online games anymore.

Secondly, if a company can provide a good enough gaming environment for me to willingly pay, then so be it. Encouraging cheating and forced upgrades ain't the way, though.

Slightly OT: Autocrafter (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 7 years ago | (#20454303)

I had also become a Legendary Grandmaster armourcrafter, which took twice as much time as leveling two characters. At first the rule and game changes looked like they were designed for better balance, but then they started to get silly and frustrating. Then there was the cheating: I worked with a guy who got up to the same crafting level as me in a week, by using an auto-crafting program, which were explicitly forbidden. I complained to the powers that be, and got no response. I appealed to the in-game support folks, and got ignored, even when he was USING THE PROGRAM AT THAT MOMENT--they simply refused to check into it.

I think that is a design flaw even more than a problem with sloppy support:
Repetitive stuff like crafting should be automated, and instead the crafting ressources should be the bottleneck. The EVE model is pretty good there:
It takes you hours to mine the ore (and there I'm in favor of allowing macros too, but let the occasional powerful mob spawn that will kill an unattended mining ship ;-) but then you can put a batch of 100 items to produce in the factory and it will run unattended.

Another solution might be turning crafting into a puzzle game where you have to put raw materials together in the best way. Just don't make it a case of stupid button mashing...

Re:Poor auto assault (1)

garylian (870843) | about 7 years ago | (#20425435)

Auto Assault was never going to be a huge hit. I just couldn't see myself playing it, and I beta a lot of MMOs. This game couldn't generate any interest for me.

Part of that was PlayNC being at the controls. I really liked CoH/CoV initially. The character generation is STILL the best ever, and just about everyone lost an hour or more on their first character design. But all of their games tend to devolve into a redundancy that hurts them in the long run. You can only do so many missions in CoH/CoV before they all look the same, feel the same, and drive you insane. Dungeon Runners is a joke, with graphics that are ancient, and gameplay that is too repetitive. Lineage II is a gold-farmer's dream location, which means it sucks for the rest of folks. None of their games are managed well, and don't develop well over time.

Much of Blizzard's success has to do with timing. The MMO market was simply waiting for a game that both the casual and psuedo-hardcore gamer could play, without being TOO repetitive. It has PvP for those that wish to do it full-time, and those that wish to do it part-time. The competition at launch time just wasn't there.

Most folks had burnt out on the original EQ, and EQ2 was being released, so there was a big exodus at this timeframe. Everquest2 was launched 2 weeks earlier that WoW, if memory servers me right, but was filled with things to make the game harder than it needed to me. DAoC had the problems you documented. CoH/CoV ran into a redundancy problem that started too early in the game to keep people's interest for long. Other, smaller MMOs just filled a niche player base.

So there was this vacumn dying for a really good game that could appeal to just about everyone, and Blizzard didn't just wander it, they overwhelmed it.

Blizzard now has better competition for players, even if most of the recent MMOs have been poorly attended. Yes, I'm talking to you, Vanguard and LotR:O. And soon, we'll be adding Tabula Rasa to the list of poorly attended MMOs.

EVE has really hit the spot for folks that like PvP, but to me the learning curve and the need for a good friend-base is a real limiting factor. Unless I knew a group of folks that played and were looking for me to join, I wouldn't go there. It's not for soloing or cutting your teeth without friends. It just sounds too daunting to take on by yourself without knowing folks. Unless you want to join BoB, that is.

EQ2 has been given many a facelift, and I personally feel that unless you are looking for PvP, it is the best MMO going. The playerbase tends to be a little more mature than the typical WoW crowd, and no raid requires more than 24 persons max, and many are 12 person raids. If you played it at launch and were disgusted, take a look at it now. I've had many WoW fanatics burn out, and come try EQ2 with those of us that are playing. Only one has not stayed with EQ2, and he left due to not having enough RAM to run EQ2 and Skype at the same time. Most of them have been simply stunned at how different a game it is.

I keep waiting for some other game to hit me like EQ originally did, or like WoW did, but EQ2 is the closest I've come to, and that is only after coming back to it years later. I had hopes for LotR:O, but a beta stint fixed that for me. Same with Vanguard, as I knew after 2 days that it was going to suck.

Nobody is going to knock off WoW for a long time, but maybe some game will eventually shake their tree. Blizzard needs to release more than 1 expansion every 2 years to keep the attention of players. Their working towards their second expansion, while SoE is working on the 4th for EQ2. An expansion before that first year was done would have probably kept the wife and I playing for another 6 months at least, but instead we cancelled our accounts and found other games to play.

Re:Poor auto assault (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 7 years ago | (#20425811)

"EVE has really hit the spot for folks that like PvP, but to me the learning curve and the need for a good friend-base is a real limiting factor. Unless I knew a group of folks that played and were looking for me to join, I wouldn't go there. It's not for soloing or cutting your teeth without friends. It just sounds too daunting to take on by yourself without knowing folks. Unless you want to join BoB, that is."

Well, to go join BoB you're going to need to know a lot of people.

That said - I started playing EVE with a bunch of buddies from a web-based strategy game (Planetarion). I got burned out after a year, partly because I wasn't nearly as hardcore as the rest of Xanadu, and went back to DAoC.

I returned to EVE a year ago, mainly due to many other ex-Xans I was friends with forming a much more relaxed corp, and to be honest the only thing keeping me in the game is the fact that it's what most of my gaming buddies are also playing. I really don't like supporting CCP's ethics violations. I don't think CCP realizes that they are in the exact same situation that DAoC was when WoW was released - A jaded playerbase just waiting for any acceptable alternative. CCP is lucky that right now they're the only MMO in the space-based genre.

Re:Poor auto assault (1)

halycon404 (1101109) | about 7 years ago | (#20430285)

I don't think its that Eve is the only space based game. I think its that Eve is the only true PVP game. I don't remember one bad night in a game destroying weeks, if not months, of work for hundreds of players like in Eve. And after that sort of risk, all other PVP seems boring and pointless. Sure, I can PVP in WoW, but why would I want to? What sort of reward do I get? Do I get the thrill of living through a battle and knowing the corp avoided a setback of weeks in equipment and funds? Or the little giddy feeling of knowing I just cost the other side exactly the same thing?

Sure, I'd like another game to take Eves place, it has its problems, and CCP has their problems as well. But in the current market of it taking 10s of millions to develop a AAA title, no-one is going to put the time into making a game like Eve. The subset of players it appeals to is simply too small of a market. But, for those of us this type of game does appeal to.. Eve is the only game in town.

Re:Poor auto assault (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 7 years ago | (#20426697)

EQ2 has been given many a facelift, and I personally feel that unless you are looking for PvP, it is the best MMO going. The playerbase tends to be a little more mature than the typical WoW crowd, and no raid requires more than 24 persons max, and many are 12 person raids. If you played it at launch and were disgusted, take a look at it now. I've had many WoW fanatics burn out, and come try EQ2 with those of us that are playing. Only one has not stayed with EQ2, and he left due to not having enough RAM to run EQ2 and Skype at the same time. Most of them have been simply stunned at how different a game it is.
To be fair, since it seems like you're trying to compare it to WoW (the de facto PvE MMO out there), no raid in WoW requires more than 25 people, and there are a couple of 10-mans. They're pretty similar in that regard.

Blizzard needs to release more than 1 expansion every 2 years to keep the attention of players. Their working towards their second expansion, while SoE is working on the 4th for EQ2.
I'd like to see that, but it'll never happen. You and I both know it. Blizzard development moves at a slow pace, and they probably wouldn't even try to put a game out in a hurry. If we're lucky, we'll see WotLK early next year, and we'll be up to 1 a year, which is fairly reasonable, imo. There's no way in hell Blizzard will release an expansion every 6 months, though.

Open Source it. (4, Insightful)

paganizer (566360) | about 7 years ago | (#20423479)

Hopefully, the company will release the server & client code as open source; they can then watch in frustration as dozens of servers & tens of thousands of players jump on it.
I guess if it was me I would just open source the client, and release the server as a binary; that way you could still, in theory, make money by providing new material while getting away from hosting, hardware & advertising costs.
hmmm.

Re:Open Source it. (1)

Barny (103770) | about 7 years ago | (#20423561)

Frustration? I don't know about anyone else, but having a game you have sweated over to get produced and then die like this.... I would be ecstatic if it got taken up in the foss community and had something big made of it. /me lowers a flag to half mast and puts on a black armband

Re:Open Source it. (3, Insightful)

Quarters (18322) | about 7 years ago | (#20423599)

Every time some commercial MMO gets the sunsetting treatment someone has to drag out the, "I hope they release the code" rallying cry.

It's not going to happen. AA is but one MMO title that NetDevil produces. They would be pointing a gigantic gun at their collective feet if they were to release the networking code that, presumably, is used within their other commercial games. On top of that, within the realm of the client, there are possible middleware licensing issues with the 3D engine, video playback, physics system, etc.. that would prevent any opening of the code.

Re:Open Source it. (1)

paganizer (566360) | about 7 years ago | (#20425019)

Ok. then just release the binaries.
That would, i'm sure, be a MASSIVE bitch when it comes to the server side of things.

Re:Open Source it. (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 7 years ago | (#20425571)

Or how about just offering free clients before this final event?

The code needs to be preserved somehow. It must eventually enter the public domain. Opening the source is an easy and mutually beneficial way to satisfy a copyright holder's obligation to society for receiving their temporary monopoly over the work.

Re:Open Source it. (2, Insightful)

GrayNimic (1051532) | about 7 years ago | (#20425389)

That's what many people were hoping for following the shutdown of the Earth & Beyond MMO. However, EA pointed out how much of an investment a MMO engine is and what a significant asset it represents to the company - it'd be easier to upgrade/revamp their existing engine than create a new one from scratch if they were to make a new MMO, for example. Plus, releasing the engine would give an enormous boost to their competition in later MMOs, which is of special concern since the subscription MMO client base is generally (or at least was) a relatively limited pool of customers.

At least, that was the response given at the time by Electronic Arts. I imagine that the case would be similar for Auto Assault and NCSoft, overall.

Re:Open Source it. (1)

vishbar (862440) | about 7 years ago | (#20426323)

Perhaps it would even provide a very fertile ground to try out in-game advertising? The first(?) totally ad-supported MMO...

Re:Open Source it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20426541)

Anarchy Online (one of the first sci-fi MMORPG's) and its first expansion, The Notum Wars, are available for you to play for free any time you want, supported by ads. The other (3) expansions are only available.

The last expansion was December 2006 - this from a game over 5 years old. Honestly what amuses me most about MMORPG discussions is when people talk about WoW someday be being "replaced" by a WoW 2, or anything else for that matter. Cannibalizing themselves like Everquest, or something out of left field (Guildwars 2 - haha..) knocking them off the horse is not going to happen.

Wikipeadio has a list of free online games, not including stuff like Diablo where you have to buy a client first (so free-free, despite limitations): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_free_MMORPGs [wikipedia.org]

Re:Open Source it. (1)

illumin8 (148082) | about 7 years ago | (#20427013)

Hopefully, the company will release the server & client code as open source; they can then watch in frustration as dozens of servers & tens of thousands of players jump on it.
You can pick any commercially made game title, and I can tell you for certainty that this will almost never happen. The reason? Third-party libraries. Every game company uses tons of 3rd party libraries, especially MMOs. They don't want to develop an engine and all of the technical stuff when they also have to spend so much time making content. So, if you're a game company, and you licensed the engine from Unreal, they will never give you permission to release their source code, so even if you released your extensions to their source code, it would never compile without the proprietary libraries to link against...

Never got it to work with wine (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | about 7 years ago | (#20423485)

I really liked this games concept, but I didn't get it to work on wine.

Oh well, its nice that they've realized its time to close down, nothing is more pathetic than MMO's that keep on trying even though they were outdated in 2003 or something.

Re:Never got it to work with wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20425333)

I'm sure that's why it failed.

Too bad, I guess (1)

SaidinUnleashed (797936) | about 7 years ago | (#20424235)

This was the first time I'd even heard of this game. It looks really cool. But I wouldn't have played it, since there's a monthly fee, and I really can't scrape up the cast for that most months.

Uuugh Good Riddance (1)

twitchings (975250) | about 7 years ago | (#20424397)

That game blew so hard, I swallowed.

And yet Galaxies staggerers along (1)

drlloyd11 (458569) | about 7 years ago | (#20425365)

I just hate to see something diffirent die..

Re-release it as a sequel to 1985's Autoduel!!! (1)

ulatekh (775985) | about 7 years ago | (#20426691)

When I first heard of Auto Assault, I thought someone had finally remade AutoDuel [wikipedia.org] , still my single favorite video game of all time. Then I found out there was no single-player experience, just a MMORPG. Bleah.

Please re-release Auto Assault with a deep single-player experience! Granted, I'll never leave the house again, but I didn't really want to anyway.

Re:Re-release it as a sequel to 1985's Autoduel!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20427433)

Meh, it failed because NetDevil doesn't know how to run an MMO. They habitually ruined Jumpgate by shitting all over it - I expected nothing less from this.

Open up the server! (1)

bitkari (195639) | about 7 years ago | (#20427367)

What would be a great gesture now is to release the server application to the game community.

Let people run their own hobby servers.

Re:Open up the server! (1)

WeblionX (675030) | about 7 years ago | (#20429081)

Can we get the client open, too? I really like the shiny graphics upgrade they made. Oh, shiny stuff... Shiny.

The game was too simple (1)

complexmath (449417) | about 7 years ago | (#20429753)

When I first heard of Auto Assault I envisioned it as something like the Car Wars RPG. Instead, the game was a fairly straightforward RPG action game with cars as avatars. I think the game would have held my interest longer if there had been more customization options, more complex missions (multi-player 'convoy' escort quests, infiltration quests involving both time in and out of the vehicle, etc), and a way to get out of the darn vehicle. In short: I don't want to be a car, I just want to drive one.
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