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Game Direction - Losing Crowfall as an MMORPG Throne War


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Crowfall is quickly moving away from an RPG, from an MMO, and from a throne war simulator and morphing into a MOBA (yes, even the "MMO" side of it).  I'm going to start by highlighting how this occurr

Campaign worlds are going to be where you farm discs and materials to make vessels for an advantage in HungerDome.  There are only 2 things you can progress in Crowfall. Your Vessel/Discs an

I think in addition to what's been said, free city building will help a lot in campaign progression. It shouldnt take a few hours to build a keep because you import a seed and building mats. It should

4 hours ago, Jah said:

I don't think anyone thinks one change is the silver bullet that fixes all things.

We have to put one foot in front of another, and just keep trying to find solutions to the many, many issues.

Probably so but seems like many of these discussions come across like X particular item is the culprit and changing that one thing would do wonders.

Remove dropped gear, remove God's Reach, remove passive training, nerf whatever class, spin up a Dregs campaign, do something about AOE, change sieges to handshake, etc.

From ACE's track record, seems like every such change usually ends up causing more issues or doing nothing at all to help.

Putting one foot in front of the other is hard when we got two left feet and keep stepping on ourselves and walking in circles.

4 hours ago, Jah said:

Depends on who you are marketing to. Some people prefer what the campaigns offer, other prefer what a battle royal has to offer.

I, for one, am much more interested in playing Crowfall campaigns than Hunger Domes.

"Some" people might prefer one or the other but from the population and feedback over the years, neither are going to keep this thing going very long unless ACE has funding to support development without a player base.

I appreciate folks like those in your guild bringing up these topics as ACE might actually respond or at least take notice, but I haven't read one thing that hasn't been mentioned numerous times over the years from first time players to folks that stuck around for years and have bailed, to "doomsayers" like myself that have stuck around despite having near zero hope at this point. Repeating the same points and seeing ACE do nothing or worse, do something that makes it worse gets nowhere.

Unless ACE pushes launch and they change the focus of development from the already presented roadmap, I don't see how any of these suggestions will fit into their schedule. They've already said they are in polish/optimization/balance mode. Maybe we'll hear some "new" things to come before launch, but I can't imagine it will be what people expect or what is likely needed.

 


 

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1 hour ago, Balathan said:

Hunger Dome however is already a solid stand alone product where we could be having fun and more importantly TESTING COMBAT.

If HD is available and the combat is fun and skill based the population will sort it self out. Campaigns are Crowfall but they are not close to ready, so in the meantime HD is clearly what the players want, they should give it to them.

Total side note but PVP ranks when?

Why would someone play HD instead of any well developed MMO that has multiple formats for PVP?

WoW, ESO, Albion, GW2 all offer full MMO experiences with years and years of content along with accessible PVP.

Be it small, mid, large scale PVP, siege, arenas, CTF, KOTH, deathmatch, etc. Along with those elusive PVP ranks, rewards, leaderboards, and other rather basic features for a modern game.

Combat style is subjective, but I'd argue any of those plus many more have a lot more going for them when it comes to potential individual/team skill and strategy, performance, character building and so on.

Crowfall has the benefit of being new and that's about it from my POV. One of the most pointed out issues with Crowfall that I've read on other sites is the combat feel and lacking skill. Neither of which seems to be even on ACE's radar.

Throwing focus at HD doesn't seem any more likely to help the long term success of the game at this point.

I don't mean to knock those that think Crowfall's combat is great fun (it isn't terrible), but I question what they are comparing it to and what it offers that others don't. Going from pressing Q every few seconds to being a challenging combat model seems like a lot of work and something most MMOs don't deal with.

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35 minutes ago, APE said:

Why would someone play HD instead of any well developed MMO that has multiple formats for PVP?

WoW, ESO, Albion, GW2 all offer full MMO experiences with years and years of content along with accessible PVP.

Be it small, mid, large scale PVP, siege, arenas, CTF, KOTH, deathmatch, etc. Along with those elusive PVP ranks, rewards, leaderboards, and other rather basic features for a modern game.

Combat style is subjective, but I'd argue any of those plus many more have a lot more going for them when it comes to potential individual/team skill and strategy, performance, character building and so on.

Crowfall has the benefit of being new and that's about it from my POV. One of the most pointed out issues with Crowfall that I've read on other sites is the combat feel and lacking skill. Neither of which seems to be even on ACE's radar.

Throwing focus at HD doesn't seem any more likely to help the long term success of the game at this point.

I don't mean to knock those that think Crowfall's combat is great fun (it isn't terrible), but I question what they are comparing it to and what it offers that others don't. Going from pressing Q every few seconds to being a challenging combat model seems like a lot of work and something most MMOs don't deal with.

The whole point of Hunger Dome is the easy come easy go. No grind just pick a toon and play. Even a grey vessel is incredibly fast if you want to custom make a toon. I’ve played ESO, WOW, LOTRO and ROR if you want to be competitive you need to grind. A lot. HD is a unique mmo style take on a BR. At the very least it’s something new even if it’s not polished or complete yet. As for the part about the combat needing work, that’s kinda my point. It does need work and Hunger Dome will let us test it quickly and give feedback.

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13 hours ago, BarriaKarl said:

And what downsides are those?

Yeah people had to grind (aka play the game) for one whole week to get viable. Gasp!

Im happy i can tell newbies they just need to grind for a few days (1 or 2?) before they can start contributing instead of saying they are forever useless.

I get some of you people cant play many hours and all, but the grind here is almost no grind at all.

Actually, with the current system, since the last reset, it's now getting to the point where guilds are "twinking" other guild members in the exploration runes. 

Once you hit gold/gold (Rune/Belt) on a profession, those runes that keep dropping are either sellable resources OR something that lets you help new players totally bypass the early after reset grind. 

I myself am feeding rune crafting runes to our guild, and receiving runes from our logger who is maxed out, to help push me forward. 

That kind of twinking, which was already possible with XP (Zero divide rules on mob farming and no level restrictions on grouping together along with sacrifice for XP items), is now starting to happen with harvesting/crafting options in guild. 

It's actually even more casual friendly than the passive system ever was, and will be more so the more people start to reach their first endgame gold/gold, and start to sell/pass on. 

Those not at all interested in that sort of thing, will either farm gold/gear to fight with and buy stuff, or get it handed to them by guild members.  I myself have 4 chests of WT gear I hand off to guild members on day one so they can be effective, and casual, at the same time. 

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4 hours ago, Balathan said:

I think we all want Campaigns to work and be fun but we have to be honest with ourselves and realize they are a LONG way away from being fun. There's a lot of great feedback on this thread, Ace should read and make some changes. However those changes will take a long time. Hunger Dome however is already a solid stand alone product where we could be having fun and more importantly TESTING COMBAT. You get more combat in 1 hunger dome than most full days in Dregs. We can get solid feedback on how combat feels and improve class design/balance. People want a skill game, this is not a skill game. People want meaningful decisions, the most important decision I make in combat is where to press Q every 5 seconds. They could spend 2-4 weeks perfecting HD and let the players have some fun, test some comps and get some quality fights that could bring back some old backers. If HD is available and the combat is fun and skill based the population will sort it self out. Campaigns are Crowfall but they are not close to ready, so in the meantime HD is clearly what the players want, they should give it to them.

 

Total side note but PVP ranks when?

HD is very clearly NOT something that this player wants. I played a few to help test but have no plans to play it post launch. I'm focused on the persistent MMO aspects of CF and worry that the amount of Dev time spent on 'perfecting' HD will prevent them from producing a more fun campaign world.

I'm not smart enough to know if ACE will make more money from a very fun HD / very unfun CW, or from a fun CW with a so so HD but... I do know they won't get much more of my money unless they find the time to make CWs fun.

If they can make a game that's fun for both HD AND CW, THAT'S A WIN!!! A win for ACE and the players. 

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On 4/3/2021 at 5:18 AM, APE said:

While some of the suggestions in this discussion would help, improving XYZ isn't going to be enough when A-Z need help.

So much is missing, unfinished, wonky, or just lackluster compared to what has come before that balancing crafting and dropped gear isn't going to magically turn this into a blockbuster. The existence of Hunger Dome doesn't change anything about Crowfall the MMO beyond less time being spent on it.

I wish Crowfall had elements of a MOBA, like being accessible, easy to learn but hard to master, good matchmaking, lots of relatively unique "builds" split between roles with happy little polished packages, good performance, strong monetization model, decent balance and shifts to meta, clear numbers/information to understand what does what, etc. 

Having an instanced PVP mode with some prebuilt characters doing a late to the party attempt at a battle royale is a far cry from being comparable to even a half way decent MOBA.

I don't know what a "Throne War" even is. They traded complex strategy, conquest, fealty, survival, politics, and player control of outcomes for point accumulation, quests, and dev timed events. Crowfall is a glorified MMO battleground spread across multiple zones over a long time frame but isn't drastically different or new compared to any MMO arena/BG with similar features. Except while other formats attempt to have a degree of "fairness" and sportsmanship, this model allows every possible player gap to exist (stats, experience, team size, time played).

There is no economy without economic tools.

Made a social/guild based game but lack basic organizational/social tools in-game.

Lacking the typical high quality/quantity PVE and fluff of other games, I expected combat to be great. Has to be one of the least skillful combat systems I've ever experienced. WoW is as much if not more of an "action combat" game.

Character building is quantity over quality with superficial complexity.

Power is vertical stat stacking. A horizontal option approach would of been a lot more interesting and would of solved a lot of the crafting vs dropped, newbie vs vet, who grinds more issues that are being mentioned in this discussion.

The crafting concept has so much opportunity but is bogged down by UI and focus on tossing a bunch of junk in a slot machine instead of focusing on a long list of meaningful choices with resources and stats (that exist already) to allow crafters to really crank out unique creations. Again, where a horizontal approach would of shined.

Making another open world PVP "sandbox" sounded great, but clearly there is a reason most struggle. Be it technical issues, lack of resources, or incomplete design goals.

A few guilds being able to claim victory every so often at the cost of so much game experience doesn't seem like a good trade at this point.

Specialization, progression, and meaningful choices are not what they marketed originally.

"Destruction" was a key pillar of kickstarter and doesn't exist. No voxels, no free building, bland siege model.

Risk v Reward is non existent unless you're foolish enough to harvest a lone without an escape build. Dropped loot would help but due to the crafting model and lack of economic tools it isn't feasible.

Worlds are empty and generic but at least they look 2% different each time.

IMO they never made a MMORPG or whatever a Throne War is supposed to be. They made a lot of systems that sort of work together based on a vision that has morphed beyond what I imagine many paid for.

Good chunk of the post launch features should of been ready by launch. With the speed of development, the "full" game won't exist for years post launch when most MMOs are adding expansions and extra content.

Even now, people are too focused on particular features or systems that even if they worked perfectly, it doesn't matter if they don't work together well as a complete package. Forest for the trees. With so much still needing to be added and worked on, I don't see how it will happen by launch or how it will sustain long enough to get their post.

 

Pretty much this sums up everything IMO. Adding more layers of grind (in the guise of progression) and snowball victory rewards for the dominating alliance isn't going to magically make Crowfall a better MMO all of a sudden. Victory should be more meaningful yea, but mostly with cosmetics, titles, etc. Conqueror's Blade has exclusive and very cool skins and cosmetics for the guilds that win seasons and official tournaments and it works great. Easy come easy go is a great concept for a pvp MMO if well implemented, and in no way detracts from the long term progression experience. Just put the progression elsewhere, and don't dump it all into the gear. Crafting should also be meaningful, but "easy come easy go" could just as easily originate from crafting instead of wartribes. Or wartribes could be more tied into crafting instead of ready to use gear, etc. 

The issue isn't more or less grind, more or less progression, or whatever. It's just FUN. ACE devs said this at the very beginning of development, back in original hunger dome, they had to get combat right. If they didn't get combat right, nothing else mattered. And honestly, IMO, they failed at combat. PVE is a mind numbing grind because combat is bland and boring like this. 

As so many others said here, pvp only works and can be relatively fun in small scale when the stars align. It completely falls apart in large scale, just mind numbing, spammy and laggy balls of attrition. There's very little mechanical skill involved, it's too numbers and build sensitive and not enough room for plays and outplays. Then instead of trying to at least make tools to discourage "zerging", everything seems to facilitate and encourage bigger alliances to form and ball up and lag the server, from campaign objectives to combat AoE mechanics. Cause we gotta be a "throne war politics" game afterall. 

Enh. Honestly, Crowfall is a great idea on paper, with not enough strong direction/vision or creative talent or technical prowess to pull it off. The fact Hunger Dome 2.0 is the most exciting thing coming out of it at the moment, and that's basically a makeshift bare bones battle royale, is pretty concerning about the game's state this close to release. 

 

 

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19 hours ago, Dagnabbit said:

That wont be Crowfall's business model 8-12 weeks after launch either.

Very much agree, for a BR game they should just offer a free to play version with a cosmetics shop. I mean because the MMO side will certainly be dead, might as well try to cash in on that BR.

Of course seasons, and other microtransactions to keep the money coming in.

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20 hours ago, Dagnabbit said:

That wont be Crowfall's business model 8-12 weeks after launch either.

I was just saying in discord earlier that the game needs to be alot cheaper, i think i remember backing Albion years ago and it was only £14 and there were tonnes of players in beta. CF is just to expensive for what it really is considering there are other games out there offering more for nothing or for very little.

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On 4/4/2021 at 1:49 PM, McTan said:

It was terrible. It actively discouraged people from playing, and that just doesn't mesh with a game genre that people are used to playing a lot in order to advance. I certainly agree that the current grind system is not great, but improving an active progression system is better use of time than improving a passive progression system, for an MMORPG, IMO.

NO it wasn't. People just got fed up because they kept resetting the passive system with each new update, which unfortunately was a necessary evil (I guess). It didn't actively discourage people from playing.

Eat or be eaten

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21 minutes ago, Omen said:

NO it wasn't. People just got fed up because they kept resetting the passive system with each new update, which unfortunately was a necessary evil (I guess). It didn't actively discourage people from playing.

I liked that one cycle when passive training was at 10x speed. Why it didnt stay that way during early testing is beyond me. 

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13 minutes ago, Omen said:

NO it wasn't. People just got fed up because they kept resetting the passive system with each new update, which unfortunately was a necessary evil (I guess). It didn't actively discourage people from playing.

There also wasn't a catch up mechanic yet, which would have prevented much of the pain. 

Passive skill training had a lot of other benefits as well.

  1. Longer progression timeline. Progression has been massively accelerated with active skills, condensing a potentially multi-year timeline into only a few months for some players.
  2. Facilitated casual players. Allowed players to be effective and contribute even if they couldn't play a lot (presuming they started training at wipe or caught up).
  3. Specialization. Players were significantly more specialized, whereas now a single player can do many different things well.
  4. Depth. There was more depth to the specialization. Gathering involved committing to sub-specialties of your chosen profession (ie, iron, copper, silver, etc). 
  5. Methods of diversification. Diversifying further meant buying more accounts/VIP and supporting game development directly. Now diversifying is accomplished through grinding, boosting, and eventually, RMT. 
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1 minute ago, Alot said:
  1. Methods of diversification. Diversifying further meant buying more accounts/VIP and supporting game development directly. Now diversifying is accomplished through grinding, boosting, and eventually, RMT. 

I think someone convinced them that they could monetize RNG and active progression easier and without as much hoopla about p2w. 

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46 minutes ago, mystafyi said:

I think someone convinced them that they could monetize RNG and active progression easier and without as much hoopla about p2w. 

How would they monetize active progression? It seems like any way this could be accomplished would create significantly more outcry. It will be RMTers who monetize active progression, as they do in every game where progression or the means to progression are not account-bound. 

I think the more likely explanation is that they saw many complaints on the forums and thought players wouldn't accept a catch up mechanic that was simpler than their time bank idea (which was pretty complicated). In my opinion, this was mistaken. I think anyone who is willing to support the game financially was entitled to catch up. In a f2p model, which seems inevitable at this point, catch up could have been the effective purchase price for players that enjoy the game.

What's interesting about this decision is that it could not have been taken lightly. Tearing out code that was core to the design and already had several passes is always going to be a tough call. So whatever the reason was, they clearly felt strongly about it. This is what was in the post:

Quote

 

One of the major challenges with the Passive Skills was that as new players entered the game they were woefully behind those veteran players who had started playing the game before them, and we could see that this would continue to drive a larger gap in character power over time. An additional challenge was any form of content gated behind a skill forced the player to simply wait around until they could train in that skill and unlock that content.

Today, as a function of player feedback and insights from Crowfall’s Beta playtesting we are transitioning the passive skills system to be part of a more active player progression. The goal is to ensure a level playing field for all who join the battle in Crowfall - regardless of when - and to reward those actively playing. With this change we are leaning into the core value of what makes Crowfall unique, the fact that player choices change outcomes, flip the tide of battle, and change the world forever. Now, players will be rewarded as they play, with gains in statistics that augment a character's power, and actively increase their proficiency as they engage in the content in Crowfall - giving them more options in how they choose to specialize their character. 

 

The obvious question is: wouldn't a catch-up mechanic have solved this without removing the system? Time-gated progression seems like a good thing. 

The second half of the second paragraph is largely not accurate. Players have fewer options and choices now than they did before and their choices have less of an impact. Players are significantly less specialized. 

Edited by Alot
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1 hour ago, Alot said:

There also wasn't a catch up mechanic yet, which would have prevented much of the pain. 

The obvious question is: wouldn't a catch-up mechanic have solved this without removing the system? The time-gated progression seems like a good thing. 

Time gated progression can be good, but the system it is tied to has to be good as well. Despite a few attempts, most of which deviated from the original vision, passive training was never turned into something that added entertainment value, skill, effort, etc. It was a click and forget mindless system that was entirely linear/vertical stat stacking.

If it was more like EVE or other games, then sure it would of had some future and catch up mechanics would of made sense, but the best catch up mechanic ever wouldn't save the passive system itself.

A more horizontal approach would of done a lot better IMO and catching up wouldn't have been needed or at least wouldn't have been such a necessity for new players.

Same issue has happened with leveling and talents. They took something that started out okay and could of been developed into a more complex and player options model but instead they watered it down, removed choice, and made it all about connecting the obvious dots to stack stats and play dev created builds.

Quote

Passive skill training had a lot of other benefits as well.

  1. Longer progression timeline. Progression has been massively accelerated with active skills, condensing a potentially multi-year timeline into only a few months for some players.
  2. Facilitated casual players. Allowed players to be effective and contribute even if they couldn't play a lot (presuming they started training at wipe or caught up).
  3. Specialization. Players were significantly more specialized, whereas now a single player can do many different things well.
  4. Depth. There was more depth to the specialization. Gathering involved committing to sub-specialties of your chosen profession (ie, iron, copper, silver, etc). 
  5. Methods of diversification. Diversifying further meant buying more accounts/VIP and supporting game development directly. Now diversifying is accomplished through grinding, boosting, and eventually, RMT. 

1. Agree. The early version of passive training had diminishing returns, cap extensions, and less focus on rushing to the end. However the tiered progress model (grey-legendary) took away this value and made "needing" to get to a particular acceptable stage a must. Horizontal approach would of been much better. The active model is worse and decreases re-playability and longevity even further. Makes no sense.

2. Casuals can still be handed legendary vessels, disc, belts, whatever. Although I don't find either model really casual friendly as the game overall still requires a decent time investment to learn, grind, click UI, etc.

3. This was true if you don't factor in alt accounts but alts pretty much removed the value of specialization prior to passive training being removed. 

4. There is no depth to training iron or copper. All it does is require more accounts or players to specialize into something that likely doesn't matter. Who is excited about being a Iron Miner vs a Copper Miner? Beyond the object they bang on, there is no difference. Imagine if that actually was a thing, how many Copper nodes are there? Now have multiple Copper specialists trying to mine. Makes conflict, but too much specialization leads to not enough means to an end. Also the fact one could train everything on one account devalued specialization like this. If they had limited it to only one training option per account, maybe that would of helped.

5. They have never revealed their full plans for monetization and it still seems like a huge question mark. What people are going to pay for is unknown. Odd business plan.

28 minutes ago, Alot said:

How would they monetize active progression?

Sell vessels, gear, resources, belts, disciplines, dust, gold, leveling boosts, etc.

I've seen plenty of people comment that as long as something is available in-game then it isn't P2W. I disagree, but looking at other games that are sustainable despite offering such things in their cash shops, apparently there are enough will to pay or at least play in a game that allows cash to influence just about everything.

Edited by APE

 


 

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33 minutes ago, APE said:

A more horizontal approach would of done a lot better IMO and catching up wouldn't have been needed or at least wouldn't have been such a necessity for new players.

A system in which everyone would be (eventually) able to specialize in 1-2 things, be good at a few things and average at the rest. Maybe even add in a strange concept like, like, starting traits that give negatives and positives to further customize. Crazy talk indeed....

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47 minutes ago, mystafyi said:

A system in which everyone would be (eventually) able to specialize in 1-2 things, be good at a few things and average at the rest. Maybe even add in a strange concept like, like, starting traits that give negatives and positives to further customize. Crazy talk indeed....

what if they were to add account levels that doing thing in game progressed and it had talent tree for crafting/harvesting and you could get a max of 20 points to spend and each crafting/harvesting tree you could spend 10 points in there for each account could max out 2 things crafting/harvesting wise maybe allow for resets but on a long cooldown like 1 month so you cant switch between thing constantly. This would allow a account to specialise in 1 craft along with there main gathering for that skill or allow a crafter to take a primary and max then the 2ndary support crafting class for it aswell however they would loose the ability to effectively get resources.

Can keep disciplines how they are or nerf them a little but then increase the caps you can get to for assembly/exp to 200 or something max with full specialisation in crafting tree (so 120 via disc and then account level can get the extra 80) and then scale crafting difficulties accordingly.

Could give u all 20 points at the start or have you earn, if you started with them it would mean crafter/harvesters would be able to effectivly do there profession quite well off the bat instead of tedious of grinding away to get disc before they can be useful.

Muiltiaccounts will still get a bonus but there gonna get a bonus in some way no matter what they do, however with the disc system they will still have to put in some work to get those disc anyway so nothing changes there.

Edited by veeshan

Veeshan Midst of UXA

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53 minutes ago, MacDeath said:

My guess is that once the game goes f2p and we see the real monetization scheme, this will all make sense.

It scares me not seeing anything by now.  Reminds me of testing wildstar and only being allowed to see the 1st 20 levels of content. After release it turned out the end game wasnt quite done and what was complete was broken from other issues. Made sense after launch why we never could see more...

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10 minutes ago, mystafyi said:

It scares me not seeing anything by now.  Reminds me of testing wildstar and only being allowed to see the 1st 20 levels of content. After release it turned out the end game wasnt quite done and what was complete was broken from other issues. Made sense after launch why we never could see more...

Age of Conan was like that. Only the starter zone was available in Beta, and the start zone game was beautifully done. The NPCs voices were lip synched to their faces.  I must have done the starter zone quests 20 times (with different classes and races we received different quests).

Once the game launched and we had access to the rest of the zones, the game was MUCH simplified. No more lip synch, etc. It was still a fun game, but that starter zone only beta sure made you think the whole game was gonna be that cool.

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