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How to Kill a Franchise - Editorial

InstaTrentInstaTrent OpinionatorRPGamer Staff
edited December 2012 in Latest Updates
In a world where brands alone can make a game sell, why do some franchises fall off the map? Hold tight as we examine three once-prominent series that were silenced by one poor release.

Editorial!
"To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."
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Comments

  • kazrikokazriko Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    The Breath of Fire one depresses me, because IMO BoF5: DQ is actually my favorite entry in the series. The first two are painfully boring, the next two are annoyingly traditional. DQ combined roguelikes and some of the ideas behind Demons Souls style gameplay to make something really fun and interesting.

    Xenosaga was something that I never got very far in... I thought it would be great, but it never really pulled me in. SaGa is one of the most uneven series I've ever played, and also one where there's vast disagreements on which one is best. Some people love SaGa Frontier 2, but dislike SF1. I'm the opposite. Unlimited SaGa was one I could never get into. I hear that you have to pick specific characters first to actually be able to play very far, because other characters can be incredibly challenging. I apparently picked a challenging one and never got past the first dungeon.
  • flamethrowerflamethrower Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    InstaTrent said:
    In a world where brands alone can make a game sell, why do some franchises fall off the map? Hold tight as we examine three once-prominent series that were silenced by one poor release.

    Editorial!
    Love the "in a world..." intro!
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited November 2012
    What's sad is that BoF5 was a VERY good game, but it probably should have been labeled as a spin-off and not a main series game. Had it been like that, it probably would not have affected the series in such a way. Sometimes it's a safer bet to declare the game a spin-off as to not affect the main series.
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  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited November 2012
    kazriko said:
    The Breath of Fire one depresses me, because IMO BoF5: DQ is actually my favorite entry in the series. The first two are painfully boring, the next two are annoyingly traditional. DQ combined roguelikes and some of the ideas behind Demons Souls style gameplay to make something really fun and interesting.
    Yeah Dragon Quarter was my favorite too. I guess at least the series went out with a bang?

    Unlimited Saga certainly hurt the already limited popularity of the series here, but given it was followed by three stellar and well received (in Japan) remakes of popular series titles I find its presence on this list odd. True it hasn't received a "new" release in some time, but the remakes were quite significant, especially SaGa 3 and Romancing SaGa.
  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I liked a lot of aspects of Dragon Quarter, it was just very dry. If you go back with a higher rating, many more story cutscenes are unlocked and help flesh out the game. The first techs you get are the best ones, and assigning stats. at level up can seriously mess up the characters. Basically poor design decisions.

    And I say the solution is simple: when you make a widly successful game, make sure the sequel follows the same formula or else you just annoy your fans. There is a difference between improving features within a game and changing them entirely. Say what you want about "change being good" and all that, but people stay within a specific franchise because it's familiar and it gives them what they want. If they want something different, they can play something else. Sometimes radical change works, and I'm sad to say appealing to the CoD crowd seems to work wonders this gen, but more often than not it doesn't work.
    Dark Souls did it right: a rebranding for a mainstream release, but same game. They may change into something unrecognizeable in time, but from one game to the next, it's the same game fans know and love (with some minor changes I wouldn't know about having not played the first).
  • NefarioCallNefarioCall Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I'll agree with some of the posters here that Breath of Fire V is my favorite in that series. I thought it had the best battle system of the 5 games and personally, i really liked the story.

    Perhaps more unlike many other people, Xenosaga II is my favorite entry of the three. It undeniably has far and away the best battle system of the three. it's not even close, that is unless you like mashing X to use the exact same moves again and again and again infinitely and think that's good. Xenosaga II had a kick *** battle system. I recognise the story did not turn out as its creator intended, but then, i feel people being unhappy with it for that reason is not always the soundest approach. The story is excellent. No issues with the graphics either. ... and as far as sound goes, ... yeah there were a COUPLE bad dungeon tracks, but the cutscenes were all done by a far superior composer who did an excellent job. I also loved the battle theme, so if you've got those two in the bag, that's what counts.

    I haven't played Unlimited yet, but now i'm thinking more that i should... I love the SaGa series, including both Frontier 1 and 2. 1 is still on my top 10 all time jRPGs list ... although it could use an english retranslation as it is one of the worst offenders of all time in that regard...
  • SlayerSlayer Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I enjoyed 2 of the 3 franchises mentioned in your editorial-BoF and Xenosaga.
    I really wish they would revive these two brands.
    I tried the SaGa games but didn't get very far.
  • ChickenGodChickenGod Overdosing Heavenly Bliss Moderators
    edited November 2012
    DarkRPGMaster said:
    What's sad is that BoF5 was a VERY good game, but it probably should have been labeled as a spin-off and not a main series game. Had it been like that, it probably would not have affected the series in such a way. Sometimes it's a safer bet to declare the game a spin-off as to not affect the main series.
    I agree with you, Dark. Sadly BoF5 was one of the few games I happened to have done no research on, saw it existed in a store one day, and jumped on getting it because I expected more of what the first 4 offered. That was not the case, and I know that all I needed to do was see some of the gameplay features beforehand to know that game was not for me. Similarly, I've always thought the MMOs shouldn't be part of the numbered FF franchise. FF has always been about single player RPGs to me, and had the MMOs been called "Final Fantasy Online", I think people would have a lot less animosity toward the past 4 numbered FFs than they do now.

    Maybe Xenosaga 2 killed the series, but I'm sure some outstanding factors like people hating XS1's cinematic nature swayed more than a few opinions as well. Quality-wise Xenosaga 3 was a great game too, so even though XS2 screwed up big time, I still look at the series as a whole fondly.
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  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    FF has always been about single player RPGs to me, and had the MMOs been called "Final Fantasy Online", I think people would have a lot less animosity toward the past 4 numbered FFs than they do now.
    I totally agree, as does nearly everyone else on the internet, but if you really think about it...maybe that's why they chose to make it a numbered title. It's so much easier to dismiss a spin-off than a numbered title, doubly so for its online status. This was before they got comfortable slapping the FF name on every little thing they produced, so I imagine they didn't want those two factors working against what I'm sure was still a very expensive game. So, they made it a numbered title. Now career FF fans feel guilty about missing it. Exploit any hook you can find.
  • QuinQuin ne cede malis RPGamer Staff
    edited November 2012
    image

    It's not like the "Online" was missing or anything. Personally, I've always felt that XI at least deserved it's number.
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  • LOLOttertardLOLOttertard Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I think that developers plain losing interest in series or not finding them profitable anymore accounts for certain franchises falling under the radar more often than poorly-reviewed installments.
  • noodlenoodle Kirby: El Presidente RPGamer Staff
    edited November 2012
    Quin said:
    image

    It's not like the "Online" was missing or anything. Personally, I've always felt that XI at least deserved it's number.
    FFXI wins the internet. i have that exact box, too. (along with like 29384920342 other boxed expansions.)
    image
  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    It's not like the "Online" was missing or anything.
    Nor prominent. Missing? No. "Or anything"? Hell ya.

    Anyway, the point was they pushed it as a full numbered title, NOT that the word "online" was missing from the title.
  • omegabyteomegabyte He's just this guy, you know? RPGamer Staff
    edited November 2012
    TG Barighm said:
    Nor prominent. Missing? No. "Or anything"? Hell ya.

    Anyway, the point was they pushed it as a full numbered title, NOT that the word "online" was missing from the title.
    I have never understood this argument. Why is this important at all? Does it somehow diminish the single-player games that came before, or the ones that came after? What if they'd included other spin-offs in the numbered series, like, say, Final Fantasy Tactics? Would people still be so insanely angry about it?

    If you're not interested in an MMO, then don't play it. It doesn't have any impact on any other games in the series, so why should it bother you?

    There is no rational reason for anyone to be upset about it. At all.
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  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Done ignoring me, are ya?
    Why is this important at all?
    It's not, but maybe it mattered to someone like, say, marketing people? Marketing people have weird ideas sometimes. See my other post above the last one.
    Would people still be so insanely angry about it?
    History has shown people will get insanely angry about anything.
    There is no rational reason for anyone to be upset about it. At all.
    Sounds to me like you're the only person upset about anything. The point was brought up by CHICKENGOD. I proposed the idea that the decision to make it a numbered may have been more deliberate. Quin pointed out the word "Online" is in the title and I didn't want the discussion to get hung up on wording because that wasn't really the point, so I noted that. And we may have had a merry little sub-discussion about the marketing of FF11, although I most likely would have bowed out of that because I don't play FF11.

    Granted, I shouldn't have made a correctional note over an argument presented by an entirely different member, but then I didn't expect someone to come in here looking to start a fight over absolutely nothing. ESPECIALLY from someone that hasn't replied to anything I've said in months.
  • ChickenGodChickenGod Overdosing Heavenly Bliss Moderators
    edited November 2012
    Sorry TG, you seemed to get nitpicked on for something I started. Though I do agree with everything you've stated thus far.

    Looking at things from another direction, SE is the only dev I can think of that changed a title drastically from RPG or X to an MMO yet still consider it part of the 'core' series. World of Warcraft isn't Warcraft 4, Old Republic Online isn't Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3, Phantasy Star Online and its cohorts aren't Phantasy Star V+, and so on. As I read it, the question I think Trent poses is whether or not consumers want and/or are willing to forgive such a change. Obviously for a healthy franchise like FF, failing an experiment isn't going to kill the series reputation. But for smaller, more niche series like BoF making such a simple mistake could cause more harm than good.

    Like TG said, who knows what makes the haters so upset. Anger isn't always a rational emotion. I simply hypothesized people would be less inclined to hold the poor quality of a spinoff against their beloved franchise than they would if said game was included in the same group as its progenitors.
    "Looks like Teach just got tenure!" - Teach
  • ShayminShaymin The Gratitude Pokemon Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Or you could turn over your series's art design to a hentai artist who can't draw faces worth a damn, and let your executives make statements about how they hate the fanbase who supported the game and run DMCA takedowns on old game footage on Youtube.

    (Et tu, Sega?)
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  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinionator RPGamer Staff
    edited November 2012
    noodle said:
    FFXI wins the internet. i have that exact box, too. (along with like 29384920342 other boxed expansions.)
    Noodz is the biggest FF MMO fan I know.
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  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    edited November 2012
    ChickenGod said:
    Similarly, I've always thought the MMOs shouldn't be part of the numbered FF franchise. FF has always been about single player RPGs to me, and had the MMOs been called "Final Fantasy Online", I think people would have a lot less animosity toward the past 4 numbered FFs than they do now.
    Say what you want about FFXI, but I think the animosity towards newer FFs stands alone. I got over my irrational hatred toward FFXI being a numbered title long ago after actually playing it. Do I wish they'd also crafted a single-player game out of the FFXI universe? Absolutely, because the world, jobs, etc. are fantastic. Grinding and progression were my only real issues with that game once I played it. Also, I LOVED FFXII, so no hate there. No, my annoyance has come from the lack of variety I've gotten. I didn't hate FFXIII, but found its problems hard to ignore. While I enjoyed FFXIII-2 more, I could have totally done without it. FFXIV in its 1.0 state I count as a massive failure that I happily pretend does not exist, because, well, it kinda no longer does. Time will tell if FFXIV is unable to be redeemed.

    So yes, while I once agreed that FFXI being numbered was a problem, I do take issue with it being the reason the series is now disliked.
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  • TaikaTaika Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Xenosaga is probably my favorite recent series. Even though I saw some flaws, it blows my mind that it didn't sell well. It's really painful to love something that much but lose it because ones tastes seem in the minority. The epic scope of Gears/Saga seems exceedingly rare... stories that span tens of thousands of years, involve politics, philosophy (even if I disagree with a lot of it,) reflections on the nature of reality and still do not diminish the great characters that give it all meaning. XS1 was great - I watched the ending over and over and it set the series up perfectly. XS2 was a little slower and you could tell it didn't cover the ground it needed to... but XS3 was just marvelous and left me longing for more. If anything, perhaps the Takahashi's vision simply exceeded their resources (both times)... but if I had the means, it's one of the things I would most be interested in reviving. I wonder if there is any chance of a Kickstarter or something....

    I was also a huge fan of Final Fantasy, with VII and VIII being my favorites... but since then they seem to be backsliding and less creative, and my interest has waned. Yet they still continue to sell well...
  • JormungandJormungand Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    This editorial focused on franchises that were tragically killed off during the PS2 era. Nowadays franchises face a different kind of deathtrap: the social/casual craze.

    Quoting TG because it bear repeating:
    And I say the solution is simple: when you make a widly successful game, make sure the sequel follows the same formula or else you just annoy your fans. There is a difference between improving features within a game and changing them entirely.
    I think that our beloved franchises have a savior in the indie developer. They can't be revived in name, but certainly in spirit.

    Then again, I loved BoF5. As for the series' demise, I lay the blame solely at Capcom's feet and not the BoF team. In other words, I don't think it's the "change" that hurt the series. BoF was doomed from the beginning because of Capcom's unwillingness to compete in a niche market where they felt they would be perpetually dominated by Square Enix. This, of course, is a fact--but notice how other developers with less resources still make RPGs despite FF-level sales being unreachable.

    And Xenosaga? The lead creators were pulled off of Episode II, so it's impossible to blame them for it. Ep.2 is a pretty terrible game (with entertaining cutscenes that at least echo a good story), and that was where things really went wrong. Epi.1 was just fine, and frankly, so was Ep.3 (minus good music).
  • NefarioCallNefarioCall Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Macstorm said:
    So yes, while I once agreed that FFXI being numbered was a problem, I do take issue with it being the reason the series is now disliked.
    You know, that issue never even crossed my mind till now, but lets take it from maybe more of a mathematical standpoint.

    I've played through all the FF games, and as the offline titles go they take between 20-40 hours to complete. In fact, i've played through many of them more than once, so i may have enjoyably offered up as much as 100-150 hours of my life to any one of them. My overall playtime in FFXI approached 300 days, or over 7,000 hours before i finally called it quits (and who knows if i'm really finished with it). I'm not some sort of fish out of water on that play time. Over the years, you would probably find that hundreds of thousands of people have devoted at least 1,000 hours to the game. Yes, it's an MMO, so that's supposed to happen, but it's also still alive after 10 years, and frankly, i would never play FFVII for 7,000 hours. On a more personal note, having had the opportunity to experience a good chunk (although not all of) the story in FFXI, i feel confidently that it is one of if not the best in the FF series. The music is ABSOLUTELY my favorite.... which is saying something... but even if i sway from one game to another each day, it IS tremendously good. It's not as though the graphics are any sort of let down either in comparison to its PS2 counterparts (X and XII). The gameplay ... well, i understand not everyone likes it, but if you took the number of people who kept doing it for 50-100 times longer than it would take to complete any one of the other games in the franchise, those people in sales would still make for a highly successful offline game release just on numbers.
  • sirsniffysirsniffy Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I was lukewarm on BOF:Dragon Quarter. I feel like it changed too much, too fast, leading to the alienation of fans from the series. To go from a traditional turn based system to a roguelike format was just too abrupt for me. Also, who the hell likes dying a lot? There's a difference between challenge, and artificially amping up a game's difficulty in order to make some weird new system work (Overlay System).

    Ooh, Final Fantasy is a sore subject for me. I also have a problem with people feeling like FFXI did the series in. What did the series in was the whole 'Change for the sake of change' dilemma the TC mentioned. Always feeling like you have to make some radical departure in the series. There has to be a middle ground. Each successive offline FF game makes the last one seem like a masterpiece. The games literally keep getting worse, because instead of telling a compelling, well paced story (like some of the previous games did), the focus is placed on making some new and convoluted growth or battle system work because it just has to be all new and all different Final Fantasy. I am sick of hearing 'Final Fantasy is about change' and then seeing anything that previously worked in the series stripped away (Including decent character design and story pacing). There has to be a way to keep what works, and slowly, gradually introduce just enough new stuff...Nintendo thrives on this very principle, but until Yoichi Wada is fired, SE will continue to tank.
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited November 2012
    ^Or until they do what has been constantly said by the staff, which is get 2 more teams, and do like they did before, which was have each one working on a different Final Fantasy game.
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  • 7thCircle7thCircle RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited November 2012
    ChickenGod said:
    Looking at things from another direction, SE is the only dev I can think of that changed a title drastically from RPG or X to an MMO yet still consider it part of the 'core' series. World of Warcraft isn't Warcraft 4, Old Republic Online isn't Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3, Phantasy Star Online and its cohorts aren't Phantasy Star V+, and so on.
    This is why I think FF11 being numbered was a mistake. Inside the JRPG fanbase bubble the arguments tend to be about anger, forgiveness, betrayal... nothing that translates to how the series is viewed by more typical gamers.

    I think FF11 hurt the series by being a momentum killer, and it did kill what the franchise used to be. Plain and simple, if the next major Call of Duty game is an MMO that releases in 2013, and then not a single Call of Duty game is made for 4 years, that would sound like a seriously foolish mishandling of the series. You lose the interest of average customers who are used to a new entry on an annual interval while also abruptly changing the genre of a longrunning franchise. The series might still sell well, and Final Fantasy does, but to defend a move like that is to be insane or blind. SE had a popular, trendsetting series consumers felt like they needed to play and were willing to pay the initial retail price for, brought it to a screeching halt, and did it around when FF11 was released.

    I personally put this on Square focusing its efforts on FF11 and begging Enix to merge with them rather than paying attention to consumer-based capitalism 101. If FF11 hadn't been part of the regular series, Square would have been more pressured internally to create a new entry for the series immediately after FFX like usual. They convinced themselves that calling Final Fantasy Online "Final Fantasy XI" would buy them some time with customers expecting a new Final Fantasy every couple of years, and didn't prioritize the next single player one like they needed to.

    To dream some:
    What if Madden 2013 is an online-only that you cannot play single player at all -- only online seasons with other gamers and it has a mandatory monthly fee. Then no other Madden games for 4 years. Then Madden 2017 is a single player game. Sounds stupid, and fans would point at Madden 2013 as the one that killed the franchise.

    What if Apple releases an "iPad 4" in 2013 as a desktop computer? Then Apple makes no new iPad hardware for 4 years. Then in 2017 it releases the iPad 5 as a tablet, and the iPad 6 comes out as a tablet in 2022. Sounds really stupid, right? Even if the iPad 6 sells exquisitely, the desktop iPad 4 followed by a hiatus would be viewed as a massive disaster.
    The lesson here is that dreams inevitably lead to hideous implosions.
  • BalanceBalance Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    First I'll start off on a tangent. Players get very emotionally involved with games, I do not recommend using games as an emotional crutch but look at the reaction to Mass effect's ending!It was on a scale that made national news everywhere. Anyway back to the main subject I have fond memories of BoF etc, I think the question becomes a case of "more of the same please!"versus" please do something different, ...yawn".
    Games like Dragon warrior/Dragonquest, fire emblem, have not strayed much from their original formula but kept strong sales. The Pokemon cash cow managed to sell ridiculous amounts of iterations. Does this point to an innate conservatism in Japanese gamers?
    When the survival of the company depends on successful sales the price of innovation and creativity is often very high.
    Another point I want to make is the emergence of "retro gamers" maybe it's a niche number, I have no solid figures but these people positvely advocate the older style of gaming making a virtue of past originality.

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  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    The Pokemon cash cow managed to sell ridiculous amounts of iterations. Does this point to an innate conservatism in Japanese gamers?
    I don't think it's fair to say this is a Japanese thing. Discovering something you really enjoy and being reluctant to give it up just because some corporation wants you to spend money in the name of innovation is pretty universal. I agree change and progress is a very good thing, but that's no reason to give up something I know I enjoy. I prefer to try something new when I'm damned well ready to, not when someone else decides it's in "my" (read: their) best interest.
  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinionator RPGamer Staff
    edited November 2012
    The only people I've heard call into question Final Fantasy XI's presence in the series as a numbered title are the ones who haven't actually played the game. Admittedly, being an anti-social gamer, I was once hesitant to try an MMO iteration of one of my favourite series. However, once I actually gave the title a shot I was blown away by the level of detail poured into the different tales and characters.

    For those unconvinced that Final Fantasy XI deserves to be numbered, I suggest you invest at least 20 hours of your time into the game and see if that opinion changes. You may be surprised.
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  • riulynriulyn Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    7thCircle said:
    This is why I think FF11 being numbered was a mistake. Inside the JRPG fanbase bubble the arguments tend to be about anger, forgiveness, betrayal... nothing that translates to how the series is viewed by more typical gamers.

    I think FF11 hurt the series by being a momentum killer, and it did kill what the franchise used to be. Plain and simple, if the next major Call of Duty game is an MMO that releases in 2013, and then not a single Call of Duty game is made for 4 years, that would sound like a seriously foolish mishandling of the series. You lose the interest of average customers who are used to a new entry on an annual interval while also abruptly changing the genre of a longrunning franchise. The series might still sell well, and Final Fantasy does, but to defend a move like that is to be insane or blind. SE had a popular, trendsetting series consumers felt like they needed to play and were willing to pay the initial retail price for, brought it to a screeching halt, and did it around when FF11 was released.
    I think you make a great point that the delay killed the FF series momentum. FFXII sort of just happened while I was busy playing other games, and I was pretty up to date with when FFIX, X and XI were coming out (before '98 I wasn't gaming so don't judge me). I skipped FFXI because MMOs aren't my thing, and then there was nothing FF for me to play. I guess FFCC was released sometime close to FFXI because for some reason I associated the two together...

    Anyway, another franchise fanbase killer is a change of director. There are vocal people wishing for the return to the Sakaguchi days. There are Suikoden fans who don't like 4 and Tierkreis and are calling for Murayama's return. Xenosaga lost their main people. These vocally angry/upset fans like to populate message boards and other places which could turn people away from the series.
  • NefarioCallNefarioCall Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    riulyn said:
    I think you make a great point that the delay killed the FF series momentum.
    Yeah, i'm on board with that too. Momentum is key. having something like 5 years between X and XII was just too much. Then consider that XIII is really all there is in the 6 years since in terms of the 'core' series and that's just not enough to be relevant ... unless you're putting out 'The Elder Scrolls'. Although, if they put out a bad one of those, then the 10 year gap would still be a killer.

    Still, i don't think SE as a company is going to tank. Although ... the size of the production team working on 2.0 (ARR) is in fact TEN TIMES the size of the team they had working on 1.0 ... so it's probably fair to say that if ARR tanks, the company will be in great trouble, i still don't think they'll tank. They'll just have to end up putting what's left of their resources into 'one' game... which wouldn't be such a bad thing necessarily.
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