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"Wouldn't it be cool if..."

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Wiked Rolf
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"Wouldn't it be cool if..."

I do tech support and documentation for a software company and our devs half-jokingly refer to that phrase as a prelude to an a customer asking something impossible. I'm using it because I think it fits here.

I was reading the about asymmetrical ideas and it occurred to me that many comic and anima characters might have reasonably standard hairstyles, but non-standard colors. I'm not talking about all their hair, I'm referring to odd flairs. The most iconic I can think of is Rogue's skunk strip.

I do not expect the developers to conceive of every possible pattern and add support for that to all meshes. That would be a nightmare to create and maintain. However, it might be possible to allow something like a paint overlay. Back in Maxis' Sims 1 and 2, all the clothing and such was BMP files wrapped around a mess. So I was wondering if the hair could be done similarly. Allow a color choice that opens a bitmap like editor or one that has line, spray and file type tools to literally paint/color the desired appearance. Bonus if this could be added on top of the the original coloring. Maybe consider this a hat-like accessory.

Yes, I understand it would be a massive project.
Yes, I do not expect it at launch or any time soon

I see this as something you might consider adding multiple releases after launch. I just thought it would be a nice addition and really let the artistic types go wild.
I wanted to post it while I was thinking so the devs could at least think about it.

Huckleberry
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Wiked Rolf wrote:
Wiked Rolf wrote:

... our devs half-jokingly refer to that phrase as a prelude to an a customer asking something impossible...

I was reading the about asymmetrical ideas and it occurred to me that many comic and anima characters might have reasonably standard hairstyles, but non-standard colors. I'm not talking about all their hair, I'm referring to odd flairs. The most iconic I can think of is Rogue's skunk strip.

Yes, I understand it would be a massive project.
Yes, I do not expect it at launch or any time soon

I see this as something you might consider adding multiple releases after launch. I just thought it would be a nice addition and really let the artistic types go wild.
I wanted to post it while I was thinking so the devs could at least think about it.

I like this idea.

I think one of the advantages we have with a free-to-play game funded partially through aesthetic store items is that the devs could actually determine that such a feature could pay for its own development. I imagine MWM will have some sort of proposal process in which different departments fill out a form that states time and effort involved in a proposal and that has an expected revenue/demand to determine what to put into the game next.

Relatedly, there was a game I played a few years back, (Black Desert Online) in which nearly all hair styles had a highlighting option. We got to choose the colors for the base hair and for the highlights and we also got a slider that allowed us to determine how close to the scalp or the ends to make the color shift. Since hair in CoT will be made up of rags, I think it would be far easier to do it this way than with a bitmap.

And the simplest solution of all would be to include a few hairstyles with different color zones built into them. In such a case, the UI is really the only new coding that would have to be addressed. This option allows the ability to add highlits to other hairstyles as well, a la FFXIV.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
Wiked Rolf
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Not just highlights, though.

Not just highlights, though. Imagine being able to do tiger strips or cheetah spots. Heck, someone might even want multi-color polka dots in random sizes. Having some sort of free-draw/paint area would free the users and absolve the devs of having to create every possible variation.

Having posted this idea, I do realize a bmp option would have a risk of inappropriate content. As such, I concede a completely open Paint-like editor could be problematic.

Fireheart
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Yes but anything not created

Yes but anything not created by the devs, on purpose, leads to Free-range Internet Jerk behavior. Things like 'hey, I can spray-paint swastikas on my head!'

Be Well!
Fireheart

Redlynne
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Choose from presets = OK

Choose from presets = OK
Make your own = invitation to abuse


Verbogeny is one of many pleasurettes afforded a creatific thinkerizer.
Cobalt Azurean
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Fireheart wrote:
Fireheart wrote:

Yes but anything not created by the devs, on purpose, leads to Free-range Internet Jerk behavior. Things like 'hey, I can spray-paint swastikas on my head!'

Be Well!
Fireheart

I immediately thought of it this as well. There'd have to be some sort of screening/approval process.

Huckleberry
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Cobalt Azurean wrote:
Cobalt Azurean wrote:

There'd have to be some sort of screening/approval process.

I disagree. I think such screening should be outsourced to the playing community using a reporting process after-the-fact. This allows the devs to focus their efforts on high probability offenders rather than on every single use.

I think the technology to automate a first-pass review is almost here, if it is not already. Such an AI could pre-empt even a community outsourced solution. As long as player-created content will be a thing, I think there will be demand for an AI first-pass review of it.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
Cobalt Azurean
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:
Cobalt Azurean wrote:

There'd have to be some sort of screening/approval process.

I disagree. I think such screening should be outsourced to the playing community using a reporting process after-the-fact. This allows the devs to focus their efforts on high probability offenders rather than on every single use.

I think the technology to automate a first-pass review is almost here, if it is not already. Such an AI could pre-empt even a community outsourced solution. As long as player-created content will be a thing, I think there will be demand for an AI first-pass review of it.

You disagree that there shouldn't be a screening/approval process but suggest that an AI perform such a function? Honestly, I don't care who or what does the function, as long as someone or something keeps the riff-raff out, man. Or, at the very least, reduces it.

Redlynne
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

I think such screening should be outsourced to the playing community using a reporting process after-the-fact. This allows the devs to focus their efforts on high probability offenders rather than on every single use.

Outsourcing control of game content is not always a superior option ... especially with TTD (time to dick) potential like this.
Someone STILL has to review the tickets as a Game Master to adjudicate the reports. Until that happens, people are "free" to be as maximally offensive, obnoxious and trollish as they want ... which is a bad look for a game.
Second chances versus first impressions and all that.


Verbogeny is one of many pleasurettes afforded a creatific thinkerizer.
Huckleberry
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I think any content

I think any content accessible with no investment by the player is asking for trolls who take advantage of the free-to-play nature of the game in all regards, from chat to design-your-own content to social networking. With this in mind, any design-your-own content should be behind a pay wall or at the very least, a substantial play wall. In other words, an account ban hammer due to behavior that is universally accepted to be offensive should cost the player an investment in time and/or money. Without such an investment, bans are toothless and trolling is encouraged.

Even with the risk of an account ban, there are still those who will test the boundaries of acceptability or might make mistakes out of ignorance or accident, but I think you will find the actual numbers of intentional offenders/trolls would be far less than you might otherwise expect. And I don't think it is worth a developer's paid time to review every bit of user-created content. That's what the reporting feature is for. And then the dev can use judgment to distinguish between error and malice for those that are reported and dispense justice accordingly.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
Redlynne
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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

And I don't think it is worth a developer's paid time to review every bit of user-created content. That's what the reporting feature is for. And then the dev can use judgment to distinguish between error and malice for those that are reported and dispense justice accordingly.

Typically, Game Developers (the people who actually code and "make" the game) are not the ones down in the Customer Service trenches doing the work of Game Masters.

What you're talking about may not rise to the level of "needs Game Dev attention" to resolve, so you aren't adding to the workload of the Game Devs (per se).
However, you ARE talking about stuff that WILL rise to the level of "needs Game Master attention" to resolve, increasing their workload. The attention span/bandwidth of Game Masters is NOT INFINITE. They cannot be everywhere at once, observing everything in real time during every minute of every day.

My point being that although there will undoubtedly be a Reporting feature for Players to report infractions by other PCs ... it is all too easy to "flood the zone with s*^%" in order to overwhelm the capacity of the Game Masters to deal with that kind of situation, at which point you are just INVITING DRAMA of the negative variety that will drive people away from games.

Just because you arm your GMs with hammers doesn't mean you can force them to stand in a pounding rain of falling nails that never stops falling on them.
Yes they can swing their hammers ... but if there are more nails falling on them than they can swing their hammers at, their capacity to do their job usefully/competently can become quickly overwhelmed.
After all, there's usually more Players than GMs in a lot of games.
And that's before we get to the question of nuances in interpretation requiring professional judgement with regards to standing policies.

And just to be clear ... I'VE SEEN FIRST HAND what happens when management puts too much faith in automated tools for moderation.
It happened in Elder Scrolls Online when it first launched.
I was a temp staffer Tier 1 Customer Service Agent/Game Master for ESO when it launched.

During training before the game launched, I asked the trainer (during class) what the plans and policies were to deal with Gold Farming.
The eyes wide shut answer I got back from the class trainer in front of the class was ... "We don't expect there to be any Gold Farmers after launch."

Within the first 8 hours of pre-launch during launch weekend (starting on the Friday), there was Gold Spam in public channels.
The next day, public chat channels were overrun with Gold Spam.
By Sunday, there were bots harvesting nodes to generate the gold that went towards the Gold Spam.
During launch week, the bots got leaked GM cheat code commands so they could fly, clip through terrain, speed run, etc. (the GM commands were not "locked" to certain accounts, the assumption had been Security Through Obscurity).

By the end of the first week of game launch, there was a backlog of over 300,000 tickets needing to be dealt with.
6 months later ... we had whittled that down to only 30,000 tickets backlogged ... mainly because so many people quit playing in the first 2 months because the game was overrun but bots and gold spammers, and the company I was under contract with lost their contract to support ESO.

During those 6 months, management attempted to implement automated tools to help stem the tsunami of Reports that we were drowning in on a daily basis.
One of the automated tools was an attempt at killing off bots that were Gold Farming.
Long story short ... it was Clumsy Coding™.

Brand New Accounts that started their first character in the tutorial would pick up a single coin of currency ... and get banned for Gold Farming.
Not character banned ... account banned.
Basically, people paid real $$ for the box, went to the trouble of installing the game (which took HOURS to download all the patches), created their first character (which was buggy since the keybinds didn't fully populate until AFTER making your first character!), launched the game ... started in "prison hell" defeated their first NPCs or broke a few pots open, reached for the loot and ... ACCOUNT BANNED.

What's worse, these automatic ban tickets came with big "Do not reverse this ban without authorization from" and listed 4 Names (we called them the Four Horsemen) in the Lord High Muckity Muck category overseeing the entire company.

The automation was overly aggressive/over tuned and was auto-banning legitimate new accounts for playing the game tutorial.
I pulled the rip cord and notified my direct supervisor so that a "feed the food chain" could be initiated to stop banning first time accounts like this (because it basically amounted to stealing people's $$ invested in buying the game!).

Took over a month to fix the problem with the automated system that was auto banning new accounts (and in the process, generating tons more tickets from us GMs to administer, clogging up our workflows as we tried to dig ourselves out from under the backlog).
By the time that month was up, the damage was done.
Elder Scrolls Online was completely overrun by bots and Gold Farmers and the automated tools had banned so many legitimate first time Players without a refund that the game (rightfully) earned a seriously bad reputation that it wouldn't be able to shake FOR YEARS.

There is a REASON why I'm warning you that simply putting in a Reporting feature for Players to click isn't necessarily good enough to prevent the problem from happening in the first place.
I know.
I was there watching it happen ... in real time ... with ESO at game launch.
I'm TELLING YOU that it really isn't quite that easy.

Even when you've got a hammer ... no one wants to be buried under a pile of nails that's bigger than you are.
Try not to invite big piles of nails and then figure it's "Someone Else's Problem" to hammer them all into place.
It takes WORK ... LABOR ... meaning COSTS to deal with all of that.
For a Player it may be cheap (just click Report and forget about it) ... but GMs who deal with those reports are either going to be volunteers (who can quit at any time for any reason) or are going to need to be paid professional staff (if you want them to keep doing the job and be invested in the outcomes). Training people to do that job is not "instant" and it requires more than the ability to fog up a mirror (little things like honor, integrity and ethics tend to come into the equation somehow).

I don't know about you, but being taken to a swimming pool filled with nails, handed a hammer and told to dive into the pool of nails, swim to the bottom of the pool through all the nails and start hammering a few of them is NOT my idea of a healthy and productive expectation that builds a good work environment.
What's your opinion, Huckleberry?

Oh and for the record, I was there for the disaster that waiting to happen with the Battle for Azeroth too ... so my experience with ESO wasn't unique.
Being a GM may sound glamorous, but it's really a scut job for the people on the inside.
Try not to make it any worse than it has to be.


Verbogeny is one of many pleasurettes afforded a creatific thinkerizer.
Huckleberry
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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

Try not to make it any worse than it has to be.

That was a very long story. a good one and you get internet points for having been there, no doubt. But I don't see the correlation between 1) a failure of the game and leaked cheat codes, exacerbated by poor coding; and 2)review of user designed content.

Let's say, for argument's sake, that every instance of user-designed content must be approved by a dev before it can enter the game. That's 100% engagement of user-designed content, in addition to anything else that gets reported for review. How many tickets will that be? What's the backlog going to be? What will be the delay for every player before they can enter the game with it?
Now let's say that only reported user-designed content needs to be looked at by a dev. That will be some number significantly less than 100% of all user content, so already we've got less expense incurred by the devs. Furthermore there will be no delay for players to play the game, no review queue to wait for.

So Mission Architect missions, base designs, custom costume elements, whatever it may be, user-designed content should be treated as innocent until proven guilty. User interactions are, have been, and will continue to be unrated in multiplayer online games, and so there is a limit to how invasive you want your game devs to be.

And like I said earlier, if you make user-designed content available for free without an investment in playing time to unlock it or money to buy it, then you're setting yourself up for trolling and abuse. In such a case, I would recommend getting rid of user-designed content altogether.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
Wiked Rolf
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I knew this idea would be

I knew this idea would be problematic when I proposed it.
I know some players like to be ******** (use whatever term you want there)
This idea is a can of worms the dev will likely avoid like the plague (at least for the initial release and likely for a year or two afterwards). I wanted to throw the idea out there in case a programmer much smarter than me looked at it and thought, "oh, that not that hard. Here's how we can do it...."

I like huckleberry's idea to make it something you have to earn in game and/or pay for. Then a valid complaint against the play could cost them that spiff. They would have to buy it again or earn it with a different toon (no repeats with the same toon. sort of a once off.)
With real money/time at risk, trolls will be less likely to do bad things. Some still will, but I expect it would be much less. However, I understand Redlynne's point that any arbitration adds to someone's workload.

I don't want to see any toon running around with vulgar, ranchy, or X-rated words/images painted on with this idea, so I know arbitration will be needed. Even with restricted paint tools, someone is going to figure a way to do something they shouldn't. If there are clear, well defined rules set to use it, the arbitration becomes easier. If you make something subjective, then you open the door for arbitrary decisions, hurt feelings, and bad experiences. Technical support is difficult enough. Content arbitration is another layer of involvement. People complain that youtube, twitter, and other platforms are biased and uneven in their enforcement. I do not want to argue whether they are or are not. The perception that they are is an issue for many people.

I don't know the balance to allow player creativity and prevent abuse. However, I still think and option like this would be tremendous, if that balance can be found.

Redlynne
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Wiked Rolf wrote:
Wiked Rolf wrote:

However, I still think and option like this would be tremendous, if that balance can be found.

And that's the trick ... finding that balance ... because there are going to be interests vested in breaking/gaming whatever system is devised to keep everything within the boundaries of that balance.

That "people will be people" and that Trolls Exist™ are not matters up for debate at this point. All the evidence you will ever need for this can be found in social media and politics ... not to mention how machine learning AI can be turned into Yahtzees within a day or two of exposure to unfiltered social media feeds and forums (it keeps happening every time someone runs the experiment and the results are extremely reliable and sticky).

Ultimately, the question(s) surrounding User Generated Content have to rely on a Trust Relationship in which the Trust must not be abused.

This Trust Relationship is broadly similar to the one with respect to Client vs Server.
Is the Client a Trusted source of information?
Is the Client an UNtrusted source of information?

If you want a secure game environment, the UNtrusted Client is the only way to go ... because if you give too much Trust to the game Client then it becomes SO MUCH EASIER to hack the game Client to cheat your way to what you want.

Servers are Trusted.
Clients are NOT Trusted to freely overwrite the Server's information.
There's a REASON why security has to be this way ... because if you don't, you're inviting disaster (hacking being merely one of the possible outcomes, ruining the game).

=====

The closest I can possibly get to with respect to "squaring this circle" with respect to costume overlays like you're talking about is if the mods involved for them are singular to a specific game Client.
Basically, you can mod up your own avatar with UGC overlays that affect presentation on your own game Client, but which are not transmitted to the Servers nor do those modifications appear on anyone else's game Client.

Basically, there is a Private Mod Space where permission is granted to mod your own game client like you were talking about, so YOU see the changes, but no one else does and it doesn't affect them.
Essentially, compartmentalize it as an Add On Feature that is singular to individual game clients.
That then provides "fertile soil" for a Mod Community to spring up and potentially flourish. Particularly "good" Mods that are well received by Peer Review and gain a reputation as being particularly well done would be "open to review" by MWM Staff for potential incorporation into the Server game code, making that UGC potentially available to all. However, there would be "no guarantees" that any specific published Mod Pack will ever receive such a MWM Staff review (meaning, there's no obligation to do so) so engagement with the Mod Community (if any) would be more of an "ad hoc" kind of thing rather than a routine on the regular kind of thing. Basically, when they have time to give it some thought, they might ... but there's no regular schedule for it. That way, really good UGC Mods would have a path to "rise to the top" outside of MWM moderation pipelines (via Peer Review within the Mod Community) before possibly being considered.

THAT might be doable without compromising the core of the game.

Oh sure, one of the first things someone is going to do with that will be Nude Mods (we're mostly adults here, we can foresee this, we know what Rule 34 is) and undoubtedly some content creators will make images and machinima videos with such mods, but those would be individual client only rather than something that everyone playing the game is subjected to (meaning, nothing for other Players to report in game).

After that, all we need is for customer tickets filed from in game to include details of what Add On Mods are loaded onto a particular Player's game Client as part of the data scrape capture when filing a ticket and you'll be able to "arm" the Game Masters with the information they need to do their jobs with respect to attempts to game the system (and "work the refs") via the Report feature.

Remember, bullying behavior works best when in a "gang" of like minded individuals. If an automation is set up that requires a threshold to be met before automatic action is taken (such as a forced kick offline and a temporary ban for the supposed offense pending review by a GM) ... then the very programming of that automated feature can be gamed by organized collections of individuals in quantities large enough to meet the threshold "on demand" when coordinating via voice chat. If 10 Reports for the same offense within 1 minute automatically kicks someone from the game, a "gang of 10" now have the power to enforce game kicks on anyone they want simply by working together.

Now imagine that kind of automation being enforced during a PvP match.
Think people wouldn't stoop to what amounts to cyberbullying tactics to "win" (by default) in PvP matches?
Think again ... because it's already happened in other games that have used similar policies with respect to automation of Reports from other Players.

=====

My point is that there are no Easy Quick Simple Solutions to this problem ... because people are complex ... and Players are crafty little bah-stids who outnumber the Game Masters by "lots and lots" to one.

In other words, you don't want your moderation strategy for UGC to amount to, well ... THIS:

And don't say I didn't warn you ...


Verbogeny is one of many pleasurettes afforded a creatific thinkerizer.
Fireheart
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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

In other words, you don't want your moderation strategy for UGC to amount to, well ... THIS:

And don't say I didn't warn you ...

Red, you are an inspiration to us all. *grin*

Lin Chiao Feng
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Redlynne covered the “why you

Redlynne covered the “why you can’t just expect the devs to infer some automated filter” stuff.

I’d like to get into a couple technical details.

Wiked Rolf wrote:

I do not expect the developers to conceive of every possible pattern and add support for that to all meshes. That would be a nightmare to create and maintain. However, it might be possible to allow something like a paint overlay.

The technical problem that blows this up is distribution. Even if we could be sure your pattern wasn’t violating someone’s copyright or our ESRB T rating, we’d still have to deliver it to everyone’s client, intact, and in real time. There are a lot of hard limits there because we don’t want to screw everyone who doesn’t have 100 Mb/s connections (and let’s face it, we’re billed for bandwidth on our end, too).

So, for example, if someone’s avatar comes into range of yours, our server has to tell your client, “yo, new avatar spawning, guid blah-blah-blah, and they look like this: (appearance blob)”, and that appearance blob has to fit in the low hundreds of bytes range. Which is why we have “x costume pieces, each with one of y shapes and colors a, b, and c” and all those variables are a byte or less. So shipping arbitrary bitmaps around isn’t practical. Someone logging in could lag the zone as 200 players’ clients all have to download a megabyte of combined image data. Logging in would be worse; you’d have to wait for 200 MB to download before you could spawn. And as you move, other avatars come into range, necessitating new blob downloads for everyone.

I remember people hating on Tabula Rasa for freezing a half second as you crossed the invisible line between sub zones. This would be worse.

Games like Sims and ACNH can have UGC art because there are nice hard points where the game can idle while stuff downloads, and people don’t care.

Wiked Rolf wrote:

I see this as something you might consider adding multiple releases after launch. I just thought it would be a nice addition and really let the artistic types go wild.
I wanted to post it while I was thinking so the devs could at least think about it.

Alas, your best bet is to repost this idea, with specific recommendations as to solving the above issues, after launch. We don’t really have the mental bandwidth to think about anything post-launch right now.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

Lin Chiao Feng
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For example, one thing that

For example, one thing that would be a lot more practical would be:

1. You design a new color pattern for hair using an in-game tool.
2. You submit it to MWM via the tool.
3. We pick our, say, 20 favorites and post them on our web site.
4. Players vote for their favorites with ranked-choice voting. Basically, you’d get a page with the entries in random order and would drag them into your preferred order (favorite first, next favorite second, etc.) and then click Vote.
5. After polling closes, we’ll take the top couple designs and roll them into the next patch.
6. After downloading the patch, they’re available in the avatar builder, and you’re set.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

Wiked Rolf
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Thanks for the feedback.

Thanks for the feedback.
I understand pre-launch crunch. My company is in the last two weeks of a product upgrade. Everything looks good and ready to go, but QA and devs are still hitting as hard as they can just to make sure.
Thanks also for the technical reasons why this would problematic. As I said at the beginning, our developers dread the "wouldn't it be cool..." expression. However, they also want to know what the customers want. Just because something can't be done now, does not mean there won't be a way in the future. I'll keep this idea in my pocket and submit it again after launch.

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In conclusion, it's as per

In conclusion, it's as per Wiked Rolf's original post.

Lay person goes: "This should be easy, right?"
People who know go: "Oh hell no."

Hilarity ensues.

- - - - -
Hail Beard!

Support trap clowns for CoT!

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It would be relatively easy..

It would be relatively easy... if it wasn't an MMO.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...