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My blog about making UO Free to Play

Discussion in 'UHall' started by Sorcon Gartius, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. I've just launched a new blog called MMO Verdict, and the first topic I chose to cover is my ideas about converting Ultima Online to the Free to Play model. I'd love to have you take a look at it, and leave me some comments on the blog!

    MMO Verdict: Making Ultima Online Free to Play
     
  2. Taylor

    Taylor Former Stratics CEO (2011-2014)
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    It could work.

    You have a minor type in the "Ideas:" paragraph. Congrats on the new blog and I hope you make it big. :)
     
  3. Ah! And I called myself proofreading. Thank you for pointing that out.
     
  4. Taylor

    Taylor Former Stratics CEO (2011-2014)
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    Ooh, you've leased your own domain? Good move. Leaving blogspot will lend your blog greater credibility. :)
     
  5. Yeah, Blogspot was cool, but it seemed to be amateur hour. I decided to just get my own domain and use WordPress.

    I put up a new blog about the Shard of the Dead.
     
  6. Taylor

    Taylor Former Stratics CEO (2011-2014)
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    Sweet. Good choice. There are lots of free WP themes and mods. :D
     
  7. Dakkon Blackblade

    Dakkon Blackblade Seasoned Veteran
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    Free to play is the last resort for Ultima Online, the biggest reason it does not get new players has less to do with the sub price, and more to do with the extremely dated client and the reluctance of current players to let it go.

    Think of it this way, you are brand new to the mmorpg scene, you are looking for your first mmo and you go to the store and hypothetically speaking lets say you see three games on the shelf, World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and Ultima Online.

    You pick up the first two boxes and are impressed at the graphics from the tiny bit you can see, then you pick up the last box and....you lol, you lol so hard that you almost embarass yourself in front of other customers in the store, you ask yourself how in the world does this game with worse graphics than the original Diablo still have a pulse?

    Okay that was a bit heavy on the hyperbole but you get what I mean, until UO gets it together with a single and brand new client that is impressive to potential new customers it will forever be stuck in this rut of barely clinging to life.

    Just because a game is old doesn't mean it has to die, if it can evolve and keep up with the times it can keep going and making more money. Sadly UO has just plain failed to do that, and it's a bit ironic when you hear current players say we need new blood in the game, and yet they vehemently oppose any changes that would bring in new players.
     
  8. Every year, the population slowly dwindles down. UO needs to find a way to attract past players to come back and play, while finding ways to pull more money out of the current player base.

    Note that I list Premium Accounts as being the only account that can hold a house. Most people who now pay for a UO account is not going to suddenly drop their house so they don't have to pay for it anymore.

    What Free to Play would do is bring back people who have left. Sure, those players may not end up paying or owning a house, but they provide a boisterous environment for those who are.
     
  9. Dakkon Blackblade

    Dakkon Blackblade Seasoned Veteran
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    Your missing the point though, it's population isn't dwindling because people dislike paying monthly fees. the population is dwindling because it's a 13 year old game that hasn't seen a much needed overhaul.

    The question the company needs to ask themselves is, do we want to just sit back and maintain the revenue stream as is, or do we actually want to see this game grow and become competitive again.

    If they just want to sit back and collect the revenue as is, then I agree wholeheartedly with you, make it free to play. But if they want to take a gamble and make UO a competitive game in the market again they have to get a new modern day client, and they have to port everyone over to it, the old client would have to get the axe as would the "enhanced client"

    If I had to guess I would say, they will eventually opt to go free to play while doing micro transactions for premium booster packs, advanced tokens, and maybe even gold in game who knows.
     
  10. Arcus

    Arcus Grand Poobah
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    Blogspot was amateur hour but wordpress+dropin theme from pagelines is not? lol
     
  11. LOL... funny, but you have a minor "typo" yourself! Don't you just hate that?
     
  12. Gilmour

    Gilmour Certifiable
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    as someone mentioned when i brought up the concept, F2P attracts "odd" ppl, and i didnt think this properly through at the time of starting my thread.

    i would much rather, have a lower fee with more optionals rather than free.

    or if its going to be free to play make em pay for the key before they can log in, might also work, as long as they need thier vallet up thier pocket.
     
  13. Babble

    Babble Guest

    There is NO chance of making UO competitive again.
    Take a look at the MMOS in pruduction and the ones out, there are hundreds of them.

    As for me if UO charges the same fee as WOW then it better has bugfree gameplay and service, else I play the game with better service.

    And also renting a Linux shard to host an UO freeshard costs me the same thing as an UO account....
     
  14. Owning the domain > Blogspot
     
  15. Taylor

    Taylor Former Stratics CEO (2011-2014)
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    Touché. ;)
     
  16. I'm still glad you pointed it out, regardless.
     
  17. Dakkon Blackblade

    Dakkon Blackblade Seasoned Veteran
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    There is always a chance of making any game competitive again, it's not a matter of if it can happen, with the right funding and design this game could be turned around to fit in the current market, would it look like the UO people love and remember? of course not but that is not likely going to happen.

    Which is why I believe eventually they will choose the free to play method once the subscription number dips below a certain point.
     
  18. Siteswap

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    Runescape would suggest that you are mistaken with this statement.

    Runescape is very UO-esque but its broser client makes the graphics sub par to the CC we have here. It is however F2P and has over 10,000,000 players registered.

    This would suggest then that should UO go down the same route then it would take off massively numbers wise.

    Whether this is a good thing is another debate...
     
  19. Babble

    Babble Guest

    Runescape seems to have 3d graphics.
    A client that can be played with no extra client installed?

    So without having played it it seems graphical superior.

    UO would though be more sucessful s it it now with a f2p model.
    On the other hand there are freeshards already out there and they are only mildly sucessful
     
  20. seapup

    seapup Guest

    After reading your blog I kind of agree with you in certain areas.
    Play for free--but can't have a house is perfect
    Prem Acct--have all the neccessities agree.

    Now buying such and such items all would go through EA umm don't think that will work.
    U have uostock, uo this and that, that will sell to you for a price.
    How can you stop the other sites from selling thier stuff to you instead of EA?

    Now the best thing to do (go ahead and rant all u want) is get rid of all these SOB's that use hacks and exploits before you even decide to try and get this game to be Free to play.

    That way when a new person comes in to the game he or she will see what type of game it realy is when no cheats r in it.
    U remember when this game first came out?we had to work our butts off to get our skills to GM and today I say they have it so easy.

    So bring it on for Free to Play and lets see where you can go with it.
    Good Luck and I hope your blogs keep bring us these little nick nacks lol
     
  21. Dakkon Blackblade

    Dakkon Blackblade Seasoned Veteran
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    Not quite, runescape has been around for a long time and has always been free to play, it has an established following. Just because free to play worked for some games does not mean it will work for UO.

    Although as I said it all rests in the hands of the company, if they don't decide to sink a lot of money into completely overhauling UO then yes they should do free to play.
     
  22. Thank you for the Feedback.

    I think that Runescape may not be the best example, but a good example would be a game like Minecraft or Runes of Magic, which have TONS of players.

    I do agree that the hackers need to be removed, but UO should take a lighter stance on scripters, especially if they're not harming anything.

    Either way, I definitely would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this discussion. I strongly believe that UO needs to consider this.
     
  23. Babble

    Babble Guest

    They already considered it once before ML came out I think.
    Was when Mythic took over and decided not to do it after developers proposed it.
     
  24. It might be time to think about it again. I mean, back when they looked at it before, DDO and LOTRO weren't making money hand over fist with it.
     
  25. Violence

    Violence Lore Keeper
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    Just dropped in to lurk a little while after all this time, so I might as well make this my third or fourth reply for today and the last for the next X months..

    IMHO I shouldn't have to pay for a game I've supported for a decade or more if my demands as a player are reasonable yet will not be taken seriously.

    See, I understand how balancing PVP can be a daunting task for the Devs when they refuse to actually sit there and test things. I can accept that they have to keep us paying by launching sorry excuses of expansion packs such as High Seas(which are really just large patches, must like EA's BF2142 could have been free content or modification for BF2).. All of that is not what drove me away.

    My demands were simply that cheating be dealt with. Instead I read about how cheats do not work, do not exist, this and that... And about how this Dev Team supposedly has been cooking up a nasty surprise for all cheaters.. Only from what I saw the same people are doing the same things.

    So yeah, Free To Play. Dedicated players can design better "expansions" than the High Seas for free, and they can come up with a better combat system. I could go on what someone dedicated to this game can achieve, but it would be lost to both fan boys(those aren't dedicated, they're really addicted) and the Devs, I'm pretty sure.

    I feel this product(UO) has been made so faulty by EA that I don't just want my money back - which I can't get and I know - for all the frustration due to cheating, I would have the Devs deliver it to the people and just quit pretending.

    Hey at least sell it to someone who'll love it and do something nice with it, right? I never donate, nor give anything to anyone on the Net. But if 8-10 of us were to start an errand so we could buy UO off EA, form a small company and manage it ourselves(to put it all in simple terms) I'd definitely jump in. This game has a lot of potential.
     
  26. Babble

    Babble Guest

    This game definately has potential, though I doubt EA is willing to use all of it.
    I also doubt they sell the IP as they can still make money of it.
     
  27. Amren

    Amren Journeyman
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    Why do people need to suggest such complicated systems for UO. All EA needs to do is make the current "7 day trial accounts" into "unlimited trial accounts"

    The trial accounts already have restrictions on them. I think what the devs don't realize is, it's a little harder to push a sandbox mmo that you pay to play, when people can buy sandbox games like "GTA4" and "Red Dead Redemption", knowing they are quality games, based on the previous games by the company. 7 days is just not enough to find out if you like this game enough to buy it. You'd be lucky to find your way walking from one town to another and back in that time.

    I tried DDO online a few months a go, and was surprised at how much game play you actually get for free. I'd say it would be more content that someone would experience in UO in 7 days if they were new.
     
  28. It does feel like you get a lot of DDO for free, but once you get your character beyond Newbie Island, it definitely starts to become less and less. After a week, you'll find yourself repeating the same quest over and over or upgrading to Premium. I ended up waiting like 2 weeks, but I did upgrade to a Premium account with DDO simply because I wanted more content in order to decide if I wanted to play the game.

    I definitely like the idea of extending the trial accounts to endless trial accounts like Warhammer has done, but UO needs to also add items for sale in the store to increase revenues.
     
  29. the 4th man

    the 4th man Lore Master
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    Agreed, I love UO, but like you said, I wouldn't buy it off a shelf as a newbie to the scene....and yes we know, it's not being sold on a shelf anywhere....but can you see why?? If you can't, well, I won't go there.
     
  30. A valid argument... BUT

    Diablo 2 is STILL being sold on the Best Buy & Wal-Mart shelves. You can still buy Diablo 2 on Amazon.

    Diablo 2 is STILL being patched and supported by Blizzard. A handful of my friends actually went back to Diablo 2 recently because of a major patch update which allowed respecs.

    Point? People have nostalgia... How many times have you gotten nostalgic for an old game, an old movie, an old television show? Pretty often right?

    Take a trip to any major retailer and you'll see TONS of old movies, music, etc.

    UO has that same staying power. Sure, people are not going to play it all the time, but if it's free, they will at least continue to log into it.
     
  31. Nok

    Nok Lore Master
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    Added to the Community|Blogs menu of the UltimaXbar.
     
  32. Thank you so much Nok :)
     
  33. hawkeye_pike

    hawkeye_pike Babbling Loonie
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    THIS!

    Recently I said to someone that in order to have the same gaming experience like UO offers, you'd have to buy 20 different games. UO is a great game, but most people I know wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole because of its old graphics.

    And let's be honest: For many years, no NEW players ever joined UO. Only a couple of returning veterans who come back for nostalgic reasons. But these numbers are dwindling now, too.

    Free to Play could help luring to UO and getting acquainted with what the game really offers, but it won't solve the lack-of-new-player-problem.
     
  34. hawkeye_pike

    hawkeye_pike Babbling Loonie
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    Very wrong statement. UO has greater potential than ANY of the MMORPGs on the market. UO has a depth that has evolved over the past 13 years and is unmatched by all the other games on the market. But it lacks the graphics to succeed.
     
  35. copycon

    copycon Guest

    I don't think the problem is the graphics alone. I do think the problem stretches beyond the client.

    UO was revolutionary when it was released, and it was designed to appeal to a niche market. That niche market is now divided into much smaller pieces because of competition from other games and developers. Not only for the simple fact that those games are competing directly with UO, but because the appeal for those games has spiked in other areas and those games are constantly receiving new content and attention from the companies that own them. In comparison, the expansion content that has been released for UO pales to the amount of content and attention that other games have received from their developers.

    The reality is there are so many options to choose from, and some of those options are far superior in almost every way including graphics. UO is a dilapidated franchise and if EA wants to make UO appeal to a wider audience, they need to look at more than just updating the client. They need to completely overhaul and reintroduce the franchise to the public and show people why UO is a great game and not just fancy graphics. I think the most information that anyone hears about UO today is in reference to UO pioneering the MMO space, and it has nothing to do with what it has "evolved" (or some would say devolved) in to.

    It can also be argued that the budget for UO development prevents much of anything like this from happening, and that just may be the real reason for what we have seen over these past few years.
     
  36. hawkeye_pike

    hawkeye_pike Babbling Loonie
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    Good post.
     
  37. Babble

    Babble Guest

    UO has greater potential than for example EVE which still stretches the limits of mmo's and is one of the feww mmos gaining players over the years?

    UO has great potential if you look at seperate shards with a few thousand players.

    But UO is old. It has sometimes broken systems upon systems, old network code, outdated graphics and a snail defining the storyline.
     
  38. The thing is though, if you log into Stratics, almost every day there is some kind of banner ad about a free to play game... And honestly, I've played a few of them for research on my website and UO is FAR, FAR superior to them... Most of them are just stupid browser games.

    Yet, they afford to splash banner ads everywhere...

    Something to think about. There has to be something to be said about the F2P model.
     
  39. BellaofCats

    BellaofCats Guest

    I heard from a friend who heard from a friend that the Devs recently addressed the F2P topic. If this is true, would anyone have a link? I tried to google it, which is how I found this thread, but I couldn't find where any official word was said one way or the other.

    Safe travels,

    Bella
     
  40. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    If you have numbers on profits with DDO and LOTRO, please post them. They increased their revenue with them, but that does not necessarily translate into profits, and they are not out there bragging about hard numbers when it comes to profits.

    LOTRO is especially unique in that part of the reason that Warner Brothers bought Turbine is to unify the licensed LOTR games under one roof, and based on noise they've made, WB would most likely run LOTR at a loss while looking towards the next two Hobbit movies. The LOTR licensed games are their best bet at making money off of the Hobbit movies since they aren't directly involved in their production.

    LOTRO is a horrible example of F2P though - I've played it, and while there are things I've liked about it, there are also a lot of areas where players have been let down time and again. Housing stands out to me - I'd still probably be playing LOTRO occasionally but they keep jerking players around about housing. Every so often they make players think they are going to do something to make it relevant and useful, and people start talking about F2P must be paying off if housing is being looked at it, and then they stop talking about housing.

    Housing could be a massive money maker in LOTRO if they made it relevant, but they ignore it, which makes me think that LOTRO is running with a smaller staff than people think, and that they aren't too concerned with profitability. Relevant/upgraded housing is such an obvious money maker and players have been clamoring for them to do something with housing for years, but they ignore it.
    This is why I don't think UO is too hurting for revenue - I think EA would get off their butts and bring UO into the mainstream EA DLC/gamecards store if they decided they needed to make more money from micro-transactions.

    The Britannian ship might be a sign of that, but I think it's really just a chance for them to sell more High Seas packs.
     
  41. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    The enhanced client is based on the Gamebryo engine which powers games like Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Rift. Yes, Rift.
    Right now they have subscriptions plus micro-transactions with UOGameCodes. If they want more money, they could simply boost the pixel crack on UOGameCodes. BioWare likes this kind of model - paying a subscription or paying for a game up front and then selling pixel crack. It works with Dragon Age and Mass Effect, and it's working with UO as-is without the need to hire additional developers to take it F2P.
    This is EA, they are not a charity.

    If UO dips below a certain point, they will simply end it. They've made plenty of money from it over the years and it's quite clear that EA has no sentimental attachments to anything related to Origin. They even let the Ultima name be dragged through the mud with that "Lord of Ultima" crap. EA has a history of killing games and franchises, both online and offline, that fail to generate the profits they want.

    UO loses staff members when other games lose money, even when UO is making money. EA does not care about UO as much as some think they do. Look at Warhammer - it sank like a rock, and EA gutted its staff, along with UO and Camelot even though those two are profitable. Warhammer sticks around simply because they invested so much into it that they are trying to recoup some of those costs. Not so with UO - it's made its money back time and again. Warhammer probably won't survive the launch of Star Wars.
     
  42. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    This. F2P would simply change how money is moved around, but it would not solve the problem of new players, and it does not address many of the reasons why people leave UO. UO has been around for 13 years - somebody who was 18 when it came out is now in their 30s and their life and priorities are much different and F2P has no impact on that. Plus UO benefited from being the only known kid on the block when it launched. F2P doesn't do much for vets because what vet in their right mind would come back to UO not wanting a house from the start, and it's not like a vet coming back to UO isn't going to wonder what it's like. Somebody who left post-AOS has already experienced the biggest changes that have been made to UO.

    UO has also continued to lose players to other MMOs ever since Asheron's Call and Everquest launched and F2P doesn't solve that. Blizzard goes through it with WoW as well - players leave everytime a new shiny game is launched. The difference is that many players come back to WoW. A big part of the reason they come back is that it's polished, familiar, and has a huge playerbase.

    Without new players, UO will die. EA will not run it at a loss out of some kind of sentimental attachment.
    Last section at the bottom: March 1, 2011 UO Video House of Commons Transcript Part 3 | UOJournal.com
    They were really gutted after Warhammer fell apart and Stygian Abyss launched. They have stated that they don't have enough staff to really do more than one thing at a time and we've seen it. They can't do things like address bugs and add content at the same time, they have to try to fit bug fixes into their schedule when they can. They seemed to be able to barely get High Seas launched.

    Adding in a F2P system and maintaining it would require a lot more developers, and EA is not hiring more developers for UO, not after they've laid off so many in recent years. Anybody who thinks EA would hire more developers for UO just to take it F2P is out of their minds. EA might hire more artists to generate more pixel crack on UOGameCodes, but they aren't hiring devs.

    Their best chance at doing a solid F2P system would have been if they kept everybody around from the Stygian Abyss crew. That obviously did not happen, so now we are faced with a dev team that can only fix bugs or add content or do in-game events, and not all three at the same time (or even two).

    An F2P system would quickly fail under the skeleton crew that we call a dev team. You need a more robust dev team that can do two things at once.

    JC The Builder had it right - UO desperately needs a team dedicated to the live game - fixing bugs, handling ongoing in-game events, etc., and then another team dedicated to expansion - new content, etc.
     
  43. GalenKnighthawke

    GalenKnighthawke Grand Poobah
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    In addition to what Woodsman has stated....I, personally, associate F2P with games that are newer, more intuitive, and easier to jump in on.

    I could be wrong I suppose.

    But if I'm right, UO may well be the most awful F2P game there is.

    I do have to disagree that we don't get any new players, though. We get some, just not in any appreciable numbers.

    I personally think that revising the new player experience is spot-on the right call. Even if we only get 2 or 3 new players a month, retaining them is important. And if they log in to find that the new player experience doesn't give them even half of what they need to know to play? Why shouldn't they quit early?

    I don't know that we need new players to stay afloat, though it would be nice to have them......And, surely, if we did have new players it would be good for the game in a business and cultural sense. I can't see even EA being crazy enough to somehow see a stead stream of new players being to UO's detriment.

    I think, though, that we need to face that the era of new players in appreciable numbers is over. The new new player experience is, to my mind, valuable mostly in retaining the few new players we do get.

    -Galen's player
     
  44. Karthogen

    Karthogen Guest

    The New Player Experience?

    Its been a long time since I have been a new player, but any time a new skill comes in I look back and ask why did I ever start this game.

    Training a skill up from 0 to 100(120) with repetitive, mondain, button smashing with no reward drives me crazy. I beleive they went down the right track with Fishing by actually making it a little bit more productive in filling the orders at different ports.

    But constantly filling rewards for nothing I going to use in hopes of getting that
    1- 1000000000000 order that will give me a 1 - 10 shot of getting something I may use is just rediculous.

    Give me gold, not crap. I don't need 14 Guides to fishing volume 4.
     
  45. Aran

    Aran INFRACTION INFRACTION INFRACTION!
    Stratics Veteran Stratics Legend -A-

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    mundane
     
  46. AtlanticVlad

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    Wow...

    This is what I would call an "Opinion" and personally I don't think there's any MMO that even remotely competes with UO show me one where I can drop stuff on the ground like UO and come back hours later and have it still be here and I "Might" consider changing my tune...

    GIVE ME SANDBOX OR GIVE ME DEATH!

    There is no other sandbox out there even remotely as sandboxey... That's why I'm here. UO also I can think of MANY MANY players who would certainly still play if they didn't have to pay for an account. I'd gladly put them up in my homes and we would have more players like we used to which would in turn attract more players...
     
  47. jaashua

    jaashua Guest

    There are WAY better ideas for making F2P viable that don't include depriving the free players.

    Also, UO isn't outdated. The graphics are outdated. That's a huge distinction.
     
  48. HD2300

    HD2300 Certifiable
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    The Free Trial is 15 days.

    If you make the Free Trial 99999999 days, it is effectively making UO Free to Play with many limitations such as no housing for those accounts.

    Now I ask, how hard is it to change 15 into 99999999 in code? It takes about 5 seconds, just like it would only take 10 seconds to use EDIT to change the two 15s into 99999999s in this post.
     
  49. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    I doubt too many people quit UO simply because $10 a month was too much.
    Going by that logic, UO should have kept growing post-AOS after it hit 250,000 subscriptions and who knows how many players. Instead it kept losing players every time a major new MMO came out, or it lost players due to things that F2P could never address, including things like this:
    This gets lost in the shuffle. People talk about restricted accounts and how micro-transactions could help UO. We have restricted accounts right now with the trial accounts as you point out, and with UOGameCodes.com, we have micro-transactions. Both of these things exist, and many of the restrictions people talk about placing on free accounts in a F2P system are already in place with the trial accounts and all that would be needed is to bump up the number of days for trial accounts.
     
  50. Aran

    Aran INFRACTION INFRACTION INFRACTION!
    Stratics Veteran Stratics Legend -A-

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    No they're not. But I'm not allowed to give an opinion past that.