I’ve just returned from a rather extensive first look at SOE’s sandbox MMO Everquest Next. As I rode up the elevator to my hotel room, I mulled over what I had seen and found it hard to narrow down exactly what wowed me the most.

With each passing minute during the presentation, SOE showed us feature after feature which completely blew away my expectations of what MMOs were capable of. As you can already tell by the title of this article, the first thing and indeed perhaps the most important feature, is the fact that EQ Next is entirely voxel based. Voxels may immediately remind players of Minecraft, but to be honest this goes way beyond the capabilities of Minecraft.

Everything in EQ Next is affected by the fact that the world is built with voxels, for the simple reason that everything in EQ Next is destructible. See that building? Smash a hole in it. See that bridge? Smash a hole in it. See that tree? Well you get the idea…

And it’s not just the fact that everything is destructible. We’ve seen destruction in other MMOs before, but in EQ Next destruction is completely free-form. The extent of the destruction is dependent on the angle of attack and the driving force behind it. Smashing a hammer into the ground may leave a small crater, but use an ability with a little more explosive force and you may find yourself (and your enemies) falling through a chasm into a whole new level. Which brings me to my next talking point. Tiers.

Everquest Next does not function on a singular plane. It is in fact a collection of planes stacked on top of each other which can change based on procedural generation and through player actions. Each of these planes offers new enemies to fight, resources to collect, and areas to explore. Underground areas are nothing new to MMOs, but the way we’ve explored them has always been the same. Zones typically have fixed entrances and exits, but by giving players the ability to make their own paths, zones no longer need any fixed entry points. Players can simply grab a shovel and start digging.

These tiered planes aren’t statically separate from one another either. By opening up a pathway to another plane, players may unintentionally awake ancient evils which can then emerge from the newly created pathways and cause havoc for those above.

For those of you worried the world will be left in ashes a few hours after launch, don’t be. While world destruction does allow for new gameplay interactions and experiences, the damage will heal over time. Buildings however, are a different story. SOE did make it clear some cities would be impervious to player attempts at griefing, but that may not always be the case. SOE says that while some areas are off limits to player destruction, dynamic world events can occur which will destroy some cities permanently.

But how does it play? After-all, what good is a destructible environment if the combat is lackluster? Thankfully, SOE appears to be at least somewhat on the right track. I say somewhat because there was no UI featured in the presentation, which means we only got to see how combat looked versus how it functioned mechanically. From the look of things, the combat appears to be action-based with some telegraphed attacks and an emphasis on player movement. Don’t expect to stand in one spot simply whacking away at the enemy.

Two of the 8 base classes were featured during the presentation, the mage and warrior. Both very traditional classes in their own right, each can choose to wield a handful of weapons which affect what abilities a player has access to. The weapons themselves can even be altered to change what they do. But these are just the base classes and as players explore they will encounter opportunities to gain new classes. Just how many? Try over 40.

Not only can players accrue new classes, but at any time a player can mix and match classes to create their own style of play. The more you find the more you can customize.

To give you an idea of what kind of abilities players can utilize, a mage for example can use her Vortex ability to suck all surrounding enemies into a tightly compacted ball while simultaneously teleporting her backwards and then exploding said ball of enemies. Warriors can whirlwind to send enemies flying while destroying bits of the environment around him as he spins.

All of the abilities shown had physics effects tied to them and nearly all of them had some sort of destructive element which damaged the environment.

A big complaint concerning most MMOs today is in regards to players having a permanent effect on the world. Kill a group of mobs and complete a public quest in any other MMO and a few minutes later the area is once more in peril. According to SOE this is not the case with EQ Next.

Unlike traditional MMOs where enemies spawn in fixed locations at certain times, EQ Next features “Emergent AI”. Instead of populating the world with respawning groups of enemies, SOE has given mobs the choice to move where they want to move. The way this works is through tags.

Everything in the world of Everquest Next is tagged. Mobs have particular sets of interests which cause them to seek out tagged areas which fit those interests. An Orc for example, doesn’t like to be around cities due to the patrolling guards, but they do like money. So a released group of Orcs may decide to settle down near a lonely stretch of road, away from the guards and in an area where they can easily gank players who may have purses of gold. Something the Orcs desire very much.

By alerting the city guards to patrol these paths or by simply choosing not to traverse them, Orcs will suddenly find the area unsuitable and will move to find a new home.

This reactive AI doesn’t just affect where players will fight enemies. It will also effect what they can do in the surrounding areas. While not exclusive, a good example of this can be seen in Everquest Next Rallying Call system which brings all the elements mentioned above together.

The Rallying Call represents a worldwide objective for players to complete. Think public quest but on crack. The Rallying Call is a random event which takes place somewhere in the game world and can take up to 2 or 3 months to complete in real time. While the Calls do have multiple stages, players won’t know which stage they are on or what will cause the next stage to begin.

SOE gave an example where players were called to build a city in a previously unoccupied area. The city starts out small with players building log walls for early defenses and roaming the nearby country to dispatch of any lingering enemies, in this case some goblins. However, the act of driving goblins from the surrounding area can piss off the local goblin king who may send his troops in to burn down the wooden buildings and fortifications. If players manage to drive back the invaders, the villagers will begin building stone walls which require them to dig down in order to collect more resources. Players can choose to help build the walls, mine the resources, or defend the miners against enemies which emerge from the quarry.

Eventually, the Goblin king may return with a siege army necessitating a huge number of players to defend the city. If players are succesful, a new Rallying Call will begin, somewhere else in the world or maybe even there. The city at this point becomes a permanent fixture, filled with NPCs that can open up new opportunities for players. However SOE mentioned that while the city is permanent, something like say, a dragon, may come along and burn it to the ground at a future date.

These Calls aren’t meant to be simple repeatable encounters, but world shaping events which have lasting effects and actually serve to further the history in-game.

The game is of course, still a long ways from release, which was apparent due to the large amounts of concept art and the small tech demo shown in the presentation. Still, Everquest Next shows SOE is serious about bringing something brand new to the table. We knew to expect something different out of Everquest Next. This was apparent after SOE decided to throw out two different iterations of the MMO. But I don’t think anyone could have expected such a fundamental shift in what is expected from a fantasy based MMO. Certainly not one based on an MMO built 14 years ago.

Expect more details to come over the next few days including class info, interviews and a breakdown of Everquest Next’s sister title, Everquest Next: Landmark.

By Michael Dunaway

59 Readers Commented

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  1. Garland on May 5, 2014

    You are so interesting! I don’t think I’ve read
    through a single thing like this before. So wonderful to discover someone with unique thoughts on this subject
    matter. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This
    web site is one thing that’s needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

  2. OneInAMillion on August 7, 2013

    Im on a “MMORPGCRISIS” i need something awesome to play, and this, this looks awesome, this will totally be popular as hell, looks awesome

  3. Razer on August 6, 2013

    I’m not normally into MMORPGs but anything that tries to break the mold in this stagnant, homogenized genre deserves a look.

  4. jellopy on August 5, 2013

    SERIOUSLY, don’t. There is no excuse for poor voice acting, look at falskaar for skyrim, all grade a voice actors and they didn’t make a penny for it. HIRE THEM.

  5. jellopy on August 5, 2013

    Of course even if the voice overs are a crime against humanity the game can still be decent, but please soe do not make this another Neverwinter in that respect. Hire people who don’t sound emotionless and bored when they start speaking, for the love of god.

  6. jellopy on August 5, 2013

    I’ve been looking forward to this for some time. I loved EQ back before I tried wow, eq2 was rather disappointing so I’m glad to see they are putting everything into EQ Next. It does look amazing so far and it looks to have a massive immersive environment following a similar structure to guild wars 2’s living world design. I really hope they don’t butcher it with shoddy story telling, lore and voice overs like they did with dragons prophet.

  7. Cryght on August 4, 2013

    I hope SOE doesnt turn this game into a heavy Cash shop dependent thing…. I hated Everquest 1 and 2 because of the “you need to subscrip” to be able to have access to all the game.

    • Bic Boi on August 4, 2013

      Uh..news flash broski? All games that were formerly Sub-only are like that. It’s free2play, not all4free mate.

  8. jonathon82 on August 4, 2013

    cut spunk some slack. He’s giving us free previews, free looks and free keys to a free site with no ads. I’m cool. Let him have his opinion. He’s excited. I’d be too if I got an upclose of this one

  9. Archinoz on August 4, 2013

    from what i read, i think the game world will start as a continent, events shape the continent until the devs decided to release a new continent thru calls, and the shaping will start all over. if it is like this then most likely the game will need to be patched heavily and regularly, expect a daily patch

  10. dirtyzerg on August 4, 2013

    Should prob clarify what I mean before someone QQ’s all over it..

    The game looks decent from whats been released..my type of action fighting style..

    However, the track record with SoE and F2P..or even B2P/P2Ps..is horrid.

    If its B2P: will be a lot of “unlockables” for money, giving clear advantages..
    If its F2P: Restrictions for everyone unless subber..even “Premium” accounts not worth playing..like DCUO
    If its P2P: A pop up like on EQ for PS2…”Oh look at this amazing item we gave you! Only 4.99$ to unlock and use it!”

    yeah..no thanks

  11. dirtyzerg on August 4, 2013

    I was interested until I realized it’s an SoE game

  12. ZaneLear on August 3, 2013

    I have never had the chance to play EQ when I was young, I remember the first time seeing it was on a TV show called Portal ages ago, I think on Tech TV or something like that, there use to be a “Wanderer” or some character they would have travel inbetween MMO’s.

    Tho at the time I never knew what an MMO was since I was young and had no computer or internet, even if so it was a monthly sub game, so yeah…

    I am sure it went F2P or something, I should look into it, tho hearing you can destroy buildings, the ground and etc to get to other places, I think this game if done right will take WoW, bend it over and well you know… chop it’s head right off executioner style, this might make things tough for ESO well maybe.

    • Bic Boi on August 3, 2013

      I doubt anything will threaten WoW because of a few reasons; chiefly, they’ve got marketing and word of mouth in spades. Secondly, it’s accessible and simplistic enough so that most anyone can get into it and pick up the basics very quickly.

      As for EQNext making things tough for ESO; ESO is making things tough for ESO. Most people are gonna go into it expecting Skyrim but with loads of people. These people are also going to be the first to rage and leave because ESO is shaping up to be more themepark than much else, at least according to the latest news and footage. Who can blame them? Zenimax would prefer to play it safe than risk something and fail.

      EQNext, based on the info released, I can see attracting an action-oriented gamer but fans of traditional mmorpg combat will be turned away. I personally know a good few people who simply do not have the patience nor the twitch reflexes to play games like Dragon’s Nest or Vindictus and from the sounds of it, EQNext is featuring a similar combat system with timed click attacks, skills and active evasion..or at least that’s my understanding of it. So in essence the action-oriented gamers will love it, while traditionalists from EQ/EQ2 will likely hate the action combat.

  13. mitchzje on August 3, 2013

    Looks intense lol

  14. Bic Boi on August 3, 2013

    I’d advise reserving judgement until you can get real solid hands-on time with it. High expectations are almost always left to falter just as hype is nearly always greater than the product’s worth.

  15. extasist on August 3, 2013

    i wonder how they will manage 1000 mages or more in one place destroying everything.

  16. IahEden on August 3, 2013

    Sounds like my dream MMO…But, I’ll probably have to save up some cash and upgrade my computer in order to play it. For some reason (*sigh*) I doubt this will run on my laptop. It’s been something I’ve been meaning to do for a while,now,though; my system specs lock my out of a lot of really good games. I can’t seriously play very much of anything on this computer without downgrading the graphics so much they make an otherwise pretty game look terrible.

    • Eviil on August 3, 2013

      think of second life and you’ll know why. Since there isn’t entry level zones everything is everywhere with nearly no loading time. textures had to be adjusted but im pretty sure they’re make it look better later.

  17. EmperorRpG on August 3, 2013

    does anyone know when we can expect an open beta?? this has been in development since 2009 so hoping its soon πŸ˜›

  18. Amicushia on August 3, 2013

    I love this, thanks for the article Spunkify πŸ™‚

  19. removalmitt on August 3, 2013

    You used the example ‘mage can use HER’ – wouldn’t have thought there would be gender class locks going forward but checking as I find this really annoying.

    Sounds really promising, hope they can deliver what they propose. Like the idea of the mob AI ‘tags’, also the real environment destruction (which stays for a bit) – games in the past have talked the talk like this but when the game came out it was just pretend hype.

    If they can push hard to rival ESO release I may not bother even trying that (unless ftp).

    Just add in some large server vs server arena / map and I’ll be happy — I mean some big numbers, more than 100 vs 100 should do it — Spunkify mentioned Eve Online 4k lag battle then turned it on it’s head with 2.2k no lag — envy, I wish I could be part of something so epic (will only go to btp at most) — sad as it is the most epic battles I’ve done were in RF online on a private server approx 1.5k CW – that was laggy

  20. Castrial on August 3, 2013

    Looks like there’s gonna be a competition with this and wildstar.

  21. Okofire on August 3, 2013

    Lets hope there will not be so many same monsters like in TERA.

  22. chefmadness on August 3, 2013

    Multiclassing I’m there! So tired of the damn cookie cutter classes. Hope the multiclassing is better than DDO & as far as i am concerned DDO has the best multiclassing system out there! & the rest is just icing on the cake.

  23. Buzzcut on August 3, 2013

    Sounds cool. I wonder if my laptop can run it. Also, it would be cool if it wasn’t level based. I like the idea of mmorpgs, but I don’t have time to max a character.

    • Mr.Heartless on August 3, 2013

      RPGs…they almost always have a leveling system. My advice, don’t worry about reaching max level, play the game if you enjoy it, when you have the spare time to do so. That way, it will fulfill its role as entertainment while still being able to be enjoyed by even the casuals.

  24. wow on August 3, 2013

    Lol more running to town from a giant mob on the road nearby, players would get angry.
    Mob blows up smithy*
    Grefox29:Dude wtf! Who THE HELL BROUGHT THT HUGE THING HERE!!??

  25. ZombieMarkTwain on August 2, 2013

    I’ll admit this is awesome….but there is a bit catch. If they do a release like Aion with a Truly ftp model it will be epic. If they want to nickel and dime me to death for classes and races….well they can keep the game. I enjoy the idea of being able to pay when I want to. Not having to pay for content like quests and world areas. Still looks nice and I’m excited for more news! ^_^

    • Anubbyss on August 3, 2013

      totally agree with you there. Everything I’ve seen so far looks potentially amazing and finally bringing something new to the mmorpg genre altogether however the F2P model they decide to use will be the big deal breaker for me. If its anything like EQ1 where you have to buy classes, races, and content then I’m out no matter how good the game ends up being. If however it’s a much better model like the one they use in Vanguard then it could easily outdo every other game out there.

  26. Jowns on August 2, 2013

    I’ll believe it when I see it

    • Jowns on August 2, 2013

      That came out wrong, I’ll believe it when I play it.

  27. Kirito0524 on August 2, 2013

    Is this going to be multiplayer?

  28. zariarn on August 2, 2013

    Not going to lie….It seems awfully toony. I was expecting something with a little more realism, especially in the character models. The shiny combat system looks like something from perfect world or TERA.

    I’m not blown away by any means. We’ll see how it pans out as the development continues.

    just my two cents

    • yeah on August 2, 2013

      They changed the look because of how popular WoW is.

      Most people want Cartoony graphics. When making a game you want to make sure you sell the game to the largest audience.

      Cartoony Graphics wins.

  29. Truth on August 2, 2013

    This is so amazing. I’ll play this for sure!

  30. DinoLove on August 2, 2013

    Yea, Buying a new computer soloy for this…. This is my dream MMO.

  31. extasist on August 2, 2013

    most of the things will be distractible and whats the side effect of that? because i read that this game is build on nvidia physx i have nothing against nvidia, but now im using AMD tried hawken with physx stuff on, game is unplayable, im interested how they will balance this between the gaming cards amd and nvidia, or amd users will be left out.

  32. I'llReadItElsewhere on August 2, 2013

    Wow…get somebody to proof your work first man. This was tough to read in places and there are things wrong in the headline and first sentence even. Appreciate the attempt but maybe you should leave the real writing to Jason Winter.

    • spunkify Author on August 2, 2013

      In the rush to get the article out, I did miss some things yes. I believe I have corrected the glaring ones. Hopefully you can understand πŸ™‚

      • StillReadingElsewhere on August 3, 2013

        I came back since you were nice enough to reply and tried again. This piece is still a mess and your new “mechanic” piece is REALLY bad too. There’s a difference between “your” and “you’re” and someone who writes news should know that difference. If you insist on writing at least have Jason or someone proof it for you man, even your short news pieces usually have errors too. I’ll be going elsewhere for EQN news since it’s usually there faster and in a more professional fashion anyway. Sorry man.

        • Von on August 8, 2013

          No one really gives a crap. I am so sorry not everyone has a perfect mastery of the complex English language.
          Please leave and take your dick attitude with you.

  33. Mr.Heartless on August 2, 2013

    This….sounds…absolutely amazing! If they manage to pull off these concepts and annex it to a fully functional combat system, I’d be already sold.

  34. hopeful on August 2, 2013

    Very hopeful

  35. asdfaSD on August 2, 2013

    cant try it, would rather leave blown out of proportion reviews out

    • spunkify Author on August 2, 2013

      This isn’t a review. It is a retelling of what I saw with my own eyes at the event.

      • asura tech genius on August 3, 2013

        so term like awesome is final and justified? voxel is everywhere, or only in predefined by design places? cartoonish disney feel like works well with “epic” stuff? πŸ™‚

        now don’t get me wrong, i’m ok with some hype, but shouldn’t journalists be more precise? like all other systems, like social aspect, like . while i can understand hype coming from players, i don’t see a reason for journalists to go like that. yep, the game is promising, but is it awesome already? cmon.

        • crazyjake56 on August 3, 2013

          /watch?v=p2j8YaxJW8g

          They say players can’t destroy everything but monsters on the otherhand… well you can watch that youtube video.

          • Tio_Z on August 6, 2013

            Sorry but…how you get excited with that? There is nothing there showing how stuff breaks. Golem swings arm, smoke covers it all, little “blast” flashs and smokes comes out with broken thing.

            No debris, no showing of actual destruction, just a screen transition of one object and another replaced it.

            SOE has to show more before I can find any hype in there.

      • asura tech genius on August 3, 2013

        And in addition I will put an a bomb here, for gaming journalism overall.

        There is a lot of stuff bad about it, praising reviews are one of them. Not even reviews, but previews, I got burned with new simcity thanks to “game journalism”.

        Now spunkify, it’s quite well known how you left that other site (and when I red your post I instantly deleted that one from my favorite list) and now you doing somekind of “wide” opinion on game announcement πŸ™‚ no hard feelings, but theese days you can’t trust, even gaming journalism πŸ™‚

        question for Mr.. Whinters(I hope I spelled it right) – do website visits actually show reality of product usage? Can u say that not so often used Microsoft website means end of windows era? Can mmobomb go to utube and promote a poll where mmo players would show how much website visiting reflects playerbase?
        no hard feelings mister oldman, after old crew left, you are my favorite character now πŸ™‚ thumbs up to you, but still I want to understand logic behind your “scientific” approach.

        And mister Kevin, sadly you are simple, good, logical person πŸ™‚ no questions for you.. Although, how can you leeve such expensive glasses alone? You there have no sense of security? πŸ™‚

        hope it wasn’t too harsh and you managed to get through my awful English :), but hey, you asked for responses from website viewers.

        • Spunkify on August 3, 2013

          I should clarify a few things. There are certainly some “awesome” systems in place for EQ Next. Even if you just laid out the facts in a very neutral way it is hard to deny SOE isn’t trying to do something very new and different in a genre that has largely been the same for many years with a few exceptions.

          I am excited about EQ Next not because of what it is at the current time, but because what it has the possibility of being. Obviously it could turn out horrible, but if you were to tell me there would be an MMORPG with destructible environments (on multiple planes mind you) in an open world sandbox area with adaptive AI a few years ago, I would have told you to keep dreaming.

          There is good reason to be excited about this game, but the article itself does not say this game will be the new pinnacle of MMOs or redefine gaming. I laid out the facts as they were given to me and gave you my take on what I have seen thus far.

          • HellcatM on August 4, 2013

            I do think asura tech genius was a little harsh. It does look interesting and if it were Blizzrd or some loved company coming out with it he would have probably wouldn’t have been so harsh. This is SOE though, they’ve screwed up more games than they’ve made good ones. But who knows, maybe they might get this one right?

          • BullsI on August 5, 2013

            You might want to clarify which parts of this are for EverQuest Next and which parts are for EverQuest Next Landmark.

          • Tio_Z on August 5, 2013

            Maybe it was his way of wording it, but your response kind of reinforced precisely his complaint. He was angry at how gaming “journalism” is turning more and more into a hype-fest instead of trying to analyze the information the companies share and taking out what is plausible, feasible and/or likely to ever come to light (because we KNOW they are trying to sell a product, so they will embellish it as much as they can).

            And you just confirmed it point blank: “I am excited about EQ Next not because of what it is at the current time, but because what it has the possibility of being”.

            Think what he expected to read was a post about what SOE presented, what technology we have available, if what they’ve shown and said could actually happen or if it would turn to be just another company boasting about breaking things (it’s not an MMO, but try watching the devs of “Force Unleashed” talking about the game and showcasing it’s “features” and then play the game. I want the one they talked about, not what was released…) and grandure while dishing out the same old with a “new” look.

          • asura tech genius on August 8, 2013

            Well, again, I was talking more about “tone” of entry, than about it’s contents. You know how awesome guild wars 2 was in articles like this one? And it is, for me at least, but I can see why people are saying that it’s kinda the same thing but slightly different.

            No harsh feelings, I don’t want to argue or something, it’s just my opinion on this kind of announcement. And hey, there’s language barrier here. In the end you can’t go agro on hello kitty players πŸ˜‰

        • Jason Winter on August 5, 2013

          “question for Mr.. Whinters(I hope I spelled it right)”

          Not even close, but I won’t hold it against you πŸ™‚

          “do website visits actually show reality of product usage? Can u say that not so often used Microsoft website means end of windows era? Can mmobomb go to utube and promote a poll where mmo players would show how much website visiting reflects playerbase?”

          My thinking is that similar products with similar marketing efforts and that do similar things to draw people to their websites — in the case of MMOs: forums, news, dev blogs, etc. — can be directly compared to provide a reasonable estimate of how popular the products are.

          For example, Alexa says coca-cola.com’s three-month reach is 0.00705%, while pepsi.com’s is 0.00739%. Being similar products with (I’d guess, I don’t really look at their sites) similar marketing to draw similar people to their sites, I’d say that it’s reasonable to assume they have about the same number of people using their products.

          The reach for swtor.com is 0.0358%. That’s about five times larger than the Coke and Pepsi sites. Does that mean five times as many people play SWTOR than who drink Coke or Pepsi? Of course not. But a higher percentage of SWTOR fans are tech-savvy, swtor.com is a social hub for many players, BioWare does more to draw people to their site, etc. So they get more hits than a more popular product does.

          For the most part, I think all MMOs do pretty much the same thing to draw people to their sites, and they have a similar enough audience — typically young-ish folks who use the Internet a lot — and so can be directly compared to each other based on their website usage. There’s some variance, sure, and if one site appears to have 1.5 times the traffic as another, I wouldn’t automatically say that one has 1.5 as many players, or even more in general. But if the difference is 4x or 5x, then I feel pretty safe in at least saying that one is significantly greater than the other, unless the site with the higher numbers does something very unusual to pull loads of people in.

          • asura tech genius on August 8, 2013

            I hope you didn’t got me wrong – I’m not against, I just was curious on how you are justifying this kind of approach.

            While I can’t adapt myself for that kind of mindset (I’m all for precise data for anykind of conclusion) but that method can show ongoing things quite good, especially if you are comparing simple data and data on events/updates etc. But not overall, sorry, can’t accept that. Just IMO, but there’s a lot of factors – browser addons, launchers, emails and stuff, that doesn’t allow to work with that kind of data precisely.

            In the end there’s hirez that decided to shut down their own resources, so… Well in the end it’s just discussion you are asking for in your shows and articles, I’m in no way, trying to troll or go negative. Just IMO.

            Oh and btw, there’s huge difference between cola and mmogame. One is product, other – service. You can’t judge them on same terms. I prefer Pepsi over coke, but I never opened their website. Because IM happy about it and I have no reason to go somewhere and dunno complain or participate in promotion or something. But in services there’s always somekind of updates, ongoing topics and stuff. It’s just incorrect. And as I see it – the less people are visiting website of a drink, the more happy they are about it.

            ps. sry for my english

      • HellcatM on August 4, 2013

        Yeah plus this is SOE we’re talking about. This does look amazing but that doesn’t mean they won’t screw it up some how. But its a good start.

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