A bleak future of unreal raiding

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This is a rant.

You have been warned.

It’s with slight dread I see what’s on the horison. LFR – chaotic as it may be at times – suited me fine. I have no interest in “real rading”. Reasons are many, among others an almost chronic stress level, occasional panic attacks, slow reactions and a self confidence wich at times reach rock bottom. I am not a raider, I don’t want to be a raider. You certainly don’t want someone like me dragging down your progression.

Ah, yes. Unreal raiding – because as you all know, LFR isn’t “real raiding”. I’m a terrible cynic, of course.

Horridon

The player I am
Once I hit a gear level I’m comfortable with I’m fine. Done. Right now I’m comfortable with mu iLvl 542 on Vassannah and 540 on Shuanna. It is enough for the content I usually do. I walk the lonely road of soloing stuff instead of having to endure “team play”.

I don’t care about reaching the next hamster wheel of gear because I do not care about progression. That doesn’t mean I’m not taking care of what I do. I’m not lazy, I want to improve – but I do it on my own terms, in my own way. I don’t rely on other people and I certainly don’t expect welfare epics.

I consider myself skilled enough to play my main classes. I might not be the most optimal player, but I make do. I’m good enough for flex (should I ever want to go there). I will be good enough for the Warlords of Draenor “normal” (wich, as far as I understand, is the current flex).

I ran my LFRs for a reason (outside the legendary cloak gotta catch ’em all sigil hunting). LFR is a tool wich gives me the ability to aquire “raid equivalent” gear. This, so I can seek out the challenges I enjoy on my own terms (or in company with a select group of people who know and understand why I sometimes become the despondent defaitist without yelling “noob!” … unless they mean it in an endearing way). I more or less stopped running LFR right after the boost to 90-disaster. The stress was too taxing.

Timeless Isle fixed the lack of “gear progression”. On Timeless Isle, even if it is a grindy business, I play on my own terms. I’ve grinded out the Shao Hao-rep on both my paladin, Shuanna, and my warlock, Sharenne. I have the mount. I also found a metric ton of Burdens of Eternity along the way. With valor points upgrades I thus reached an iLvl I hardly didn’t even dream of. Heck, I’ve even killed Ordos (something I never thought I would do)!

The iLvl, especially with the legendary cloak, is more than enough for most advertised flex raids. I don’t intend on signing up for any. I don’t “need” better gear. I’m confident and comfortable with what I have. I don’t need the stress of trying to function in an environment that is more challenging than LFR with a bunch of strangers. Even if they are more skilled.

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Second rate players
I don’t care what other people say. Heroic raiders with their epeen showing or wannabee hardcore raiders with delusions of Method grandeur – their words and slurs don’t affect me. Neither does the sometimes terrible atmosphere of LFR.

What I do mind is getting branded as a second rate player by none other than Blizzard. I’m sure it’s not their intention but their actions so far has devalued the kind of player that I am. End game doesn’t have to be cutting edge to be challenging. Forcing people, such as me, into content that will likely be too challenging for me to complete will devalue the game itself. I don’t want to run Warlords of Draenor normal raids (current flex difficulty). I don’t want to be punished either. If I choose to stick with LFR I will be punished. The increased drop rate of gear doesn’t make up for it. The gear will still be sub-par – and more importantly: It WILL stigmatise players such as me.

You know it will happen. A wek into Warlords of Draenor and Anyone who use LFR will be berated, bullied and told to jump of a cliff. I trust Blizzards decisions around game development and design. I do not trust the community, not for a second. The tradition of bullying is too ingrained in the very fabric of the community for it to not affect the LFR decision. Even now people jump on “weakness” like they were competing for a “fascist of the month”-award – and not just in LFR). Dungeons, battlegrounds, world bosses. You know the shit’s going to start flying after the first “seriously?”. Tone of voice is rarely conveyed through text, of course, but there’s a certain tone to it nevertheless.

It’s started allready, by the way. Just take a look at MMO Champions comments.

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Upstairs and Downstairs
I fear this is exactly what will happen: There will be an even clearer distinction between “upper class” and “lower class”. The decision regarding LFR – especially on the subjective matter of art assets – is putting down the groundwork for an in-game class war. Normal raiders will berate LFR raiders. Heroic raiders will berate normal raiders (“normal” raiding will probably be called “dumbed down” or “welfare running”; it certainly won’t be “real” raiding). Mythics, well … to be honest I believe the minority of raid ready and raid skilled mythics will do what they do now: Stick to their own game.

As usual, it’s the tail of pretenders that will form the stormtrooper squads of virtual self-proclaimed dickwads. The changes to the raid structure, LFR in particular, will cater to the crowd who feed off entitlement and disrespect – the bullies, to put it bluntly. The system will cater to the crowd who regard empathy as a weakness. The kind of player who deem himself (or herself) “too good” for the rest of the crowd. Those who think themselves to be “hardcore”, the Call of Duty-crowd. Those who spend most of their time dead or AFK spewing insults into chat. Don’t think for a second “normal” raiding will be a good ol’ raidteam boy scout outing where we “make new friends” (the “make friends”-mantra is well worn out by now).

It will be savage.

The Mindslave

“It was simple once I broke her spirit.”

— Gerard

I’m sorry, Horde.

No matter how much you try, no matter how hard you work on your image as underdogs or lone wolves or rebels without a cause. no matter how cute your orc will look come updated models. You have a problem that’s bigger than the surface image.

The mindslave.

Maybe I’m a bit sensitive. Maybe I’m too “politically correct”. Maye I’m a bleeding left-wing liberal fucking feminazi who wants to destroy civilisation as we know it (sometimes I actually do want that, but that’s another topic). I just can’t do it.

You are evil. Your patriarchal warrior code. You “honor” (you don’t know what the word means). Your bloodlust, cruelty, indecency. You atrocity, your never ending constant crimes. Try dress it up in whatever explanations or fancy clothes you like – you are evil. I know, it’s a tough deal hearing this – but you are, more or less, monsters. Raid trash. Things to kill for experience points. You’re no better than the Twilights Hammer. You’re no better than the fascist mogu.

You. Are. EVIL.

There are members of the Horde that stands out. General Nazgrim, or instance. An honorable orc, keeping true to the pathos of what the Horde once was no matter where it leads him. Jadrag the Slicer, The “birdman”, as I like to call him, the eloquent orc who we find beaten and bruised at the hands of owlkin in Winterspring – I like him. I truly do. I also like pa Saurfang, and his son. I like Thrall as well, despite his messiah complex. There’s even a few redeeming features in Garrosh, allthough he went total bully out of his own accord. Maybe it’s the revenge of the Garadar nerd.

I’m sorry, Horde. I won’t be a part of you – deserter or not. I won’t stand by in idle silence as emancipated scourge lay plans to destroy all life. to harvest life. To torture life. Every single fiber of my body rejects the atrocities I’ve seen in Undercity and elsewhere. A faction that willingly concedes to the horrors of the Forsaken and their “experiments” are, to put it bluntly, Evil.

There is no redemption for any of you as long as you consort with the undead. There can be no redemption as long as you foster an atmospehere of death to those who oppose you. You are monochrome, stupid. Vol’Jins rebels don’t rebel against the Horde – they rebel because the rest of the world finally saw what you are:

EVIL.

You stand for something that is indecent, inhuman, intolerable. You cherish cruelty as an honroable act. You condone any cruelty to further your own goals. Yo would happily turn the world into a wasteland as long as you had your precious “resources”. Your ideals are, to be frank, disgusting.

you’re evil.

I won’t have any part of it.

Marikka is “opening an inn” – and the eleventh slot will be occupied, in time, with another draenei.

They don’t keep mindslaves, as you do. They don’t harvest humans as they were turnips, as you do. They don’t torture their way to power, as you do. They don’t lay waste to worlds, as you do. The do not, ever, drink the blood of a pit lord. As you do.

You. Are. Evil.

FOR THE ALLIANCE!
FOR THE EXODAR!
FOR THE LIGHT!

The burdens of command

Having endured the occasional pain that Looking For Raid, or LFR, can be when stuck with a group without order or knowledge of tactics I had to go for a walk. It appears my poor old Shuanna will never taste the sweetness of victory in bringing down Garrosh Hellscream. Two weeks in a row now groups has disbanded either on Siegecrafter Blackfuse or, wich has been more the case, on the trash after Paragons of the Klaxxi.

So my mind wandered a bit. I wonder what the debriefings sound like? You know, the report whoever was in charge has to make to king Varian Wrynn …

“Come in, marshal. I hope you bring some good news. Light knows we could use some.” Varian sat down, an expectant look on his face. “Well?”
“Ah, my liege,” the grand marshal, a veteran from both Icecrown and Alterac, cleared his throat. He had a nervous tick to his right eye. His left chin also twitched. All in all it made him look quite mad. His nervous laugh didn’t help as he started: “Sir, ah yes … Uhm … ”
“Yes?”
“The twentyfive brave heroes that stormed the gates of Ogrimmar. Ahem.”
“Yes?”
“Well, sir … Our scouts report bit of a … confusion.”
“Confusion? Speak up man!”
“They ran into some trouble, my king.”
Trouble?”
“Yes sir.”
“Explain!”
“Yes sir. Well, as you may well know, our initial contact with the enemy at the port and later at the gates came off rather well, if you allow me to say so, sir. No casualties to speak of.”
“Except lady Jaina Proudmoore, who suffered some terrible fractures when that storming orc wasn’t caught and put down in time!”
“Most unfortunate, sir. I gather she’ll be up and about soon?”
“And lady Windrunner ended up with two broken arms and a shattered pelvis!”
“Yes sir, quite. Allthough our healers did a terrific job, if I may say so.”
“And the broke my nose!”
“It’s mending qquite nice sir.”
“Never mind! What about the assault on those, what was it, Dark Shaman!?”
“Ah, yes sir. Well, sir … Uhm … A few of the troops obeyed the order to sneak past the blind blademasters, sir.”
“And!?”
“Others did not, sir.” The marshal cleared his throat. “It appears all but one managed to sneak past the blademasters, sir. Then an unfortunate incident occured.”
“Go on … ”
“It appears a mage accidentally ‘targeted’ the blademaster. As fierce fighting broke out with a few platoons of orcs in the center of the valley, the blademaster followed the sound. He wreaked quite the havoc, sir. Before being put down by a warlock.”
“A warlock? We employ demonsuckers in our army now, do we!?”
“Yes sir, the destruction warlocks, ad they like to call themselves, appear to be quite good … ‘turrets’. Sir.”
“Turrets?”
“Soldiers slang for standing still and pounding away heavy projectiles of magic, sir.”
“I knew that, marshal! go on!”
“Well, once the ‘trash’ were taken care of – with no significant losses I might add – things went according to operational plans. The strike team made ready. Then, as instructed, they sent a stealthed unit inside the warchiefs palace to make contact with an ally of Vol’Jins rebels.”
“Good! Go on!”
“The strike team lacked rogues, sir. The rogues having been carted off to the healers following the unfortunate assault on the Iron Juggernaut, sir.”
“Oh Light!”
“Yes sir, quite.”
“don’t tell me they used a … ”
“The used a hunter instead, sir.”
“Oh dear mercy, no!”
“The hunter in question did a magnificent job, sir. Just one small, very minor, detail.”
“Yes..?”
“It appears the hunter hadn’t trained her pet in the appropriate ways of handling such a situation, sir. It … growled.”
“It growled?”
“Yes sir. From what I gather the four hunters in the group had been informed in the strictest way possible to keep their pets from growling. I believe the sergeants exact words were ‘Turn your fucking growl off, huntards! And change apsects too!’.”
“Segeants do have a … way with words.” Varian sighed. “Go on, if you please.”
“The growlin pet must have attracted the attention of the three Dark Shamans, hiding in the shadows, sir. They … came upon the strike team with a vengeance.”
“Casulaties?”
“Severe, sir. Close to hundred percent.” The marshal swallowed, hard. “We had battle healers standing by. All in all the strike team came back in more or less good order. The operation as such was not delayed more than, most, an hour. Then … ”
“I dread this, marshal. I truly do!”
“One of the point-men, the ‘tank’ as they call them, had suffered serious injuries. She was taken out of service and replaced with a paladin, sir.”
“Who?”
“the one among the troops known as ‘Scrub’, sir.”
“Oh no … Tell me, please, that’s not his nickname!”
“Yes sir.” The grand marshal twitched. “You inspected his armor yourself, sir.”
“Mighty fine one too! better than the one I’m wearing!” Varian nodded. “He seemed confident and proffesional, you know.”
“Yes sir. Allthough … well. It appears he bought the title, sir.”
“Bought it?”
“Yes sir, as his armor. My forward automated scouts report –”
“That’s those mechanical cats, right?”
“Yes sir. Ingenious, if I may say so, sir. Anyway – they report he was given advice by a shadowy priest in how to wield his sword. Sir. He appears to have held it by the wrong end at first.”
“Are you trying to make me mad, marshal!?”
“No sir, far from it. I’m happy to say the team of death knights behaved like proffessionals, sir.”
“Well jolly good then, eh?”
“Yes sir. More or less.”
“Go on …”
“Some of them appeared to have had some trouble with their blood pressure. Presence, sorry. they became quite threatening. The enemy didn’t care much about hitting the tanks and went hunting for the other threat instead. Heavy losses were incurred, sir.”
“Is it over?”
“Not quite, sir.”
“Sweet Light … Enough!”
“Yes sir.”
“How is it possible that the Alliance’s finest … never mind. I’veh ad reports that an poorly geared strike team of horde rebels managed just fine, marshal. They cut through every single line of defense and are now laying siege to Garrosh final holdout. Tell me, marshal … How is that possible?”
“That’s easy, sir.”
“How? Tell me, please … ”
“Vol’Jin will cut off their heads if they fail, sir.”
“You think it’s possible I could do that to our troops?”
“No sir. You’re a, as teh grunts put it, a ‘good guy’. Sir.”
“I had a brilliant career as a gladiator once …”
“Yes sir. Shall I order a new attack sir? We still have twentyfive heroes in queue.”
“Send the word, marshal.”
“Yes sir.”
“Oh, and marshal?”

“Yes sir?”
“This time you take point … “

Seeing the elephant in cobalt hell

After a turbo-blasted trip through the shattered remnants of Draenor Zavessa the Priest, now nicknamed Zed by a funny tank in Mana Tombs, eventually made it further north. “Zed” managed to stay alive all through Outland. So far she’s managed to stay alive even in Northrend. The worst part isn’t the level of the monsters.

She’s in cobalt hell.

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The great wall of Northrend is starting to show itself. I believe the expresion “seeing the elephant” would be approriate. But you know – why don’t we let “Zed” tell it, herself. She might even show some vacation photos … oh dear.

– – – – –

Right then, uhm … *giggles* Less see … Uh, right. Ahm …. Well … Uh … *giggles*

– – – – –

Ok, maybe not.

Zavessa is in fact quite shy. She’s done her duty as a mercenary, yes, but most of the “missions” has been quiet, silent affairs. It’s amazing how the silence can be so thunderous in a PuG when she mumbles a “hi”.

Outland was in fact fairly boring. The funniest thing that happened was the tank who named her Zed. There was a night elf druid in Shattrath who /lay in front of her demanding a belly-scraatch (druids in catform are a peculiar species). Other than that it was routine: Mining, scorunching up enough fel iron an adamantite to level engineering to a sufficient level.

Off to Northrend at level 68 …

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Remember Nagrand … don’t think about cobalt … remember Nagrand …

cobalt hell.

The grand expextations of a fast romp through the frozen wastes is allready starting to turn sour. Apart from almost freezing to death the proffession leveling has hit the well known snag of cobalt. Or rather – the lack of cobalt. Had it not been for the repeat runs through Utgarde Keep it’s unlikely she would even have gathered a handful of the precious blue. Luckily Savenna the Shaman had bits and pieces left from her own adventures in Northrend engineering.

Zed is seeing the elephant allright. While the experience points keep ticking away, the great wall of Northrend looms above her. The lack of cobalt is excrutiating. Level 90’s out mining don’t help. there’s 8-14 nodes in teh entire Borean Tundra, most of them allready looted …

No wonder she’s seeing the elephant.

It’s with a certain dread I see Warlords of Draenor far way, slowly getting closer. Unless the free 90’s also get to bypass proffession leveling, I see a lot on unemployed 91’s in the future. Engineeering, blacksmithing and jewelcrating is likely the worst proffessions to level through Northrend. The dread place of undeath and cold …

Cobalt hell.

If there were at least some nice transmogs to look forward to. But Northrend is the North Korea of warcraft fashion: Brown, black and … brown. With a few tiny specks of blue. Or black. Or brown. Blurgh.

But you know, if she’s come this far there’s no reason to stop. She’s just got to grit her teeth to stop them form chattering in teh sub-zero cold, hunt down the blue nodes, keep an eye on the auction house … and wait until the blood of Old Gods starts popping up. Northrend might be cobalt hell.

It sure is saronite paradise.

Virmen in the machine

Or:

My brain is not a disc priest

613px-VermingThe Thunder King is coming to Sweden. At least he seems to have extended his terrible ozone smell to parts of the nation. To be specific – about right over my head. The air is stale, there’s a sort of yellow tinge to the light if you look at it from the corner of your eye. The air is heavy – and my head throbs like the Masters never ending drums – Bam bam bam Bam!

In other words, I can’t stomach doing what I’m supposed to do (this week I’m writing about brothels – but not here, mind you!). Aspirin (sort of) keeps the thunder king at bay, at least inside my skull. So have some faith in this winding sort of bloggery now … I’m not sane.

I better keep on topic. My brain is not a disc priest. My brain is almost as unruly as a pack of virmen (that’s an natural state; editing something sometimes takes longer than writing it!). This becomes more apparent the longer a text becomes. Case in point – The Story.

I’m about to embark on Part 9 of The Story. What I perceived as a leisure time short story “project” has grown into something … I’m not sure yet. It’s almost as if there is a Sha of Preposterousness (I know there’s a Sha of Happiness, so why not a Sha of Preposterousness?) I think I’m one of the first recorded victims of the Dread Powers of the Shas. Just what is the word for plural Sha anyway? One Sha, two Shites?

See! There it is! the virmen pack! Crazy ideas surging forward across the lush fields of creativity like a zerg attack. Biting the ankles of poor hapless writer victims. “We’re Rowdy!” the ideas scream. but you know what?kobold

I would rather be chased and harassed by a pack of virmen ideas than an over-protective kobold keeping the Light of Ideas close to its forehead (mounted on top of a leather helmet). “You no take candle!” doesn’t ring as true and good as “We’re rowdy!”.

Anyway!

The short story got away from me. the story became … reanimated. This usually happens when I don’t have a set deadline for a project. Or when I don’t need the Writers Discipline. the Story (working title “I want to be alone”) is more of an experiment. Stream of Conciousness. At least it used to be …

38 pages later (that A4 pages mind you, not Legal) I’m nowhere near an epic conclusion. that’s 18.000 words, close to 100 000 characters. Here’s the scary part:

I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE ALL THOSE WORDS CAME FROM!

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(An unrelated scary (?) image of a flying mage in “underwear”)

The Story is quickly growing to the size of a raid boss. to make matters worse – it’s a raid boss with quirky mechanics. Massive AoE insanity and obliterating melee one-shots … ok, not really. The thing is, I have no idea where “my brain” wants to go. Maybe I should start thinking about it, but … just where do we go from here?

I’m trying to sort out the dramatic need and all the other little things. The process of writing is almost organic in its nature, wich is why my brain really should be disciplined. On the other hand – trying to reign in this wild stallion of a stream of consciousness-story … can it be done? Should I do it? Will it bow down in front of me? Or kick my head in? To quote one of the characters from Oliver Stones JFK“It’s a riddle hidden inside a conondrum.”

I’m going to leave The Story alone. See where it leads me. Instead I’m trying to sort out just how to present it. The Drop Down-menu is getting longer. More virmen-like. As if the code behind it all jumps around yelling “We’re rowdy!”. As if there’s  virmen in the machine.

Pet peeve no. 1

/Start Rant

Any human being (or draenei) tend to have them. The small problems that’s not quite as important as to go amok but slowly grinds you down. You know, like the drop of water on a stone. Eventually even the Holy Priest class change to an orc Warlock just to go “Raaawwwrrrr!”. Then giggle, maniacally.

I’m not immune to the pet peeves. They’re abundant in WoW – and elsewhere. In fact, one of my major pet peeves with the whole “epic fantasy warfare” genre is strategy and tactics. I’d like to kick off with something not WoW, if I may. I’d like to start with Dragon Age; ORigins, an excellent game and all. But …

Really?

The epic first battle between Ferelden and forces of the Blight at Ostagar is impressive, gigantic, epic. It sets the scene for the almost invincible enemy our Hero eventually has to fight. It’s a pivotal battle for Fereldens humans and in the long run for every living thing not yet a genlock. The stage is set in a typical manner: A Mighty Fortress, a Boy King, an Unstoppable Enemy – and Fereldens version of the Argent Crusade, the Grey Wardens. Two massive armies facing off against each other. Hell yeah!

What do you do with a massive army and a massive fortress? I doubt anyone in a sane place would say “place the army outside the fortress, for glory!”. I doubt they’ll say “keep your heavy artillery on the third floor in a tower built over tunnels we haven’t explored completely”. I doubt he’ll say “That’s just rabble, sure they got ogres, but we’re the good guys, right? Right!?”.

We know what happens. A valiant charge indeed. It’s like Front Line Assembly puts it: “Nothing for the loser, the hero always dies”. The brilliant military masterminds of Our Age (if we believe we live in the fantasy world complete with intelligent kings and Terrible Foes) watch our back. I wonder what the few survivors from the battle of Ostagar said on their hasty retreat. I doubt they said “Valiant try! An honor to fight! glory to all!”. They probably turned republican – “stupid king, using us as bait when we had twenty feet of stone walls to hide behind”.

What gives? At least Tolkien got it right. Helms Deep is a siege. Minas Tirith is a siege. Ostagar is a military disaster (“for glory!”). There’s a serious case of Tennyson going on in a lot of modern fantasy – “Ours not to reason why, ours just to do or die”. that’s not the way to win a war, you know.

This brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves in World of Warcraft. Specifically Wrath of the Lich King. Especially the Argent Tournament. WHY THE HELL DO YOU NEED MOUNTED KNIGHTS SPOILING FOR A JOUST WHEN THE TARGET IS ON THE TOP FLOOR OF A BLOODY TOWER!!?

There. I feel much better now.

but c’mon, Tirion! You’re a fucking military mastermind! You’ve whopped Artys ass at least once! So what’s up with all this horseback crap? There’s no point! Yes, I know – “gameplay mechanics demand” etc etc. The Argent Tournament was a precursor to what I like to think of as the Harrowing: The Golden Lotus dailies bonanza in Mists of Pandaria. Oh, we should have known … not only was the Beware of the “Unbeatable?” Pterodactyl a once only quest that magically turned into a daily. We also had our fill with both Therazane and dailies in Twilight Highlands. Dailies are another pet peeve, by the way. I’m not sure if I like them or not; they’re fun the first 5 times. Then it’s more like chinese water torture (wich I imagine goes very well with the asian theme of MoP).

The utter _stupidity_ of militrary commanders in Azeroth is mindboggling. There’s no end to it! Patch 5.4 is coming up and from what I’ve heard and seen from datamined stuff things go sour about 2 minutes after landing on the beach. Gameplay trumps lore, always, I know. Wich is why this is a pet peeve. I believe the initial territorial gains of the Horde in Ashenvale has been lost, in lore, that is. Night elves have pushed back the Horde all the way to Azshara. From a strategic perspecitve an assault on Orgrimmars back door would make more sense than a naval invasion of a heavily fortified port. Or, you know – something. Why not drop a big bloody Arcane bomb on the whole of Orc City? give a goblin tech enough gold and he’ll forget his “Loktar”.

but no-oo… Honor. Better to kill 10.000 soldiers in a stupid invasion from the sea than slowly starve the halfcrazed asshat Garrosh out. Speaking of wich; the Alliance has plenty of assassins (just pick any rogue specced as an ass and give him a legendary cloak; he undoubtedly allready have legendary daggers). But no-ooo. Honor!

No wonder Anduin goes “whatever!” – and sneaks out the door. Alone. At night. For a meeting with a potentially psychotic black dragon in human-ish disguise.

/End Rant.