CCP Pann, there are a number of issues you take up, and I feel they are all somewhat missing the point. You list them as:
But beyond that, and actually far more importantly, we also have the bit you really want to read:
But let's begin with the three points that you have raised (and not quite understood).
No. The high cost of the NeX items is not really an issue, or rather, it is a different issue than what you seem to suggest. It is not “omgz, this is too expensive”, but rather “omgz, do you have any idea about how microtransactions work?” This thing can be broken up into six parts:
What is it, exactly? Everyone assumes that the purpose of the NeX is to be an MT store: trade cash-item (PLEX) for in-game item (clothes etc.) via granular currency (AUR). The assumption is also that its purpose is to make CCP money.
While some might take offence to you making money, meh… I don't agree with that view personally — you're free to invent your earning schemes (but we'll get to that). My problem is rather, why on earth are you making an MT store where the pricing breaks the basic rule of MT: make prices so low that they're not a factor in the decision-making process? The problem in my eyes isn't that the stuff is expensive, it's that it breaks this rule and creates a mental barrier to purchase, which means it fails at the purpose of making money.
It makes you look inept
Again, what is it exactly? We were told that you wanted a sub-PLEX currency, and yet the first thing we see of it is a multi-PLEX usage. The whole point was to create some kind of granularity, but none of that is needed with the high prices you've chosen. Ok, fine… a pair of boots cost less than a PLEX worth of AUR, but that's about it.
Still, you could have released this shop without AUR being in the game, and simply have those smaller items come in packs of 2–3, which could then have been released by the buyers onto the market.
All in all, it makes the AUR seem redundant and pointless.
Tied to the purpose of AUR is the graph you made when this was all presented — the flow of currencies. PLEX → AUR → Items → Market → ISK → PLEX → … etc. There's just one problem: with the prices you've chosen, you've made sure that this cannot happen. The only sensible reason to put an AUR item on the market is to add a margin and make more ISK from it than if you just sold the PLEX directly, but with just about everything costing more than one PLEX, why would anyone bother? They could just get the PLEX at a lower cost and cash out the item themselves.
This ties in to the lack of actual granularity: if someone wants to break up a PLEX into AUR and spend those on 5–6 items that could be sold with a profit margin, then they'd be going after the market of those who just want one item and who have no use for the left-over change, should they buy a full PLEX. With the high AUR prices you've picked, there is no room left over for this decision: you won't be left with a huge pile of loose change when you buy the one item you want, so you won't look for other means to get that one item, so you won't create demand for a secondary market. And thus the circle is instantly broken.
In other words, it breaks the purpose of creating new markets.
As a corollary, this creates a barrier to purchase and an exclusivity that puts a heavy damper on the demand for these items, which links back to point 1a above: without a secondary mass-market to gobble up items, there will be no primary market to buy more than incidental items for personal use, which in term means there will be less cash in your pockets (or less liability reduction in your books, if you like). This could also be expanded to the decision not to make these things destructible, and create a demand that way, but that's for another time and place.
So again, it makes you look inept.
Ok, so the high price is there to make the stuff exclusive — feeding people's vanity, as it were, never mind that the most expensive item is described as “common” (but we'll get to the lore problem of this expansion elsewhere). But that just raises the question: how much time went into this thing that only very few are meant to use?
“But the MT cost pays for the development” you might say, but that is deflated by the volume-vs-price point made earlier: an exclusive, high-price item will not bring in as much cash as a high-volume one. So is this “waste” of development time really worth it, or could these additional designers not be put to better use for something that benefits more players? And that's assuming it is really additional designers brought in to create their own meal ticket — if not, it takes away existing developers that should be working on far more generally applicable content.
It casts doubt on your ability to prioritise properly.
It seems that a lot of what you want to do currently can't be done due to simple technical limitations. We've been told that the released iteration of the NeX shop can only handle AUR, and I think a large amount of the problems can be traced back to this.
In particular, this limitation means that you have no ability to distinguish between currencies when it comes to cost. $70 (ie. 4 PLEX / 14,000 AUR) is an utterly barmy price for an in-game item, as both your players and the gaming media have been pointing out. At the same time, 1.5bn ISK (a low-ball current value of 4 PLEX/14,000 AUR) isn't completely off for an semi-exclusive and high-bling item — costly, yes, but in line with what people will spend on other “look-at-me” stuff. With the limitations of the NeX, you have no way of distinguishing or differentiating those two costs, so they become one and the same.
Had you been able to use other inputs than AUR, you could have maintained that exclusive in-game price point without making it cost $70. Had it been, say, 1,000 AUR (≈100M ISK) + 1.4bn ISK, the perceived MT price would have been just $5, and the additional ISK cost had simply been an indicator of “this is a high-class item”. Moreover, going back to the point about granularity, this would also have meant that an enterprising (and cash-heavy) trader could have bought three of those, invested 4.2bn ISK and sold them on the market at a markup for those who didn't want to slaughter a whole PLEX just to get an ear — suddenly, the 1.4bn ISK is simply an investment cost with a projected return.
Basically, the perception of high price is in large part due to the technical limitation that requires everything to have a fixed, real-currency cost that must be high IRL in order to be high in-game. This makes the NeX store seem rushed and counter-productive. It also matches in-game and out-of-game pricing in a way that many players are not comfortable with.
A lot of the anger about the NeX stores comes from the simple fact that none of this was known by the player base, nor had the CSM been informed about the final result. Instead, your are using the live environment as a first testing grounds for the values, which means that you inescapably set yourself up for a flood of complaints no matter what you do. Are the prices too high? Early adopters will hate you for lowering the value of something they bought. Are the prices too low? Speculation will be rampant and people will complain that you mess with the market. This really should have been a pre-release debate about what seemed like reasonable costs, both in terms of in-game and real-life currency (…which might also have highlighted the technical issues above).
In short, using TQ as a testing server is not a good idea to begin with, but downright stupid for a first test. Again, it makes the NeX seem rushed and it makes you seem inept.
Moreover, the prices came as a shock to the player base because they already had an established perception of what was a reasonable price for an MT vanity item, and none of those perceptions were ever collected. At no point was there a discussion of what we could expect; what we were expecting; why we might see a disconnect between the two; and how/what/when something could be done to overcome that disconnect. This plays into a broader theme that has developed over the years, where you — CCP — throw stuff out there as a fait accompli (regardless of whether it is meant as such or not, see the API licensing debacle), and where you have cultivated a habit in the community of feedback though panic. True or not, the perception is that the only reasonable response seems to be to shout bad words at you, stage mass protests, and create threadnoughts to get your attention, because we sure as hell never get it by calmly trying to say things before they're out.
In other words, it highlights an on-going problem you have at CCP when it comes to communicating and taking feedback from the community.
In keeping with the theme of expectations management, the CQ is another area where a large part of the problem comes from a sharp disconnect between what has been said and what has been done. In essence, it comes down to this: there is very little Incarna in the expansion called Incarna. The community has been longing for (or, in some cases, dreaded) the arrival of Incarna for years, and I understand that you have been itching to finally release it, but in spite of the name of the expansion, you have yet to get there. The 271xxx build should not have been called “Incarna”. Again, this can be split up into a number of different issues:
Singular captain; singular quarter. That is the first problem: it is much less than promised, and fairly underwhelming at that. Don't get me wrong, it looks good and is technically interesting (yes, some would disagree, but let's go with that for now), with tonnes of potential and future promise, but at the end of the day, it is just one room, for one race, for one person. The room is also largely empty, and with some odd lightning choice going on in certain places.
Some of this was expected, and some of it was not. There was a fair amount of talk before the release about how it would be staged and how it would be iterated on over the coming months (and years?) but the final result was still less than expected. During the testing phase, there was a continuous question of when we would see the other races' quarters, and only as the release date came nearer and neared did it start to dawn on people that, no, this was it. And even then, and in spite of many increasingly loud attempts to get an answer, it wasn't until a week or so from release that the final official answer came: only Minmatar quarters in Incarna 1.0. This should have been said much sooner as part of the discussion of a staged release. And again, only incessant shouting gave any kind of answer.
Make no mistake: no-one was under the illusion that we would get everything at once. Everyone knew we would get more as time passes, but “more” is a rather useless measure unless we know what we'll get now and knowing that we'll get more does not lessen the surprise, and even dismay, of seeing how little we get now. Had both the “now” and the “later” been known, this surprise would have been vastly lessened.
It once again highlights CCP's inability to communicate its plans and intentions.
Part of that underwhelming feeling also comes from how poorly the CQ in its current iteration adheres to established game lore. Why do we have to decant every time we dock, when it has been said to be a very unpleasant experience? Why do we arrive in full sight of the world on a non-OSHA-compliant metal grate walkway and then climb up a rickety ladder while still slippery from the pod goo? Where is that nice cozy decanting room we have seen in previous previews and teaser trailers? Why is it a single room with no facilities and with an open door out to the void of the ship hangar? Some of this is just art, some is RP, and some of it has actual game-play implications, and we'll get to that.
This point does not so much end in a claim or statement, but rather in a question: will this mismatch be addressed in the future? Can it be addressed? Will the current CQ see further changes to make it match the lore, or will that only be a feature of future quarters?
Coming back to the purpose of the NeX, one also have to ask: why is it introduced now, when all the captain's quarter is is strictly a single-player experience and there is no (in-game) way to show off the vanity items we might buy?
Is that why the one NeX item that others actually might see — the one that shows up in our portraits — is also by a wide margin the most expensive one?
While it is understandable that this is a first step, and that we will want to have a private area in Incarna anyway, this creates another point of contention with the NeX, more than with the CQ itself: it makes the NeX, yet again, seem rushed.
Perhaps the most damning issue with the CQ is that for all its technical wizardry and potential for future expansion, in its current state it is a step backwards. It might seem more natural to think that bugs and increased hardware requirements are a bigger problem, but those have simple solutions: bugs will get fixed, hardware can be upgraded (as much as that option is hated by those who have to pay for it). But lost functionality is… well… lost. We players have no (legal) means to compensate this loss. More than that, though, lost functionality demonstrates a careless attitude in the developer: “I see no need for this, so let's ditch it” which also means that it will be an uphill struggle to get that functionality back. Even more damning is the fact that no reason is given for this removal, because it shows how low a priority other people's wishes are: “I see no need for this, and who cares if others need it, so let's ditch it.”
In removing the hangar view, the following functionality has been altered or flushed:
Some of this can be substituted for always having the ship window open or using the fitting screen, and some of the actions have relevant keyboard shortcuts attached to them, but this doesn't change the fact that a number of methods of using the game have been lost.
The fact that some of these functions have been lost while in the CQ is perhaps less than surprising: if you are not on the balcony, it is perhaps not surprising that you cannot see your active ship, for instance, but why does this functionality have to be removed from the non-CQ view as well? In addition, there is also the looming threat of losing the functionality not to load station environments at all, so anyone hoping for a return of these handy shortcuts gets that hope crushed as well.
But the main question here is this: why did this functionality have to go? Will it come back? Will it be replaced?
And once again, these were issues that were brought up during the testing phase but which were never addressed by the developers, further feeding the culture of shouting to get answers and of feeling that any feedback just got dumped to /dev/null. The development process that led up to this unceremonious axing of functionality only further highlights the communications issues already mentioned.
It makes you seem careless and uncaring.
Both of these issues feed into a bigger, and very worrying trend: one of casually breaking promises and ignoring the wants and needs of your customers. In this case, for the longest time, CQ — and, indeed, all of Incarna — was presented as something you could choose to engage it. It was optional. This promise that, for those who had no interest in walking around in stations, and who just wanted to spread the
love lasers, there would be no change in their game-play, was perhaps the one thing that made the idea of Incarna acceptable to them.
And then, suddenly, and with no explanation, it was not. Now everyone has to load a whole slew of art assets and bits of UI that they have no interest in whatsoever and no intention of ever using. Yes, there is still an option not to— one that still reduced functionality — but that option, we are told, is soon gone as well. In a game that is supposed to be about our choices and about us creating our own game-play and game world, this obviously raises one huge question:
Why are we suddenly not allowed to choose? Why is this content forced on us?
(Yes, it's still one question, just reformulated from two different angles.)
There have been some vague hints about it being difficult to maintain, but contrasted against previous claims about how it would be horribly difficult to integrate a ship-viewing hangar into Incarna, this reason rings incredibly hollow. The argument has been made that it would be a duplication of effort similar to the one that eventually led to the Classic client being dropped, but that doesn't ring true either: the same graphical assets can still be used, and you still need to duplicate the UI for stuff that can be done both in FIS and in WIS, not to mention that a lot of that supposed duplication is just a matter of opening the exact same windows in two different ways. Once Incarna gets its own WIS-specific content, then there might be areas where there could conceivably be a duplication of effort, but the whole point of opting out of WIS is that you are not interested in that content to begin with, so duplicating it would be pointless anyway.
This is also feeds into a trend that has slowly been growing: one where CCP seems increasingly opposed to the idea of having any options at all. Over the last couple of years, the settings screen has lost seemingly innocent options with little or no explanation and with no plans to replace or replicate the behaviour somewhere down the line. Auto-spinning was removed for no reason that I can remember. The wide-screen black borders were removed because they apparently caused rendering issues. Graphics options have been removed because they were not universally applicable (never mind that they worked for some).
All of this seems to indicate that you want to exert more control over the gaming experience of you players, but again: this is a game about our choices and about us creating our own game-play and game world. This trend towards removing that freedom is worrisome, to say the least, and in relation to CQ and Incarna in particular, and especially considering how little in terms of actual game-play and functionality the CQ has to offer at the moment, it rather suggest that you're telling us “you must look at this
, or else!”
It makes you seem insecure about your own product and untrusting towards your customers.
The performance issues, while superficially on a different level, actually bear some connection to what has already been discussed, most notably the question of communication and optionality. Yes, there is still the technical issue of whether there might be something in the code or with players' systems that makes the whole thing run slower than it should, but that is a QA problem that I'm sure people are willing to stand. And yes, it will most certainly cause some consternation that the long-awaited Incarna doesn't run as smoothly as one would like, but the really worrying problems lie elsewhere…
The notion expressed in some dev statements that EVE is one, and that there really should be no distinction between the two (WIS and FIS) is admirable. It is also hopelessly impractical. The two do not, and will not offer the same kind of game-play. They also make use of completely different types of assets in completely different environment, and for completely different purposes.
Someone who will only ever sit on his CQ couch and watch the random programming go by on his TV might also only ever undock to take part in ze blob. He has turned every last dial down when it comes to graphics options to get the most FPS possible out of those fights, but when he's doing nothing in the calm and quiet station environment, those same options make everything look like refried piles of cat hair. If it weren't so ugly, this player might enjoy his CQ and want to see more once Incarna comes out, but having to reset all those settings every time he undocks is just too much work.
Conversely, someone who only ever docks to fill up on ammo between missions might have plenty oomph to draw all those clouds and NPCs and effects, but every time he docks, the UI turns to molasses because his space flight looks as splendid as he wants it to. And let's not even get started with the multi-client issue…
Yet, when asked, CCP devs respond to this need to differentiate between a rather open-ended environment with (potentially) thousands of little items against a static backdrop and a completely closed environment with a (so far) thoroughly limited set of elements that completely encloses the player with a sarcastic(?), clueless(?), uncaring(?) “why would you ever need to do that?” Another answer that has been spotted is “but you do have options”, referring to the character quality settings and the effect settings, but completely missing that there are a dozen texture, shader, and render effect settings that carry over to both environments and which drastically affect, among other things, such a critical factor as graphics memory usage.
As a result, people are forced to tweak their systems to the least common denominator: they must make the station look fugly because they need a lot of spare graphics power in space, and/or they must make space look fugly because the station environment takes such a heavy toll that they must dial the WIS graphics down to make it work. End result: “yesterday my machine played EVE perfectly, now everything looks like crap.”
I have already touched on your apparent and growing option-o-fobia and your unwillingness to duplicate your efforts, but here's the thing: you are talking about two drastically different rendering paths with two drastically different purposes. They need (perhaps not drastically) different graphical settings to tweak those two environments. This lack of options is a key contributing factor to the perception that performance is down: people are not willing to dial down a quality level that has worked perfectly (and still does), just because a different and completely separate set of rendering requirements has entered the pictures.
As you keep adding new environments to the game, you will need to add options specific to those environments.
…and once again, the matter of communication and feedback rears its head. All of these problems were known before the patch. The issue was raised in numerous threads in the test feedback forums. And as always, nothing came of these careful and deliberate attempts at communication. The issue is perhaps the most obvious in the appalling state of the OSX patch, which was plagued by a number of game-breaking bugs, all of which had been reported during the weeks and months before release, but which had been left untouched.
It would be far less uncharitable or conspiratorial than one should hope to say that the patch was deliberately released in a broken state. And calling it broken is not uncharitable either: applying the patch broke the client to the point where a complete reinstall was required.
So once again, and this time tied to the question of performance of the client, it comes down to a sharp disconnect between the level of feedback and the perceived response to that feedback (or, more accurately, the perceived completely lack thereof). People can accept that a completely new addition to the game might have some growing pains and will accept the answer that these issues will be addressed. They have much less tolerance for issues that arise from what appears to be a blatant disregard to their feedback.
It has been said many, many (many) times new, but it apparently needs to be repeated: communicate more, and you will have far less irate customers, even if the actual number of issues is not reduced.
So that answers the points you brought up, and as mentioned, they are not quite what you were making them out to be. But more important than that: they are almost completely irrelevant. You managed to miss the key issue that has everyone up in arms, namely the Fearless issue and the implications of what was in it.
This problem traces its roots back to a discussion one year ago when CCP made its first comments about micro-transactions. After a whole lot of back-and-forth between devs and players, after consultation with the CSM, and after an aborted idea to provide remaps for PLEX, a promise was made to limit MT in EVE to only apply to vanity items. Fast-forward to Fanfest 2011, E3 and AT9, when Dust 514 was a common topic of discussion, and when the concept of AUR was revealed. Suddenly, the realisation began to grow among a larger crowd that PLEX-based MT could be used to influence — albeit indirectly — the course of the EVE universe. This already had some people's teeth on edge.
…and then people saw the Fearless issue.
What the article made clear was that, once again, there was a sharp disconnect between what CCP was doing and what was being communicated to the players. What the community saw was a document where the company was trying to convince itself of how good MT would be for its entire line of games, and what opportunities there would be to expand this business in EVE beyond the PLEX and vanity items we already had.
At that point, it was no longer a question of the prices of the NeX items, and what this said about CCP's money-making acumen. It was no longer a question of the NeX not being quite finished, and the problems thins might cause (cf. the IW Scorpion debacle, where the unfinished state of the NeX would have made it possible to bypass the core mechanic of the game: the market). Instead, it came down to this simple fact:
We had been lied to.
While the language in the document is deliberately exploratory, it still contains passages such as “[o]ne other service we’re looking at is selling faction standings. We want to offer convenience for a price.” Whether or not that will ever happen is of no relevance. What matters is that we were promised vanity-only MT. Faction standings is not a vanity item — it's a functional game mechanic, and services surrounding this mechanic already exists within the game, driven by players. So two strikes right there: thinking about providing a service that lies way beyond the promised limited scope of MT, and providing a service in direct competition with players. Both are utterly and completely unacceptable.
This also belies any redeeming value there is in the “for-and-against” discussion in the same issue. While only the “for” party offers suggestions such as selling additional ship-fitting database slots, the simple fact that you are already looking at things that break the non-vanity promise means that this kind of suggestion is on the table as well, regardless of whether or not there is an “against” side as well. It should not even be on the table. So the immediate question becomes: where does it end? Will we one day see the April-fool's blog about Subscription 2.0 be released without it actually being an April-fool's joke?
It doesn't matter that you are “just looking” — you shouldn't be looking to begin with. “Just looking”, alone, breaks the promise you made.
Perhaps the most scary part about the document isn't the lie — we have felt lied to before by CCP to various degrees (cf. the optional Incarna above). No, the worst part is that you know that it isn't wanted. Your flag bearer for the issue says it outright: it will be an uphill struggle. You knew this current storm was coming, and now you are acting all “aw, chucks, sorry guys…” about it. You knew it was coming — perhaps not now, but at some point — because you knew you would have to go back on that promise and convince us to accept the ideas you had for non-vanity MT. Please, drop the charade.
Of course, on the off chance that you you didn't actually know that and you aren't just acting, then we have perhaps the biggest issue of them all: in that case, you are not even capable of communicating with yourselves. You say things, and then you fail to listen to and understand what it is you, yourselves, are saying.
So it's time for Hanlon's Razor: are we going to attribute this to malice — you are putting on a show to say you're sorry, when you knew all along that it was coming — or are we going to attribute this to incompetence — you are so bad at communicating that you fail to listen to yourselves? And regardless of the answer, why on earth should we not at this point “accidentally” put a bit too much pressure on that razor against some delicate spot of your (economical) anatomy?
It all comes back to this. You have a very long history of poor communication skills. And the last few days' explosion is simply a matter of three or four neglected pots boiling over all at once, when a single patch managed to wring a few more degrees out of the stove. In no particular order, it hit these (already sore) spots:
The NeX store cast some heavy doubt on your understanding of the MT model, and the ensuing discussion unquestionably led to the exposure of the Fearless articles, which in turn uncovered in no uncertain terms the deception/folly you have engaged in. It showed that when you say something about the future, it cannot be trusted, and the NeX store itself showed that you are not particularly eager to say anything at all, even to your purpose-built communications body, the CSM.
As the first seed of Incarna, the CQ was effectively a step backwards in terms of functionality and game-play, rather than what it should have been: a step forwards an into something new. As the v1.0 release package was dialled back, with very little information given about what we were actually going to see, it became a prime example of poor expectations management and of belying previous assertions about what can and cannot be done. This, too, shows that what you say cannot be trusted, and that you prefer not to say anything at all.
You have a long history of not really providing much in the way of feedback to early concerns, but rather seem to go after late concerns instead — “late” both as in “after the patch is actually released” and as in “why is my computer not starting…” (ok, so the latter one only happened once, but now with the concerns over overheating, we might see a repeat of that one). The problem is that most of these concerns are indeed voiced early on, so the standard fallback argument hat it doesn't show up until you throw 300k players at it doesn't really apply. You are also notoriously bad at answering seemingly straight-forwards questions such as “why does it work this way, and not that way?” and “why are we not getting X?” and, perhaps most apparent and prominent in the lead-up to this patch, “are we getting X?”
Whether this is a consequence of your tendency to over-promise and half-deliver and not wanting to show it, or whether it is because, as it sometimes seems, you don't know yourself what is coming and why, I don't know. Regardless of the answer, the failure to communicate only ever breeds a culture of shouting louder and louder to get a response and of constant disappointment over things that do not work the way they're expected to work (because nothing to adjust that expectation is ever said). And again, all this does is demonstrate that you prefer to say nothing, and that we have to nag to ensure that what was previously said is, indeed, still the case.
If you explain why something isn't ready, and why some feature isn't going in, and why you had to renege on promises, and if you warn people that something will be live-tested, then people will be grumpy, but they will accept it. If you don't, they will be furious when those glorious promises turn to vapour and when things appear that are quite clearly not ready for prime time.
Much the same goes for your apparent attitude towards testing: game-breaking bugs were allowed to go live and had to be emergency-patched after the fact, and the feedback provided during the preceding months seems to have been for naught. The result is also much the same: communication becomes one-way, and that one way often seems to lead straight to the recycling bin. Thus, you are actively, if accidentally, breeding the very state of confusion that brings us to these kinds of situations when people simply do not listen to what you have to say any more because you never say anything useful or anything that you can be held accountable to in the future.
To sum up: your three points are of some concern, but they are actually not particularly relevant. What is relevant is that you have been caught pursuing things that you promised us not to pursue, and you have further dented a relationship to your community that was already shaky from the last few weeks' worth of controversy: the developer licensing debacle, the IW Scorp debacle, the reneged promises about CQ and Incarna, the NeX store debacle, and all the standard mess that comes with a significant release of core content. However, the latter are just that: they're build-up. They're not the actual problem.
The actual problem is the lie.
That problem is compounded by the very casual and uncaring manner in which concerns have been met with since the patch release.
It is further compounded by your apparent inability to identify this very obvious key issue.
Yes, the NeX store prices are barmy, and you need to address this, and make your strategy for vanity items clear to assuage the worries that you don't really know what you're doing and that you're not wasting time and effort on things no-one will ever use. Yes, the CQ lacks the required options to make it a satisfactory addition for all players, and you need to address this too — preferably by providing those options, but at least by communicating what led up to them not being included (this time, or ever). Yes, there are technical issues with the patch, but those will presumably be dealt with in due time as they always are.
But again, the key issue here is that your voice no longer has any value.
You no longer have the confidence of the community. You have managed to contradict and suppress yourself into a position of zero trustworthiness. This is not something you can “PR” yourselves out of — it requires a drastic change in organisational culture (good luck), a drastic change in communications strategy (good luck), and, yes, quite possibly killing some of your darlings (tough luck).