Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ Category.

What Happened This Week – Random Revenue Generators

Look, Blizzard, I told you: I’ll come back when you start making RTSs.  Complete RTSs, not the shenanigans you’re pulling with Starcraft 2.  Your Diablo III screenshots, while delicious, have no power over me!  I’ll not be tempted, damn you!

…I’m gonna wind up buying Diablo III, aren’t I.  Nyaugh.  Anyhoo, let’s get to some news:

  • Japan makes noises about regulating a peculiar form of gambling social media sales.  Japanese game companies shriek in horror, including a few you may recognize.
  • EA confirms it’s restructuring, which includes some of the previously-mentioned layoffs.  CEO John Riccitiello also owns up to the company’s distant second place in social gaming.
  • All aboard the doom train: Sony posts its forecasted loss, announcing (in a roundabout fashion) a meager 1.8 million Vita sales.  Experts (and professional amateurs such as myself) opine on what may save the device.
  • Microsoft, by way of Michael Pachter: “Don’t expect a lot of game stuff [at E3]; expect a lot of dashboard, interface, multimedia.”  Excellent, now I know which conference I can ignore.
  • Tetsuya Nomura indicates that he’d like to see Kingdom Hearts return to consoles.  Square Enix confirmed for working on the Blizzard-Valve Timescale.
  • Diablo III preorders make it bigger than Jesus, Redbox goofs on Max Payne 3, social gaming is slowing down in the US, and more!

 
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What Happened This Week – Capitalism Means Never Saying Sorry

Guess who’s back!  How’s everybody doing?  I spent the weekend watching mutants and mercenaries duke it out in the Capitol building.  And then I came home to play Fallout 3 heyoooooooooo!  Okay, yeah, obvious joke is obvious, but DC is a cool town even if you’re not a political junkie such as myself.  But anyway, it’s good to be back at home base, got my computer a shiny new video card, the Mass Effect 3 review finally done, and ready to get down to business.  So let’s get on it!  In today’s headlines we have:

  • Bethesda announces The Elder Scrolls Online.  I explain why this is not going anywhere profitable, and point to a much more interesting property they’re funding for one Shinji Mikami.
  • A Forbes article breaks down that Zynga, Groupon, and Facebook work with an accounting firm that makes rules up as they go.  I wish I were kidding.
  • Eurogamer runs a lengthy piece on the demise of Free Radical.  Long story short, it took a little more treachery than doped-up marines going “Boosh!”
  • NVidia rolls out a top-of-the-line graphics card for $1000.00.  How else can a month’s salary last until next week when they push the envelope even further?
  • FilePlanet is no longer being updated, thus preparing itself for the annals of Internet history.  Behold, children, the days when patches didn’t download themselves.
  • Electronic Arts rolls out an Indie Bundle, upending basically every sensible definition of the term ‘indie.’  And on Steam, no less, making it all the more confusing.
  • A Chinese company develops a console specifically for pirates China, EA asks for feedback on Origin, I speculate based on Sega-centric Steam deals, and more!

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What Happened This Week – The Future Needs More RAM

Nothing quite like a sales binge to pick up on games you missed, especially when it reminds you how expensive some of them are. Hey, dude selling Suikoden V for $100: I hope your parents hated you, because I do. Also, a heads-up: I’ll be in DC next week starting Sunday, so no podcast while I’m away. See you all the following week! With that said, here are this week’s headlines:

  • Rumors swirl that EA may be laying people off, though even if they’re true there may be a plausible explanation.  Or EA’s stock could be dropping, it could be that too.
  • That said, Zynga appears to have gone off the deep end, with more OMGPop-style pricey acquisitions in the future.  OMGPop, incidentally, may have peaked the very day of its acquisition.  Get some popcorn, folks.
  • Two of the Big Three schedule their E3 conferences, prompting a rehash of speculation.  My take: Microsoft offers no surprises, Sony needs to explain themselves, and Nintendo will steal headlines whether it wants to or not.
  • Speaking of Sony, the New York Times offers a revealing look on where the electronics giant stumbled.  Short version: departmental tribalism, right down to war paint and scalping.
  • Wired’s Chris Kohler asserts the existing publisher-hardware-retailer model is broken and we don’t really need it.  I agree, but scrapping it all seems premature.
  • Namco-Bandai may avoid using GFWL for the PC version of Dark Souls.  On bended knee, I beseech Bamco to do the right thing and serve the Newell.
  • A rumored meeting between Apple and Valve is debunked, Saints Row DLC may have saved THQ, and more!

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What Happened This Week – And I’ll Keep Lying, I Promise

Ah, 16-bit-era Shadowrun. Come for the cyberpunk revenge plots and foxgirls, stay for the considerable XP/money grind so you can break the game in half. Good times, both SNES and Genesis. Anyway, on to the news:

  • Sony’s financial woes catch up to them, doubling their loss forecast and forcing 10,000 layoffs.  “Holy s***, now what?” indeed, Mr. Hirai.
  • Jack Tramiel, Commodore International founder and the man behind the C64, died at 83.  Yet another legend in the tech field that I knew almost nothing about.
  • Peter Molyneux speaks out about leaving Microsoft for his indie venture.  Will it change the world, or will it OH JUST REMAKE SYNDICATE ALREADY GODDAMNIT
  • The Better Business Bureau weighs in on the Mass Effect 3 ending furor, which is my personal “this has gone way too far” threshold.
  • Meanwhile, Victor Ireland rather gloriously misreads Steam’s effect on RPG sales, while his own Clash of Heroes 2 Kickstarter falls well short of its goal.  Time to serve the Newell?  I’d say so.
  • Wired’s Chris Kohler takes a scalpel to the argument that used games are hurting the industry.  The conclusion: the industry is hurting the industry.
  • Project X Zone‘s creators are among the least likely to localize anything, Wasteland 2‘s Kickstarter coasts to a comfortable finish, and more!

 
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What Happened This Week – Destructive Cute Things Made a Hole in Our Roof

Howdy howdy. Sadly, What Happened This Week is not ready for your consumption tonight. Got a wee bit sidetracked with other matters. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice it to say a family of raccoons was determined to add some audio intensity to my playing of Silent Hill Downpour. That, and I had to hunt around for a blazer, the use of which will become obvious in a couple weeks.

Anyway, sorry about the delay. We’ll have the podcast up for you folks tomorrow night.

What Happened This Week – Never Deal With a Dragon

Yaknow, you can say what you want about Silent Hill: Downpour, but when it comes to being tense and creepy it doesn’t screw around. The actual enemies and combat are pretty naff, but it does a fine job instilling a sense of dread. There are rooms I just do not want to enter. I consider that a mission accomplished for a horror game.

Anyhow, on to the news:

  • The Consumerist wrapped up their online poll for 2012’s Worst Company in America.  EA jumped to the front faster than you can say “biased sampling data.”  And speaking of EA…
  • Mass Effect 3‘s Extended Cut DLC was announced, prompting LOTS OF SPECULATION FROM EVERYONE.  A PAX East BioWare panel offered some more information, likely only stoking the fire at this point.
  • An industry analyst predicts doom for Nintendo, which happens often and just as often is disproven.  What’s new here is getting basic facts wrong.
  • Get your credsticks out: a Shadowrun Kickstarter launched and met its goals handily.  Check it out here, chummer.
  • Gamasutra ran a survey about salaries in the games industry, with some surprising data.  Long story short, I’m in the wrong line of work.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog‘s creator winds up at Nintendo of America, Final Fantasy Versus XIII music winds up in Theatrhythm, and more!

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What Happened This Week – Putting the Band Back Together

If life in the retail trenches has taught me anything, it’s that those jobs are really more precautionary prison sentences. True, there’s no cell and there aren’t as many gang fights, but it’s a stain on your past nonetheless, and the longer you stay in the harder it is to get out.

This depressing thought brought to you in part by nostalgia, for which I have that April Fools’ burst of Toonami to thank. Damn but that was good teevee. Anyhow, here’s the news:

  • GAME exits administration, having found a buyer crazy enough willing to take on its debts.
  • Sega, by contrast, announces a sizable drawdown in operations due to an income shortfall.  Basically, don’t expect Valkyria Chronicles 3 in English anytime soon.  Or ever.
  • Meanwhile, Denis Dyack alternates between reassuring people that Too Human is still a thing, and warning that used games will crash the industry and kill your family in their sleep.
  • EVE Online‘s developer partners with Nvidia to offer select video cards for virtual currency.  I’d love to hear Paul Krugman’s take on this.
  • Brian Fargo speaks out on the lopsided balance of power between publishers and developers.  A lengthy interview on RipTen, but a good one: read it all here.
  • Obsidian joins forces with inXile to help develop Wasteland 2, pending a Kickstarter goal of 2.1 million.  So, when I write the check for all of my money, which of you do I make it payable to?
  • An OMGpop developer explains why he balked at Zynga’s offer, Michael Pachter disregards a silly PS4 rumor, GOG.com gets a facelift, and more!

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What Happened This Week – Another April Fools’ Day Casualty

Ahh, April Fools’ Day, the day when everybody takes time out of their busy schedule to come up with ideas that we all laugh at but secretly wish were real. I have a similar problem, only with content I openly wish was real. Got a bit sidetracked this weekend folks, afraid WHTW won’t be up until tomorrow night. You know how it is, never enough time in the day. That, and one of the companies I applied at got bought by one of the other companies I applied at, so… yeah, been an interesting last couple days. Sorry ’bout the delay, I’ll see you all tomorrow!

What Happened This Week – What Do You Do For Money, Hanii

Yeah, I watched the Idolm@ster anime. What can I say? I indulge in the occasional weird Japanese thing. Went better than expected, although I’m not wading into the games anytime soon unless one can guarantee more box malfunctions.

Right then, to the news! This week we have the following:

  • UK retailer GAME files for administration, the UK equivalent of Chapter 11.  Which means it’s game over NO MUST RESIST THE OBVIOUS PUN
  • Meanwhile, Zynga buys out Omgpop, makers of Draw Something, for a whopping $200 million.  They’re gonna have to sell a lot of Zynga funbucks to make it up.
  • BioWare plans “clarification” DLC for the Mass Effect 3 ending.  Forbes, by the way, has a better read on this fiasco than most games media outlets; spoilers aplenty, but give this article a read when you get time.
  • Dragon Age 2 winds down as the team gets ready for Dragon Age 3.  Presumably they’re all just glad they’re not the Mass Effect team right about now.
  • Speaking of dragons, Dragon’s Dogma‘s producer wants to sell ten million copies worldwide.  I’m just going to leave that there and let you picture it.
  • Yet another producer, this one for Resident Evil: Revelations, tells the truth and breaks my heart about where the survival horror genre has gone in recent years.
  • GameStop’s standing in retail is examined, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition gets confirmed for the iPad, the .Hack series gets a fighting game, and more!

 
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What Happened This Week – Let the Bio Beware

I know, awful awful pun. I shall punish myself accordingly by eating this blueberry muffin. Anyway, we’ve got us some news!

  • Wasteland 2‘s Kickstarter surpasses all expectations, especially mine.  Let the blood sausage festival commence!
  • Obsidian is forced to lay people off and cancel a next-generation project.  I’d like to blame that Bethesda-New Vegas- Metacritic contract shenanigans, but the reality is slightly more complicated.
  • Through a truly unexpected twist of fate, Giant Bomb winds up back inside the GameSpot offices from whence they came.  Awkwaaaard~
  • Incidentally, GB’s Dave Snider wrote an excellent column about finding work in games media.  Well worth a read for even the most discouraged would-be content creator.
  • Speaking of interesting columns, Joystiq’s Rowan Kaiser breaks down the year that Western RPGs… well, broke down.  Also a fascinating read, even if you disagree about when PC RPGs hit their Golden Age.
  • Mass Effect 3‘s ending makes such a splash that it bypasses traditional spoiler alerts.  While I don’t spoil it myself, I do go over what it means for BioWare if they don’t address the criticism post-haste.
  • Baldur’s Gate gets an enhanced edition, Microsoft gets a new Peter Moore, and more!

 
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What Happened This Week – Go Play Outside!

As previously mentioned, there was a chance of What Happened This Week being pushed back a day due to standing up for my friend Craig’s wedding last night. I was just expecting it to be more hangover related and less IT’S EIGHTY DEGREES OUTSIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF MARCH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. In any case, the podcast will be up tomorrow.

RandomNPC apologizes for this taking-a-nap-in-sunshine-related delay.

(Seriously, take some “me” time once in a while. You don’t get many days like this.)

What Happened This Week – There He Goes Again On His Own

Hello and welcome, everybody! It’s that time again. GDC occupied a lot of the news this week, but among that we have the following:

  • Valve’s marketing director clarifies that they are not working on a Steam box… for now.  Actually they left off the “for now” part, but let a man dream :3
  • Peter Molyneux leaves Lionhead and Microsoft to start his own company once more.  Shine on, you awesome fibber.  Shine on… or go on to develop social/iOS games like other gaming legends.
  • Blizzard offers a rather hefty bounty returning bonus for players who bring friends back to World of Warcraft
  • …which doesn’t quite distract from their announcement that Diablo III will not have PvP at launch.
  • A quartet of big names – Will Wright, Sid Meier, John Romero, and Cliff Bleszinski – offer various insights on the state of the industry, ranging from concerns about self-referential development to homeless simulators.  It makes sense in context.
  • Tim Cain gives a postmortem on Fallout, sharing the dirt on how the now famous post-apocalyptic RPG almost never saw the light of day.  Short answer: blame Windows NT.  Watch the whole thing if you can, it’s enlightening stuff.
  • Two men make more or less the same complaints about Japanese games, with vastly different levels of tact (and authority), I suggest the big picture might be a bit more complicated, and more!

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What Happened This Week – Should’ve Kept the Base

You know it’s true.

Sorry for the delay, folks! Man, ME3 and Super Tuesday tomorrow! The political junkie and the Mass Effect fanboy are having a fistfight for dominance in my brain stem. Gonna be busyyyyyy~

Anyway, to the news:

  • Mass Effect 3 comes out tomorrow, or, if pirates are to be believed, today.  Guess somebody got ahold of one of those low-orbit packages.  And speaking of which…
  • …one of them got stuck in a tree north of San Francisco, boldly resisting an intrepid IGN team’s attempt to dislodge it.  Well, at least bears weren’t involved.
  • UK retailer GAME is in a bit of financial trouble, revealing they will be unable to stock Mass Effect 3 or Mario Party 9.  Hey, guys?  I know your parents probably told you honesty is the best policy and all, but, uh, you may have wanted to make something up this one time.
  • The rumor mill is abuzz that Valve may be developing a Steam-centric PC-slash-console with baseline stats for modern games.  Hey Valve, Derek and I got this great idea for a mascot.  You ready for this?  He’s a scientist, see, and he’s fighting an alien invasion…
  • Facebook gaming takes a sharp downturn from 2011, with the company having to work harder to draw in new users.
  • By contrast, Zynga unveils their own content delivery platform to stand apart from Facebook, forgetting how they got so many people playing their games in the first place.
  • Pokemon Black & White Version 2 makes like Daft Punk and goes around the world, Kinect gets a tinfoil hat accessory, and more!

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What Happened This Week – Delay of Delayingness

Due to circumstances entirely beyond my control, that were totally not related to making sure all my Mass Effect 2 saves were ready for Mass Effect 3, What Happened This Week will be uploaded tomorrow night instead. Apologies, folks! I know, I’m trying to be more punctual about this, but life and my attention deficiency have funny ways of mocking my attempts to plan things.

What Happened This Week – You Keep Using That Word

“Anytime, Fly Girl.”

I don’t know about you guys, but I dropped my pacifist playthrough right then and there.  But enough about how I pass the time waiting for Mass Effect 3, it’s time for the news!  Here’s what we’ve got:

  • A fake Pokemon Yellow gets into the iOS App Store and places at #3 on the chart.  How did an obvious counterfeit get by Apple’s screening process?  The answer is in the question.
  • The above prompts discussion about how Nintendo should release its games on iOS, followed by Pachter claiming the Wii was a bubble.  I explain why that word doesn’t mean what he thinks it means, using Nintendo’s gigantohuge pile of cash and utterly puny debts to illustrate.
  • Beloved podcast group Idle Thumbs launched a Kickstarter project to fund their return.  Yeah, I’ll throw some money down to see these guys return.  In a related story, Double Fine’s project is up to $2.2mil.  Yikes.
  • The Last Story has been confirmed for North America.  Two down, one to go!  The Wii needs stuff like this to smooth the transition to the Wii U.
  • After a lengthy stay as a 360 exclusive, Alan Wake finally makes the jump to PC… and recoups porting costs in two days.  Serve the Newell and share in His bounty.
  • OK’s violent videogame tax dies in committee, fewer videogame transactions are using credit cards, and more!

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What Happened This Week – Step One: Secure 3Gs

Note to self: if Recettear is any indication, EasyGameStation’s Chantelise is worth a look.  It’s never too late to enjoy indie RPG goodness.  But I ramble, this isn’t about me and my compulsive Steam purchases, it’s time for the news!  Here’s what we’re covering:

  • SCE’s Shu Yoshida explains why the Vita stumbled in Japan, and how for the US/EU release this time shall be different!  We examine why it probably won’t be different at all, Steve.
  • Jack Tretton confirms we won’t see any PS4 developments this year, freeing them up to wait for Microsoft to release their specs focus on the Vita.
  • Meanwhile, EA plans some unusual marketing schemes for Mass Effect 3, including launching early copies of it via weather balloons into the stratosphere.  Quoth Sarcastic Hawke, “What could possibly go wrong?”
  • Brian Fargo of inXile Entertainment announces a Kickstarter plan to fund production of Wasteland 2.  And here I figured it’d take months to test the limits of Kickstarter’s power.
  • The Guinness Book of World Records crowns, by popular vote, Call of Duty: Black Ops as the best videogame ending ever.  I wish I were kidding.
  • One of BioWare’s more accomplished writers strikes out on their own, Bobby Kotick gets elected to Coca-Cola’s board of directors, and more!

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What Happened This Week – Capitalism, Ho!

Yes, I’m late to the party on Recettear.  But it’s never too late to make money through overpriced goods!  Anyway, hello everybody!  We’re back from break and ready to tackle the news, and what a couple weeks it has been:

  • Facebook files for its $5 billion IPO, appearing every bit a giant of the tech sector until people start asking how much one would really pay for social networking.
  • In the process we learn that Zynga makes up about 12% of Facebook’s earnings.  As a reminder, Zynga is currently looking for ways to survive without Facebook.  Happy filing, Mr. Zuckerberg!
  • Kazuo Hirai formally assumes his role as President and CEO of Sony, to which his exact words are “Holy s***, now what?”  Truer words have rarely been spoken.
  • Double Fine’s Kickstarter project succeeds far beyond expectations, suggesting a viable path for small-to-midsize developers outside the usual publisher song and dance.  I wouldn’t hold my breath for a rash of publicly-funded games, however.
  • Amazon plans to open a retail store in Seattle, apparently in a bid to corner the market on physical depictions of irony.
  • THQ faces a slew of financial difficulties, from shedding 175 jobs to a potential delisting on the Nasdaq.  They should’ve rolled the North Korean taco truck around some more for Homefront.
  • Square Enix posts a decent profit for 2011, a man named William Fourkiller (OK state rep) wants to tax violent games, Ubisoft’s always-on DRM schemes backfire, and more!

 
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What Happened This Week – The Jedi Are Gonna Feel This One

The news: disturbing the Force, all day erry day.  Also, going to be off next week for the Super Bowl; not that I have a huge stake in it, but I owe the Giants some residual gratitude for taking out Green Bay.  Us poor Chicagoans would never, ever hear the end of it if they made it back-to-back.  But I get off topic.  I’ll see you all the week after next, but in the meantime here’s what’s going down:

  • The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement steps in to fill the SOPA/PIPA void of “simultaneously overzealous and ineffective legal frameworks for punishing 4chan users.”  Also, at least part of Poland’s parliament is awesome.
  • The Economist dispels a few myths about the US trade deficit with China, using the iPad as an example.  Short version: paying workers ten cents an hour means China doesn’t actually get a lot of money per gizmo.
  • Diablo III‘s senior producer makes an abrupt departure from Blizzard.  Since the game doesn’t even have a release date yet, there can only be one explanation.
  • Meanwhile, EA expands Origin’s reach to include several third-party companies, counting beloved Polish developer CD Projekt among them.  The more you tighten your grasp, EA…
  • The Family Research Council claims the Gay Agenda has its claws in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  BioWare responds by thanking them for the free advertising.
  • Nintendo mulls over a rebranding effort for the Wii U, worried that nontraditional gaming demographics might not get the concept of console cycles.
  • Mass Effect 3 will tie random DLC to action figures, Voodoo Extreme faces staffing budget cuts, and more!

 

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What Happened This Week – The Internet is Safe… For Now

Hey-hey!  Are you all excited?  I know I am, because a Giants-Patriots rematch in the Super Bowl means we’ll get more of this classy gentleman.  Seriously, Carl’s locks make the NFL worth watching long after your team has washed out because you didn’t have a backup quarterback.

Me?  Bitter?  Pshaw.  Anyway, here’s the latest:

  • SOPA and PIPA have been shelved in response to public outcry and prolonged protest.  Major backers withdrawing their support might’ve had something to do with that, too.
  • And yet despite the bills not passing, the FBI and DoJ had no trouble shutting down Megaupload and arresting people in New Zealand.  Why, it’s almost like Washington already has broad powers to pursue people in other countries.
  • Commentary: despite the bills being on hold for now, expect this issue to resurface at some point.  Google “Congress riders” for just one worrying example.
  • All this begs the question of what can be done going forward, both about piracy and the clumsy responses to it.  Ars Technica offers in-depth solutions.  I would start with “try treating your customers like people for a change.”
  • Meanwhile at BioWare, The Old Republic suffers an unfortunate PvP issue right when it can least afford one.  This wouldn’t be quite such a problem if the game weren’t so expensive to produce.
  • Mass Effect 3 aims to ditch the mission-based structure of Mass Effect 2, going for something more fluid and constant.  You mean like Mass Effect 1, right?
  • Zynga buys more mobile game studios.  Yes, Zynga, because that’s what you were doing wrong: not buying enough smaller companies.

 
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What Happened This Week – Is This the 50’s or 1999?

Nothing like a week of updates to make a guy feel like he’s treading old ground, but hey, anything worth talking about is worth talking about again.  Tonight’s discussion topics are as follows:

  • The Bethesda-Interplay legal mess comes to a close, with Zenimax paying $2mil for Interplay to stop harassing Fallout and claiming the MMO’s going to make it.
  • GSC Game World announces on Facebook that development of STALKER 2 is somehow still underway.  Why do all the beautiful things in life have to be undead?
  • Zynga acquires another executive from EA.  Poor Zynga… their stock’s lackluster performance has caused them to mentally regress to last year.
  • BioWare reveals that Mass Effect 3 will require Origin and will not be available on steam.  Also, they broke their arm in a boking accident.
  • Workers at a Foxconn plant in China threaten mass suicide over low pay and poor conditions.  Industry leaders feign shock that they’re still doing business with Foxconn.
  • Ars Technica gets a closer look at the Wii U, and learns surprisingly little.
  • Diablo III gets a console version, a Gaikai rep makes a silly assumption about the Big Three, and more!

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