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VirginWorlds MMORPG News
Host: Brent
VirginWorlds is a weekly news podcast covering Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Guild Wars, City of Heroes, Eve Online, Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online and many many more. The VirginWorlds MMORPG Podcast is the flagship podcast of the VirginWorlds MMO Podcast Collective found at http://www.virginworlds.com

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VirginWorlds Podcast #98
Tue, 1 Jan 2008 00:36:00 GMT [download/play]



Podcast 98, the final podcast of 2007 features Brent, Darren from Shut Up We're Talking and Common Sense Gamer, Shawn from GuildCast, TabulaCast and OMG Real Life and Michael from MMOGNation.  Join these familiar voices as they talk about the highs and lows of 2007, the game mechanics they want to see killed, the trends in MMO gaming and a listing of the MMO industry heroes of 2007.  Have a happy new year!

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Episode #17 - Duration: 01:23:27 - Released: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 07:40:00 GMT
Episode #16 - Duration: 01:09:42 - Released: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 05:27:00 GMT
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Episode #1 - Duration: - Released: Mon, 20 Mar 2006 06:21:00 GMT

Episode 98 Discussion Thread

'Nice' by Token
Submitted on 2008-01-01 23:38:42 CST
I also hated rep grinds and considered them to be pointless time sinks pre-burning crusade. It's just not the same in BC though. You gain revered so easily after running a few instances and get access to goodies. BC totally sold me on factions.


'I agree for most part...' by Ammon777
Submitted on 2008-01-02 00:10:44 CST
Good stuff, I would like to add that my personal MMO I am looking forward to in 2008 is Darkfall Online going into beta.

player-controlled factions = Darkfall Online.

Other MMOs in 2008 I am looking forward to are Warhammer, Stargate Worlds, and Age of Conan.

And just you guys, I am interested in hearing about these projects:

-- Bioware MMO
-- 38 Studios
-- Zenimax
-- Red-5
-- Carbine Studios
-- Secret World
-- L5 Studios
-- Immortal Destiny
-- World of Darkness
-- Warhammer 40k MMO

As usual, its good to hear these podcasts. Good job everyone.

One thing I didnt agree with is about Real Money Transactions. I really dont like it.



'one more thing' by Ammon777
Submitted on 2008-01-02 00:35:12 CST
I dont like RMT for these reasons:

By giving more "spendy" players an advantage in the RMT MMO, it thereby dissolves the illusion of a 'fantasy' world and makes it into an extention of the real world (which real world is not always fair or balanced) -- also it makes it unfair for less spendy players in a competitive environment... If there is player-vrs-player competition in the game in any way, there should not exist RMT mechanics that give advantage to the richer, more spendy players, and which penalize the less-spendy player. Please, developers, let fantasy worlds stay within its fantasy aspects to stay separated from the real world, or you will let too much negative influences associated in the real world, letting them into the MMORPG and ruining the experience of a world of 'fantasy' wherein your character is independent from your person. When you give other players the ability to buy resources in the MMO game, you devalue the work of players that worked to get similar things by playing the game itself. RMT takes many in-game values & qualities of various items, skills, and abilities, AWAY from the MMO, and does not replace them with anything. It seems that everyone that approves of RMT are thinking solely for the benefit of the company behind the MMO instead of being in the interest of the in-game world and its players. What is the point of an online game if all you care about are the company's profits behind it, for them developers to get rich at the expense of balanced and fun gameplay? I dont see RMT as a fun thing. Introduce RMT into a competitive online game and its in-game balances will go to hell. It might work in the East because of the East's economic models, but why bring it to the West where majority of players dont want it? What would be the point of farming mobs for gold to buy a sword if the guy next to you purchased the sword with real dollars? Wouldnt that cheapen your gaming experience? Doesnt that thought make you feel like he has the total advantage, an unfair advantage? Just some thoughts...



'Ryzom stuff..' by Beauturkey
Submitted on 2008-01-02 19:17:08 CST
Hey man me and the wife listened (she listened to 4 hours of you today at work..her ipod is gettin full...) and to let you know, Ryzom is still there, but barely. I mean, the great community is there, or at least some of it, and I log in and check it out, and wonder how long before they pull the plug.
Basically, what I think, is that Gameforge got rid of it, or passed it on, sold it, declared it bankrupt, whatever...but they have already paid for server usage for like, I dont know, a year or something. Think bout it..if they paid some company (i'm forgetting what they were called) to host their game, they paid with a credit card or line of credit, and they didnt just do what we do when playing an MMO, they paid for a good deal of time. The money went through, the transaction was done and the servers are still up. Now, the interesting thing is that some of the GM's are still active, and have powers too, but there is no REAL authority. It feels like to me (at least in my awesome imagination) that it's like an old western town...the sheriffs have the badges, but their power is really only valid because the COMMUNITY allows it.
I think you can make a trial account ,but can go no further. I have my old account, and have free access. I play a bit, but to really honest it's sad. I don't know why. The community is still great, a lot of the political tension has left, but it's just sad.
Anyway, I'll email ya! Great show!
Beau Turkey (former host of the Ryzom podcast)



'High speed over wireless' by RFWarrior
Submitted on 2008-01-02 20:38:34 CST
Just wanted to add a quick correction. Someone on the cast mentioned GPRS being faster than "CDMA" and both sucking for online play in the US. In reality, CDMA (called CDMA2000 today) is very fast with data overlays (EVDO). Big carriers like Sprint and Verizon already have this technology deployed in most major markets. In fact, I have a buddy who lives in a rural area and he plays WoW and second life with a Sprint wireless card for his PC. CDMA2000 as deployed in most markets today is considered a 3G technology and can offer data rates in the few Mbit/s. In reality, users are getting rates in the hundreds of Kbit/s. GPRS is a older data technology and has much lower data rates, in reality users are getting ~50kbps on T-mobile and AT&T networks. The generation of GSM (the system used for GPRS) will be WCDMA (wideband CDMA). This updated system will have data rates comparable with the EVDO mentioned above.

In short, between high speed access offered by carriers TODAY and the fact that WiFi is deployed about everywhere, online mobile gaming *could* be a reality today if devices and software supported it. I think Brent nailed it, you'll see the PSP and DS adopt these games first via their WiFi capability. Another thing happening in the background is mobile WiFi, which would allow users to move around and stay on a WiFi connection - this is another topic for some other time.

Thanks guys and keep up the great work.

RFWarrior

(yes, the RF stands for Radio Frequency - I'm a wireless geek)



'Great Show' by RogueSlayer
Submitted on 2008-01-02 23:00:35 CST
Hey guys, great show as always.

Just wanted to say that it was good to hear that some of you enjoyed G&H or at least the minion aspect of it. In reference to SUWT #16, I do think G&H did have “it”. Unfortunately, the game was at a state of development it should have been at a year prior. That was (I believe) its downfall.

It is the reason that some could not find “it” within the game as well as some other bad comments about it. I think they (being P.E.) took a look at things and decided the same thing. It either still needed another year of regular development time or six months of heavy overtime with RedBull/Mountain Dew cocktails every hour.

As for seeing a similar minion system in a future game that someone mentioned ( I am sorry I forget who it was) I have an idea on this. It is also not going to be a popular idea either. At least until it is explained more. But, the idea is having that system in STO.

Hey hey, stop throwing tomatoes at me already! Yes, this will need a bit of explanation but I think it is the best option for the game to work. To long to get into here though so I will save it for later in the week and post it up at my site.

Also, as far as crafting goes, the original SWG crafting needs to be in more games. I just tried crafting in EQ II recently and I can not believe how horrid it is and I think I heard that it is better than it used to be.

Again, great show and I look forward to the next one.

RogueSlayer



'Great Show' by RogueSlayer
Submitted on 2008-01-02 23:13:50 CST
Hey guys, great show as always.

Just wanted to say that it was good to hear that some of you enjoyed G&H or at least the minion aspect of it. In reference to SUWT #16, I do think G&H did have “it”. Unfortunately, the game was at a state of development it should have been at a year prior. That was (I believe) its downfall.

It is the reason that some could not find “it” within the game as well as some other bad comments about it. I think they (being P.E.) took a look at things and decided the same thing. It either still needed another year of regular development time or six months of heavy overtime with RedBull/Mountain Dew cocktails every hour.

As for seeing a similar minion system in a future game that someone mentioned ( I am sorry I forget who it was) I have an idea on this. It is also not going to be a popular idea either. At least until it is explained more. But, the idea is having that system in STO.

Hey hey, stop throwing tomatoes at me already! Yes, this will need a bit of explanation but I think it is the best option for the game to work. To long to get into here though so I will save it for later in the week and post it up at my site.

Also, as far as crafting goes, the original SWG crafting needs to be in more games. I just tried crafting in EQ II recently and I can not believe how horrid it is and I think I heard that it is better than it used to be.

Again, great show and I look forward to the next one.

RogueSlayer



'CDMA 2000' by darrenl
Submitted on 2008-01-02 23:44:06 CST
...is more of a hybrid between 2.5 and 3G. RTT, I don't think is considered a 3G standard. It varies around, but some still only use 1x (...even some US cariiers...)...so performance will vary.

The real 3G services are found in the UMTS networks, which I think are still mostly deployed in Europe.

...blah...regardless, for the apps we started talking about like Eve Online training, most networks would be fine.



'Age of Conan delay' by twistah
Submitted on 2008-01-03 04:03:41 CST
The reason for AoC being delayed (for the second time) was _not_ to polish the combat system as "they" might tell you. The game was in fact no way near complete. If they actually releases a complete game at all in march, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Feature complete != polish.

...and here I'm talking about planned features. I understand that MMOs never are "complete" but evolves over time.



'Age of Conan delay' by twistah
Submitted on 2008-01-03 04:03:47 CST
The reason for AoC being delayed (for the second time) was _not_ to polish the combat system as "they" might tell you. The game was in fact no way near complete. If they actually releases a complete game at all in march, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Feature complete != polish.

...and here I'm talking about planned features. I understand that MMOs never are "complete" but evolves over time.



'Age of Conan delay' by twistah
Submitted on 2008-01-03 04:03:48 CST
The reason for AoC being delayed (for the second time) was _not_ to polish the combat system as "they" might tell you. The game was in fact no way near complete. If they actually releases a complete game at all in march, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Feature complete != polish.

...and here I'm talking about planned features. I understand that MMOs never are "complete" but evolves over time.



'One further thought...' by darrenl
Submitted on 2008-01-03 07:36:50 CST
..about MMO gaming over wireless networks now that I'm not half asleep.

I guess the main point I was trying to get across (...and quite poorly I think...) is that expectations would have to be managed regarding what you could actually do with a game like that.

Also, MMO gamers tend to be an impatient lot when it comes to connectivity and performance, and wireless communications aren't overly reliable for this. Your friend can play WoW and second life over his PC on a wireless home network because he doesn't have to worry about cell fading, scattering, atmo attenuation or repeater errors. It goes right from his wireless PC to a landline with little interference.

...anyway, glad you liked the show RF and I hope you share your thoughts again ;)



'Loved These 2007 Wrap-Up/Look Ahead to 2008 Shows!' by James
Submitted on 2008-01-03 09:49:20 CST
This was my first New Year as a VirginWorlds listener so I really liked these back-to-back episodes. I agree with Brent about crafting in games--the way it has been executed up til now is just terrible. In its current state, I prefer the point-and-click crafting of a game like WoW to the boring timesink grind of titles with more "in-depth" crafting systems. Where WoW falters with crafting is that most of the crafted items do not hold a candle to things players can earn in PvE and PvP.


'Crafting' by Token
Submitted on 2008-01-03 10:42:19 CST
I've thought quite a bit about crafting since listening to the show and I wouldnt banish crafting to the void for one reason, Earth & Beyond.

EnB had a beautiful crafting system that everyone used to some extent because it really was both fun and involved. Instead of visiting a trainer or collecting patterns you would take apart any equipment in the game to reverse engineer it. There was nothing quite as satisfying as finding a rare drop, pulling it apart and rebuilding it 200% better. The system also was a form of gambling as you could break components chasing those last few %. The components and items were all lovingly depicted with extremely imaginative stylized names and art. You also had access to a massive vault to store items with no extra charge.

People complain about the stations in EnB but the hours I spent tinkering in that game were some of the most enjoyable MMO moments of my career. The ambient and tactile feel of the stations really hit the mark for me and it's hard to explain why it felt different. It's like if you walk into a building in any MMO if your honest it feels like a fairly flat feeling dolls house. EQ2, LOTR and SWG interiors feel like a box with some models and textures in it. Westwood managed to make their stations come alive, I always enjoyed going there to trade and craft it was a great part of the game.



'EVDO not 1XRTT' by RFWarrior
Submitted on 2008-01-03 12:09:01 CST
I was talking about CDMA2000 with EVDO deployed not 1XRTT. 1XRTT is technically considered a 2.5G technology while EVDO is considered a 3G technology.

Practical data rates for UMTS Standard UMTS data rates are slow as compared to EV/DO. However, a technology for UMTS (WCDMA) called HSDPA will allow UMTS carriers to match EVDO data rates. Here is sort of a quick breakdown:

Technology Theoretical Practical
WCDMA 2Mb 384Kb
CDMA2000 614Kb 307Kb
EVDO 2.4Mb 1Mb
EVDV ? 3.1Mb
HSDPA 14.4Mb 1 to 2 Mb

These numbers were taken from a Qualcomm class I attended a little while back. There numbers may have changed as new systems have been deployed.

Keep in mind that WCDA is a migration path for existing GSM carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.) not a migration path for narrow band carriers (Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular, etc.) Going to WCDMA would be a huge undertaking for these providers with not much benifit and a long list of drawbacks.

The bottom line is that we played EQ1 over a 56k (sometimes slower) modems. Heck, I played Tradewars on a 300bps modem!

-James



'Actaully...' by darrenl
Submitted on 2008-01-03 14:01:34 CST
Last I looked, HSDPA was hovering around 7.2-ish for the downlink. HSUPA was going at at 100Mb for the downlink..now that's insanity. EVDO can get as high as 4.9-ish. The numbers, I find, are all over the place depending on where you look.

And yeah, I was refering to the WCDMA technology for UMTS, which runs circles around EVDO data rates. Actually, I think some customers are using some UMTS networks for mobile video conferencing...in Japan or Europe, can't remember.

My impression has always been that Europe and Asia would get the best performance out of a cell based MMO.

...boy, we've highjacked this forum real good, eh RF ;)



'HSDPA' by Sente
Submitted on 2008-01-03 15:43:30 CST
HSDPA has a theoretical limit of 14.4 Mb/s, but providers may have support for lower max rates at the moment. Right now here in Sweden we have 4 providers for HSDPA, I think all of them with max at 7.2 and one of them soon to provide 14.4.

In practice I think speeds have been 2-2.5ish at most.




'Hijacked!!' by RFWarrior
Submitted on 2008-01-03 16:43:19 CST
LOL.

Ya, we're all a bunch of freaking tech geeks.

I wonder if Brent realizes the wide range of technical expertise his listeners have!

RFWarrior



'Participatory Evolution' by limbikfreq
Submitted on 2008-01-03 22:16:56 CST
Interesting that micro payments, crafting, and individualization/customization all came up separately. I think Brent is absolutely right in tying crafting improvements and customization together. Granted, it would be immensely difficult to create a system that allows enough flexibility to be individualized without breaking either the game mechanics or environment, and to be useful yet challenging to create. When coupled with micro payments (as a system, not revenue model) this creates the possibility of a legitimate and extensive player to player market.



'WTF with the double posting?' by limbikfreq
Submitted on 2008-01-03 22:29:37 CST
FYI, don use the "back" button after you post a comment.

In consolation, here's a few more to finish up 2007:

100% agree about art style vs shiny shiny, I would like to add that a subtle element that often gets overlooked is movement. Constant and natural animations are one thing that WOW does amazingly well. This of course goes hand in had with low poly counts (for now) since its far less demanding to move those polys.

My big positive for 2007 is figureprints, although (duh) the demand is huge and supply is limited the concept is brilliant and a very interesting step for the memory and tangibility of what we sank all this time into anyhow.

Finally, 24/7 connected game... for god sake (not that I want it) but someone put webkinz online on the nintendo DS with wifi play...

http://gonintendo.com/wp-content/photos/prints_money.gif



'Grouping despite level difference.' by Nosferum
Submitted on 2008-01-04 13:54:50 CST
---Yes, WoW made leveling quite fast (even faster with a recent patch). There comes a point where levels have no more value. There comes a point where there's no reason to begin as level 1, and players would just begin as level 59. Players who think of that as good ignore the enjoyment they get from the sense of progression. The mentoring idea is pretty good, but to assert that all games "should" use the same features is forgetting the value of variety. Certainly, much is gained when existing players meet newer players. Guilds could finally return to being long-term (rather than the millions of temporary joke guilds indicative of WoW) if they were given incentives to "mentor" to lower levels and group with newer players. Players who "grow up" in a guild, I'd argue, are more loyal to the guild.


'Constructive criticism' by scytale2
Submitted on 2008-01-09 04:41:31 CST
I think this is the only podcast that I did not make it all of the way through from VirginWorlds, which was due mainly due to the length, but also due to some other aspects. The main comments are:
a) Mainly "yes men" on the panel. By far your best podcaster is Troy and he was notable by his absence. On far too many occasions, you hear "I agree with that, Brent." Those five words are a waste of time and serve only to lengthen an already long podcast.
b) Once again no women. You have some excellent women amongst your people, of which Jenna is my personal favourite, although I can't claim to have heard everyone. Aside from the key perspective of 50% of the population, women add a different dynamic and voice variety, which made it difficult to remember who all of these voices were.
c) Lack of preparation by panellists. Clearly you had not discussed your answers to the questions beforehand, as there were many overlaps. I suggest that one tends to overlap, when your panellists think similarly, but again "I have the same answer to the next question" shows the danger of lack of prep and us listeners have to abide an extra five minutes as a result.

Generally, aside from Brent's insight, there seemed to be a lack of credibility for the panel, which is important on the main VW podcast, now we've moved into triple figures. That's not to say that they didn't have interesting stuff to say, but most have already said it on their own podcasts. Only Troy seems to have the ideas for multiple broadcasts. I really think it is time that you had industry figures on your programme, not self-appointed people (apart from, say, for small bursts of 5-10mins), although I love the idea of giving people a voice on their own shows.

Anyway, best wishes for 2008 and I look forward to #100, as usual.



'Comments on podcast' by scytale2
Submitted on 2008-01-09 04:53:32 CST
The idea of the developing legitimacy of "microtransactions" is absolutely key for the future and I would very much like to hear a programme dedicated entirely to this subject, with some professionals, who have already considered their potential uses in a visionary sense.

I must stick up again for Brad McQuaid, amongst the mud-slinging. Vanguard is still by far the most interesting fantasy option on the market. Its crafting meets the complex expectation you discussed. It has dipliomacy, which no one else has at all, plus an interesting storyline, which you crave from Bioware. Maybe I shouldn't lay these positives at the feet of Brad, but I do, as other companies have decidedly (so far) decidedly ignored to do any of them, which has made the industry rather grey. Perhaps he deserves criticism for not having the character to stick it out, when things started to go wrong, but I don't think he deserves the abuse that I have seen on some sites.

My view on the Perpetual business, albeit a not very informed one, is that the Gods and Heroes partner see themselves an opportunity to earn some money out of Star Trek, at the expense of every fan out there. Let's hope they don't succeed.



'Levelling' by scytale2
Submitted on 2008-01-09 05:00:00 CST
Just one quick last point.

I would like to see the removal of hit point gains in games, as well as "to hit" issues, where "high level" monsters cannot be hit by low level people, making them irrelevant. Not only is this unrealistic, but it does, as was suggested drive friends apart.

A focus on "new abilities" and new equipment, rather than the above two issues would make players continue to want to develop their character. Also one would only unlock quests as you levelled, yet at level 50 you would be almost as vulnerable to that "lucky dart from a kobold" as you were at Level 1.

Again it's not rocket science, just people refusing fearfully to innovate in a market which is saturated with the same old thing.



'funny...' by darrenl
Submitted on 2008-01-09 11:01:16 CST
...that you should mention the "yes men" thing for the show because I'm constantly telling Brent that he's full of shite. Twice in show 98 I think. It's a shame really that he feels the need to edit them out.

Note to Brent....leave those parts in. We need Crossfire-like drama damnit!

:)

P.S. Brent....you're full of shite.



'what are you talking about?' by Brent
Submitted on 2008-01-09 12:14:22 CST
Darren, wtf are you talking about?


'"stick up again for Brad McQuaid" - ?' by Brent
Submitted on 2008-01-09 12:18:36 CST
scytale2, you're not sticking up for Brad, you're sticking up for Vanguard - based on your arguments. Also, I should mention that no one is slinging mud on him. At this point we're all way past that. At this point we're pointing at him as an example of 1)what not to do 2)how not to manage 3)what not to say. I don't think you'd find anyone here that wouldn't agree with the your positive points regarding Vanguard. We all like parts of it and want to love all of it. What we're mostly upset about is how it was handled, not the product that resulted, or at least we're not upset about that anymore.


'Ummm...' by darrenl
Submitted on 2008-01-09 12:18:44 CST
I'm trying to create drama and excitement?

Go ahead, tell me something that I completely disagree with. Oh oh, tell me that anime characters only like crappy Canadian beer...that'll get me going.



'Also...' by darrenl
Submitted on 2008-01-09 12:24:19 CST
...on a serious note and also to add that I put down Brad as one of my heroes for 2007. Did you mis that part? Why? Because without him and what happend with VG you'd be playing a completely different version of Warhammer, Conan, LotRO, TR etc etc etc.

VG and Brad gave the whole industry a fanacial reason to deliver a solid release of thier games in terms of quality.



'accidental hero' by Brent
Submitted on 2008-01-09 13:53:18 CST
Darren, your use of Brad in that sense qualifies more as "an example" than a hero, to be honest. A heroic action implies a certain amount of purpose and intent - and I don't think Brad say around saying "if I eff this up real good, I'll be a cautionary tale for the rest of the industry and in the long run that is more valuable than my own success."

It may be true, but I don't think he intended for that to happen.



'Lablatt Blue is loved...' by Brent
Submitted on 2008-01-09 13:54:03 CST
...by every man in Ottawa.


'Vanguard and Brad' by scytale2
Submitted on 2008-01-10 07:27:15 CST
Well, I give credit for Vanguard to Brad. It appears that the developers are too upset at him to want to associiate themselves with him and give him just credit, so someone has to and if you scour the forums I am not completely alone with this opinion. The podcast certainly did not sling mud, but most people on the Vanguard forums are. The recent arrogant "I alone created Vanguard because the others were incompetent or druggies" developer post is symptomatic of him being the fall guy for what I believe was a much wider problem to do with independent developers and the power of the big players.

As far as LOTRO being good because of Vanguard, this simply wasn't the case, as I was fortunate enough to be in both betas at the same time. Vanguard had a much earlier launch date than LOTRO, but was much further behind, so LOTRO had already decided to make sure their product was more or less bug-free a long way prior, probably as a result of the EQ2/AO issues. If truth be known, most MMO developers should have realised this when DAOC launched very soon after AO and made money from a polished product at launch. Conan hasn'ty been launched yet and if no one else learns from the AO experience, they ought to; I have my fingers crossed for Funcom.

Your comment to me is not genuine, just one for laughs, which is fine, as long as people don't take it seriously.



'append..' by scytale2
Submitted on 2008-01-10 07:29:09 CST
By "your comment" I mean Darren's comment about Brad being a 2007 hero.


'hero' by darrenl
Submitted on 2008-01-10 11:40:38 CST
I was serious that I put down Brad as a hero for 2007...but for different reasons than one would think. I put him down as a "hero" because the result that was VG at it's release really set the stage for all of the "polish" talk we see now. I sort disagree with Brent on the the hero thing. Heroes do extraordinary things, and what Brad did was in that category....but I'm still thinking about this one.

I was in both betas at the same time as well, and I think you're right about LOTRO, but not the others I mentioned. I'm sure that the people over making LoTRO did take notice regarding the events over at VG.

2008 will see the first string of MMOs (Conan, WAR, etc) that have been held back for reason of "polish"...so I guess we'll see if the message was received or not.

...trust me, I have my finger on the trigger of a "WTF Happend to Polish" blog post if these guys don't deliver.