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Before I get to the point of this post, let’s review to how we got to where we are.

Fanfest 2008 CCP released a video of walking in stations and people were excited. (NOTE: You have to go to the site to see the embedded video, feed readers like Feedly might not show it.)

People were more than excited, they were chomping at the bit. Imaginations ran wild with people talking about setting up bars, gambling dens, poker games, customizing avatars, etc. There was definitely enthusiasm for moving Eve beyond “just spaceships” into actual Sci Fi simulator. CCP leadership got caught up in the enthusiasm and over the next 3 years poured more and more developers into developing this tech demo into actual content.

Somewhere along the line, though, CCP got tunnel vision and decided they had to create the ultimate avatar experience. They threw out all the code and started over; they forsook space ship development for avatar and environment building, including the underlying architecture. Grumblings about this diversion of effort increased as major and minor features that had been delivered in questionable states were left in disrepair: Factional Warfare, wormholes, sovereignty mechanics… When asked about when they could get iteration on these features they were told there was no resources for the next 18 months, and that became a powerful bitter-vet meme in of itself. :18 months: CCP was running out of time to prove its vision.

When the Incursions expansion hit, it included the new character creator and players got their first taste of Incarna. It was amazing. People loved the sheer customization and fidelity of the avatars they could create. Everyone was playing with it for hours, space politicians, pirates, null-bears… everyone agreed it was pretty amazing and overall some hope for Incarna was restored. But not CSM5. They kept asking “What’s the plan? Where’s the gameplay?” and got no good response.

Then, in June 2011, three years after that initial tease, Incarna was released. The great promise delivered… melting video cards… single uncustomizable quarters… single player only… no gameplay…. station doors that won’t open…. reports from video card makers that the technology to support more than one avatar at a time was years away…

And on top of that there was the NeX store with clothing items to customize their avatars. Hordes of people looking to get cool clothes, tattoos, implants for microtransactions instead found a limited supply and prices an order of magnitude higher than expected. What do you mean $70 for a monocle?! When the outrage poured into CCP they posted a dev blog in which they tried to defend their pricing models with the most tone deaf and defensive tone possible:


Assume for a short while that you are wearing a pair of $1,000 jeans from some exclusive Japanese boutique shop. Why would you want to wear a pair of $1,000 jeans when you can get perfectly similar jeans for under $50? What do other people think about you when they see you wearing them? For some you will look like the sad culmination of vainness while others will admire you and think you are the coolest thing since sliced bread. Whichever it is, it is clear that by wearing clothes you are expressing yourself and that the price is one of the many dimensions that clothes possess to do that in addition to style and fit. You don’t need to buy expensive clothes. In fact you don’t need to buy any clothes. Whatever you choose to do reflects what you are and what you want others to think you are.

From a certain point of view, I can see what they were trying to do. After all, your average veteran player has thousands of dollars worth of assets so pricing them in the range they picked didn’t see unreasonable, but for players expecting to pay at most $10-$20 for luxury items it seemed like a cynical money grab.

Then came the leaked internal CCP memo called Greed Is Good in which two devs debate microtransactions and their philosphy for them. Regardless of the intent or limited audience the memo was meant for, the playerbase read it and were aghast at the philosophy contained therein.

The Summer of Rage followed this trifecta of idiocy and players rioted on forums, in blogs, and even in game. Three years of planning and development and players were not logging in and quitting accounts in droves. Then, on August 5, less than two months after Incarna release, CEO of CCP, Hilmar Pétursson posted a dev blog that basically apologized to the entire playerbase:


Somewhere along the way, I began taking success for granted. As hubris set in, I became less inclined to listen to pleas for caution. Red flags raised by very smart people both at CCP and in the community went unheeded because of my stubborn refusal to allow adversity to gain purchase on our plans. Mistakes, even when they were acknowledged, often went unanalyzed, leaving the door open for them to be repeated.
You have spoken, loudly and clearly, with your words and with your actions. And there were definitely moments in recent history when I wish I would have listened more and taken a different path.
I was wrong and I admit it.

The end result was Crucible expansion. Although we got the other three captain’s quarters for our avatars, from that point on Incarna was for all intents and purposes abandoned.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

The Point!

Its time to consider giving Incarna a second chance.

Incarna, that is to say walking and interacting in stations, is in of itself not a bad idea; indeed players were clamouring for it after Fanfest 2008. It was just CCP’s poor planning and implementation that were bad.

It feels like CCP got their fingers so burnt by the players’ ire that they have overreacted and virtually abandoned any Incarna development. I’ve thought about how to rescue Incarna and the NeX Store before, listing out a fake product backlog of features that could bring gameplay content and interaction into the current structure and got a lot of positive feedback. Players do want walking in stations, they do want customizable avatars, they will accept reasonable microtransactions for cosmetic enhancements, they just do not want it at the cost of all in-space development and feature iteration.

I fear its too late now that with Rubicon CCP is heading on a new 3 year plan that by all indications does not include any Incarna related development (updated character creator notwithstanding). There is an opportunity here for a competing sci-fi MMO to step up and fill the need of combining space ships with avatars (and no, Star Trek Online is not it).

TL;DR – It’s time to give Incarna a second chance.

62 Comments

  1. bojangles

    F**k incarna and all its derivatives. Fix the broken stuff first.

    October 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm Reply
    1. nigger jim

      everybody always screams that, besides POSes, which is an expansion in itself, whats left?

      October 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm Reply
      1. Sold

        Sov mechanics. Good luck with that.

        October 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm Reply
        1. nigger jim

          sov wont be touched with a 10 foot pole. its in the same category as pos mechanics. devs are scared of it

          October 1, 2013 at 9:29 pm Reply
          1. Bp920091

            Simple solution, tie sov to alliance activity in the system (not blue activity, could be mining, ratting, market activity, etc) and moons to sov. fixes renters, moongoo, and is a major hit to these gigantic coalitions. You want alliance level resources? then you have to actually use the space. Implement charters for 0.0 and lowsec moons (allows roamers to claim moons).

            Devs wont do anything because half of them are involved in said big alliances (already claiming space, and they receive plenty of kickbacks from their corps/alliances).

            October 1, 2013 at 9:46 pm
          2. Playos

            You missed his point… the code base is complex and interconnected… over the last 3 expansions, there has been a concerted effort to de-tangle it and make it modular.

            Today, by my count from reading dev blogs, forum notes, ext… the hardest nuts to crack are Overview, Corp Management, and the Market… Overview can survive a while longer, while an overhaul would be nice and everyone would like it, no one is screaming for it… similarly the Market got a face lift and has been getting server side improvements more than anything, again, it aint broken, but some improvements that should be low hanging fruit seem to passed up because the complexity and risk/reward of breaking it are insane. The last one, Corp Management, is literately tied into EVER “broken” system and is already well under attack. War Decs and Crimewatch for non-concord kills, Corp hangars everywhere (POS, ships, ext), roles on POSes making alliance and public use range from PITA to impossible, sov mechanics, ext… Hell, it’s even become a pain in the ass for DUST.

            tl;dr; Devs aren’t avoiding fixing sov… or anything else… because of anything other than code complexity. The last 2 years have been them fixing a running motor without losing an arm or breaking it.

            October 2, 2013 at 2:44 am
        2. d.c.

          Sov mechanics are fine, it’s not CCPs fault that people try to do it in bombers.

          October 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm Reply
      2. boja

        Isn’t that enough? Talk about incarna after that cocking mess is overhauled.

        October 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm Reply
  2. no to incarna

    “Its time to consider giving Incarna a second chance.”

    NO

    October 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm Reply
    1. Dumbledore

      HELLS NO.

      October 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm Reply
    2. Ok

      Why not?

      October 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm Reply
      1. CMIV

        Because it will take away a lot of development resource from the core of EvE Online – Spaceships.

        EvE Online – A game about spaceships.

        not

        EvE Online – You can walk around and see other avatars, just like Second Life.

        October 1, 2013 at 9:50 pm Reply
        1. hun dude

          It’s more like

          EvE Online: Spinning your ship while waiting for fleet up
          or EvE Online: Playing other games while waiting for jabber ping
          or EvE Online: watching Breaking Bad while mining/camping/ratting
          or EvE Online: trolling for forum likes while changing the skillqueue

          I think Eve could use some casual elements when we just want to log in and do some random stuff without playing 3-4 hours to actually achieve something and wis could be what fills that hole. I kind of agree with incarna’s second chance not being here yet. Maybe if CCP wouldn’t work on so many side projects, they would be able to work on both at the same time. Eve really could use some new angles anyway (without touching the core gameplay of course). The active playerbase wasn’t growing at all in the last 2-3 years according to eve-offline.

          October 1, 2013 at 10:50 pm Reply
          1. CMIV

            I suggest you try flying spaceships in-game. It’s much more fun that just staying docked up.

            October 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm
      2. guest

        opportunity cost

        October 2, 2013 at 1:00 am Reply
  3. Zloco

    Imo CCP needs at least 1-2 more teams for EVE online so they can deliver more juicy expansion. Beside that CCP would need at least 3 more teams to develop WIS with some significant content.
    With these 500k subscribers they can not afford it. EVE would need or 500k more players or DUST514 or Valkyrie to suddenly become successful.

    October 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm Reply
    1. Billy

      “With these 500k subscribers they can not afford it. ”

      You are wrong, they can afford it, but they choose to spend the money on other things. How much did Dust 514 cost? I bet there were a few hundred people involved in making that game at least.

      Even after the redundancies a few years ago they announced they had 70 people working on WoD.

      just imagine what they could have done with Eve if they had an extra couple of hundred people working on it. Imagine all that art done for Dust, all the models, landscapes, vehicles has instead been focused on making Eve look as good as possible.

      October 1, 2013 at 11:41 pm Reply
      1. Zloco

        Nahh…like every sane company CCP needs to differentiate their products. Whatever CCP did to EVE it will never have a multimillion audience. After all it is a niche, hardcore space sim.

        They did a good thing going for DUST514. It will take of eventually, slowly as EVE did. And this is a good way to bring few more couple of hundreds players into new Eden.

        Valkyrie can big the jackpot. The product that will bring in lots of cash. Let’s hope they execute it better than they did with DUST514

        Also, i am sure DUST514 will become eventually thw WIS content that will all call for.

        October 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm Reply
  4. Tir Rosso

    I for one agree with the author. I was excited to see Incarna and the ability to get out of our pods to add to the immersion level of the EVE universe. I too was disappointed that we didn’t see more then what was provided. The initial go was exciting despite the backlash CCP received…which I don’t disagree, was deserved.

    The current game as it is is great but I think the audience it could appeal to would be much broader if it offered avatars that could interact with one another. Assuming a certain level of game play is provided which it certainly isn’t today.

    Unless someone making the decisions in CCP gets the bug in their pants to go iterate on Incarna, I expect it will fall to the way side in favor of spending resources on their other projects…EVE: Spaceships, DUST 514, and now Valkyrie. I think Incarna should have been treated as a project like UST 514 / Valkyrie…a separate game that was integrated into the EVE universe.

    October 1, 2013 at 9:20 pm Reply
    1. Dumbledore

      A separate game, yeah, done by a separate company, for separate machines and separate audience.

      October 1, 2013 at 9:21 pm Reply
    2. Billy

      “The initial go was exciting despite the backlash CCP received…”

      The problem was it was the main feature of the expansion. The second being the shop that was directly tied to the first. And in total it was entertaining for about an hour at most. Walk around, look at my ship, sit on the couch, look in the mirror, press a few buttons laugh at the prices in the store and then log out. Expansion complete

      October 1, 2013 at 11:38 pm Reply
  5. Alex

    The same people who foam at the mouth against WiS are the people who are basically responsible for enforcing CCP’s cardboard, unambitious updates and stagnant gameplay that later leads them to constantly threaten to leave the game.

    I honestly dgaf anymore about how someone’s favorite UI sub-menu is “broken” or about how sov is too this and too that. No one’s going to jizz themselves over slightly increased grid load performance. Modular POS and warp acceleration changes are about as tantalizing as a getting a smelly coat dry-cleaned. They’re not an expansion.

    October 1, 2013 at 9:23 pm Reply
    1. Chris

      And yet, its still something important that needs to be done, and I am always excited when a broken mechanic gets fixed. Much more so than fluff features that I’ll get tired of in a day or two.
      Regardless over what you think, Sov and PVP are the core aspects of the game. Denying so is simply wrong. Its what has given eve its long history and keeps many people playing. I would much rather game fixes occur to fixes problems in these areas through the course of multiple expansions, rather than trying to disguise the core problems with features that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, like WIS.

      That being said. I feel CCP needs some more people to speed up these fixes.

      October 1, 2013 at 10:24 pm Reply
    2. Tir Rosso

      The only gameplay I feel that has been stagnant has been high-sec…which I got out of years ago. If you’ve been in null-sec or WHs I think you’d feel that the impact of the updates we’ve been provided over the last year. Which is why the changes they’ve recently announced are, in my opinion, worthy of being called an expansion.

      Warp Acceleration changes and Module POS are going to change the game play significantly. You’re leaving out the changes to Marauders which not only include new animations but additional features like the MJD delay timer reduction and the Bastion mode. The new SOE of ships look amazing and are very functional from the specs we’ve been given thus far.

      I’m not sure how impressed I am with Twitch integration…but I’m sure someone will be happy about it. I know I’ve loved the exploration changes that came with Odyssey.

      Is your opinion for or against Ambulation? I’m not sure if that was clear in your response.

      October 1, 2013 at 10:34 pm Reply
  6. Orakkus

    Agreed. The Ambulation concept, the initial ideas were (and still are) awesome. And let’s face reality.. there will *always* be things that are “broken” in Eve Online because that is just how MMOs are, so using that as an excuse isn’t plausible.
    The Reality is that Eve Online will need more avenues for players to make content. Avatars, real options and reasons to get out a ship, social events, etc. will give players that opportunity and more importantly will pull in more vic.. err, people, yes, that’s the word, who don’t play the game now because it is so impersonal.

    October 1, 2013 at 9:26 pm Reply
  7. Can’t we create a Kickstarter campaign? Would $5 or $10 million do it? I’ll bet people who don’t play EVE might even contribute to helping CCP fund Ambulation. Combine their work on Dust & the progress they’ve already made, I’d think they could pull off an actual release in the next year or two.

    October 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm Reply
  8. Tegiminis

    Is it tough putting a dutch angle and motion blur on pictures? Because it’s really ugly.

    October 1, 2013 at 9:36 pm Reply
  9. Prial

    I basically don’t see much in this for another year or until we get more WoD news. To me Wod became their Incarna 2.0

    October 1, 2013 at 9:40 pm Reply
    1. Billy

      I don’t think we will hear anything about WoD for a long time. They have been at it for years and from the little thats leaked out they are still working on the big picture ideas and haven’t really started work on the game itself.

      October 1, 2013 at 11:33 pm Reply
  10. And that other MMO is

    Star Citizen if it can avoid feature creep said that there would be the ability to engage in combat out of your ship.

    October 1, 2013 at 9:45 pm Reply
    1. Billy

      AND on your ship. You can invade another players ship and kill the crew to take over the ship using FPS mechanics. there will also be ground based combat. Bars, shops etc. will all be in the game.

      to top it off, have you seen the ships. My God the ships are amazing light years ahead of anything CCP have to offer.

      October 1, 2013 at 11:32 pm Reply
  11. whywontthisrememberme

    I have said this before: CCP are incapable of delivering new, innovative code.

    WIS preview was shown in 2008 – it’s nearly 2014 now..

    Also see Dust.

    October 1, 2013 at 11:49 pm Reply
  12. Scott Lockwood III

    Why you will never see WoD: the one thing this leaves out is how Hilmar chose to pay for his mistake – by laying off most of the White Wolf staff, leaving it a skeleton of a company, and having only 4 dev’s left to work on WoD. So basically, he paid for it on the backs of the work force in America who were providing quality content that didn’t suck balls to a fan base that cared. Oh, and they did it right at the end of Grande Masquerade 2011 just to add insult to injury.

    Why pay for your own mistakes when you can just fuck over the little people, right Hilmar?

    October 2, 2013 at 12:02 am Reply
    1. qwero

      well, thats how business works. the CEOs and managers rarely have to pay for their mistakes.

      October 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm Reply
  13. Atogrim

    Yupp, true!

    October 2, 2013 at 12:09 am Reply
  14. imsosly

    …stfu.

    October 2, 2013 at 12:54 am Reply
  15. Stoner

    Turn Dust514 into Eve514 and give us cross platform gameplay. Rework Sov, Add FPS to the mix of taking systems, make it so ships shoot outside shields while the grunts hack the systems mainframe. Make alliances choose a Capital or Main system. Other systems around it would need to fall. If theres no stations grunts hack SBU’s or somesuch i dunno im jus armchair devvin. I tell you this though, I would play eves sov grind of a hellish feature if it had some fps aspects as described above.

    October 2, 2013 at 12:57 am Reply
  16. alx

    You really have your point. Although as you said, it is time to give CCP Seagull her chance with rubicon. Incarna engine has already turned into DUST514, it is not that it is completely stopped or wasted. Also, For the first time they are working in the POS revamp, as they said the structures coming will become something else in the future… Anyway… we should wait for further DUST514 and World of Darkness development and progress to think about trowing it back to eve.

    October 2, 2013 at 1:55 am Reply
    1. Cloora

      DUST514 and EVE avatars are two totally different engines.

      October 2, 2013 at 1:57 am Reply
  17. Guest

    No ! I won’t play seems at all
    Delette Captain’s Quarters that will be the best idea…

    October 2, 2013 at 2:59 am Reply
  18. Dyfchris

    No ! I won’t play sims at all
    Delette Captain’s Quarters that will be the best idea…

    October 2, 2013 at 2:59 am Reply
    1. Michael Meio

      At the current level of development and looking at the whole thing’s outlook forecast it doesn’t seems likea bad idea.. at all. EVE is better without it, period!

      October 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm Reply
  19. some dude

    CCP should try to do something about Eve if they don’t want their player base to drop when Star Citizen comes out. Expanding the Incarna concept might be that thing. I’m saying that as an Eve fan not as a CCP hater (too many of those on the forums as always).

    October 2, 2013 at 3:47 am Reply
  20. Guest

    In itself, on its own, in vacuum(har har) it is not a bad idea.

    In the real world, where it takes CCP a few months just to rebalance few frigates, or to put a circular menu into the game, it is a horrible idea that will take YEARS to complete, and will suck the resources out of all other projects like a taiwanese ladyboy.

    And since WiS was never important in any way – it does not bring in or expand on the game mechanics – it should stay buried forever.

    October 2, 2013 at 8:31 am Reply
  21. Ur Stupid

    There are more important things to do first, such as sov mechanics and the super proliferation. This can wait for a while longer.

    October 2, 2013 at 9:42 am Reply
    1. yup

      I agree, There is still much ccp needs to do to get the sov mechanics in line and creating more conflict drivers for smaller entities. after that eve should be an overwhelming blast and I excpect ccp to come out with walking in stations with gambling drinking, bla, bla.

      October 2, 2013 at 9:59 am Reply
  22. LOL.

    fuck wis, go fis! seriously, there is enough to improve for the space stuff we all love – why this wis stuff again? If i want to walk arround i can play any other mmo.

    October 2, 2013 at 10:19 am Reply
  23. fartwiggler

    Actually, the first whiff of ambulation / wis was at fanfest 2006 (dev blog about it: http://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/walking-in-stations/) …. by 2008 it’d become sufficiently vaporware that i just stopped caring.

    October 2, 2013 at 10:42 am Reply
    1. fartwiggler
      October 2, 2013 at 10:46 am Reply
  24. Durk

    As much as I would like to have a good WIS experience, I just don’t see CCP being able to do a good job at it. The captain’s quarters is the result of yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaars of work and maximum resource investments and it’s basicly nothing more than a (crappy) tech demo.

    Maybe in ten years…

    October 2, 2013 at 10:43 am Reply
  25. bob

    Ummm Just No! Eve has and always should be about intarweb spaceships. Spend the resources on enriching that experience with more features and content.

    October 2, 2013 at 10:59 am Reply
  26. Guest

    I’d have prefered CCP to seriously work on atmospheric flight instead of this Incarna shit. What the point of doing some cybersex in stations ?!? C’mon, we already have enough risk-aversion carebears, we do not need them to slack and theorycraft in stations.

    October 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm Reply
    1. The Obvious

      Because this game isn’t about what I want or you want. It’s about giving opportunities for what anyone might want. Opportunities to do more varied things within the game.

      October 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm Reply
      1. Snargle

        Only if these things follow the basic design philosophy of EVE: you can’t affect other players gameplay without allowing the chance for your own to be effected.

        To wit: if you can walk around the station, I should be able to shoot you dead if we are at war, or in low or null. I should be able to shoot you dead and then be killed by automated defenses if we are in high with no war dec.

        The only place your ship is safe is docked in the hangar.

        The only place your avatar should be safe is alone in the Captain’s Quarters.

        October 3, 2013 at 7:10 am Reply
  27. Michael Meio

    The reverse gear.. You just don’t have one!
    I’m glad to see an EN24 good article from time to time. Kudos OP!
    This reveals a bit of the inner clockwork about INCARNA and a nice chronology of it’s failure.
    Have this time and effort been invested in something, ANYTHING other than Barbie™ doll makeover, CCP would be expanding New Eden.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love EVE Online. It’s the only MMO I’ve played for 6 years and I have not much input to add about other MMO’s but even I can say this:
    CCP: DO YOU REALIZE HOW F&%*ING LUCKY YOU ARE?
    I mean, EA missed a beat and slipped off track by an inch on the Sim City™ saga and it almost cut a full division from the company. You are like the only guy that can live to tell after failing by a foot in comparison!
    Having both INCARNA and DUST514 accounted as fail and you survived!
    All you had to do was take care of your player base. Listen to them and acknowledge via improvements, recognition and new content.. That wasn’t so hard!.. Now you are busy again embracing Valkyrie and Oculus Rift as yet another ‘battlehorse’..
    I don’t want to fall on the dark prophet category but please, PLEASE try not to fail again, cuz to be honest, you’re not the best looking one in the neighborhood anymore.

    October 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm Reply
  28. JohnnyWalker

    Agreed. Now where did I put that walking cane..

    October 3, 2013 at 11:35 am Reply
  29. Kama Kairade

    I’d be playing DUST right now if I could leave my ship in a hangar, hop in a suit, and drop on a planet. I cannot imagine the sheer incompetence and lack of vision which brought us to our current situation. Had DUST been an eve expansion (aka Incarna), I think everyone would have been much happier.

    October 3, 2013 at 6:33 pm Reply
  30. themittani's ass

    still waiting on that walking in stations promise. It would be great.

    October 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm Reply
  31. Seraph Castillon

    You’re right of course. The player base back then was angry because all those resources spent delivered nothing but a fairly useless feature. They should have never stopped improving and expanding gameplay to develop this in the first place. They should have hired extra staff and have them work on it. CCP gets plenty of income to do that. They also should never have abandonned it once they had the basics. I guess their are using those basics in DUST right now, but what does that do for us?

    October 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm Reply
  32. Didn't rage-quit over Incarna

    I agree that some work on Incarna should be brought back. EVE will be hurt by Star Citizen but if it has this sort of avatar based gameplay as well then the more ‘hardcore’ and player driven aspects of EVE will keep it competitive.

    Star Citizen is focused on immersion, and while the direct flight control will probably draw some players away, the sheer depth of gameplay will make it compete with EVE, even though it is less of an MMO. With more “walking in stations” EVE can remain competitive with that, as it will still have the pull of the player driven sandbox that Star Citizen won’t, with the inability to own space and the more controlled market.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:26 am Reply
  33. Nebulis

    My (spaceship) cockpit is my house….I have co-pilot (girlfriend), medic (girlfriend), Cook (girlfriend), All pun’s were intended….

    October 19, 2013 at 4:08 am Reply
  34. John Masters

    I would like to have a 3-d interaction with my agents. Why are we still READING mission offers? It would be a great use of the character models already developed for the agents. Just give them a script and time the mouth movements to the sound.

    October 20, 2013 at 4:12 am Reply

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