YukoAsho / Member

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YukoAsho Blog

Wake Me Six Months Before Release.

It's E3 time, and I could give a **** less.

Yep, it's that time of year when we're fed barely anything real. Target videos, hype reels, and other shit that's completely fucking irrelevant to what the final product will be. We've all been on this roller coaster before, some of us many, many times, and more often than not, it leads to disappointment.

There was a time when I was excited for every E3, and would just sit there, GLUED to every morsel of information I could get my hands on. Those times have passed. But why?

A few things. One, I've got a few gaming youtubers on my feed, so anything I give a solitary **** about will just slide itself into my notifications, and all is good. More importantly, we've all been disappointed by games not looking or playing anywhere near as well as their hype videos (damn near every big Ubisoft release lately, among others). It gets just exhausting trying to sort out the truth from fiction.

Put bluntly, why am I going to get into a frothing mess over some game that's almost certain to look vastly different than it does in the heavily doctored hype video? Especially as the two biggest presences on the show floor, EA and Activision, are increasingly removed from my sphere of interest? Especially when specialty media will fill me in better closer to an interesting product's release?

So this year, I'm backing out. I'm content to wait for some other poor soul to wade through the bullshit and bring me stuff that might be interesting to me. I'll wait for the fevered hype until a game's close to release. Finding needles in haystacks is for the young folks.

Years Away From a New Console, Why the Rush?

So the PS5 was recently re-announced, even though there's nowhere near what can be called a final spec for the machine. We're probably another year from even having a real, concrete idea of what the PS5 will offer, let alone a set-in-stone specification or a price point. The promises are being thrown out there, though, with 8K being bandied about as a talking point (For all you guys playing your games on actual movie theater screens), but there's little on specifics.

Sony's reason for talking about the system SO early is sound. They're sending early dev kits to third parties, and don't want leaks to overshadow the next few years of marketing, so they're getting the initial announcement out of the way. However, why is it so important to get all the information on the new system NOW? Yes, the PS4 is approaching its sixth anniversary, but the system will likely see the 7th before the PS5 has been finalized. Hell, it might see the 8th, depending on now fast Sony wants to go.

There's still plenty of awesome coming in the coming years for the PS4, so let's all slow down and appreciate it. At the end of the day, it's not systems we play, but games. I still gotta pick up Days Gone, and Death Stranding is still on the horizon. Let's enjoy the games, and let the PS5 come when it comes. Hell, slowing our roll also helps Sony take their time on the system, make sure all the bugs are ironed out and all that.

The Revival of the Classics.

It's no secret that homebrew has been a thing for a while now on the popular platforms of the old days (the NES, SNES, Genesis, Amiga...), and new consoles have come out to play them, greatly improving on the shitty Famiclones of yesteryear. Even at the lower end, HDMI enabled clone consoles like the Super Retro Trio Plus are playing much better than they used to, and we have bangin' high-end options like the AVS, Analogue Nt Mini/Super Nt, and the upcoming Mega Sg. And of course, the Retron 5 is still a thing, and still very worth it (just throw away that fucking controller it comes with and use either an OEM controller or one of the awesome premium controllers Hyperkin is putting out now). I hear the Retro Freak is also pretty awesome. Gotta give that one a try, if only because it supports TG-16.

Then there are the re-releases. In the last couple years, Retro-Bit has been working with obscure companies to bring NES and SNES cartridges out, from the Data East All-Star Collection and Holy Diver on NES, to SNES offerings like the Jaleco Brawler's Pack and R-Type Returns. Retro-Bit has even gone one extra by putting out a bundle of the SR3+ with a Joe and Mac Ultimate Caveman Collection cart.

The rise in quality of the controllers being offered, that's understandable, as controllers break and a good replacement is worth its weight in gold (by the say, about time someone started putting out quality Saturn controllers, cannot fucking wait!). But the spike in quality of the clones is interesting. One would think that Retro-bit would try to make its own take on the Retron5/Retro Freak emulation consoles and call it a day, but it seems that improving the old NOACs into something with better compatibility is on both major retro company's minds (both RetronHD and RES+ play Castlevania III!).

So why is it that we're seeing this huge rise in interest with retro gaming platforms? Can't just be us crotchety ol' folks, as most of us have the original systems and ways to get good output out of them if that's what we're in for. Young folks? I'd be amazed if they even recognize the difference between hardware-based solutions and emulators on their PC, but someone's gotta be buying all this shit.

So it defies all sense that there's this growing niche of gamers who are putting money into gaming that's this damned old, but here we are. Is it all just nostalgia, or is there something that modern gaming is missing that is driving people back? More Xbox gamers are probably pining for single player and local multiplayer, but the Switch and PS4 offer one or both of those in spades. Perhaps games are too complex nowadays? I can see people being turned off by all the buttons, motion controls, VR and other extraneous bull that gets in the way of just playing a game.

Either way, it looks like we're in a boom market for the older consoles, and it doesn't look to be letting up any time soon. I for one welcome the comeback of old-school gaming. How about you guys? Any of you enjoying the new retro resurgence?

On a side note, you might wonder why I suddenly got this on my mind. Well, I have the Retron5, AVS and Analogue Super Nt, with plans to get the Mega SG on its release, and just recently picked up a couple of Hyperkin Cadet NES controllers and the Data East All-Star Collection. Look forward to my thoughts after I've played with 'em some more, but suffice to say, they're mostly positive.

The (Apparent) Decline of the Xbox.

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it!?

After that whole Gamergate mess, I rather became disillusioned with games media in general, and really just kept away for a few years, just to clear my head. Hopefully I'll be able to get back in the groove, but it seems that, outside the fringes at least, we can get back to talking about video-games again, and that's what I'm in for.

And what a time to talk about games! Microsoft has announced that they're bringing Xbox Live services to Android, iOS and Switch, and while it's VERY unlikely that you'll be able to use their services to play online on Switch in lieu of Nintendo's, it does seem a portent of things to come.

It's no secret that the Xbox One has not enjoyed great success worldwide, only selling 41.4 million units since it launched in late 2013, putting it in a pathetic spot against the PS4 (92.2 million), and with the Switch, a console that came out in 2017, looming closer in the rear view mirror than Microsoft would like (30.3 million).

Let's not mince words here, the Xbox One is a failure, especially outside North America. While it's no surprise that Japan laughs at the idea of buying a Microsoft consoles, Europe isn't exactly embracing MS either, and the market that carried Sony through the tough first half of the PS3's lifespan has remained a stalwart ally during this generation as well.

Honestly, I'd go so far as to say that the Xbox 360 was a fluke. Had Sony not essentially sacrificed the PS3 to win the HD movie format war, the Xbox 360 would likely have sold somewhere between the OG Xbox's numbers and the numbers the Xbox One has now. The PS3's initial failures allowed MS to leapfrog Sony in North America and actually hold onto Europe for a while, forcing Japanese third parties in particular to stop ignoring the platform, which gave them a whole lot more parity in game selection.

Now? That parity is gone. Microsoft's mostly getting only the surefire hits from Namco, Square-Enix (with the obvious exception of the Eidos games, where MS still gets parity) and Capcom, while the rest of the Japanese development community focuses mostly on the PS4 and Switch, with the occasional token Xbone port. And make no mistake, even if you don't play Japanese games, this is a big issue, because it highlights the real issue with Xbox One - a DIRE lack of reason to buy the thing.

You're not going to get Activision and EA to make games exclusively to Xbox One OR PS4, so they're not really a reason TO buy an Xbox One instead of a PS4. Halo is in decline judging by 5, and Gears 4 suggests we've seen that franchise's peak as well. There's Forza, yeah, but it's not like quality racing games are hard to find on either platform, and Crackdown? Crackdown 3 is NOT showing what the prolonged development period was for. Meanwhile, Sony and Nintendo are pumping out exclusives that keep knocking sales and perception out the park, with Nintendo finally getting it in their heads that they actually have to make games and not just party favors. Say what you will about Nintendo, they've learned at least that lesson from the Wii U's failure well.

So that leads us to today. While Sony does have PlayStation Now, they're not pimping it NEARLY as much as Microsoft is pimping Xbox Game Pass. Instead, Sony continues to amaze and astound with new and established IP alike, while Nintendo returns to making stellar evergreen games. Microsoft? It seems every bit of good news about them involves other platforms, be it playing Fortnite and Minecraft with PC and Switch players, or indeed their Xbox initiative for the rival Nintendo switch. Sea of Thieves was a hot mess, State of Decay 2 was a non-event and Crackdown 3 looks like the best Xbox 360 game of the year. Where's the excitement for playing Xbox games on Xbox, that you can't play on platforms that aren't Xbox?

There just seems to be this overwhelming feeling of... surrender. Microsoft just looks like they're ready to wave the white flag. The company as a whole is profitable, but it's no secret that the Xbox division has been an albatross around the company's neck for most of its existence. With PC having reached maturation as a market and MS Office remaining the dominant office suite, Microsoft's issue isn't profit, but growth. The Xbox hasn't really helped the company grow, and while I personally like Bing, let's not act like it's putting a dent in Google's hold on the search engine market. While it moves into cloud services to fight Amazon, I'm not sure it can keep this game console lark going for much longer.

Unless the next generation Xbox lights the world on fire, what does Microsoft really see happening? Do they just turn Xbox into a PC game streaming service? Not sure how viable that would be for fast-paced action games outside of the US' major coastal centers, but it's not like Xbox has really ever been a global phenomenon. Honestly, I can see them turning inward, making more PC games, putting out the surefire stuff on Sony or Nintendo platforms while the rest is just PC/Game Pass. Maybe put out a game pass streaming box, try to be Onlive 2.0. However, Microsoft can't just keep making consoles that lose money the way they've been doing.

Personally, I hate the idea of losing a manufacturer, and the competition that it brings. While MS' contributions to gaming have sometimes been detrimental (pay for online, microtransactions, et al), they proved to be a successful check against Sony's hubris, keeping core gaming going while Nintendo went off the deep end with the Wii. However, for the Xbox, as a distinct bit of hardware, to be a viable contender, they need to make their own platform exciting again, and that means a massive investment in first/second party games. The Xbox needs its' definitive games, more than just Halo and Gears, that really make people say "I need to get an Xbox."

While they focus on spreading Live everywhere, though, I don't see it happening.

DmC and the Benefit of the Doubt.

As some of you may know, DmC: Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition is being released shortly. Now, there's one documented edit being made, as Eddie Makuch sensationalizes here.

Now, at first glance, it does seem like Ninja Theory and Capcom are kowtowing to SJW meddling.

During a early cut-scene, main antagonist Mundus is outlining his nefarious plans with his demon mistress Lilith. In the original game, the scene plays out like this.

Mundus: "Soon I will own everything worth owning. I will control the world through debt. I have absolute power."

Lilith: "The world is at last your bitch. As am I. Nothing left but to grab it by the hair, bend it over over, and f..."

The Definitive Edition version, however, keeps Mundus' line intact, but shortens Lilith's to chop off the suggestive bit.

Mundus: "Soon I will own everything worth owning. I will control the world through debt. I have absolute power."

Lilith: "The world is at last your bitch."

Seems pretty damning, doesn't it? However, there's more to the story, as we see by reading more of the article.

DMC: Devil May Cry also contains an implied sex scene between Mundus and Lilith, which remains intact in the Definitive Edition. The alteration of the cut-scene was first discovered by Eurogamer.

In a statement to GameSpot, Nijna Theory creative director Tameem Antoniades the decision to alter the dialogue between Mundus and Lilith.

"We did make an edit to the opening cut scene. It wasn't a case of censorship as there are far more suggestive scenes in the game," he said.

"We felt that scene in particular drags on a little bit for the opening sequence and frankly, we didn't like the line. Those few seconds were irrelevant to the scene and is covered effectively in a later scene where Mundus is metaphorically shafting world leaders."

Now, consider the lines I've put in bold for a moment. While I would have had Lilith's line cut off after "... As am I," it seems as though Ninja Theory is less concerned with censorship and more concerned with improving the narrative. I certainly appreciate that. That line is completely useless in the context of the opening, and only serves as padding in an already stupidly long opening. Now, if other, more suggestive content is kept in the game, then we can let Ninja Theory off the hook. At worst, this is just them trying to make the game a smoother experience for newer users, which is fine, although as George Lucas will attest, that can earn a different type of ire... I'm getting ahead of myself.

Basically, smoothing out a single line doesn't necessarily mean that Ninja Theory and Capcom are in cahoots with Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quin and Brianna Wu, especially if Lilith remains dressed the way she is in that scene. See, while gamers are understandably paranoid about SJW meddling - and who wouldn't be when Giant Bomb, the former gold standard for integrity, marches in lock-step with Sarkeesian and co? - the fact remains that developers and publishers need to be given the benefit of the doubt. If other suggestive content is conspicuously cut, then we can tar and feather Ninja Theory. If Street Fighter V comes out and Cammy is covered up head-to-toe without so much as an ankle showing, then we can rail against Capcom (at least for submitting to SJWs, Capcom has other sins...).

Basically, what I'm saying is that, in the war against the enemy, we must hold onto the integrity that differentiates ourselves from them. We must not rush to conclusions, or paint with a broad brush, or we become no different. Let's see what the final version is like before we get the pitchforks out, yeah?

Shouting About Unimportant Things.

In the wake of my most recent blog post, I had this posted on my GB wall.

Slang_N_Bang posted on yukoasho’s wall.Mar 6, 10:28pm

It's video games, it's fucking video games. Stop acting like GG is about anything serious. It's about a so-called crusade in "Entertainment Reporting Ethics". ALSO CRITICS AND DEVS ARENT JOURNALISTS

I can't say I'm surprised that some people decided that venom was the best response. I also can't say I'm entirely faultless. I'd assumed that everyone had heard of the baleful "joke" that Tim Schafer made at the expense of women and minorities who don't agree with his ideology, and decided not to go on about it here. However, it seems I have to go on about it, so here goes.

At GDC 2015, Tim Schafer decided to, with all the subtlety and tact of a Tetsuya Nomura character design, mock minorities and women in the #NotYourShield camp by implying they were all sock puppets, fake accounts created by white male misogynists on behalf of #GamerGate.

Now, the reason I posted those other videos on my previous blog post was to counteract this assertion. There are more than a few women and minorities who don't agree with the ultra-leftist ideology that is being spewed by the anti-GG camp, and that none of them - none of us - are sock puppets. We exist, and we don't need Tim or anyone else telling us what to think, and what to believe.

Now, whatever view you may have on GG or Anita Sarkeesian or any other such topic is neither here nor there. However, I should hope that we all can agree that people who express their opinions and are willing to listen to others are at the very least entitled to have their existence acknowledged, are entitled to a place at the debate table. The present reality, however, is that there really isn't a debate table so much as an arena full of rabid dobermans on the far left and far right ripping into each-other, like every other debate in the modern United States, and arguably throughout the western world. I truly believe that we're at a point where no one really cares about the status of women and minorities in gaming anymore, and are instead using that talking point as a bludgeon to further deep-set political and ideological dogma. What more proof is needed than someone mocking women and minorities for not towing the company line.

And that it's this man in particular is especially harmful. While I've certainly got no attachment to his games, there are many others who love what this guy has brought to the industry with games like Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Day of the Tentacle, Brutal Legend, and so on. Lots of people looked up to this guy, above all others, would be tempered and wise enough to be a unifying voice, rather than a dividing one. Instead, he goes up on stage at a prestigious event and opens up wounds that were on the verge of healing, and here we are again.

While I don't really have a "side" in the debate, I've never been shy in expressing my sympathies toward the #GamerGate and #NotYourSheild movements. It's no secret that modern games media is very chummy with developers and publishers, and is more likely to protect than criticize them. I find established reviewers to be less trustworthy with each passing year, and I often look to alternative media when trying to figure out issues in gaming from people without a clear political bend. As such, I've been called a misogynist among other things by any number of people, here and elsewhere. However, that comment on my wall strikes me as the most odd attempt to silence dissent.

Slang_N_Bang posted on yukoasho’s wall.Mar 6, 10:28pm

It's video games, it's fucking video games. Stop acting like GG is about anything serious. It's about a so-called crusade in "Entertainment Reporting Ethics". ALSO CRITICS AND DEVS ARENT JOURNALISTS

If what people are complaining isn't a serious issue, than why post this on my wall? Why shout me down if it's "just video games"? Is asking to be able to trust reviewer opinions too much to ask? Is expecting people like Patrick Klepick to give fair reporting to both sides of this or any number of issues a bad thing? And while I'm at it, why does gaming media get to call itself journalism when it wants to be taken seriously, but then retreat to being "bloggers" the instant hard questions come up? If this isn't really a problem ,and I'm just imagining things, why post something like this on my wall, instead of just leaving me alone?

Perhaps the anti-GGers protest too much?

In the end, I think that's all I ask. Not anything special, not any sort of elevated position. Just leave me, and people with opinions like me, to talk. A place at the table is all anyone wants, because no matter what some say, this is an important issue, and it deserves to not go away.

A message to Tim Schafer

I'm sure you all have seen the hurtful "joke" Tim Schafer put out at GDC2015. I could go on and on about it, but I think that this says it better than I ever could.

You don't stand for me, Schafer. And those in the gaming media using minorities and women to deflect criticism of your rottenness, know that you're running out of shields, and you'll have to clean up eventually.

This Right Here Is Why Digital Everything Is a ROTTEN Idea.

As most people know, PSN and Xbox Live have been on and off, though mostly off, the past few days. The culprit is apparently a DDoS attack that "hacker" group Lizard Squad had been promising for quite some time. Now, let's be clear - this is crap. Hopefully, every last member of Lizard Squad will be found and be made into nice leather handbags, and people who enjoy playing online will be able to get back to it sooner than later.

Also, let's not kids ourselves, PC elitist bastards - this can happen to Steam or Uplay or Origin or anyone else. That the consoles were targeted is little more than a desire to screw over the most people on Christmas of all days, when tons of consoles were being given as presents. Put bluntly, the only thing saving the various sundry PC platforms is the lack of massive new users on this otherwise joyous holiday.

Either way, this is miserable for all PS4 and Xbone gamers. And yet, perhaps this is a needed dose of reality.

We live in an age where more than a few people are advocating the end of not just physical goods, but of ownership in general. More than a few people are tying their purchases to DRM platforms and digital console purchases, throwing their ability to use the products that they're paying a considerable amount of money to the hands of fate. Be it on PC, Xbone, or PS4, companies are pushing hard to convince us all that nothing can go wrong, and that digital distribution and DRM are not only okay, but preferable to traditional ownership.

Well, during this blackout, I've been able to fully use all my PS4 games, and the couple games I have for my new Xbone. I didn't need to worry about whether I already had them installed, or if I needed to finish the installs, or if I'd be able to re-download something in case a deletion is needed to make room for a new game. Basically, it's been business as usual for me, and for those of us who haven't surrendered all our consumer rights to the fragile ether of the internet.

This isn't the first time this happened, of course. In late June to mid-May of 2011, an actual hack of the PlayStation network forced the service down, as well as compromising users' personal information. Sony threw a few (digital) games at their customers, and endured several lawsuits from the data theft.

Now this isn't anywhere near as bad, at least as far as anyone knows. All signs point to this being no more than a bunch of kids slamming servers to the point of compromising functionality. And that, my friends, is the issue.

By going all-digital, especially DRM-based digital, consumers leave their gaming choices to the fates. If a game isn't installed when the servers are being crapped over, the player is SOL, with no real recourse. It's a matter of luck whether a game, or in this case a whole network, won't go to crap at the very moment a user has free time... Especially in high-profile times as the holidays.

I'm reminded of the raving Xbone fanboys who, after the 180, petitioned MS to stick to their original DRM plan. Could anyone imagine how bad this would have turned out if that were the case? People getting Xbones on Christmas Day, only to hook them up and find them little more than paperweights. Sitting there every hour, trying to see if XBL is on long enough for the check-in... This would have been far, far worse than it is now.

The issue isn't with using the internet, obviously. The issue is that so many people seem willing to let the internet use them, effectively. By being completely dependent only on the internet, without any way to function offline, we open ourselves more and more to this sort of attack, and with life as hard as it is already, do we really need to enable a bunch of script kiddies to ruin our gaming?

I know I won't. The digital-only zealots can have that headache, and for me, it'll be business as usual.

The Games Are All Right

As we approach the end of the year and look back, people would be forgiven for thinking that the gaming world was on fire.

The ongoing gamergate incident saw gamers facing off against political extremists, gaming press, developers, and ultimately one another in a war of words and absolutist ideologies that not only won't go away any time soon, but will almost certainly flare up into an all-consuming conflict again. High-profile releases like Assassin's Creed: Unity and Halo: The Master Chief Collection have had botched releases, and even more, like Watch Dogs and Driveclub, were massive disappointments. Of course, I can't forget Microsoft's $2 billion Minecraft purchase, which had people all over the Internet mourning the massively-popular block-building game's apparent demise.

It's easy to forget, then, that some pretty damned good stuff has come out. Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, and Bayonetta 2 were enormous highlights, proving Nintendo still has a place in the industry. Not only that, but there have been some sweet titles outside of Nintendo's system as well. We have had arguably the freshest Call of Duty since Modern Warfare come out this year, a fantastic pair of Warriors games, a new Tales of RPG (Xilia 2), a host of sweet smaller games like Putty Squad and Trials Fusion, a masterful re-imagining of the classic run-and-gun FPS style with Wolfenstein: The New Order, and even - of all the left-field shit imaginable - a physical console release for last year's FPS slice-and-dice katana fest, Shadow Warrior. The PS4 has had a resounding success in retail, and even the Xbone has made something of a comeback, the two of them combining to prove that console gaming isn't anywhere near dead, and won't be any time soon. GoG got freaking Disney on board to re-release some of the most enduring LucasArts games of the nineties and oughts, and has grown into a legitimate alternative to Steam for many smaller titles. In fact, there's been plenty of reason to be a happy gamer this year, despite the issues that are catching all the headlines.

Obviously this industry has issues, and the sooner they're addressed, the better. However, let's not lose sight on the fact that, overall, it was a pretty good year, and with hope for more awesomeness on the horizon. Thus, while we rightly rage at the things going wrong, it's worth it to take a moment to think of stuff that's been good this year as well, and celebrate the triumphs as much as we decry the tragedies.

So how about it? What do you all think has been good from 2014? I'd love to hear what you guys think about the positives of the gaming year, so let's have some happy time, shall we?

Assassin's Creed and the Gaming Press.

Yes, this topic gets me in trouble regularly, but I'm quite moth-like at times, and it's such a pretty flame...

As we all know, Ubisoft rushed Assassin's Creed: Unity out the door in a pathetic state, which anyone with a lick of sense could tell was going to happen by the fact that embargoes were in place until 12 hours post release, most likely in order to make sure no pre-orders got canceled.

Now, unlike most, I don't particularly harbor any ill-will at Ubisoft. At least no more than usual. I don't buy their games until I've seen media on them, simply because they, along with EA, have proven incapable of consistent quality. However, while their business practices are deplorable, they're not unexpected.

Unfortunately, the games press' compliance is also not unexpected. We can go on and on and on about how Ubisoft was scummy for issuing the embargo, and of course they were. However, a corporation is, at the end of the day, looking out for itself beyond anyone else. In theory, the games press should be on the side of its readership, or at least beholden to the most basic principles of honesty. Instead, the industry agreed to this embargo. While Ubi might deny review copies, embargoes aren't legally enforceable without contract. Therefore, the problem here isn't Ubisoft being jackasses, but with the games media being completely on the take.

Here we are, presented with yet another example of how the games press isn't looking after the best interests of its readers, but instead playing along with the industry standard of appeasing the publishers in exchange for access. This isn't a good thing, and seeing reviews only pop up after millions of dollars have been collected on a travesty such as this only serves to support the notion that there are no ethical standards in the press.

So, what should the press do? Don't sign the damned contract! If you're denied access, say so. Put it on the front cover that Ubisoft refused to work with you because you wouldn't play along with its marketing team. At least everyone will understand ahead of time when the review comes late because you had to buy the game yourselves. Show a bit of backbone and stand up to someone at least once!

Of course, that will never happen. With a press that's obsessed with keeping the flow of easy access and free goodies going, we're never going to see a games outlet say "No, we're going to do right by the reader." Indeed, we're the last thing on the gaming press' mind, at least until the time comes to paint us all as misogynist babies.

Thankfully, I had the good sense to stop buying AC games a long time ago, but it irks me that a press that's supposed to stop people from being hoodwinked like this was instead helping by agreeing to the embargo and putting nothing at all on their front pages until Ubi said it was OK to go ahead.

At least it wasn't an indie game by a woman, I suppose. The press would be ripping into anyone daring to criticize it then...