I'm Lazerpig. One of my first video game memories was playing Super Mario Brothers on an NES at the house of some other kids who had the same babysitter as me. I remember being pretty good, although I'm not sure if I actually was; I also remember thinking I was the red ghost in Pac-Man around the same age. I think I was around 3. Anyway, I got my first video game system, a Game Boy Color, when I was 10 (I'm 23 now) and I have a lot of great memories. Super Mario Brothers Deluxe broke it. The A and -> buttons are heavily worn down, and they barely register anymore; I consider this a badge of honor.
Games I love:
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Zack and Wiki and the search for Barbaros' Treasure
Super Mario Galaxy
Both Golden Suns
Final Fantasy VI, Woolsey edition
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (and Seasons, but Ages was better)
Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
Fire Emblem 7
Crash Team Racing. The first one. Best kart racer ever.
I spoil things a lot for myself. I use guides for games, I look up summaries on Wikipedia, I am online while I am in game. Itís rare that Iím surprised in a game, since I have usually read what happens next. Playing without a guide is more stressful, in my experience, but I think there are a few instances where it was just so much more rewarding. The specific instance Iím thinking about right now was in†Cave Story.
††††††††††† Cave Story†was released in 2004, and itís 2013 now. It was originally a freeware PC game and has since been ported to Linux, AROS, MorphOS, AmigaOS 4, Mac OS X, PSP, Xbox, Dreamcast, GP2X, GP2X Wiz, and the TI graphic calculator. For official ports, thereís a port on DSiware, an enhanced port was released for Wiiware, and it was enhanced and released as†Cave Story+†on Steam.†Cave Story†was also remade as†Cave Story 3D†for the 3DS. The point Iím trying to make is that you've probably played†Cave Story†before.
††††††††††† But, for those of you who havenít played†Cave Story, Iíll give you a short explanation.†Cave Story†a freeware platformer (often incorrectly called a Metroidvania) made by Daisuke Amaya (alias ďPixelĒ). He made it all by himself over the course of five years, which is impressive since everything is fantastic. The sprites, the writing, the music, the gameplay; everything is fantastic. Anyway,†Cave Story†is a story about a robot in a cave. You wake up with amnesia and start wandering around. As the game goes on, you find out that you are on a floating island, which is populated by a race of bunny/cat people, the Mimiga. On the island is a special red flower; when the Mimiga eat them, they turn into a nigh-unstoppable monster. Thereís also a ďDemon CrownĒ hidden on the island, a crown that gives its wearer incredible magical power. Shortly before the game starts, there was a human expedition to the island. Unfortunately, the doctor of their group (since itís good to have a doctor if youíre going to a mysterious island) betrayed the group, took the crown, and now has plans on world domination.
There's really so much more to it, though
††††††††††† I didn't know much about†Cave Story†when I played it first, since I hadn't spoiled it. I had heard it was great, and that it was sad. Eventually you commandeer a dragon with Kazuma, and escape from the island. This isn't just a cop-out ending; itís set up that youíre looking for a dragon in order to escape the island. Eventually you find one, melancholy music plays, and the credits roll. This seemed like the ending to me. It was a sad ending; the music was sad, and the Doctor keeps the demon crown and will eventually wage war on the earth. If you didn't know what to expect, this was the clear ending. Still, even though I knew it had ended, I decided to do a funny (as in out-of-the-ordinary) thing; I kept playing. I loved this game so much, I didn't want it to end. I donít know what I was expecting really; I was just messing around a little in a game I enjoyed. I tried telling Kazuma that I wasn't ready to go, and then I went through the door next to him. There was a new area, complete with mysterious, melancholy music. It was clear this was just an Easter egg; after all, the game was over. Maybe Pixel just let you explore another small screen or something. I couldn't go to the right (the direction levels normally progress). I was going to quit the game, but then I decided one more crazy idea; I tried going up.
††††††††††† I fired up my booster 0.8, started shooting my machine gun that let me hover, and something amazing happened; the game kept going.†
Oh right, you can hover with the machine gun
This was honestly one of the most magical moments in my gaming career. I went up, and the screen scrolled with me. This was one of the most exciting parts of the game for me. I kind of knew what to expect for a lot of the game; Iím not saying it was predictable, but the characters tell you to go here and do this. At this point, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew what that I was going up. I had discovered a secret area, and I wanted to know what was at the end. I thought maybe it would just be a small alcove or something, but something amazing happened: the game kept going. The area went on and on, and I began to wonder if it was really a secret area at all. Turns out, I hadn't actually beaten the game. There were still a few more zones left, and several final bosses. I had fallen for Pixelís tricks; I thought his bad ending was the real ending. However, since I enjoyed†Cave Story†so much, it didn't matter. Even though I had fallen for his false ending, I kept going.
††††††††††† There are other aspects of†Cave Story†that are better off not spoiled. If you play without a guide, you will get the bad ending. Not the one where you escape the island; this is something I donít want to spoil. Suffice to say, you will get the bad ending your first time around, but itíll be worth it, since the bad ending is still great, and the game is short enough to play again with a guide. I've been trying to stop spoiling things for myself if I plan on playing them eventually.
What about you? Have there ever been instances where you thought a game was done, and you discovered a huge amount of content you hadn't touched?
Itís been three weeks since I started playing. When Iím not playing, I have it idling in the background. I canít remember the last time I was this obsessed with a game. Iím talking, of course, about†Cookie Clicker.
Gaze upon the face of madness and despair! † † † † † †Thereís an SMBC video from a few years ago,†MMO.†The characters get obsessed with the latest MMO, where you click a button and numbers go up. Itís an MMO ďstripped of all the bells and whistles.Ē It's the most addictive game ever made; once you start playing it, it's impossible to stop, and you play until you die of exhaustion at your computer. Itís a funny video; we all watch it and know that will never happen. However, this is the most accurate summary of†Cookie Clicker†Iíve ever seen.
† † † † † †ďBut what is†Cookie Clicker?Ē you may be asking.†Cookie Clicker†is a game where you watch numbers go up. You start off with zero cookies. Manually clicking gets you some cookies; then you can use those cookies you got to buy upgrades which generate cookies automatically. With those cookies, you can buy more upgrades (and more powerful upgrades), and you will eventually unlock achievements. If you donít play†Cookie Clicker, you may be wondering what the fuss is about. That hardly sounds addicting at all; in fact, it sounds really boring and easy to leave. The appeal is kind of hard to explain.
† † † † † †Logically, I know†Cookie Clicker†is boring. I donít even like playing it. However, itís insanely addictive. I keep checking back on it to see if I have enough cookies for the next upgrade. ďJust oneÖ moreÖ turnÖĒ is how people describe Civilization; ďjust oneÖ moreÖ upgradeÖĒ is an accurate summary of†Cookie Clicker.
Cookie Clicker†also has a lot in common with RPGs (specifically JRPGs).
† † † † ††I know, it doesnít look like one at all, but hear me out. In most RPGs, your character starts off dealing low amounts of damage against rats. You start leveling up, and eventually you deal high amounts of damage against dragons. This gives the player a false sense of accomplishment; your character used to have a lot of low numbers for health, attack, defense, etc. Now you have high numbers; those are much more impressive. Despite the fact that their accomplishments take no skill, and only give the appearance of accomplishments, the player feels rewarded. In†Cookie Clicker, you start off with low numbers, then eventually get high numbers. The player feels rewarded, even though the high numbers really donít mean anything.
Look how impressive these numbers are! † † † † † †They really donít mean anything, either. This is another point where†Cookie Clicker†is similar to RPGs. In†Generic RPG, you start off dealing 10 damage per hit to enemies with 100 hit points. You move on to dealing 100 damage per hit to enemies with 1,000 hit points, then at endgame youíre dealing 1,000 damage per hit to enemies with 10,000 hit points. The larger numbers really donít mean anything; the game mechanics are slightly more complicated than my simplistic explanation, but thatís essentially how they work on a base level. High numbers at the end are pretty much the same as low numbers at the beginning; however, the higher numbers make the players feel like they have accomplished something. The high numbers in†Cookie Clickerís late game are the same as the low numbers in†Cookie Clickerís early game. Right now Iím saving up for my 74[sup]th[/sup]†Antimatter Condenser, which costs roughly 1 trillion cookies. A little while ago, I was saving up for a Time Machine which cost roughly 1 billion cookies. The cost is different, but the amount of time waited was pretty much the same.
† † † † † †Why, then, do I keep playing? Why do I keep playing†Cookie Clicker†when I know how simplistic the design is? Just because I recognize the hooks doesnít mean Iím not affected by them. I hate†Cookie Clicker, and I need to beat it, because otherwise†that meansCookie Clicker†won!†Itís also theoretically low maintenance; you can have it running in another tab and just go about your merry way. Of course, I (and most everyone else who plays) checks back on it every thirty seconds or so, but thatís our fault; the game doesnít punish you for idling. It just rewards you much more for interaction.
† † † † † †That's another thing†Cookie Clicker†does well; it rewards you for interaction. Gold cookies will come up on your screen periodically. Clicking these gets you a bonus of either a lot of cookies, a temporary production multiplier, or a more drastic click multiplier (where you get many more cookies for clicking). These are the most effective ways to get cookies, and one of the more devious aspects of†Cookie Clicker. Sure, you can leave it running in the background, but then you won't get any golden cookies.†Cookie Clicker†is far too benign to punish you for looking away; however, the incentives for keeping it open are far too great to ignore. I have two monitors, which is useful for†Cookie Clicker, since it means I can have the game open at all times.
† † † † † †I honestly think Cookie Clicker is a work of art. If games are art (haha it's that discussion again), Cookie Clicker is my nomination for masterpiece. No other game is this pointless, this obviously pointless, and this addicting. There are many addicting pointless games, yes, but Cookie Clicker is so obviously pointless and you don't even care. So go on. Try it. Maybe just a few clicks. You won't get addicted... right?
Just a few clicks...
Imagine youíre at a fine restaurant. Your food is delicious, the service is impeccable, and your dining companions provide great conversation. Everything is perfect, and then when the waiter gives you the bill, he spits in your face. Would that ruin the experience for you? Itís a small thing, really; it had no effect on the rest of your meal, which you greatly enjoyed. Besides, itís not the destination that matters, itís the journey. However, an unpleasant occurrence at the end of an event can ruin that event entirely. This is what itís like when a good game has a bad final boss; a bad conclusion ruins the entire game. I guess this has spoilers for Scurge: Hive and Arc the Lad: Twilight of Spirits, since I'm talking about their final bosses.
††††††††††† I recently played through Scurge: Hive.
I greatly enjoyed most of the game. For those who havenít played it, Scurge: Hive is an isometric Metroid: Fusion ripoff. Bounty hunter Jenosa Arma (yes, really) is sent to a planet where scientists were experimenting on an organism known as ďthe Source.Ē She gets infected, which is shown in game as an infection meter. The meter gradually increases until it reaches 100%, upon which it deals continuous damage to Jenosa, although the meter is reset at every save point. Enemies have a rock-paper-scissors type of element going; theyíre biological, mechanical, or energy based. Hitting them with the correct element deals extra damage, and hitting them with the wrong element heals them (or deals normal damage). Bosses also have elements, but canít be healed, so they boil down to using the element that theyíre weak against. The boss fights are really fun, though. Theyíre huge cybernetic monstrosities with names from Norse mythology and multiple health bars. This is kind of a long explanation of Scurge: Hive, but itís necessary to explain how the game works in order to explain why the final boss was so bad.
An example! Note the health bar at the bottom ††††††††††† The final boss is separated into three parts. Technically the first fight is against the labís security system, not against the Source, but you fight the Source right afterwards with no break, so itís functionally the same as a boss fight with three parts. The first part is great. Itís some sort of sphere monster that separates into three other sphere monsters: one biological, one mechanical, and one energy. Each one retreats into a hole in the wall and you have to guess which copy is the real boss. When you shoot a copy it disappears and releases enemies that are resistant to what the real one is weak against. Itís difficult yet enjoyable, and involves a large amount of switching your weapon type, which is a main theme of Scurge: Hive. However, this boss only has one health bar, so the player knows itís just a warm-up.
††††††††††† The real final boss of Scurge: Hive starts off very promising. You engage in typical pre-boss banter with the Source, who has assimilated most of the scientists. The Source reveals that it has been using Jenosa to help it get free from its containment. It has made a clone of Jenosa, which it plans to send out into the galaxy after it kills the original. Of course, Jenosa thinks differently, and you fight off against your clone.
††††††††††† Unfortunately, just like the game it ripped offósorry, drew inspiration fromó the final boss of Scurge: Hive is awful. The clone is protected by some sort of capsule in the middle of the room. You have to shoot two fleshly organ things on the side. When theyíre destroyed, the capsule comes down and the clone is revealed. The clone shoots balls of energy at you, and you need to dodge them and shoot the clone while the capsule is down. The biggest problem is that it goes against every precedent set by previous bosses. Fighting Jenosaís clone could be fun, but she just sits in the middle of the room. She only has one health bar, and she isnít weak against any element. All your shots do the same amount of damage: miniscule. Itís just a bunch of frantic dodging punctuated by the quick burst of attack. Unlike the previous bosses, this one takes a long time, and playing conservatively is not an option. On one attempt, I failed because my infection meter reached 100%. Even though I could still dodge the Sourceís attacks, the damage over time killed me. Thatís another problem with Scurge: Hive, and difficult boss fights in general: unskippable cutscenes. The confrontation between Jenosa and the Source is great the first time you see it. Itís not as great the tenth time.
††††††††††† The third part also sounds cool, but ends up feeling tacked on. Since Jenosa is infected by the Source, it tries to possess her and use her as its new host. The final boss fight takes place inside of Jenosaís mind. The background is solid white, and the Source is a blue jellyfish thing. The blue jellyfish drains your health but can't kill you, and it makes clones of you that can deal raw damage and actually can kill you. It's rather challenging, and you just finished a challenging final boss, and you start all over when you die.
Pictured: A blue jellyfish and Jenosa clones ††††††††††† Another enjoyable game ruined by its final boss is Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits. Itís a fairly generic (yet enjoyable) PS2 SRPG. It uses circles instead of a grid system, which is kind of cool, and the main characters (Kharg the human and Darc the deimos) start off not knowing each other, but with opposing goals (Kharg wants to destroy the deimos, Darc wants to destroy the humans). Their chapters alternate, and you gather up a group of party members, each who has been affected by the other party. Kharg's party has suffered due to members of Darc's party and vice-versa. It's an interesting system, because it sets itself up well. The player can see what's going on, and you know there will be explosive results when they finally meet. Of course, in the end they join forces against the real enemy. It has pretty good music and voice acting. It's nothing special, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
††††††††††† The first time I played it, my party was continuously annihilated by the final boss. I figured this was because I was underlevelled, or overused some characters to the detriment of the rest of my party. The second time I played it, I made sure to not overuse anyone, and I made sure my party members were all higher levels than my previous attempt. I was still destroyed. A trip to Gamefaqs revealed that tactics and levels didnít mean much. The only way to beat the bossís final form is by moving all your party members to either side of the screen (where his strongest attack canít hit), and to whittle away at his health with your long-range attacks.
††††††††††† Granted, an SRPG where you can grind generally doesnít have much strategy. After all, you can always just level grind until your characters demolish their foes However, there is always a semblance of strategy there. You make your own battle plan, choosing your characters, movement, and attacks. A final boss where there is only one viable battle plan abandons any pretense of strategy. Whatís more, itís really boring. Final boss fights, especially in RPGs and their variants, should be an epic confrontation. Youíre going all-out, using your ultimate attacks, weathering their blows, franticly healing, hoping your can kill the boss before he manages to finish off your party. I wasnít doing that; I was hiding on the sides of the room. I didnít feel like I was conquering my enemy; I felt like I was exploiting game mechanics. It was a hollow victory; I didnít feel like I deserved to win.
††††††††††† A bad final boss really does ruin an otherwise good game. A bad ending ruins your memories of anything good preceding it. I have no desire to replay these games either. I know that even though Iíll enjoy the game, the ending wonít be worth it.
I probably should write about Mass Effect 3, but I havenít played it.
So Iíve been working my way through my backlog, and lamenting how long itís been since my most recent post, when I was struck by a burst of inspiration. I realized I could blog about various games as I went through them, starting with Okami (Wii version). Be forewarned, there are spoilers here.
††††††††††† Okami is one of those games that everyone has heard of, and that everyone knows is a good game, but no one has actually played. Itís a real shame, too, because it really is amazing. Okami can be accurately described as ďZelda in mythical JapanĒ but itís really so much more than that. Granted, Okami does play like a Zelda game, and it draws several obvious comparisons, but Okami isnít simply Zelda with a new coat of paint. It not only matches Zelda titles, but even surpasses them in several areas.
††††††††††† You play as Amaterasu, a wolf who is also the Sun Goddess. Prior to the events of Okami, Kamiki Village was terrorized by the demonic serpent Orochi. Each year, Orochi would demand the Kamiki Village feed him a maiden of his choosing. On the night of his hundredth sacrifice, the hero Nagi defeated Orochi and sealed Orochiís remains with his sword. 100 years have since passed, and someone has removed Nagiís sword, freeing Orochi, and starting the events of Okami.
††††††††††† The main characters in Okami are Amaterasu, who the player controls, and Issun, her sidekick. This draws more comparisons to Zelda. Amaterasu is the silent protagonist, and Issun is the framing device who rides her around. However, itís better done than Navi, Tatíl, Tetraís pendent, Ezlo, Midna, and any others Iím forgetting. Amaterasu is actually an effective silent protagonist. Unlike Link, it makes sense for Amaterasu to not talk. She is, after all, a wolf. She is a magical, intelligent wolf, capable of understanding human speech, and she can convey her reaction by nodding or shaking her head or falling asleep mid-conversation, but she is still physically incapable of speech. Thatís what Issun is for.
††††††††††† Issun is also better than any Zelda framing device, because he is a real character. Ezlo and Midna had some input in the storyline, but Navi was just there. Issun is a full-fleshed character. He has a background, hopes, dreams, and hilarious dialogue. Since Amaterasu canít talk, Issun does all the interactions. You donít really feel that youíre controlling a bland, silent protagonist, because Issun talks back. Like the sidekick characters in Zelda, he rides around on your character, and tells you your objectives. You donít feel like you control just Amaterasu; you feel like you control Amaterasu and Issun. Like Zelda sidekicks, he tells you where to go next. Unlike Zelda sidekicks, he engages in conversation, has an actual character, and is awesome.
††††††††††† God, Navi sucks so much.
††††††††††† The most obvious thing about Okami is that itís simply oozing with style. Itís a beautiful game, as you can plainly see.
The watercolor inspired art style is a marvel to behold; not even Wind Waker looked this stylish. It adds a different, otherworldly feel to the environment. The world itself is beautiful, and the people and monsters all feel unique. When making Wind Waker, Miyamoto wanted to make the player feel like they were playing a cartoon. With Okami, the player feels like theyíre playing a painting.
† † † † † † Iíve always enjoyed boss fights, and Okami does not fail to deliver on this front. The bosses in Okami are great. Most of them are quite different from each other, although there are a few rehashes. Orochi is incredibly fun; heís a giant snake dragon with eight heads with a garden and bell on his back. Each head has a different weakness, and you fight him by attacking his heads, then when theyíre down, jumping on his back and attacking his bell. The final boss is kind of strange, a little disappointing, but still pretty fun.
††††††††††† Of course, I would be remiss in writing about Okami without mentioning the Celestial Brush. You cast spells in Okami by painting them. You hold down B to bring up the painting screen, which puts a sepia tone over everything, then you hold down A to paint. Different shapes cast different spells. A straight line is a quick slash, which will be your most commonly used spell, as it cuts through objects, damages enemies, and opens chests. Other spells include drawing a circle on water to make a lily pad, or a swirl to create a gust of wind. This is probably my favorite magic system in any game; the player isnít just selecting spells from a menu, theyíre actually casting them. It also fits the theme of Okami wonderfully; everything looks like a painting, and the player themselves paints to use magic.
††††††††††† The Wiimote generally works as a paintbrush, although it can be finicky at times; there were several times when I failed to cast a spell because my painting wasnít precise enough. I hear the PS2 version, where you use an analog stick to control the brush, is more forgiving. The Wiimote causes a few other problems by nature of being a Wiimote; they just arenít very precise. Attacking is done by swinging the Wiimote, which is normally tolerable. However, there are some times when you need to attack at just the right time; one of the weapon types is based on combos and timing, and waggling just doesnít feel right.
††††††††††† I highly recommend Okami. Itís a joy to play, and thatís not a term I use frequently. You know how everyone always talks about how great Okami is? It turns out thereís a reason for that. 10/10.
Is this a thing? I havenít seen any monthly-musings this month, but there was a prompt. Itís right here. http://www.destructoid.com/monthly-musing-happy-holidays-188757.phtml
As gamers, we slowly grow more jaded as we grow more experienced. Games just arenít as enjoyable anymore, and many people (mistakenly) blame this on lack of creativity in the industry. This is not the case; we just notice problems that we have overlooked before. As one grows more familiar with video games as a medium, one becomes less prone to surprise and wonder. Very rarely does a game ever inspire that rarest of feelings, joy, and when it does, itís a magical experience.
Kittens also work.
One game that always has me smiling is Patapon 2. Specifically 2, because I donít have 1, and have only played the demo, although I really should buy it sometime.
I first discovered Patapon 2 in an airport, waiting for my taxi. I was downloading demos onto my PSP, and I saw the demo for Patapon 2. I decided to download it, because I vaguely recalled hearing good things about Patapon 1, something about a ďrhythm-based-RTS with no pausingĒ. After it finally downloaded, I started it up, not knowing what to expect. I was already grinning by the gameís title screen. A bunch of Patapons are all together, jumping and dancing and waving at the player, cheerful music in the background. An opening cutscene played, setting the scene, and then control finally shifted to me, the player. Something very peculiar happened then; instead of telling me to move my Patapons with the D-pad, the game showed me that my face buttons were drums, and that I needed to play various beats in order to control my army. From there led one of my most memorable experiences in gaming.
Patapon 2 is one of the sunniest, happiest games Iíve ever played. As I mentioned earlier, even the title screen had me grinning. Your Patapons are all jumping around, just waiting for you to hurry up and start playing, with catchy, upbeat music playing. When you start playing, you see that bright colors carry over to the main game as well. Backgrounds are mostly layers of color with vague details. Itís a minimalist approach, but it works.
Come on, just look at them!
The presentation is good, but part of what makes it such a happy game is by how it plays. You control your Patapons by drumming! Each button is a different drum; starting from triangle and going clockwise, theyíre chaka, pon, don, and pata. Different beats give different commands, such as advance, attack, defend, and so on. Itís fun because you end up making music as you play the game. If youíre on the beat enough times in a row, your Patapons go into fever mode, dealing more damage and getting new attacks. However, describing the gameplay doesnít really do it justice. Your Patapons chant your beat after you play it; in hero mode, they sing a song in the background. You actually feel like youíre making music, and not just hitting buttons in time, as opposed to some other rhythm games. Just... look at a video, for example.
Like this one
Patapon 2 can be grind heavy at times, but even that is whimsical. Throughout levels, you may unlock certain Patapons that go back to your base. Back at the base, these new Patapons let you play rhythm-based minigames in order to win resources. These include touching a lonely mountainís toes, helping a shy bell dance, or (my personal favorite), helping a dancing tree scratch his head.
Patapon 2 is one of my favorite games, because itís just so cheerful. Although it gets fairly dark near the end, your Patapons never stop singing and dancing, and there always seems to be hope. Patapon 2 doesnít try to make you think about morality, or the nature of good and evil; it simply wants to make you smile. And it certainly succeeds.
Hey everyone, it's your friendly neighborhood Lazerpig here. As you may or may not know (probably may not), I won a plush Sir Omnomom at the Monster Hunter Tri party. Well, was awarded. They said the winner, and then I said they mispronounced Lazerpig in the chat, and Rey liked my comment so he gave me an Omnomnom.
Right, enough backstory. Let's do this thing.
Also, I couldn't find a camera, so this are taken with my computer's camera.
Here's the package itself. Well, not the actual package, because no one cares about that, but here's the return address.
Here's the stuff I got.
Let's look at the stickers first.
There were three of them.
Let's get a closer look, shall we?
Now, onto the box.
Ooh, what could it be?
And here's the top.
Who is that good looking guy?
Alright, let's open it up now. Here's what's inside.
Still in its stasis field
And here it is without the plastic around it.
Now, only the meat of the package: the pen holder. Here it is in its stasis field.
And here it is, in all its pen holding glory.
Aww... how could anyone kill these?
Wait, why is it called a pen holder?
Oh, that's why.
Well, that's it for now, folks. This has been Lazerpig, unboxing some stuff.