How Triple A Game Titles Are Conquering the Industry

In a recent years triple A games have become common ground in our game selections. Since the first call of duty:  modern warfare games the quality of the games has risen to the all-time high. Games these days are made with a millions of dollars, famous Hollywood actors and in a really short time. The time is a really big factor nowadays. Sport games used to be the one with annual releases and some little updates here and there, nowadays most of the huge triple a games come also almost every year. What this means is that the studios have less time to work on their games, more people are hired to help with it and that means huge staff that could be easily over thousand like Ubisoft. When you have this kind of pattern and use it annually the results can turn for worse. The most recent example is Assassins Creed Unity which had few years working cycle but the amount of work for being the first PS4/Xbox1 Assassins Creed game and compared to the time developers were given by the publishers was just too little. The end result was just below mediocre, a game with fps drops, visual bugs and following the same pattern as the older AC games with a story that was just dull. But people still bought the game because it was another “guaranteed assassin adventure set in historical times”.

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So why publishers and studios do this kind of stuff? Wouldn’t it be better if they took some more time to finish the product and refine the game to be the best of the series so far? “Sure, it would be better but no. We don’t have time for that” goes in the mind of the publishers and the reason for that is money and the shareholders. People still buy your triple A game even if it is bad, and it can be achieved by either creating such a reliable brand like Assassins Creed or you use a huge amount of money for the advertisement and let the hype grow.

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This whole thing with triple A games, big game studios and publishers has a huge impact on the whole industry. With the constant publishing of new versions of older games such as batman, Call of Duty, AC and Battlefield, there is no room for fresh and new IP’s. When there is that rare chance that a new IP gets out it almost always gets buried under the new versions of the old game that you bought last year. A great example of new IP is Remember Me, it was not a bad game, not the game of year material either but it had an interesting idea and good gameplay got buried under Max Payne 3 and GOTY edition of Skyrim that were released at the same time.

Luckily the big names have not swallowed the whole industry to their belly thanks to the new breed of indie studios. Indie studios are the little fighters that have usually fewer than ten people working on the game and most of the time they don’t have any publisher rushing their game out. Indie games still bring new ideas to the plate and have become a successful alternative with the likes of Minecraft and Fez that have very simple idea that nobody have done before.

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So there is the triple A giant and an indie hobbit. But those two are each other’s opposites. Where the things are now is that there’s no room for the middle ground and the likes of a Remember Me. So how could you help to make things better? Well first of all support the newcomer, most of the time their ideas are pretty good and interesting and should be given a chance.  Secondly stop buying every game of a certain big franchises right away especially if the new game comes out every year, this should slow down the publishers time window and let studios focus little more on their games which means more stable game and also fewer bugs. If everyone follows these kind of guidelines the game industry could progress into a better direction.

Pictures by DeclanTM, Mike Mozart and Amanda Tipton

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Top 10 TV Shows to watch

Everyone loves to watch TV show. Were you just bored or want to relax from hard day, TV shows are the escape route to relaxation for many. I myself have always liked to follow different kind of series from fantasy epics to hardboiled detective stories. The best hook for me is a unique story and surprising turns that keep me watching. Nowadays I am too busy to watch more series than one at the time but once I get hooked for good there’s no going back.

For this list I have selected my favorite shows I have had a real blast to watch. Some of these series are praised by critics, and others being told to be just dull. For me all these shows mean something and have helped trough really boring parts of my life. But let’s cut the chit chat and get started!

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

How I Met Your Mother

Ted Mosby, architect and a father tells his children a story about how he met their mother in a series of flashbacks. Very well written sitcom that tells the life of five New Yorkers and their ups and downs trough nine seasons. First five/six seasons are real enjoy to watch and come up with great jokes and stories but with the few last seasons it gets too stretched. The series has been very popular and praised since the first seasons and has many iconic characters that later have gotten into movies.  Recommend for the fans of Friends and other such sitcoms. Easy 20 minute episodes that each have their own story to tell.

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Game of Thrones

A real fantasy epic with dragons and magic turned into TV show. A first real fantasy show that has been in the favorite of a mainstream watchers. Telling the story of several clans and their people, changing the perspective of the story as it gets farther. With a brilliant storytelling, superb actors and mind blowing visual effects this show has won several awards since its pilot from 2011. I recommend this for everyone who likes complex stories and surprising twists.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY

American Horror Story

The most recent one I have watched. A very unique show on the list. There has not been very many horror series in the past years but American Horror Story has been worth the wait. Each season with completely new story and setting comes out fresh every time. Every season is based on iconic horror theme. The first season tells the story of a family moving into a haunted house, the second covers weird happenings of 60’s asylum and from there the seasons go from witch circles to freak shows. I recommend this for anyone who wants to see some great spooks and something totally new.

"True Detective"

True Detective

Interested into hardboiled cop story? This is the one. Telling the story of intelligent detective Rusty and his rough partner Marty, is a combination of thriller and drama. Based on the marshes of Louisiana were bizarre serial killer is on the loose and these two detectives are trying to get him.  A very realistic and gritty look at the police force of the south with intelligently build up story with inspiration from Lovecraft’s stories. The cast is one of the best I have seen, having many famous actors just makes pure justice to the show. I suggest this for everyone, it is that enjoyable.

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The Wire

Show that few have seen but many should have. Usually when people are talking about intellectual storytelling and progressing characters in TV shows someone always brings out the awesomeness of The Wire. The story tells about the special unit of Baltimore police and the people around the drug scene around the city. With the cast from all walks of life in and out the series and brilliant character progressing, the Wire is said to be one of the best TV series out there.  You really get to know the characters of the story through seasons and their mishaps and victories. I recommend this for those with patience, The Wire does not open for everyone right from the start but at the end you are going to love it.

Supernatural

Supernatural

Ghosts, serial killers, gods and demons, Supernatural has it all. Supernatural has its own thing, it tells the story of two brothers who kick bad guys ass every time and enjoy the trip of being hunters of the evil and saving the world at the same time. Supernatural has its own routine and sometimes comes a little repetitive but in the end is very enjoyable to watch even if the characters don’t progress much. Still the screenwriters like to surprise watchers with really funny and entertaining episode when the show is supposed to be horror at least at some level. This show is for those who like that safe and similar show progress with a little twist sometimes.

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Firefly

One of Josh Whedon’s not so well known masterpieces. Firefly is classical sci-fi but in the other hand it is also a western. A brilliant fusion of old and new makes the world of Firefly feel interesting and enjoyable. Strongest part of Firefly is its cast, most of them were unknown during the airing of the show but the when the viewer’s got to know them and the characters they played, everyone fell love with them. The love for Firefly was so strong for many that it became a cult series that unfortunately aired only one season. Overall the show was a very easy to watch and a real joy to follow the adventures of the characters.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

A real comedy gold from my childhood. Will Smiths first big hit into the Hollywood came with this show. Smith’s adventures in the big mansion at the bel air was always fun to watch and told a story of poor kid’s (Smith) chance to enjoy the life of a royal and how it wasn’t always easy to get used this kind of life. The show is classical sitcom with a few deep and dark episodes that deals with the problems of almost every teenager. If you haven’t watched the show yet I really recommend it for everyone.

Sherlock Holmes Under The Rain

New Sherlock

There has been several versions of Sherlock in a form of tv shows and movies, I have seen many but the New Sherlock played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman must be my favorite. A modern take on Sherlock with all the gadgets and social media around us makes the show really interesting. The cast is really interesting and covered with famous names. Only bad thing I have to say about this show is that the seasons are really short, only three episodes in season but at least they are long. Everyone should try this show, it is fun and full of twists.

Zombie Walk

Walking Dead

Last on the list is “zombie survival horror”. Walking Dead is somewhere different from the others on the list but it also has this great drama and characters you do not expect from something “zombie”. Walking Dead has a very deep characters that take time to get to know, everyone has secrets and surprises on their backs and some of the characters go insane at the end. But this show really tells the story realistically for me anyway if some kind of zombie apocalypse would happen. The story focuses on a group where people join and leave in their struggle to survive. You just stand on your toes waiting for something bad to happen but sometimes it doesn’t and that makes the show interesting, waiting for the unexpected. The show is a little gory and has some horror elements but give it a watch if you enjoy something new from the usual drama.

Photos by: Deanna Barnert, gay travel advice, Darlene348, Fred, JMiu, Tamur Qutab, drollgirl, Sweetle187, Tony Hoffarth and Matt Needle

Interstellar – Nolan’s take on space

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Being a longtime fan of sci-fi, I have always had big hopes for the upcoming space films. These few years have been a big hit for space operas in video games as well in movies. Gravity brought space themed movies back to the general public as Star Citizen to games. Interstellar was one of the big ones that I had real hopes for. From the director of the new Batman films and Inception, Christopher Nolan was a sure bet for this film. The cast has a real big names too, from the uprising and becoming my new favorite actor Matthew McConaughey to old acquaintances of Nolan’s works. You can see that Nolan likes to reuse good actors on his films seeing Michael Caine and Anna Hathaway on the main cast.

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The setting of the film is not the usual Nolan. Mostly his movies are based into some big city or at least urban environment. Interstellar focuses firstly on peaceful rural setting where Cooper played as McConaughey, father of two children, ex-pilot and an engineer works as a farmer. As farming has come much harder and the land has gone barren, people have quitted their job and started to grow food themselves. The story does not tell much about the world around it at first but subtly reveals how the world has turned out in the near future, people are starving and the nature is taking control. For me this sort of future has always been one of the more realistic ones. There’s going to be too much people and far less food for us and at some point nature is going to give up. The governments answer in film is to train more farmers instead of erudite people to maybe solve this crisis.

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The story takes a turn from an almost normal prairie drama to space opera when Cooper is led to a secret military base which turns out to be NASA. In the secret base Cooper is explained the real situation of worlds changes and what is going to happen, as it turns out the world is ending and the only hope could be its savior Cooper as being the only one who has ever managed to fly to the atmosphere.

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And from there the space opera starts. It is intelligent, elegant and philosophical. The effects and feeling of loneliness in huge space is just superb. The small and big details of space ships and the worlds they travel are just astounding. It feels more realistic than fiction but thanks to a few elements like talking robots which also feel so realistic and plausible makes the movie look like old school sci-fi. As the story goes farther and farther you get more sucked into the plot and start to really feel like the development of characters is amazing.

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The cast feels just right and does justice for science fiction. You can really feel that they understand all the scientific babble of the dialog and know its meaning. Everyone knows what they are doing and they are really good at it at the same time. There are almost none the usual stereotypes and every character feels fresh and surprising. As the story depicts the mission of Cooper and his sidekick Brand´s (played by Hathaway) journey through space it also tells the tale of Coopers children as they grow up and how their faiths intervene with Cooper’s in a very clever way.

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The music is Hans Zimmer at its finest. At the first listening to the music I thought that it had to be someone else. A very strong influences with church music, a very classical and a simple tunes that you don’t hear very often. You would think that kind of music would not work in a sci-fi film and would sound just weird, but it fits perfectly and just enhances the experience of cold, lonely space. The music also brings to my mind Kubrick’s classic 2001: Space Odyssey which is groundbreaking movie.

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Excellent storytelling, stunning looks and deep characters make Interstellar my favorite movie of the year and will be remembered in my top 5 for years to come. For a long time have I had such a good feeling from a sci-fi film. I am surprised if Interstellar is not going to get any Oscars or at least nominations. After all, it is commonly praised by the critics around the world. Overall it is a polished diamond that I recommend for everyone to watch.

10 out of 10

Photos by EliteTC, Ma_Co2013 and Sosiaalisesti Rajoittuneet

Drunk and horrified – Playing horror games while being drunk

Few weeks ago couple of my friends decided to arrange a drinking game night based on TV show Archer. The rules are that you drink at a certain point of the show. When a certain thing happens that is mentioned in the rules of this game you’ll have to drink. So as you can guess after ten episodes of heavy drinking from beer to whisky at some point it got really tiring and the tone was smashed.  “So what should we do next?” my friend asked.  I being half serious and half-drunk threw the idea of finishing the horror game Outlast which we have been playing for several weeks for short periods of time. And never have I heard such a strong yes to my ideas. So we gave it a go.

Outlast is almost triple A quality horror game for PS4. You play as journalist who arrives to mental hospital where weird things has started to happen. Your mission is to investigate and reveal the mysteries of this asylum. The game itself is from the first person view and plays with the idea of found footage movies as you look through the video camera almost the whole game.

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The relaxation just before starting the game was amazingly soothing. I am not very good with horror games. I get easily scared by just the atmosphere but luckily I had seen the whole walkthrough of Outlast before playing it and none of my friends knew that, all I said was that I have seen “some” footage of it. So after I started playing the game and others started to watch I got into this presenter/actor mode. I knew the best jump scares and surprises in the game and acted out every part that I remembered about the playtrough without spoiling anything, even when someone asked I said that I didn’t know. The others enjoyed the game as much as I did and some even more. But then came the scary parts that I didn’t remember and now it got really interesting. The weirdest thing happened with the first unexpected jump scare, a half dead guy jumped from the corner as I was running by, usually I got fast reflexes and be the first to react to something unexpected. But this time my reaction was the slowest thing that I have ever experienced. Basically after several seconds the guy had jumped from the corner I reacted by just saying “whoa” really slow.  The numbness for horror was surprising. My friends’ reactions were a blast to watch. Everyone screamed and yelled their voices out and where horrified every time I was almost killed.

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Playing horror games while being drunk was a great fun. You get so much easily into the atmosphere and react more easily than sober. But the most weirdest feeling you get is this pressure when you are trying to sneak away from undead foe and 3 other men are breathing heavily and whispering “more slowly”, “fast or he is going to get you” and at the same time you are trying not to get killed.

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This kind of thing should be done more often in our drinking nights, it is more entertaining than watching some TV shows. It would be even more fun if we could find some decent horror co-op that needed good teamwork and then all could feel the pressure and panic on their backs. One last thing that I should point out is that if you have close neighbors or roommates. You should watch out for them because the yelling can get pretty loud.

Happy Halloween!

Pictures by leshraq, dualdflipflop and simpleinsomnia

Orc Killing Simulator 2014 – The Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor Review

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The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring was the first game that I have ever finished. It was a quite an adventure to play trough and after that there have been many good lord of the rings games from pure hack-n-slash to adventure games with some rpg elements. Shadow of Mordor is a whole new breed in the Lord of the rings franchise. Never have I played such an action packed game filled with ultra-violence and gore in lord of the rings universe. This game should not have been named Shadow of Mordor, It should have been named Orc Killing Simulator 2014.

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 You play as a ranger of Mordor, Talion. The story starts by the bad guys killing Talions family and imprisoning Talion with a mysterious ghost to the realm of neither living nor dead. The story is the only letdown of the game. As a game based on the epic stories of J.R.R Tolkien you really expect this epic story filled with interesting lore, but it only reaches the basic level of a plotline. It is not that bad but not really good either. You can really guess the storyline from the stereotypical start to revenge driven end.

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The gameplay in this game is rock solid. The main idea is that you kill orcs, orcs and orcs with different kind of names, looks and abilities. There are also some wild life that’s trying to kill you like orc wolves and ogres. What really makes this game stand out from your typical hack-n-slash games is its organized orc control system with ranks and such named as nemesis system.  The game world is divided into two areas. Inland of Mordor and the coastline, both terrains are ruled by warchiefs, bodyguards and captains. Your missions is to take control this system and get the orcs to your side by mind controlling them or if that does not work just kill them and hopefully nobody takes their place. The nemesis system is both really unique and challenging at times.

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The creators of the game have clearly taken the best mechanics of triple A games, you got the sneaking skills of assassins creed combined with the brawling of batman franchise.  When you have played both assassins creed and batman as I have, you get the hang of it really fast and easy. The weaponry you get is at few. You get bow, dagger and a sword. With these weapons the customization is pretty simple and straight forward. You can enchant your weapons with different runes you get by killing high rank orcs. The second RPG element in the game is the talent tree system which gives really nice bonuses to the combat and travelling.

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I was really excited for the soundtrack of Shadow of Mordor. As a big fan of the movies and its music composed by Howard Shore I was really hoping that some of his work would be heard in the game, well… There really isn’t any but that is not necessarily a bad thing when you can hear Howard’s music anywhere else LOTR/Hobbit based stuff. Actually the music of the game is really good, sure it has some elements of Howards work but mainly it is all new and fresh. Especially the fighting music can get really intense at some points.

Overall the game was a really blast to play. It is pretty simple with the story and gameplay and that’s just fine. The story is not the best that Tolkien’s epic realm has to offer but it keeps simple and clean. The gameplay is superb, really smooth and the length of the game is pretty good 14 hours plus all the side stuff you want to do after. It is a good game with borrowed and completely new ideas worth of every hour you play.

I give it 9 out of 10.

The Transformation of TV Series – Quality over Quantity

As a kid from the 90’s. I was raised to be from the 80’s. As a 80’s kid in training I was being taught the ways of a action film lover and of being a true fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s work. I was also eager to watch the TV series and what those had to offer. It was pretty much the same pattern. Xena, Firefly and old 90’s sitcoms such as Prince of Bel Air were the shows to watch.

The 90’s came and went. Movies stayed pretty much the same as did the TV shows. So did the 00’s but a little twist from the indie scene in the movie business. But it was not until 2008 that something was about to change in the way we watch TV shows. There were signs over the years. Twin Peaks, The Wire, Sopranos and Oz. These shows were based on normal people but written with a superb and somewhat realistic story behind them.  Many say that the transition from bad and bland TV show to high quality and elegance came from HBO.

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For me it all started with Game of Thrones. A TV series based on a fantasy book covering all the aspects of epic novel. Right from the start of the show you knew that this was something completely different from the shows I was used to. At the same time when I was sucked into the world of fantasy, I started watching this horror series called Walking Dead. Walking Dead followed more or less the same pattern as Game of Thrones, a great interaction between action and drama was perfectly balanced and there were always these little hooks at the end of each episodes to keep you wanting for more.

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These high quality TV shows were starting to surface every year after the boom of 00’s end. Breaking Bad, House of Cards and True Detective were these new and hip TV series everyone would watch. You could watch an episode easily because you got sucked into it almost right after the start. The shows weren’t about perfect and amazing human beings, they were just about normal people with interesting lives. As the peoples interest into TV series raised, so did producers and the people with the money. People with the power to make TV shows happen started to really investing in them, and that really showed in the final product. Now you could really afford to hire a Hollywood producer to produce the series. A great example is David Fincher who was famous from creating such movies as: The Social Networking  and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  Later David produced the first two episodes of the House of Cards which gave the whole series its tone.

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These first-rate series are now very common and more shows are on their way. The future of TV Shows seems brighter than ever. Hopefully that future is going to be a fascinating one. Will people get bored to this kind of show style or is it going to stay like this for years to come? Or will the foreign TV series get popular, or the ones with animation or art? Only time will tell.

Stay tuned.

Pictures by: Derek Bridges, BagoGames and horslips5

What’s in the box? – First impression on PS4

Purchasing a new console is a though decision.

First of all you want to think about the price. Does it cost too much? Will the price go lower if you wait a little? Can you really afford it?

When you are buying a console that hasn’t even been out there for a year, it usually means that there aren’t a lot of games either, except the usual yearly FIFA’s and NHL’s. Most of the big games usually come 1 and a half year after the release of the console. So are there really any games out there you want to play?

I ran all these questions in my head dozen of times and came to the conclusion that I should buy it now or never. So I marched to the nearest cheapest store I could find and bought the damn thing. So here are my first impressions about the newest system in the family.

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Design

Straight lines, edges and illuminating light. I got to say, at the time, it is the best looking game console out there. PS4 is silent and elegant, it doesn’t look like a console and I think that is the purpose of its design. I bought the console jet black as I did with the PS2 and 3. What I noticed with PS4 is that it is so simplistic that you really have to put effort on finding the buttons and ports. Overall it has a superb design.

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The Controller

Sony has learned of its mistake, what I remember of PS3 controller is those slippery triggers and analog sticks, also it felt little too plastic. The new controller has a very nice grip to it. Your fingers don’t slip from the triggers and analog sticks have pressed centers for your fingertips. PS4 controller comes with a few new tricks. It has little built-in speaker and a touchscreen, also the motion sensor has been improved from the PS3 era. The only downside about the controller is its battery life, it only lasts about 6-9 hours depending on the usage.

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The System 

The starting screen of PS4 is very simple and easy to navigate. Every icon is big and advanced settings are hidden behind the simpler ones. You can see that the design of the hardware reflected into the software. PS4 comes with a lot of new tools and widgets. For example you can record your gameplay and edit it. What surprised me about the changes from PS3 was that you can’t anymore move your pictures nor videos from usb drive to PS4, so that’s a bummer.

Final thoughts 

It is no joke that the PS4 is the king of consoles. You can see that the guys at Sony have learned from their mistakes and improved almost on every aspect. The only downsides that I come to think of are the battery life, no support for usb drive to console and that there really are no console worthy games to buy yet.  Never the less, it is the console of the future.

Introductions!

Copyright © Emma Rahikainen

Me in 2D Copyright © Emma Rahikainen

So you wanna know what this blog is all about? Great! Then I shall tell you.

Firstly, a short bio about myself.

I am a guy in his twenties. I study tourism in Finland and live in a little flat with my girlfriend who drew that picture above.  I have always had a love for movies and games. They have been some sort of a getaway from school and work.

So lets talk more about games. I have had several consoles in my life from Gameboy Color to the newest member of the family PS4. I like to play vast array of games from action to sports, I have always had a soft spot for RPG’s.

About the movies. I love to watch all kinds of flicks, except for those ones that have Miley Cyrus in them, god those are horrible! But my biggest affection is reserved for Star Wars and other such great Sci-Fi movies, you just gotta love those lightsabers and laser guns!

Finally about the blog and what it is about. The name of the blog might give you a hint. Yes, you guessed right! It is about playing, watching and reviewing but also much much more. I want to share my thoughts about the entertainment industry from the gamer/film fanatic point of view, and I hope that you enjoy this experience as much as I do!