Archive for the Random Rants Category

A diary of my attempt to play Crysis Wars

Posted in Random Rants with tags , , on January 1, 2010 by Baggie

Day 1:

Finding myself with a new Terabyte hard drive and nothing to put on it, I decided to go through my games and see if there was anything that might jump out at me. Low and behold, I saw Crysis Warhead, but what I was interested in was its multiplayer component, Crysis Wars.

Now the original Crysis’s multiplayer wasn’t exactly populated, possibly because of Crytek’s attitude of “throwing enough graphical requirements in the game most of the public can’t play it” was a bad business strategy. It wasn’t bad multiplayer though, and I could definitely see myself getting into it if there was people playing it.

So I figured what the hell, and installed it on my new drive, while it effectively stole my headphones for half an hour with what can only be described as “elevator music without anything but percussion”. Not a great start to want me to get into the game.

Then it wasted another couple of minutes with advertising and a rather boring intro movie, neither of which could I skip. Which yet again suggests that Crytek doesn’t have a department for making the player actually want to play the game. I mean the intro for left 4 dead 2 is awesome, and I sometimes watch it before I play the game, which it seems means they’ve done something really right, as opposed to a bad intro that you don’t want to watch but you have to anyway.

(You can skip these after the first time you play, I found later)

Finally got into the game, and unsurprisingly it asks me to download a patch. Not really suprising, good they keep everyone on the same version.

Buuuuttt… 500 meg is kind of asking a lot. I don’t really mind, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this download isn’t really efficient when I looked at the patch notes and they basically remade and included the Software Developer Kit in the patch. Logically, that could be one of those optional things.

So far, the entire game hasn’t really been enthralling. I realised I’ve not technically played any of it yet, but I at least expected something that told me, in no uncertain terms, that this game is awesome and you should feel privileged for being allowed to buy it. As it stands, this game feels like the development team gave up somewhere along the line.

After the patch downloaded I gave up for the night, and decided to head for bed, cause frankly it wasn’t looking too good.

Day 2:

Found some time to play some online today, and found there was one server on australia that was pretty much the only one that was ever populated. Normally it’d be pretty annoying in a game like Tf2, but the gameplay is pretty much the same experience in all maps.

The combat is largely capture point based, you can capture more spawns, vehicle bases of ground, air and water variety, power nodes, and a research base. Basically the main game an objective map where either one or both teams try to destroy the enemy’s base, mostly involving the alien weapons you can earn by filling your power bar with the power nodes around the map.

You gain weapons by a rewards system, where on spawn you can spend requisition points on a variety of guns, upgrades, and other toys. You get points by completing objectives, and you can increase the amount of points you get at spawn by gaining ranks, which only last for the map.

The rounds themselves take quite a while, with a lot of back and forthing with the capture points, and I was amazed at how deep the experience could be. It felt like a battlefield game where everyone was a superhuman. The gunplay is tight, and the sniping is incredibly satisfying.

Though I didn’t spend more than an hour on it, I already have a good couple of moments I really enjoyed, chiefly when I saw a guy speeding towards me with his jeep. I shot randomly with my sniper rifle, and accidently blew out his tire. He then spun out around me and regained control and drove away. So I shot the gas tank at the back of his car and he politely exploded in a big fiery ball. Not only did this make me laugh, but the guy then accused me of using hacks, which made me laugh even more.

Though he had a bit of a point, there seems to be a bit of hacking going on around the place. I’ve not seen anything concrete, but there are some pretty BS headshots happening and there was that guy who somehow played and survived by punching people in the face a bunch. Though I’ve learnt to give people the benefit of the doubt in these situations, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw something really horrible later on.

Day 3:

Played a couple of rounds today, and didn’t enjoy it so much. Could have been the players that have been playing for far longer and kept dominating me, or it could have been the fact that the game has a nighttime mode on the server’s local time, so you can’t see much.

The rounds were pretty boring, ran around, captured stuff. I’m starting to think the weapon balance might be off, as I often noticed that people would often kill me while I was trying to snipe.  At first I thought it was because I was crap, however I found myself in a similar situation only I had the SCAR, and I killed the sniper pretty easily.

I’ve also noticed the mouse controls feel a bit off, though I’m not sure if it’s the mouse, the speed control being a slidebar, or because my frame rate is a bit shit. I don’t claim to have an awesome computer, it’s about midrange at this point, but I can run practically everything on high. I’m running this game on low, and I still get occasional problem for seemingly no reason at all.

I’m also a little annoyed they decided to make the bullets travel like actual bullets, as opposed to the standard instant bullet travel you normally see in most videogames. It makes sniping difficult, especially when everyone can automatically turn on “I’m so fast the air catches fire” mode at will.

I’m kind of annoyed, but I’m determined not to stop playing now, as I’ve not really fully grasped the game entirely. For example, I bought an aircraft today and because looking is also how you fly the thing, I got it stuck on a building about 30 seconds afterward.

Day 4:

Didn’t actually play any today, didn’t find the time. However, I did play Tf2 last night and I was quite shocked how much better the game seemed. Everything feels like it’s totally fair and everything is balanced on a pinhead, gameplay wise. If nothing else, at least this exploration will give me an appreciation of the really good things I play.

Day 8:

I think I fully understand why the game has such a small fanbase. At first I thought it might be due to the practically non-existant marketing going on, but now I can see something much bigger behind that. The weapon balance is definitely off, the game encourages play styles that makes people feel like crap, and other assorted small issues.

I’ve played for a bit over the last couple of days, though nothing really changed since the 3rd day, guns seeming unfair, vehicles driving like crap, spawn camping on practically every occasion.

Though strangely enough for all it’s badness, it can and will be fun on occasion. You can play incredibly strategically, and even get some crazy BS stuff happening on occasion.

Unfortunately though the time that I spend having fun vs the time I spend NOT having fun on that game isn’t  worth it for me anymore. I avoid playing it, and when I do I find myself getting spawn camped or sniped from across the map. Everything is fair game, but not everything is fun, unlike Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead, which have fun leaking out the pores. Mainly I feel the developers either didn’t put enough effort in, or didn’t care enough to try to make is a really good game. Every turn I feel like the game is encouraging me not to play it.

I’m going to give up on Wars I think. There’s no point in playing something when there are better alternatives I’ve already purchased. I kind of find it sad because there’s a definite feeling that the premise could have been extremely fun if they just made everything a bit better. I guess it was a bit optimistic to expect a game to be fair when everyone can turn invisible.


Random Rants: Why I suddenly hate Infinity Wards.

Posted in Random Rants on November 9, 2009 by Baggie

Infinity wards is the game studio behind the horrendously good game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Modern Warfare was a new step for the COD franchise, not being in the endless slug of WWII games. The resulting story was brilliant, engaging, and thought-provoking, as well as downright fun.
However, past the Single Player there was an incredibly deep multiplayer, based on team play with a leveling system that let you slowly improve over time. Personally it was the second best multiplayer I’ve ever seen.

Then there was Modern Warfare 2.
Now, same style of game, same studio. So what exactly is different?

Infinity Wards, in their infinite wisdom, decided to make the PC multiplayer without use of third-party dedicated servers.

For you guys not in the know, dedicated servers are the bread and butter of PC multiplayer. A server is a computer that’s designed to run programs and send data to multiple computers at the same time, which is why they’re sodding awesome.
They allow multiplayer to expand with modifications, custom maps, a bunch of other tweaks depending on the game. It also allows communities to form around servers, meaning you get to play with a group of people who are friendly and fun to play with. Of course there’s still nondescript servers around the place, which means you can have whatever play experience you want, the choices are infinite. There’s also the benefit of being able to quickly ban hackers, mute micspammers, all being controlled by the admin of the server.

Now, I don’t hate the 360, but I think the players are being screwed over by having to pay for an online service that in many ways is sub par. And one of the major problems is that they have a terrible online system, which at best has developer hosted servers, and at worst (And far more likely) one persons 360 acts as the server, and as a result they get a huge advantage.

The effect is that the PC experience, with all its customisation ability, is gone, and replaced by a boring vanilla controlled by the developers which, while mildly acceptable, isn’t going to make anyone happy, especially not the guys I go to a LAN with every month or so. Especially not when they make the player limit 9v9, which is completely stupid from a gameplay perspective, and probably brought on by the fact they’re going to have to front the bill for the servers themselves, and account for peer-to-peer hosting, which they could have avoided if I remember correctly. And the lack of dedicated admins mean that they’re going to have hackers, micspammers, and a bunch of exploiters.

The PC community has made it very clear they don’t want this to happen. There’s even been a petition with nearly 20,000 signatures.
So why, in all sanity, would you want to take a system as good for the player as the PC multiplayer, and turn it into  a console version of the multiplayer? It’s not fair for the people who were looking forward to an improved version of the multiplayer from COD4, and has logically no upsides to the playing experience.

The first Modern Warfare game was one of the most pirated I’ve seen. While you couldn’t go online, people used programs like Hamachi (making a virtual lan and bypassing online CD key checks) to bypass this, and as a result IW lost a lot of money. Unfortunately, there’s always going to be people who pirate games on the PC, and to think you can stop that is just stupid, best to put your best anti-piracy on the software and leave it, not to make the game not worth buying to stop the people not buying it.

So, in an effect to stop pirates, they’ve made the game effectively not worth pirating. Not to mention ignoring the 20,000+ people that would have bought the game if it wasn’t a pile of crap now.

For me, this game, and possibly all COD games to come, are not worth my time anymore. It’s a pity, but if they’ve made it clear that they so desperately don’t want me to buy their games, I won’t.

Maybe Bad Company 2 will be a little more welcoming.

Terribly sorry, seem to have dozed off for a bit

Posted in Random Rants on November 1, 2009 by Baggie

Evening one and all,
As you may or may not have noticed I’ve not updated this particular blog in… two months and one day.
I can mostly attribute this to:

-My own laziness
-A medical condition that can best be described in one sentence as “Gremlins in my cellular level”

Luckily I’m over the second so the first won’t be so much of a problem now! I’ll be posting either before the night is out or early tomorrow! Should be back on usual schedule now.



Random Rant: You’re doing it wrong

Posted in Random Rants on August 31, 2009 by Baggie

Don’t get me wrong, I love developers. They make shiny new toys for us to play with, without them we’d not have the gaming scene we see today.

However there’s a small problem in that they always do something not quite right. Whether it be a lack of multiplayer or a lack of depth, there’s usually something they could have changed that would turn the game from good into some sort of super game that people would still be playing consistently for many years to come.

While these flaws are by no means gaps in evil villan plans that could have been spotted by a 3 year old child, they are things that, while maybe not so obvious to the developer, are pretty obvious to people who actually play the game.

Therefore I present so problems that prevented games from being truely great.

Mirrors Edge

Mirrors Edge is one of my favorite games. It combines high movement control with interesting environments, and some really fun gameplay. Unfortunately they had the idea to not use the awesome backstory of the game to it’s full potential, where super athletes ran around rooftops and delivered messages to people trying to bring the evil government down.

Instead focus on it’s downfall. It’s like they decided to build this terrific world with a realistic ecosystem and all that good stuff, only to destroy it and show you the ashes. My favorite mission in the entire game is the second last one, where you’re going through this nearly abbandoned building a lot of the time, free in a construction site to play on the scaffolding. Somehow they can’t grasp that people can have fun WITHOUT being shot at.

What they could have done instead is taken it one step back, made it about what came before everything went to bollocks. Have a open world game that you run around in, delivering documents and getting in trouble with the police. I guess I’m describing a fusion between current mirrors edge and GTA, but dammit, it would be AWESOME. Throw in multiplayer and Co-op and instant Game of the Year status.

Farcry 2

Farcry 2 had this big open world to explore. I can respect that, and an African environment would be a very interesting place to explore. But the game doesn’t let you. The game instead breaks up the peaceful bliss of exploration with “THERE’S GUYS OVER THERE SHOOTING AT YOU” every 12 seconds. I don’t mind combat, but let us take a BREAK every now and then. Please? I mean even if you manage to avoid the clone-producing outposts you get the enemy comming to YOU. Who thought that constant combat throughout the entire game was a good idea?

What would have been better is a little less checkpoints, and the faction you keep doing missions for? Maybe you could make THEM you allies? What would be so wrong with that? You do it right and you end up having half the map where you can explore to your hearts content. Maybe even encourage people to replay the game to see the other side without constant gunfire ruining your body.

Fallout 3, Oblivion, a lot more open world games

There’s this problem with open world games, where you can choose a profession, travel around doing quests, joining guilds etc, that you have this one constant storyline that is central to everything you do. Why, after all the freedom you give us, do you randomly decide that you need to plonk in  a linear storyline? The entire point is that you make your own experience. While I’ve got nothing against linear storylines in a, I don’t know, linear story line game, the point of having one in a open world is kind of pointless.

The answer is quite simple, don’t put one in. I don’t want to find my father, close the gates to oblivion, etc.

Instead concentrate on the world you’re creating, make it more detailed, make a few more kilometres of open land, make another city, give the player more options for their character. Ultimately they’ll enjoy these additions far more than a campaign they’ll only play once.

In conclusion

Very briefly, you don’t need to be shot at all the time to have fun, and you don’t need elements in your game that don’t make sense to the grand style of your game. Always make sure that the game you are making is as much fun as humanly possible to yourselves and others.

Random Rants: Game release pandemonium.

Posted in Random Rants on June 8, 2009 by Baggie

Game developers are always trying to make maximum profit out of a project, it’s how the financial world works. This results in the mass release dates about a month before christmas so appropriate hype can be created when it’s needed and everyone buys it for christmas. While this normally is fair enough because most people are only interested in a couple of titles, this year there seems to be some multi-corporation conspirisy where everyone is releasing sequels to extremely well done games that have had a good thousand extra interesting features put in. All ending in ‘2’.
Bioshock 2

Bioshock was a FPS released back in late 2007. It was based on the System Shock series back in the 90’s, and blended steampunk and biopunk with moral delemas and philisophical questions, as well as having some extremely pretty environments. All at the bottom of the ocean. There were a good hundred tactical plausablilities and was extremely satifying outsmarting your enemies.

Bioshock had these roaming bosses called Big Daddies, which you could kill to get the little girls they protected so you could either save them from their horrible slavery and get a little bit of magic fairy liquid (used to buy new plasmids, which enable you to shoot things out of you hand, such as bees) or kill them to get maximum magic fairy liquid. It was no easy task though, these guys were 2.5 metres tall and either shot rivets and beat the shit out of you, or had an enormous drill for an arm to beat the shit out of you.

In Bioshock 2, you get to PLAY as a Big Daddy. Not just any Big Daddy though, the prototype that was deemed too costly to be plausable to mass produce. This comes back to a point I made earlier that what’s more fun than making the game harder by upgrading the enemies is having the same enemies, just making more of them. So you’ll be stomping around a not-quite abandoned ruined city underwater shooting fire and bees out of your arm and generally killing anyone who decides to attack you. YES.

Oh, and Coop and multiplayer, which I’m cautiously optimistic about.

Assassin’s Creed 2

Assassin’s Creed was released november 2007, and involved you parkour’ing around several different cities in the 11th century, being tasked to Assassinate a couple of templars but in general free to do your own thing as well. You had multiple ways to approach a target, could climb buildings and had a mechanised blade that you could use to do some IMPRESSIVE inhumation. It also had interesting characters and a decent storyline, however the cutscenes that could take upwards of 5 minutes and you couldn’t skip got a little repetative.

In Assassin’s Creed 2 you play as a different chap in 16th century italy, with improved parkour mechanics, combat mechanics, and you have 2 mechanised blades that are also now guns. While not much is known right now if it’s anything like the old game it looks to be quite a good deal of fun.

Mass Effect 2

The first Mass Effect was very nice, you went travelling around the universe blowing up robots and questing to your hearts content. There were several different classes all with fun abilities and had dialogue trees whenever you taked to someone. It was pretty and had an interesting storyline, and the harder difficulties were extremely fun, following the “harder = more enemies” rule. There was an INCREDIBLE amount of content, which is nice but it ends up being more of the same, with the storyline missions being vastly more fun.

Mass Effect 2, is a lot more focused on the story than the original, and has vastly improved combat mechanics where you can blow parts of people off, as well as see them try to crawl away. The characters look better, and it uses your save games from Mass Effect 1 to determine if certain characters are alive, as well as putting into effect the choices you made last game. Again, if it’s like the original it’ll be extremely enjoyable.

Left 4 Dead 2

This one’s an interesting one, suddenly I wake up one morning and valve has created a new game while I wasn’t looking. “Where the hell did that come from?” was my immediate response. Apparently it’s going to release 364 days after the original was released.

At this stage the game looks largely finished, and I’m cautiously optimistic about this game, it has melee weapons and new special infected, as well as new characters and new campaigns. I’m a bit concerned this idea is half baked though, for one it’s set in daytime now, which is a bit of a risky change. The special infected from the last game are kind of conspiuous at this stage,the incendry ammo seems cool but means the tank is now even MORE useless than before, the melee weapons are kind of overpowered, and while it’s not a finished product it seems lacking something the original one had.

It’s created a bit of a stir with customers though, there’s even a sizable movement to stop L4D 2 and have it released as DLC for the original, which confuses me to buggery, they still need to make a profit and it’s a lot of content to just give away for free. I think it’ll probably be fun, though I don’t know if I’ll preorder it as I did the last one.

The issue is, most gamers and a sizable amount of people that aren’t know about the quality of these original games, and practically everyone I know who plays games regularly has played these games. So how is it any kind of fair they release all these games within the same month? I mean I want all of them, but can’t really justify buying them ALL at the same time!
Market forces make me cry sometimes.

(Fun fact: Curiously 3 of these games were released in 2007, so apparently 2009 is the new 2007.)

Random Rants: Consistent save systems

Posted in Random Rants with tags , , , on May 28, 2009 by Baggie

Having nothing particular to do tonight, as TF2 has been royally screwed up for the moment, I decided I would have a go at Mass Effect.
I had a level 31 soldier that I’d already played through with once, had high everything, and was playing through on hardcore, the hardest difficulty level I could play. It’s incredibly fun, because it’s method for making the levels harder is not making the indiviual enemies more difficult, rather making a lot more of them. There’s something magical about clearing a room full of 50 geth armed to the teeth with 2 AI compainions.

I WAS thinking of talking about the harder diffulty settings in games, how sometimes they’re totally unfair and sometimes kick arse, as I would have suggested for Mass Effect.

Then I died.

Now normally this wouldn’t have been a problem. I die in games a bit, as everyone does, and could just load to a earlier save, right?

Unfortunately the last save was half an hour back.

Singleplayer games are something I can relax to, something I don’t have to beat other players and just have fun. Very rarely do I become frustrated at them or even decide not to play them anymore. This particular incident made me crush the V can I was holding and bite on my bottom lip. I had just done half an hour of what ammounted to zero and while yes, it was fun, it means that if I want to continue I’ll have to redo the same half hour again, which effectively becomes work.


So now I’m going to write about save systems, and what they should and shouldn’t be.

Save systems have been around forever. You have 2 different types of saves, Autosaves and User Saves.

Autosaves are when the computer makes a save for you at certain different points. They’re the most common method of saving in console games, I can’t recall a console game that has included usersaves into it’s gameplay the way PC games have.

User Saves are just that, the user decides to save. The most common for of this is the quicksave, which is usually activated by pressing F5 or F6. Some little white text fades in saying “…saved” or something similar. This is a nice addition of autosaves, it means the user has more control over when to save.

Now, as much as I like quicksaves, I and most PC gamers I know have the tendency to quicksave every minute or some, almost compulsively. It’s something that becomes annoying after a while, even if I’m the one doing it. So if I can I try to rely on the autosave system if it’s good.

A good autosave system is something that is really nice for a game, particularly if it has no quicksaves in it, but it means that I can just relax and not worry if I’ve saved recently whenever I die.

Now, I’ve been playing more multiplayer games recently, and obviously they have no quicksaves. So I go into Mass Effect, knowing it has an autosave system, and play happily for half an hour, not pressing the magical F5 key after combat. Normally the autosave system is pretty good in ME, so it didn’t immediately come to mind as quickly as it would have in say Fallout 3. So I played for said half hour, until I got swarmed by some fast moving oversized bug things. Then a thought came into my head, “Oh shit, I didn’t quicksave, did I get an autosave since I started?”

The problem with this situation is that Mass Effect often autosaves pretty regularly, starting out as an Xbox game. So why would it leave a gap of HALF AN HOUR? It seems like a horrible design choice, though the 360 version had plenty of those, the biggest being both squad mates being ordered as one entity, so one squad mate could be profficient at shotguns and one at sniper rifles, but you couldn’t say “You  shotgun, You sniper.”, you had to say “Both of you, shotgun.” which was rather thick.

But back on point, save systems shouldn’t punish the user because the design team decided not to put a save point between 3 dialogue sequences, 2 elevator rides, and a hard combat sequence (This does happen, took me a long time to get through it), or a autosave after the 10 minute driving sequence or the 15 minute combat sequence. They should save between sequences, or offer an alternative. Assasin’s creed had you come back alive pretty much wherever you died, which isn’t as stupid as you think, and Bioshock had the vita-chambers, though that kind of screwed up hard, because there was no penalty for dying, you just run back and mindlessly attack whatever you were attacking before.

Bad or inconsistent save systems can ruin games that are otherwise terrific. While this isn’t something I’d stop playing Mass Effect for, becuase I can just quicksave every now and then, it was enough of an annoyance to make me quit the game for tonight, and it could be another week before I do the stuff I just did again, if not more, but if I was playing on the 360 and this happened I’d CERTAINLY not play this again, it’s just not fair on the player. I did quit Prince of Persia: Warrior within because I had to spend 2 hours on an unituitive puzzle and a incredibly unfair combat then parkour sequence that often killed me, otherwise it was a terrific game, but I’m not going to play if I haven’t got much of a change of completing the game am I?

Then again maybe tonight’s incident was just god punishing me for not updating on time 😛

Griefing and it’s elevation

Posted in Random Rants on May 12, 2009 by Baggie

Griefing, for you not in the know, is something spawned from the general unpleasentness of people, the flexibility of video games and the fact that you have no answerability to anyone in most situations.

The most common form of griefing is people shooting their own teammates, which is why in most games friendly fire is at the most an option that stays left off. This means people have to get creative with their griefing. There’s countless videos on the internet of people teleporting people to inconvenient places, blowing people off edges, tricking them into an ally of sentry guns, but mostly games are ‘grief proof’, thank god. (This discludes enemies of course, that’s just good sport!)

Normally the griefers give up, going to easier games probably. But extremely rarely you get people that simply just want to annoy people  so much they exploit the smallest oversight or unfixable situation to stop people having fun. I don’t know why they do it, but occasionally you get people that have taken griefing to an artform.

There’s a couple of chaps called ‘Team Roomba’ that have made some videos called ‘Team Fortress 2 griefing” which show them teleport enemies into sentry fire, blocking doors by jumping RIGHT into the right place, even stuff simple like blocking sniper scopes with flamethrowers.

It’d be annoying beyond belief it is was to happen to me, but it’s still hilarious for some reason. They even use the door blocking technique to make the players answer triva questions so they can get out.(which would be something I’d actually want to happen to me.) It’s extremely well presented and somehow hits all the right buttons.

I bring this up because I had a similar experience a couple of minutes ago (that and I forgot to write again and this was convienient). Me and my friend found the Left 4 Dead VS servers were pretty dead, so we tried out campaign for old times sake. Then 2 chaps named Angry Otter and Larry Fitzgerald  (I assume their pseudonyms) showed up and started running ahead. I figured they just liked rushing, which is basically running ahead alone to prove your awesomeness (keep in mind that you need teammates to get off the special zombies).

But not only were they running ahead, they were taking all the medpacks as well. I didn’t notice at first, thought the server had glitched or something, however we soon twigged they were doing this. Now this game has friendly fire on by default, they could have just shot us or something similar, but instead of griefing by aggression, they were griefing by denial. We couldn’t heal and they wouldn’t protect us, and yet it was HILARIOUS. The fact they’d gone to so much effort was hilarious.

Course things got a bit tense when they required us to go up an elevator, and the next map they killed us a couple of times, I think they baited a tank towards us as well. I managed to survive the finale on the last try by hiding in a closet with a shotgun (my friend was already dead by this stage), and hoping they wouldn’t shoot me when they came nearby to get ammo. I even saved one of them from a smoker, being a prisoner of gaming morals. I got to the helecopter with 5hp left just as it was landing, and then one of them turned around shot me, killing me.

It was too funny to be mad, the perfectness of their  practice of ruining our game was too funny to not laugh, and I probably had a better time in that game than I would have in a serious one.

Normally I’d have a conclusion but to be honest I’m too tired to make a point out of this. Just some rambling about the topic. Maybe I’ll write a review when I don’t have an neverending supply of assignments flowing in.