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Article - Are Games Getting Easier?

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September 2, 2005 4:07:33 PM

Hi guys,

First post for me, the "are games getting easier?" column made me jump so much I had to give you a reaction ;o)

To put it straight: I completely and totaly disagree with the author, Mark Raby.

First, it seems that the article only focuses on two sorts of games, namely adventure and sport games, and completely forget the other genres which are out there waiting to please us eager gamers. I've been playing video games since 1986 when I acquired my Amstrad 664, and at the time I did play other games than those mentionned (I remember fondly P47 Thunderbolt or Beagles) which were not that hard, and did focus more on enjoyment through content rather than through challenge.

Has it occured to the author that it may be for the lack of content that the games studied focused on a challenging experience? Didn't having to be a real master of Pacman to get past the 4th level make up for the fact that the game was lacking much content? If games are today easier, I believe that it is precisely because they offer more variety, and more content. "Games" are today meant to be what their name implies: a device of entertainment, which make you spend a good time, and not a continuation of the constant challenge life is.

That said, challenge has found a new way of expressing itself today through games, compared with the "good old times": multiplayer.
"It wasn't a true final boss if you didn't die at least once trying to defeat it." Well, what do you say about buying Warcraft III, Dawn of War, etc. and beginning some games online? Isn't winning a game after losing 20 in a row (many players will know what I mean - I've just begun Dawn of War online recently, and it's reminiscent of my beginnings at Warcraft III online: a lot of cruel blows in the face) the kind of satisfaction you are talking after defeating the awful boss? Except that here, there are many more parameters, you have to put many more factors together than simply learning to jump around smartly and throwing your little ball at the convenient moment.

And about these reflexes you talk about ("While they require some good basic reflexes, racing games do little to really challenge gamers."), you mean that playing Mario or Pacman requires something else than "basic reflexes" ? Playing Counter-Strike online demands far more reflexes than killing the final boss in Super Mario World, not least because you're playing in a 3D environment, but also more than just anticipation of a scripted movement and attack, it demands anticipation of totally random human opponent's actions. If you need an explanation on where the challenge is, feel free to email me ;o)

But I'd be glad to get your opinion about my opinion ;o)

More about : article games easier

September 2, 2005 5:34:48 PM

Clearly this article is about console games. It doesn't apply at all to PC games. As a PC gamer, I can tell you that games are much better today than in the days of Pong and Pac-Man. The depth of storytelling, the level of AI, the lovingly crafted cutscenes, the minimal yet useful GUI and yes, the graphics.
RPGs are now regularly 40 to 60 hours in gameplay. Shooters have more plot and less mayhem (except Serious Sam) with intelligence rather than reflexes resulting in game wins.
By the way, this gamer loves to win. I find the console-style of few saves and long replays interferes with enjoyment of the game. I don't buy games without save anywhere. Who wants to spend hours trying to get past a design flaw that requires a much higher level of skill that a player should have at that point. When I'm paying $30 or $40 for entertainment, I want to receive everything that game contains; otherwise, my entertainment dollars go elsewhere.
Games are better than ever and most contain difficulty levels, so if it's too easy, crank it up. Win it on Nightmare level and feel like you are the best!
September 2, 2005 5:38:38 PM

I also agree with the above sentiment.

Games have surely changed but I think the idea that all games have become overly easy visual treats is a bit short sighted. The consumers at large drive the market and as stated in the article the majority of them are looking for simple flashy experiences. This isn't a new idea though. Simply look at the entertainment industry at large and you'll find the same shift occuring. Movies are an excellent example of the market giving money in gobs to flashy plotless films while largely ignoring innovation and interesting story lines.

But this doesn't mean that innovation is gone, it's just overwhelmed by the mass of sloppily produced entertainment products built solely to cash in on current market hotspots. I wanted Rez, released on the DC and PS2, to be a massive success. It is truly a great experience and actually meets most of the criteria of what the article references as a good game. Sadly though it only did marginally well. Why? Because it didn't have the word "Matrix" or a Disney character in it. That's just the reality of the market though. Hardcore gamers are in short supply and the gaming market is growing exponentially. Add to this the fact that compared to the early years of gaming there are more new releases per month than could even be imagined 20 years ago.

Great games are out there. Quickly I can think of some of my recent favorites like Rez, Ikaruga, Virtua Fighter 4: Evo, and Katamari Damacy.

What we really needed was an article about how these games need more attention, not a blast of the industry as a whole ignoring those that still try to innovate even when they know they can expect only limited success.


Jake
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September 2, 2005 5:42:56 PM

Pretty much agree with previous poster on article being off. I'd probably add that it sounded a little elitist as well.

The premise is basically how much fun were the good ol' days.

Was it fun to go thru the same content 100s of times until you get it absolutly right? Was beating up the same encounters you had figured out how to beat before so enjoyable? Personally, I beg to disagree with the assertion that the good ol' days were that much fun.

Sure a bunch of games mentioned were actually entertaining in the short run but content was not worth the 80 hours or more you see some games have recently. If they didn't make you go thru the same trivial level until you get to the one you're stuck at, in fact those games would have had a shelf life of 10 hours at most.

As for challenge level, this is highly subjective. Aside from hardcore gamer, lots of whom waste their time squatting in their parents basement or have the social life of a cooking pan set, there are a lot of people for whome games are challenging enough. Recognizing this, the industry has gone away from the ultra-hard to beat games and instead made games with difficulty settings. If you're 1337 with uber skillz, you'll find challenge beating Doom 3 in nightmare mode. For the rest of us, there is a range of difficulty settings so that you tailor you challenge level to what you want. Is it less fun to be able to finish a game because you were allowed an easy/normal mode or give up on it because it's too difficult (and possibly after having destroyed your input device trying)?

The most infuriating to me was the passage about "hard work and dedication". Excuse me but as a working professional and mother, this is the type of statement that leaves me incredulous. Do you want to feel like you're at work when playing game or are you playing game for their escapist/entertainment value?

If the former, isn't there something useful that people could do instead of gaming? If they want to feel like they need to put in long hours of hard work on a game that produces nothing tangible, why not use that energy towards something slightly more productive. There are plenty of tasks that would fit the bill for that.

Seriously, I think most people play games to have fun and while work has its own rewards, entertainment is probably not the thing most people would describe theirs by. Sure there is the question of sense of accomplishment but ultimately what do you really accomplish in a game. Zip. Nothing. It's the journey not the destination I believe that makes games worth playing. If I wanted a second job, I'd get one (and I'd make $ rather than spend it on games doing so).

I agree that many games ARE getting easier but somehow I fail to see how this is detrimental. It gives access to gaming to the more casual gamers, it allows tuning games to your skills so the player chooses their experience rather than that being decided for them by game devs. I think it also promotes content variety instead of repeated time-consuming tasks as devices for keeping people playing games. So some people, like Mark, are not getting challenged enough? How about PVP games? How about boosting that setting to the top difficulty of that game and try again?

Unlike Mark, I think the industry is not suffering as much from making games too easy as it may be hurting for lack of originality in games coming out. The focus on technology and graphics (read eye candy and gizmos) has often replaced the need for making the games actually fun, novel and challenging in new ways. It's not the difficulty that's at fault. I think the industry is doing the right thing trying to cater to a larger audience than just powergamers. And it'd do itself an even greater service trying to make games that break the mold more often than just iteration/evolutions of well-known successful recipes.
September 2, 2005 5:44:01 PM

I totally agree with tHeLaMaN , and i also agree with mark ruby on his first point.

here's why :

Reaction to mark's post :

Todays Games conected with the genre that where spawned with the first marios or sonics, well basically the 'me against the world, shoot, crush, outwit, and conquer' types are getting easier... are they really??? or perhaps people playing are getting smarter game wise? I fondly remember my first real 'computer' back in 1985 with a program called buck rogers. At the time it was quadrichrome, false 3D, scroll up shooter which envolved going through gates. You had to have unbelievable skills after a few levels.. there's nothing like playing for a few hours per day, everyday for a year to get your skills up to the right level... Or things like F19 stealth fighter which envolved going through the, at the time, the nasty USSR, to bomb targets, with the whole red army out to get you. You had to calculate trajectorys, intercept radars, plot courses.
At the time it took me quite a while to master all the aspects of the games i had . For a 12 year old i did pretty well, i think. then i tried them again, a few years afterwards are found them pathetic. why? because skills grow with age, and you may have blinding speed at 16, but u dont have a broad vision of the game. At 22 you may have lost a few seconds but u can see a broad picture and wont/might need the speed.
With all games you have a "game feel", a vibe that comes with it. Any youngster approches a game with curiosity and determination to see what's next.
When you get older you look forward to more depth, more quality time.

There was a time when the dreaded "game over" loomed over my head , with the prospect of losing all. What really frustrated me was that you couldn't save at one point to carry on the game later. Making a) parents angry that the children where spending hours play, b) me very very on edge near to the special points. this was solved when i bought Zelda III i think, that wonderfull golden cartridge which left me time to eat something between the bashings of ghosts and monsters, and left me time to see friends...

Todays games have that softcore approche which leaves me with mixed feelings everytime i finish a game. You dont get the rush of excitement at every boss stage, when you get a boss which you can call a boss. So i agree on this point. I think the "bosses" have been replaced by armys of human players which are much harder to beat. The first rushes of excitement i got was back in the days of CS 0.3 the first stable one with which i played. there's nothing like beating a whole team out of shear tactical skills and inspiration.

I don't think the human Versus 'puters games are getting more easier, the people evolving around the gaming industry are just getting more gaming time. the players, makers, programmers of today have grown with it. It comes naturally.

Now a new factor comes to light :
tHeLaMaN was spot on!
Human versus human. the next big step, beating an impossible boss, is just figuring out how the algorithm that makes him live works. At 12 you dont think like that, you just think that u've got "UB3r $|<1LL$" ;) 
try playing against humans, u have to have better reflexes, u have to out think them : ALOT HARDER.


put any youngster in front of mario bros on the nes and he'll say the game is bloody hard, why? because of the advanced motor functions u need to have to get passed some areas.
The thing to remember is that most games had algorithmes that controled the enemys and bosses. so If you had the knack for it, with a bit of observation and a bit of skill you could take all those games where you wanted. Of course at 12 years old, you dodn't think like that, u're just good at it...

What really would bug me is a game which is an endless repetition of doing the same things ( duuuhhh like mario?? hey ,at the time i had time to kill, but not anymore..) . Once u've done it, any normal human can repeat ( any APE can!). what would really be a challenge is a world which recreates it's self in order to surprise you. Dead at one point, to the start my friend and hey presto, a new experience! The skills gotten through the first try are still to be used, but u get a new a fresh start to things.


I still think that in the solo modes you should be given the opportunity to save when ever you want, but cometh the deathangel time, thou shalt walk in the valley of darkness, and starteth at the start.

GAME OVER!

a.

Huummmmm CPU stuck.....Now where's that wrench? May the light of buddha's wisdom guide you thru the hellish nightmare of W******.... ;) 
September 2, 2005 5:56:02 PM

Hi, folks - my 2 cents here.

There are simply many more games and more game genres now than there used to be 20 years ago. There are easy games that are much easier than the old ones. There are very complex games that are more complex than anything there was before.

Take Civ series for example. Or my recent favorite - Supreme Ruler 2010. Easy? I don't think so.

As far as final bosses go, well, you need to know where to look. How about MMORPGs raid targets? There are bosses there that require several hours of precisely coordinated efforts of dozens of people and months (!!!) of preparation to take down. Packman never required that kind of dedication -)
September 2, 2005 6:41:43 PM

Hey, I love old games. But, I think many of the things the author describes are more of an evolution in gaming than something that would be considered negative. For example, a simple "game over" with no saves comes from a far more simple time. There were limitations and also I don't think the gamers wants and needs were always met 100%.

"Repetitive to the point of tedium"
September 2, 2005 7:19:59 PM

Good points. Multiplayer tho has been around since Pong and ATari 2600 Combat.

ONe thing I find is the controls for (console) games are more complicated than ever altho the games are more generally more forgiving than ever.

I too see games as more entertainment tho I occasionally like a harder game that challenges me. But I wouldn't want to beat my head against a wall with every game I played.

A game like Metroid Prime was about perfect in the amt of entertainment and challenge it provided.

I do get tired of the stupid simple puzzles.

But challenge is so relative. It's hard to make puzzles that challenge everyone without making them too hard or too easy.

Also in the age of the internet, messageboards, gamefaqs and strat guides I would think the developers would make the puzzles harder. If you get stuck for too long you can just look up the answer (with ease.) That way you could satisfy both kinds of fans.

I do like that you can save games now. I was just playing the original Sonic the Hedgehog and enjoyed it until I remembered you have to beat the game in one sitting.

Old games as much as I enjoyed some of them get monotonous. And actually these types of games are easily found still. They are offered free on websites and in Happy Meals.

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Freakhead_5 on 09/02/05 03:25 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
Anonymous
September 2, 2005 7:54:01 PM

:eek: 
I agree with the previous poster!

Asus P4P800DX, P4C 2.6ghz@3.25ghz, 2X512 OCZ PC4000 3-4-4-8, MSI 6800Ultra stock, 2X30gig Raid0
September 2, 2005 9:49:49 PM

i think some games are easyer than they should be for sure. half life 2 was a lot of fun but it wasnt difficult by any means. make it harder and it just adjusts the ammount of ammo needed to kill enemys. thats a real bs way to increase difficulty. far cry on the other hand is VERY hard on the higher difficulty levels. but take mario brothers, that game is also pretty difficult. for good reasons, not because it takes 10 fireballs to kill some dumb monster. a lot of sports games, like boxing and racing games are very easy and dont pay much attention to reality. take for example need for speed "i forgot the title" the one that is all street racing or some crap. the driving is simple and they try to extend game play by having to add stickers and stupid body kits to your car. then there was doom3, a really lame game. the levels were much more interesting in doom 2.

go tell your alien brothers, that ronnie cordova says they're gay!!! <A HREF="http://sockbaby.com" target="_new"> sock baby </A>
September 3, 2005 3:44:06 AM

http://www.tomshardware.com/game/20050902/easier_games-...

Well... While the final bosses in some games could stand to be made harder, DON'T GO OVERBOARD GAME DEVELOPERS!!!

Having recently been defeated by Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (which was a tad on the easy side even towards the end when leading up to the final boss, and frichen impossible ON the final boss - if you don't know, it's basically the very definition of how to make a game "cheat") I completely disagree that final bosses have to be hard. They just have to be something epic and something that gets your adrenaline going. Not something that requires you to steal your friend's save state.

That being said, as far as difficulty, I think game developers today are creating games as experiences, not merely games. You can leave the multiplayer to the difficulty. That's not to say that hard games don't have a place in the world, but sometimes I just want to be god and frag thousands of inferior enemies.

I'm afraid to check over this post because I might change something... >_> I'll leave my rant in its super tired first draft form.
September 3, 2005 8:54:08 AM

hey, i wonder how old you people are? I'm 29, i've been fiddling with silicon since 84-85, started with games on audio cassettes with my dad's ORIC, then he got one of the first PC clones from cherry (yes the keyboard makers.. lol) with a 8086 cpu... at the time we where like oooohhhhh... from then it goes on and on and on.... i remember playing on most of the old classics, like some of you might say, Diablo II what agreat old game... lol. what not try tetris at level 33, after a few hours, u can still hear the music in your sleep.... anybody played Ikari warriors for more than 37 Strait hours let me know ^^ ok well, we where 3 and after the first 20 hours i dont remember much appart from drinking lots of coke and see the hotel's lobby's toilet wall from real close. and biy did we get some heat from our parents... :D  good times !!
One game i hated was "Ghouls'N Ghosts", buggey hitboxes!



Huummmmm CPU stuck.....Now where's that wrench? May the light of buddha's wisdom guide you thru the hellish nightmare of W******.... ;) 
September 3, 2005 8:59:28 AM

I'd say : PLEASE DO GO OVER BOARD!!

Has anybody finished Syndicate Wars from bullfrog, or know of a person that did??
I've been searching the world for a person who actually can prouve this, never found it! Even with a near pecfect squad of the most gruntiest , balliest, godlike thugs you get swamped and crushed. i dont think they( bullfrog) wanted people to finish it....

A.

Huummmmm CPU stuck.....Now where's that wrench? May the light of buddha's wisdom guide you thru the hellish nightmare of W******.... ;) 
September 3, 2005 3:07:33 PM

With all due respect to the reviewer, I would love to know what driving games he's referring to as being easier. Perhaps he's referring to arcade classics such as Need for Speed or other such things. With those, he may be right. I confess to having little knowledge about the arcade racers. But in regards to the hardcore simracing community, he apparently has no clue. Grand Prix Legends is the most diabolically difficult racing sim ever created. Now, I realize it's older (circa '98), but it still fits within the reviewer's time frame. So recently, we can look at titles such as F1Challenge, NR2003 and it's excellent mods (GTP & Trans Am), GTR, and Richard Burns Rally. rFactor has just been released, so the jury's out on that one. But he cannot possibly have driven any of the aforementioned sims and refer to them as 'easy', or 'unchallenging'. The standard that has been set with GPL and carried through the more recent sims is a very tough one.

To Tom - you have the most respected site on the planet for what you offer; if you're going to have someone submit a review, it would be nice if the reviewer is at least familiar with what he is commenting about.

Fletch
September 3, 2005 7:06:42 PM

I'm in my sixties and have been playing games since Colossal Cave on mainframes. Built an Altair (8088 -- gotta have that floating-point!), bought a TI 99/4 and an Atari 2600 then an Intellivision.
September 3, 2005 7:56:42 PM

I get upset reading it, working with computer all day I want to relax with a game, not getting frustrated.
Why don't developer get more balance in the game, and why is "easy"-mode so hard that you stop playing Warcraft III on the &¤#¤&&%%/ map 3?

Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.
George Bernard Shaw
September 3, 2005 8:25:47 PM

Games today Are generally too easy.

I bought the Doom3 expansion but actually havent finished it yet. Too booring, too easy. THe old Doom games where freacking hard.

Who ever played Lemmings? That was an awsome game, that was hard to boot. Ultima V? Darn good game. Tough.

These days only online games seems to give me any challenge.

This' a darn shame.

~~DukeP~~
September 3, 2005 9:43:54 PM

colossal caves?? do you have a link to a info site on the game??

Huummmmm CPU stuck.....Now where's that wrench? May the light of buddha's wisdom guide you thru the hellish nightmare of W******.... ;) 
September 4, 2005 5:16:26 AM

I completely agree with tHeLaMaN. This is the first time I've completely disagreed with an article on this site so I had to post. With the glut of games available to gamers today, of course many games are going to be focused on the casual gamer and hence "easier". Difficulty as the author describes is only part of the overall enjoyment of a game though. Through every generation of games, as long as there have been games, developers have sought to push technological limits. Today that mainly means through graphics and content, but decades back alot less could be done, so games had to be really hard to compensate. Back then I had lots of games I couldn't conquer because of frustration and a lack of time; and trust me it didn't give me a sense of accomplishment having to give up on them. Today the crappy games are masked by pretty graphics. Decades back they tried to mask crappy games by making them unbelievably difficult. Things are still the same today, there are still plenty of crappy games to go around that sour the rest. Buy a crappy game, have a crappy time. Game difficulty is only a piece of the puzzle that adds up to total enjoyment. A difficult game isn't going to make up for other shortcomings. Just like other posters have stated, if the game isn't difficult enough, hike up the difficulty level. If game saves make the game too easy for you, don't save your game. Then you can once again waste countless hours replaying the same levels to attain that elusive sense of accomplishment thats been "lost".
September 6, 2005 2:13:27 AM

You're all idiots.

Games back then took more to master than they do today. I used to play games with a joystick and a single button. They were hard and fun. They didn't require a huge story line or content. They were fun and a challenge. Games today need content and a storyline because they're not challenging.

You're all idiots to me.. since I'm almighty and stuff.

:) 
September 6, 2005 11:23:44 AM

Quote:

You're all idiots to me.. since I'm almighty and stuff.


Nah, you're just an old sod (mind the lower case) who thinks that things used to be better than they are today. Typical old timer behavior.

What is it with this topic? Noobie galore time or something?


BigMac

<font color=green>(\__/)
(='.'=)This is Bunny. Copy and paste bunny into
(")_(")your signature to help him gain world domination.</font color=green>
September 7, 2005 1:19:08 PM

Possibly most of the "normal" posters in here don't care. I couldn't give a sod about a games difficulty. All I ask is that I enjoy the game.

"Its only when you look at ants closely with a magnifying glass on a sunny day that you realise how often they burst into flames"
September 8, 2005 2:37:48 PM

I played the original Test Drive on my Amiga 500 a few years ago. It was still fun and it was hard. :) 

Oh well.. Maybe we're just too used to it now a days.. or the designers are having trouble being original again as everything is running out.
September 11, 2005 8:10:59 AM

I must disagree with the most of you.

Games today offer almost no challange!!
Most RPG's claim " XX hours game play" so what!Half that time is spent either walking around, watching cut screens or reading dialog.
Played Dungeon Lords recently and was driven insane.Not from its challanges but from the amount of my life that was wasted for almost no gain.I dont consider 20 minutes of walking from one town to the next any kind of achievement or entertainment!
Warcraft 3 easy! Dawn of war easy! The sims.... wait the sims doesnt even have a goal to achieve. You argue that some of these games are hard because of their multiplayer options well id argue that its nothing to do with the game but the person on the other end.
Hell some of these games, even multi player are won by the guy that clicks the fastest. Zerglin rush anyone?
Besides im paying for the damn game im intitled to some value for my money not just some time filled in.Anyone played Knights Of The Old Republic 2. More walking, dialog same game play, no challange.

I think its sad that playing through another mind numbing story with a stat screen is how ive come to view my fav genre.
Sure some of you dont want or cant take a challange but i dont think that the rest of us should suffer such bordem because of it.Play your Sims id rather try to tackle Diablo 2 in hardcore mode atleast i know ive done some thing of merit.
September 12, 2005 2:54:08 PM

Challenge means different things to different people.

You mention Diablo 2... it's nothing more than a click-fest. It's more difficult to get through in hardcore mode for sure; but the way you play is essentially the same. It's mindless. It's not a matter of thinking... it's just a matter of how fast you can click that button.

Some people (myself included) believe challenge comes from making you think. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed Diablo and Diablo 2... but even you have to admit that it's nothing more than clicking a mouse button as quickly as possible. I prefer a game that requires some thought before taking action... not mindlessly rushing in clicking as fast as I can. It's a physical challenge and not a mental one.

<font color=red> If you design software that is fool-proof, only a fool will want to use it. </font color=red>
September 12, 2005 3:10:11 PM

True Diablo is a click fest but its a fun click fest. It is however also challanging in but char development and strategy on the harder levels and modes.
I agree that its not a serious thinking mans game but i think thats part of the intire argument that games are getting easier. There arnt many thinking games anymore.Well none that the average teen couldnt workout with little trouble.
Im not saying that i want an impossible easy game but whats wrong with NOT smashing an end boss the first time you get to him?? Hell you might actually have a reason to play through the game again ,explore that extra side area that the devs put in or take that quest that gives you that much needed item/weapon.

Oh and i beleive that in diablo 2 you can click and hold...click and hold fest now thats INOVATION.
September 12, 2005 9:01:11 PM

MajorMUD. best game I've ever played.

It had riddles, it was based on thinking, and skill, and timing. You didn't have to run for 20 minutes to get somewhere. You were always on guard playing against other people. The game was made because it was solely based on playing with other people, not against them, but with them. You had the option to fight against each other, but that only made things worst.

The game was so good that 12 years ago I was paid $500 dollars to never play on one server again.. and I was only 12.

If you can find a MajorMUD emulator or site, like quiksilver.com (I think) you should check this game out.. if you get 5-10 people playing, the game is amazing.. even without the other people, the game is awesome.
September 20, 2005 4:14:10 PM

Quote:
Nah, you're just an old sod (mind the lower case) who thinks that things used to be better than they are today. Typical old timer behavior.

And I'm a young gamer telling you he's right. =)

Games back then were better in their own way. Better or worse overall? No. Just different.

But they WERE better at some things.

That being said, difficulty doesn't actually matter. The fun factor is what matters. Difficulty can be a factor in that though.

I thought somebody should make that distinction.

"<i>sometimes i fantasize about gyro.... one day, he will evolve into pure energy and become lord of the universe. he is love.</i>" ~Nater255
September 20, 2005 5:48:12 PM

You're alright in my book buddy.
!