Saturday, September 13, 2014

Super Nerd Sundays Presents: Furtive Game Spaces!

Tabletop game stores are strange places for me.  They're social places, dedicated to board games, that most social of gaming media, and while I love board games, I am fundamentally not a social creature.  When I play board games I play them a small group of close friends, people I already know.  I'm not necessarily opposed to playing board games with strangers, but the idea of hanging out in a shop designed primarily for that purpose doesn't appeal to me.  Even so, there's something that strikes me as wrong about a poorly constructed board game store, one that doesn't have space for play, one that focuses solely on shuffling out products.  The Compleat Strategist chain is especially bad in this regard, featuring lavish, surprisingly well stocked, impressively expensive stores bereft of social spaces.  It carries through every aspect of their being, right down to their churning, anti-social customer service.  I've never had an experience in a Compleat Strategist that made me want to come back, I've just had experiences that didn't seem quite so bad.

All this, despite loving the spaces, the sense of purpose and unity that a board game store provides.  There's something about board games in particular, about how they are simultaneously objects of nerd fetish and objects demanding social interaction, that appealed to the part of me that never quite belonged.  A good board game store is a place for people who don't quite fit that mold, who may or may not in fact fit another mold at all.  It's a space for outsiders, losers, and loners to be none of those things, to be normal people who love a thing in a space that thoroughly enshrines it.

I write this as someone who has lived in New York for about three years now who has just now actually found a legitimate gaming store.  It is, as is often the case with board game stores, incredibly inconveniently located, but it is, all the same, an incredible space for shared nerd-dom.  The wall of dice, sealed D&D books from the 80s to the present, sealed AD&D player manuals that hold within them scale models, sexist verbiage and overly complex tables that, for so long, made tabletop gaming into an inaccessible cultural construct.  The games, oh god, the games, stacked on top of one another, spread out so that one can actually browse through them, peruse them, and do so without blocking passage through the entire god damn store.  And the gaming section: in the back, always in the back, an array of cheap wood and metal ringed by the same chairs I buy at Target to fill the common areas of the apartments that I continue to sequence out of every few months.

It took me less than a year to find Guardian Games in Portland.  I'd visit them once every few months, usually to buy something small: a set of dice, a pack of Magic cards.  I'd glance at the taps next to the folding tables they set up in the back of the store and ponder how many people actually used them, how many people decided to drop by Guardian Games on their Friday night to sit down, drink a beer, and play a hand of Magic with the guys.  The idea of doing that in a shared space seemed absurd to me, though a microcosmic view of that same imagined scene played out in reality time and time again across town in a rotating sequences of friend's homes and other bars, places where a game of Dominion was well out of the norm, but still taken in stride by the well-adjusted Portlanders.

The store, in a real sense, made that kind of tolerance possible.  Not in that it changed people's minds in some thorough, tangible way, but in that its existence presented a framework that allowed Portlanders to perceive these games as social experiences.  I would never drive into Guardian's nightmarish warehouse neighborhood, struggle to find parking, and then throw back a few on my night off.  It's just not something I'd have in me, the same way I'd be loath to play a game of Magic the Gathering with a stranger, or ask to cut in on a game of Catan.  But the magic of that social space, of the game store as construct, projects itself outside of the structure itself, and into the world at large.

I cannot imagine this phenomena radiating out of The Twenty Sided store.  While it's an amazing space, it's located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  It holds up as a sort of bastion against the pervasive irony and layered, postured disinterest that saturates that part of the world.  You cannot be a true, full blooded nerd and couch your love of The Thing in irony.  It just doesn't compute.  You can be shamed, in fact you may very well be constantly shamed, by your relentless enthusiasm, but there's never any kind of disinterest behind your play: you want to win, where winning could mean actually winning, or where winning could mean playing an interesting, complex game, or where winning could mean making a story together.  I'm glad that a space like that exists in a place I'd rather never be, and I'm glad I got a chance to visit it for the first time.  Its relatively remote location, at the intersection of a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood and a rapidly gentrifying storefront, made for a strange sort of madness, one that I cannot imagine the raw positive energy of The Twenty Sided store radiating out into.  Perhaps I am wrong: perhaps I could go into any number of $14 plate bar/restaurants serving gourmet hot dogs and five dollar cans of PBR and see a hand of four way Magic being played.  Perhaps I could go into a designer burger shoppe staffed exclusively by waifish men with comically large mustaches and eavesdrop on the table talk for a Catan game.  But it seems so unlikely.  The magic of the store is contained.  Perhaps this is for the best.  There's something special about that energy when it's pressed into a small space.

When I visited PAX East with my friends we spent relatively little time on the showroom floor.  There simply wasn't that much we could do as a group.  Most of our time was spent in the tabletop gaming area.  In truth, the area was little more than a series of extra long event tables, the kind you'd usually see in a church basement, ringed by folding chairs.  There were vendor booths surrounding the gaming area, but the areas itself, with its raw simplicity and huddled groupings of nerds arrayed around one game or another, was incredible.  We picked a spot on our own and a handful of us played an overlong game of Munchkin together.  At first, it felt a bit like theater, like we were performing for others.  We fudged the rules, argued over minutae and experienced those delightfully interminable delayed turns as players eased in and out of paying attention on their phones.  But after a while the magic of the table started to take hold.  Instead of fumbling through turns, players started to get into it.  The theater became real as players spoiled one another, pushed towards victory only to be torn down in a single brutal maneuver.  At one point Jerry Mother Fucking Holkins sat down next to us at the very same table to playtest some sort of Adventure Time looking product, and while we all noticed and nodded among ourselves, he didn't act like he was any different from us, and it didn't feel like he was any different.  That was the magic of the table, the magic of that space, where we were all just nerds playing out our tiny little dramas, relishing our little victories, lamenting our more frequent defeats.  That space couldn't exist outside PAX.  It likely couldn't even really perpetuate itself within PAX amidst the ambient noise, marketing, and ham fisted play-by-play announcements.  But that corner of that conference hall conjured the magic that I'm talking about, ringed it in the same confines good game stores do, and managed to make Boston feel like a safer place for a nerdy kid from the suburb, a kid who grew up knowing for a fact he should be ashamed of loving board games and card games as much as he did who still does today.  It was a shrine to something I'd always loved, and to sit within its limits and play a board game with friends was sublime.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Super Nerd Sundays Presents: Knowing Your Role!

Amidst the chaos of attending weddings, traveling, and teaching classes, I've been left with little time to actually sit down and play games, especially new games, the games I want to sink into and explore.  I'm sure this will change soon enough: once teaching settles into a routine punctuated by furious feedback distribution and the blur of travel dissipates, a bevy of amazing titles will drop on the PC, including Dragon Age: Inquisition, one of the few games in a long while to make me genuinely excited (Mass Effect 3 style multiplayer slapped on to one of my favorite RPG franchises of all time?!  Sign me up!) and I'll be compelled to play them and, in turn, write about them.

It's a wonderfully vicious cycle I've been disconnected from for a while, between seeping depression and the queer, creeping miasma of unemployment, which manifests itself partially by pushing me away from seeking new experiences.  But now that that's resolved, I've been getting back into the swing of things, so much so that I'm working to re-boot my D&D campaign with some new players.  That means rolling new characters and, in keeping with the composition of my group, which is made up almost entirely of people who do not come from gaming backgrounds, explaining the mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons, and games in general.

See, Dungeons and Dragons takes the notion of class roles and makes them very, very explicit, dictating how classes, generally, should be expected to interact.  That could potentially stymie player input into how the game can be shaped, and how combinations of those classes (or different members of identical classes) might interact, but the marvel of D&D's design is how different each class actually approaches their role in question.  Rogues and rangers, for example, both draw from the same power source and fulfill the same role, that of the Striker, dealing large amounts of damage to a single target.  But the way each of those classes engage with those roles is very, very different.  Where a ranger will just do massive amounts of damage from the outskirts of combat, a rogue will move in and out, stacking deleterious status effects on enemies and using combat advantage to sometimes out-damage the ranger, but usually doing a little bit less damage with each individual attack.  While technically operating in the same capacity, the two do two very different things: one works slowly and steadily to isolate and destroy enemies, the other moves around the battlefield, capitalizing on chaos.  And even those are just two possible conceptualizations of those classes: a ranger could just as easily build themselves as a secondary tank with a focus on dealing damage who wades into combat and draws attention to herself.  A rogue could pursue a ranged build and plink enemies from the side-lines, knocking them around the battlefield and forcing them to expose vulnerabilities.

This conceptualization of roles is something Dungeons and Dragons does particularly well, along with its ability to make the interplay of those roles truly dynamic for its player base.  There's a sweet science to seeing how various classes can fit together, and some of the fun of the game comes from watching it almost but not quite happen over the course of play.  But what's truly remarkable is how D&D, with a relatively simple set of role archetypes, has managed to generate a set of roles that can be applied to near any existent video game.

Bear with me.  I'm not just talking about RPGs, or RPG-like games here.  I'm talking about any multiplayer game with any notion of teamwork at its core.  Mechwarrior: Online, for example.  In MWO a number of weight classes are interacting constantly during the course of play, occupying various combat roles.  Brawlers, for example, are analogous with tanks.  But the difference between a Stalker kitted out as a brawler, who will stand in the middle of a fight drawing fire and drawing enemy attention away from smaller, better armed or better positioned teammates who can then strike vulnerable areas on the other mechs, and a Cataphract kitted out as a brawler, who might wade into combat, briefly deliver a set of fierce blows, and then drop back to a firing line, hoping the enemy will follow, is profound.  And we haven't even touched on medium brawlers, who play on superior maneuverability and moderate payload size to constantly keep enemy forces off balance, or my personal favorite odd-brawler, the tiny Spider light mech, whose strange hitboxing and incredible speed make it surprisingly resilient and highly capable of sowing chaos in engagements.

While it might seem a stretch, I invite readers familiar with the game to consider MWO in this light, where mechs may also take on the role of Strikers (by maximizing direct damage payloads and volley firing at enemy mechs), Controllers (by maximizing indirect damage payloads and dumping LRMs or special artillery or airstrikes on enemies), and Leaders (by utilizing support abilities to do things like tag enemies for indirect fire, or protect allies from long range weapons fire).  While it isn't a perfect parallel, the role paradigms themselves are foundationally imperfect, so I don't feel too sour about twisting them into a new shape a little.  Sure, your average brawler can still do quite a bit of damage, but his role in combat is to hold the attention of the enemy with his play style.  Other players will likely as not be able to out damage him.  Likewise, your leader might be supporting his teammates, but an Atlas-D-DC can both fit into a Leader role, and stands as one of the most robust damage dealers in the game (and one of the most intimidating bullet magnets as well).

I'd go so far as to project these roles on to other games, fast paced team games where these roles might shift fluidly.  For example, in chaotic shooters like Call of Duty or Titanfall, players might draw enemy attention so that another player can get a clear shot at a foe.  Or players might lay down suppressing fire on entrenched enemy positions or mine areas to control territory.  That fundamental interplay of attention holding defenders/tanks, hard hitting strikers, area denying controllers and supportive leaders all present themselves (though I will admit, the leadership role seems to fade in prominence in faster paced games).

Perhaps I'm simply, as I often do, perceiving a gestalt where none exists, an old habit that never seems to leave the hearts or minds of writers, literary theorists, and people with obsessive compulsive disorder.  It wouldn't be the first time, and it certainly won't be the last.  But it's fascinating to consider how readily we, as players, seem to manifest these roles, even when we're not presented them directly, and how we, as players, twist them and reshape them until they become something that we're engaging with fluidly.  That's the real power of these archetypes: by not merely presenting us with a familiar framework to engage with our environments, but codifying behavioral patterns we already engage in, we become more aware of these patterns and, in turn, more capable of shaping them into something new and different.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Super Nerd Sundays is Cancelled This Weekend!

Usually I work hard to make sure that, regardless of what is going on in my life, Super Nerd Sundays gets updated.  But this weekend, between my required presence and attention at a wedding, classes that require imminent attention, and staggering amounts of travel, I just know that I won't even be able to fart out something resembling a passable SNS article.

So in lieu of that, I'm going to apologize to you all, and promise you a brand spanking new SNS next week.  Sorry to pull this out on you - I'd recommend checking the archives for the word "Bioshock" if you need a fix.  My first few articles on Bioshock remain some of my favorite posts on this website, and I hope to have a chance to sit down and expand my exploration of post structuralism in video games in the near future with the same vigor I brought to it so long ago.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Super Nerd Sundays Presents: On Dragon Based Boss Fights!

The phrase "dragons are cool" verges on tautology; as far as mythos lauded by contemporary society gp dragons rate close to Jesus in terms of appeal.  People like dragons.  They like the image of them, the iconography of them.  From noble, sentient creatures to simple beasts hellbent on consumptive destruction, dragons manifest themselves in every cultural arena, saturating our collective consciousness even as their qualities shift to occupy the needs of their cultural container.

This pattern saturates video games as well, but there's a core quality to dragons that manifests itself in that choicest of genres, something that makes them more than just awesome placeholders, and it's what I'd like to briefly discuss today: dragons are uniformly awesome boss fights.  Even games with dozens upon dozens of dragons hanging out in them, games like Skyrim where you trip over motherfucking dragons, they remain are fearsome foes that you have to test your mastery of the game to beat. 

This is especially true in the Baldur's Gate series of games.  Dragons in the Dungeons and Dragons landscape are often conspicuously absent from the games themselves (but if the game system was just called "Dungeons" it would have a very different feel to it).  The first Baldur's Gate was guilty of almost completely ignoring dragon, but Baldur's Gate the Second was riddled with the fuckers, relentlessly pushing players up against these scaly be-winged foes every twenty minutes.  A full playthrough of the game doesn't require fighting any of them, but each of them constituted an optional boss fight that was as difficult as any of the plot-required fights in the game proper.  And unlike the other punishing optional fights of Baldur's Gate 2, made challenging largely because of enemies effectively cheating at the game, the dragon boss battles had a phased, paced sense to them that made them simultaneously desperate and soothing: sure, you were fighting a dragon, an armored lizard tank that spit spells at you, but the dragon was, in some sense, fighting fair, even when he fought your entire party.  It's not like he was just spitting out imprisonment spells endlessly or something.  These were fights that tested your ability to synergize your party.  That Cavalier Paladin?  A must for her fear immunity and class-granted AOE removal spell.  That Rogue?  Going to deliver some choice backstabs and trap damage.  That Archer Ranger?  Making it rain arrows while the tail swipe and wing gusts from the dragons make all the melee damage scatter.  And so on: where other optional boss fights oriented themselves around finding one trick and exploiting it, the dragon boss fights were about testing your mastery of a game's systems.  Even in my new playthroughs, with my jacked party and encyclopedic knowledge of the game to draw from, there's still a tension to every dragon battle I engage in, one that only resolves when I'm standing atop a bescaled corpse, rifling through its pouches or wing folds or whatever to see what all the fuss was for.

There's a sensibility to dragons as boss monsters that just works, something about how they can engage with multiple foes, on multiple fronts, without losing any of that personal touch or intimidation.  Neverwinter, which I am unfortunately still playing, managed to build an entire expansion around dragon boss fights, and it's actually one of the better things they've done.  Dragons as boss monsters require a kind of collaborative play that is simultaneously intuitive and surprising: players seem to ring dragons by reflex, swarming them like insects, bravely holding their attention, darting in and out of the red circles they drop like it's no big deal.  There's a sense of community that fighting dragons engenders, a quasi-Quixotian collaborative narrative that draws players in, whether or not they want to fight.  A dragon stands as a sort of challenge: come and get me.

But there are other means of approaching dragons and, by relation, boss fights.  The puzzle based structure can be especially fruitful, as Shadow of the Colossus demonstrated.  While many of its bosses are not dragons per-sec, many of them are dragon-like, and if one wants to be edified by dragon oriented boss battles, SoC is the place to be.  Then there are titles like Dragon Age and Dragon Age 2 mix and match the chaotic dragon beat down and the pensive puzzle fight by adding deliberate MMO-boss-battle-esque phases to the mix.  By tying shifting conditions to a kind of inherent idiomatic nerd-fu, the boss battle simultaneously becomes an intellectual exercise and a calming immersion in cultural comfort food.

That's where the real power of the dragon-boss lies: not just in its ability to semiotically engage with our shared cultural consciousness, but in its ability to generate a new framework for that semiotic language.  By constructing unusual or unexpected events around a set of known cultural quantities, developers can effectively use the dragon as a known quantity inhabiting uncertain surroundings.  The dragon-as-boss trope is an old one, ingrained in Western cultural awareness as far back as Sigurd, so showing us a dragon lets us know what we're in for, opening up an opportunity for developers to simultaneously surprise and satisfy players.

Of course, this can backfire too.  Players will enter fights with expectations, and might grow upset when those expectations are subverted.  We're far more likely to take semantic issue with structures we find semiotically familiar.  Players bringing preconceptions to particular kinds of play might find dragon battles tedious or unpleasant or played out - there are, after all, quite a lot of them in our cultural atmosphere.

But even then, we're left with another lesson, this time in how to subvert expectations.  While there's little to be done to unruffle the feathers of someone who wanted a particular kind of play and didn't find it, a well constructed boss battle that defies participant expectations can be tremendously effective.  It's more difficult to present examples of this, by merit of its positioning outside the realm of the familiar, but something like the final boss battle of Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall, which revolves peripherally around a dragon and resolves itself, at least partially, through dialogue choices might qualify.  But what excites me about dragon-based boss fights is what I haven't seen yet, what I hope I might see one day.  Sure, I've been through a great many dragon battles before, but it feels like there's always something unexpected around the corner each time one of those beasts unfurls their leathery wing and lets a gout of flame sear the sky.  Assuming, of course, that it's a firey, wingy, dragon.  Which, as we know full well, is not always the case.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Super Nerd Sunday Presents: MWO's Invisible Community!

This weekend promises a wealth of watershed moments for Mechwarrior Online, as efforts to promote the upcoming "Community Warfare" updates get in full swing, with faction events designed to get players into the mindset of the update in advance continue continue.  At the same time, Clan Mechs have finally become available for purchase with in-game currency, placing game changing new content in the hands of a brand new player base, and a leaderboard challenge with the largest MC prize in MWO history attached to it has arrived, and promises some pretty serious payouts to a considerable number of MWO players.  All of these factors constitute "reasons to play MWO again," and each of them on their own has an interesting impact on gameplay.  In fact, the Kit Fox release alone prompted me to move MWO back into my daily game rotation again, as I find myself grinding XP and working to recover the 25 million (give or take) C-Bills that I spent purchasing and customizing each of my variants (those Clan ECM parts aren't cheap).  The fact that this is happening in the late summer, during the game release doldrum that happens each year, is also a welcome shift.  Any of these things, in and of themselves, would be worth talking about.  But what I want to talk about is the way that all of these things are stacked together, and what that says about what MWO's developers are doing right, and what they're still fumbling through.

See, all of these faction events and mini-tournaments and Mech releases all move towards the same goal: they're meant to get players back into the action, to give players new short-term goals or, in the case of Clan mechs, long term goals that allow them to engage with MWO beyond its Bungie-esque "thirty seconds of fun."  MWO, and free-to-play games in general, thrive on that notion of short term and long term goal parallelism.  Neverwinter, for example, has built an entire framework around it: short term goals are highlighted and brightly advertised, while long term goals are concealed in multi-layered menus that, come late game, players are encouraged to delve into to make achieving a number of ever-expanding short term goals that much easier.  In fact Cryptic, for all its poor decision making and inept economic management, has actually done a great job of presenting players with a consistently expanding list of reasons to play, consistently adding content to a core game without disregarding any particular element of their player base.

Mechwarrior Online has had quite a bit of trouble doing the same, however.  During its ostensible pre-release period MWO's devs would dole out content evenly, releasing Mechs according to a well publicized, consistently distributed schedule that players could set their watch by.  Each month a new chassis would arrive.  Every two or three months, a new map would come out.  The new maps and the new mechs let players exercise both short (check out the new map!) and long (max out the new Mechs!) term goals.  Pacing those injections consistently let players know that they wouldn't suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them on any given front.  If Piranha Games said they were going to do something, they ended up doing it.  If they said they weren't going to do something, they didn't do it.

But a number of large scale content releases, first in the form of the much anticipated Pheonix Mech releases, then in the form of the massively successful Clan Mech releases, broke this pace, and began to break the rule of "consistent, reliable content expansion" that Piranha worked out with their customers over the course of months.  Suddenly, months would go by without new content injections, as access to content already in the game for in-game and real-world currency became the new game milestones.  New map content slowed to a near stand-still, and casual, low investment players, the bulk of the player base, began to feel abandoned as whales (users who purchase massive amounts of content in free-mium services), critical to Piranha's business model,  in turn began to dominate the player base.  Paired with a mess of a user-interface roll-out and serious technical issues, most notably and reliably frame rate drops with higher end video cards, it became easy, especially as a casual player, to feel forgotten by Piranha Games.

Which obviously isn't the case.  As a tiny, cashed strapped company, Piranha isn't really going to forget about any of their players, especially when you consider just how small their consistent player base is.  MWO is filled with a number of rotating familiar faces.  Stick around long enough and you'll notice the same handful of names popping up in most of your matches, depending on your time zone and work schedule, many of whom aren't bootstrapping in $250 Clan Mech packages that gave them early access to monstrosities like Dire Wolves.  And community events like the ones they're pushing now are actually a great way to reward loyalty and encourage retention: giving players a chance to earn content that usually costs real-world money with a little elbow grease is a fantastic way to make disenchanted players feel like they have short term goals again and, while investing in those short term goals, present them with some new long-term goals as well.

What's problematic about the way this release is shaking down, and indeed what's problematic about Piranha Games in general, is just how these events are scheduled and promoted.  See, Piranha Games lost their community manager, the man who made sure we knew just what was going on with their product, back in February, as the Clan Mech rollout really started gaining momentum, as the ire for the raw cost of Clan Mech packages started to cause a massive schism between Piranha's whales and its dedicated casual players.  While I can't say I knew Garth Erlam's work terribly well beforehand, his relative invisibility is something of a good sign: a corporate representative does his job best when he generates positive corporate branding and keeps his name out of the media.  It's only when we negative associations begin to emerge that we seek out individuals to attach them to; think of Bobby Kotick from Activision, and how thoroughly vilified he was compared to the more innocuous John Ricitiello.  Both worked in the same industry, but Kotick is known as an infamous asshole, whereas you'd be hard pressed to meet someone who knows just who Ricitiello is, even within the gaming community.  Heck, I had to Google the proper spelling of his name to write this, and I was alarmed to find out he was no longer in his position at EA.  If Bobby Kotick ever quit his job, there would be a god damn parade, with streamers, blocking up Internet traffic for days.

But Erlam's absence is now quite apparent in both how Piranha communicates information to its fans and engages with the release of new content and the scheduling of community events.  The Faction events that began emerging each weekend are announced at the very last minute, making it difficult to anticipate or account for a period of increased excitement for a particular title.  This particular event coincides with a big job interview, another major content release in another game I've been playing, and another short-term promotional event in Dawngate, which was promoted for about a week and a half before it began.  The end result: while I've put more time into MWO than I would've without these events, I've had to alter how I'm investing that time in an unexpected and unpleasant way, and I find myself, by merit of adjacent time commitments, participating in MWO less than I might've if I'd known about the faction specific event was coming a week or two ago.  Would advanced notice have helped alleviate that issue?  I genuinely don't know.  This weekend is so crowded, and life is back to being so complicated that I really can't say for sure.

What I can say for sure is that MWO's lack of community organization illustrates just how problematic lacking or poor communication between developers and fans can prove for a small company.  Piranha has a product people want.  People have wanted it for a while, they've been going apeshit over it for a while too, but developers have been slow in actually delivering on promises of giant robot combat.  Until now.  But even as this robot combat approaches a golden age, a sort of massive metagame that will allow players to establish new and sexy short term and long term goals, MWO continues to lose players.  I've written about MWO quite a bit here, but even my interest is stuttering, not because I don't think MWO is a great game (it's an amazing game) but because I don't know what the future holds for MWO.  Will the UI receive a much needed second overall?  Will the hardware compatibility and optimization issues that plague the game ever be addressed?  Are these even on PGI's radar?  What's going on with Community Warfare, beyond sale events?  I want to know, and advanced knowledge helps me get excited about things.  Direct communication lets me learn things, as a player, that help me get psyched up for more Mech time.  But here I am, left with scraps, saving up my C-bills, waiting for each of the Clan Mechs that genuinely interest me to release, in turn.  This week it was the Kit Fox.  Soon, the Storm Crow will be out.  Then, the Timber Wolf.  And what will keep me playing after that?  PGI is yet to show me, but I'm hoping to find out soon.