Monday, August 10, 2015

Story of Seasons: The New Harvest Moon

What happens when the developers of a popular series lose the rights to call their series what they want? They wind up calling it something else.
That's what happened with this game. Marvelous published the Bokujō Monogatari (AKA, Ranch Story) series through Natsume in America for about sixteen years. Then Marvelous decided they'd publish the Bokujō Monogatari series through their American branch, Xseed. I don't know if Marvelous gave the Harvest Moon name up in negotiations, or if they were unable to secure it, but now Bokujō Monogatari is known as Story of Seasons.
As such, when you look up "Harvest Moon" on Wikipedia, it redirects you to the Wikipedia page for the Story of Seasons franchise.
Natsume's Harvest Moon series has only got three games in it, and so far, not a single game in the series has been released in Japan. It's also not been received nearly as well as Marvelous's series, with a 52 average score on Metacritic for the entire franchise. And just going by the latest releases, Harvest Moon 3D: The Lost Valley has a 46 on Metacritic, while Story of Seasons has a 78. And from the coverage I've read of the upcoming Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories, it doesn't look like Natsume's series is going to survive on brand recognition alone. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any sales figures for The Lost Valley, so I can't tell how successful it is.
However, according to Xseed, Story of Seasons was their fastest selling game of all time. It sold about 100,000 copies in North America between its launch on March 31st and July 16th.
And yes, I have been playing this game almost non-stop for around four months. Four freaking months.
Sometimes I wish I had more time so I could have finished the game closer to release. But I find that it's best to be thorough, rather than to rush it through.
Not that anyone could ever accuse me of rushing this game through. Not counting the YouTube app and the web-browser, Story of Seasons is number one in my most-played 3DS games. The only one I've played as much is Fire Emblem Awakening. Yes, Story of Seasons managed to edge out FEA for the number-one spot.
Having clocked over one-hundred and twenty-five hours in Story of Seasons, gotten married, taken over all of the rental fields, and made over four million gold.
Granted, I've spent most of that four million on food, materials, blueprints, and all kinds of stuff. But, I can make it all back easily. I've banked enough gems, materials, and crops that I can make at least two million back by the end of the year. I have two fields full of cash crops on my own land, and I have control of literally all of the towns rental fields.
Don't get me wrong, though. It was tough to gain control of all of those fields!
When the game starts out, you arrive in town and meet with Veronica, the towns guildmaster. She introduces you to Madame Eda, who teaches you how to harvest crops, how to take care of crops, how take care of your animals, chop down trees, prepare your field for crops, and how to both harvest grass and chop down wilted plants. After that, you get your broken-down little house, your used cow, and all your hand-me-down tools, and go crazy!
At first, when I started the game I was farming my little plot of land, watering my plants every day, milking and brushing my cow, cutting down wilted crops at the beginning of a new season, planting new ones, and selling what I reaped at the market. And I was making a tidy little bundle for myself. A lot of what I made was being spent on seeds, but I was able to stash away enough to buy some food when I needed to do a little extra work.
Over time I was expanding my field, cutting down trees one at a time to get some extra space for crops, (At least when I had enough extra energy that day) doing my best to make some cash and maybe woo one of the lovely ladies in town with some of the extra stuff I harvest that they like.
Then, Veronica came up to my house and began explaining what the blocked-off roads on the way to my house were for. They're rental fields, and the guild is going to be renting one to each of the farmers in town. She also explained that once the permit on the rental field expires, other farmers may challenge the holder of that field for the rights to farm on it.
So now that I had another field to work with, I wound up having less energy in the day to deal with small things, like fishing. If I wanted to be able to go to the Safari to mine for gems, then I couldn't do much more than the bare minimum of work on the farm. But I was still able to deal with the days chores in a decent amount of time, and in the given amount of stamina for the day.
After that, I started challenging everyone for their field permits. The rules are to sell as many items as you can for the most amount of money, and the person who sells the most for the most amount of money gets the rights to the field.
Or, you could try and see who has the best showing at yearly events, but early on, the NPC farmers have much better animals than you, and better crops than you, so you're almost guaranteed to lose if you don't pour all of your money and time into taking care of your animals and or crops. It's just easier to compete via shipped earnings.
Now, unfortunately I don't think they explained that you have to sell all of your stuff on a single specific day, rather than on the days leading up to the deadline. Either that, or I just didn't notice that little detail in the tutorial.
Looking in the in-game farm-guides, it doesn't detail that you have to ship everything off on a single day, though. So I don't know what's up, and to be honest, I don't feel like starting a new save-file just to find that out.
Even after I found out that they only count shipment earnings on the specific day of conquest, I still didn't produce enough crops or milk to be able to compete with the local farmers.
But Madame Eda decided to give me her rental field, since she wanted to downsize her operation and retire from farming. And that's when everything changed. The honey/mushroom field she gave me pushed me over the top, and I managed to take control of one of the other fields! That was a huge day for me in-game.
I saved for weeks and weeks, stocking up on veggies, milk, honey, shiitake mushrooms. and gemstones until I could sell enough to out-earn my opponent.
But that's when everything started getting harder. I wasn't quite working myself to death yet, but close enough that it was starting to make the game into a bit of a chore.
Then, I got another field. And then, the stress started setting in. For my character, at least.
That was the point where I was working my character into passing out at the end of each day. Waking up in the town clinic each morning, after having passed out watering my crops.
That was the crux of it all. I was successful enough to be making quite a bit of money, but in order to take on the other farmers, I needed to be constantly replanting my crops, and that cost me most of my cash.
And because of that, I didn't have any money for food. So I was in this weird situation where I was raking in thousands upon thousands, but I would wind up going for weeks if not months without eating.
And I couldn't eat any of the crops I harvested, because if I did, I wouldn't be able to sell enough to compete with the other farmers for their rental fields.
And even then, I was still getting out-sold and out-worked, simply because I wound up having to take a break and downsize my operation a bit, letting tea-leaves and trees grow on my main plot of land, and dealing with my rental fields and animals full-time. I'm ashamed to say that for a while I was neglecting my chickens and other animals. The chickens got the worst of it, and they were running away from home left and right for weeks.
Then came Winter. Winter brought a lack of rain, lots of snow, and no tea-leaves. As well as sorrow.
Do you remember the old woman who teaches you how to farm, Madame Eda? Well I wasn't doing much in the way of talking to anyone for most of the first year. I was having trouble just staying healthy enough to keep farming. As such, I even missed out on talking to Madame Eda for a long time. I didn't think anything of it, really. I figured that after I became financially stable I could catch up with everyone I missed out on.
But the start of winter held ill tidings for Madame Eda. She fell sick then, after a long time of not feeling well... And I didn't even visit her until she was on hear death-bed.
That was a huge punch in the gut for me... Such a sweet woman, and she was nothing but kind to me. It made me sorry I hadn't visited with her more often. And she willed me her property too.
That was when things started getting really tight for me. I had to clear the trees off the land to be able to plant any significant amount of crops on it, and cutting down softwood trees is a real stamina-sink. And the winter of year one was one of the toughest months in the entire game, because there wasn't any rain that month, and I was eating tons of cheap crops just to keep going as long as I could each day.
Fortunately though, after I got ahold of a few more fields, I was able to have enough money to buy food, in addition to paying for safari access, and gifts for my lady love.
But until I got like the third or fourth fields, I was killing myself on farming those crops. And I would just sigh in relief when I saw that little umbrella icon in the upper-right corner of the screen, because it meant that I didn't need to water my crops that day. All I needed to do was harvest crops, replant them, and take care of my animals. And the more it rained, the more likely it was that I could win a face-off without working myself to death.
Eventually, I got to a point where I wasn't selling anything on days that weren't conquest days. That way, I could almost guarantee a win. And from then on, I was almost unstoppable. The only thing standing in the way of me and ownership of a field was just time on the permit.
And as you can tell by that picture up above, I managed to control all ten fields after a bit of time and a lot of work.
The weird thing is that the NPCs don't seem to challenge you when your fields permit expires. Even when I forget to renew my permit for like a day or two, and I was playing on the hardest difficulty setting!
I always used to rush down to the guild-hall right before it opened at 09:00 and renew my permit before anyone could challenge me for my fields. And to my knowledge, nobody ever challenges you for your fields.
I've looked it up, and apparently all your crops will disappear if you don't renew your lease, but that's never actually happened to me. It's also kind of weird when your permit expires on a day when the guild is closed, and you gotta come back the next day.
As far as I know, though, as long as you keep renewing your fields on the day the permit expires, nobody is gonna touch you.
Even though your fellow farmers usually don't seem like they should be able to produce enough crops and whatnot to be able to compete with you at later stages in the game, they do. That's why I once made a comment on Miiverse about this being the richest town in the world.
After I took over the entire town, I decided to start shooting for the "Luxury" wedding package, just to show that I could. And I was close enough to a million anyways that it wasn't gonna be too hard.
After ranking my relationship up with my lady love, Iris, through lots of tea and amethyst stones, I held off on getting a blue feather until I had enough money to both fund my wedding, and to survive afterwards comfortably.
And that's how I wound up with two million in gold coins kicking around in the bank. Yeah, I didn't even save up the second million for that long, it took me maybe a month of selling stuff to get a couple of million bucks, after a year of working towards my first million.
Now, I'm down to about seven hundred-thousand in cash, after spending a lot on blueprints and materials for tool upgrades, as well as expansions for my backpack. I'll be back to the upper millions soon though, since I've finally managed to build the seed factory, and I'm now reusing seeds from season to season, which is saving me money, and allowing me to breed better crops over time.
A big part of breeding better crops comes down to fertilizers and mystery crops.
Fertilizer brings the star-rating (Read; quality) up slowly, but surely. Mystery crops are plants from Super Mario Bros.
You have three. One is the Super Mushroom, which advances plant-growth by two stages. And if you harvest your crops that are producing right before you pick the Super Mushroom, you can harvest them twice in a day.
Then you got the Fire Flower (Pictured), which burns down wilted crops and ranks up unwilted crops. Finally is the Starman, which extends the freshness period of unpicked crops to two months.
Personally, I don't think the Starman is as useful as the Fire Flower or Super Mushroom, since I tend to sell my crops immediately after picking them these days, keeping a few around to turn into seeds. Other than that, it doesn't really help me at this point in the game. If this was earlier on, when I was still stocking up crops for competitions, I'd be onboard with it, but back then, I wasn't even using the mystery seeds too often, and when they actually sprouted, they were always mushrooms or fire-flowers.
Moving on from harvesting and crops, to the marriage component of the game.
When I first came to town, I found the perfect girl. Pretty, thoughtful, and pretty much perfect.
And her name was Veronica.
After I found out what Veronica liked, I kept giving her gifts every day. I knew she was single, and I figured that was the only requirement for marriage. NOPE!
You can only marry certain girls in the game as a male, or certain boys in the game as a female. Veronica's daughter, however is an eligible bachelorette. The daughters name is Angela, and I thought at first that I'd be going after her. But then, by sheer accident, I met the girl I wound up marrying at a town festival.
All I did was just tap the A-button by accident when walking around the trade-depot after one of the town competitions was over, and I was just smitten when I got a look at her.
After that, I looked into her some more. I found out she was a writer, and that she was very sweet, and was pretty much perfect.
For some reason, they act like Iris is somewhat older than you are, but I'm not sure if it's just the anime art (Which I've seen portray people in their forties or fifties as if they were like twenty) or if Iris is just a Time-Lord. That's the same issue I have with Veronica. She's supposedly in her forties, but she looks like she's in her twenties. And Veronica's daughter, Angela looks like she's about ten.
Yes, that brings weird ideas of this towns history to mind, but I'm trying not to think about that.
Other eligible bachelorettes also fall into the category of weird art, like Elise, the rich snobby girl, who looks about fourteen, and Lillie, the towns meteorologist, who looks like she's eleven or twelve. On the flip-side, there's Licorice, a botanist from Konohana who could be anywhere from twenty to thirty, and the Safari-girl Agate, who might be anywhere from sixteen to twenty.
Then you got the eligible bachelors. I didn't play as a female, but I've interacted with all of the eligible bachelors just so I could say I talked to everyone in town, and I did.
First up is Mistel. He's Iris's brother and wound up being my characters best friend, because I talked to him every time I dropped by the antiques shop to drop off a gift for Iris.
He looks like he's about thirteen, but runs the antique shop on his own.
Next up is Fritz, who looks like he's fourteen, and he's essentially an NPC version of the player-character, as he's a young newcomer trying to make his way in town. Unfortunately, I wound up messing with his career prospects by robbing him of his attempts to keep and maintain rental fields.
Next is Klaus, a perfumer, and friend of Iris's. They talk a lot, and you can usually find Iris over at his house, talking with him if she's not at her house writing. He looks like he's in his late-twenties, to early-thirties.
Kamil is up next. He's a flower-artist from Bluebell, who's come to town because of all the awesome flowers. He also looks like he's in his mid-to-late twenties.
Then, there's Raeger, who looks like he's in his twenties. He owns the towns restaurant, and he's the one person you'll interact with most in town, even counting Veronica. Most likely, you'll be seeing him four or five times a day for stamina replenishing meals, whereas you'll only be seeing Veronica once or twice every day at most.
Finally is Nadi, who looks about thirteen. I haven't run into him yet because I didn't even know I could trigger his event. Since I'm more of a business first farmer, I didn't bother exploring the town outside of a few initial excursions in the first year. And now, since I've sort of technically "Finished" the game, I probably won't in the future.
Another issue with the art that tends to be a common issue with anime is that eyebrows tend to hover above the characters hair. I don't know if it's a stylistic choice, or just a money-saving thing, but this seems to be present in all kinds of newer anime and manga. I've never seen it in somewhat older anime, like Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, Speed Racer, or almost any series Yu-Gi-Oh!.
And then there's anime-style artwork in games, like in Metal Gear Solid or almost any anime-licensed game. Or, for instance, in Brandish: The Dark Revenant or The Legend of Heroes: Trails In The Sky.
Now that I'm done talking about the art, let's talk glitches! This game has plenty, but let's start with the issue I've got a good picture of:
This screenshot was taken on the first day of winter, year 2. As you can see, there is one eggplant row still around. If you know Story of Seasons, you know Eggplant is a Fall Crop. And Fall crops are supposed to wilt on the first day of winter.
Unfortunately I didn't remember that Miiverse has a screenshot feature until after chopping down all the wilted eggplants around it, but I did catch the glitch.
It wilted the day after, but it was weird that it even stuck around the day that it did.
I also can't count the number of times that I've seen the towns NPC just run into each other and start vibrating in place, trying to walk through each other.
But what I can count are the amount of invisible walls I've run into. And they are everywhere. And I don't mean invisible walls keeping you from going out of the part of the map they want you to stay in, I mean places where the collision-detection for actual walls goes out beyond the boundaries of the polygon.
You wouldn't expect a game like this to have issues with AI pathfinding and collision-detection, but it does.
The two biggest issues I noticed were in the entrance to the flower-field, where the polygon collision on the left side of the fence extends into dead air. Then there's the above screenshot. You can't see that I'm stuck in empty space, since it's a still image, but if I had an animated gif, I'd show that here. Unfortunately, I still haven't been able to figure out how to either record good-looking video from the 3DS, or create an animated GIF.
The collider extends far beyond the cliff-face, and while it doesn't get in the way if you know where it is, it's still annoying if you don't know where it is.
Another fairly big issue is the fact that if you suspend the game with the Home button on the 3DS, and go off to Miiverse to post a screenshot, or look something up on the web-browser, and then come back to the game, it usually takes about ten seconds after un-suspending the game for it to respond again. One time the game actually crashed my 3DS, and I lost three days of progress. That taught me to save before I suspended the game, but I never had that issue again, fortunately.
I'd also like to point out that the game has a terribly inconsistent framerate, and sometimes winds up slowing down quite a git. Sometimes the framerate drops so low that everything starts looking very janky, and sometimes it shoots up so everything looks smooth. This is especially bad during the wintertime, and during storms, because rain and snow are being rendered  in addition to everything else onscreen, which might explain why things towards the edges of the screen start becoming somewhat hazy during the wintertime. While it doesn't outright affect gameplay, since this isn't an FPS or a platformer, it's a big enough issue that I felt it needed to be pointed out. That and the somewhat unreasonable waiting time between each screen makes me scratch my head and wonder what's going on under the hood that would cause so many performance issues? Especially since this isn't the kind of game that you'd normally think of as having performance issues.
While the 8GB SDHC card I have the game installed on is only a class-4, logically speaking that shouldn't be affecting the games speed or framerate, only the loading-time. But if it could, please point that out to me in the comments below.
From here on out, we're not gonna be dealing with outright glitches, just weird little issues I've noticed.
For one thing, the countdown text during the New Years Eve party looks all blurry. I guess they weren't using a vectorized font for this.
You can see that in the picture to the left of this text. Next up is the fact that you can give the wrong kind of treats to an animal.
There are five different kinds of treats, Moo-Moo treats, Flipsy-Flopsy treats, Baa-Baa treats, Cluck-Cluck treats, and generic treats you can give to any animal. Plus, you can only give one treat a day to each animal. That's fine in theory, but that means if you accidentally give the animal the wrong kind of treat, you can't give them the right one later. And in a coop crowded with chickens, and a rabbit, like mine is, I could accidentally give my Angora Rabbit, Dracul, a Cluck-Cluck treat, and bring his mood down. Or, I could give one of my seven chickens a Flipsy-Flopsy treat, and make them mad. This is just weird, especially in a game that doesn't let you train your dog in the rain. Or let you play with your dog or cat in the house. Or, for that matter, let you have more than one pet in your house. For instance, you can't buy a cat or a dog until you buy yourself a pet-house.
Hands up, how many of you guys keep your pets in your house?
Oh, lots of you? That's what I figured. My dogs live in my house too. That's dog(s) plural, too.
And I don't know about you guys, but I wouldn't build a fancy posh house with its own lighting and a copy of my animal ledger for my pets when I already have more than enough space in my regular house to keep a dog and cat.
So now I'm in a position where my cat, Shadow, has her own house all to herself. Not like a cat wouldn't want their own house, but it's pretty ridiculous that I can't keep more than one pet in my house. Because if I could not have that pet-house on my land, I'd have put my Seed Maker where the pet-house is. But I can't do that right now, because my cat is currently sleeping on top of the Pet-House.
Yes, your cat can hop about twelve feet in the air to land on rooftops like this one.
Speaking of building placement, I have to mention this little issue I ran into:
I was trying to place my garage in the winter of Year 2, since I'd just built it and I wanted to put it on my property. So I moved some buildings around until I thought I had enough room for the garage. Then I whipped it out, and got into position to plunk it down...
As you can see to the left, even though I clearly have enough room for the garage, it won't let my place it on the ground. This is the case with every building, you need an overly generous amount of space between buildings in order to put down a building. And you can't move your house around like you apparently could in previous Bokujo Monogatari games, so you wind up with enough space for a barn-sized building if you could move your house at all that just goes to waste.
Now, do you guys remember the screenshot I showed of the rental-fields up towards the top? Well, here's a look at my actual avatar. You've seen it before from a distance, but that's not really good enough. Here's a closeup. Look for differences between it and that image of the rental field I've posted.
Now, in that image, the representation of the character is blond, and wearing a hat. My character has white hair and no hat. No, I'm not complaining about it, I'm just pointing out that the sprite on that screen doesn't match up with my actual avatar. It's not an issue, really. I just figured it was worth mentioning, since I've spent four months playing this game, and about that same amount of time making notes of weird little issues I noticed. I like to think that I'm nothing of not thorough, and to be thorough means you point out everything, good, bad, and neutral. So now we move on from one set of minor nitpicks, to another set of minor nitpicks
Up next is weird choices of dialogue. For instance, almost every time Iris cooks the meal herself, she thanks me for the meal, as if I prepared it. I don't get what's up, but that's just a headscratcher to me.
There are other things where it doesn't make sense. Like when I was proposing to Iris, some of the stuff that Veronica said to us is just weird. I was snarking at that in real-time on Miiverse. Like where Veronica was asking us if we were getting married, or when Iris asked me if I wanted to tell Mistel we were getting married.
Or when Mistel, who was pretty much the best friend my character had, said that he hoped I'd invite him to the ceremony.
I was like "Buddy, you're gonna be my best-man at this affair whether you like it or not" and then the next day, at exactly 09:00 I rode my horse up to the guild and picked the luxury wedding package. Because I saved up that million for a wedding, and I didn't have anything else I could spend it on!
So yeah, the dialogue is kind of weird at times, but it doesn't take away from the experience of the game.
Mind you we're not dealing with anything in the way of Metal Gear Solid, Legend of Heroes: Trails In The Sky or Fire Emblem Awakening as far as story goes, since that's not what we're here for. We're here for the farming. And the farming is good. Somewhat stressful, but it's still pretty fun.
There doesn't seem to be anything in the way of an end for Story of Seasons, really. The credits roll after the wedding, but the game just keeps going on after you get married.
And I was looking at the ingame achievements, and I saw that there's one for living on your farm for three decades! I'm just about ready to be done with the game, and I'm not even halfway through the third year!
There's also an achievement for living on the farm for one decade. I don't even know if I could make it to five years before deciding to give up and move on to Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven.
Anyways, now that we've finished up with the nitpicking, let's address a fairly huge issue.
I've had this game for over four months now, and almost every week, I've tried to access the multiplayer mode. I've tried it in the mornings, the afternoons, the evenings, and late and night. I've tried it on weekdays and weekends, workdays and holidays. I've tried joining other peoples games, and I've tried hosting it myself. Nothing. Nada. No hits. I've let the 3DS sit for like ten minutes at a time while I sit and watch a YouTube video, or The Sopranos. No connections. Not when I host my own game, and not when I try to join someone else's.
Nothing. For four months!
Then, yesterday I finally managed to get a multiplayer going, after a solid five minutes of waiting. And I only had one player join my game. And apparently she'd been trying the multiplayer for about two months, to no avail.
You'll have to forgive me for not using my own screenshots for the multiplayer. I took all of my screenshots using Miiverse, and in order to use Miiverse to take a screenshot, you have to be able to suspend the game. And you can't suspend the game in multiplayer mode. So I'm gonna me using ones provided by the good folks at Xseed.
But yeah, after all the waiting, all the mystery about the multiplayer, what's it about?
To sum it up, it's absolutely worthless. It serves no real purpose that I can see, other than giving the people who come to your farm gifts and receiving gifts in return from your visitors. You also get these wands with red stars on them that you wave at crops to increase their star ratings and at animals to bring down their stress-level. And you can increase your crops star-level with fertilizer, and bring your animals stress-level down a lot by taking them to the safari.
And the wand thing is literally the only thing you can do in online multiplayer. There aren't any fishing challenges, no crop or animal competitions, no cooking challenges, nothing like that. At all. None.
The multiplayer is totally worthless to me, and it's not nearly worth the hassle that it takes to enter the multiplayer.
And unfortunately, because of a rash of thefts of valuable technology in my town, I stopped carrying my 3DS with me outside the house, so I was unable to experience the StreetPass features. And since I don't know anyone who plays Harvest Moon, I didn't play any local multiplayer either. But if it's anything like the online multiplayer, I probably didn't miss much.
I'd also like to mention that the chat-function just sucks. The character limit is very low and that makes communication very difficult. You have to type out part of your message, submit it, and then type out the rest quickly. And all the while your fellows are wondering what the rest of the message is. Plus, you gotta type stuff out with the stylus, which really doesn't work too well, since you don't need the stylus in the regular game at all. Everything in the main game that you use the touchscreen for is big enough to use your thumb on.
I challenge anyone who uses a regular touchscreen keyboard to try and type on the 3DS keyboard with your thumbs. I got pretty good at typing on the tiny keys with my thumbs, what with the 900 hours I spent using the 3DS browser! But after getting my Nook and using the touch keyboard on it for a while, I couldn't remember how to touch the screen just right to type properly. So you're likely going to misspell a bunch of things if you try and type with your thumbs.
Not that you'd need to even use the multiplayer, since it's utterly pointless.
So, in the end, I actually had fun. I'd say Story of Seasons is a pretty fun game. I've never played any of the previous Bokujō Monogatari games, so I have no frame of reference for how this compares to them, but I'd say that it's good.
All in all, while it has some weird little issues with collision-detection, and some fairly large issues with slowdown and low framerates that I can't seem to figure out, I still had a ton of fun with Story of Seasons, and I'll go ahead and give it an 8.3* rating!
PS, sorry this article took so long. I had to put some extra finishing touches on it, which meant I had to delay it until today. Hopefully next weeks article will be published on-time!
Also, uploads to my YouTube channel have ceased for right now because I haven't had time to record any more content. I'll be trying to catch up on that this week.

Story of Seasons videogame provided for review by XSEED.
Some screenshots have been taken by me, others were provided by XSEED. Big thanks to them!