Arcen Games

Games => A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 => Topic started by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 01:49:45 PM

Title: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 01:49:45 PM
So, obviously, one thing I'm considering is equipment renovations: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,12366.0.html

However, I want to make sure and at least consider all options with regard to improving or replacing what is probably the game's weakest mechanic at present.  One idea has occurred to me that I like so much that I think that it's worth its own thread.

No More Equipment
It's been stated in the other thread that the removal of equipment would be a mistake, because collecting powerups is part of the fun of a platformer.  And the latter is definitely true -- and the former may be as well, it's hard to say.  But the general reasons why I'd remove equipment are, in no particular order:

- They were something that I added not out of a personal desire to actually have this mechanic, but to make the game more attractive to more people.
- The equipment is pretty opaque to new players in particular, and we could really do with less of that where it's avoidable.
- I don't think that people really get that much satisfaction out of the equipment in general, as they would in Diablo or something.  So it's probably not really serving its purpose.
- The focus of the game is on improvements of your character via perks and feats, and improvements of the world via your actions in the strategic game.  There's already a ton of progression here, whereas equipment is just a temporary bonus.

In other words, I think that equipment is redundant with other things that are already done better in the game, and as the weaker cousin it should therefore be allowed to die out.  THAT said, we really do need some little something that you can pick up in the spots where merc coins and treasure chests used to be, because collecting that sort of thing by going off the beaten path a little bit really is fun and part of platforming, I agree.  And so...

Merc Coins Again!?
That's right, bringing merc coins back.  But not mercenary hotlines or the mercenaries that follow you around in side view.  And merc coins would not be individual for each player, nor would they show on your HUD all the time.  They would go into a global stockpile shown in the upper left on the strategic map, like other resources.  HOWEVER, these would in no way actually help the strategic game, because letting you grind coins in the side view to help in the strategic view is very much not something we ever want to do.

Instead, when you had at least... say, perhaps 5? merc coins, then there would be a new Interact With Region menu option whenever you go to an unpurified region.  It would say something like "Hire Mercenaries to Purify (Cost: 5)."  If you select this option, then after a brief prompt it would purify the tile you're standing on without you having to go in on foot and do the wind shelter yourself.

Things I like about this:
- It keeps something to collect in the side view as you explore little nooks and crannies, which is something I really agree is a hugely fun thing.  Otherwise little side nooks have no point.
- The reward is actually really exciting, because it lets you make more quick progress in the overworld, and/or skip a tile that you're finding too hard or unpleasant.  Don't like certain regions much?  Merc coins!  Don't have the cold dispersal tower yet, but want to go into the ice age areas a little ways?  Merc coins!
- The reward is clear and central to all players, not something that takes a lot of explanation to get or that can result in any ninja loot stealing in MP.
- It adds something positive to the game, while mainly just letting the rest of the game get on with itself.
- Oh, and it speeds up the game slightly without shrinking the map, which is cool.


This is where I am strongly leaning at the moment.  Any objections or counterpoints?  madcow in particular?
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Teal_Blue on January 29, 2013, 01:59:39 PM
Seconded. Sounds like an interesting idea, and it sounds like it would fit well both with the game and with players.  :)

-T


Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 02:03:21 PM
Cool. :)
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: madcow on January 29, 2013, 02:05:47 PM
Hmm, I would need to think on this! On one hand, the satisfaction of for instance finding the invinsibility star in Mario is pretty fun. On the other hand, the combo system will somewhat render it obsolete.  I'll post back later after mulling on it abit.

If this went through I would suggest the harder tiles having a higher cost though.

It's a good idea but there is just something satisfying about finding buffs to play with and toss away just as quickly, I'll have more later!
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 02:07:13 PM
Fair enough!
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Panopticon on January 29, 2013, 02:07:27 PM
This sounds really great. I like this a lot. I generally just skip equipment because of the possible detrimental effects, fragility and general unknown quantity that they represent.

Maybe an additional use could be spending some merc coins on a tile with a high danger value can bring it down for a turn or even a few turns. This way you could prepare a high danger area for operations by the resistance. It could offer some strategic flexibility and create some interesting choices on how you spend the coins.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 02:13:01 PM
Giving any bonuses to the strategic side of the game -- including affecting things like danger level -- is definitely Right Out, because that encourages grinding for optimal play.  We never want a point where players are going to be running around scavenging for merc coins to meet some goal in the strategy game, and if there are any strategic benefits whatsoever then advanced players will be doing that.  The free-purification thing only gives you a side-view advantage because you don't have to go through the level on foot yourself, so it saves you time and effort.  That's doubly helping to avoid grind because you'd spend more effort grinding out merc coins than you would just playing the tile in most cases.

I think that having a flat cost for all tile types is probably preferable, just because players are going to be saving these up for the more dangerous tiles anyhow, and that's what I would encourage in the first place.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Panopticon on January 29, 2013, 02:18:04 PM
That makes a lot of sense. I wouldn't want to turn the game into a grind for Merc Coins either, and yeah that's the path my suggestion beats down without a doubt.

I am all for the mechanics you have laid out for them and I find the idea exciting. It's a nice way for the sidescrolling game to feed into the strategic game and vice versa. I really like that sort of thing a lot.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: madcow on January 29, 2013, 02:19:37 PM
I think I could live just fine with either option to be honest. The more I think about it, the more merc coins seem viable.

While I know there's strong items out there, I've not really found hem enough to fully know the impact my equipment is having.  Which is one of points that's winning me over here.  Either more transparency in equipment or this would be fine.

On the topic of removing the grind for coins. They should only appear in corrupted zones maybe, that way you don't have people grinding a million caves for coins (which is silly but we all know somebody would do it)
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 02:23:41 PM
Cool stuff -- if even madcow has been won over, then this is probably the way to go. ;)

I'm not too worried about people grinding for merc coins just based on the benefit style of them as designed, honestly; generally my approach to grinding is to reduce the incentive, not to make it harder to actually do the grinding.  If we made it just corrupted tiles, then people would complain even more that there's nothing worth getting in the uncorrupted tiles, and caves and level up towers would NEVER have rewards (since they auto-purify when adjacent to purified land).

Plus we'd get people going through and playing through corrupted tiles but not actually destroying the windshelter in order to get around that restriction, etc.  That's why I've learned to go for the incentive, heh -- players are so darn inventive!
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: nas1m on January 29, 2013, 02:47:00 PM
As mentioned in the other thread concerning equipment I am quite fond of the "Mario 3" like equipment-handling idea tossed into the ring by madcow. This would rise and fall with a way to visualize equipment along with its stats, though.

I was quite disinterested into equipment more or the less the whole time playing the Alpha and Beta up until now. Why I care? Because the increased amount of equipment to be found since the merc coin swap actually change something, as it actually led to myself finding out what equipment *could* do - the moment I found this piece granting multiple shots I was hooked - I am not ashamed to confess ; ).

This was the time equipment was actually fun for the first time! This combined with madcows approach to be able to keep equipment for later, e.g. to buff yourself up before entering a hard zone or level up tower sounds really quite intriguing to me...

I would be sad for equipment to make its leave now that I grew fond of it =  /...
Just my 2 cents...

Cheers,
nasim

Edited for typos.

EDIT 2:
This is not to say I don't like your mercenary purification idea (which sounds interesting as well) - why not do both ; ) (aside from the obvious time constraints naturally).
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Teal_Blue on January 29, 2013, 02:57:54 PM
Looking forward to the changes! 

p.s. don't know if you have decided to put rebuilding tiles back in, as per the other thread, but all of this seems to me to point to a lot of things for the player to do, and stay alive, :) and not get boxed into hopeless situations. All of these changes seem to 'fit together' in the sense that it gives players choices, without dumbing down the game for pro players, or making the game unwinnable for the new players.

Just my perspective, maybe i'm not seeing this perfectly right, but i like the direction i 'think' the changes are going and how it makes the game play for all the players.

:)

-T

p.s.  looking at the other thread it looks like the re-build tiles isn't coming back, but that is probably a good thing in the march to oblivion that the game really encompasses. Anyway, still good ideas!  Looking forward to the changes and how they play out in the game.


Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 03:04:56 PM
Well, storing up items and using them from the world map is really a lot of complexity and something I'm not sure keen on for the following reasons:
-It encourages grinding to have a good store of them.
-It encourages backtracking to the world map if you lose your equipment partway through a level and want to go back for more.
-It takes a minor temporary buff and instead makes it something that you can use at any time you want, which makes it a more key part of the balance rather than a little something extra.

Among other issues, really.  We're still then left with the problems of showing these to the player and explaining them, in the midst of a game that is already pretty deep in terms of the tactical sideview combat and the strategic portion, which are the meat and potatoes of the game.  So very many people complain about just skipping the equipment all together that I don't know how salvage-able this is.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: nas1m on January 29, 2013, 03:21:21 PM
These are all valid points (most of which I had not thought about). The grinding aspect at least might be kept in check by only allowing the player to collect a fixed number of equipment items (maybe 5 or 10?) - just enough to give you that boost once in a while to make your life easier.

But this does not mitigate the remaining issues you brought up.

How about keeping the current equipment mechanic in and simply providing more info on what it does in the escape menu or, preferably, somewhere in the HUD? This, maybe combined with a slight durability boost or changing over to e.g. an approach allowing the use of a single equipment item until the next time the player dies or disposes of the item (this would have to be implemented first, though) would make the equipment feature transparent and enjoyable - at least for me - without causing too much trouble...
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Teal_Blue on January 29, 2013, 03:26:12 PM
Please don't skip equipment. Take it slow, look at it with your own people and make changes if you have to, but don't scrap it.

-T

p.s.  even with that said, if you feel the mercenary purification is a better mechanic, then do it.  :)  I'm trying to be flexible here without ruining the game.


Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on January 29, 2013, 03:26:41 PM
I guess to toss in another suggestion:

What about equipment becoming Merc Coins?
What if, instead of keeping a piece of equipment, you had the option of trading the equipment to the Mercs for Merc Coins at the Strategic View?

As I understand it now, equipment goes away if you die or take a lot of damage, so taking a piece of equipment out of an area without losing it could be another source of challenge for players who want it as well.

Some possible benefits of this:
-It would make "equipment" make more sense "equipment" as it would strengthen the idea that this is something you can give to somebody else.
-It would give players who want to an extra challenge to take a piece of equipment and make it out of a area without losing it.
-It would allow players who like equipment to have equipment while giving players who don't care much about equipment an alternative benefit.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 03:36:37 PM
It's a possibility.

Please don't skip equipment.

I thought in your first post above you were asking for it to go?
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: madcow on January 29, 2013, 03:40:57 PM
Trading equipment into coins in at the strategic view requires it actually last long enough to do that!

And I didn't say I was completely won over! But I would be fine with either direction ;)
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Nanashi on January 29, 2013, 03:53:49 PM
I hate to be cynical, but isn't this tantamount to admitting "Hey, our platforming segments are occasionally tedious and something players would rather not do, so we think it's a good reward to let you do less of it"? -_-
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 03:56:34 PM
I hate to be cynical, but isn't this tantamount to admitting "Hey, our platforming segments are occasionally tedious and something players would rather not do, so we think it's a good reward to let you do less of it"? -_-

Not particularly.  It's saying "occasionally you run into a really hard segment through random chance, and you want to skip it rather than banging your head against the wall eternally."  Even Mario 3 had a similar mechanic, the cloud.  And all the more recent Marios have various other mechanics that let you skip levels you find too hard after you fail them enough times.

Personally I think the platforming segments are some of the most fun I've encountered in a game like this in a long time, not that I'm biased or anything.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Nanashi on January 29, 2013, 04:02:35 PM
  And all the more recent Marios have various other mechanics that let you skip levels you find too hard after you fail them enough times.

I kind of take Yahtzee's side on this feature as more of a personal insult than a helpful feature. What reason would it give an incredibly stubborn person like me (and I'm sure stubbornness is pretty common amongst game players) to go after these coins? I'd never want to use them.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 04:05:53 PM
Well, that would be your prerogative.  But I think the dynamic here is a bit different from the Mario level-up blocks.  These are more of a bonus in the same way that "auto-resolve" in the Total War games works.  Sometimes in those games it's just nice to auto-resolve the tactical battles to get on with the current strategic stuff you are currently thinking about, rather than jumping back and forth one more time.  The incentive in those cases is that you can't wait to do the next strategic thing, and thus want to get on with that.

And you know?  If someone doesn't use them, that's okay too.  I sure as heck don't use the Mario golden leaf things.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Pepisolo on January 29, 2013, 04:49:10 PM
Don't like this idea at all -- certainly not as a total replacement for equipment. You've already stripped out mercenaries, and now equipment? This game currently is just not interesting enough in terms exploration, you should be expanding and overhauling the equipment system rather than getting rid of it. Mercenary purification is not going to add anything particularly interesting or fun to the game. Implementing this seems like it would benefit your schedule more than it would the game.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Teal_Blue on January 29, 2013, 04:52:59 PM
It's a possibility.

Please don't skip equipment.

I thought in your first post above you were asking for it to go?

Ahhgg!  sometimes i don't know what i want.  Anyway, whatever you all think is best sounds cool, i just don't want to take things away from the game if we don't have to. Does that make sense?

Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 05:00:44 PM
Well, the schedule is inflexible at this point, so that's a moot point -- it's a matter of how we use that time, not whether or not we can adjust that amount of time.

That said, what I'm currently working on is simply making the equipment display better (such as saying what it does).
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on January 29, 2013, 05:05:25 PM
Having not read the thread: Total first impression.

1. This seems like a really good idea as a mechanic, because it gracefully solves the problem of purification growing tedious, and it doesn't give you a very solid advantage really, aside from just not making you take as many risks to yourself. That being said...

2. The problem I have with currency is that it does nothing as a power-up. Sure, you can hire mercenaries to do things that you can already do, and they reward you by allowing you to skip out on a bit of a repetitive part of the game. The thing is, you can already purify stuff on your own. I'm picking up the coins to be rewarded with less gameplay in the worst case scenario. Best case scenario, coins are nothing but 'fun to pick up'. It takes a lot of talent and effort to make a coin fun to pick up. Games like Mario have achieved this to a great deal of mastery, but there are many other games that don't succeed at it. It's not a core necessity to make coins fun to grab, but if the coins don't add any fun to me (as I doubt I'll hire purifying services) and aren't fun to collect, then I'm losing a game mechanic. As it stands, I doubt I'll hire a mercenary, and the coins are just not fun to collect. I kept getting them because they existed, but not because I liked the jingly sound they created or anything. Look to Link to the Past or Xotic or other similar games for rewards that are really just fun to earn for various reasons.

3. The benefits of equipment are really really cool. This is really the biggest reason, I think. The last one was a whole load of game design mumbo jumbo, but ultimately, I want items that do cool stuff. When you said "power-up", a lightning bolt struck. Not literally, but in my mind. Equipment is cool because it's basically this game's functional power-ups. If you replaced equipment with power-ups that provide a temporary (probably timed) benefit that works the same way as the present equipment works, we don't lose the effects. Ultimately... sometimes, I want to collect triple shot and just go have fun with triple shot. If all of that was taken out of the game, the surface areas become a slog of 'shoot stuff tactically'. It's not as if that's bad, but power-ups add a lot to the game when implemented well, and throw in a bit of variety, a bit of the same twist you get from the cape or fire flower in a Mario game. No, those items don't make the game, but when those are in the game, you have something to go for. The entire game isn't just "Jump and run". It's about the power-ups you can keep, and how you use them as well. It just gives it the 'more' that breaks up the action just the smallest bit.
Now, the problem lies in ganking loot or making the game too much of what it isn't, right? Well, is this not more a platformer than an RPG? Don't even give the pretense of 'equipment'. There's a power-up. Some energy ball. Someone gets it, it goes to everybody in the chunk for a time, and a survivor explains "This is a deposit of pure consciousness energy that provides various effects" or something.

In Summary: It's a graceful little simple solution to make mercenary coins actually be useful. However, I don't like removing the equipment's effects because I don't want to lose out on the power-up effect of equipment, and I know I am unlikely to bribe my way out of the simple pleasure of purification. So, replace equipment with timed power-ups and give merc coins this function so that they actually have a use.

Edit: I really really wanna emphasize one thing, and that's the fact that I don't think the merc coin idea is bad. I just know that I won't use it. The way I look at it, I'm skipping gameplay, and I like gameplay. That's why I'd never opt to auto-complete a level I'm stuck on or anything like that. That's why I'm not a fan of idle farming methods in offline games. I don't like those, because somewhere, somehow, a game is being played, and I'm not the one doing it.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Panopticon on January 29, 2013, 05:41:35 PM
If you do return Mercs for tile purification will using them roll the turn over or will it be able to work like an extra purification that turn?
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: madcow on January 29, 2013, 05:49:00 PM
I think LT pretty much summarized my feelings as I thought about it more. I'm not against the merc coins - and I think my favorite part of that idea is the potential for expansion of buying later on.

In the end, its the temporary power-ups feel of equipment that I somewhat prefer - though again, if the decision came to switch to something else I would be just fine with it.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on January 29, 2013, 06:27:06 PM
I like how powerful the effects of equipment can be strictly by virtue of them being temporary. Instead of picking up the ragged boot of multiple projectiles, you just get a +2 projectile 15s power-up that gives you the effect for a number of seconds. If they were mean, they could well make each color mean a different effect, and shuffle the colors at random on world creation so you have to experiment to find which clusters actually get you immolation and such... but this isn't a roguelike so.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: MouldyK on January 29, 2013, 06:28:50 PM
The way I see it, we can have the "Keep Equipment in level, can trade for Merc Coin" system that one guy suggested as it keeps the best of both worlds. And those who won't use it can maybe be gifted with an Achievement like "That Was All Me!" for not using Merc Coins to skip levels.

But the system might help for those times when the random number generator hates you and wants to make the enemies too damn high.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: keith.lamothe on January 29, 2013, 06:32:48 PM
If you do return Mercs for tile purification will using them roll the turn over or will it be able to work like an extra purification that turn?
It would still advance the turn, otherwise it would give a major advantage in the strategic game for something which does not take any strategic time, which would completely break the strategic game for people willing to grind coins :)
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Panopticon on January 29, 2013, 06:40:12 PM
Yeah, that's why I was asking. Grinding is bad, and the drive to optimize the value of a turn is a thing that will drive it in a heartbeat with most gamers. Myself definitely included. I suddenly had a vision of myself trying to come up with five coins every turn and figured I would just check to see if you guys were on the same page.

 
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 06:49:21 PM
I'm definitely leaning away from this now, just FYI.  Improving the display of the equipment, including specifying just what the heck each one does before you pick it up, really seems to make a big difference.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Panopticon on January 29, 2013, 07:18:07 PM
Yeah, knowing whether or not a piece of gear will set me on fire or give me an extra shot will make a difference. It's the unknown quantity of gear that bugs me right now.

As it stands improving the gear is probably the best thing to do right now, as much as I like the idea of something from the action side feeding back into the strategic side. I think you'll get more mileage out of the gear, it's already in and just needs some tweaking. Bringing back the Merc coins in this fashion would be a new thing to balance. While with the gear the balance would remain unchanged, but players will have information to make informed decisions with. That's a pretty cool thing and enhances them as bonus power up items. Will any of the gear be keeping the negative effects, and if so will that info be available to the player? There could be some neat risk/reward things that way. Like I take this piece of gear and I get an outrageous bonus to damage output but I only have one heart.

And maybe there could be an achievement for playing through the game without any gear at all.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: wyvern83 on January 29, 2013, 07:26:20 PM
I'm definitely leaning away from this now, just FYI.  Improving the display of the equipment, including specifying just what the heck each one does before you pick it up, really seems to make a big difference.

I would be ok with the merc coin idea as stated in the first post of this thread. Equipment right now doesn't interest me that much but then again improving the display of the equipment might make them feel more tangible, which is something they lack for me at the moment.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 07:28:05 PM
Yep, I think the tangibility thing was really a bit part of the problem for sure -- we'll see how it feels in the next release, and then go again.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on January 29, 2013, 07:33:08 PM
Heh, and my idea was completely on the opposite end of the spectrum. The items feel intangible, the effect is what you feel, so make power-ups that give the effect and drop the 'equipment' pretense. Let's see how the extra tangibility goes. I hadn't even thought of that.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Oralordos on January 29, 2013, 07:46:51 PM
I rather like the idea of mercenary coins making their return like this. Rather cool idea and would be nice to get past those annoying areas.

P.S. Congrats LaughingThesaurus for reaching 1000 posts.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Coppermantis on January 29, 2013, 08:44:34 PM
I like this idea, but not as a replacement for equipment. Adding an improved equipment interface and using the trade idea is an idea that I support as well.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Billick on January 29, 2013, 08:48:23 PM
I'm not going to lie.  I want to see coins come back so that I can get the Recettear achievement  ;D
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 10:01:41 PM
Maybe I'll make it so that each boss drops a coin and it works as described above, rather than having it replace equipment.  That could be interesting, and then those achievements get to come back, too.
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on January 29, 2013, 10:39:49 PM
...and then suddenly bosses have a point aside from another thing to break up the main action of the game. Hurray!
edit: And, well, being a challenge, but that's the whole game aye?
Title: Re: An alternative to equipment: Mercenary Purification.
Post by: Jerebaldo1 on January 29, 2013, 11:29:10 PM
I like this compromise suggestion, as I didn't want to see equipment/powerups go as a mechanic. I also vastly prefer the upcoming concentration mechanic on paper...it seems far less artificial!