MMO-Champion - Tom Chilton Interview, Shaman Cosmetic Armor, Raid Testing, Blue Posts, BG Downloader
Patch 5.4: Siege of Orgrimmar Trailer Unleashed

Diablo III: Book of Tyrael Now Available for Pre-Order, Blue Posts, Imperius Vs. Diablo Fan Art

Blue Posts, Fireside Chat #9 Reminder

Patch 5.4 Interview - Tom Chilton
Today we had the opportunity to ask Tom Chilton (WoW Game Director) a few questions about Patch 5.4 and beyond! You can find the other Patch 5.4 Dev Interview Recaps here.

With the amount of information in the interview it is well worth reading the slightly longer full transcript for context and complete answers.

Raiding
  • Flex difficulty will open at the same pace as the Normal difficulty raid. Ghostcrawler gave us updated plans: Flex Wing 1 will open on day 1. Heroic and LFR Wing 1 will open Week 2. Normal will not be gated in any way other than the normal no skipping of bosses or wings.
  • The Kor'kron Dark Shaman cosmetic armor will drop off of mobs in Flex, Normal, and Heroic difficulty Siege of Orgrimmar. The armor already existed for NPCs, so adding it is a cool bonus for Shaman. We may see more in the future if a similar situation arises.
  • In order to avoid achievement bloat, achievements that are split between 10 and 25 man will only be added when the split is important.
  • Throne of Thunder added more individual responsibility for the success of a raid, especially on fights like Lei-Shen. Going forward, this will continue to be the case.
  • Thunderforged and Warforged style items are likely going to be the solution for addressing the lower popularity of 25 player raids in order to avoid making 25 player raids feel mandatory.
  • Normal difficulty raids and scenarios are good candidates for applying the Flex tech to in the future, but Normal raids are tuned tighter than Flex, so this isn't a promise at all.

Future Plans
  • There will be some kind of content and event between now and the next expansion, but the patch number isn't determined yet.
  • Blizzard is still working on new character models, with more on that sometime in the future.
  • Addressing the limited storage isn't going to happen in Patch 5.4, but is still on the list for the future.
  • Skills on your bar that you have to keybind and rarely actually use are the prime targets when and if the developers address ability bloat.
  • Adding another Annual Pass isn't planned, but it still a possibility.
  • The cosmetic minor glyphs are working out well, and more will be added in the future. It might make sense to increase the number of Minor Glyph slots at some point.
  • Being able to form PuGs without addons or third party websites might be something nice to add in a future patch.
  • Rewards are still formulaic and not exciting enough, especially when it comes to rare spawns and quest rewards. This is something that the developers would like to address in the future.
  • Patch trailers could be added to the game itself in the future, but there are some things that would need to be addressed first. The trailers are created to get people excited about a patch, so they feel a little bit more like an ad than other in game cinematics, so things might have to be done a little differently.

Connected Realms
  • Connected Realms will be used to help out lower population realms, not balance the factions on very high population realms. However, in the process of grouping low population realms, faction balance will be taken into account as much as possible.
  • Connected Realms will roll out fairly quickly after Patch 5.4 is released, similar to the release timeline of Cross-Realm Zones.
  • There may not be any realm specific things like achievements, leaderboards, or forums going forward. (See the full question below)

Patch 5.4 / The Past
  • Lesser Charms or Spirits of Harmony aren't very likely to become Account Bound before Mists of Pandaria is over.
  • Timeless Isle can serve as a foundation for the way that the developers approach creating re-playable content in the future.
  • The removal of Have Group, Will Travel worked out well, making the world feel more alive.
  • Another alternative to creating PvP crafted sets would be to segment players more by their gear level, matching you against players with similar gear.

Originally Posted by Kalgan
Looking at the interviews that have been done so far, Ghostcrawler mentioned there will likely be a Patch 5.5 in some form, obviously with no raid content. Cory mentioned that there is only a regular pre-expansion event patch planned. Is there a patch beyond the regular pre-expansion events planned?
We definitely expect there to be some content between now and an expansion. Whether it is called Patch 5.9 or something else we aren't entirely settled on. The number could be different, but we definitely expect to have an event between now and then.

Heroic scenarios seemed to work out really well, addressing the lack of rewards and lack of difficulty that were the major problems with Normal scenarios. Will we see more Normal scenarios in the future, or mostly just Heroic Scenarios?
We are actually still trying to sort that out. We are super happy with the way that Heroic Scenarios played out and we definitely expect to do those in the future. Whether we do Normal scenarios, how we do them, and what the reward scheme will be is something that we are not sure about yet. That part is TBD.

Are there any updates on new character models? Do you still plan to go forward with this and update all of the existing races?
We are still working on it. More on that sometime in the future.

You mentioned in another interview that the flexible raid technology could be applied to other types of content other than raiding, provided it didn’t need super tight balancing like Heroic raids. Do you think Normal difficulty raids will ever be a potential candidate for this?
Yeah, I do think that they are a candidate and that is the next logical extension for us. That and potentially scenarios in some way becoming flexible. If you have more than two friends you want to bring along, you might be able to do that. I think those are the two most likely next candidates, but it is hard to make any promises at this point, especially because Normal difficulty raids are tuned more tightly than Flex difficulty, but we are going to try.

Is there anything you can tell us about the timeline for opening Flex difficulty wings beyond that it will be faster than LFR, such as how soon the first wing will open?
It will be the same pace as Normal raids.

Recently Ghostcrawler has mentioned that most classes have too many skills, but removing some would risk upsetting players who really like certain skills. Do you have any abilities that are already on the chopping block for when you are ready to address this issue?
We have a variety of different abilities that we have talked about, but I am not going to name any. We still have to wait and see if we can actually pull it off. There are certainly a lot of abilities that any given player has that they probably feel obligated to have on their action bar but almost never use. Those are the buttons that we want to try and do away with, especially if a player feels obligated to have a keybind for it. That is where it really starts to get nasty. We will be looking into that, but I can't really commit to if and how much.

The Annual Pass was very popular and allowed a lot of people to take part in beta testing. Is there any chance we will see another Annual Pass in the future?
That is still TBD. We don't have anything planned right now, so you will have to keep your ears open. Maybe at some point in the future, maybe not.

Can you tell us where the Dark Shaman cosmetic gear that was recently added to the PTR comes from?
Yes, it comes from Flex, Normal, and Heroic raids. It can drop off of pretty much anything there and it is purely a cosmetic item for Shamans. It is just supposed to be a cool bonus.

Can we expect another wave of class specific cosmetic armor?
Anytime we have some that feels appropriate, yes. We happened to have the armor because we built it for the NPCs there, and we felt like it would be very cool for players to be able to get. It's not that we are methodically selecting classes and saying, "Okay, now it's going to be time for the Hunter to get their special armor set". It's one of those cool things that feels like a bonus and if we end up with other armor sets like that then we would love to do it.

Patch 5.4 adds something like 50 vanity items, bringing us to at least 100 added in Mists of Pandaria alone. Is there any solution to storage space coming? Maybe something along the lines of the tabard storage system mentioned in the past, but for vanity items?
We do want to do that, obviously it won't be in Patch 5.4, but hopefully at some point beyond that.

Will Virtual Realms be used to help with faction imbalances on large realms, or just to help out the lower population realms?
For now, it will exclusively be for lower population realms. Obviously any realm that is already queued or close to being queued isn't going to be a realm that we want to merge more servers with. It wouldn't make sense to connect them, as it would create a worse playing experience for everybody. I happen to play on a queued server, and it isn't super fun to sit there for 45 minutes before you get into the game. For now, it will only be targeted towards realms that need more players. In doing so, we certainly will be looking at faction balance, and trying to use the connectedness to balance those as much as we reasonably can.

Any idea how soon we will see the first group of Connected Realms and any rough idea of how quickly the feature will be rolled out after that?
Pretty quickly. I would reference the Cross-Realm Zones feature as being something similar, as all of the technology was in the patch that we released it with. We started doing the Cross-Realm Zones not long after that patch came out. All the technology for Connected Realms is in Patch 5.4 and we definitely plan to start connecting the realms pretty quickly and rolling it out as soon as it seems like it works and is stable.

Glyphs like the the Mage water elemental modification glyph coming in Patch 5.4 allow some differentiation between players, similar to transmogrification. Are there any plans to add many more of these glyphs in the future, maybe even as another glyph slot type to give players even more character customization?
I don't know about adding another glyph slot type, as I feel like Minor Glyphs accomplish that pretty well. I could certainly see an argument for increasing the number of Minor Glyphs that you can get or something like that. We are pretty happy with the general way that it works out and we will continue to add more Minor Glyphs whenever we have cool new ideas for what to do with them.

Right now we have to rely on addons or third party sites to organize cross realm PuGs. Is there any better solution coming that would be built into the game? Trade chat can only reach so many people, even after the boost from Connected Realms.
We would certainly like to have that and would hope to be able to get that at some point in a future patch.

In Patch 5.4 you split some of the raid achievements that are Feats of Strength into 10 and 25 man again. Will we see more achievements split like this in the future?
Yes, but probably as little as we can get away with. We are worried about achievement bloat, as there are half a gazillion achievements in WoW already, so adding a few more isn't that incrementally deadly, but over time it really does add up. We want to be judicious about it, but sometimes it feels like the right thing to do. It will happen when we feel like it is important enough to justify.

How will things like realm forums, realm first achievements, and other realm specific things work with Connected Realms?
Frankly, we won't be doing a lot of that stuff going forward, so that's how.

Mists of Pandaria fixed a lot of problems with the game, such as not being able to raid with friends, low population realms, low population zones when leveling, and more. It may have fixed or improved upon the most features of any expansion so far. What do you feel are some of the problems left to fix going forward, other than profession leveling?
I feel like our general reward scheme is too formulaic. I would like for our reward scheme to continue to get more interesting and exciting. Thunderforged and Warforged items are a good step in that direction and that feels right for raiding. I still feel like when you are questing that it would be a lot more interesting for those quest rewards to be more dynamic and potentially be more exciting. The same could be said for when you go out in the world and find rare spawns or stuff like that. I think we really want to continue to try and make our overall reward scheme deeper and more interesting.

Thunderforged items seemed to be a nice perk for 25 player raids, are there any other things coming to address the lower popularity of 25 player raids?
Probably not, to be honest we plan to continue to support 25 player raids, we love that there is an audience for them, and if I could wave a magic wand I would love for more people to do 25 player raids, but the reality is that it is a big organizational jump up from 10 and we can't reasonably expect people to do that. We want to be very careful about how mandatory doing 25 player raids feels. We think we have hit a pretty good sweet spot with Thunderforged and Warforged items and we still get them in 10 player raiding also, so it feels like a cool bonus and not something that you have to have.

Throne of Thunder incorporated a much higher degree of personal responsibility on individual players with respect to mechanics. Lei-Shen stands out in particular. Can we expect more of the same from the upcoming tier or will it be scaled back to something more in line with the initial instances?
We plan to continue. I feel like we hit it really well in Throne of Thunder and it was a great raid zone, so the only real difference is the addition of Flex. So Flex will have that in between difficulty, if Normal is too intense and you aren't satisfied by LFR, then Flex will really satisfy that itch.

Justice points weren’t always super useful during Mists of Pandaria. What could have been done differently to make them more useful during the expansion?
Clearly at this point we aren't going to address that well enough for Mists, but it is definitely on our minds for the future and we have a couple of ideas about how to do that better. We definitely agree with the problem and definitely agree that they feel like a dangling appendage.

Do you think the removal of Have Group, Will Travel worked out well?
I am satisfied with it, in terms of the impact on the game. Obviously anytime a convenience is lost there will be a negative reaction to it. Of course there are players out there that are like, "Worst decision Blizzard ever made!", but the reality is that this is World of Warcraft and for it to feel like a world players need to be out in the world. It is important for players to be traveling around and going about their business for it to feel like a world. Have Group, Will Travel really undermined that far more than we had hoped. I don't expect to see it come back.

Holinka mentioned that the crafted PvP sets weren't a great solution to starting PvP, so what alternatives are there?
Some alternatives would be to try to get a PvP environment where if you segment players a little bit more. If you have players with really lousy gear we would match you up against other players with really lousy gear. Then all of a sudden people's gear won't feel so lousy anymore. This would give you an opportunity to earn some gear before you graduate into the big leagues or something along those lines.

Will we see Lesser Charms or Spirit of Harmony become account bound before the end of Mists of Pandaria?
Clearly not in Patch 5.4. Honestly by the time that could happen it may not be super relevant anymore. I wouldn't bet the farm on it, but I wouldn't say it is an impossibility.

The Burdens of Shaohao videos were awesome, any plans to doing similar for major lore characters in future patches and expansions?
Potentially. It was definitely a cool experiment and it was good to see how players reacted to it. I could see us doing more of it in the future, but we don't have anything to announce right now.

Given the effort put into creating the patch trailers (like the new Siege of Orgrimmar one) and the important story role they play, have you considered adding them to the game each patch so that the game always includes the latest patch trailer in addition to the expansion trailers?
Yeah, that is certainly up for consideration. There are definitely things that we would have to resolve from a technology and player experience standpoint to make it smooth, but it is definitely a possibility. Those are created as a teaser to get people excited about the patch and they feel somewhat more like advertisements than what we would normally do inside the game itself. There would probably be some differences in the way that we do it, but we are really happy with how the Siege of Orgrimmar trailer worked out. We spent a lot of time reviewing and iterating on it over the last four months or so, so we are glad that it turned out well.

What is your favorite Patch 5.4 feature?
That is always a tough question. Certainly the raid is the cornerstone of the patch. I think that we will probably learn more from Timeless Isle than anything else that we are doing in this patch. What we learn from Timeless Isle can serve as a foundation for the way that we approach creating more re-playable content in the future.

The community has enjoyed interacting with Ghostcrawler on Twitter. Is there any chance we will be seeing you on Twitter anytime soon?
Well, I have had some people trying to talk me into getting onto Twitter recently, so it might happen. We'll see.

Patch 5.4 - Kor'kron Dark Shaman Cosmetic Armor
This was a very busy week for news, so you may have missed this new cosmetic armor that was added in this week's PTR build. As mentioned in the interview above, it is a Shaman exclusive item that will drop in Flex, Normal, and Heroic difficulty from the NPCs in Siege of Orgrimmar.


Level Type Slot Name
500CosmeticHead Kor'kron Dark Shaman Cowl
500CosmeticShoulders Kor'kron Dark Shaman Shoulder
500CosmeticChest Kor'kron Dark Shaman Vestment
500CosmeticWaist Kor'kron Dark Shaman Belt
500CosmeticLegs Kor'kron Dark Shaman Kilt
500CosmeticFeet Kor'kron Dark Shaman Treads
500CosmeticWrists Kor'kron Dark Shaman Bracers
500CosmeticHands Kor'kron Dark Shaman Gloves


Raid Testing Schedule - August 16
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
On Friday, August 16, we will continue testing raid encounters in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid.

Each encounter should be available at approximately the listed times below for all Public Test Realms.

Friday, August 16
  • Sha of Pride - 25 Player Normal - 10:30 PDT (13:30 EDT, 19:30 CEST)
  • Kor'kron Dark Shaman - 25 Player Normal - 13:30 PDT (16:30 EDT, 22:30 CEST)
  • General Nazgrim - 25 Player Normal - 15:00 PDT (18:00 EDT, 24:00 CEST)
  • Malkorok - 25 Player Normal - 16:30 PDT (19:30 EDT, 01:30 CEST)

As always, this testing schedule is very fluid and subject to the realities of a beta environment. We might have to change the time of a testing session, change the boss being tested, or cancel a test entirely, due to bugs, server hardware issues, etc. Keep an eye on this forum for the latest information, and thank you in advance for testing and providing feedback.

In general, each 25-Normal testing session will probably be between 45 minutes and an hour. Given the schedule, that'll probably translate to ~30 minute breaks between the later sessions.

At this point, we're just sanity-checking the numbers to make sure that the 25-player scaling is appropriate, since we've tested these encounters a couple of times already, and often on Flexible mode as well. We may spend longer on some fights that have seen more meaningful mechanics changes since the 10-player version, but in general we keep the fights up long enough to see what we need to see, and then shut them down.

Ranged and Melee Balance
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Balance between ranged and melee DPS is a tough issue to solve (and one we talk about regularly). As the game has evolved over the years, both in class and encounter design, we've certainly gotten to a point where ranged have some strong advantages over melee.

Part of how we try to compensate for this is by giving melee more raw damage in stand-still situations (and we're making some adjustments toward that end in 5.4). Ideally, there should be some fights where ranged tend to come out on top, and some fights where melee tend to come out on top.

We don't think that "not targeted by mechanics" makes a good overall niche for melee. We'll do it in certain cases, but only when absolutely necessary. If we let melee ignore too many mechanics, the fights just get boring.

That said, if there are specific mechanics (particularly in Siege of Orgrimmar) that you feel are too punishing against melee DPS, that's great feedback for us. Occasionally, players will approach encounters differently than we anticipate, which can lead to issues we weren't expecting.

Blue Tweets
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Classes
Our class blog on Monday is an attempt to explain class patch notes. It is not a bunch of new patch notes. (Source)
Are you actually going to give a proper explanation or just "because we think"
Ultimately "we think" is what matters, but I tried to explain why we think that. (Source)
Also, just because we're on balance tuning now, doesn't mean the first numbers are final. Feedback = helpful. Freak out = somewhat less so. (Source)

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Between this statement and wanting to reduce button bloat, I long for 6.0!
Just help us stem the tidal wave of QQ when "favorite" ability X goes away. (Source)

Why are there so many class changes during an expansion anyway? Would have expected them in 6.0 instead.
Most of the 5.4 changes are trying to make sure players have talent options. The others mostly came from player feedback. (Source)
For context, we used to never change classes in patches. It can be very frustrating for players though. Witness e.g. my twitter feed. (Source)

any chance of revisiting the 'pure classes should do more damage than hybrids' topic, GC?
Part of me loves to debate theory. The other part remembers there was no way to end this particular debate last time I waded in. (Source)
The two sides are just so set in their viewpoint that it devolves into dumb arguments pretty quickly. (Source)

Do you feel that in order to raid in normals, a 10 man team should be comprised of 10 of the 11 classes?
Ideally, but the magnitude shouldn't be so great that you bench a good player who is a dupe for a jerk of a different class. (Source)
I'd say instead that we don't want to motivate class stacking and just give players a lot of leeway in which classes they bring. (Source)
when you're designing these things, do you have a number? Like, we design for 8 of the 11 classes, or 5 of the 11?
Not really. If you have more than say 3 of one class in a 10, you may feel weaker, but you can still beat the content. (Source)

I guess as long as you refrain from strengthening class niches people are going to ask for equal tools
It's a natural response and we fall into it ourselves sometimes. (Source)
But if class niches are too strong, that's not cool either. Leads to class stacking etc. (Source)

Any chance of some explanation or reasoning for the 5.4 vengeance changes?
Tanks were saying "No, let me tank everything. It increases my DPS and survivability." (Source)

Just answer honestly: If you have to choose between mage/lock/ele/SP for 10-man prog.: Who do you bring?
Lock, because of Gateway. Otherwise, whoever is the best player. If they are all even, then it doesn't matter. (Source)

We mistrust simulations because we can't verify their accuracy. We like parses a lot, but that means e.g. World of Logs not e.g. Raidbots. (Source)
curious, why not RaidBots? Not specific enough comparison or because players draw perhaps incorrect/ignorant conclusions?
It's too easy to draw a hasty conclusion. (Source)
doesn't raidbots just consolidate the info so it's easier to look at and compare?
That is it's strength and weakness. Because the data are presented as a stack rank some players focus only on the top DPS. (Source)
One thing raidbots does well is average out skill and ilvl differences IF analyzed properly. Most just look top 100
Top 100 measures skill but also gear and luck. It can't be the only data point. (Source)
Absolutely. Just didn't think it should be disregarded because many people use it wrong. People misuse wol too.
It's not disregarded! The links to it with "please buff" are. Analysis is vital. (Source)

Raidbots is an aggregate of WoL, don't you mean Simcraft?
No we like logs from players. There is nothing wrong with Raidbots if you sit down and analyze all the data they provide. (Source)
Unfortunately many don't do that. They look at say top 100 and assume that has direct relevance to their own raid then link it. (Source)

You should try an experiment. Release a tweet saying you are tweaking the numbers behind the scene by 2%. See what happens.
I think players are smart enough to figure that out. (Source)
We sometimes take a different approach where we buff a small ability by a lot even if the overall buff is small. (Source)
It gets players' attention enough to try out the spec and sometimes discover it was closer (or more fun) than they suspected. (Source)

Battle.Net Launcher Background Downloader
You may have noticed a spinning symbol on the new Battle.Net Launcher, which indicates that data for a future patch is being downloaded.

Patch 5.4 is on the background downloader now, but the default setting in the new launcher limits your download speed to 20 KB/s, which causes the download to take a long time. If you have internet that is fast enough, be sure to open the settings and increase this speed to get the patch faster!

This article was originally published in forum thread: Tom Chilton Interview, Shaman Cosmetic Armor, Raid Testing, Blue Posts, BG Downloader started by chaud View original post
Comments 90 Comments
  1. FixDestruNow's Avatar
    PvP

    Base Resilience now reduces damage players deal to others players by 72% (up from 65%).

    I really hope they raise the base resilience to 100% instead. Just because I don´t play pvp I shouldn´t be affected right????
  1. Byrthor's Avatar
    Lesser Charms or Spirits of Harmony aren't very likely to become Account Bound before Mists of Pandaria is over.
    Sad. Spirits of Harmony would work a lot better as BoA, but with the expansion ending Blizzard don't seem to care about crafting items anymore.
  1. Primaryjane's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Immitis View Post
    that dark shaman set being shaman exclusive is bullshit! why make it cosmetic if its only for shamans? cosmetic is cosmetic so it can work on any armor type if its exclusive you shouldve just made it a green set
    How is it any different than Warlocks getting exclusive fancies?
  1. Arkenaw's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Draxz View Post
    Anything else they want to throw everyone but LFR? Their really really hating on LFR this patch.
    They've always hated LFR because they're afraid they'll upset their precious 1%.
  1. RonnieBoy's Avatar
    I'd trade that Shammy mogging set for a rollback on that Ele nerf the other day.
  1. Henry Chinaski's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Immitis View Post
    no they arent. the challenge mode gear are not cosmetic items.

    you clearly dont know the difference between a item that is cosmetic and a cosmetic item type

    http://www.wowhead.com/item=90053

    see not cosmetic. cosmetic is an armor type that can be transmoged onto any armor type whether it be cloth, mail, leather or plate. that is what it is for, an example http://www.wowhead.com/item=97901

    see the difference?

    one is a plate item that is for cosmetic purposes one is a cosmetic item.

    the entire purpose of a cosmetic item is that everyone can use it regardless of what armor they use, making this shaman exclusive and cosmetic is pointless because if they want it to be shaman exclusive they shouldve just made it mail
    Can you show me the source where Blizzard said that the entire point of all cosmetic item is that everyone can use it regardless of armor they use, i've never seen it. I'll gladly admit i'm wrong if you have it, but i've never heard them say that. Cosmetic simply means purely for looks, nothing more.
  1. Kilmir's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Arkenaw View Post
    They've always hated LFR because they're afraid they'll upset their precious 1%.
    What? That's not true at all. They love LFR and how it brought a huge part of the player base into the raidzones. Hell, you can do the entire legendary chain without setting foot in normal or heroic raids.

    Their issue now is that normal raiding guilds (and heroic ones) are on a steady decline and they want to give incentives for people to keep doing those. Naturally those incentives have to exclude LFR or it would be rather pointless. Apparently merely higher ilvl gear isn't enough, though Thunderforged does seem to keep 25m numbers higher judging from the blue text above.
    The Flex raiding is mostly for more casual guilds who would normally try to do Normal but with a fluctuating group of players it's hard to keep one going.
  1. kvanslam's Avatar
    I'd like to know who said removing Have Group, Will Travel "worked out well". It definitely doesn't make the world feel alive. It makes having warlocks feel more mandatory if anything.
  1. Rodeith's Avatar
    Oh my g..... That is probably the best shaman set I've seen in a long time. Looking extra good on Taurens for some reason /drool.......
  1. Snuggletotem's Avatar
    Yes they are, as a matter of fact!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Axefresh View Post
    Sigh, you're a whore. Bet you made your parents proud. Nice profile pic too >_> sarcasm.
    Dont care if I get banned for this, It needs to be said.
    Yes they are, as a matter of fact!

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