jakefagan

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Hello my fellow RPG-makers! I want to open a dialogue about what I see as a rooted issue in verbal communication on the RPG Maker Forum, particularly in relation to the attitudes of a number of our most veteran users. For context, I have been a part of this remarkable game dev community since my first download of RPG MAKER XP. Long time viewer, but pretty new to posting directly! However; I have been on the forums long enough to notice a constant flow of, for lack of a better word, elitism.

I am not here to name names. That being said, I want us all to take a moment to remember what RPG Maker, and its fabulous community, represents: independent game making. For many, this engine is their very first step in the door of game design/game creation. The product itself banks on its accessibility for beginners and serious developers alike.

I love this forum and its community; however, while amazing communities (both online and off) can take years to build, they can be destroyed in a matter of days if not nurtured. TLDR: we need beginners, newbies, JavaScript-plebs and alike to foster a healthy RPG Maker community. This engine is not competing with Unity or Unreal. One of our biggest draws is our accessibility and community.

Too often have I seen prominent veteran users respond with such virtual aggression and vitriol to forum questions that it borders on cyberbullying. Many of our users are kids just starting out in scripting and game design. There are always going to be questions such as "How do I make my character do X from insert other game here?", or "Can I use JavaScript to do X, Y, Z"? What is the point, I ask, in berating them for daring to make a post without a proper screenshot or game context? Is misnaming an "event page" as an "event sheet" worth instant hostility? If you don't want your time wasted, dear veterans, then move onto another post more worthy of your skills. There is no place whatsoever for tearing a new user down for making the mistake of not properly screenshotting their event, or for phrasing something too vaguely for your taste. What better way to ensure a new user leaves the forum, and perhaps the community, by lashing out at them?

I mentioned above that, while I have been using RPG Maker for 10+ years, I have only recently had a visible presence on the forums. This is because I have been afraid of receiving the same treatment for daring to ask a "stupid" or "entitled" question, about RPG making, JavaScript, etc. I am older now with much thicker skin, and so now I feel compelled to say something. It is my love for this community that makes me so angry when I see a respected veteran speak to another user like they are the stupidest person on earth. Is there some golden rule that only the RPG Making masters can ask questions? Again; if a post is beneath your time and skillset, move on. I urge veterans and newcomers alike: if you cannot respond to forum posts with common decency and non-hostile language, move on.
 

ScorchedGround

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Firstly, hello and welcome to the "active" memberbase!

Now to the topic:

Most of the time, the "veteran" users you speak of are not criticizing the questions itself, but rather how these questions were asked.

And you don't need extensive knowledge about the software to ask questions coherently and politely.

However, many times one of these things happen:

#1 The user asks a broad question with a million possible answers and solutions, but they barely give any information to work with in regards to what exactly they want to accomplish and under what parameters they are working.

#1.1 Even worse, some of these people continue not giving viable information after being repeatedly asked by other forum members. These forum members don't intend to mock or berate the person asking the question, but in order to give a concise answer, they need all the information possible.

#2 What I see very often is people getting angry at the person trying to answer their question. Either because they don't give an answer they want to hear or because they take their advice as a personal attack and shut down completely. This is often also linked to the asking person giving way to few information.

#3 This is unfortunate, but people with limited knowledge about the software often ask questions that they think are extremely simple, when in reality they are not. So if people try to explain how difficult their solutions may be, they either get angry or derail the thread by accusing people of not knowing anything (e.g. "Don't answer if you don't know the solution").

There are more examples of possible scenarios but I wanted to the highlight the most prominent ones.

Obviously, what you have described has happened before, but in no way is it frequent.
If you don't see it that way, please do share some examples. Maybe I am in the wrong here.
 
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bgillisp

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Just a mod note. I see no issue with this discussion or the fact it is happening, but just want to be sure it stays polite. Carry on. And remember, we know when you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake as Santa Moderator is coming...to town!

Ok enough of my cheesiness. Carry on.
 

jakefagan

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Most of the time, the "veteran" users you speak of are not criticizing the questions itself, but rather how these questions were asked.

And you don't need extensive knowledge about the software to ask questions coherently and politely.

However, many times one of these things happen:

#1 The user asks a broad question with a million possible answers and solutions, but they barely give any information to work with in regards to what exactly they want to accomplish and under what parameters they are working.

#1.1 Even worse, some of these people continue not giving viable information after being repeatedly asked by other forum members. These forum members don't intend to mock or berate the person asking the question, but in order to give a concise answer, they need all the information possible.

#2 What I see very often is people getting angry at the person trying to answer their question. Either because they don't give an answer they want to hear or because they take their advice as a personal attack and shut down completely. This is often also linked to the asking person giving way to few information.

#3 This is unfortunate, but people with limited knowledge about the software often ask questions that they think are extremely simple, when in reality they are not. So if people try to explain how difficult their solutions may be, they either get angry or derail the thread by accusing people of not knowing anything (e.g. "Don't answer if you don't know the solution).

There are more examples of possible scenarios but I wanted to the highlight the most prominent ones.

If you don't see it that way, please do share some examples. Maybe I am in the wrong here.
Obviously, what you have described has happened before, but in no way is it frequent.
Thank you for your detailed response! You are very right to point out that, oftentimes, the user/questioner resorts to the same hostile verbal communication I have described above. I won't try to deny that: in every space where there is a divide between experts and beginners, there is some sense of entitlement from those lacking in knowledge & experience. Though it is my belief that, from the questioner, the impatience and entitlement comes from a desire to make their dream game in the best way possible, it is no excuse for this type of behavior. We, of course, will have different experiences of how often one side or another exhibit this behavior.

However, your response brings up something I wanted to include in my original post but omitted for length: responsibility. Particularly, the responsibility of those in a position of knowledge and/or power. It is so cliche, but...with great power comes great responsibility. Perhaps selfishly, I believe it is our duty as more veteran/experienced users to set a precedent of verbal communication & forum etiquette. Moderators can only do so much. If a new user's forum interactions are littered with hostility and impatience from decorated veterans, that in turn creates an expectation of how we talk to one another on this website. Impatience and anger only breeds more impatience and anger.

We are all only human (I presume??) It makes sense that a veteran's frustrations with other forum members then, in turn, colors their interactions with future posters.

When a user doesn't understand the scope of their question, or problem...I just cannot accept that the appropriate response is to spend an entire forum dissecting the error of their ways. What good can come of that? I think all questions should be permitted. It is our choice how to respond to them. It is our choice to engage in conflict, thus breeding more conflict, or to move on. Again, thank you for your response & perspective on this!
 

Trihan

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Given the timing I'm going to assume this is at least partially directed at me; if not specifically, it definitely encompasses the responses I post sometimes. If nothing else it's an opportunity to clarify my mindset and motivation for them.

Yes, sometimes I respond with sardonic snark, especially if there's absolutely no information given in the post. But there's absolutely no malice in it; it's just a bit of fun for me to help deal with yet another thread that's likely going to be a pile-on of people asking for details and teasing them excruciatingly slowly out of the OP until we know enough to help. Trust me from years of experience: politely pointing out that more information is needed is way less productive, usually.

That said, I also don't want to cause anyone to think the community is unfriendly or that the questions aren't welcome regardless of their inanity. I'm still more than happy to help once the clarifications are made, and I'd like to think it's obvious that I'm newbie-friendly given the amount of time I spend on tutorials to help new users learn the ropes.

Also this is by no means specific to new users: I respond that way to pretty much everything. :p Sarcasm is my lifeblood, but I never mean anything less than cordial by it.
 

pawsplay

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I think part of being a newb is the right to ask questions badly. Just giving an explanation on how the question could be better posed is an opportunity to teach and welcome newcomers. The definition of a beginner is someone who doesn't know what they don't know.
 

jakefagan

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Given the timing I'm going to assume this is at least partially directed at me; if not specifically, it definitely encompasses the responses I post sometimes. If nothing else it's an opportunity to clarify my mindset and motivation for them.

Yes, sometimes I respond with sardonic snark, especially if there's absolutely no information given in the post. But there's absolutely no malice in it; it's just a bit of fun for me to help deal with yet another thread that's likely going to be a pile-on of people asking for details and teasing them excruciatingly slowly out of the OP until we know enough to help. Trust me from years of experience: politely pointing out that more information is needed is way less productive, usually.

That said, I also don't want to cause anyone to think the community is unfriendly or that the questions aren't welcome regardless of their inanity. I'm still more than happy to help once the clarifications are made, and I'd like to think it's obvious that I'm newbie-friendly given the amount of time I spend on tutorials to help new users learn the ropes.

Also this is by no means specific to new users: I respond that way to pretty much everything. :p Sarcasm is my lifeblood, but I never mean anything less than cordial by it.
Hey there Trihan, thanks for weighing in! Just want to reiterate that this post is by no means my attempt at calling out any one individual. We are a community, and it is my personal belief that this situation is more endemic rather than personal.

I think you make a great point about sarcasm/teasing. Offline, I too am extremely sarcastic, and love teasing my friends. As a comedic actor, being a smart-a** is my lifeblood. There absolutely exists a line between sarcasm, teasing, and cyberbullying.

To clarify, the behavior I am trying to pinpoint is of the "run-you-out-of-town" sort. It is the harsh, relentless attack on another user's question/problem/misunderstanding that transforms a post into a passive (sometimes aggressive) battle of derision. Snappy remarks on someone wanting to make a 40-Hour Harry Potter RPG or the next epic FF-clone are more harmless than not. It is when the conversation and criticism becomes personal, relentless and mean-spirited. It is of the sort to make users feel that they should not even be using RPG Maker unless they have expert written-language skills, an inside-out understanding of the engine, and worthy knowledge of JavaScript to boot. Many of our users are just test-driving their very first game engine! Sarcasm is not the same as gatekeeping, I believe.
 

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I have absolutely no problems with beginners - especially not if they know they are beginners and actively try to help in solving any problem they have. This should be obvious by the tutorials I wrote for those beginners.

What I do have a problem with (and have reacted badly to in the past) is if someone either refuses to learn or assumes we can solve a problem without his help. Or even assumes we can make his game for him.


If I ask a question in a support topic, then that means I need the answer to that question in order to solve the topic. If someone doesn't understand that question, (s)he can ask for clarification - but ignoring the question and never giving an answer does not help anyone.
In some cases I have asked the same question three or four times without getting any answer - and then I think I earned the right to be snarky to the user that refuses to provide the info needed to help him.


And the same goes when someone refuses to learn the basics about the editor even after being pointed to the tutorials for that.
Never forget: no one here is paid to help others. Each and every helper here does so in their own free time instead of working on their own projects.
So yes, we try to give the answers in shortcuts - especially if the answer is complex or involves elements that have been described in dozens of tutorials.
And when we give such a shortcut, we should be able to expect the new user to at least try to follow that (including the pointed tutorials) instead of ignoring it and assume we can handhold him/her every step of the way.
 

jakefagan

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I think part of being a newb is the right to ask questions badly. Just giving an explanation on how the question could be better posed is an opportunity to teach and welcome newcomers. The definition of a beginner is someone who doesn't know what they don't know.
"The definition of a beginner is someone who doesn't know what they don't know."
Hear, hear! I myself can totally identify with this line of thinking. There are so many things I want to try in life, and I have no idea what I have no idea about. If you asked me a few short years ago what the total encompassing difference between Player Touch and Event Touch was, I am not confident that I could give a fully, 100% satisfactory answer.

I have seen this specific question treated with such derision and impatience that it has a times startled me.
Simple enough for a child, powerful enough for a developer.
 

Trihan

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"The definition of a beginner is someone who doesn't know what they don't know."
Hear, hear! I myself can totally identify with this line of thinking. There are so many things I want to try in life, and I have no idea what I have no idea about. If you asked me a few short years ago what the total encompassing difference between Player Touch and Event Touch was, I am not confident that I could give a fully, 100% satisfactory answer.

I have seen this specific question treated with such derision and impatience that it has a times startled me.
Simple enough for a child, powerful enough for a developer.
If someone was given a hard time for asking that they were definitely being a dick; I've seen people with almost as much time in the community as me wondering the same thing.

Andar touched on something that I think is relevant to the topic as well: there have been so many times we've tried to help people who asked questions like that and they ended up saying "it didn't work" and then after way too many hours of troubleshooting it turns out that they figured we'd made an error somewhere and "fixed" our logic so it would be right. That's what really gets my goat more than anything, when someone is asking us for help but thinks they know things better than we do.

(I've literally had people rewrite sections of code where I gave them the exact code they needed in its entirety, and because I wasn't expecting them to do that I didn't even twig that the reason it wasn't working was that they'd "fixed" my errors)
 

jakefagan

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I have absolutely no problems with beginners - especially not if they know they are beginners and actively try to help in solving any problem they have. This should be obvious by the tutorials I wrote for those beginners.

What I do have a problem with (and have reacted badly to in the past) is if someone either refuses to learn or assumes we can solve a problem without his help. Or even assumes we can make his game for him.


If I ask a question in a support topic, then that means I need the answer to that question in order to solve the topic. If someone doesn't understand that question, (s)he can ask for clarification - but ignoring the question and never giving an answer does not help anyone.
In some cases I have asked the same question three or four times without getting any answer - and then I think I earned the right to be snarky to the user that refuses to provide the info needed to help him.


And the same goes when someone refuses to learn the basics about the editor even after being pointed to the tutorials for that.
Never forget: no one here is paid to help others. Each and every helper here does so in their own free time instead of working on their own projects.
So yes, we try to give the answers in shortcuts - especially if the answer is complex or involves elements that have been described in dozens of tutorials.
And when we give such a shortcut, we should be able to expect the new user to at least try to follow that (including the pointed tutorials) instead of ignoring it and assume we can handhold him/her every step of the way.
I can absolutely see how frustrating these examples would be. I teach others how to use the Adobe CC suite in my spare time, and have experienced this similar refusal of help/information. Especially with the basics! It is very unfortunate, especially when we (as the instructor) are coming from a position of truly wanting to help.

You bring up an interesting point about the free nature of the work provided on this forum. To me, I see this as an opportunity to have lower stakes in online conversations. Walking away from unnecessary aggravators seems easier than ever when money isn't on the line.

I think what I am hoping for in the short-term is this: not letting negative interactions with users color future conversations. Not allowing the frustrations of previous forum conversations to set cynical expectations for new users. Again, it is my belief that as the more experienced/veteran users of RPG Maker, we have great power when it comes to setting a communication precedent. If every user miscommunication is given the same short fuse length as with repeated offenders, then it quickly evolves into gatekeeping. From my perspective, it may already been happening.
 

Trihan

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I can absolutely see how frustrating these examples would be. I teach others how to use the Adobe CC suite in my spare time, and have experienced this similar refusal of help/information. Especially with the basics! It is very unfortunate, especially when we (as the instructor) are coming from a position of truly wanting to help.

You bring up an interesting point about the free nature of the work provided on this forum. To me, I see this as an opportunity to have lower stakes in online conversations. Walking away from unnecessary aggravators seems easier than ever when money isn't on the line.

I think what I am hoping for in the short-term is this: not letting negative interactions with users color future conversations. Not allowing the frustrations of previous forum conversations to set cynical expectations for new users. Again, it is my belief that as the more experienced/veteran users of RPG Maker, we have great power when it comes to setting a communication precedent. If every user miscommunication is given the same short fuse length as with repeated offenders, then it quickly evolves into gatekeeping. From my perspective, it may already been happening.
It's a fair point to bring up, and I don't think any of us want to see the forums end up being that kind of place.
 

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Thank you everyone for your thoughtful input on this! With the advent of RPG Maker MZ, and the conversations around paid plugins, I think that RPG Maker may be at a turning point in its history.

Our community is perhaps the most defining feature of this engine. It is up to us to define & nurture it.
 

Hyouryuu-Na

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I have been in the forums for quite some time and have tried to help out beginners as much as I could. Most of the time it went great without any issues- we either ended up solving their problem or we couldn't and they settled for something else. I have seen certain people act a biiit like an elite but they weren't exactly rude and maybe it's just me looking too deep into it. Or maybe they have but there was a reason (some of which I've talked about in the following paragraphs)

Sometimes beginners would ask questions that have been asked many times before. I know it's not something we can easily expect from someone who's new to the forum and hardly know their way around, but I can't but think that browsing the net and looking for similar questions is something they should try to do. I did the same when I first started. I was afraid of asking questions in fear that someone will laugh at me for not knowing it. So I did my own research. I kind of expect new users to google answers and read forum rules too. Regardless, even if a beginner asks a frequently asked question, I don't think the veterans should be annoyed.
Sometimes beginners ask questions that aren't very clear. So we end up asking them to post more information and screenshots too if necessary. A couple of months ago, I saw a thread where someone asked a very vague question about their event but provided no screenshot, just description. So naturally, people told them to post it. They then replied again, further describing the problem but still no screenshot. And naturally, the helpers started to get a bit annoyed.
Some people have the mindset that we're just waiting to solve their issues and when we try to help but our solutions don't work, they get upset. Some are even like "why are you asking me all this? Just tell me how to fix it." But of course, we can't help them if we don't know what their problem is.

I think both parties can be at fault. So we should both try to be as understanding as we can. The veterans should be patient because beginners might not be familiar with a lot of things and that's perfectly normal. And the beginner should listen to what they're saying. If the person trying to help them is asking for a specific information, they should try to provide it.
 
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TheoAllen

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Hey, first of all. Welcome to the forum.
Second of all, you can try to make the community better by contributing. Like, answering the newbie's question. Show us how it is done.

I personally find no problem. I have seen worse. This forum is nowhere near the toxic community I know or once that I knew. Maybe, because I'm biased since I'm one of those "veterans".
 

ericv00

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Perhaps I don't know the context for this.

The OP comes off as more than a little ironic. There is something very elitist about someone trying to browbeat people into communicating the way they want them to communicate.

If someone can't take a frank response to their questions, they are unlikely to take a frank response to their work. And using good character and forming good character is a two-way street. Before you criticize others, check yourself.
Impatience and anger only breeds more impatience and anger.
Changes in behavior start with practitioners of those changes. Not by more of the same. How is your post not an example of impatience with the methods of "the veterans"? How is your post devoid of anger when you call veterans 'borderline cyberbullies'?

If you wanted to open a dialogue on forum etiquette, I don't think this was the most productive way.
 

HexMozart88

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I can kind of see what you're talking about, like when the 50th person in a row asks which engine they should be using to create xyz game and I can feel the eyerolls coming from the responders. Usually when that happens, I try and just point out that this question has been asked before and that it would be more productive to search for the answers yourself. It can be disheartening for a new user to see someone say "I'm not even going to bother responding to this. Look it up yourself." (which I'm pretty sure I have seen a couple of times)
However, I've also been on the receiving end of a couple of abusive users. One of which was hyperfixated on the idea that this board is against thought and kept comparing us to 1984. Others have completely blocked out my requests for more information and tried to send the mods after me for "being rude", when all I said was that most people don't have time to play the person's entire game to see the issue.
So this is definitely a two-way street. Yes, we should try and be more patient with newcomers as not everyone is going to behave badly. However, newcomers who haven't read the rules and keep spamming with "Hello? Are you there?" every two hours shouldn't be acceptable behaviour either. A lot of people treat newbies like helpless little lambs and we have to do all the heavy lifting, but a lot of these new users are adults and should have adult standards expected of them.
 

pawsplay

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I think the best way to avoid losing one's patience or to be unkind is to decide that, when you choose to help someone, you are only choosing to help them. Expecting something in return can lead to disappointment. Even if someone responds unproductively or doesn't say thank you, that is on them. You should never feel bad for trying to help someone.
 

ericv00

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A lot of people treat newbies like helpless little lambs and we have to do all the heavy lifting, but a lot of these new users are adults and should have adult standards expected of them.
I used to tutor kids. Even kids know not to expect the answer to just be given to them. That is not how you learn. There is work involved. Being given the tools to find the answer for yourself and the expectation to do so is not really age dependent. It's the default response.

I hate to be 'that guy', but a lot of adults don't act like adults these days, and I think a big factor is that we treat children like they are helpless and beyond the capacity for the expectations we have of adults. Kids deserve more credit ...and higher expectations. What they don't need are cushy, padded glove interactions. Seriously. Watch how they treat each other.
 

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I will start off by saying that I really don't recognize the behavior you're speaking of. I certainly don't read every thread, but those that I do read I don't see immediate responses with sarcasm or insults, and I especially don't see that often. For my own part, I make an effort to respond to all posts logically, and if I feel something is frustrating me, I will walk away from a thread.

The closest I've seen to your premise is on the part of a few people who are not native English speakers, and so sometimes their wordings come off as more brusque than I think they intend - but even in those cases, I've never seen someone "tearing into" a new poster the way you describe.

I will respond to a few points:
Many of our users are kids
That is, to be straightforward but not rude, not our problem. Personally, I have the expectation that if someone is purchasing software with money and using the Internet unsupervised to be on these forums, they have - if not the actual age - the mental maturity to do so. I do not look into anyone's profile before I respond to their posts to see if they filled in their age so I can tailor myself to them...I use the same language and expect all users have the same level of comprehension.
There is no place whatsoever for tearing a new user down for making the mistake of not properly screenshotting their event, or for phrasing something too vaguely for your taste.
I agree, but I think I have never seen this behavior. There is a place for teaching people how to correctly ask questions. Perhaps it is because some users are young, perhaps it's because society is slowly losing critical thinking, perhaps it's some other reason :stickytongue: but there are a lot of poorly-asked questions. Sheer logic dictates:
- One should Google first. Odds are you are not the first person to have this thought or problem, and it must take you less time to look it up than to post and wait for a response.
- One must actually give information about the problem. If you say "I'm having this problem with an event," how could anyone know what the problem is without actually seeing the code for your event?

So I absolutely agree that there shouldn't be a "tearing down" involved, but in this case the "veteran users" answering the question are first teaching how to correctly ask a question.

Most of the time, the "veteran" users you speak of are not criticizing the questions itself, but rather how these questions were asked.

And you don't need extensive knowledge about the software to ask questions coherently and politely.
This.

If I ask a question in a support topic, then that means I need the answer to that question in order to solve the topic. If someone doesn't understand that question, (s)he can ask for clarification - but ignoring the question and never giving an answer does not help anyone.
In some cases I have asked the same question three or four times without getting any answer - and then I think I earned the right to be snarky to the user that refuses to provide the info needed to help him.
And this. We see many people who seemingly refuse to learn - it is possible that when you see new threads with initially snarky responses, it's because it's a specific user with a history of asking bad questions.

I personally find no problem. I have seen worse.
This. Ever been to pretty much anyplace on Reddit?

I will close with one more thought: I'm not accusing you of this mentality, and I'm not going to resort to any of the prejudicial slang that's thrown around the Internet to describe it, but many people feel entitled to be overly sensitive.

Some people seem to feel they deserve to get exactly the answers they want in exactly the way they want, and anything else is offensive. I have had people accuse me of abusive language, quoting posts in which literally nothing offensive was said. They couldn't seem to differentiate between logical, factual answers and insults if there weren't smilies plastered all over the place. That is not a problem with the answerer, it is a problem with the user who can't correctly interpret English and control their emotions.
 

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Working on Project Zelda!

The title screen lacked enough sparkles... this oversight has been rectified. :kaopride:
67 frames for a dragon transformation? Eh, seems about right. XD
It's not about your writing, it's about your mapping.
Newbie, please be gentle

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