[Gungnir Artbook] → Interview
It also features spoilers, so tread with caution if you're waiting on the Atlus release!
The usual rules apply: Linking to this translation is fine, but don't just copypaste it without credit, as that is really rather rude.
The reason “Gamemaking Notes” Stopped Updating
First of all, I’d like to ask about Gungnir’s development time. About how long was needed to work on the game?
ITO: We really began working on it at around the time that the mastering for the PSP version of “Knights in the Nightmare” was going. That was right about the time that my blog “Gamemaking Notes” stopped updating, so I think that in concrete terms the production took about two years.
What was the reason you stopped updating?
ITO: The main reason is that I stopped being sure how much I could write about our progress. Production details were changing wildly by the day. In the case that I continued to record what we were doing each day faithfully, then there was a chance that once the game was actually released, the players who had read the updates up until then would start thinking “that thing that was in the blog isn’t in the game! Neither is this one!” and be disappointed. And when I started thinking that, I couldn’t just casually keep updating like I had been.
So the idea was that you weren’t sure that what you were putting in the blog would be reflected in the final product.
ITO: Yes. If I’d gone on saying “this is something that’ll be in there, you can do this and that and the other thing”, then I wouldn’t know how to apologize to the players who read that and thought “I guess I’ll buy it”. Even if I’d been telling the truth on the day that I updated the blog, I couldn’t promise that the contents of the real game would reflect that truth. Honestly, I was really scared that there would be a lot of misunderstandings.
The atmosphere of an “Ito game” and the direction of the scenario changes
I’d like to begin asking about the scenario in its entirety now. Please tell me the reason why this game is focused on “a war between fellow humans”.
ITO: Given that in this game the size and positioning of the individual sprites is important, we decided to make it a game where human units fight each other from the pitching stage. And from then on, the question became “So what reason do humans have to fight each other?”, and thinking about that, we came up with the idea that it’d be ethnic differences or societal privileges or some serious problem to do with discrimination, and the scenario wound up really dark and black and dripping. And, you know, the story could’ve been a lot easier if some devil had come crawling out and everybody could have gone “Okay, let’s all band together and get rid of the evil king!”, but when the unit size itself is a problem…… (laughs)
The part in the prologue where your allies in Esperanza are all slaughtered really makes the game feel Sting-like, but were they always destined to die?
ASAI: In order to unleash Gungnir’s full powers, we had Noah and Claude and the others become our sacrifices. It was decided that way from the time that we wrote the story, but when we received Kiyudzuki-san’s beautiful illustrations, there was a lot of second-guessing ourselves. Especially considering Teresa-san, who was especially popular amongst players, I was personally kind of……
KIYUDZUKI: Actually, when we were working with the original story pitch, the scenario started out a lot more lighthearted. Most of my early illustrations were these cute little two-heads-high units.
ITO: The game screen was originally supposed to have SD characters fighting on top of the squares. But there was no punch to the storyline that way. For instance, if the game was the same type of SRPG but the units were mobile suits from Gundam, then that would give you a feeling of what kind of world you were in right away. However, when you say you’re making a game with completely original characters, then that’s not going to get you anywhere. In that case, then when you’ve got a situation where the hero and heroine are trying to crawl their way up through unbelievably tough odds, I was thinking that that kind of picture’s not going to really fit the game. So from then on, it became a harsher and bolder and more serious scenario, and everything about the production started getting darker.
Was Kiyudzuki-san involved from the very beginning?
ITO: Yes. From the beginning, we were taking the pitch and running with it with no time to rest, so we needed at least some kind of image to work with. So in order to get our imaginations going on this game, we asked our previous illustrator Kiyudzuki-san to help us.
KIYUDZUKI: At that time, I was actually working on the GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class anime, and so I replied with “I unfortunately don’t have much time to give, so I hope simple drawings are okay”. Ito-san graciously told me that it would probably be okay, but then there was that design shift that everyone already mentioned, so then all of a sudden I got told “It’s turned into a serious story. Please do your best!” And I was all like HUH?! (laughs)
From the sound of it, you seem to have been pretty far into the illustration work at the time of the change.
KIYUDZUKI: I had an ideas scrapbook that I was filling up with the final designs to the basic units at the time. I was thinking to myself “I’m gonna get as many of these done every day as I can” so that I could have it done in advance, after all…
ITO: Once you’ve gotten to a certain point in the production process, it becomes impossible to redo much. At the very least, you have to finalize things before you start getting bust-ups in. So given the timing, there was really only that point at which we could make a big change to the atmosphere like that. I don’t remember whether it was a phone call like Kiyudzuki-san drew in her manga about the production or whether it was an email, but I think I was kind of blunt about it (laughs).
KIYUDZUKI: And after that, when I started doing real work, first we did the generic characters, and it felt like we were leaving the main characters for last.
ITO: The order that was necessary to make the game meant that the generics were top priority. As far as the system went, even without the main characters it was possible to develop the game software and environments with just generics, so Julio and the others who had the most relevance to the story were left until the very end, like seasoning in cooking.
KIYUDZUKI: Actually, the final product sure did lose a lot of generic classes. They were taken out one by one as the game development went on, and it almost feels like things were squished down to the twelve varieties that exist in the finished game.
ITO: There are loads of units that got scrapped. We actually dropped them before we got formal illustrations, so there aren’t any pictures to share, but there are something like 20 casualties among generic unit classes.
ASAI: There were a lot of units that didn’t get used, but in the end their capabilities were handed to the main characters.
KIYUDZUKI: Julio and the other main characters actually had their settings pretty much finished by the time I was drawing them, so I worked while nailing down the fine details with Asai-san. This is also the case for the images that are posted on Ito-san’s blog, but I solidified my own ideas of the story, received prompts from Ito, and reflected them in my drawings.
What kinds of prompts were they?
KIYUDZUKI: “Units fighting in the water” or “units fighting on top of a cliff”, really roundabout things like that. At the very beginning even Ito-san didn’t have too many ideas, so it felt like we were stabbing in the dark for a while. They were working on the appearance of the sprites at that time, so I thought about that while I drew.
Please tell us more about how the generic units were chosen.
ITO: Just as I mentioned on the official blog, Undines were vital to the game, as they were units that were capable of “moving through water”. And we also had interesting ideas like the Skeleton units that would revive even if you killed them, so we made sure to retain units with properties that humans couldn’t accomplish. As long as they were human-sized, there was no problem with having them be monsters. At the beginning, there were dragon monsters too, but in the end they were all sized-down to human proportions.
KIYUDZUKI: At first I thought of some big characters, but I got revision orders in the middle, and I seriously worried over how I was going to fix the size (laughs).
ITO: If there were 2x2-square units, they would be really clumsy to move around without special conditions, so we had to make them one-square no matter what. As long as they weren’t causing problems with the game system, it was perfectly fine to have non-human units, but no matter what, this was supposed to be a humans-vs-humans conflict, so there was no particular reason to have too many monster classes.
ASAI: There are still concept drawings of a griffon that was a little bigger than that, but the spriters went “there’s no way we can squish this guy down to one square!” at us, so (laughs).
ITO: I really wanted a unit that could fly over barriers, so we exchanged the griffons for harpuias. Well, even so, I at least wanted to avoid having something that would sink into the map. It was really a pain making a 3D map and 2D sprites work.
Ito and the reason why the fellow poor fought amongst themselves
Conflicts between the rich and poor are common in your games, Ito-san, but do you have any personal thoughts on matters like these?
ITO: When we were thinking up the reasons that humans fight amongst themselves, I inevitably wound up at the roots of “distortion”. Because people are born in different circumstances, “othering” occurs, and from that comes the exploitation of the powerless…… that’s the kind of scenery we were going for. It’s not that I’m fixated on ghettoes, but I think that they were absolutely necessary in this circumstance. Unless there’s a real story behind this kind of game, then you’re just playing capture the flag.
ASAI: Say you’ve got a place where lots of people live, and then all of a sudden a completely different cultural group begins living there too—there are bound to be misunderstandings and resentment, and conflict will surely be born from those things. That’s what I think. In order to make the game’s system serious, it’s important to have a serious conflict built into it.
ITO: When Kiyudzuki-san first gave us the illustrations, they were drawings that powerfully conveyed “this is how beat-up a poor town is going to look”. In order to have new players instantly understand the difference in status and discrimination going on in this world, we had to overexaggerate things a bit from the real world; I think it’s difficult to expect a layperson to immediately grasp the social gap between the Daltania and Leonica otherwise.
Please explain why you made the game as an SRPG.
ITO: Well, that was determined from the pitch—I personally love tactical games, so the genre was set from the beginning. After we made “Knights in the Nightmare”, there were players who said that they wanted something a bit more normal, so we decided to make Gungnir a bit more orthodox.
Are the players’ responses really that immense when viewed from the developers’ side?
ITO: Well, you could describe this as the effects of the Internet, but from the beginning I naturally want to know what the players thought, so I listen to what they have to say, and if I can see where they’re coming from then I want to take measures to address their concerns. And so in the end, if I want to prove how much fun the SRPG genre is in a concrete way, I know that I can’t always do that by running into things head-on. So that’s why I decided to take a different approach for this game.
So what do you think after seeing players’ impressions of this game?
ITO: We did get the complaint that it’s frustrating switching characters around a lot… It’s just that there are a lot of different ways to play the game, and that we didn’t make that clearer was our own mistake. The way that the game system and scenario are developed, it’s fully possible to clear the game with just generics, but it looks like we weren’t able to have people realize this. For instance, it’s perfectly possible to beat the game with a team of nothing but Priestesses. As far as play styles go, we’ve realized that our approach was flawed in that we weren’t able to explain this point well enough.
ASAI: On the official site, we put “try out lots of different things on the battlefield” because we wanted to push all the variations on strategy that could take place.
Stripped-down, perfect! The reason for the lack of Item Manual
I think that this time it’s pretty difficult to collect items and attack at the same time. Was it always planned that there would be no Item Manual in this game, unlike the other Sting games?
ITO: The reason “Gungnir” has got no item manual has a lot to do with the direction of the development. It’s fun to play “let’s fill the Item Manual”, but if you’re playing in order to complete it, then I think it’s more stressful when you miss things. Of course, item collection is a legitimate way to play any game. But if you’re too concerned with that, then I was worried that you’d miss out on the other parts of the game that were so much fun, too. So with that in mind, we just went and got rid of the Item Manual completely.
So the idea was that you wanted to see more diverse play styles than just item collection.
ITO: Yes. Actually, even though I don’t want to be misunderstood here, it’s common to be really impressed with people who can hit the level cap in this game and run around with superpowered characters, but I don’t actually think that. Conversely, with Gungnir, I wanted to nudge things like “Wow, I can’t believe you cleared the game with only these members!” or “I’m gonna do this without getting any gems at all!”. If you try to go at this like the past Sting games and aim for completeness by collecting gems, then opening the three treasure boxes… then with each new map, the number of missions would keep piling up and piling up until it got unbearable. So I wanted people to give up on that fast. “Sorry, but this time it’s not that kind of game!”, or something (laughs).
ASAI: When it comes to weapons, you can sell your unneeded things or turn them into gems, and make sure you have the best equipment, lots of different things like that. If you use all kinds of different strategies, it’s balanced so that even just using generic units you can win. That’s our honest opinion as to what we find important from the creators’ seat.
ITO: How you use the items you obtain, what you do with the gems you earn, who you hire with the money you have, it’s all a balance based on these things. ……If we could turn back time and redo the game, I think we might actually get rid of the map clear time limit. I don’t think you could still get a three-star rating while running around the map to get treasure.
But what if the series fans still wanted to collect items?
ITO: Then if that’s the case, there’s nothing we can do now, and our thought process was too naïve. That even given the game system people would still immediately want to collect items means that we messed up.
ASAI: And there being no free missions is basically the same philosophy.
ITO: You don’t really have to work hard and raise your units in this game, so I thought that I wanted people to just concentrate on strategy. If you put free missions into an SRPG, then just like an item manual, I think there’s a chance you’d get sucked into those. If you can accept that and realize that you don’t have to pump up your characters, you’d start thinking of free missions as kind of annoying, so we cut them. Free missions come with the same sense of obligation as collecting items. And if free missions wind up being a pain, then you might as well just stick in a “superpower button” so that you can shoot characters to the level cap immediately. My personal line of thought tends to go that way (laughs). “In the worst case scenario, just press this!”
ASAI: Isn’t that the kind of command you’d give a debugger……? (laughs)
And as far as promises to the fans go, please tell us the reason you decided not to include a bath scene in this game.
ITO: Honestly, I’m pretty much done with those (laughs). At the time we first made “Riviera”, it was really rare for games to include those kinds of fan service things, so we had a kind of “let’s do it!” drive, but nowadays that’s gotten really run-of-the-mill, so…
ASAI: Ito’s a contrary guy (laughs).
ITO: So that’s why I didn’t want to put bath scenes in this game. As far as we’re talking about the series, though, there’s not actually much that’s blatantly connected to DHE in this one. I’m just happy with fans realizing that it’s part of the series once key terms like “Asgard” and “gate” pop up.
ASAI: When we were writing the scenario, the important DHE details we emphasized were the existence of Asgard and Niflheim, nothing else. This is a completely human conflict, so we decided not to trot Marietta the archangel back out. All that really sticks out is that the holy tree was destroyed when something arrived from Asgard.
The Double-Edged Production Plans
Where did the new system concept of the Inferno come from?
ASAI: It’s not something as simple as the kind of “secret move” that pops out to save you and your allies from a deadly situation. The idea of the kind of terrifyingly powerful energy that humans can’t hope to control is the theme that unites the Inferno.
ITO: When the Inferno descend, I wanted there to be a really frantic “is it sink or swim?!” kind of atmosphere. Originally, the Inferno didn’t target randomly, their priorities were actually determined by their individual motifs. For instance, the Inferno of courage would target “cowards”, and attack units that hadn’t done very much in battle. And I was thinking that units who hadn’t been deployed much would get the most damage of all. But from the beginning, it was supposed to be the kind of “final weapon” that, once used, meant that neither side was going to escape unscathed.
So they have the feeling of using them just once being enough?
ITO: Yes. Because, after all, overusing the Inferno would just shatter the battle’s circumstances completely. “If it’s just once, then sure, I’ll get involved for you.” That kind of thing. The Inferno are gods of war, after all, not benevolent protectors, so I never wanted them to turn into something you could call reliable.
ASAI: If you think of the Inferno as your failsafe coup de grace, then their results don’t have any weight to them. But then the fact that we set them up so unpredictably and gave them hidden settings made them appear “random” to the users, and probably made some people feel like they were hard to use.
Are there any other things that you want to reply to as far as player comments go?
ITO: It appears that there are people who were very unhappy with the way that if you get pushed off the battlefield you’re out. But at the same time, in SRPGs you usually wind up thinking of each battlefield as a fixed arena. In systematic terms it might seem as though your defense is perfect if you put your back to the borders, but in a more realistic battle, if you get pushed too far away from the actual area of the fight, you’ll lose. So if you’re just lurking around at the very borderline of the map, then if you get one teeny little shove, it’s like being told “You can’t do that anymore, okay?” (laughs)
ASAI: Even if you were fighting on a bridge, there were problems involved with that. Even if you were worried about it at first, you should get used to it soon. But even though that’s what we thought, it looks like people had trouble with that one too…
ITO: If you gave proper support to a Garrison’s high guard capacity, then they became kind of a linchpin of strategy. For instance, if the front line is a row of Garrisons, then you’d have to think “Charging in from the front is useless”, and then “So let’s run around and attack them from the back!” or “Maybe we should use bows and shoot from a distance”. There are a lot of varied ways to attack.
ASAI: People tend to go straight for attacks from the front, but there’s also attacks from the side or behind, and long-distance weapons and magic at your disposal.
ITO: Ideally, I wanted to make this game one where you didn’t have to rely on the same tried-and-true SRPG character classes, and could actually rearrange the kinds of characters you deploy in every battle. There’s not much concrete worth in leveling up. The game balance is such that even low-level characters can still fight, and even once you’ve entered a battle you can swap out troops. So from that point on, it was a question of how I could break down the bad habit of players’ only using their favorite units. And from there I thought of the different bonuses that you’d get based on who you chose as Ace. I was thinking, maybe this way people will use the generics too, but! (laughs)
In the end, people will always want to use their favorites, huh.
ITO: Yes, that’s true. Even so, there are plenty of maps that are hard to take on with just one type of unit. As far as your choices for units, we learned the hard way that it’s not something that the creators can impose; it’s something the players have to decide on their own. I think we have to change our approach so that we can target both long-standing fans and new players.
Heartbreaking Revisions and the Battle with Production Time
You mentioned previously that there were systematic aspects that were canned, but please explain more about those.
ITO: I touched on this a little in my blog, but there were a lot of different map gimmicks that I wanted to use. For instance, breaking bridges to drop them on units, or going inside of houses and fighting there. The generic units all had special roles, so if there had been time I wanted to make a lot more specific settings, but…
What kind of system was the idea of fighting inside houses?
ITO: You’d open the door of a building on the map, and be able to enter the building in the middle of the battle. By sending an injured unit inside a house, you could have them restore health, but if the enemy followed you inside, then one-on-one combat would commence. As far as unit settings go, Natalia was set up to be a unit who would never lose one-on-one fights.
ASAI: When she gets into the house, she’s the world’s strongest woman.
KIYUDZUKI: If you think about that realistically, that’s actually kind of terrifying, though…
ITO: There were also lots of other different weapon variations that I wanted to play around with aside from that. For instance, the katana would make it hard to counter, but it would have been especially suited for those one-on-one indoor battles. Aside from that, I imagined a “night attack system” for claws, where if a unit equipped with one at night went into tall grass, they would become invisible and it would be easier for them to catch other units unawares and harder for them to be attacked.
If it was a night attack system, then was Cruz…?
ASAI: The ones that appear in this game are “Cunores” and “Cress”. Besides, they’re Archers, so they can’t equip claws (laughs).
Did the time restraints have an effect on the scenario, too?
ASAI: ……As far as the scenario goes, I was also in charge of direction, and I worried a lot over how much we could handle. Things more or less all took shape in the scenario even if they weren’t quite as I had originally outlined them, but we wound up omitting the “war of heroes” framework that was even in the title……
ITO: There’s a character of great importance to Millenia named “Cedric” whose roughs are still lying around from the initial production stages, but in the end it seems that he never made it around to Gargandia (laughs).
Bits and Pieces that Couldn’t be Told
Now that we’ve begun speaking of the scenario, I’d like to ask about the parts of the story that couldn’t make it into the finished work. Please tell me a little about what was going on with Pamela coming to Gargandia.
ASAI: The settings are that Pamela lost an incredibly important item, and that she warped to this dimension in order to search for it. However, the shock was so strong that her memories have become hazy, and while she was wandering around, she got adopted by Rodriguef’s band, which was coincidentally passing by. My first vague plans were of… some kind of comedy…? where the great Pamela’s super magic drags Julio and the others into a big commotion, and I did write a rough scenario outline.
What was this incredibly important item?
ASAI: Well, Pamela is that kind of character, so it’s nothing like the key items of the work Gungnir and Veronica, it’s probably something that no one else would see any worth in at all (laughs).
Pamela’s in the kind of position where nothing’s impossible for her anymore.
KIYUDZUKI: Since “Yggdra Union” and “Knights in the Nightmare”, this is my third time redrawing Pamela, but now that she’s made appearances in other games like “Blaze Union” and “Gloria Union”, I was worried about how much of her design I was free to change. As far as the parts I tweaked, the most noticeable is that she’s not wearing her fanny pack anymore.
What happened with Elise and Isabeli’s big showdown?
ASAI: Isabeli obtained forbidden magical documents and became a necromancer. She wasn’t thinking anything bigger than the desire to use her powers to open the gates, and it seems that she’s not all that aware of Asgard and Niflheim, the realms that lie beyond them. So at the time that Elise got serious and took out her holy staff, Isabeli couldn’t really compete with just the power of her magic scrolls. The thing is, of course, that just because Isabeli’s body has been next to vaporized doesn’t mean that she herself has been destroyed. If there’s ever a sequel… well, let’s just say that she might revive somewhere.
ITO: At least there’s no mistaking that Elise is really from Asgard. When she’s dressed as a human, though, all her wings are fake (decorations) though. It’s just that if she went waving her real powers around too much, that wouldn’t really fit her position of the “Spinner”, so she sealed them away herself.
ASAI: I was worried about whether to depict her as more on Asgard’s side or neutral, but in the end she wound up in the position of a watcher.
What kind of concept did the formidable enemy of Robertus come from?
ASAI: It couldn’t be so simple a story as “And so we defeated the head knight and everyone lived happily ever after…”; the scenario is meant to pose “In the end, it didn’t go exactly as we wanted, but even so, is there anything we gained?” as a question to the players.
ITO: As far as this game’s story goes, no matter how hard the Resistance struggles, there’s not much that they can do against the might of the empire. You could even say Robertus is a great big roadblock reading “NOPE”.
ASAI: Even so, we didn’t foresee him getting quite this amount of resentment from the players… He’s pretty much already completely loathed, but we should have pushed the concept of the “unwinnable battle” a lot more.
Also, speaking of Robertus, the connection between him and Empress Orlienne and Natalia seemed a bit uncertain, but…?
ASAI: The last conversation between Robertus and Orlienne certainly might seem suspicious, but Natalia is Robertus’ adopted daughter; his real daughter is… well, what do you think? It’s a little like a daytime soap opera (laughs). Ragnus is the youngest son of Emperor Wolfgang III and the Empress, just as it’s revealed in the scenario. But Alyssa’s case might be a bit different.
There are three endings to the game, so which one of them is canon?
ASAI: The A’ ending where Alyssa comes to the fort to give Julio the cape is actually a bonus ending that we added in as an extra. At first, there were only the A ending where Julio joins the Imperial knights and the B ending where he gets adopted by the bandits. All the same, it felt too odd for there to be no ending with the heroine meeting back up with the party, so it was put in as a hidden scene. So if we make a sequel, it will probably be a continuation of ending A or ending B. ……I really can’t make any promises, though (laughs).
Was the one who killed the emperor Ragnus after all?
ASAI: In the scene where Wolfgang III’s corpse is discovered, if you look behind the throne, you can see that someone’s carried off the Star Lance Veronica that was kept there.
ITO: When Ragnus was imprisoned, the scene where the emperor takes up his lance to execute him and the lance rebounds was foreshadowing.
ASAI: From the beginning, the emperor tried to kill Ragnus because of the “Starcry prophecy”. In order to wield the Star Lance Veronica, which stands in opposition to Gungnir, the blood of the emperor was necessary, so because Paulo was rivals with Zaird, he brought Ragnus to the resistance to use as their trump card.
KIYUDZUKI: That part in Paulo’s profile that says he “pretends to be a kindly old man” was too suspicious…
ASAI: It really is. As far as Paulo goes, in the fifteen years he’s spent since leaving the capital, he has a feeling of having lost his poisonous nature. But he spent those same fifteen years pushing Ragnus towards madness.
We Want You to Really Taste the System’s Depth
Then, please leave a final message for the players.
ASAI: “Gungnir” has more things to discover for as long as you try to find them. Play the game normally the first time, and then on each new playthrough, I think you’ll be able to see the game’s unusual depth—or, you could say, the best parts of Ito’s twistedness. I think you can enjoy yourself every time if you try to plumb the system to its depths.
ITO: Well, my words of surrender have already gotten carried off by somebody else, so I’ll take another opening and hope for the future (laughs). After we did “Knights in the Nightmare” I was all like “so let’s make a cheerful game this time!”, but in the end it wound up as another dark one… So this time, we’re going to try to make something happy again!
KIYUDZUKI: From the beginning, this game really was supposed to be a happy one, though… (laughs)
ITO: No seriously, next time! I am going to make a game where everyone is able to be happy. Where nobody dies, and nobody gets hurt… Anyhow, I don’t want to think too deeply about it, I just want to make something new and interesting.
KIYUDZUKI: This is the third time I’ve worked as a game designer, so I’ve gotten pretty good at expressing Ito-san’s hopes and directions. Even so, these are my illustrations that are being used in the game software, so even though it’s the third time there’s still an incredible amount of pressure. There were a lot of small changes, but I think I was probably able to bring out the game’s atmosphere as best I could. I guess this has gotten to be more of an impression than a message (laughs).
So are there any plans for a sequel…?
ITO: All the system documents got poured into things, so I don’t feel like there’s anything left. I guess I do feel as though I’d want to rebalance things if there’s time. So I don’t really have any feeling of wanting to push the game engine further to make a sequel (laughs).
ASAI: Personally speaking, if there were a sequel, I would want to make the system just a little more accessible and continue to tell the story.
ITO: In the end I let Asai handle the direction, but writing the scenario while working on the rest of his job… seems to have been pretty rough.
ASAI: Well, if anyone else had been the director, then no matter how much time passed the scenario might not have gotten finished at all!!
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules.