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#1 GeoFruck   Members   -  Reputation: 147

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 11:12 AM

Hi all, I am a new member to gamedev, long time reader, first time poster. I have been working on a city building simulator, which will be a hybrid of many of the good games I've played over the years. I have developed a foundation for the housing structure, store mechanics, resource collection, etc. Then moved over to the graphics side, using GIMP, and come up with a decent tileset. Now I am currently working on the art for the buildings.

Just to make you aware, I am not a programmer, yet. The extent of my programming experience consists of Apple basic and Pascal, and after being exposed to these I decided that programming was not for me. I went in to electronics instead. I may end up having to learn programming at some point (with python currently leading as a topic of interest), but for now I am squeaking by working with programs.

GIMP seems to be a suitable graphics program, which I have had some experience with over the years and know enough to be dangerous. I have also recently found blender, which seems to be a more than capable 3D modeling suite, although I think it's overkill for an isometric city game. Blender does have a game engine built into it now, for a few revs it seems, which is a nice plus, but I have also looked at contruct classic and construct 2. Again, the constructs seem to be more suitable for my needs, although blender is just really freakin' cool.

So, one of my questions is regarding the use of open source and free or low-cost lisence game engines vs. more "professional" suites like unity. Do you really get that much more bang for your buck? There are a multitude of engines available, and it is somewhat daunting as a novice to even know what is worth it. I have looked at game maker, but it seemed a little dated feeling when compared to construct, which is why I'm leaning that way. If you would like to suggest any good engines that I have missed, what I'm looking for is something that would be under $1000 for a commercial license, good support, documentation, tutorials, etc., and I do also like the latest and greatest.

Another thing that I am currently looking at is the graphics, writing, sound, etc. Without currently having much money to spend on the project, I don't see many other options except becoming a graphics artist, writer, etc. I mean how feasible is it to think that someone may be interested in joining me in this project, and how much convincing do people need to realize that I'm not just some shmoe thinking it would be cool to make a game? So far, I've just been moving forward with the "show as much as you can" mentality, so I have been also trying to document my progress on a few wikis. Of course, doing it all by myself, I've found that it is a lot of work to keep up with everything.

So, every now and again, I just fallback and actually play some games, reach out to communities like I am doing here, and try to relieve some of the pressure that can build up.

I would appreciate any feedback and opinions that you are willing to provide, and I look forward to seeing how I may fit into this community.

<enter witty tagline here>

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#2 Pointer2APointer   Members   -  Reputation: 283

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 01:38 PM

A beginner starting with Apple or Pascal programming with no directive or initiative can easily break the fondness of computer programming as an interest, especially in games.

Have you tried a more objected-oriented programming language like C++, or maybe Java?

Because I would refrain from throwing the towel on game programming just from a bad first experience.

But as for designing ... you can work closely with game development if you're a graphic designer, and it can also be really fun if you truly enjoy it.

A few others you may like, or can look to are:

Irrlicht: http://irrlicht.sourceforge.net/

3D Rad: http://www.3drad.com/

Gamebryo: http://www.gamebryo.com/

But not knowing programming will always be a barrier to demanding, top-notch game development, unless, of course, you use a program like this: http://www.3dgamestudio.com/

But that's pre-defined and coded templates of games, models, all in a drag-and-drop interface, and you're not really making them by yourself.

But if graphics are more your thing than programming, you should stick with Blender, tweak around with maybe 3D Rad and other modelling programs.

There's one called Autodesk Maya (graphics program) that is supposedly really good, and gives a free trial if you have the hardware/software to handle it.

Unfortunately, the commercial product is sold for over $3,000.00.

You can see it here: http://usa.autodesk.com/maya/

Hope I helped a bit.
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#3 GeoFruck   Members   -  Reputation: 147

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 06:56 PM

Hi Pointer, thanks for the feedback. I will check these out tonight. Ya, the programming was back when these languages were new, so I'm sure things have changed somewhat. Although, I'm sure programming can only change so much, it's lines of code. I guess I will have to breakdown and take a look at it for my own good anyway. I do have a reason to learn it now, which does put a different light on it compared to 20 years ago. Hmmm, object oriented, that does sound kind of interesting.

Thanks again for the input, and I will check these out :)

#4 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5181

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 11:01 PM

Game engines ( http://www.gamefromscratch.com/page/3D-Game-Engine-Round-up.aspx )

That link has a list of most of the most populat game engines, their cost, links etc.
To answer your question, yes, there is value and bang for your buck, especially for commercial teams. You do get more from UDK than you do IrrLicht or BGE.
That said, Unity seems to straddle the line between affordable and professional extremely well.

#5 ATC   Members   -  Reputation: 551

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 09:47 AM

Actually, I was just about to recommend 3D Game Studio. It's NOT a completely templated game engine, though it does come with a bunch of template content you can use to play with/learn. If you're afraid of programming you can get an introduction to the C-family of languages through their scripting language, Lite-C. It's actually not bad. For the price and the fact that you can also get a free version 3DGS is a great learning tool. Technically, if you know C or C++ you could squeeze a commercial game out of it.

But as someone else said, trying Apple Basic and Pascal might be the reason you're turned off to programming. Try C# or C++... even C is good, though it's not object-oriented. For some reason, and I'm not alone, I just hate the syntax of languages that aren't in the curly-brace family (e.g., C, C++, C#, Java). You might be one of those people too, so you need to try a "better" language more suitable to your brain. :-)
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#6 GeoFruck   Members   -  Reputation: 147

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 01:18 PM

Hi Serapth and ATC, thank you for chiming in as well :) I will definitely check out the gamefromscratch engine line up, as well as that site in general. That alone looks like researching fun, good for a few hours at least. And it is good to know that the engines market seems to basically be competatively priced as a marketplace of its own. I guess marketing people do have their place, as well.

3DGS actually does look like something to look at, and I will download it and compare it to blender, at least. That should give me an idea of what I may be able to work with, given my lack of programming knowledge.

I did download and look at codeblocks, just to expose my eyes to the new world of programming, and I can at least still see. I should have learned by now not to speak out of ignorance, but what can you do. It appears from just looking at this that programming has changed, and I think I'm starting to understand why it is called "Object oriented" and "visual". The best I could gleen from taking a quick glance, before my eyes started to glaze over, is that it has become somewhat "modularized" (for lack of a better word). I may or may not dive into that pool, it looks rather deep.

As for now, as the events of the last couple of days have unfolded, I think I will go back to the drawing board and finish up a GDD. I wanted to actually include specifics to the point of numbers for all of the stores, decorations, resource collectors, min-max level progression, etc. But I think that would be overkill, and somewhat a waste of time, at this point. Balance will only be achieved in the game when I get a chance to actually put it into an engine and mess around with it. At least with all of this in mind, it gives me an even more clarified picture of what I would need in a GDD, for myself, and if a programmer were to become interested.

#7 ATC   Members   -  Reputation: 551

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 02:11 PM

CodeBlocks is good, but I prefer Visual Studio above any and all other IDEs. And the free Visual Studio Express editions are pretty damn good. You're unlikely to lack for any feature using an Express edition until you get into very advanced programming (likely at least one to several years down the road).

I love Visual Studio because I think (warning: personal opinion) that it is the biggest, baddest and most robust IDE you could ask for on Windows. I've developed everything from console applications, 3D applications, mobile device software and Windows applications to operating systems, compilers, assemblers and linkers with it. You can configure (and even extend) Visual Studio to do anything you want. It's just a bad *** IDE.

Therefore I recommend you at least give it and C# a look-over. I think you will love C#. It's a beautiful language; every bit as "powerful" as C and C++ and almost every bit as fast (sometimes faster). C# is just a very fluid and elegant way to turn ideas in your head into machine language, and make it run fast, efficient and stable.
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#8 Pointer2APointer   Members   -  Reputation: 283

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 03:19 PM

Everyone has their own programming language (s) of preference.

I agree with ATC on the curly-brace family languages, like C, C++, Java, etc. I, too, would turn away from programming if I would've started with Pascal(not that Pascal is bad, it's just that the syntax is not to my likeness).

Objective-C, Smalltalk, Visual Basic, etc. I also find those to be other dreaded syntax languages to me.

By combining programming language knowledge with graphics development, you'll be two steps ahead of many people in the computer-related fields.

Honestly, even basic knowledge of a language like C++ can open many doors for you with innovation and game development, and some people find that once they start learning and getting the hang of a language, they just keep going ... good luck.
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#9 ATC   Members   -  Reputation: 551

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 05:14 PM

I agree with ATC on the curly-brace family languages, like C, C++, Java, etc. I, too, would turn away from programming if I would've started with Pascal(not that Pascal is bad, it's just that the syntax is not to my likeness).


(((((You) know)(what)((language I)(absolutely))(couldn't (bear))to(((((use)))))? lol... LISP... :-) It's one of those "love it or hate it" languages, and I hated it from first sight due to all the parenthesis and the syntax in general. Not saying it's a bad language, it's just the complete opposite of my taste.

I also hate the BASIC/VB syntax... It just seems very verbose and ugly to me. Whereas you can use a '}' in a C-family language, you have to type out an entire word to close in a BASIC-like language such as Visual BASIC. Variable declarations are also rather ugly and verbose to me...

Keep in mind this is just me ranting, expressing my own personal opinion and biases. I'm not saying any language, including VB, sucks. I'm just saying that I hate the syntax and think it's ugly/verbose. :-)

I think the OP will like programming a lot better when he tries a language like C# or C++ and sees how easily you can transfer between these languages; not to mention how incredibly powerful and practical they are!
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#10 Conker5295   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 05:18 PM

Hi all, I am a new member to gamedev, long time reader, first time poster. I have been working on a city building simulator, which will be a hybrid of many of the good games I've played over the years. I have developed a foundation for the housing structure, store mechanics, resource collection, etc. Then moved over to the graphics side, using GIMP, and come up with a decent tileset. Now I am currently working on the art for the buildings.


I'm just curious how you've been working on that without allot of programing knowledge? I don't mean offence by this i have a huge interest in simulators :P

#11 GeoFruck   Members   -  Reputation: 147

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 07:42 PM

Hehe, thanks for the further comments, glad to see that the reputation of programmer's humor is well-founded. I will take a look at the Visual Studio Express as well, I mainly skipped that because I first saw MS and thought money.....pass. Now that I know there is a free version, that's worth the download at least.

@Conker, I've been doing various parts of the design part for about 2 months. The thing that I initially started with is the store recipes. This led me to level progression, which led me back to store recipe rewards for xp, which led me to.....needless to say, I have become intimately familiar with the spiral development model. At least on the scale of designing such interacting game mechanics.

What I ended up with, after all of this, are the base logorithmic formulas for deriving the resource cost, gp rewards, and xp rewards over time. I want my game to be somewhat customizable by the player, so I came up with 3 different sets, one for a balanced store, one for higher gp/lower xp rewards, and one for higher xp/lower gp rewards. I wanted to come up with formuals, because they will theoretically stay useful throughout the entire span of the main level progression. I also devised a level progression, which is based on the standard exponential level progression, probably started with D&D, but with a slight varient. Every 10 levels, instead of doubling the needed xp requirements, I will quadruple it. In order to offset this, I will simplay apply a bonus of 1.85 -1.95 to the base store values, at that same level. This should seem fairly seamless to casual players, but serious gamers who are trying to squeeze every last gp and xp out of their town will see a noticeable difference, and have to restructure their city in order to continue to see their streamlined city design working. I basically wanted to put something in to prevent anyone from breaking the game....at least to a great degree. I also decided to come up with a level-in-level progression, which consists of 25 levels spanned over the same xp requirements of the first 10 levels. I call the set of 25 "age" levels, and the original 10 "city" levels. The city levels will introduce new buildings, such as resource collectors, stores, houses, etc., and the age level will introduce new decorations, both funtional (affecting building stats) and non-functional (just looking pretty), as well as building enhancements. This will serve the purpose of allowing a lot of flexibility and fine tuning with the adding of decorations/enhancements. It will also continue to provide a sense of accomplishement and progression for the player. The resource production rate is somewhat dependent on getting a working model going, in order to see how the progression goes, but I do have intro values for those as well.

That is really what got me started on this project. I simply love math, and love to use it to make things easier. It's probably child's play to a lot of people around here, but I've always loved making really complicated spreadsheets for city planning in games, such as Utopia. http://utopia-game.com/

Edited by GeoFruck, 25 September 2012 - 08:32 PM.


#12 superman3275   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1989

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:16 PM

A tip -- Get a student licensce for autodesk. You can make everything up, and just say you're a "mentor". They don't check the applications and it gives you free access to all their future applications. As long as this game isn't for profit, you can use all the latest AUTOCAD, MAYA, and 3DS MAX software you like. I personally prefer blender because 3dsmax is way for resource intensive, but if you have a good enough computer I'm pretty sure 3ds max is great, especailly for in 3d-Editor testing.

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#13 GeoFruck   Members   -  Reputation: 147

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:57 PM

Thank you for adding to the conversation, superman. That is a good tip to be aware of for sure. I do want to launch this game as a commercial endeavor, but if I have to continue to rely solely on myself for the actual fabrication of the game, I will need any and all free and user-friendly tools to choose from. I guess a pertinent thing to add to this, at this point, is what my intent is with this game. I intend to launch this game as a mobile app, in order to hopefully quell the stream of low-quality games being introduced and fed to the masses. I see the mobile gaming market as a new frontier right now, as many do, but I don't want to take advantage of people who don't know any better, I want to introduce them to what a true and rewarding game experience can be. I believe that with this intent, as long as it is implemented carefully, I can draw many more "casual" players closer to the real gaming world. A huge goal, to be sure, but one I feel passionate about and worth pursuit.

Edit: Also, to add to the previous discussion with Conker, I have also been networking among the steampunk community for writers and artists, because this will be one of the main themes for the game. A good storyline is imperative, imho, for a good game, and an artist, well, makes art. In these digital days, a picture or a painting is just as good as graphics design, to some extent.

Edited by GeoFruck, 25 September 2012 - 09:31 PM.


#14 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2965

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 09:32 PM

Hi, GeoFruck

Some similarities exist around your viewpoint and mine in early August. It had been a long time since I studied some languages, I wanted something easier within my newbie abilities, and I am a graphics artist ( Though I am semi-professional after more than two years putting content in games.).

The best this newbie found for my goals came to C# and Python, though there are a few other commonly used languages which are a bit on the easier side to learn as well. I am a Blender user, so that must stay. For large, complex models I do the 3D and usually their textures with Wings 3D. Given these, I know how to get a model with its file format into a game - directly, by exporter, or by converter, most of them free.

The natural question is this: How can a newbie who wants to focus on the art aspects for the time being make a very nice game? Blender is actually a suite of applications which is quite powerful, flexible, and down the road is also programmable, including the game engine which you know. Moving on, the C# based games are popular and have technical support, so good for learners and professionals alike. The C++ games are numerous and much support there, too. Several other languages are not uncommon. There are game systems which help the game designer or game developer (there is a distinction in the two) with official and third party plug-ins, tools, software development kits (SDK), and even integrated development environments (IDE), a bunch mentioned in this thread.

I decided to focus on C#, keep Blender, and look for low cost or free alternatives like you are doing. My focus is on Axiom 3D render engine - a C# port from Ogre 3D, so you could look into it for the sake of one stone turned in your search.

Another possibility: The Ogre 3D and MOgre popular engines have very active community, wonderful collection of plugins such as sound, physics, and so forth, and you can use any of the major 3D model programs via an exporter to bring 3D and 2D content into your game. Ogre 3D website has a section for exporters to use Blender, Milkshake 3D, and so on to import 3D models into Ogre 3D, including animations. The render engine has the extensibility to whatever you want, little or much programming, so the experience levels supported suit most people. Take a look! Posted Image

If you do not settle on a specific render engine, game engine, or kit, then you need ability to make games more generally, example such as C# and XNA or C++ and a game engine with software development kit (SDK). Unity 3D is a C# based one with tools and much support in other ways.

Integrated Development Environments (IDE) are some things to examin, such as Blender (if not an IDE, close to being one), MonoDevelop, and Visual Studio. I would recommend for most beginners to start with one Framework (such as .NET or Tao), one lower level API (OpenGL, DirectX, or other). There are a lot of higher level graphics APIs like JMonkey(Java), Irrlicht(C++ - already mentioned), and Ogre(C++). Some of the engines handle most if not all of the API and memory management issues for the developer, which sounds like an important consideration for you, like many beginners.

Some of the games, game engines, render engines, and kits will offer both preferred technologies and a lot of alternatives to any of the above mentioned.

Conclusion:
1) Choose a system for game design or game development with flexibility and community.
2) Keep it simple for your first few games.
3) Begin learning your language to support your plan right away! Books are best for most people, going page by page through the exercises and information.
4) Any of the more common and well supported languages will do just fine, but the system around it might be more important such as game engine, SDK, IDE, and community support.
5) Pick a journey which will have you seeing continual learning progress and visible achievements in making games.
6) Keep having fun! Posted Image

Clinton

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#15 superman3275   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1989

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 09:55 PM

Well, no offended, but I don't reccomend the ogre3d route. It has a lot of problems with rendering -> It was essentially written by some people who tried to fix everything from directs / opengl, and although they fixed some of that stuff, pretty much everything else is just really badly coded or doesn't exist at all. It's you're choice, though if you don't know much programming and you're looking for an engine, you can really only use open-source, thus, I recommend Blended for your engine. (Although you can do whatever you want.)

I'm a game programmer and computer science ninja ph34r.png!

Here's my 2D RPG-Ish Platformer Programmed in Python + Pygame, with a Custom Level Editor and Rendering System!

 

Here's my Custom IDE / Debugger Programmed in Pure Python and Designed from the Ground Up for Programming Education!

Want to ask about Python, Flask, wxPython, Pygame, C++, HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, jQuery, C++, Vimscript, SFML 1.6 / 2.0, or anything else? Recruiting for a game development team and need a passionate programmer? Just want to talk about programming? Email me here:

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#16 ATC   Members   -  Reputation: 551

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 10:09 PM

I recommend Autodesk Maya over 3DS. Maya is, imho, superior software. It's much more intuitive and has much better designed interfaces. You can do complex things in Maya at astounding speed. I'm not that great of a 3D modeler but I have a friend who is a true expert; he learned it over several years of college courses. He can spit out complex models with outlandish speed and accuracy. The same operation in 3DS Max can be slow and clunky at best. The movie industry is way ahead of the game industry in that regard, as they embraced Maya years ago. For some reason, many game dev studios are still clutching to 3DS Max because it's the "traditional" thing and they teach Max in a lot of game dev courses for artists in colleges. The first time you open up Maya it can be daunting. There are hundreds and hundreds of buttons and gizmos. But over time you will learn what each of them are and what they do. And when you get to that point you will really appreciate how great and intuitive the software is. It's just layed out in a way that is conducive to high quality work at high speeds, with less fumbling around with menus and UI elements. And there's simply no comparing Blender to Maya.

Edited by ATC, 25 September 2012 - 10:10 PM.

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Please visit our new forums and help us test them and break the ice!
___________________________________________________________________________________

#17 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2965

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 10:45 PM

Well, no offended, but I don't reccomend the ogre3d route. It has a lot of problems with rendering -> It was essentially written by some people who tried to fix everything from directs / opengl, and although they fixed some of that stuff, pretty much everything else is just really badly coded or doesn't exist at all. It's you're choice, though if you don't know much programming and you're looking for an engine, you can really only use open-source, thus, I recommend Blended for your engine. (Although you can do whatever you want.)


That's okay. I rarely see anybody write that Ogre3D is badly coded, though that might be true. There has been some nice games made with it. Most of the community over there enjoy it, no doubt having a lot to do with the plug-ins and add-ons which solve much of the coding issues.

We agree with the Blender recommendation, since GeoFruck wants to take advantage of his artistic head start and maybe slip gradually into scripting.

Thanks for the opposite viewpoint, superman.


Clinton

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#18 GeoFruck   Members   -  Reputation: 147

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 11:22 PM

Hehe, didn't mean to start anything here. I really just wanted to do what I posted in the topic. For my current purposes, learning how to program does not fit into my timeline. I want to get this game to market as quickly as possible, while maintaining high quality. I have come here to ask how I can do this myself, which I believe has been covered.

I have also come here to eventually seek people interested in working with me on this project, which is why I posted the second point. I believe that the answer to that, as it relates to this community, is that a fairly thorough GDD, some pictures of the UI, the main screen, buildings, the game mechanics that I posted above, and all of the other ideas that I want to incorporate should do the trick to not only show that I am serious, but give a programmer the necessary information in order to start throwing things in an engine. I mean, a lot of people in this community could probably do this. But, I am currently not planning on this level of involvement, because I can't until it happens. In order to continue to move forward and make my vision happen, I have to keep working with what I can understand or pick up within a week or so.

Again, I do appreciate everybody who has come to add to this discussion, but I thought it appropriate at this point, to reiterate my OP.

Now let's all just have a group hug :D




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