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I was just wondering about people''s opinions of the new breed of strategy games coming out. Personally, I like the style of Warcraft II, Dark Reign, and TA, but there seems to be a trend going toward fewer units and more complicated missions, like Warcraft III and Myth. Turn-based strategy don''t seem to be evolving towards anything in particular, since I see games both in the style of Heroes III and Jagged Alliance--armies limited only by resources, and the squad approach. So what do people here like? Do you prefer having only a few units, or would you rather be able to work more units and devise larger strategies? I know, "larger strategies" generally means "defend the base until you can tank rush with about 300 tanks," but some gamers go other ways with it.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
"I was just wondering about people''s opinions of the new breed of strategy games coming out. Personally, I like the style of Warcraft II, Dark Reign, and TA, but there seems to be a trend going toward fewer units and more complicated missions, like Warcraft III and Myth."

warcraft III and myth don''t neccessarily have fewer units. war3 isn''t out so I''ll talk myth. In myth you often have 20+ units. In warcraft you rarely have more than 20 combat units at a time, the rest are peons and stuff. I think war3 will be similar to war2 in terms of combat units, Starcraft used much larger armies than war2 and I think they learned their lesson. The nice thing is that the more boring stuff (is mining gold or vespene really all that fun?) will be trimmed. It will still affect the game, you just won''t waste time doing pointless tasks. I suppose you could just double the number of units and half the costs, but with fewer units you get better control which leads to more advanced tactics. That in turn leads to more advanced strategy and big reduction in the arcade factor. So yeah I really think this is going the right way. You might want to check out Ethermoon.com to see the RTS they''re working on. It''s being made by top Starcraft players. This isn''t some newbie project either, the programmer and artist are professionals in their fields, the designer is a SC champion and great at other games, the other guys are cool too. Best of all I''m going to be a beta tester, whoohoo.


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If there are alot of troops then being able to create groups of units that moving like one is a quite good solution. That way you don''t have to control each trooper individually.

Kinda like in that new samurai strategy game, can''t remember the name right now... Shogun something... (perhaps just Shogun)

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I tend to believe that RTS''s are going through an optimization phase. I think there has been a a realisation that RTS''s are becoming over complicated and cumbersome to use/play.

Yes, i think that there should be easier controls in RTS''s and you should be allowed as the player to player the game differently ever time you play it. Other wise the game is not really a strategy game.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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I''m glad to see people are responding to my messages...

To the anon. poster, most strat games do allow grouping. Warcraft 2 only allowed 9 per group, which kind of sucked, but Dark Reign and TA allow essentially infinite groupings, and combining on keys.

I don''t have anything against optimizing, but by limiting your units (and making that screwy 3D camera that you have to mess with as you play...I''m a fan of the isometric and top-down views) I really think they are limiting the way you can play.

But...what if it is developed in a way that rewards those players who are willing to use fewer units? On one of the RPG design boards, I mentioned allowing both upgradeable (spelling?) weapons and the basic "pick up a new weapon at each town" format. That could be done for strategy games as well. TA (I think) had veteran units which got more accurate and higher damage based on kills. My (new) idea is to introduce a slightly enhanced version of this. Units get upgrades (HP, attack power, attack rate, special skills, etc.) for killing (and I''m sure if Landfish is reading this, he won''t be happy with murder-based experience) enemies, but they gain experience based on the number of allies. More allies = Less experience. And when they do gain abilities, they also gain less if they have more allies. So players happy with the tank rush can feel free to build 100 tanks (or knights, or whatever) and try to storm an enemy base. However, the player who has 20 elite units, which have systematically conquered cities, will prevail 9 times out of 10, due to enhanced units.

What do you think of that?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
this is the first anon here, hmm I think maybe it''s time I got a name (other than anonymouse)

"To the anon. poster, most strat games do allow grouping."

I think he meant more tightly grouped groups, such as formations. The current system doesn''t make controlling a large number of units as easy as controlling one (I doubt any system can), it just issues the same command to multiple units. They are not as one.


"I don''t have anything against optimizing, but by limiting your units"

There is a very good reason but it''s not apparent. In most RTS games economy dominates way too much. Mindlessly pumping out units is stronger than managing a few well. This forces both players to use very large armies with little control, it becomes an arcade game. The selection limit is a necessary evil. It makes mass unit strategies less powerful. Eventually I expect the restriction to be removed as other advances in design get rid of the problem. Until then selection limits are a must for any serious RTS, with the exception of fixed army games such as myth.

"(and making that screwy 3D camera that you have to mess with as you play...I''m a fan of the isometric and top-down views) I really think they are limiting the way you can play."

I think a fixed camera is almost essential, however you can have 3d with a top down view. It seems obvious to me, yet no one ever seems to use it. I mean does 3d have to mean some dumb low angle view with ten buttons for camera control? As RAM concerns grow all games with extensive animation (which is everything but RISK and chess) will become 3d, but they will look as good as 2d.

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What i would like to see done with 3D in RTS''s is to keep the top view but allow you to zoom in and out as far as you''d like to. Set up a few hotkeys for camera range and yeah!

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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normally people zoom out as much as they are allowed to since it gives them a much better view. If they are allowed to zoom out really far it would get hard to click on things, which would be frusterating and favor players with the ability to click on single pixels (not me). Plus the game gets uglier. So you''d want to set a max zoom. That should probably be the default zoom, and then you could have the ability to zoom in. Also adding in the zoom control should be done at the end of the project, that way you make sure the game is perfectly playable in the default zoom.

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I think everyone''s different when i come''s so zoom distance preference.
quote:

normally people zoom out as much as they are allowed to since it gives them a much better view. If they are allowed to zoom out really far it would get hard to click on things,


Hotkey''s could be use for preselecting distances in zoom then clicking on things is no drama :-)

quote:


Plus the game gets uglier.


Well that would depend on the 3D Gfx you would be using?! I guess that''s a hard call though, debatable :-)

What i was mainly thinking is that by having different zoom levels it makes it a lot quicker to move around the map and it also allows macro to micro management a better view. And due to the fact that everyone manages the games differently the views thus should be completely customizable.


I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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Top-down 3D has been done. It''s called "Total Annihilation" and it works well. All of the units are 3d models, and the terrain is well set up over a (viewable, if you want) wire mesh. I don''t have a problem with 3D view, and I wish more games would use the TA-style engine. The units are more realistic-looking, without sacrificing playability.

quote:

"I don''t have anything against optimizing, but by limiting your units"

There is a very good reason but it''s not apparent. In most RTS games economy dominates way too much. Mindlessly pumping out units is stronger than managing a few well. This forces both players to use very large armies with little control, it becomes an arcade game. The selection limit is a necessary evil. It makes mass unit strategies less powerful. Eventually I expect the restriction to be removed as other advances in design get rid of the problem. Until then selection limits are a must for any serious RTS, with the exception of fixed army games such as myth.



I (sort-of) addressed this in the idea about rewarding for using strategy rather than stomping. Also, I never played M.A.X. 2, but the ads for it showed a good way around this. There were certain set formations, and units could be grouped and told to get in a certain formation. In addition, they could be given formations to work in to at each waypoint, allowing you to set up formations for fire along a pattern-- my first thought for this is a circle-strafe style attack where you move units into a spearhead formation always pointing into the base. Of course, I don''t know how well that would work.

I''m happy to see I''m still getting responses to this topic...it''s not EGG, but this is useful for me. I started once to design an RTS, but didn''t get very far when I realized I didn''t have anywhere near good enough programming skills to do one yet...

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quote:

If they are allowed to zoom out really far it would get hard to click on things, which would be frusterating and favor players with the ability to click on single pixels (not me). Plus the game gets uglier.



Actually, I would say it looks better. Up close, it''s much easier to see flaws in objects

----------------------------------------
Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if I was an ant and she fell on me? Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny.

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I have been considering a way around unit limitations and such, based on Force Commander''s implementation (which, incidently, I thought was crap, but it gave me an idea).

While the idea is somewhat unrealistic, it might solve mass armies and little control problems.

It goes sorta like this:

You make your units/buildings with ''battle credits'' I''ll call them this right now because I don''t have a better name.
Now, you can''t harvest/mine/absorb battle credits in the normal manner championed by RTS''s you have to earn them. You earn them by beating seven shades of shit into the opposition, and you earn them by doing it well. So if you have 5 men and the opposition has 10, for every man you kill you will get more battle credits than the opposition, because he/she is using defeat in detail, with very little skill.

OK, I hope that made sense.

It''s not perfect (far from it) and would probably be quite hard to implement; but I just thought I''d share it to see what you think.

Anybody?

-Mezz

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This may be a bit off topic...
I would like to see a RTS that incorporated some elements of RP.
Such as keeping a squad throughout an entire campaing... individuals getting awards for valor etc... This would of course have to be squad based or platoon based to be realistic.
Hell, maybe someone has already done that????

Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser

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Does any of you ever played a table top wargame ?
I am especially thinking about Epic 40K or the tactical scale one Warhammer 40K. Epic 40K recreates battles with easily hundreds of units. The problem with the old system was that you would actually solve the fights between EACH units on the table, each unit having specific characteristics. This was absolutel unfriendly to the beginner, but excellent if you were into huge armies battling. Quite funnily, Starcraft recreated such battles ... and such stupid micromanagament (except that in Starcraft it''s real time).
Curiously, some 5 years ago, the guys at Games Workshop (they do all kind of Strategy table top games) decided that micromanagement sucked, that hundreds of stats for every vehicle and squad of soldiers was too much, and they went into a squadron scaled system. When a squadron of 10 tanks fights a squadron of 50 troopers, the dice rolling occurs between the two groups rather than each and every unit in it. And it''s damn playable.

for Mezz. In EPIC 40K, you buy companies of units (a company of tanks), then add support units (a squad of artillery tanks for support) etc etc. Each card costs credits. The players just decide on how much credits they want to spend on this battle.
This is a very cool system because you have to have some sort of strategy before the battle, choose your units accordingly, and according to an expected opposition (you only know what race your enemy is, and what the map is like, which is realistic, unless you want to simulate an ambush)

Anyway, I suppose I just wanted to say that micromanagement is DEAD a long time ago, and I''d like to know why on earth RTS are still using it !? Playing at squadron level makes more sense (does a commander have to say to every single unit what they are supposed to do on the battle field ?), is nicer (formations !), and allows huge battles to take place (for the same number of units that you had in a existing game, you have less to actually control since they are grouped, hence you can increase the total number of units)

Please please please, someone tell the RTS developer to play some tabletop wargames (not hexagonal ones!!!) before they do another one !

(I hated warcraft, I hated warcraft II, I found Starcraft abgsolutely well scripted with depressively dumb units, Homeworld gave me hope for the RTS, I praise Ground Control for at last reaching the playability of a table top game, and giving me even better sensations !)

youpla :-P

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Fewer units suck! I see some games like Ground Control as not even RTS''s. They should be called Real Time Action of something else. Sure there''s a lot of strategy in the action parts but I need to build and control the economy too. This adds so much as you decide how defensive your city(s) will be,what kind of offence you want, how big the economy gets,etc. I think GC is awesome in it''s own right, it just pissed me off since I kept playing through the level''s wondering when the hell they were gonna let me build a 3D city. When I figured out you couldn''t, I lost interest. The camera control and graphics are great though.

As for micromanagement I can''t see a way to program around that.
How often will 50 guys vs 10 tanks happen? It will usually always be different with different combinations, such as 3 tanks, 2 fighter planes, 10 gunman, 25 droids vs another mixed party. Also each guy is attacking a certain enemy, so in reality a big battle is really a bounch of 1 on 1''s or 2 or 3 on 1''s going on at the same time.

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I don''t want fewer units !!! I want more, hundreds of them. My point being that micromanagement is :
Unrealistic . When have you heard of a commander having to tell every single trooper what to do on the battle field, having to tell civilians to retreat and look for cover when they get attacked, and so on and so forth.
Annoying . Infantry goes with infantry, cavalry with their horses, artillery at the back ... you don''t have a mixed salad of soldiers running around a battlefield. Disorder brings confusion on the battlefield, and it''s the seed for defeat (if morale is correctly implemented, even more so). I don''t remember winning a battle where I just threw my forces relentlessly at the face of the enemy in mixed proportions and hoped it would work. (Tank rush is just ... pfff ... shamefully unoriginal) Or you play Orks Yeah ! I Love Orks !!!

The natural progression of grouping is to use squad based controls ! When do you need to have a single tank moving around ? Or a single soldier ? If you do, it''s probably a special unit, such as a sniper, which is then a squad of its own... the unit level control is just obsolete and innefective.
But please proove me wrong.

As for Battle Ground being strategic, I agree it''s not. It''s tactics. Strategic would be ... mmm ... resource management is a sort of strategy, but you don''t do strategy on the battle field ! Strategy is done on a war level.
Shogun : Total War is jsut the kind of game I have been waiting for (though I can''t play it due to my machine''s specs)
You have a map where you move your troops (your armies that is) and you do Diplomacy, Research, Resources management.
When armies clashes, you move to the Tactical vieww where the battle field and all your troops are fighting...

If you remember Syndicate (how many years since this game was out ???). Just imagine that instead of arming a squad of 4 guys, you are arming a whole army, just like in Ground Battle. Or if you want to see it the other way around, I think it''s a shame that Ground Control doesn''t seem to implement a strategic level (though I can''t say for sure, I don''t have the game, only the demo).

When I can play battles as epic as the ones we had on my lounge carpet some years ago, I''ll know I have found THE game

youpla :-P

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Well, here''s my speel on what should be in a RTS (which I happen to be working on).

1. Lot''s of units. I like seeing all sorts of things going on at once. How many battles involve a handfull of units. This is war, not a pit fight. Along with this though, RTS games should have a better unit flow. Instead of clicking a unit (or group of units) and pointing to an enemy to kill that enemy, units should be given objectives. Things like, infiltrate enemy base, locate radar station while staying hidden, and set explosive charges, return to base when done. In turn, the enemy needs units to be setup to guard areas against such attacks.

2. Economics. RTS games never get this right. I want to build an army and fight, not farm a crop. Why can''t the computer control all economics. Have a set number of resource collectors (farms, mines, etc.) and let the computer do all the work. As the military, you can set up taxes to collect part (or all) of these resources. Depending on your performance (low/high taxes, poor defence, etc), the quality and quantity of resources are controlled. The Sim City games have been doing this for years, and it works.

3. Realistic troops. Why does it take 3-6 shots from a tank to blow up a jeep? Come on, one hit and that jeep is sludge. At the same point, a guy with a machine gun isn''t going to do anything against a tank. RTS games would be much more interesting if unit abilities played a big part on how things happened.

Just my opinion.

borngamer


Man was born to game, we only work to pay for our toys!

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I played all GW tabletop games (Battle, 40K, Epic) for years and ever since I''ve been waiting for someone to make a real good computer strategy game like them.

I agree with ahw that you should control groups of units and not units directly. I hate RTS-games just because they are so damn hard to control and that''s why my fantasy strategy game is going to be turn-based (and fully 3D). Maybe even I could like a RTS if there weren''t some many different units to be controlled. Still I like having huge armies.

My game also going to be squadron based to bring in some realism and difference to existing games. Squadron based controlling will make writing AI easier too, because it will have a kind of hierarchial AI system. One part of AI will be overall commander who gives orders to couple of lesser commanders who then give orders to squadron leaders and so on.

I''ll tell you more later if I decide really to do that.

-Ratsia

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I definity think that all RTS have very bad combat engines behind them. Combat engines in RTS''s havn''t really evolved since C&C. This guy hits this thing and this thing always takes this much damage. Thats terrible!

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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quote:
Original post by Paul Cunningham
This guy hits this thing and this thing always takes this much damage. Thats terrible!



Paper beats Stone, Stone beats SCissors, Scissors beats paper.
That''s what we have at the moment.
I won''t deny that it''s a bit true in a way, but it''s not THAT simplistic if you look at any decent army nowadays.

What about flanking maneuvers ? What about maneuvers at all ??

"alrigth, I select my ten tanks, and throw them at those little transports, that should do..."

Someone said earlier said that in Real Life (tm) a squad of soldiers has no chance against a tank.
I am sorry, but that''s a VERY naive statement.
A tank destroys a whole squad in a single shot *IF* they can align their damn gun with those units ! A tank CAN''t jsut turn on a spot a fast as a soldier can. A tank is generally weaker at the back. A tank will have difficulty with a fast and maneuvrable unit at short range. So if your squad can take cover in this tree line and ambush those tanks by behind ...
Or if a column of tanks crosses a canyon, Ambush ! Blast the first tank with a RPG, blast the last of the column... et voila ! Tanks on toast.

When I can do this can of things in a RTS ... mmmmh ...

youpla :-P

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quote:

This guy hits this thing and this thing always takes this much damage. Thats terrible!



Warcraft II and several other games work around this. What it amounts to is yes, they always take *this* much damage (called piercing damage), but they may take a lot more. I agree with you, though, this is a little silly, so it should be altered so enemy armor is taken into account. Of course, players are going to get upset if their unit never does damage against another one, like a laser trooper firing at heavy armor, but this will make them work more for strategy and less for tank rushes.

As for battle credits.... Don''t let landfish hear you talking about experience or rewards for murder! Maybe rewards for taking certain mission-based objectives. However, the big problem with this is that if you are thumping the enemy, you don''t really need these extra points, and if you''re doing crappy and not getting the points, you probably need them. This is counter-productive, and while it may help them work towards strategy, I don''t think people are going to like it in your game any better than they did in FC.

quote:

This may be a bit off topic...
I would like to see a RTS that incorporated some elements of RP.
Such as keeping a squad throughout an entire campaing... individuals getting awards for valor etc... This would of course have to be squad based or platoon based to be realistic.
Hell, maybe someone has already done that????

Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser



Yeah, I''ve seen this, but I don''t remember what game it was. Or maybe that was my idea before...I think there was one game at least where you were able to choose 3 or 4 units to take with you to your next mission. As for squad-based combat-- JA''s squad-based combat is neat, since you''re controlling each member separately. However, some Warhammer PC game used movement of squads of either 9 or 16 units (I remember they started formed as a square) and it was too hard to control them.

---

Nope, I haven''t played Warhammer 40K or anything--I''m too cheap to buy it. That''s more of the squad-based combat, I think. The only warhammer PC games I''ve seen have sucked out loud...I''d like to see one that worked well. If I could figure out how to do DOS graphics and stuff in BC++ 4.5, I''d try it myself, but alas, I can''t.... Do you know how hard it is to find dos tutorials now?

--

All hail the Technoweenie!

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quote:
Original post by draqza

Nope, I haven''t played Warhammer 40K or anything--I''m too cheap to buy it. That''s more of the squad-based combat, I think. The only warhammer PC games I''ve seen have sucked out loud...I''d like to see one that worked well. If I could figure out how to do DOS graphics and stuff in BC++ 4.5, I''d try it myself, but alas, I can''t.... Do you know how hard it is to find dos tutorials now?




ALL games workshops games ported to computer have sucked BIG TIME so far (except maybe space hulk ... but that was a long time ago).
As well, games workshops are legal thieves. OMG the price of their figurines is shameful.
I just wanted to point out the game mechanics, which are VERY good (those guys have been doing this for the last ..pff.. 20 years or so !)
there are plenty of other games around, I just thought most people would now W40K.
As well you are right, Warhammer 40K is unit based (very few tanks, usually you play with no more than a company).
But EPIC 40K is platoon based, and you play with 6mm figurines, which means litteraly hundreds of little men on a table (a friend of mine counted them one day, around 1000 units on the table !!!).
The tactics used in the two games are as well VERY different, and personaly I don''t play WH40K because maneuvers just don''t really matter.

But anyway :-P

If I ever get a game as good on a computer as those guys do on me carpet, God I''ll stop painting my figurines !

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As we''ve disscussed, combat engines could deffinitly do with a major overhaul. Maybe a look at the systems used in rpgs (as mentioned) could be useful. I personally love the thac0 system from 2nd edit D&D.

Although, the system i was planning on using for my java-script strategy game took a few pages out of the Axis and Allies combat engine. What i''m talking about is rather than having the entire combat system revolve around shelling out damage the player also manages how much damage they take. Called a "Damage Control" Managment system. You can already do this in most RTS''s by using canon fodder in front of you expensive firepower but these game don''t supply any "control" help/game-orientation for these senerio''s. This would have to be my main criticism on current RTS''s. They need a better tactical gui/control-system for the game.

But apart from this micro-management issue there''s also the second most important issue [to me] that most RTS games don''t address well enough. This is "Combat Opportunities". Combat Opportunities are what allow one player to "prove" themselves better over another player. It also allows more space for player improvements/skill-growth. Most games rely on the map design to address this issue but i think thats lazy. This can and should be address in the function of units in terms of what they are capable of doing.

To top off, i also believe that every army (tactically speaking) should have a weak spot and a strength. The reason being is that by bringing in weak spots and strengths it allows the player after the battle to be able to pin point where they went wrong. It also allows the better player with a smaller force to win again a larger force because they knew things like how and when to strike at the enemy. Enough for now :p



I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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Armies having a weak point is a good idea, but IMO, only if you do them in companies you move together, rathre than single units...and that isn''t a good idea to me. Controlling a block of soldiers which have to stick together doesn''t work well for me in an RTS.

In a TBS, this has already been implemented a little bit. I think HOMM II had units which were weaker against certain types of spells and stronger against others. This is another of those RPG-ish things that would be good to add to a RTS/TBS--elemental weakness.

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quote:
Original post by draqza

Armies having a weak point is a good idea, but IMO, only if you do them in companies you move together, rathre than single units...and that isn''t a good idea to me. Controlling a block of soldiers which have to stick together doesn''t work well for me in an RTS.

In a TBS, this has already been implemented a little bit. I think HOMM II had units which were weaker against certain types of spells and stronger against others. This is another of those RPG-ish things that would be good to add to a RTS/TBS--elemental weakness.


Sorry, can you enlighten me on the meaning of TBS please.


I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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