Monthly Archives: October 2012

A light coating of sand

What if next year we have as many “sandboxes” springing up as we now have “free to play” models  – who wants to bet half will be pvpsandboxnothingnew, and the other half will be sandboxes with hardly any sand – as in: the slightest deviation from linear questing will = “Sandbox!”

I can see it happening very easily.  While  a debate rages about what a sandbox game is, a few more options are dropped into games here and there to claim the name. Just as happened with “free to play”. While people distract themselves haggling over the definition, any smidgeon of free content, even on an obviously sub game, is good enough for the industry to slap a “free to play”  label on.

I somehow don’t think anyone need worry about getting too much sand of any description in any uncomfortable places. Probably “sandbox” will be a cosmetic distinction, much as “free to play”  often means “we still expect you to sub” or (my favorit) “Yes! the crippleware is totally free!”  It defies belief, when the whole point of the model is to get people in and comfortable and wanting to pay for more and spreading the magic wildfire word that the game has no entry barrier and is good and fun to play, so there’s a buzz and loads of people checking it out, exploring and wanting to buy stuff  they see in action –  but … ah well why have all that when you can stick to the old (failed) payment model under a thin disguise eh?

Themeparks with a few extra choices is what I think we’ll get.

Hope I’m wrong.

Categories: Uncategorized

Second Class players with First Class money

Now that I’m not raiding on WoW I just realised that I’m not a preferred type of player on any of the games I do play apart from Guild Wars. I am not an endgamer on WoW, I am not a Gold subber on EQ2, I am not a pvp-er on Wurm Online nor do I personally use social media which apparently now means not good enough for some of their official events, I am not guilded for Forsaken World (hmm stopped playing that now), I am not a pvp-er for Allods etc etc etc. There always seems to be some way I fall short of being the person the game is made for…

That struck me suddenly as an oddity. There is no doubt I’m a gamer, one of that (supposedly) finite pool, and there is no doubt that I spend money on my hobby. I would love to see the numbers. How many games are patting 1% of their players on the head and making the rest feel unvalued and unneccessary? I don’t know that its 1%. I do suspect that the percentage of second-classed players on most games is well in the majority though, and that the second-classed who also pay into the game are a goodly portion.

Is that wise?

Using EQ2 as an example second-classing Silver players is a blatant attempt to manipulate everyone into a subscription, and that kind of social manipulation for money might be at the heart of most of this second classing.  But not all – in some cases grouping, guilds and social media are desirable for making the game sticky. Pvp has that whole ‘I’m better than you’ thing going for it. Mixed motivations but a very common phenomenon. I assume publishers/devs feel they have something to gain by setting up an upper layer of First Class customers in all cases though. (If the idea is that we are going to strive to emulate a certain kind of player – woo have I got news!)

Whether it is wise is one question it would take numbers and measurements to answer. Just what percent are they catering to? Because if it’s as small as I think, they might be missing out on quite some revenue. I myself will accept the “second class” label rather than play in a way I don’t want to. I’m not open to manipulation. It’s heartening to think that many other people are not either. Call us casual, carebear, freeloaders, nameyourpoison – I play when I want to, how I want to within the game rules and I pay (sometimes substantially) when I see a really good deal. That’s it. No mystery.

I can do without the namecalling and second-classing, but it’s not a gamebreaker. The thing is, if I and my freethinking ilk are a huge large bulk, there are definitely better ways of making us want to buy a product or behave as required than assuring us we are not particularly wanted or of any worth ingame. We still dont behave as desired, and on top of that are just that bit more likely to walk off in search of more comfortable environs.

Note to self: Don’t spLeet the Playerbase!

Categories: Uncategorized

Wurm Online Begunner’s Guide (PVE) Safe Spot: Part 4

Oct 27: added some more

Oct something or other 2012:  and will take a long time due to me not having a lot of time – I apologize. As usual I’ll work on it semi-live over some weeks. That way people who agreed to be in it can see what I’ve done with them muhahahaha and squeak if they are not happy.

My thanks to everyone who agreed to appear in this guide
and assurances to the good folk of Deli that when I am done I will destroy any structures I no longer need.
Your server is very pretty!]

So! Between the last part of this and this part of this there have been many changes and developments, which is normal for Wurm. Notably, you can’t build ships in carts anymore (but I wasn’t planning to) and Celebration launched which means Basalt faces a longer swim or journey in her rowboat once it is made. I no longer own the Exodus deed – she’ll have to go further south to Celebration to touch base. Or further north to Independence – maybe I will do a poll for that decision when the time comes 🙂

On with the story then. I already had a wily plan for storing the parts of this rowboat when I stopped writing last time – Keela is a way to safely store things, and, even more advantageously,  she will be able to move items to where I decide to build the rowboat since she has legs. In cute little white tights.

Meet Keela!

Well actually its my good friend the mighty Brynhilde

and some very nice people I spend time with might recognise the setting tooo hehehe

I took that on another server too, what a cheat! But Keela looks like that and I can get away with it because Brynhilde’s astounding armourage doesn’t show in Wurm  – yet. So I’m making the most of that while I can. Basalt and Keela haven’t met yet and can’t take pics of eachother.

The point is I can use a number of alts to store ship parts. If you were mad, you could probably even have enough alts to build a caravel. I don’t know if that’s possible, and I don’t think I want to ever try it.  Storage-alts would be my solo plan for building a boat if I was playing solo, and for this post it’s my backup plan, which is why she is created already, and will be moved about some as required. For a start she can travel to Basalt and get that mooring anchor.

Until such time as people can store things safely and without decay, storage alts will be used, but though not game-illegal I couldn’t tell you if this sort of use of extra alts “intended” or will be squished at some point. Extra alts are used for a lot of things that game design doesn’t address. For example Wurm is very bad for people who want or need to take a break from it – everything you built up decays and is destroyed which is a huge barrier to coming back. What you can do if you have to leave for a prolonged time is sell your belongings, store some on alts and leave some silver in-game on alts, (which have been premium at least once so they are not deleted.). It’s not a great solution, just as Keela isn’t a great solution to the problem of where to safely build a boat when you are a relatively new player.

For this guide  I’m not playing solo, so I’m going to avail myself of something more conventional and see if I can find a good starting out community, like a starting out person might. I personally don’t find this a great solution either to be honest because I’m against forced grouping and one of the reasons I play Wurm is exactly that (dragon killing apart), you can do your own thing and be as good as the next Wurm.

But joining or approaching a community is another way of doing things and here’s a good place to explore it. I have been on the forums and contacted one of the many starter communities advertised. They were very nice, and if all goes well, I will send Basalt to them. I don’t know anyone on Deli, I don’t think – which is why I chose it for this, so I’m going in blind. Or partially sighted – I do know the game a bit which is going to make things easier for me.

Keela to Basalt to get the mooring anchor (and take it back to Tap Dance, a central place with a Templar and water), and Basalt goes to the starter community.  Travelling with new alts, no weapons, no fighting skills, just their wits and the road. Yeah! (or Eeek! depends how you like to play).

Those are my plans, but this is Wurm.

Green Dawg at Dawn….(soulful bluesy guitar music)

So now I’m Keela, Keela the Mule I guess.

A mooring anchor is a weighty thing especially for a new alt with no body stats, so the first thing to do is to divest myself of excess baggage. One other storage option we do have, though it is dreadfully limited, is the bank, so I go find the deed token for Green Dog. Right-clicking the token brings up a screen called (bank) “manage” and asks if I want to set my bank account at Green Dog. On this occasion I do, but normally I wouldn’t. It takes 24 hours to move your account, so usually I would wait and set it where I plan to live. So for me its “yes” and that’s my account at Green Dog, “send”. When I click again there is a huge empty space under ‘manage’ into which I can put 5!!! woohoo count ’em – yes, all of 5 items for safekeeping. Er hem. I think Keela is something of a grumpy alt. Can’t blame her since her entire purpose is to be walking storage – but maybe she’ll cheer up when she hits the open road.

My four heaviest things go in there, and also my pottery bowl. I will want that later, and the starter bowl annoyingly disappears when you die if you cant reach your corpse to retrieve it. I cant remember what else is not no-drop, but that’s the one that’s always irritated me so although it’s light, in it goes!

Next is to arm – sword in right hand, shield on arm (not in hand), then a quick visit to the Bartender for free food and drink since Keela is brand new, and finally a look at the map http://minersahoy.com/Wurm%20Maps/Recent%20Map%20%28Low%20Res%29.png. The maps for the servers are player-made (labours of love) – there are no maps ingame. You can have a lot of fun not using the playermade maps, which can be found on the forums – ok ok don’t throw things at me. Yes, you can survive without a map – hehe, well you can!

Essentially I go south, and from the map there do appear to be roads although Basalt went cross country when she headed for the coast (i.e. got lost).

Keela will use roads, it’s a little safer and she will be moving slowly once she has her load. Right now she is carrying only 4.8kg and is as nippy as a bug on skates.

And off we go, same direction as the screen shot is facing, leaning right along that mountainside. There is a road at the bottom there I think…. ohhh…. it’s getting foggy….Wow

A lot of effort has been put into this part of the starting area – it’s really nicely done. I think these are public forges. That will all have been voluntary. Really nice! And it looks pretty too. Last time I was here it was far bleaker (on Basalt) – just a road. Gosh it has signposts too – Route South 🙂 whee – I’m on my way!

That picture was just outside the Sanctuary. Nobody was online, unfortunately. I’d have liked to ask who did all that work. I think the Sanctuary takes in starting out players – I seem to remember seeing that somewhere, but can’t confirm. Maybe next time I come through someone will be around. Anyway on I go… past some public mines. I am not taking pictures because :

Luckily (with such poor visibility) the way south is very straighforward. I go through Silverton – it’s a lovely big straight road and the only live wildlife I see are these guys.

Hi guys!

And only one person online, with whom I exchanged a brief greeting at Silverton. A very peaceful journey indeed.

As the fog lifts though, I realise that I want to take pictures. The good people in this area of Deliverance seem to have an eye for what suits the Wurmscape. The deeds really do look great.Nothing butts at your eyes. The deeds seem open, clear, very in keeping with what the game gives us. I will take pictures as I travel back or when Basalt makes her journey. This is a beautiful server – or at least this part is. (I haven’t seen the rest.)

… and that’s me safely arrived.

I have no idea where I left Basalt…ooops.

[Basalt’s journey next]

Categories: Guides, Uncategorized

It’s not soap powder

I see thar are posts popping up around the place about payment models. I had hoped some more imaginative payment models would have been designed by now. To my mind they all reek of being copied from selling other things. Cars with naked women draped on the bonnet, buy one get one free groceries, rented motel rooms, cable contracts – new, improved, soap-powder – traces of all of these are in our current f2p scattergun approach. Not one payment model actually starts from the customer’s point of view, and none that I can see starts from their own running costs – both of which are standard starting places for marketing and costing a product respectively and not very original but a bit more solid than half-naked women because it worked for cars, or endless on-screen nagging because games are toys  – right?

Deary me. Let alone anyone figuring out that games are a completely different animal to anything else and just *might* require something a bit later than the 1960’s when it comes to marketing. Induced need….., nickle and dime, hype’n’cherrypick, double-dip, rent, lockdown, gamble…  nagfests….alllll ancient and none suitable.

So… what does it cost to run the thing then? And what part of it do people see lasting value in? Would it be…. the things they can keep, build on, be proud of,  accrue to, customise and use for self-actualisation in other ways?

Just a wild guess.

Soz rant

I think I’m stressing some.

Categories: Uncategorized

Might as well go on a health drive

don’t worry I won’t bore you with the dtails. Might as well though – and an economy drive… and…generally take advantage of things being in a state of flux. I mean if I have to be at the centre of a vortex of deconstruction I might as well brandish a hammer and get some fun out of life’s little pineapples.

I’m trying to think if this is a good frame for a life-experiment. I’m quite fond of those. They need not-ordinary circumstances, so it might be. My last one which I think I should review now was not reading the newspaper, listening to the radio or watching tv. I relied on the internet to keep current and talked to real people for local daily information. It was a good experiment with very useful results.

On re-emerging into the passive zone I find I didn’t miss anything over the past 9 months. Some Tory is still trying to turn us into a cheap workforce and food and fuel prices have gone up. I’m glad I didn’t bother with any of it since I have the same outcome as everyone else minus the daily media-induced angst. In fact I’m so pleased with it that I’m going to keep elements of it. I can’t say the same for that time I didn’t bath for quite a while.

Next I’m toying with the idea of turning off the electricity for n hours a day and see what happens. One hour initially say. Our fuel is rising by 11% I read (per this quarter!) so in fact 2.5 hours without would make a nice statement. Is it even possible to do this? I need to defrost the freezer is the only problem I can think of (cue very weird toasties for a month or two). I’m not obsessive about led timers – the houseclocks all read differently already, so that’s not going to bug me. And outside is colder than a fridge when winter sets in, so that’s that covered. Heating, well, insulation (eg wear a blanket) plus one hot water bottle should see a person through 3-4 hours assuming I’m inactive and indoors. Might come up with some unusual garb hehehe! We have gas too, but I don’t fancy fiddling with the pilot light, so just will pledge not to use it to run heaters or warm up water. Good thing to have some form of energy available, in case it’s really really needed so I’m comfortable with leaving that alone. Anyway not sure I’ll do it – might come up with something more interesting.

Might construct a whole lifestyle around boxes.

I’m home and have some free time. Better go and pack another box then. (I think I’m cracking up though – not being creative ever, day after day is doing my head in. Thank goodness for this blog.)

Categories: Uncategorized

One Happy Lappy

The trouble with being able to fix your system is that you do and so more drastic things don’t happen. Late in the fixing process, while waiting for some interminable check to finish it occurred to me that the old darling had never had a complete overhaul once in all of seven years. Imagine how much junk had accreted – forgotten downloads, registry edits, hastily removed virusi…, half-wrecked bits of source and unsatisfactory IDEs… let alone all the marketing stuff that pours in no matter how much you try to block it. Hmm…

From a stray thought about a complete fresh start, it grew overnight into a compulsion. Even as I finished up the next day and made sure everything was functioning adequately it kept coming at me. Since the rest of my life is being forcibly deconstructed, why not….

Lunchtime, I was itching and twitching. Weighing up the loss of some vital item against the thought of starting afresh. I could barely pack a box! As I threw out another pair of old shoes, I finally cracked and set up for a complete backup onto the external hdd. I should have done another one to cloud storage or something really, but by the time the first was done I was too impatient. As it happens I haven’t needed the backup anyway and will most likely delete it in favour of a new version with things as they are now.

Late in the night we were ready, the laptop and I. My days long boringstuffs were done, lists made for what had to be reinstalled and while I went through my day I had also unistalled just about everything I could find on any drive – theoretically not necessary but saves on stranded data layta. I wanted the external HDD just about completely empty – only holding a few current pictures, documents and the like (and the full backup) after the … was sort of hard to think of the actual moment ahead of time. I usually put a lot of other stuff on the external HDD – try-out games, downloads, general whatnot. Inevitably there are some links to the main drive for this which means that if the link to the main drive is invalidated, leftover stuff on the external drive=lost storage. Sorry if I’m not explaining properly. (Aw ok, I was on a roll with the clearing out again, empty folders, old game saves… )

Midnight (ish) deeeeep breath. F8. Destructive Recovery. No Going Back! and then it was done.

A day to reinstall and update, all done slowly while doing other things, calmly – hiding the turmoil inside – what if, despite all precautions all my work was lost! what if she just suddenly made a strange noise in the middle of an update and… bsod! oooo

But mostly reinstalling was just long and boring which neatly matches everything else I do just now. It was quite a good thing to have going on in the background. I had decided not to make partitions or do anything unbasic. Laptop is going to be semi-retired soon and I will probably only reformat and partition when I start playing with Linux. Gradually a working system was pieced together again and it’s nice. Uncluttered now, kind of sleek. I like it. So does the laptop. Naturally with so much less work to do (far fewer things at startup or running in the background), the fans are not going so much  and  when they do – she sounds, I’m sure I’m not imagining it – really quite smug and sort of got-the-creamy.

The bisom.

Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t sit on your assets!

Couldn’t resist 🙂

I am watching the sale of assets from 38 studios with interest. The context I find interesting though, is how much assets are worth today, even new, when a game folds. Not much it turns out. (The IP of course is going to be worth something).  And this is interesting to me because:

Well… really… if your game is going to fold you would do better to preserve it for posterity or allow it’s players to keep it going somehow, I still think. Goodwill is worth hard cash, and the assets are worth very little. Generally it looks like they are a total loss when set against what it cost to produce them – let me know if you know otherwise. It is deeply unprofitable to hang on to some things  like a Scrooge.

Ryzom gets interesting in this context too. I wrote yesterday about Blender feeling “live” (like an electricity cable) – I think if people get interested Ryzom could hook into that. I messed around a little with their source when it was released and I think people are still doing that somewhere in the background. It’s not what we need ourselves, so I let it go. But that could become something if they can solve one big problem – communication. The forums for development of the source  are dense and thickety. (One enquiry I made resulted in a reply from a dodgy underpants site.). There are a lot of cries in the darkess. Documentation is very basic too and contains omissions and gaps and non-explanations.

Which is all fine and not unlike a lot of other devstuff on the web – but it won’t produce that “it’s alive and I’m part of it” feeling.

Categories: Uncategorized

More upheavals…OS es…computers… (everything…)

Dear reader I don’t think there is a single area of my life which is now not thoroughly pulled apart! (I will continue to blog, though it may only be a scribble here and there). Most recent casualty is the laptop which I think is entering the twilight zone after 7 years of loyal service. That makes me really sad. I get fond of my things… well so much is going gaga just now. Life is funny that way. Never just one thing eh.

Anyway she’ll be adventuring ’til the last gasp of the hdd. It’s a bit of a blether but here’s why and how…

I was having some trouble ‘saving as’ in Word. Then it happened in Blender too and in Gimp, so I went on the hunt and I was not teddibly surprised to discover that my Vista installation is now… err… well there are some errors. I’m sure the WoW crash of 5.0.4 didn’t help a lot either hehehe. This poor machine. Well I thought that was probably it until I hit google and a very interesting thing is to be found. Lot of ‘save as crash 2012’ annoyance actually. All sorts of applications. And much of it in Windows 7 (which is based on a Vista core if I am not mistaken, and thar’s the link.)

Well after a solid 8 hours of fixing Vista so it runs I’m pretty fed up. And once I get enough saved for a new laptop (Asus here I come), this one will be devoted to exploring Linux until the hardware keels over – not a bad way to end its days.

What feds me up is I hate built-in obsolescence because it is wasteful and exploitative and shows a blanket disrespect for people, their time, their money and their environment. That applies to hardware and software as much as to washing machines and cars. Yuk to it. I upgrade when I see something I like more – not because the thing I bought has an artificially short lifespan. Vista though not great has done well in lasting me 7 years but even lip service to supporting it ceased ages ago and nobody is surprised because we all swallow the ” you must upgrade gimme more money” scam in so many areas of life.

However, I want a live and adaptable Operating System to work within I think. Windows is only ok if you hamsterwheel-upgrade when they say and how they say. Actually… even then its pretty bloated and support beyond launch hype quickly becomes sketchy. That sense of liveness is why I am tending to use Blender’s Game Engine even though it seems to be something of a red-headed-stepchild when it comes to new shiny developments within Blender. Gimp feels alive too. I think it’s a common theme in all the software I use and enjoy. Even Wurmonline has that feeling that the people who make it care about it and are working on it.

I hope my poor laptop will last a little longer. I owe it a lot for the way it has expanded my life. Much more than any desktop ever did. It’s not mobile – I can get an android for that. It’s portable. It’s the whole shebang, bells and whistles, portable – and that ability to move the complete system to wherever it needs to go has been the big deal.

Categories: Uncategorized

Addictive!

Dan over at Game Dev Gone Rogue has a (flash) game, NEOScavenger, included in Groupees current featured bundle “Be Mine Five” which is doing quite well. I love Dan’s blog. So I paid a bit (amount above one dollar is up to you) and got it. And now… well this is my game for when I have a little time.

About to die for the nth time

It’s a survival game and its hard (or I’m soft, take your pick) And I keep firing it up to try again!

I only got it an hour ago so I’m not going to comment about depthy things. To me all that matters is that I keep wanting to play it. Marverllus! I very much like the gameplay and ideas – and the descriptions.

Oops forgot – link to Groupees (which is quite an interesting thing itself)
http://groupees.com/bm5

and link to the blog (its on my blogroll too)
http://gamedevgonerogue.blogspot.ca/

Play again? Yep.

Categories: Uncategorized

Gloom Busters

Eh. My life isn’t terrible. It’s just terminally boring now and for a while to come, and wall-to-wall unproductive, uncreative tasks from eyesopen to overtireddrop. This is about as close as I want to get to being the Living Dead. Not counting my undead warlock ofc. Occasionally I hit a patch like this, as everyone does. This one is bad in that it leaves near zero time within my control and is probably going to last for some 12 years, by which time dementia or another infirmity will have set in. Yep, this makes me gloomy, you can tell. Anyway I have hauled out these dusty things and shaken them in the wind and given them a wash to keep me going. In order of ineffectiveness:

Looking forward to the end.  Around here we retire at 65 (and rising… moving goalpost!). The house renovations rely on other people doing their bit and other people have no intention whatsoever of doing their bits. They can’t even manage a quote. Will go on for many years at this rate. Not much I can do with this strategy, really, except look forward to exchanging one tedium for another. End of work=commute. End of commute=housework. Enough housework done=house renovation. I do have “It’s the weekend, children and young people about!” And of course there’s always death. That’ll put a stop to this nonsense! (I don’t bother with this strategy much – the end of it all is too far away to provide any boost.)

Make it fun. Works as long as fatigue hasn’t set in, and is marginally creative. I usually do this for as long as I can manage. Works for a while anyway. You need to use what you have, count green cars or evaluate people’s shoes from 0-10, make your toes do pressups. Whatever. Or make up other stuff. It’s a waste of time, deliberately – it gets through the dead minutes, which is the point.

Pretend to be somewhere else. Most used. I’m off somewhere in the Bahamas most of the time, you need a decent autopilot but I can get pretty happy doing this. You need quite good ignore muscles too. Because there is a lot to ignore in order to sustain the daydream. I once read that your brain can’t tell the difference – if you imagine you’re in the Bahamas it thinks you are and directs your body to respond with relaxation and happiness. In my experience this is true, but I know people who it doesn’t work for too.

Focus down until it disintegrates. This is a heavy meditative skill, and very effective indeed. As with all of these can only describe a kind of “map”. The basic mental stance is “what is this?” a sort of listening. Attention is brought back to the subject at hand/ irritant/set of actions as in normal contemplation, when it strays. If you achieve listening to what is there as if experiencing it for the first time with your attention engaged, your experience of it completely disintegrates. Magic. In extreme situations, such as pain, it is difficult to achieve, what with the mind screaming its head of every few seconds. But for little things like treadmill and  busywork it is a win button. When tired, your brain tends to slide more though. Words and meditation dont mix too well – you end up with showy gnomic pronouncements. But I have to add that the purpose of meditation is itself, and disintegration of experience is like a by-product. not a purpose. I am happy to meditate at any time, and this particular by-product is fitting for many circumstances. Meh. Word fail. I’m trying to say doing it for a desired by-product doesn’t work, because judgement and desire are obstacles to clarity… I give up, move along folks I’m definitely not the reincarnation of anyone remotely important.  Or articulate.

Stealth Mode. Just now, for me, any initiative or independent action or goal would be heavily discouraged. But your head is your own private space, nobody has any rights in there. Whatever other people want me to be doing with my life is totally invalid. I know this. So… when I reasonably can, I ninja time to do creative stuff. And I just don’t tell anyone, since – really – it is none of their business and – really – others may be able to force my bodily actions and some thinking, but they don’t automatically get all of me. Or anywhere near it. Things like changing job fit in here too. Doesn’t your employer love it when the mechanisms of competition are applied to them?? Hahahaha, yah, I bet they do. Actually that’s a strategy in it’s own right.

Change Controllers. And use one to invalidate the other. In my case my time is eaten by 3 separate things, so I will absolutely inform each controller that I don’t have time to do whatever extra they come up with. And change when I can too. I should eventually find ones that allow me room to breathe again. This has the advantage of being a pretty permanent and effective solution.

Blog. Every pressure cooker needs a release valve. I found this WordPress blog very easy to set up and use. In happier times it served to keep me motivated. Now I use it more to let off steam.

Edit: I forgot Granny’s Way, which is the short-term big guns and conjures up terrific energy. My Gran used to get through amazing amounts of work. We lived in Africa and it was her mission to get rid of dust. What you do is rant internally and rage, and be angry and shout at people (all in your head), and transmute the energy into furious action. You need a nice, sunny nature to counterract the waspishness this causes, and it gives a short-term adrenaline rush, which can be quite fun.

Categories: Uncategorized

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