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The Day the Pimp Talk Briefly Died 2000-10-02 Chet
I've got a brand new modem and a silver plated scrotum.
-Pimp Bot 2000
Last Friday, the Gamefan Network pulled the plug on the network hosting end of its web activities as a possible prelude to going out of business.  Caught in the crossfire between the Gamefan Network and bankruptcy was the Gamefan-hosted Voodoo Extreme.  Although I'm sure some other network will pick them up quickly, the maze of embarrassing Afro-Saxon pimp talk that led to a screenshot of Shiny's Sacrifice has been down for three days now. 

Sun Tzu, the turn-based wargame nerd's Yoda, once said "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."  At one time or another, we've been enemies of both the Gamefan Network and Voodoo Extreme.   Erik went through a phase where he agitated Voodoo Extreme's head imaginary seller of women, Billy "Wicked" Wilson, by tirelessly pretending to think Billy's nickname was "Stupid".  Later, he invented a word association game based on taking a Voodoo Extreme staff member's "street" name and seeing how few steps it would take to arrive at a derogatory term for homosexuals.  A typical round might go like this:  Erik'd say "Outlaw" and then I'd say "Burglar" and then Erik would yell "Turd Burglar!  I win!"  The thing is, though, he won with an assist from me, meaning we both really won.  There are no losers in Voodoo Extreme Gay Word Association, which is what makes it such a great game for kids.   We don't remember anymore what we did to Gamefan, but both Erik and I have fuzzy memories of it being bad.  Now Gamefan and Voodoo Exteme are enemies.  According to Sun Tzu, that makes both of them our friends.  As per usual, it took a tragedy to finally bring us all together.

Back when we were at war with Voodoo Extreme, we struck what we thought was the killing blow when Marvin created Marvin Sedate, a service for our beloved community that reported all of VE's news but stripped out the pimp talk.  Unfortunately, it broke after a few weeks, and Erik and I couldn't figure out how to fix it.  It's ironic that current events, science, and geography have now forced us to assist the community by putting the pimp talk back into your daily news.  Aside from being the only gaming website to be both officially endorsed by the U.S. Government and under investigation for wanting to violently overthrow the U.S. Government, we continue to be the only media outlet of any type that cares about you.  With that in mind, if you feel the need to have your link to some Monkey Island 4 screenshots supplemented with statements regarding the impressive width and potency of the link transcriber's manmeat, simply click here.  It's not perfect, but it'll have to do for now.   (The previous filter died - this is a new one - you must click on the Dialectize button to see the VE Backup)

Not All of You Are Winners 2000-09-26 Chet
Winners,  losers and people just hanging in there.
In a mix-up that will probably cost me more cool points at OMM/POE, I didn't choose Erik as the winner in our Lawsuit Contest.   You can check out the winner and all the losers here

This is after last week - when I officially became the least cool person in the office.  As the Secret Service burst into our office they looked right at me and said, "We checked YOU out, YOU are clean.  Sit down.   Now you two..."  and commenced to interrogate Erik and Sean while I was stuck getting everybody soft drinks from the vending machine.  I am so uncool.

It took me a week of crying to get over it.  Actually the crying didn't help but when Erik sent me this "Hang in There" Motivational Ecard it turned my life around.  If this dog can hang in there for a few more minutes, you know the fun is going to start.  They will probably cut him down - give him a treat - maybe play football with him in the backyard.  The lucky lives dogs lead.*   If this fun loving pup can hang in there,  I can keep going.  To honor this lucky dog, here are some other inspired folks who are just  "Hanging in There":

  • The guys from 4D Rulers for keeping at their Prey like release schedule for Gore.
  • Ion for bothering to release a new patch for Daikatana that doesn't involve installing a new game not named Daikatana.
  • DailyRadar - who won't let the lack of news stop them. Last week's news?  Online Games are going to be big!   Hopefully next week they will cover this thing I heard about called First Person Shooters.
  • Companies that just keep giving it away.  Net2Phone - totally free PC to phone long distance calls anywhere in the USA.  If you have a fat pipe the quality is not that bad.  Good enough to call up Erik and let him know I may be uncool but he is still the biggest fag at OMM.

-Ed: Please don't tell Chet the real story behind the pic, it will start the crying again.



Rudy Ray Moore Chooses Side In War Against Roberta Williams 2000-09-25 Erik
It's the snobs vs. the slobs!  And, in case you've never seen a movie, and especially missed Animal House, DC Cab, Saving Private Ryan, One Crazy Summer, Stripes, or any of the Revenge of The Nerds, Meatballs, or Caddyshacks, the slobs win.  I should preface this whole thing with "I'm not making this up."
I've had a secret for the past couple of weeks, and not telling you has been killing me:  I won our war against Roberta Williams!  I've also been working with my POE staffmate, Seanbaby, on a series of articles detailing our recent vacation in Cleveland.  Due to some rules POE CEO Chet made, I can't print the proof here, or even really discuss it, but you can read all about in this article.  The Roberta Williams material is at the bottom of the second page.  Trust me when I say that it's worth the amount of slightly moving your wrist and index finger effort it takes to click on the link.  Be forewarned: The article contains some swearing.

Since I can't print the actual proof in this spot, here's a picture of Daikatana... on the Gameboy... in French.  Run! Run to the article!

More Bad Acting 2000-09-20 Erik
I want to thank all the all the guys at work for this one.
Over the past two days, I've received several examples of bad acting in games.  While appreciated, I'm going to ignore them all except for one.  Real life isn't like the Special Olympics.   Sure, it's filled with retards, but you don't win anything just for trying and there's no nobility in merely competing.  None of the submitted clips is as transcendently awful as this audio excerpt (147K) reported to be from Origin's auditions for the part of Necrom in their 1995 smash tepidly received overall failure, CyberMage: Darklight Awakening.   The HellBoy team ought to track this guy down.

UbiSoft Releases New Demo, Invents New Bug 2000-09-19 Erik
I downloaded this thing, tried to play it, and found the error all by myself with no help from anyone.  So thanks to me, I guess, on this one.
I was watching the Queen Latifah episode of Behind The Music today.  In it, she mentioned that she rode motorbikes when she "needed a release from the pent up pressures of my high-flying career."  That got me to thinking that maybe I needed a release from the pent up pressures of my high flying career.  With that in mind, I downloaded the demo for the new  Metal Gear slash survival horror, action slash adventure title by UbiSoft, In Cold Blood.   I installed it, played it, and discovered that in the place where some developers store pent up pressure releasing fun, UbiSoft had just packed in lots of extra twitchy control.  Within seconds, I was initiating my well-practiced quit process - finding, then pressing the quit button.  And that's when the troubles began.  I may be more bitter than the average game player, but I think someone needs to tell UbiSoft that even people who like their crappy new game are eventually going to want to quit out of it.   That's right, the "quit" option doesn't work - it just puts you back at the intro screen where you receive a Vault of Horror / Crypt of Terror style ironic comeuppance for trying to kill In Cold Blood by being trapped between the opening animation and the quit command forever.  I'm pretty sure whatever Windows driver makes "quit" work is totally up to date on my system, because everything else quits fine.  So I blame UbiSoft.  How did the playtesters miss this one?  Maybe they loved In Cold Blood so much that all of them retired their computers after playing it, like whichever baseball team eventually retired whatever number Babe Ruth was.  Here's a dramatized version of the In Cold Blood quality assurance process starring the Roberta Williams glamour shot as the New Playtester and Champ magazine as Chip.
"Time to go home.  Why don't you quit out of what you're working on and let's get outta here"

"Chip, it's my first day on the job.  I'm playtesting In Cold Blood and I love it!  I won't ever quit out of it.  I won't ever wash the hands that I used to touch the escape key that I'll never use to quit out of In Cold Blood.   In fact, I won't ever wash the eyes that witnessed In Cold Blood."

"You wash your eyes?"

"Chip, sometimes I use the emergency eye wash station for washing my eyes even when it's not an emergency.  Just for routine eye washing.  And I'd do it again, if I hadn't used these eyes to watch myself play In Cold Blood.  Promise you won't tell the supervisor.  Promise!"

"I promise. I guess it can't do any harm.  No programming team could be so stupid as to forget to make the quit button work."

"Chip, Back when I got started, which sounds like ancient history, back then the demographics of people who were into computer games, was totally different, in my opinion, then they are today. Back then, computers were more expensive, which made them more exclusive to people who were maybe at a certain income level, or education level. So the people that played computer games 15 years ago were that type of person. They probably didn't watch television as much, and the instant gratification era hadn't quite grown the way it has lately. I think in the last 5 or 6 years, the demographics have really changed, now this is my opinion, because computers are less expensive so more people can afford them. More "average" people now feel they should own one."

Acting! 2000-09-18 Erik
I saw a link to this article while I was at Voodoo Extreme researching what is currently the biggest story in gaming:  Billy Wilson and Evil Avatar are planning to beat up the staff of BluesNews and videotape the fight at some public showing of Rune later this month.  I wish I was going, because then we'd see how tough the two of you idiots really are.  It's one thing to hit a regular Joe like Jason "Loonyboi" Bergman, but it takes real guts to punch a man like me who's clutching his stomach and sobbing.
Over the weekend, Gamespy Industries published an article by Richard Carlson.  There was a mixup at Gamespy Industries and someone forgot to give the article a title that might help you figure out what it's about without first reading it.  So here's a quote from Richard Carlson to get you started:

the best writing in computer action, adventure, and role-playing games can't compare to the quality of writing found in even the average film or TV show.

I think Rich's point is that games are not TV shows.  Here's a scoop that may inspire him to grind out his next untitled article:  If you lay a piece of bread on games, they won't turn it into toast.

And I'm not saying that I enjoy the stories in games, because I don't.  I'm just not convinced that stories are that important.  Grim Fandango (which, for some reason, Carlson doesn't include on his short list of well-plotted games) has a great story.  If it was a movie, I'd watch it.  Unfortunately, the excellent plot grinds to a halt every few minutes so that the game can force you to deal with its tedious adventure mechanism. 

Boy lovers don't write lengthy think pieces decrying the lack of boys in modern games, because they're smart enough to realize that God met their requirements when he invented real boys.  Likewise, story lovers should just accept the fact that non-interactive media such as books, television, movies, and, in case all of those somehow disappear, plays, have stories and dialogue pretty much covered.  Games are something else altogether.  They require a new and as yet unformed way of creative thinking.   Note to super-smart adventure gamers who never fail to mention that they're too smart to for TV but will gladly spend two hundred excruciating hours wringing any itty-bitty bit of plot out of Jane Jensen's latest crappy opus:  Watch some televison, they put stories on there now.

Carlson's piece is actually directed at current and aspiring game creators.  His advice to them?

study the M.A.S.H. or Northern Exposure TV show scripts ... for some real inspiration and dialog-writing chops.

I think I should stop my analysis right here and speak directly to all the enthusiastic young newcomers to the game industry:  If you're about to sink two years of your life and your entire savings into a game project, DO NOT MAKE A M.A.S.H. GAME!   Richard Carlson is an industry veteran, he's your competition, and he'd like nothing more than to see you fail.  If at any point in the design process, thanks to tricky Dick Carlson, you feel as if maybe you should make the game more like Northern Exposure, you should stop, take a deep breath, then scratch out the words "Northern Exposure" and write either of the phrases "Add Snowboarding" or "More like Virtua Tennis!"  If you need some dialog inspiration, trust me when I tell you you can't go wrong with something like this:

Screaming crusty old veteran such as Robert De Niro: "Why are you even here?"

Cuba Gooding Jr. as the tearful, determined rookie: "I just want to be the best!"

Speaking of that, Carlson inevitably incorporates the following old chestnut into his litany of complaints:

And that reminds me. Where is the opposite camp in all of this? Where is the feminine point of view?

What does this mean?  Nobody knows.  This exact statement eventually gets trotted out to impugn everything from hockey to the manufacture and distribution of feminine hygiene products.  If I had to guess, certain men will work these words into every argument because they simply can't stop angling for pussy long enough to complete an entire, unrelated thought.  In this case, however, the "egalitarian gambit" gives Richard Carlson all the excuse he needs to run this funny picture of Roberta Williams:

"Back when I got started, which sounds like ancient history, back then the demographics of people who were into computer games, was totally different, in my opinion, then they are today. Back then, computers were more expensive, which made them more exclusive to people who were maybe at a certain income level, or education level. So the people that played computer games 15 years ago were that type of person. They probably didn't watch television as much, and the instant gratification era hadn't quite grown the way it has lately. I think in the last 5 or 6 years, the demographics have really changed, now this is my opinion, because computers are less expensive so more people can afford them. More "average" people now feel they should own one."

Good one, Rich. 

In closing, I'd like to point out that Richard Carlson and I are not completely at odds.  We both apparently feel that games have terrible plots, painful dialog, and that all games suck.  He says:

amateur voice acting only pronounces the bad dialog in recent computer games.

I hate bad acting too.  On the other hand, I like really bad acting.  For instance, the new HellBoy demo is merely regular awful in terms of gameplay and graphics, but it does contain this inspired line delivery (34K), seemingly straight out of a John Waters movie.  The demo also includes what may be the worst line reading (8K) in gaming history.  The HellBoy team should give up the game part and just make it into a non-interactive cartoon.

What Happened Over The Weekend 2000-08-27 Erik
My new column in which I tell you what happened over the weekend.   Thanks to everyone who sends me mail saying "did you hear such and such happened".
  • I read on Blue's News that the second part of the BIOS optimization guide at Adrian's Rojak Pot has finally been published.

  • In other news, a new version of Counterstrike was released, which is significant because I've never played Counterstrike.  I lost my copy of Half-Life before Counterstrike was invented.  If anyone wants to give me a copy for free, send me some mail.  If Chet wants to admit that he took my copy of Half-Life, then never gave it back, he can also feel free to mail me.  Or you could mail Chet and ask him if he didn't steal Erik's Half-Life, why did Erik see it in a photo of Chet's new den when Chet was showing him pictures of his new house?  Point out to him that either (a.) he has it or (b.) he better call a priest because he bought some kind of Amityville Horror house haunted by Erik's missing copy of Half-Life.

  • On Sunday, a reader sent me mail saying she had a picture of a magazine that managed to fetishize the smell of burning human flesh.  She gave me three guesses as to who published it.  Japan was my first guess.  Just to be safe, I chose Japan as my second and third guesses as well.  In a shocker that I can only describe in terms of all the shocking things that happened in Planet of the Apes plus, right after you discover the Statue of Liberty, you trip over an ancient copy of the New York Times whose headline reads: Lucky Wal-Mart Shopper Purchases 100 millionth copy of John Romero's Daikatana, here is the photo of that magazine:

click image to enlarge it or click here to make it smaller

I don't know what to say - it's American.  In the fifties, you could walk into whatever they called 7-11 back then and buy magazines that contained articles called "Smell The Flesh of Roasting Japs!"  I apologize to Japan, though I don't doubt that this same topic will appear as the central theme of some Japanese guy's website on POE next week.

  • Like Something Awful's Lowtax, we've got chronic money troubles.  Over the weekend, things got so bad that we decided to flip a coin to figure out who would go get a job.  Things got worse when we realized that we didn't even have a coin to flip.  Chet suggested that we punch each other, and whoever turned out to be the weakest would have to seek employment.   To me, this didn't sound like a good idea, so I looked Chet right in the eye and quite slowly and clearly said "No. I will go get a job."  I guess he must have misunderstood me because he punched me really hard right on my temple.  Once I could see something other than static, Chet said "Let's make it two out of three," and hit me again.

It turned out the joke - along with some blood that squirted out of my eye - was on Chet, because I got the world's best job: web-operating an armed security robot in Bangkok.  My beat was a triangular area between the Hua Lum Pong Railway Station, Lumpinee Park, and the National Stadium on Rama 1 Road.  At first, I was overly cautious and not very effective.  I operated the mouse with both hands and barely shot at anyone.  But after a few minutes, I blossomed into a seasoned pro - three days from retirement, and getting too old for this shit.  I discovered I could stop crime with just one hand, which left the other one free for guiding circus peanuts into my mouth.  A combination of my inability to speak Thai and my incredibly healthy self-image led me to believe that the things the crusty old sergeant kept screaming at me were meant to be encouragement.  With his apparent blessing, my methods of law enforcement became much stricter.  Soon, I was a cross between Robocop and a machine gun whose trigger is stuck in the shoot position.  Within fifteen minutes, my robot had run out of bullets.  Acting on the Bangkok Armed Security Robot Cop's best friend - a hunch - I discovered that I could use the machine's metal claws to scale suspected lawbreakers and rip chunks of skin from their heads.  Not long after I invented this crime fighting technique, a super-criminal, who must have stolen an F5A Freedom Fighter from the Royal Thai Air Force, flew overhead and shot a missile at my robot, destroying it. When I re-logged on to requisition a new robot with more bullets this time, I found out that I'd been shitcanned and also put on some kind of most-wanted list.  Buddhism is the world's most tolerant religion, but I guess they do have a breaking point, because they put a bounty of ten billion Thai bahts on my head.   Luckily, Thailand is so far away that nobody I asked even knows for sure where it is.

  • On Saturday, 3DHardware.net examined the Asus A7V Socket-A mainboard.

AvCP Update 2000-08-18 Erik
Thanks to everyone who tried to destroy my beautiful game.   Why do you have to break all of your nice things?
Yesterday, we debuted our newest free online game, Alien versus Child Predator.  The response has been overwhelmingly mildly positive.   A few dedicated players took time out from planning and launching denial of service attacks on Tribes servers to discover, then ruthlessly exploit, some gaping holes in my AvCP anti-cheating algorithms.  I think I've fixed all of those problems.  I've sent the IP addresses and previous URLs of all of the cheaters to my good friend, maker of Christian games Ralph Bagley.  He says he hopes you enjoy the memory of your outrageous high score while you're burning in Hell.

As I promised, I've implemented the AvCP Trophy Room.   It lets you view an album containing all of the Child Predators you've defeated.   You can access it from the AvCP Hall of Fame or just click on the letter "l" in the following word: Alien.

In other AvCP destroying news, here is a mention it received this morning on Fragland:

I'd like to point out that nothing we've ever done is as absurd as the fact that you seem to have missed the point that Alien vs. Child Predator is a satire of Alien versus Predator [note to lawyers from Fox: no it's not.]  The joke is pretty goddamn thin to begin with, and calling it Alien vs. Child Molester ruins it for everyone.   

Interview Roundup 2000-08-09 Erik
Today's update was inspired by actual events.  The names have been changed - by adding the phrase "American McGee's" in front of them  - because I'll never, ever get tired of that joke.
I've given Redwood a lot of crap over the years.   I don't know why.  A long time ago, when I was in creative writing camp for fat kids, the instructors always told us to "write what you know".  So maybe that's why:  I know Redwood's a dope.  Or do I?!? 

Today he published an interview with American McGee in which they discuss American McGee's "American McGee's Alice".  Redwood starts with an easy question whose answer is seemingly obvious, "How did you first come up with the idea behind Alice?"   McGee begins to ramble and in the process manages to mention Doom, Doom 2, Quake, the freeway, American McGee, the band Crystal Method, his other big idea "a game where you fought bugs from the future", and Quake 2.   After a few hundred words, he stops.  You can't tell from the way the interview is written, but I imagine there was a thirty or forty second pause while Redwood waited for him to catch his breath and say something about Lewis Carroll.  At the point where it must have become uncomfortably clear that McGee was done answering, Redwood says for him:

Obviously the original Lewis Carroll stories (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) were your basic source for Alice...

Which reminds McGee to thank Tim Burton and Edward Gorey.  I gotta give Redwood credit, that was a classy way to inject an editorial jab into the interview.

I just went back to check something in the interview, and I noticed that it wasn't written by Redwood, but by someone called JCal.  I'm not going to to rewrite this whole thing at this point, so congratulations to Redwood.

Here's a dramatized version of a true story of life in the the offices of Rogue Entertainment.  It stars Fermat's Last Theorem as American Mcgee.  Playing the part of someone else who works at Rogue is an Israeli lottery ticket that proves that Jews are in league with Satan.

"Have you seen my pen?"

fermlastag.gif (245 bytes)
"I have no idea what you're talking about."


fermlastag.gif (245 bytes)

<rubs head as if it hurts> "Has American McGee seen American McGee's my pen?"

 fermlastag.gif (245 bytes)
"He has not!"

In other interview news, the normally reclusive Dr. Derek Smart, PhD has taken time out from working on fifteen different games all about operating a spreadsheet in space to announce that he has licensed Croteam's Serious Engine.  What's he going to use it for?  Beats him.  It appears to have been an impulse buy.  However, that hasn't stopped him from going on an interview rampage.  In the last four days, no less than ten interviews have appeared with the man so dangerously smart the Government made him put the word right in his name.  In each interview, he's asked to provide some details about the mystery game, codenamed Project ABC.  Here's a typical answer taken from an interview on game-interviews.com:

Question:  how long have you been thinking about this game and how long has Project ABC been in development?

Smart:  I have been thinking about Project ABC, all of this past weekend.

All weekend?  Intriguing.  Don't get me wrong, though.   I give Derek some crap, but as a gamer I want nothing more than for Dr. Smart, PhD to come through and release a great game for me to play, because, ultimately, that's what it's all about.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Oh man...  I'm kidding of course.  I just love it when people say things like that.  I want to see a train wreck so powerful that the moon gets blown up.  And in case any of you developers are wondering whether to take Smart's side in all this, here's a quote from the same game-interviews.com piece:

I'm used to developing and coding high-end migraine inducing modules for my games, therefore, going to a streamlined and less hardcore game, just gives my brain some breathing room...

After the Battlecruiser series, believe me, anything else not even closely related to its complexity, will be like programming tic-tac-toe to me [and my enormous brain]

In other words, the regular games that all of you average developers have worked so hard to patch to the point where they almost do the things it says they should do on the box are mere child's play to Dr. Smart.  In more other words, you're idiots.   Once Smart's brain - which has apparently evolved its own set of lungs and perhaps even its own tiny brain - gets "some breathing room", you can all use your primitive computer skills to design in Notepad then laser print signs that say "out of business". 

Weekly Mailbag 2000-08-08 Erik
We're going to start answering reader questions every Tuesday.   Send submissions to readermail.
Our first installment isn't specifically game related, but the issues it raises may have some repercussions for the game industry.  The question comes from reader Tony Martino:

What do you think about Napster?

Tony Martino
**Babylon 5**
**  CART   **

ps - your a fag.


Other than the fact that a lot of stuff I used to have to pay for is now free, the best thing about Napster is that pro-Napster pundits and Napster lawyers have invented and legitimized a swanky new cyber-excuse for theft of intellectual property. 

Their genius insight is this:  The record companies should have seen it coming.   By not acting to prevent or compete with emerging technologies that ease the burden of piracy, the copyright holders themselves are to blame.  I'm not sure whether that argument makes sense, but until the Government pries Napster out of my cold, dead hands or trick-shoots Napster - like a cigarette - from between my cold, dead lips, or uses a bow and arrow to knock Napster off where I've balanced it on top on top of my cold, dead head, I'm not going to worry about it either way.  What interests me is that lots of smart people appear to have accepted the "Napster defense" as valid.  And any time a new valid justification for questionable behavior enters the world, you've got my full attention. 

My own personal insight, jarred loose from inside my skull when I was recently caught shoplifting a portable television, is this:  You can replace the words "theft of intellectual property" and "record company" with, respectively, whatever illegal shit you happen to get caught doing and whoever you get caught doing it to, and the excuse still works

Like I told the security guard who busted me, maybe Walmart should have seen this one coming.  Was Sam Walton taking a nap when one of his own employees stacked the portable televisions into an easily accessible pile and shined lights on the pile and then cleared a wide path straight from the ample parking to the pile?   Walton must have had his head buried in the sand, then had the whole beach shoved up his ass, to have missed the trend that inexorably led to me running past the greeter with merchandise stuffed down my shirt and spilling out of my pants.  I told the guard that maybe they can stop me today, but what happens when I come back tomorrow and the day after that?  They can't stop me forever.  Thanks to things like calculus, products are only getting smaller, and pockets are getting bigger and more sophisticated.  It's only a matter of time before I can walk into Walmart and fit the entire inventory of tiny items into my giant bionic pocket. 

The guard was unmoved, so I gave him the same speech I delivered in the second paragraph above about removing Napster from various cold, dead parts of my body, replacing the word "Napster" with "portable television".  Just as I was getting to the part about shooting the portable television off of my head, he reached over and rather embarrassingly yanked it out of my still-living fingers.  At this point, I started screaming "Napster" over and over again, like when black people in the seventies used to yell "Attica" when they were mad about something.  That made him slap me, so I started crying incredibly hard, at which point he let me go.   Anyway, thanks Napster

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