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Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #30 on: October 09, 2011, 06:51:06 PM »
I say the mechanics are of secondary importance because it doesn't really matter which system you use. EVE Online would still have a lot of emergent roleplaying even if the entire system was based on D20. For the WODMMO, it will still hopefully engender emergent roleplaying whether the system is more like tabletop or more like Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption. (And I'm thinking about starting a thread based on that very possibility.) The goals are generally unchanged across systems; the important bits for roleplaying are things like atmosphere, realism of setting and realism of action, and - very important here - the time to do it.

With an MMORPG, a lot of the atmosphere is taken care of by virtue of looking at pictures on a screen. Moving pictures, even. Realism of setting depends partially on the graphics engine and partially upon the script-writing skills of the game developers. Time, place, and if you can manage it, world-events and interlocutor should all be factored in to an NPC's dialogue. Players, as living and mostly sentient internet creatures, can handle that part easily. Realism of action has so far been the province of Massively Single-Player RPGs, like Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and Oblivion, and possibly Dragon Age: Origins. Time is one of the biggest issues, because most MMORPGs try to give players the "bang for their buck", which means they fill the game up with things like grinding and quests and raid bosses. However, that also means that few people want to roleplay, since the only way to get ahead in the game is to - you guessed it - grind and quest and kill raid bosses, leaving very little time or inclination for roleplaying. Sure, you can roleplay alone, but that's generally not quite as much fun as roleplaying with other people, and in the WODMMO, where they are advertising "social combat", there should be plenty of time and situations in which talking and emoting and not being too busy killing things is not only appropriate, but the norm.
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Offline Radical21

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #31 on: October 09, 2011, 07:51:38 PM »
I say the mechanics are of secondary importance because it doesn't really matter which system you use. EVE Online would still have a lot of emergent roleplaying even if the entire system was based on D20.

Actually no , the system mechanic affects the larger parts of the game and the dynamics of player interaction and  I wish more people would understand that, Note that mechanics is more than just D10 or D20, its about the Game's Balance and how players relate to each-other and the game world; The game world is affected by this balance as proven many times over by both MMORPGs and Table-top games.

To further illustrate this, if what you say was true, then game bugs and exploits would have no impact on the game and technical support people wouldn't work to fix them. The fact is that these things, as minor as they may seem to some actually  determine a great deal about the viability and impact of different choices in the game and as such they matter and even more so in Character-driven PvP Games that hinge on player-to-player interaction.

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #32 on: October 09, 2011, 09:26:21 PM »
A game's mechanics have no impact on roleplaying, which is what I thought we were talking about here. Obviously, the mechanics have an impact on what you can and cannot do in relation to having a "physical" impact on the game world (being able to pick up a glass sitting on a table, or being able to use ranged weapons in melee combat, etc, etc), but if roleplayers were limited solely by the mechanics, there'd be no such thing as roleplaying. It would all be sitting around rolling dice and be all in all a very boring experience. Player and character relations are up to the players and characters respectively, not the mechanics of a game.

Roleplaying is everything not covered by the mechanics. If there were no roleplaying, all you would need would be the numbers - it doesn't matter that your character is attractive, or shuffles his feet when he's lying, or prefers this brand of liquor over that one. If roleplaying was bound by the mechanics, there really would be no difference between every Brujah with Strength 4, Dexterity 2, and Stamina 2 (as an example). All those numbers work in the same way no matter which character has them. Mechanics in no way account for things like goals, motivation, inspiration, or even descriptive language. I haven't yet met the computerized mechanic that can measure the quality of a person's writing and transform it into a stat.

You may wish to argue that if you can't do something in the game - climb to the top of a mountain because there are collision blockers, say, or defeat a raid boss single-handedly because there's such a huge health discrepancy - then that means you can't roleplay it. That is foolish thinking, because even if you can never achieve the goal, that doesn't mean your character doesn't have the goal to achieve such. To use _username's example, the corporation who previously installed a station in that W-space system obviously had the goal of creating a presence there. Simply because they failed in that goal means neither that roleplaying was bound by the mechanics, nor that the mechanics failed to live up to the roleplaying.

If you have ever roleplayed in an MMORPG, I'm sure you have seen that players refuse to be bound by the mechanics. All we've ever needed is a chat box and a keyboard - everything else is gravy. Emoting and "/command" commands allow us to do things which have no support with the in-game mechanics. In World of WarCraft, for example, it's not as if your character's Dexterity rating impacts their ability to execute a "/dance" command. (Which, for all we know, it very well might in the WODMMO.) Mehcanics and rulesystems are a convenience when it comes to establishing fair play among people who do not know how to roleplay realistically. Without those rules in place, a lot of people would "cheat" and claim to be able to one-shot everybody else. Are there irresponsible roleplayers? Yes - I just gave you an example. But there are also those who abuse and wield the mechanics irresponsibly - we call them "gankers" and "exploiters" among other, even less flattering names.

To sum it all up, mechanics only account for the numbers people try to put on their characters, in the interests of establishing common ground. They may be the body of the game, bound by certain laws, but they are nothing like the mind or the soul, which is the province of roleplaying.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2013, 12:01:45 AM by Rick Gentle »
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Offline Mir

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #33 on: October 09, 2011, 09:34:01 PM »
Regular roleplaying doesn't require any mechanics; all it needs is a player deciding "I'm going to create a character in my head, with his own personality and interests, and I'm going to act that character out in game".

Emergent roleplaying, on the other hand, isn't a player making a conscious decision to roleplay; it's the game mechanics being designed in such a way that players will naturally fall into behaviors and mindsets that are somewhat in character, simply because that's the way the game is played.

That's how I see it, anyway.

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #34 on: October 09, 2011, 09:40:59 PM »
And I reiterate, emergent roleplaying has nothing to do with the system of mechanics being used. The closest it comes is the breadth of mechanics applied in the game - being able to roll for such things as social interaction, or being able to loot an enemy's corpse. The mechanics - without going into all the math of it - in EVE Online are really very simple: open PvP, open trade, open communication, and open construction/crafting. What makes it roleplaying is how people choose to use those mechanics, and how they make up for it when those mechanics fail. Even in EVE Online, there is no mechanic to account for such things like the shuffling of the feet (in Incarna, I guess), nor is there a system to make two players come to an accord and make a contract. That part is all handled by a player-character's goals and motivations - you want money, so you take a job and sign a contract. If you didn't want money, then all those mechanics have gone to waste. The "why" of wanting money is still pure roleplaying - you and/or your character's desire to accumulate wealth for its own sake, or to buy ships, or to donate to newbs, or a whole lot of other motivations that would take too long to get into here.
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Offline Radical21

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #35 on: October 09, 2011, 09:57:06 PM »
A game's mechanics have no impact on roleplaying, which is what I thought we were talking about here. Obviously, the mechanics have an impact on what you can and cannot do in relation to having a "physical" impact on the game world (being able to pick up a glass sitting on a table, or being able to use ranged weapons in melee combat, etc, etc), but if roleplayers were limited solely by the mechanics, there'd be no such thing as roleplaying. It would all be sitting around rolling dice and be all in all a very boring experience. Player and character relations are up to the players and characters respectively, not the mechanics of a game.

Roleplaying is everything not covered by the mechanics

Now this is going into semantics but I think that you couldn't be more wrong but then I cannot superimpose what I consider role-playing onto what you consider role-playing in this context.

Role-playing means you assume a role and in this context of Emergent Role-play it means you assume the role as response to the stimuli of the virtual world which means that mechanics definitively do have an impact on that because they help shape what is happening within the virtual world.

For example: its very likely that you wouldn't attack someone within the virtual world if you knew that the game mechanics rules wouldn't give you anything out of it and at the same time make you lose items upon death to people who lose nothing when they attack you.

You are more likely to want to kill someone in a game where you know your skills, albeit different, are balanced against a foe of an enemy faction and you both can loot each-other just the same upon death. Choosing to be peaceful with the foe of an enemy faction would have more meaning and impact then because the game give you both more incentive and means to kill each-other.

Mechanics are more than just number crunching, they define how the world works, which is why loose unbalanced mechanics that are handled carelessly tend to make a very poor sandbox game and no emergent role-play because the conflicts in the story are resolved for the player by the system rather than by the player's choices. (See Power-Abusing Storyteller in Table-top games if you still do not know what I mean).

Can you have Roleplay with 0 choice? sure, but its not really the emergent role-play that is discussed here because its forced and scripted rather than a result of immersion. (since people feel more immersed in an environment with there is room for choice,creativity and improvisation rather than an environment where everything is read from a script)  , for example which had immersion to you, Deus Ex 1 or Deus Ex 2?

Hope this better explains my point of view on this.

TL;DR : if Roleplay can mean acting out a pre-written script then Emergent Role-play means Acting out an improvisation based on what is happening around, which is made possible and affected by game-play mechanics.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2011, 10:11:41 PM by Radical21 »

Offline Valamyr

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #36 on: October 09, 2011, 11:02:41 PM »
Not to barge in, but aren't you guys splitting hairs a lil' bit here?  :vampwink:

It's nice if they find any ways to lessen the impact of the fact that the crushing supermajority of players have absolutely no intent to make any effort to roleplay at all, but I have only moderate hopes on that front. Obviously, since the only thing devs ultimately control are setting and gameplay mechanics, any progress they make will be through these items, but ultimately, if you want to have any themes whatsoever, you'll have to accept some people will want to trample all over them in the name of personal interest.

EVE has few themes (survivors trapped in a dark corner of space, ready or not, go do whatever!) and thus does quite well, but Vampire is inherently at odds with such a vague setting. It has alot of stuff that you either will roleplay or wont, and for 99% of the people we'll play with, it'll be "Won't". I recognize as positive the desire to limit the impact by designing mechanics that orient everyone positively, but I don't think we'll achieve EVE-like levels of blending-in between roleplayers and everyone else, because Vampire's themes aren't as convenient.

Offline Radical21

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #37 on: October 10, 2011, 01:02:05 AM »

EVE has few themes (survivors trapped in a dark corner of space, ready or not, go do whatever!) and thus does quite well, but Vampire is inherently at odds with such a vague setting. It has alot of stuff that you either will roleplay or wont, and for 99% of the people we'll play with, it'll be "Won't".

I disagree, but it really depends on how you envision the game, if you envision it as a WoW style game with the focus around routine quests and PvE then you would be right, but if it is driven by the players and the conflict revolves around and derived from the players with emphasis on actual game-play rather than grind then players focus would be on the game-world and they will be role-playing whether they are aware of it or not.

The problematic aspect  about role-playing Vampires specifically in WoDMMO is that the Masquerade doesn't have any actual justification to it in the game world , since the game world is perma-night and kindred do not bear much risk by revealing themselves to mortals who become harmless with havens serving as cosmetics, if they at least had daylight as a sort of parallel dimension/channel or some kind of meaning to downtime(as in  what happens After the player logs off) then it would give some meaning to the conflict without disrupting the game-flow.

After all if being Vampire is so awesome and flawless, every mortal would want to get embraced rather than remain human and vampirism would be the next step in human evolution rather than something of a curse..

So the settings in themselves have enormous potential for emergent roleplay, the problem is how to apply them, with the masquerade being the central conflict in Vampire the Masquerade that if it doesn't receive some kind of representation then it probably breaks the idea by leaving it as Masquerade Points like in bloodlines.
So really that is the only thing that I see standing between WoDMMO and emergent RP..

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #38 on: October 10, 2011, 01:57:31 AM »
Treating role-playing simply as an acting job is a disservice to both practices. For roleplaying, there are no scripts or pre-destined actions in the game, and there's no hard standard by which roleplaying is measured (as compared to acting, where if you forget your lines you're a bad actor, etc). For acting, it doesn't acknowledge all the work put in to making a production come off without a hitch, from memorizing lines to blocking to rehearsing over and over and over again.

Talking about emergent roleplaying as improvisation is closer to the mark, but it's only improvisation in the sense that the entire setting already aligns with what you were going to do anyway. The goal of emergent roleplaying is not to make up stuff as you go along, as with improvisation, but rather to unite the player response with the character response. In some ways, emergent roleplaying is less about roleplaying and more simply using your character as an avatar for your own wishes. (Which is what a lot of people do with roleplaying anyway.) Emergent-roleplaying-as-improvisation would only be absolutely true if there really WERE vampires, with vampiric needs and wants. What you-as-the-player wants aligns with what you-as-a-vampire wants. This is why it's much more difficult to have emergent roleplaying in fantastic settings - what motivates, say, an orc is not necessarily the same thing that motivates a human.

The mechanics do not apply if you are acting out your character. The way you make it sound, it's the character acting out the mechanics. "Oh, I cannot attack this person, therefore I have no reason to hate them, or wish them harm." World of WarCraft goes to show that this isn't true, because the only thing you can do with rival faction members is ignore or attack them, and yet the roleplaying community consistenly tries to have cross-faction communication and cooperation. EVE Online proves this without a doubt, for it is in the best interests of every person in the game to cooperate with one another in order to gain the most ISK, and yet there are pirate-players and faction killers who attack and destroy other players for no other reason than giggles. If you are a Gallente player, there is no benefit for killing a Caldari ship over an Amarr ship besides arbitrary nationalistic loyalties - arbitrary nationalistic loyalties that are provided by roleplaying.

Mechanics are nothing but number-crunching. Frequently, they are an attempt to put a quantifiable value on things that cannot be quantified, such as morality, beauty, and persuasive ability. The world works just fine without a system of codified rules in place to determine the outcome of events. The mechanics in a computer game are simply a representation of that world working in ways that the developers can control. You do not, for example, roll a die when you are truly engaged in a sword duel with someone. There are no hard numbers to measure - it's a matter of skill with the foil and your ability to predict your opponent's moves. Mechanical rule systems exist only to represent skill and prediction, since it would be extremely dangerous and impractical to fully role-play out every action your character would take. Then add in things like magic, which does not exist in this modern world; mechanics for systems like that are basically completely made up.

"Loose" or "unbalanced" mechanics are only those which fail to appropriately capture the reality they are meant to represent. There are differences between hacking, exploitation, and only doing what is socially acceptable. It doesn't really apply to the World of Darkness, but in the game Space Marine, there are several exploits where you can shoot people through a stone block, and they cannot hit you in return. This is a mechanical failure because that could not happen in the Warhammer 40K "real" setting. It is also a failure in regards to roleplaying for the same reason, and almost certainly a violation of peoples' standards of what is socially acceptable (i.e., "Thou shall not cheat"). I may not agree with all (or even most) of the applications of it, but the Golden Rule for Vampire: The Masquerade is to have fun, and to use the game system's mechanics only if you are not solving things completely through roleplaying.

(This is not at all to say that mechanics are not useful things, for without them the propensity to abuse "pure speech" roleplaying would be too great for many players to handle. In any other game or competition, there must be a common set of rules that all parties agree to abide by, else it is pure anarchy. Not unlike Second Life, to put it in terms of MMOs. Mechanics are helpful tools, but they are not substituions for imagination or creativity.)

--------

Theme is extremely important to roleplaying, emergent or no. However, there should be a distinction between world themes and character themes. The former should exist in any good setting, and settings which lack themes tend to play randomly and without flavor. The latter is where roleplaying, emergent or no, comes to the fore. That is where Radical21's trifecta of "choice, creativity, and improvisation" come in, for it is the player creating these themes for their character to act upon according to their personal goals and motivations. Anything player-made is naturally out of the province of the developers, but even in the most mainstream MMOs out there, there are world themes that arise just because of the flavor of the game. In World of WarCraft, it could be "Where does it all end?" or perhaps "There's always a bigger fish".

My main concerns are that the developers of the WODMMO make the themes of the game unique. I want to play a "The World of Darkness" MMORPG, not an Age of Conan MMORPG or a Star Wars Galaxies MMORPG. Some themes may be similar - violence for the one, control and rebellion for the other - but you cannot just wholesale transport something like the Galactic Civil War into the World of Darkness without badly screwing things up. To continue with this comparison, Star Wars Galaxies is about visible resistance and visible control - mechanically speaking, you have to "flag" or PvP, or assault a member of a rival faction. In the World of Darkness, it's about secrecy and stealth and having too much to risk to expose yourself openly to your enemies. Throwing in a crowd of stormtrooper-analogues breaks these themes. So in other words, my hope is that the WODMMO sticks to and reinforces its own unique multiple themes.
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Offline Valamyr

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #39 on: October 10, 2011, 02:57:41 AM »
Without wishing to delve too heavily into the excessively lengthy post(s), I'll try to ask more clearly: Rick, don't you feel that your stated wishes in your last paragraph conflict rather heavily with your very own definition of emergent roleplaying?

What I was saying, and still believe, is precisely that betting heavily on emergent roleplaying requires significant breaks from your vision of the setting. I dont see how WOD as we know it is compatible with it. Not saying its not worth considering, but i believe many themes must be scrapped or heavily changed in order for player interests to truly align with character interests in the eyes of true powergamers.

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #40 on: October 10, 2011, 04:22:34 AM »
If you are referring to the last paragraph of the first section, there is little conflict. It would be hard to play any computer games that didn't have rule system mechanics to back it up, both on the engine level (physics, collision) and rules (system and conflict resolution). However, I use Second Life as an example of a game that gives so many mechanics to the players, there are effectively no mechanics at all. There's nothing forcing players to play by the same rules, if you know the right way to manipulate in-game materials. It is as close as a computer program can come to the idea of a "free-for-all" style role-playing session, like is frequently seen in online chat rooms that have roleplaying communities. However, it is the same mental processes that lead to roleplaying that allow the players of Second Life to come up with all the crazy things they can do - imagination and creativity. If imagination and creativity are used to think up mechanics, then it becomes an anarchic system.

If you are referring to the second paragraph of the second section, the mechanics in Star Wars Galaxies do not prevent players from acting on their character's impulses or their own impulses, at least no less than most other MMORPGs out there. It's not a matter of "I cannot attack this person period", it's a matter of "flagging" for PvP before you can shoot somebody (or in the process of shooting somebody, you become flagged, if they had flagged first). You can go around fully flagged, just itching for some PvP, and hunt down all the Rebel city guards you can. There was always some PvP going on in that game somewhere, since some cities would be switched from one faction to another. The theoretical reason why it wasn't fully open PvP on all servers (it was Full PvP on maybe a third of all servers), was for roleplaying reasons: the Rebellion to Restore the Republic was a clandestine organization, which relied on subterfuge, sabotage, and inside agents to accomplish a lot of its goals. Your character could still be attacked by NPC guards and things, but I make no excuse for NPCs, as it's much harder to roleplay with them.
From what we've heard about the WODMMO, PvP will be even more open, which hopefully means you can attack anybody at any time, and it will be up to others to actually do policing of protected areas. This corresponds with the themes of the game: paranoia ("I can be attacked at any time! I must protect myself!"), suspense ("Is that guy lookin' at me? He looks mean..."), intrigue ("Am I walking into a trap? How did these Sabbat guys know I was going to be here?"), and bloodlust ("*random frenzy growly noises*"). Mechanics can be used to support the themes of a game, but those themes are the things which guide the implementation of certain mechanics.
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Offline phonixor

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #41 on: October 10, 2011, 09:15:11 AM »
Looks like this is turning into one of those All vs Rick threads
were Rick tries to compensate with his sizable ... texts
But remember Rick its not the size of your ... texts

what most of us are trying to say is that we see game mechanics as pretty much any technical design decision in the game.

So:
is there a free player driven market?: y/n -- the market becomes viable and attracts players
is pvp always on?: y/n -- actions have consequences
can players build anything in the gameworld?: y/n -- high reward for playing togheter to help achieve these goals
can you navigate to a w space without outside help?: y/n

These rules allow some types of gameplay to be rewarded and others not so much.
This has huge impact on social things, in WoW any guild will do as the possesions that really matter are soulbound and equipped, and can't be stolen. This means the risk of letting someone enter your guild, are negligible. In EvE on the other hand a guildy betraying you, can mean the end to everything you have worked for. Yet it remains essential to get enough players, simply because you don't have sufficient resources to do it on your own!
These game mechanics lead to players behaving in certain ways.

The best role playing game is a game in which no one is role playing!
In EVE you don't have to act like your a lewd bushnish men, cause you are one!
Sure you can still give this an extra GentleTM touch, but that's just icing on the pudding.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2011, 09:20:38 AM by phonixor »
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Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #42 on: October 10, 2011, 09:42:26 AM »
It is not enough to simply have mechanics. Tetris has mechanics. But Tetris isn't an MMORPG.
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Offline phonixor

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #43 on: October 10, 2011, 11:29:43 AM »
And yet most grass is suspiciously green!
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Offline Valamyr

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Re: Emergent Roleplay
« Reply #44 on: October 10, 2011, 06:24:08 PM »
It is not enough to simply have mechanics. Tetris has mechanics. But Tetris isn't an MMORPG.

Finally some concision  :justabite:

The developers control solely one thing that has meaningful reach: mechanics. They also implement a setting with themes and such that can foster roleplaying, but 99% of the playerbase intends strongly to disregard that setting from the get go because they aren't there for there.

Therefore, emergent roleplay is ensuring your mechanics encourage players to more or less act in accordance with your themes. That's it. It's all about mechanics here, especially once you consider the themes and story of Vampire are pretty much already set in stone. The only way you'll have emergent roleplay is through mechanics to foster the themes, such as by punishing severe deviations from the Masquerade and Humanitas through final death. That's an example of a mechanic that exists solely for this purpose.

Oh, and calling it a MMORPG is a cute touch, but there's a reason why the gaming press calls every MMORPG "MMOG" nowadays. People wont play it to RP. At best, the mechanics will make it so you don't find their non-roleplaying excessively bothersome, but that's a best case scenario :)
« Last Edit: October 10, 2011, 06:25:53 PM by Valamyr »

 

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