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ender101

Quartertothree Discussion on Xenonauts

119 posts in this topic

Generally favorable comments, though a few people are grippling.

http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?t=58869&page=14

I've tried to explain (as i understand) the confusion over stretch goals and how/why it works. I hope i didnt make it worse. FYI I'm davidf there

I do think that this project has some extra challanges that most others dont, in that some people think this is simpply a reskinned X-Com and dont understand its a completely seperate game! I think in this way Xenonauts has been a victim of its own success. To some (and even me) it feels so much like the original, its hard to aknowledge that their is actually a delta.

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Sounds like a lot of moaning and no one willing to do any of their own research.

10 minutes with google or these forums search function and they would have had all the answers they need.

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A lot of that money is meant for getting an office and gathering up all the permanent-ish devs so that they could work more efficiently and so Goldhawk could have a semblance of a dev studio. There's also the KS, Amazon and reward fees/expenses.

Oh and let's not forget profit. I know this is hard for people to accept since everyone's so self-entitled but there's profit too, you know, something for the people working on the game to live off of.

I only skimmed through the posts (not in the mood to read through more whining) so I don't know what's been mentioned or not but the above is the gist of it.

Also,

X-nauts vs. X-Com differences are also easy to point out (when it comes do re-skin arguments):

-tactical air combat

-more weapon types (shotgun, sniper, flamethrower, machine gun, "swat shield")

-directional cover system

-better UI overall

-friendly npc forces

-suppression

-more mission types (those indoor missions are sure to make it in I think)

Maybe I've missed something, I don't know.

Edited by Jean-Luc

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Hmm. Well I do agree with those people that the stretch goals are uninspiring. However, I know perfectly well why those X-Com features aren't already in Xenonauts.

The biggest problem for Xenonauts is likely the 2D engine. I noticed a few of the folks on that forum seem to think that a 2D game should automatically be cheap to produce. If Goldhawk had chosen to make do with less weapons and armors, jerky animations and re-using armor sprites as X-Com did then yes, art assets would have been inexpensive.

Getting the smooth animations and visual styling of Xenonauts using sprites undoubtedly took a huge chunk of dev time. If the game had been made in 3D most of those stretch goals would have probably made it in the game without Kickstarter.

But that's the sort of mistake that happens when new developers start brand new new companies and create their first product. Despite the crippling engine, Xenonauts seems to be coming along much better than nearly any other indie game I've been watching. I expect that Goldhawk's second game will benefit a lot from the experience gained making this one.

As a side note, Wasteland 2 looks like it will be done with the Unity engine. Some people were clamoring for a 2D engine but the more knowledgeable folks are pointing out that 3D isometric is cheaper than 2D and can give the same effect.

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Jean I don't know that we can say better UI because the PC specific UI has not yet been revealed and they have been very clear on that. I do like Xenonauts smaller interface but I can't say objectively which is "better" at this point in time. I don't see that as a good argument tbh.

Also both games have suppression. Well Firaxis has announced suppression whereas here it is something being looked into being done but I haven't seen a definitive "Yes we will add this and it will work this way" post yet. So really that's a point Firaxis not Xenonauts. Both games also have directional cover. We don't know all the missions types Firaxis has planned yet either btw so that's a wash.

So really better air combat I can agree with 100% and (based on what we know at THIS point) Xenonauts may have more weapons. Again for me both games are awesome and people should IMO talk really good things about both games. They will both be super fun to play and I'm sure it will be for different reasons. I know I'm looking forward to both games :)

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I meant compared to the original X-Com (referring to the statements that Xenonauts is just a reskin/clone of it). The new one is called XCOM without the "-".

If Chris' words are anything to go by then suppression is surely in, we just don't know for sure in what way yet.

From KS update 4 (100% funding reached):

Next, let’s talk about what you guys have already achieved! As a result of hitting our 100% funding goal on Kickstarter, we’ll definitely be implementing the following features:

The new UI design will be rolled out across the whole game (ideally with the background art updating as you research new technology)

Soldier combat medal system

Battlefield suppression mechanics

Animated tiles

DRM free release of the game

Edited by Jean-Luc

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Oh and let's not forget profit. I know this is hard for people to accept since everyone's so self-entitled but there's profit too, you know, something for the people working on the game to live off of.
I read their thread and reacted to that, too.

Seriously, just about every other industry in the world is allowed to, and expected to, make money. That's kinda the whole idea of working in the first place. Why it's all of a sudden a de-facto crime for game developers and other artists to make a profit is simply beyond my comprehension.

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I read their thread and reacted to that, too.

Seriously, just about every other industry in the world is allowed to, and expected to, make money. That's kinda the whole idea of working in the first place. Why it's all of a sudden a de-facto crime for game developers and other artists to make a profit is simply beyond my comprehension.

I think many people think of big evil companies that cuts down rainforrests to make malls when they hear the word profit. And they don't want to see gamedevelopers as the big evil corporation.

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Seriously, just about every other industry in the world is allowed to, and expected to, make money. That's kinda the whole idea of working in the first place. Why it's all of a sudden a de-facto crime for game developers and other artists to make a profit is simply beyond my comprehension.
I think many people think of big evil companies that cuts down rainforrests to make malls when they hear the word profit. And they don't want to see gamedevelopers as the big evil corporation.

That is not at all the point of the objections in that thread, and it is frankly a little bizarre that is what you interpreted the thread's posters to be saying. Your psychoanalysis at the end is also very strange.

The objection is that the kickstarter began promising a faithful X-Com re-make that could use an additional $50k to get finished faster.

All that changed once they hit $50k. The team now seems to be intentionally holding out features that are either not that hard to implement, or that really should be in the game to begin with --- and that (this is the important part) fans who put down their original pledges and pre-orders rightfully could have expected would be in the game. This seems like a bait-and-switch. Fans who pledged before the game got to $50,000 (like me) did so with the understanding that the folks at Goldhawk had a good handle on what needed to be in the game, what would be nice, and would use their money wisely to that end. Frankly, it seems the team did not know what to do once it hit its funding goal, and instead is now dangling basic game features above its users' heads for 2-3x the ENTIRE COST of the original $50,000 asking price.

A secondary observation: This is not an encouraging sign for this game's development. The team --- LONG AGO --- should have had a good idea of essential and non-essential features, the money required to achieve them, and begun programming the engine to account for those features. They should have set the kickstarter goal at whatever was necessary to achieve what they thought was necessary to produce a great game.

Say what you will about Firaxis, but they aren't demanding $50,000 to implement a frickin' soldier memorial screen --- AFTER they've gotten your $50 for a 'faithful X-COM remake.' What an insult to the fans, and a disappointment. Perhaps that is why pledges are flatlining now.

Edited by wiglafman1225

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No features are being "held out" nothing on that list was ever promised nor were claims made that those things would be in the game.

It's been known for years now that there would be no blaster bombs or human psionics. Vehicle experience was also a no-no, it's only recently become an option. Proximity grenades and the motion detector were discussed but never officially endorsed. The same for everything else and some stuff like the Soviet tiles are a first time mention.

Things like female soldiers and linux/mac support were also a no-go but have now been added despite being voted low because they're important to people.

The team --- LONG AGO --- should have had a good idea of essential and non-essential features, the money required to achieve them, and begun programming the engine to account for those features.

It did. None of the things in that list are essential. This whole Kickstarter is about non-essential things and simply improving the game which was gonna be released anyway, with or without KS funding.

You just can't win with those people, can you? If you have no stretch goals they say you have no plan and are going blindly. If you do present some future plan you're "dangling features".

FTL and Wasteland 2 had no stretch goals beyond some vague promises but I don't remember much complaining (FTL reached 200k without any clear outline for the future and that game takes a very small amount of money/effort to make compared to Xenonauts).

What about Grim Dawn? They asked for 280k and the first stretch goal (dual wielding pistols) is at 350k. Do you then assume it costs 70.000$ to add a dual wielding pistol animation and a few related skills?

For the most part people are ignorant of how things work or why they are as they are which is why mainstream studios never release alphas or allow the wider public to interfere with development the way smaller developers do who rely on dedication and understanding of their niche communities. Of course, it's bound to bite you on the ass eventually.

Edited by Jean-Luc

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aw man, not here to! :( Ok i dont even work in the industry and EVEN I can work this out. This is a homage to the original, not a copy exact. Also, more importantly it's a small indie developer, that has been upfront that a few of the smaller things had to trimmed due to challanges with implimentation (such as the blaster bomb). Its not uncommon with small developers (and even bug ones from time to time) that the tool limitations create challanges with seemingly benign things, AND they didnt have the budget to include everything and the kitchen sink from the original, while updating it to a modern look feel and control scheme.

Goldhawk has been pretty forthcoming on what they could do, what they can, and what they are having challanges with. IF you're paying attention, and being rational it makes sense. However I will conceed that it could have been communicated better on the kick start front, but i give them a break as there is no template to follow here. Its learn as you go, and I think for a small indie team without a huge budget, they've been doing very well all things considered. I can't wait to see the final results, and these 20/20 hind sight digs help no one.

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No features are being "held out" nothing on that list was ever promised nor were claims made that those things would be in the game.

Huh? Plenty of features are being "Held out," including a level designer (pretty big one), numerous tilesets, pilot callsigns, tall grass, a motion scanner (which can impact ground tactical combat significantly), etc.

The fundamental point I'm trying to make is that good game developers have a plan long before their game enters late alpha. They should know what's necessary to have a good and complete game --- in this case, a good and faithful X-COM adaptation/evolution --- and what isn't. When asking for funding, they should ask for everything they want to make the game as good as it could be.

Everyone thought that was $50,000 because Goldhawk strongly implied that's all they needed to finish the game to a great (not just "good") standard. Then the stretch goals happened, and it became clear that some BIG BIG things, like level designers, or varied tilesets, etc. weren't even factored into the original sum. That is clearly a bait and switch, and it has cost them pledges.

Essentially, Goldhawk has said, we need X amount to make the game great --- conveying the image that they are competent and have this all figured out, what goes in and what doesn't. So people said, sure, you seem quite competent, let's all give X. Then suddenly Goldhawk says, SURPRISE! Now that we've got your money, we need Y, and Z, and T, and C, and A, and B, to get feature Zeta, Beta, Tau, Epsilon, all of which will potentially change ground combat significantly, etc etc. It's a headache.

Good game design isn't done on a surveymonkey.

Good developers and advertisers also don't carelessly claim things like "All the classic features are present and accounted for – things like turn-based combat, destructible environments, soldier permadeath and large squad sizes (you’ll need them)!"

...which can easily lead someone to believe that some X-Com features, like proxies, psionics, tall grass, etc, are in the game. Not everyone has been following the forums for years.

It did. None of the things in that list are essential. This whole Kickstarter is about non-essential things and simply improving the game which was gonna be released anyway, with or without KS funding.

Ha. Anyone can release a game. Releasing a good one is an entirely different matter, and the alpha has not demonstrated the team can balance properly, or code out all the bugs, or even implement all necessary X-Com features. The kickstarter demonstrates they don't even know what belongs in the game...

Edited by wiglafman1225

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I think you need to work out a definition of non-essential first. What it means for something to be not essential.

The game already will have randomized maps of decent variety. The essentials are in. The designer will, of course, increase this even more.

Proximity nades, BBs and human psionics. Again, not necessary and known to not be planned for the game. Even with all the money in the world the BBs and human psionics would not be in this game (which is why they're offered as a mod). It's a design decision. Any assumptions you make are your responsibility.

New tile sets are not vital. X-Com had only a single city tile set regardless of location. Having separate Soviet city tiles is a luxury (it's one of the most expensive parts of the game that only provides visual variety) for a small developer like Goldhawk hence it's a stretch goal. All the tile types present in X-Com are in this game as well.

Pilot portraits/callsigns, you really consider this essential? Air Combat has been expanded in this game but it's still a secondary mode (compared to ground combat). Just like in X-Com, pilots are an abstract part of the game (just like scientists/engineers). They don't level up or anything and them having portraits is a really superficial thing.

And so on, as I said, some perspective is needed here.

Ha. Anyone can release a game.

Ha, I'd love to see you try.

...or code out all the bugs...

You do know what an alpha build is and what its purpose is?

If you and others want to play the victim, fine, but no one's lied to you about anything. Keep in mind that faithful remake =/= clone. It's your choice if you want to concentrate on the trivial things being left out over what is being added,

-tactical air combat

-more weapon types (shotgun, sniper, flamethrower, machine gun, "swat shields")

-directional cover system

-better UI overall

-friendly npc forces

-suppression

-etc.

,but I don't think it's constructive and it only hurts a fledgling developer that shows a lot of potential (imo).

Edited by Jean-Luc

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Ender101, could you ask scharmers if he has acctually asked for a refund? Or is he just assuming things? I don't think Chris is that opposed to giving refunds from what I've seen.

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Huh? Plenty of features are being "Held out," including a level designer (pretty big one), numerous tilesets, pilot callsigns, tall grass, a motion scanner (which can impact ground tactical combat significantly), etc.

Actually you have not quite grasped how it worked.

Chris was going to do the level designing himself, he said that if the goal was reached he would hire a dedicated level designer to make the process quicker.

There are already numerous tilesets, the kickstarter stretch goals are for extras on top of those.

Pilot callsigns were not in the original and have never been planned to be in this game until people requested them.

They aren't an essential feature by any means so have been left as a fluff item for people who are interested in them.

Tall grass was attempted early on in production but was difficult to get right using the current game engine, with extra cash (and the time freed up by not having to design levels himself) Chris thinks it will be possible to get it working. It was not voted as a priority though, just as something that would be nice to have if possible.

A motion scanner has been discussed as a nice to have feature, I would refute your comment that it would have a significant impact on ground combat though.

The ground combat is currently playable without it and I can't see that changing.

Now if we had been told all along which weapons were going to be in then they had turned round and said you need to pay extra for the rocket launcher then you would have had a point.

Moral of the story is if you are going to give someone money for something then do your homework to avoid disappointment I guess.

What would your suggestions have been for stretch goals?

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I think you need to work out a definition of non-essential first. What it means for something to be not essential.

Only the developer can know this.

I'm not the developer, and neither are you. We don't have access to the code, or knowledge of the finances, so we can't determine what really is easy to implement, hard to implement, what the costs are, etc. For all we know, the level designer and indoor missions might be essential, and without them, the game will be too predictable and boring. But maybe it's essential to NOT waste money on those things, because that money is better spent on Q&A, balancing, etc.

All we can go on right now is that the alpha isn't really that good as a game. Some of the problems include a severe lack of tileset variety, relatively uninteresting tactical combat (no working suppression mechanics, no real AI, no proxies, no blasters, no psionics, not many weapons), broken air combat, game-breaking CTD bugs, no complete research tree, no base missions, no variety of aliens, etc. If it's going to be released remotely soon, it needs a lot of work in a lot of important, fundamental areas.

People were willing to pay $50,000 to make sure that happened quickly and that Goldhawk could release the game they wanted to release. But my whole point is that, by adding these random stretch goals for exorbitant amounts of money, Goldhawk has made it clear they are really just winging this whole Kickstarter thing and actually were not using Kickstarter to finish their defined vision of Xenonauts, but instead to get as much cash as possible because they were going broke.

Again, my only point is, this is a bad sign for the game's development, and a slight breach of trust.

What would your suggestions have been for stretch goals?

I'd prefer they just said, we'd appreciate whatever additional money you can provide to help us reach our goals faster and hire more people. Rather than a preposterous surveymonkey and nickel-and-diming people on minor features. Create the game that you wanted to create and that is balanced and fun, and don't hold back for some arbitrary reason.

It also would have been a nice show of business competence if they had not vastly underestimated interest on Kickstarter, which is the only reason stretch goals were added in the first place.

Edited by wiglafman1225

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But my whole point is that, by adding these random stretch goals for exorbitant amounts of money, Goldhawk has made it clear they are really just winging this whole Kickstarter thing and actually were not using Kickstarter to finish their defined vision of Xenonauts, but instead to get as much cash as possible because they were going broke.

I'd prefer they just said, we'd appreciate whatever additional money you can provide to help us reach our goals faster. Rather than a preposterous surveymonkey and nickel-and-diming people on minor features.

[edit: weird - that last couple sentences show up in the post when I quote it but not in the post as displayed - don't mean to misquote you, wiglafman, if that's not what you wrote]

I guess it's a question of approach in some ways - you're saying you'd prefer less specifics, whereas Goldhawk has said specifically what additional features (that weren't originally intended) they could put in if they had additional resources. The other approach would be to do something more like what Wasteland 2 did - say "if you give us more money, we'll make a bigger, more immersive world." Maybe that's a better way to sell things, sure - who can argue with "bigger, more immersive world!"? That's great, we all like that... even if we, the backers, have no idea what that's going to mean.

Goldhawk took the opposite tack and specifically said "here are things we'd like to add, if we, a small indie, studio, had the resources." They then took the transparency a step further by letting backers prioritize what they'd like to see added. That feels to me a lot like what the Shadowrun team did - they said "if you meet goal X, we'll add Physical Adepts. If you meet goal Y, we'll add a second city." I'll admit, I don't know the Shadowrun universe well enough to know if Physical Adepts are considered "essential" or not, but to my mind, a second city is akin to more tilesets and indoor missions - the game could play just fine without it but, hey, all the better if it's in - and people realized that it takes resources to add those features and no one (that I saw) jumped on Harebrained about it. What's the distinction here? Goldhawk did specifically state what they're looking to use the initial goal amount for and stated that that's how they'll use the funds.

You do have valid points about the alpha needing work and I don't think anyone would disagree with you on that. But, again, this is the work of an indie studio working on a tight budget (think about it for a sec - what sort of videogame gets made on a $50k budget) and there are valid reasons that have been explained here for why the tech tree doesn't continue, why balance isn't in place, etc. - that doesn't mean those features don't exist or aren't already in progress.

I guess my question is, at root, do you really wish Goldhawk had just said "We'd like more money and will use it to make the game better." with no further specifics? That's certainly less prone to attack and criticism but I personally appreciate the transparency and ability to have input into how the game plays out. I contributed to Wasteland 2, I hope it's a great game, but I frankly have no idea what "the bigger, more immersive world" means (other than apparently some place to put the hundreds of named artificacts and Kickstarter statues that they sold) and that, to me, requires a bigger leap of faith than hearing from a small producer what their issues are and how they can be addressed.

Edited by Kilrathi

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Was kickstarter ever about releaseing quickly? I thought it was about makeing a better more polished game and that games can ALLWAYS be better and more polished?

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I guess my question is, at root, do you really wish Goldhawk had just said "We'd like more money and will use it to make the game better." with no further specifics? That's certainly less prone to attack and criticism but I personally appreciate the transparency and ability to have input into how the game plays out.

But you don't really have input --- you have to pay a TON of money to get that input. I have no objection to them posting a poll and saying, what do you guys most want to see implemented? Then the team could assess whether those things can be implemented on its own, given the current state of their funding.

Here's my concern. I think, down the line, the team might decide motion scanners and pilot callsigns and indoor missions aren't that expensive or hard to add. But they won't put them in, because they didn't get these seemingly arbitrary and huge dollar amounts. Or, the team might have a really cool new idea, or have a new game balance solution, but not implement it because they blew all the money on a level designer they were obligated to pay.

Goldhawk's kickstarter model needlessly ties themselves up and makes them look like they aren't good planners. Ironically, it also might discourage people to donate more, now that they see precisely how lame some of the stretch goals are...

Edited by wiglafman1225

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But you don't really have input --- you have to pay a TON of money to get that input. I have no objection to them posting a poll and saying, what do you guys most want to see implemented? Then the team could assess whether those things can be implemented on its own, given the current state of their funding.

Here's my concern. I think, down the line, the team might decide motion scanners and pilot callsigns and indoor missions aren't that expensive or hard to add. But they won't put them in, because they didn't get these seemingly arbitrary and huge dollar amounts. Or, the team might have a really cool new idea, or have a new game balance solution, but not implement it because they blew all the money on a level designer.

Fair point. My sense is that the result of the team's assessment would be that they can't implement those things on their own, with the current level of funding - at which point, being polled gets us nothing. I definitely can't speak for Goldhawk, but my sense is that certain items might find their way in, to the extent they're feasible and make a better game.

I haven't seen any indication that they'd certainly be left out if the goal isn't met, but the goal is a way of raising the necessary resources. For better or worse, it's been made clear that additional tile sets or mission types cost money, and without that money it's unlikely that they'll be in the game. That's just a reality, so I don't have any problem with what's essentially a statement that "we'd love to put these in the game, if we can afford to."

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Here's my concern. I think, down the line, the team might decide motion scanners and pilot callsigns and indoor missions aren't that expensive or hard to add. But they won't put them in, because they didn't get these seemingly arbitrary and huge dollar amounts. Or, the team might have a really cool new idea, or have a new game balance solution, but not implement it because they blew all the money on a level designer they were obligated to pay.

Goldhawk's kickstarter model needlessly ties themselves up and makes them look like they aren't good planners. Ironically, it also might discourage people to donate more, now that they see precisely how lame some of the stretch goals are...

So your issue is that you think them beeing transparant has made them too rigid? That they suddenly can't make a good game because they planned ahead? You are assuming they can't deviate an inch from that plan which is rather odd concidering that Chris has already stated once on kickstarter when female soldiers were still planned for $200.000 that he might end up doing female soldiers even if they don't reach all the way to that goal.

Just because it's written down does not set it in stone that a feature doesn't make it in if they don't reach the stretchgoal. For all we know there could be an increase in preorders after the kickstarter ends or when the beta hits etc. I find your concerns silly and unfounded.

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Kilrathi and Gorlom, thanks for doing all the typing for me.

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So your issue is that you think them beeing transparant has made them too rigid? That they suddenly can't make a good game because they planned ahead?

Yes, because the "planned" stretch goals are really a haphazard attempt to make a ton of money in 30 days, not a product of careful deliberation about what works and what does not.

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wiglafman1225 you're comments essentially boil down to, it feels wrong and it feels like they wont include things if they dont reach these arbitary goals. I suppose if you just glanced at the page, you might walk away with such a ill-informed impression. However, if you actually read ANYTHING the developers details, you would clearly know that's NOT the case. They've already been clear that despite that the female troopers and mac support were rated low on surveys, they would add them anyway BECAUSE they found a way to add them without much expense. So evidence suggests your implied concerns are invalid.

We've countered your concerns and assumptions based on information, evidence and commons sense, yet you continue to hammer your position without acknowledging (or logically countering) the salient points . Now, your complaints essentially boil down to they didnt communicate their goals in a way you feel comfortable with so they suck. I'm not sure anyone can address something so minutely subjective.

Edited by ender101

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