Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

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What kind of people are you?

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I think the biggest reason the Galactic Civilizations series has been so popular over the years has been because each game is your own epic story.

In fact, the biggest request we get is to make the galaxy feel move alive.  With this Spring's mega expansion to Galactic Civilizations III, we hope to do just that.

With Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade, we've been able to use the new, 64-bit, multicore game engine to create a much more lively universe as the engine allows us to deal with a lot more entities than what was possible in, say, Galactic Civilizations II.

Today, let's talk about what kind of civilization you might want to create.

Crusade Economics: A Primer

Galactic Civilizations has been with me my entire adult life.  Since 1992, I've been making this game (GalCiv OS/2, GalCiv I, GalCiv II).  I took a break to design Ashes of the Singularity and now I'm back for the Crusade with a re-imagined look at how the economy works.

In Crusade, everything is very, very tight. That is, every resource matters.  The numbers across the board are much smaller and this has ramifications everywhere.  The result is a massive change to the pacing. It's both faster than the base game (early game) and slower (late game, techs and buildings and cool ships are not a 1-turn affair).  Each choice you make is meant to be meaningful.

Let's start from the beginning of a game:

TURN 1

TURN 1: RESEARCH CHOICES

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A: Research Resource Exploitation, which gives me access to Kimbrey's Refuge (a Galactic Achievement that produces 4 food, the only early game way of producing global food)

OR

B: Research Planetology, which let's me build Brindle's Observatory, a Galactic Wonder that will discover a nearby Earthlike planet. 

OR

Research Interstellar Travel, which speeds up my ships by 1 move per turn

OR

Research Militarization, which will let me build the Strategic Command wonder and award me with a General (super early game invasions)

OR

Xeno Commerce, which lets me start building freighters

OR

Get Universal Translator, which will give me the ability to build the Galactic Intelligence Agency and grant me a spy very early on.

 

TURN 1: PLANET CHOICES

After we pick what technology we want to research, we are brought to the home planet (in this case, Earth) to decide what to build...

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A: Basic Factory to build things faster?

B: Research Lab to get new tech faster?

C: Shipyard to be able to build ships?

Wait, what? Yes. I took away your magic shipyard.  It's gone.  You have to build it. 

The shipyard bugged me a lot.  Here's why:

From 1992 when I started programming Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 all the way to 2008 when I worked on Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor, it was always with the premise that Turn 1 took place the same day Earth launched its first interstellar ship (and later, whatever alien race you're playing as).

Then suddenly, in GalCiv III you have a shipyard, a Colony ship, a Scout, and a Survey ship?  It just felt like we had gotten pretty far away from the idea that we're at the dawn of the galactic age. 

Now, I can hear some of you all the way from here saying, "But the early game will be too slow."  If we did this in the base game, it would be too slow.  But, like I said, numbers and early game is different now.

Crusade is NOT about spamming out colony ships.  The idea here is to have lots of interesting viable strategies.

If the early turns of a game are "boring," the answer is to fix that by making your choices more interesting, not throwing more stuff at you to do.  The base game of GalCiv III would be too slow if you didn't have all that stuff to do.  But Crusade is designed so that each turn matters including the first one and without so much stuff.

...

Now, getting back to our tough choice.   I am going to choose FACTORY because there's a +3 manufacturing bonus tile.  And I will rush buy it.

And for my tech choice, I decide to choose Planetology so I can get Brindle's Observatory.

TURN 1: EXPLORATION CHOICES

The Survey Ship has a name:  the T.A.S. Discovery (for Humans, anyway).   The galaxy has a lot of interesting stuff that gradually respawns.  This means one economic strategy now is to build survey ships and send them out to go collect stuff. 

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A: Send the Discovery out to explore?

B: Send it over to the bottom left to get that cargo container?

 

Yea: I want the cargo container.


 

TURN 2

 

TURN 2: EXPLORATION CHOICES

The cargo container got my research half way done! Awesome!  New choices arrive:

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A:  Send him to get the two goodie huts below?

B: Send him out to explore?

I choose the goodies.

TURN 2: PLANET CHOICES

I rush build a second factory! Madness!

Still no shipyard!

But I still have 764 credits.

Delayed gratification will pay off.


TURN 3: EXPLORATION CHOICES

Awesome.  I found 1 Antimatter module, got 18 more credits, and the Discovery leveled up! And I found a Precursor Relic. Now I command the Discovery to explore.

TURN 3: PLANET CHOICES

Oh, now...

Now I build the Shipyard. And thanks to my delayed gratification, I have a pretty decent economy going.  I might feel differently if those wonderful nearby planets get colonized, though...

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Turn 3: I can now build ships

I also order a Research Lab to be built.

 

TURN 3: SHIPYARD CHOICES

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I design a ship based on a design I downloaded from Steam.  I call it "Serenity"

Now, which ship should I build?

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A: Serenity (my custom survey ship): Survey ships will go out and collect scattered resources

B: Colony ship (so I can get those sweet planets)

C: A Constructor: So I can lay permanent claim to galactic resources

D: A scout to go out and find stuff faster

I actually choose E: A short range colony ship I designed that is stripped down so that I can build it in 6 turns.

 

TURN 3: EVENT CHOICES

On Turn 3, I encounter an alien automated cargo ship that is carrying a shipment of a material called Durantium.  Its engines have failed but it is in the process of self-repairing and will be on its way.  What should we do?

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A: Help fix the cargo vessel and send it on its way [Benevolent] (Costs 100 credits)

B: Do nothing [Pragmatic]

C: Take the Durantium and destroy the ship [Malevolent] (Gain 5 Durantium)

In Crusade, Durantium  matters. A lot.  You can't build larger hulled ships without it and you can't build the higher end factories without it.  On the other hand, if I steal it, who knows how that might come back to bite me later.  And 100 credits is a lot to fix it and it might amount to nothing...

The point being that each turn, there is something meaningful happening and it's all driven by the new economic system.  There is a cost and benefit to everything.

  • Higher end factories require Durantium
  • Higher end research labs require Promethion
  • Lots of the wonders require some sort of exotic resource
  • Advanced Beam weapons require Elerium
  • Advanced Missile weapons require Anti-matter
  • Advanced Kinetic weapons require Thulium

And don't forget that planets have lots of strange and interesting resources that are also required for certain rare galactic achievements and components.

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Planets will tell you what resources are on them. 

And I'm already thinking about my next tech choice because Interstellar Travel will let me build the Eyes of the Universe wonder, but it requires 1 anti-matter resource which, as you may recall, I found!

 

And so it goes...


Soon...

Against the backdrop of thoughtfully deciding how to spend your precious finite resources, comes the new Citizen mechanic. You receive a new citizen every 10 turns (barring civ bonuses and events).  You train them in a particular field with the number of fields to choose from based on what techs you have.

 

Resource Trading

Economics is the driving force of your civilization.  You need stuff to keep your people safe and happy.  How you get that stuff depends on your focus: Guns or Butter.

With all the talk of resources and how important they are, the cynical 4X player might be (should be) thinking "Crusade better have a really good diplomacy system!"  And the answer is, yes. Yes it does.

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The bar in the middle changes to reflect the balance of the trade. As you add/remove resources, it updates.

Trading with other civilizations is now a lot easier.  And massively more fun.

 

Commanders

One alternative to trade is, of course, conquest.

One of the careers you can choose for your citizens is Commander.  When you have Commanders available, you can select any existing fleet in your game and add a Commander to it.

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The Commander in his flag ship with his fleet

I renamed my Citizen to be Commander Xander from Canton, Michigan (for my son).  Now, the Flagship itself is pretty awesome for a number of reasons.

  1. Doubles the speed of a given fleet. 
  2. Increase the fleet's logistics by 25% which means you can have more ships in your fleet. 
  3. Increases the hit points of your fleet by 25%. 

...And the ship itself is pretty decent in combat as well.

As cool as Commanders are, it's the promotions that make them really interesting.

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If you have the right ideology and the right resources, your Commanders can do some awesome stuff.

A few examples of what your Commanders can do if you have the right ideology and the resources:

  1. Convert ship into a transport (you have an opportunity to take a key world, you can convert your Commander to a General if you have the right resources).
  2. Martyr.  Guarantees victory. Destroys enemy fleet.  Citizens are very precious, so this would be a pretty desperate measure, is only available to the Pragmatic Ideology, and has a stiff resource cost.
  3. Overlord.  If you're evil enough, you can spend the resources and convert an enemy fleet.  Your Commander doesn't die but is promoted into an Overlord in the process (so it can only be done once).
  4. Sovereign.  You can transform your Commander into a Sovereign who will convert a target enemy fleet into belonging to the League of Non-aligned worlds. You lose the Commander, but it's a great way to take out a huge enemy fleet at a lower cost.
  5. Privateer.  Your fleet becomes Privateers.  You can go attack other fleets but no one knows who they belong to.  This is really fun if you want to help a third party directly without declaring war.
  6. Admiral.  And of course, you can promote your Commander to Admiral, which upgrades his ship to something sufficiently awesome if you have enough resources.

 

Wrapping up

What is really hard to communicate in a blog like this is just how much more engaged each turn is now.  Starting next week, we're going to be streaming Crusade weekly on our Twitch.TV channel. Please do me a favor and SUBSCRIBE to that channel (they're going to take my thumbs if you don't!).  So you'll be able to see just how much more engaged each turn is.

The increase engagement is not just because of the new features.  It's a top to bottom revisit of the entire game and how the game interacts with you.

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Trading resources is very cool

Below are just some, off the top of my head, examples experienced just in this game:

  • I need to build Pascal's Garden.  This Wonder will double the planet Tristan II's influence production.  However, it requires 2 Arnorian Spice and a 1 Techapod Hive.   My friends the Altarians have the Spice and the Drengin have the Techpod hive.  The new trade system makes it easy to bargain with them to get this.
  • The Drengin come to me and want some of my Anti-matter.  I don't dare give them any because I know they have specialized on Missile weapons and the really powerful ones all use anti-matter.
  • The Yor want some Xanthium metal.  That makes me think they're probably going to be building a wonder.
  • The Drengin rely on Precursor Nanites which will allow them to promote their Engineers into Master Engineers (which will really super charge their ship building).  So I put a spy on their Precursor Nanite mine, shutting it down until they remove it. 
  • The Krynn military is getting pretty scary.  I am sending a second diplomat to them which will increase my relations.
  • All the new balancing in the game makes the numbers fit nicely together. Gone are the 100+ manufacturing per turn.  All the numbers have been rebalanced to make decisions more meaningful.  It's hard to put into words.
  • The battles look a lot cooler.
  • Everything you own (even asteroid mines) gives off a bit of influence.
  • Ideology matters a lot more.  What you can and can't do with your citizens is based on your ideological choices.
  • There are a lot more events in the game that have interesting, meaningful results (I'll be doing a blog on this soon).
  • The updated tech trees matter a lot more.  Each tech gives you something that matters. This also means we took out a lot of redundant planetary improvements.
  • The old ongoing projects thing is gone.  Instead, you can build projects that give you something specific after so many turns.
  • My breadbasket world is getting blight.  I will need to train a Farmer (which I really should have already), send them to that planet and promote him to be an Agronomist which will eliminate the blight on that planet.  Alternatively, I can click on the Blighted tiles and use Helius Ore to kill it...except I don't have any, only the Slynn have it and I'm at war with them.  But I'm currently -2 in food production which means my people are starting to starve and starving people will generate Rebels on my planet.
  • The Drengin vs. Torian war is going poorly for the Torians even though I have two Privateers nipping at Drengin freighters.
  • I built all my Wonders on Earth which let me win those wonders. But the maintenance is killing me.  I hate to do this but I'm going to promote my Administrator into a Tax collector which will increase my planet's income by 25% but will consume 2 goods and services (lowers my approval rating).

And you notice, I haven't even really gotten into Invasions yet...

NEXT WEEK: INVASIONS!

 

Screenshots:

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Every tile you own matters.  The entire influence/ZOC system has been redone.

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Strategic Zoom has been redone so that everything is cleaner. And since influence isn't just a big blob now, you have a lot more control over what is and isn't in your sphere of influence.

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Spies can tell me who they plan to attack, what their internal political issues are and of course, can steal tech, sabotage things, etc.

 

 


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Comments (Page 3)
on Mar 18, 2017

lyssailcor


Quoting General Pants,

I have a sneaking suspicion this strategy is going to get much more difficult in Crusade. However, it sounds more like my fleets of fast, powerful ships will simply be more expensive. I would rather see the AI update older designs, build enough SWACs to actually see the enemy coming, and at least have the option to forgo the large, out-of-date, static planetary defensive fleets. Maybe that could depend on how aggressive they are, or how undefended (low morale) colonists feel.



As far as I know the AI used to see everything, at least that was so before 1.8 or so. Whether that was changed since then I don't know, but I fear it was not.

Any information whether the AI really has to cope with FOW like the players in Crusade?

Brad is personally committed, and Stardock is officially committed, to a seven year development cycle for the AI of GalCiv3.  The pattern has been iterative and incremental changes delivered as part of regular patches and updates.  If they have anything big, I expect they will brag about it.  2.0 is noticably different and improved and they rightfully bragged about that.

I hate giving best recollection answers, but you can search for more accurate info if you have to.  Or else someone will gently point out where I have lied to you. Presently, the FOW is enabled for all difficulty levels.  Pirates share FOW reveal as one faction.  Same for Space Monsters.  Any perception of total vision is just that, perception.  It comes from a combination of conclusions made on the partial information available at any one moment and the understandable impulse to ascribe patterns to basically random movement.  It is complicated by the fact that the AI has gotten better at searching and exploring.  There may be some better goal-based decisions added to their random search.  A persistent human can still beat them, but it has become much more competitive.

on Mar 18, 2017

erischild


Quoting lyssailcor,






Quoting General Pants,



I have a sneaking suspicion this strategy is going to get much more difficult in Crusade. However, it sounds more like my fleets of fast, powerful ships will simply be more expensive. I would rather see the AI update older designs, build enough SWACs to actually see the enemy coming, and at least have the option to forgo the large, out-of-date, static planetary defensive fleets. Maybe that could depend on how aggressive they are, or how undefended (low morale) colonists feel.



As far as I know the AI used to see everything, at least that was so before 1.8 or so. Whether that was changed since then I don't know, but I fear it was not.

Any information whether the AI really has to cope with FOW like the players in Crusade?



Brad is personally committed, and Stardock is officially committed, to a seven year development cycle for the AI of GalCiv3.  The pattern has been iterative and incremental changes delivered as part of regular patches and updates.  If they have anything big, I expect they will brag about it.  2.0 is noticably different and improved and they rightfully bragged about that.

I hate giving best recollection answers, but you can search for more accurate info if you have to.  Or else someone will gently point out where I have lied to you. Presently, the FOW is enabled for all difficulty levels.  Pirates share FOW reveal as one faction.  Same for Space Monsters.  Any perception of total vision is just that, perception.  It comes from a combination of conclusions made on the partial information available at any one moment and the understandable impulse to ascribe patterns to basically random movement.  It is complicated by the fact that the AI has gotten better at searching and exploring.  There may be some better goal-based decisions added to their random search.  A persistent human can still beat them, but it has become much more competitive.

I take your word for it until someone says otherwise

Thanks

on Mar 18, 2017

 sorry see  the crap they plan to put in this game , capping  colonies  and then taking away your chance of getting ships so you do have fun at start, they seem intent on copy catting the  iceberg games totally  real shame .

Capping was in  civ2 but dropped in civilisation 3  and never returned, the start of  any game in galciv3 will be purely boring now , I hardly ever use resources anyway as I find them irrelevant and I rather use  weapons and tech which never use any

I rather have the option to use  resources  if I want to not be forced to use them

on Mar 18, 2017

So, does anyone know if the Ideology system in Crusades is any different from vanilla?

Because if not, I can think of at least three ways to overcome the nerf Brad has imposed on the colony rush, with the removal of the first shipyard. And this is coming from a newb, so I'm sure others can think of even more ways to do so.

on Mar 18, 2017

delwyn1

 sorry see  the crap they plan to put in this game , capping  colonies  and then taking away your chance of getting ships so you do have fun at start, they seem intent on copy catting the  iceberg games totally  real shame .

Capping was in  civ2 but dropped in civilisation 3  and never returned, the start of  any game in galciv3 will be purely boring now , I hardly ever use resources anyway as I find them irrelevant and I rather use  weapons and tech which never use any

I rather have the option to use  resources  if I want to not be forced to use them

What are you talking about?

If your strategy is to get ships from turn 1, you can still do that if you choose to rush build a shipyard.  The difference is now you aren't forced into that strategy.

on Mar 18, 2017

Frogboy


Quoting delwyn1,

 sorry see  the crap they plan to put in this game , capping  colonies  and then taking away your chance of getting ships so you do have fun at start, they seem intent on copy catting the  iceberg games totally  real shame .

Capping was in  civ2 but dropped in civilisation 3  and never returned, the start of  any game in galciv3 will be purely boring now , I hardly ever use resources anyway as I find them irrelevant and I rather use  weapons and tech which never use any

I rather have the option to use  resources  if I want to not be forced to use them



What are you talking about?

If your strategy is to get ships from turn 1, you can still do that if you choose to rush build a shipyard.  The difference is now you aren't forced into that strategy.

why should I rush buy a yard turn 1 when it should be already built  since you need one to build a survey ship start the game with

why should ships in large size be in need of durantuim as it clearly stupid it should be a choice  to use special resources to build  ships , you should have a way of designing  large etc with out resources  and having a special hull  option of hulls with durantium and not a no option

well so much of the stuff you doing will make it boring at start n well to be honest micromanaging in  late game is not fun to

there are many similarities of this dlc I find in other games  several of them belong to iceburg ,

on Mar 18, 2017

delwyn1


Quoting Frogboy,






Quoting delwyn1,



 sorry see  the crap they plan to put in this game , capping  colonies  and then taking away your chance of getting ships so you do have fun at start, they seem intent on copy catting the  iceberg games totally  real shame .

Capping was in  civ2 but dropped in civilisation 3  and never returned, the start of  any game in galciv3 will be purely boring now , I hardly ever use resources anyway as I find them irrelevant and I rather use  weapons and tech which never use any

I rather have the option to use  resources  if I want to not be forced to use them



What are you talking about?

If your strategy is to get ships from turn 1, you can still do that if you choose to rush build a shipyard.  The difference is now you aren't forced into that strategy.



why should I rush buy a yard turn 1 when it should be already built  since you need one to build a survey ship start the game with

why should ships in large size be in need of durantuim as it clearly stupid it should be a choice  to use special resources to build  ships , you should have a way of designing  large etc with out resources  and having a special hull  option of hulls with durantium and not a no option

well so much of the stuff you doing will make it boring at start n well to be honest micromanaging in  late game is not fun to

there are many similarities of this dlc I find in other games  several of them belong to iceburg ,

Why don't you just wait and see how it plays out? Stardock changes the rules of the game, yes, and quite substantially, but whether the new rules are better or worse everybody can only really decide for oneself if he or she actually plays the new game (Edit: or you wait until a Let's Play of Crusade is online, then you even don't have to try it yourself and need not buy it to decide).

Apart from that, nobody is forced to buy the Crusade DLC so when you fear the new rules won't suit you just stick with the game as it is.

on Mar 18, 2017

I could be wrong, Dewlyn1, but I'd be surprised if those requirements couldn't be changed to the way you want it to work by editing a few lines of xml.

on Mar 18, 2017

delwyn1

why should I rush buy a yard turn 1 when it should be already built  since you need one to build a survey ship start the game with


why should ships in large size be in need of durantuim as it clearly stupid it should be a choice  to use special resources to build  ships , you should have a way of designing  large etc with out resources  and having a special hull  option of hulls with durantium and not a no option

well so much of the stuff you doing will make it boring at start n well to be honest micromanaging in  late game is not fun to

there are many similarities of this dlc I find in other games  several of them belong to iceburg ,

 

You still start with a ship depending on your Civ.

Humans start out with a Survey ship.

The very first ship you get is launched from the planet.  To mass produce ships, you need a shipyard.

Earth has put ships into orbit and to the moon already without a shipyard.  The first ship you get in the game is as prototype (in GalCiv III, you can't build survey ships on turn 1 anyway but you have one for instance).

 

on Mar 18, 2017

Frogboy

Earth has put ships into orbit and to the moon already without a shipyard.  

And thank our lucky stars the Drengin haven't showed up yet, because I don't think Virgin Galactic quite has a StarFury yet. At least not that Branson is telling us about...

 

on Mar 18, 2017

Thanks for the comprehensive and informative overview. My only complaint is one of built-up excitement. Hopefully won't explode though, that would be somewhat inconvenient!

on Mar 19, 2017

Frogboy


You still start with a ship depending on your Civ.

Humans start out with a Survey ship.

The very first ship you get is launched from the planet.  To mass produce ships, you need a shipyard.

Earth has put ships into orbit and to the moon already without a shipyard.  The first ship you get in the game is as prototype (in GalCiv III, you can't build survey ships on turn 1 anyway but you have one for instance).
 

If each civ starts out with only one ship, that's indeed a significant nerf to the colony rush tactic. But assuming the Ideology system in Crusades is the same as in vanilla, and I want to try a colony rush anyway, I can still;

a. Starting Survey Ship -> Upgrade to Constructor -> Build Shipyard

Or

b. Starting Survey Ship -> Upgrade to Colony Ship -> Colonize distant planet for Ideology points -> Pragmatic Ideology -> 3 free Constructors -> Use 1 Constructor to Build Shipyard -> Upgrade remaining 2 Constructors to Colony Ships

 

Is that right so far?

on Mar 19, 2017

Ascaloth


If each civ starts out with only one ship, that's indeed a significant nerf to the colony rush tactic. But assuming the Ideology system in Crusades is the same as in vanilla, and I want to try a colony rush anyway, I can still;

a. Starting Survey Ship -> Upgrade to Constructor -> Build Shipyard

Or

b. Starting Survey Ship -> Upgrade to Colony Ship -> Colonize distant planet for Ideology points -> Pragmatic Ideology -> 3 free Constructors -> Use 1 Constructor to Build Shipyard -> Upgrade remaining 2 Constructors to Colony Ships

 

Is that right so far?

 

Yep.

on Mar 19, 2017

Is a commander still somehow assigned to your own fleet when doing a "martyr" attack?

Even if only pragmatic civs get to use that option I'm wondering if there could be rare occasions of two fleets plus commanders meeting eachother, deciding both to act as martyrs. Would that mean those two fleets take out eachother?

 

 

 

on Mar 19, 2017

Unless something new is going on, I don't see why you couldn't (indeed, you should) pull all of your ships out of the fleet just before the fateful moment.

I suppose that it is possible that adding a commander might lock ships into a fleet, but I doubt it, why hobble an early commander with tiny ships that you could replace with larger ones later?

Even assuming a Commander MUST be part of a fleet, just remove all but one ship (that it would be the smallest, most outdated one would be the obvious)

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