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mikew

Tales of an aging gamer....

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Sounds reasonable.  I started gaming late.  Bought a video card for a PC in about 1994 which came with a game called Earthsiege 2, a mech game.  Played that and a couple follow-on versions of the same game until 1998 when I discovered EAW.  Played that for many years thereafter, then lost interest in gaming mainly because the steep learning curves in the newer games required more time to master than I had available. 

 

Earthsiege and EAW had one thing in common: they offered fairly challenging scenarios that didn't take lots of time to complete.  In either game I could sort of "kick the tires and light the fire" and get on with a few missions, then hang up the controller and go do whatever chores a house and family seem to generate in endless variety.  I tried at least ten different games in several genres and never managed to find that ease of use in any of them.

 

I tried War Thunder for a couple years starting in about 2013 and liked it, mostly for the same reasons I liked my earlier games.  Then the whole WT universe became overrun by kiddies wanting a thrill and who cares about realism.  The WT management went along with that attitude for reasons of financial gain (for which I can't blame them).  Thus, for some time, I did not game at all.  Then I found World of Warships.

 

The same company produces World of Tanks, and World of Warcraft, both of which feature steep learning curves mixed with tough scenarios (mostly in Tanks) and mindless missions (mostly in Warplanes).  Neither appealed to me.  World of Warships is somewhat different.  There's no first-person fighting to it and the controls are of the standard keyboard type used in many games, but with a twist due to the type of vehicles involved.  Ships don't move fast, they turn slowly, their guns cycle relatively slowly, and the overall situation seldom requires split second decisions and action.  Close-quarters combat with guns and torpedoes can be fast and thrilling, but those episodes don't happen all the time (to me anyhow).  But the biggest plus for WoWarships is that I can crank it up, run a few missions, and go on about my business.

 

For the time being, I play WoWarships in the lower to middle tiers as the upper tiers can get very competitive.  I don't have the time or energy (or money) to become a top-notch fighting admiral of the ocean sea.  :)

 

OG

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I've never been interested in online gaming so haven't tried the 'World of..' series. Nice looking games though.

I also appreciate the slower pace of naval combat and played ta lot of Silent Hunter III around 2004. Some missions could take days.

 

There won't be another period like the mid to late 1990s though where I happily sunk a lot of time playing F22 ADF/TAW, Caesar 3, Pharaoh, Civ2 etc

These games all came in big boxes, and heading into town to buy them was part of the enjoyment.

 

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Great thread ... this needs to get more posts, because it's relevant to us CSIM'ers.

 

I've been playing ARMA (since the Operation Flashpoint days) and IL-2, online in multiplayer vs game AI, with a immutable core of Bastards since 1999 or 2000 (yeah, that's not a typo).

 

IL-2 died out for us a few years ago, and since then we've played ARMA3 exclusively ... and we still do. But recently ...

 

Two of us, me and Deacon, we've started playing DCS World, and dayum, we have some fun ... but it's not for the faint of heart or faint of wallet.

 

Learning curve is steep, but certainly not insurmountable. I'm 56 and have no-fucks-to-give, and I can do it, so really, it shouldn't be difficult for anyone who ever played air combat sims ever in their life.

 

Like all things simming, it's about the community. It's about your online friends having been in the newbie's shoes and not dissing the FNG's. That was why (forgive me a moment of narcissism) I started CSIM --- to share the knowledge.

 

2019 is, literally, a NEW YEAR, and I would love to mark this new year with growing our little CSIM band of DCS flyers with some new recruits.

 

I'll leave this here ... I await your replies ( I couldn't feel more awkward than if I were standing here naked).

 

 

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Great article. Thanks for sharing it mikew. My gaming hasn't radically changed since I purchased my first Acer desktop PC in early 1994. It was after I injured my back in October of 1993. I took some courses at the local community college on how to use the thing, learned Word Perfect, numeric keyboard, brushed up on typing, since I hadn't done much of it since high school. No need to type as an auto technician. No computers at work back then. First games came in a three pack, one was Battlehawks 1942 by LucasArts I believe, Aces of the Pacific and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe. Then there was Aces over Europe. See a trend here? WWII history buff turns to these types of games. Then I found CSIM, European Air War was released, and my life was forever changed. Flying online with many of you, many nights and weekends, the friendships that were kindled, the enjoyment, eventually having a get together in Maine, hosted by Mane Raptor, attended by many of us from CSIM. Gunny, Canuck, Rommel, Rodger Bilko, CobraJ, Zhukov and some of our wives. 

 

Then IL-2 came, which was OK, but I remember the bitching of people online flying and some here on the forum arguing about the minute flight characteristics of the game. It started to turn me off from flying. The need for constant practice in flying a particular aircraft, its degree of difficulty and realism, took much of the fun out of it for me.

 

Call of Duty, my first purchase of a FPS, drew me away from flying. Bilko and I spent hours playing it online. Then the cheating online got so bad that ruined online gaming for me, unless one of us hosted the game between the two of us. Had a great time with many of you playing Operation Flashpoint. The Dude usually hosted it if I remember correctly. Then as time went on, I spent more time here on the main page and forums. I still play first person shooters, singleplayer though. No longer online. Have been playing Sniper Elite 4 and Call of Duty WWII lately, but not as much as I used to. Interest is waning. Plus have been busy fixing PC's for neighbors, and keeping busy with being our maintenance contact for our Condo Association. So priorities have definitely changed. Haven't had my joystick out in a few years. Or my flight stick out of the closet either! :D

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Excellent article and a big thanks to Mikew for posting it.

 

Video games were not around when I was a child.  I was in my teens when video games first arrived and by then I was into cars, sports, card games, and pinball machines for my limited entertainment time.  I did not get exposure to personal video games until I finished my bachelor's degree.  I was interested in aviation and the best way to get into an aviation career was through the military.  Unfortunately, I fell short of the vision requirements during that time, so I gave up on the idea of being a pilot.  I was introduced to computer flight simulators in the form of MicroProse F-15 Strike Eagle.  Compared to the real thing or today's simulations, it was incredibly simple, but it was my start.

 

I liked F-15 Strike Eagle so much that I did buy a personal computer, an Amiga 500.  On that machine I played F-15 Strike Eagle, Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer, and Elite.  After a few years I gave my Amiga 500 to my mom, who wanted to try a personal computer, and bought an Amiga 2000.  It was definitely an upgrade and made the games run much faster.  From there it was to Intel or AMD based PC's and flight sims such as Aces over Europe, Jane's U.S. Navy Fighters 97, and F/A-18 Hornet. Then European Air War came out and the offline campaigns were great.  It was no longer about completing one mission in order to advance to the next level, but success or failure of missions affected the outcome of the entire campaign.  Yes, several times the Nazis won the Battle of Britain due to my poor decisions and skills.

 

It was about this time that I also started to dabble in civilian sims.  My first civilian flight sim was titled Fly! and I did not have a clue as how to operate it.  I managed a few flights, but it was far more in depth that the combat flight simulations of the day.  I went back to those flight sims and expanded them to include Combat Flight Simulator 2, which featured far more realistic graphics and flight modeling than my previous sims.  I enjoyed CFS2 as I was always fascinated with combat in the Pacific during WW II.  Then IL-2 Sturmovik:  Pacific Air War was released and I had to have it.  It's graphics were really good, but it also taxed my computer.  It was with IL2:PAW that I had my first experience with online gaming.  I remember my first flight was a bit of a test run with The Dude and Gunny.  It was a limited flight and I managed to take down a Jap with a huge deflection shot.  After that, there were a number of Friday and Saturday nights spent online with the guys here at CSim, waging war over the digital Pacific Ocean.  This is also where I found that it could be difficult to balance flight simulators and real life.  I was so involved with online flying that my marriage was suffering.  Decisions needed to be made and I greatly reduced my online time.  As the virtual VMF-124 moved on to ARMA, a first person shooter sim, I found it difficult and frustrating to master keyboard and stick commands for things I would normally do with my legs and arms.  I called it quits to online gaming.

 

I returned to civilian flight sims with MicroSoft's Flight Simulator 2004.  By this time I had enough time in CFS2 and IL2:PAW to have developed fairly good flying skills.  After a few years with FS2004 and many of the bugs worked out of FSX, I moved to MicroSoft's Flight Simulator X.  Today, FSX is the only sim or game on my computer.  I don't even fly it as much as I used to, it seems that as I get older, I'm just not as interested in such things.

 

That's an overview of my experience with digital games.  I know I have left out a lot of game and sim titles as I cannot remember all of them.

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I checked out DCS a few months ago and decided the learning curve was too steep and the cost too much for a casual gamer.  I've never been much for digging into modern aviation military electronics and weapon systems.  Hell, I never flew any sim with anything but simple controls: no pitch control, no cowl opening and closing, etc.  DCS appears to require delving into that stuff to a degree I'm not willing to do.  If I'm wrong about that, I'd like to know.

 

The sim is definitely interesting.  I watched a number of videos of guys driving A-10s around, busting ground targets and maneuvering against enemy aircraft.  They clearly knew the A-10 weapons systems and flight characteristics intimately: the kind of familiarity only hundreds of hours of practice gives you.  It was cool though.

 

OG

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Very interesting subject. Never gave any thought to other peoples experience and comparisons with my own, so this actually got me thinking, which I haven't done for several years! But as I'll be 88yrs old next birthday I have as good excuse as any to make that statement.

I found Donnies statement about "not having his joystick out in a few years" very interesting, because my wife can attest to much the same complaint in our household, but the above excuse still stands me in good stead!

But as far as playing Computer games, I haven't been online for team play since the days of yore with CSim,, which was a high-water mark for me. I so fondly remember flying off the Carriers with Gunny, Donnie, Stans, The Dude, et al in our trusty Corsairs, hell bent to smash the Japs (is that OK to say today?) in the Islands.

Now I half-heartedly fire up the Machine and piddle around with "Call of Duty - WW2", (can't get past that damned Jerry in Bunker 5!) or "Cliffs of Dover - Blitz" which, although totally superior to the old Flight Sims requires a lot of thought which is not my strongpoint! I have in my collection other games like "Total War- Medieval War" and "Napoleon" but all the planning required and concentration of effort just bores me silly.

No, I guess the time has come where I would be better off just reading a good book (they still have those?) whilst wallowing in TIMES GONE BY!

Whatever, this is still a great post, and you guys are still my buddies!

 

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5 hours ago, Old Guy said:

 If I'm wrong about that, I'd like to know.

 

OG

You might not be wrong about that, Jim, but I'm sure you are wrong about other things.  Just go ask your wife and she's likely to tell you all about the things about which you are wrong. :rofl:

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I'll say this about DCS: It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but there are plenty of aircraft that don't require a Master's Degree to fly.  There are no shortcuts to fighting the aircraft, but that's what makes it so satisfying.  When you finally earn a kill (especially your first guns kill), it's special.

 

I think the Huey is one of the most fun modules for DCS, and it's simple enough that you can cold-start it in six steps.  The difficulty (and fun) is actually flying it, which is something that took me about 4 hours of practicing hovering before the proverbial light came on.  Now I can land on the back of a frigate with regularity, do landings in hot LZs, and basically have loads fo fun.  The only thing I'm terrible at is sling-loading, and it's just because I haven't put in the time to really learn it.

 

For fighters, the Mirage 2000C has a very nice and comparatively simple avionics suite, and the best autopilot in the game.  Just enable the autopilot and use the hat switch to set pitch and heading, or use one of the altitude settings.  There are plenty of switches, but most of them are set-and-forget.  As a first generation fly-by-wire, it's not a difficult plane to fly, but it will punish you if you abuse its envelope.

 

Finally, there is the Flaming Cliffs 3 line, which has controls identical to Lock On (and Flanker 1 and 2 for that matter), but with much improved flight modeling.

 

I think the best part of DCS is the multiplayer because everybody can contribute in a different way depending on how the mission is set up.  We've done Red Flag exercises where F-15s and A-10s covered the rescue of a downed pilot (and yours truly flew the Huey), or having Hornets fly CAP while Harriers buddy-lase for others (like the aforementioned Mirage).  Find the right group of guys, and they'll help the learning curve along, or even tweak the missions to accomodate people (e.g. allowing warm starts so you don't have to remember/perform an 8 minute startup procedure).

 

EDIT: I almost forgot the free A-4E Community mod.  This is a well-designed module that's easy to fly, simple to fight (though not necessarily easy), and the price is right.

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I'll put in another plug for the Strike Fighters 2 series of games.  They scratch the IL-2 itch of lots of aircraft to fly, varying assists/realism levels, and decent systems modeling without being <ahem> DCS.  All of the games can be merged to the same install, so you can have one install with all theaters and flyable aircraft, along with a dynamic campaign.  If you don't see the aircraft you want to fly, there is probably a high quality mod you can download.  Only downside to SF2 is that it's single player only, which is a shame because the multiple aircraft and the campaign engine scream for multiplayer.

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Dang, Whizzer, I remember when you were just a wet-behind-the-ears punk kid of 74 years old. Time ... she do fly! Glad you're still gaming, even if it is Call of Duty ... which is fun, and that's the point, right? You know, there's no law that says you have to fly, you could just log into our Discord server and say hello (or just hurl some well-intentioned insults, because that's what we normally do to each other).

 

OG: yeah, the learning curve is straight up for the avionics and weapon systems. I struggle just to retain what I've learned in one cockpit, let alone four or five different aircraft.

 

The learning curve can be made a tad shallower if one always assigns the same functions across all aircraft to the same buttons and keys. For example, my trim in both the Hornet fighter jet and the Huey Helicopter are on the same button ... so I got that going for me :)

 

Donnie: I hear you about the soul-sucking nature of online multiplayer, especially in MMOGs where any 14-year-old (or 40-year-old) with an attitude can pretty much ruin the experience in a matter of moments. That's why our ArmA and DCS squads with me, Deacon, Gunny and Madman have always played against computer AI, never other carbon-based hoomans.

 

But even without anonymous humans ruining our gameplay fun, the never-ending arms race between our PC hardware and the latest and greatest game software updates can be equally demoralizing---one day our game software and PC hardware systems run together like a well-oiled machine, then the next day after the game updates, our graphics cards start blacking-out like delicate Victorian damsels overcome with the vapors. Software updates are free, but new video cards aren't. Sadly, I'm a sucker for pretty sims, so I take my bottles to the recycling depot and save money with coupons so I can keep upgrading my rig. But it's not all bad news: I was able to build a shed in my backyard with the discarded PC carcasses around my house and even shingled the roof with old (but perfectly working) motherboards and video cards. Okay, I'm just kidding about that last bit :)

 

mikew: I scanned that article and had I not rediscovered my love of air combat simming with DCS, I would've agreed with everything in that article ... heck, it could have been written about my gradual loss of interest in video gaming. My problem, as the article states, was lack of time. I simply had too many other distractions in my life dealing with work and my aging parents. But things eventually settled down and after running out of movies and tv shows that interested me, and home-improvement projects, I found I was just plain bored ... so, after much prodding by Deacon, I took up the challenge ... griping and bitching the whole way, mind you ... and started flying DCS. The bug soon bit and I was as interested in flying again as I was back-in-the-day. But that's just me.

 

Home Fries: I wanted to echo your sentiments about "finding the right group of guys". Having fun is always our primary purpose in the VMF-124/Bessie's Bastards squads, and teaching newbs makes the game more interesting for us, not less. I'll try to coordinate with Deacon to join you on your Black Veal squadron server for a Saturday session!

 

Edited: spelings, werds.

 

 

 

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We'd love to have you guys.  Tomorrow probably won't be a big turnout due to the playoffs (a few of us are Seattle Seahawks fans who will be watching the game), but we're definitely interested in adding folks.  We already regularly fly with the Virtual Armed Forces (led by one of the guys who used to fly Total Air War with us), but we love to do missions with a lot of roles and things going on.  We also primarily fly coop to keep the frustration level to a minimum, and when we do PvP (like during those Red Flags I mentioned) it's with an aggressor squadron that's more about training to objectives than it is about tea-bagging us online.

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19 hours ago, Stans said:

You might not be wrong about that, Jim, but I'm sure you are wrong about other things.  Just go ask your wife and she's likely to tell you all about the things about which you are wrong. :rofl:

 

Oh, that's a given, Stans.  I don't have to ask.  A certain minimum items about which I am wrong are metered out each day.  Fortunately, my hearing has never been good and as for memory -- hah!

 

OG

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15 hours ago, Home Fries said:

Huey is one of the most fun modules for DCS, and it's simple enough that you can cold-start it in six steps.  The difficulty (and fun) is actually flying it, which is something that took me about 4 hours of practicing hovering before the proverbial light came on.

 

Hah!  Reminded me of a story I don't think I've told here.  Sit down, Donnie! 

 

Back when I was a lowly PFC air traffic controller at Fort Rucker, I spent a lot of time at training fields working traffic.  Mostly I worked fields where the students were learning the ropes in the Huey.  One day when lunch time came I went down to the operations building, which functioned as a mess hall.  I noticed a single UH-1D hovering about 200 meters from the building and wondered about it, as it was raining cats and dogs (this is Alabama, after all).  Inside, I heard one of the instructors explaining the situation to the flight commander. 

 

"I told him to forget lunch.  He's gonna hover that sonofabitch until I tell him to stop.  Maybe then he'll keep his head out of his ass."  Or words to that effect.

 

I have no idea if the student eventually graduated or not. 

 

That reminds me . . .

 

Okay, Donnie.  Jeez.  Maybe some other time.

 

OG

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15 hours ago, Home Fries said:

I think the Huey is one of the most fun modules for DCS, and it's simple enough that you can cold-start it in six steps.  The difficulty (and fun) is actually flying it, which is something that took me about 4 hours of practicing hovering before the proverbial light came on.  

 

Still waiting for that light to shine on me. Those #@*&! VRS stalls!

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1 hour ago, The Dude said:

 

Still waiting for that light to shine on me. Those #@*&! VRS stalls!

 

VRS is tricky.  Two things you can do.  Big thing is to make sure your VSI doesn't fall below 500fpm (or make an aggressive pitch pull before it approaches 1000fpm).  If it gets below 1000, all you can do is move yourself out of the vortex ring into clean air.

 

The other thing is to pick up a Jetseat and download Simshaker for Aviators.  The feedback you get will let you know you're entering VRS before you can see it on the gauges!

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Hah!  Reminded me of a story I don't think I've told here.  Sit down, Donnie! 

 

Back when I was a lowly PFC air traffic controller at Fort Rucker, I spent a lot of time at training fields working traffic.  Mostly I worked fields where the students were learning the ropes in the Huey.  One day when lunch time came I went down to the operations building, which functioned as a mess hall.  I noticed a single UH-1D hovering about 200 meters from the building and wondered about it, as it was raining cats and dogs (this is Alabama, after all).  Inside, I heard one of the instructors explaining the situation to the flight commander. 

 

"I told him to forget lunch.  He's gonna hover that sonofabitch until I tell him to stop.  Maybe then he'll keep his head out of his ass."  Or words to that effect.

 

I have no idea if the student eventually graduated or not. 

 

That reminds me . . .

 

Okay, Donnie.  Jeez.  Maybe some other time.

 

OG

 

The Huey has ropes? I would have thought they used rubber bands. Who'd a thunk it?

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Helicopters do not fly, airplanes fly.  Helicopters just beat the air into submission.

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2 hours ago, Stans said:

Helicopters do not fly, airplanes fly.  Helicopters just beat the air into submission.

I thought that helicopters were so ugly the ground repelled them. :D

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Hey!  Helicopters aren't ugly.  Well, some of them anyway.

 

I think the original Huey Cobra AH-1G was a damn fine looking machine. 

 

Mind you, I was a lot better looking then as well.  Allegedly.  Possibly.  In my imagination.

 

OG

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Mind you, I was a lot better looking then as well.  Allegedly.  Possibly.  In my imagination.

Yes, that constant thwap, thwap, thwapping of helicopter blades can really mess with your mind. ;)

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On 1/5/2019 at 3:21 PM, Old Guy said:

 

Hah!  Reminded me of a story I don't think I've told here.  Sit down, Donnie! 

 

Back when I was a lowly PFC air traffic controller at Fort Rucker, I spent a lot of time at training fields working traffic.  Mostly I worked fields where the students were learning the ropes in the Huey.  One day when lunch time came I went down to the operations building, which functioned as a mess hall.  I noticed a single UH-1D hovering about 200 meters from the building and wondered about it, as it was raining cats and dogs (this is Alabama, after all).  Inside, I heard one of the instructors explaining the situation to the flight commander. 

 

"I told him to forget lunch.  He's gonna hover that sonofabitch until I tell him to stop.  Maybe then he'll keep his head out of his ass."  Or words to that effect.

 

I have no idea if the student eventually graduated or not. 

 

That reminds me . . .

 

Okay, Donnie.  Jeez.  Maybe some other time.

 

OG

Hey Jim, 

 in the 60's my Uncle had a farm in Opp Alabama and I remember the Huey's training near by all the time. wonder if they Were from Rucker. I would visit every Summer and loved seeing and hearing the  whup whup whup of the rotors! summer of 68' I was walking in the road with my cousin we were about9 years old and we saw a Huey off in the distance. he came zooming up the road low level and about blasted us over! he pulled up in a graceful arch and I remember to this day the door gunner flashing us the peace sign as they whipped by again!  We had the thrill of ouryoung lives!

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4 hours ago, cobraj said:

in the 60's my Uncle had a farm in Opp Alabama and I remember the Huey's training near by all the time. wonder if they Were from Rucker. I would visit every Summer and loved seeing and hearing the  whup whup whup of the rotors! summer of 68' I was walking in the road with my cousin we were about9 years old and we saw a Huey off in the distance. he came zooming up the road low level and about blasted us over! he pulled up in a graceful arch and I remember to this day the door gunner flashing us the peace sign as they whipped by again!  We had the thrill of ouryoung lives!

 

Now there's a coincidence.  My eldest daughter was born in the hospital at Opp back in 1969.  Long story.

 

Yes, the helicopters were from Rucker.  There were training fields all over that part of Alabama, and even down in Florida.  I worked stage fields in the summer of 1966, including Marianna and Malone, Florida.  In about September I was transferred to Hanchey Army Heliport, then the largest (and busiest) helicopter airfield in the world.  We had about 100 TH-13s and probably that many UH-1s of various flavors, along with some CH-47s, CH-34s, and even a few CH-37s (big beast, two large radial engines, left a trail of oil smoke wherever it went). 

 

OG

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wow small world! just remember the Hueys  all day long every day!

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