The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on July 14th, 2013 at 11:44 am.


Sundays are for arguing with people on the internet. So often, sadly, it is an activity akin to arguing with aliens from a world where stupid is the main language. Cheer up, though, Jim. You’ve got a Sunday Papers to compile! Hooray!

  • Mike Rose writes about “chasing the whale”, which is not some sort of new-fangled drug abuse, but actually about the ethics of F2P games. The drug metaphor isn’t lost though, because there’s the sad tale of the TF2 junkie: “There were nights where I’d be up until 3 am drinking beer and playing Team Fortress and chasing those silly hats with purple text, ignoring the gambler’s fallacy and swearing that if I dropped another $50 I’d be sure to win this time,” he adds. “Then I’d wake up the next morning and see that I’d not only spent over a hundred dollars on digital hats, but failed my only objective by uncrating a bunch of junk.”
  • Naughty Warren Spector said stuff and used the “Kane” and “Ebert” words in polite company. It has been much debate.
  • The story of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines: “Bloodlines was sent out to die. An unfinished game released prematurely by its publishers Activision, it didn’t stand a chance on the shelves, especially alongside the hotly anticipated Half Life 2. But the commercial death of Bloodlines wasn’t the end for the game. Thanks to a German analytical chemist with a passion for fixing broken things, Bloodlines has received not six months of additional work, but nine full years.”*
  • Catch up with PC Gamer’s Crusader Kings diary:
  • Should games that want to be movies be watched as movies? No need to speculate, folks, because people are already doing it: “Yes, I just used the word “work” to describe a 15-hour game like The Last of Us. It’s a game, so it’s meant to feel like “play”, but The Last of Us does not want you to settle down and feel comfortable. The journey feels instead like a miserable slog punctuated by moments of high anxiety—as well it should. It’s set in the middle of a god-damned zombie apocalypse. That sensation of stress and collecting what you need to survive and barely making it is not a pleasant feeling, per se, and it’s not meant to be pleasant, either. But what if you already felt that feeling of living in a high-stakes Hollywood action film for fifteen hours, and now you just want to … well, sit back and watch that movie?”"
  • Eurogamer on the Oculus Rift creator: “My biggest score was a unit that originally cost about $97,000 in the 90s,” he tells me, “and I picked it up for $80. Shipping wasn’t included and I had to actually drive to the warehouse and go get it, but those are the kind of deals you can get… There’s very little demand for outdated virtual reality equipment.”
  • This article on “gameisms” and Tom Bissell’s writings contains a couple of very salient points, if only the author would get to them more quickly. Brevity can be a powerful thing! Here’s one: “Sound stage games are, as it happens, just about the only kind of game that Bissell covers for Grantland. He has written tens of thousands of words on L.A. Noire, BioShock, Arkham City, and a dozen of their genre kin. True, he’s also written articles about Catherine and the Madden franchise, but those are exceptions in a catalog overwhelmingly devoted to hard-nosed anti-heroes roaming 3D worlds for something to kill. He is, in that regard, the most visible of a school of video game journalists who plainly see those games as the industry’s best hope for shaking its reputation as an expensive, time-wasting hobby.”
  • Kotaku on Cate Archer: “I love this scene so much. We’ve seen a variation in plenty of movies: After braving hell and high water to reach her goal, the heroine is greeted with doubt. “Hold that thought,” she says, turns, and proceeds to blow away like seven dudes. She turns back, cool as anything. “What were you saying?”"
  • Mysterious space signals! Man, it is going to be a fascinating but dark day when alien reality TV starts arriving.

Music this week is this track by Black Moth Super Rainbow.

*Has anyone actually not played Bloodlines? If not, get through the first few hours of it, at least. Beautiful thing.

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130 Comments »

  1. Creeping Death says:

    I haven’t played bloodlines! Tried to, but the first hour didn’t click with me at all and I eventually got distracted by other things.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I played it for a while, enjoying it. But then I reached a point with lots of combat (railway yard or something) and there was something that killed me a lot. I think my build was off, but I’m not sure in what way. I certainly wasn’t making a combat build, but is ranged or melee better?

      Basically, I wish there was a mod that removed a lot of the combat (or made it easier). The quests were very good, especially playing as Malkavian (the mad ones?).

      • InternetBatman says:

        In my experience, melee is better for mobs, ranged is better for bosses. The brute force ventrue and malkavian powers generally work almost as well as persuasion and provide combat benefits to boot. I usually mix melee with a bit of stealth. I actually do think the game gets better as it goes on, until close to the end. They do make several dungeons too big, but they’re easier as you go along since your character is better at doing what they can do. The last four levels are incredibly long dungeon crawls though.

      • chackosan says:

        As a Toreador, Persuasion got me out of quite a few jams, and then Celerity+Auspex made me a six-shooter menace. Generally there wasn’t too much trouble with combat, although running backwards and firing did become a go-to tactic.

      • eclipse mattaru says:

        I played a highly stealthy Ventrue my first time through, and I almost didn’t need to fight at all. The stealth kill becomes very overpowered very quickly, but it’s a good thing if you don’t like the combat system. You are well advised to keep ranged combat at a decent level, though, because (unfortunately) some bosses can only be beaten with guns (including the final one).

        As for Malkavians, they’re hands down the class that better show off the genius of the game, there’s no arguing that, but I think it’s better to play one in a replay –there are a few major Malkavian-specific additions that I think are best enjoyed if you have the memory of a “normal” playthrough to compare to.

    • WrenBoy says:

      Well if you didnt enjoy Santa Monica I would say there is no point in trying again. The game gets worse (at least after the first two areas) as it continues rather than better.

    • povu says:

      I played it a few months ago. You definitely need to put some points into combat skills. Persuasion and such can get you a long way, but there’s a ridiculous amount of combat in the later stages on the game.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        That’s a shame. Some games have great combat, and I love the challenge. Other games it feels like punishment. I felt Bloodlines leaned a little bit too much to the latter.

      • blackmyron says:

        No, a lot of missions before the end can be beaten with stealth. The entire railyard can be beaten without getting into a single combat (sneak kills are always insta-kills, anyways).

      • Fiatil says:

        The first 80% of the game is really good at rewarding you for stealth. You get bonus XP if you beat that rail yard mission without killing anyone, for example. If you find the combat frustrating there are a lot of clan choices that will let you do a lot of talking while still killing everything really easily. A gun focused Toreador with Celerity is the most obvious; bullet time with as many persuasion skills as you want. I’m a personal fan of Tremere because Thaumaturgy (blooooood magic) is ridiculously cool and useful, and Tremere are pretty damn good talkers as well.

    • Inzimus says:

      spent a whole lot of time with Live Roleplaying Vampire the Masquerade, back in the 90′s, which was one of the best things I’ve spent my time with
      this game, however much I want to love ti, just doesn’t cut it for me
      been trying to get into it since it was released and always have it installed with the latest (unofficial) patches on my computer, but never manage to get the ‘feel’ that I got from playing it Live

    • Iceman346 says:

      For me it was love on first sight. Back then HL2 reached me a little earlier and I had played it for a bit when, about 2 days later, my copy of Bloodlines arrived. I installed it and just wanted to take a quick look which evolved in a complete playthrough (including using a console command to bypass an unavoidable crash which prevents getting through the release version of the game) while HL2 was sitting there, unplayed (and I finished it years later).

      While Bloodlines has rough edges everywhere, even with all the patches, the atmosphere, the writing, the maturity of the world, the aspect of choice and the solid (but not spectacular) gameplay foundation created a mixture that resonated with me completely. If I had to write down a top 5 of games I played since I started gaming (back in 1994) Bloodlines would most likely end up on the top spot.

    • charlist05 says:

      just before I looked at the receipt for $9131, I didn’t believe that my friend actualey taking home money parttime from there new laptop.. there moms best frend had bean doing this for only about nineteen months and resently paid for the loans on their condo and bourt themselves a Lancia Straton. this is where I went, >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>bidznew.COM

  2. The JG Man says:

    All I can think of with that last point is that there’s a group of aliens out there somewhere watching Single Female Lawyer…

  3. Stellar Duck says:

    I’d sacrifice a goat if I knew that would bring back No One Lives Forever. Those games were so good.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      Fuck yes.

      I would happily kill everyone here for a No One Lives Forever 3.

      I mean actually happily.

      With a merry tune on my lips and a meat cleaver in my hand.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        I’d resort to cannibalism to get another No One Lives Forever. Let’s work together!

        • tobecooper says:

          So Pineapples is going to kill you and then you’re going to eat yourself?

          In the name of NOLF, I can watch that!

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I suppose if I had to eat myself in order for another NOLF to see the light of day, I would make that sacrifice for the greater good of all. Just make sure to thank me at my memorial service.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Time for a No One Lives Forever battle royale, I’ll provide the island! And remember, if you die, you don’t get to play it, so get training.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I like how the co-op in NOLF 2 was you going round prepping the missions or cleaning up after. Also the chase scene in that game was one of my favourite moments in an fps.

    • Mo6eB says:

      I found it strange the author thinks the only way to get a copy of NOLF these days is via gougingly-high priced ebay auctions.
      As we say in the ‘hood, you just gotta hit the old ‘T Onna Real Respect Elephant Nigga Turfie’S ✌✍✋✌✋✌✌✋✍✊✊✌ know what I’m sayin’¿

  4. Andy_Panthro says:

    On the subject of “games as movies” I’ve been playing “The Walking Dead” and it REALLY wants to be a TV show, with a small element of choose-your-own-adventure.

    I’m really not liking it at all so far (only just into the second chapter). I will persist with it (assuming it’s fairly short), but at this point I really don’t understand why people praise it so highly. Perhaps that comes with future episodes?

    • tranchera says:

      It gets better, but it is hard to shake the feeling you’re not playing much of a game and rather just clicking some dialogue options every now and then.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Thanks, I guess for the story I’ll try and finish it, but it’ll be the last Telltale game I’ll ever buy.

      • AngoraFish says:

        The choose your own adventure options are almost completely free of significant consequences, the illusion of control marginal and the moonwalking interludes only serve to drag out the time investment into game-length territory. The game would have worked better as a internet cartoon series on nearly every conceivable level.

    • ikbenbeter says:

      TWD has an amazing story, but it is far from the complete package. Gameplay is stale, bland and easy at the best of times, and I really wish Telltale would at least try to put a convincing puzzle in there. I think that you’re right when you say TWD wants to be a TV show rather than a game, because it has all the elements of a good TV show but lacks some on the game side.

    • WrenBoy says:

      I picked it up in the recent sales and felt pretty much the same way.

      The interface is extremely clumsy, there are so many invisible walls it feels like its trying to be more of a street mime than a tv show and several puzzles involve pointless pixel hunting.

      There is almost no player agency, scenes which I never experienced are shown in episode summaries and conversations I never had are occasionally referenced.

      I thought the actual writing was as good as the tv series and books though.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Yes, the interface is rather poor. A proper point-and-click would have made more sense, but I assume they were designing for consoles? That and the whole “cinematic” thing, which generally just means having restricted camera angles much like Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil did many years ago (and got a fair amount of criticism for, even though it’s one of the things I don’t actually mind).

      • Vegard Pompey says:

        I got really fed up with the pixel hunting, but after a friend informed me that there was an option to have everything selectable display a white marker (an option which would be unchecked if you selected “minimal interface” when starting the game) I ended up loving it. Yeah, it’s not much of a game… but it’s a terrific interactive story with far better writing than the TV series (then again, that’s not saying much).

        • WrenBoy says:

          I did play it on mimimal interface and it took me almost all of episode one to find the option you mentioned. While this improved things a lot I still find its a bit pixel hunty.

          The vast majority of the scenery is not interactive but often inactive objects become active after a trigger. This results in me often wandering around an area trying to figure out what I have to click on to get the story to progress.

          For instance, at the start of episode 3, you are investigating how a flashlight was broken. I was told that there was broken glass nearby and went to investigate it. I looked at the glass and assumed there must be another clue nearby and spent a while looking for it before giving up, going back and talking to the same people trying to trigger whatever I was missing. Eventually I touched the glass instead of just examining at it. Then the nearby wall became selectable and I could continue. I had been hopefully clicking on the same wall minutes before.

    • Chalky says:

      I’m not sure a choose your own adventure tv show is a criticism of The Walking Dead game – I totally agree that this is what it wants to be but loads of people seem to like it.

      Personally, it’s probably not something I’d spend money on ’cause it’s not what I want from a game, but I guess being a gamer doesn’t mean you have to enjoy every game, even if it’s popular.

    • DrScuttles says:

      Well it’s certainly better than the actual Walking Dead TV show.
      Anyway, if you’re on the second chapter and you’re not getting into it yet, then it’s probably safe to assume it’s not really your cup of tea.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      the besst way to think of TWD is as an interactive graphic novel that uses choice making, player control and game-mechanisms to draw the reader into the story as a participant in a way that a reader of a book might not experience. The game elements aren’t really there to test skill or provide an experience of mastery and practice like many other traditional games. I personally think TWD should be viewed as an evolution of interactive fiction, and a bloody good one at that.

      For exxample – SPOILER

      Furiously hacking at the bear trap chain to no consequence before hacking at the tree, before having to make the decision to go for the leg, causing the player to experience first hand the desperation and frustration of the scene, rather than having it described to them by the actors.

      • WrenBoy says:

        Its certainly got its good points. I like the way they execute the actual act as well. Multiple messy hacks as opposed to a single clean one.

        I preferred a scene at the end of the same episode where you were forced to fight an assailant. After getting the upper hand you apparently have no option other than to continue hitting him and his face gets gradually more hurt. You can either continue beating him until his death or just stop hitting him for several seconds in the hope that the game will take the hint which it does in a satisfying but rare moment of player agency.

    • Strangerator says:

      I got the full story of TWD game along with some hilarious commentary, all for the price of some time on YouTube. I’ve found that these particular LP’ers have a pretty good dry sense of humor at times, and the games they choose tend to lend themselves well to viewing. Heavy Rain, Walking Dead, and Last of Us to name a few. They usually have subtitles turned on, so you can tune them out and read the story if you’re really interested. Also expect a lot of pop culture references that 30 somethings can identify with. It’s also become a bit of a “show” in itself, where sometimes you watch just for the commentary when the game is less interesting. It’s two-for-one entertainment much cheaper than cable!

  5. dahools says:

    Speaking about games i had more fun with RPS’s down site. Castle shotgun was much fun it is sad that there are worse games/stories that get sold than simple things like what you have produced there RPS .

    YOUR SITE SHOULD GO DOWN MORE OFTEN. but not too often and update that little text rpg.

  6. LTK says:

    Shit. Now I feel really bad about selling all of those Steam trading cards. From that article on whales it seems more than likely that the free Steam credit I buy games with is the rent money of someone who couldn’t control their addiction.

    • basilisk says:

      I’m sorry to say that is pretty much the case. It may go through a network of traders, but ultimately yes, the money is siphoned off some poor sucker at the bottom of the pyramid.

      This is why I refuse to participate in the cards game. I’ll happily give them to anyone who asks for free, but that’s it.

      • Feferuco says:

        I don’t think that there are people addicted to these cards right now and I don’t think the whales scrapping by to buy more stuff in a game are the majority of players. The GS article itself says that. Also wouldn’t call it a pyramid.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Given how base human psychology is, I’d bet real money that there are plenty of people addicted to those stupid trading cards. And it certainly is a pyramid scheme — you’ve got the compulsive users on the bottom, the periodic users right above them, the speculators on the third tier, and finally Valve at the top of the pyramid.

          Christ, there are people who have already hit Steam Level 65+. You don’t get there without investing a massive amount of time and cash. Anyone who’s willing to go that far is most likely suffering from some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

          • Feferuco says:

            I don’t think human psychology is base. People don’t just get addicted simply because a game (or substance) is supposedly addictive, there are a lot of other factors that drive addiction.

            Also it isn’t a pyramid just because you can put it as if there were layers to it. Pyramid schemes are a specific thing, not a bad word to throw around.

          • basilisk says:

            Feferuco: That would be the reason why I didn’t call it a “pyramid scheme” but merely likened the structure to a pyramid.

            Also, some games are not “supposedly addictive”, but quite objectively so. The human brain has a number of well-described weaknesses that are rather easy to exploit.

          • Feferuco says:

            Basilisk I didn’t say you described something as a pyramid scheme. Also since we’re talking about the Steam Trade Card game, I went with supposedly.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Pyramid, pyramid scheme, I honestly don’t think there’s a big difference in the case of Valve’s trading card system. You’re welcome to liken it to whatever you want.

          • Deadly Sinner says:

            Pyramid schemes are where people give money to those higher on the pyramid for a chance at money from those lower on the pyramid. Steam trading cards bear no relation to pyramid schemes.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            The speculators are indeed benefiting from the bottom two tiers, and Valve is benefiting the most at the top. It’s a pyramid scheme where the only real-life money being made is being made by Valve.

          • The Random One says:

            “Christ, there are people who have already hit Steam Level 65+. You don’t get there without investing a massive amount of time and cash. Anyone who’s willing to go that far is most likely suffering from some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

            Or, you know, it’s just someone who’s so rich that money has no meaning for them, and they thought “I want all of the cards” and clicked the buy button on all of them. Such people do exist, you know.

    • Csirke says:

      Well, I don’t know about the other parts of the market, but I did a little calculation for the summer sale cards:

      You can only ever get badges up to level 5, each needs 10 cards, currently all cards hover about 0.20 €, on the market, so on the summer sale cards you can spend at most around 10 €.

      Having an upper limit on the spending, and a pretty low one at that, makes this not exploitative in my eyes. It’s a meta-game, sure, but we’re all on steam to pay for games, right?

      • basilisk says:

        You’re forgetting about foil cards (and corresponding foil badges), profile wallpapers and emoticons. Yes, each of those is more ridiculous than the next, but these are all things real people are also paying money for as we speak. I have no idea what the prices are now, but I’ve seen at least one of each of those easily go over €10 on the market last time I checked.

        So the spending ceiling is much, much higher. Also, cards are being added to games at a very fast rate.

    • AngoraFish says:

      You’re absolutely correct.

      By describing the system innocuously as a “trading card” activity, when in fact it is simply an enormous churn for microtransaction fees in Valve’s market, Valve fails corporate ethics at the first hurdle.

      Valve has taken another step towards doing evil, and is rapidly becoming little better than Zynga and similarly exploitative FTP companies whose profits, like any other gambling company, are largely generated by those who can least afford it.

      Next up – ‘booster packs’ (crates) that drop semi-regularly into your inventory, sitting there temping you to buy a key to unlock a virtual chance at an endorphin rush.

      • The Random One says:

        The fact that cards are not sold, and can only be bought on the market from another player, is the final masterstroke to completely disguise the fact that this is in fact a microtransaction.

  7. phenom_x8 says:

    Why gaming aren’t found their Roger ebert or Citizen Kane, maybe this is why :

    http://penny-arcade.com/report/article/youve-got-to-hide-your-love-away-behind-the-stigma-of-being-an-open-gamer

    And seriously, reads the comment section. Plenty of the comments are the same with what I’ve been through all this time, whether in school or at my workplace (especially at those “my spare time is much precious than yours because I didnt do gaming in the weekend”).
    But, thankfully its getting much less for now due to the booming of tablet gaming, I even be able to introduce some of my fellow co-workers who only knew angry birds or PLants vs Zombies with a wider choice of gaming from Eurotruck series and surgeon simulator 2013 to GRID and Trials series (although not yet touch much more serious indies and RPG’s).

    BTW, like what have Nathan wrote, I don’t think gaming (and we as gamers) needs their Citizen Kane’s things.

    **Edited for wrong person

    • dE says:

      Yeah, I’ll chime in with the Stigma. At some point it was even hinted at that I had to be a pedophile by some co-workers, because obviously only pedophiles play games when they’re older than 21. Also never make the mistake of trying to draw paralells to the holy entity Poker. Poker is god’s gift to man and shitting away money in gambling is obviously the very mature thing to do.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        This is something I never experienced frankly. Whether it was luck or just my pretty face, I never had to face criticism of any sort at work, or from friends because I openly state I play games. In fact what I always experienced is people asking me if I have anything that can be installed on their machine.

        43 years old is not old, but it’s a whole lot of years for anyone not to have experienced this supposed big stigma issue going on.

      • Iceman346 says:

        While it never reached such extremes as in your case I generally shy away from revealing my gaming hobby with people I meet for the first time.

        In my workplace, while my coworkers generally don’t really game (except for some mobile gaming or a Wii here and there) I don’t get derisive comments when I mention something. I don’t do it often though as I know that most of the people there don’t really know what I’m talking about.

        But as I as a person enjoy a lot of stuff that is generally seen as nerdy or strange (all manner of trading card games, tabletop games, video gaming, graphic novels, obscure horror movies, the lot) I try to hold up a more “respectable” facade with new acquaintances as many people will react negatively.

        I get a similar, albeit not so strong, vibe from my most prominent subculture. Being a heavy metal fan and pretty open about it (I often wear band shirts and I have long hair) there are sometimes similar reactions. As it is an older and more accepted culture they don’t happen that often but they are still there and when I talk about it with other people on music festivals they also mention that their weekend planning is not necessarily known to their coworkers, especially when the work in jobs that are seen as prestigious or sensitive like teachers or higher ups in the public administration of a city.

      • yoggesothothe says:

        Out of curiosity, whereabouts do you live? Sounds like America (from the spelling of pedophile)? Would you say it’s a prejudice exacerbated by regional cultural values?

      • The Random One says:

        Are you posting from the 90′s? Because everyone I work with either games, or are very acclimatized with the concept of games, even if only their children do it. In fact, every game-related conversation I’ve had at work has been started by someone else.

    • Somerled says:

      So much blabber about families vs. video games. My only thought was, when I have kids, I’m going to play video games with them every chance I get.

      • phenom_x8 says:

        Ha..ha.. much agree with that. I’m gonna take my children to play in the future too
        Because the problem is not with my families frankly, my late parents are totally support my hobbies (they even bought me my first gaming machine,a Nintendo clone callled Spica) and sometimes my father plays with me (some casual gaming like tetris or snooker) in the time when community thought that gaming only makes your children a stupid lonely fat kids . In reality, I have many friends due to my gaming habit (I always inviting the kids of my neighbour to play along with me back then), and I’m always get the first rank in my elementary and junior high class for 9 years in a row (like what my parents believe that gaming is great for brain :D ).
        What I didn’t like very much is “my spare time is much more precious than yours because I’m not gaming in the weekend” stigma that haunt me especially in my workplace.

    • blackmyron says:

      I’ve never actually encountered this. Most of the people I know personally and professionally play video games, and they come from all walks of life and range from their 20s to 40s. But looked down as some sort of child molester? Yeesh.
      If anything, playing video games makes you want to stay away from kids – especially teenagers – as much as possible. Especially in anything multiplayer, because they are the worst.

    • Wisq says:

      I was never even aware of that stigma. Wow.

      My first job started as a co-op student and ended up lasting over ten years. It was a very small and informal company, managed by a pair of older gents (with whom I was good friends), and while they were perhaps a bit confused by my “obsession” with games, they knew I was quirky and they were neither judgemental about it nor completely gaming-illiterate — at one point, one of them bought “Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed” (being a big Porcshe fan) and a wheel kit and played it on the office projector at lunch for a while.

      My current job is ridiculously gaming-friendly. Our CEO was the top-ranked (non-pro) Starcraft 2 player at one point. We’ve got a dedicated games mailing list, a Google Docs spreadsheet for all our gamertags, various random LAN parties and board games nights (a bunch of them were playing Duke 3D just this past Friday evening) — not to mention our lounge features three pinball machines, an XB360 and PS3, some old Nintendo hardware hooked up to an ancient TV, a foosball table (with homemade electronic goal-sensing buzzer), and a Pac-Man table.

      Obviously, this is something of an anomaly, but I (perhaps optimistically) suspect it may become more common as time goes on and businesses start to adapt to the new generations of workers. They already need to try to appeal to the modern generation of 20-somethings that all grew up with games — many of whom have rejected the notion that you “grow out of” them — but they’re also increasingly going to start being owned and operated by said generation, who will see no problems with cultivating a games-friendly atmosphere.

      I do know that if I found myself in the situation reported by the emails in that article, I would be quitting ASAP. My standards are way too high at this point, and I know there’s better jobs out there.

  8. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Not much this week.

    Still a little baffled by Nathan’s triggered reaction to Spector’s thoughts. Would love to see a follow up. Something on the lines of “ok, let me explain better why I think we shouldn’t have authoritative, qualified, game criticism”, or “hmm… maybe I misread”. Nathan’a article, as it stands, is a confusing mess that doesn’t even seem to address what Spector said and prefers instead to sit on the already boring self-congratulatory mantra that there never has been a better time to play games…. Duh!

    • PopeRatzo says:

      that there never has been a better time to play games

      Actually, I believe we’re right at the end of that “never been a better time” thing. The corrupting influence of F2P gaming, which is almost certainly destined to become the primary model for new games, will bring this brief golden age to an end.

      • JackShandy says:

        Wooooah, I don’t think that’s true at all. What makes you think that free-to-play is destined to become the go-to model for games?

        Edit: When you pay for a game you spend a relatively small amount of cash, so you can spread the love around. Free-to-Play games rely on Whales who aren’t going to be spending their money on anything else. it’s like WoW: You can only really get into one subscription-based/free-to-play obsession at a time.

      • Feferuco says:

        I think it’s the opposite. A problem most games have, well not most but like, a problem a lot of AAA games have is trying to mix gameplay and a story, and nine out of ten times that doesn’t work. You can’t have both in the types of games we most often see, specially action games, unless you have a super airtight concept.

        With F2P I see larger studios just moving out of the traditional AAA 60 dollar fare. If they do that, I think we have more focus on the actual game element, which is what they do well, instead of trying to tack a story on top of a game, or at least trying to tack a meaningful story. Large studios will always stick closer to what is safe, even with the occasional risky game, and what is safe is fun gameplay in one of the many established genres.

        So what will happen, will it be all F2P? I think what’ll happen is there’ll be a lot of space left vacant when it comes to creating more than just mindless fun. More space really means people being more open when looking for alternatives other than F2P. I think there’ll be more room for games to grow this way.

      • Strangerator says:

        Free-to-play games aside, you’re forgetting the Kickstarter revolution. While it is true that the pace of gigantic Kickstarter drives is slowing a bit, we have yet to see many of them reach completion. But if games like FTL are any indication of the quality we can expect, we’re in for some great gaming once the like of Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity are released.

    • Grygus says:

      One problem with Spector’s position is that he frames guys like Leonard Maltin as “normal people,” as though Maltin’s entire life wasn’t movie criticism. He started writing about film when he was a teenager! Writing about movies was the vast majority of his output, he wasn’t some sort of outsider. We do have a Leonard Maltin; in fact we have a whole collection of them right here on RPS.

      “Normal people” aren’t getting their movie reviews in the New York Times, either.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        I believe you misread him too. Here’s the quote from where Maltin is mentioned:

        What we need, as I said in an earlier column, is our own Andrew Sarris, Leonard Maltin, Pauline Kael, Judith Crist, Manny Farber, David Thomson, or Roger Ebert. We need people in mainstream media who are willing to fight with each other (not literally, of course) about how games work, how they reflect and affect culture, how we judge them as art as well as entertainment. We need people who want to explain games, individually and generically, as much as they want to judge them. We need what might be called mainstream critical theorists.

        If you believe RPS is that place, it isn’t in my opinion. I’m not so ready to link any RPS writer to video games as one would link Maltin to movies. I’ve seen enough of RPS through the years to look at this blog as a place of entertainment — and some annoyance once in a while. Not as a source of game criticism or comment. But that’s me.

        But despite any judgment, what Spector speaks exist in another plane. Maybe RPS, Polygon and other mainstream blog/news websites do have the intellectual manpower to feed the type of game comment he’s talking about (note, not game reviewing, comment or criticism). The trouble is that these aren’t the proper places to conduct that activity. If you wish to reach other audiences with a serious attitude to game criticism you need other mediums too. Newspapers, books, magazines. And you need to refurbish your own web presence to reflect that game critic activity.

        Anyways, Spector isn’t being offensive to anyone. he’s not even ignoring a whole media that developed around the video game industry since as early as the 80s. Game critics aren’t being asked as a replacement. But as different voice in the already deafening cacophony of game inspired media, in my own opinion largely (but not entirely) defined by an amateurish and unskilled approach to journalism and integrity.

        • The Random One says:

          Therefore, the problem is the mainstream media does not want to cover game issues the way it covers movie issues. The mainstream media also happens to be losing a lot of money as video games are eating up more and more of their target demographic’s time and money, so why would they have any interest in legitimizing it in that way?

          I’ve also never seen such an argument taking place about books, but this doesn’t mean books are not an estabilished artform. Quite the opposite: it means they’re so widespread that discussion about them is renegated to certain niches.

          I do agree there needs to be a greater shift from ‘game review’ to ‘game criticism’, which is unlikely to happen for as long as our happy little medium is obsessed with technology and the latest shiny new thing. I henceforth suggest RPS creates a new column called Wot We Thought, to be published between six days and a year after a game’s release, in which such a game is discussed earnestly and deeply, in a way target at people who have already played it, without fear of spoilers or any purchase recomendations tainting it.

    • Isair says:

      I don’t think Nathan’s article was a specific reply to Spector, as much as a general annoyance with people name-dropping Hollywood.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Most definitely he is. But equating comparisons to the movie industry as an inferiority complex, ignoring that parallels can indeed be drawn between both entertainment forms, and referring to the movie industry as being Hollywood, doesn’t seem like the makings of a good argument.

        if Chad Sapieha draws comparisons with the movie industry in order to make a point (wrong in my opinion) that we have potential technological limitations to properly store and preserve old game classics, this isn’t some acknowledgement of computer games inferiority. If Warren Spector compares movie critics to a new breed of game commentators he would like to see emerge, he isn’t acknowledging games are inferior entertainment products. If a bunch of indie developers sit around a table drawing comparisons with the movie industry concerning the creative process. that doesn’t mean we want to be like the movie industry.

        Despite Nathan’s chagrin, the game industry — and community as a whole — is advancing rapidly and independently as he himself acknowledges. Where’s the problem exactly? Seems like false alarm.

        Comparisons with the movie industry are mere conveniences of speech.

        • Lanfranc says:

          “But equating comparisons to the movie industry as an inferiority complex, ignoring that parallels can indeed be drawn between both entertainment forms, and referring to the movie industry as being Hollywood, doesn’t seem like the makings of a good argument.”

          Actually, it seems to me that this sort of almost instinctual aversion to comparisons with other forms of mass media is in itself a much more significant expression of insecurity.

          (“Nuh-uh! No way we’re gonna be like those guys! We’re our own thing, and we’re gonna be much better than them!”)

  9. PopeRatzo says:

    Even the best F2P games make me feel dirty. Planetscape 2, for all it’s joys and the wonderful camaraderie of the giraffes, leaves a sour feeling in my stomach.

    I really really don’t like it when the the price of things is hidden in order to try to fool me, which causes me to have to pretend I don’t notice, which sets off a whole series of sickening negotiations of deceit inside me.

    I don’t like people who try to hide the real price of the things they are selling. I didn’t like it in my first marriage, I don’t like it in my banking transactions, and I absolutely, most certainly, don’t like it in the things I do to give me joy, such as gaming.

    F2P is a whore’s promise. Marketing manipulation at its most pure. Maybe it is the perfect transaction model for our times. I hope it doesn’t become the default until after I’m too old to care.

    • Grygus says:

      It’s not the model, it’s the implementation. This will (presumably) improve as time goes on. I play a handful of F2P games, and while most of them get it wrong, there are a few that just seem like free/cheap games to me. Of course, this is going to vary somewhat; I don’t care whether the guy next to me has a bigger sword and prettier horse, and I have no ambition to be in the top 5 on the server in anything, so the things that annoy me in a store aren’t going to be the same things that annoy someone who’s driven to be the best. There are ways to appeal to all of the Bartle types, though, and I think once developers figure that out then F2P will stop being a pejorative term.

      • RobF says:

        Rubbish. It’s the model entirely. In order for F2P to spin those coins from one person’s pocket into anothers you become entirely reliant on designing a videogame around making that happen. You have to, there isn’t another way to handle it. You’re no longer attempting to make a complete work (or episodic work) and trying to find the most equitable price for both yourself and the person buying your game, you’re trying to skim a constant flow of money because that’s what F2P is.

        No matter how fun a game you design, you’re always building a coin funnel and you can trace a line in how “put a coin slot in it” evolved the arcade game from Space Invaders to the “make it harder” of Sinistar to the “make it impossible” of Gauntlet and the money pump of the INSERT COIN TO CONTINUE when the scrolling beat ‘em up dragged the dying breaths of the arcade through its final hours. None of these games were ever improved by “put a coin slot in it” although the redundancy of Gauntlet as a game without it is telling. We were, as a medium, better without it, we evolved better and more diverse games without it because home computing and it’s one price, one game policy allowed that.

        So no, it is not the implementation because the implementation must by design infringe on the game and I don’t know how that’s defensible if you care about games. I just don’t.

        • PopeRatzo says:

          That’s right. It’s entirely the model. F2P relies on obfuscating the true cost of the game, and hiding the true cost is all the rage in a growing number of industries, from telecommunications to consumer electronics (see Apple) to online services (see Google) to gaming.

          The idea is to make sure you do not know how much you are really paying, or in the case of Google, to not know the true value of the currency (personal data) with which you are paying. If people really knew what their personal information and eyeballs on ads were worth, they’d be expecting a lot more from those services. If people really understood the extent of what was being collected by Google and specifically how it is being used, they’d expect a whole lot more from Google.

          The model where a product has a known price, and the transaction is transparent, is endangered. Even when you go to the store now, they want personal data at the checkout, which they use to boost the bottom line. Unless you’re buying produce at a farmer’s market or cabinets from a local carpenter, I can’t think of many consumer transactions that are still reasonably straightforward and honest rather than obfuscated.

        • Lyndon says:

          It can have benefits for primarily multiplayer games though.

          Because the revenue stream is consistent and ongoing it means the developer has incentive to continue to release new content, patches etc to keep the game fresh. Multiplayer games also don’t need to be a complete work, in many ways it better if it’s an organic entity that grows and changes.

          Look at League of Legends it’s a much better game now than at release, because they’ve have literally years of continual development on it. That’s just not possible with the boxed game model, which has it’s own problems like it’s tendency to create annual titles which barely change the game, but require a new $60 purchase every year.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        No, it’s definitely the model. The core idea of F2P is “make a game that is in some way quantifiably bad/dissatisfying, and then charge money to make it better temporarily.” F2P is about making bad games on purpose, because if you make the free game excellent on its own, there’s no incentive to buy the premium stuff. Now, “bad” may be as relatively inoffensive as “it takes 50% longer to get neat stuff if you don’t pay,” and games that straddle the line like that can still be pretty fun in their own right; but at the end of the day, the game designer still carefully worked out a fun-optimizing effort/reward ratio and then deliberately broke it. Regardless, most F2P games aren’t “relatively inoffensive,” they’re full-bore pay-to-win, because that’s where the profit is.

        It’s hard to respect anyone whose business model is centered around making deliberately bad products.

  10. buxcador says:

    “Should games that want to be movies be watched as movies?”

    Yes, I enjoy watching other gamers on youtube.

    I’m fond of Dead Space on his hardest mode.

    But if the question is about the annoying QTE: No way! If I want a movie, I see a movie, and I do no want to be expelled from the theater, or my TV being shut down after suddenly getting harassed with “press E or die”.

  11. Kollega says:

    And this first article explains rather nicely why i think that TF2 was ruined by “free-to-play” and why “free-to-play” is inherently immoral. But anyone who could actually change anything about it won’t change it, because it’s too profitable.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      The reason it won’t change is that there’s a large market for it. Not so much, I think, because there’s a moral imperative in the hearts and minds of those selfish enough to develop this business model.

      It’s gamers that invariably perpetuate the F2P model and help make it increasingly more amoral. In an economy ruled by offer and demand, it’s demand that influences the most. Unfortunately, the success and dissemination of the F2P business model does not misrepresent gamers. We, gamers, are in fact an easy bunch to please. We lack for the most part critical thinking and prefer to ignore obvious transgressions to our consumer rights (which we wouldn’t allow of any other product type) for the sole sake of entertainment. We even elaborate complex excuses for what is an obvious inconsistency in our way of thinking as a consumer.

      All the sharks would starve and become extinct if there wasn’t fish in the sea.

  12. His Divine Shadow says:

    I don’t think Spector mentioned Citizen Kane though

  13. phenom_x8 says:

    Absolutely going to vote Miss Archer for president (I’ve never played one sadly, PC gaming are out of my reach at that time).
    The conversation between archer and goodman are trully revealing the problem that we got in todays gaming tropes. Personally I didn’t always agree with what Ms. Sarkeesian opinion in her analysis where, in my opinion, seems like trying to push an agenda that any man characters in video game can be replaced by woman without much problem. I think It wont solve the problem, it will only reverse the tropes again and invites another debate without any clear ends. How to solve it for the video game writers or designer is like what Miss Archer says, woman are woman, not a man and can be anything they want or they didnt want.
    The answer are pretty clear since 13 years ago about how not to make a tropes , and yet we just thought (or realized) it just recently. Thanks PC gaming! CMIIW!

    • Gap Gen says:

      It’s sort of interesting that my young teen self completely missed the gender stuff. I suppose it’s the kind of thing where you have to be more aware of social trends and the cultural history of your country to get. All I remembered is that the first game is a better shooter but the second is far funnier.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      It’s also a good lesson in how to make a point without being all pompous about it. ;)

  14. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    People who have those kind of obsessive drives should really try to find games that offer those kinds of random drops without allowing them to spend money. I’ve been playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and it offers the thrill of that kind of gameplay without ever permitting you to spend a dime on it.

  15. rsf says:

    The Mike Rose story. Hm.

    I see a lot of the responses received from from ‘whales’ during the study that say their massive expenditure is justified or at least not too bad.This may be a case of them just trying to rationalise things away and avoid looking bad.

    Last Sunday’s version linked to a good article which said that the part of the brain that can weigh up instant gratification against consequences is not fully developed until the age of 25.

    Do the right thing RPS, and follow up by asking a professor of Psychology who specialises in addiction to review that evidence and comment on cognitive bias under those circumstances. Professors are nice and love to speak about issues they are trying to fix. Here’s an opportunity to be more Journalistic and stand out even more:). Beats releasing scraps of AAA hype where it’s impossible to offer conclusive judgement or not being able to publish AAA reviews until gamers are too busy buying as you often complain, right?.

    Companies like Valve who have economists on their staff can easily fund a study to see what stage of life the ‘whales’ are, their income levels. After than, it’s just a matter of handing over the data asking the right professors to determine the impact spending large sums of money will have. Most of these people might be students or people in the early stages of careers/relationships who are already close to or below the poverty line.

    Then gaming companies can implement a cap. As the article mentioned gaming companies aren’t exactly tobacco companies..also the people who actually create 100% of a game aren’t in marketing, so I’d expect them behave.

    Not exactly a fan of the F2P/Microtransactions Model which seems to be encroaching on sacred single player territory now. Even having advertising in a side bar for non-paying members is better because at least it will mean people are actually focused on the game.

    The F2P model might get unexpectedly large income now because of its novelty but if every game switches to it won’t things revert to square one?

  16. elevown says:

    Why did you even mention aliens in the ‘Mysterious space signals’ link? It cant possibly be alien communications- did you read the article?

    Its talking about ‘extremley’ energetic events – on the astronomical scale – even a sun exploding isnt energetic enough – they say things like a supernova with an orbiting neutron star getting hit – is the kind of energy we are looking at – i.e trillions upon trillions of times more powerful than anything aliens could beam out themselves.

    Interesting article though- because now they need to track down what massive steller events that are short lived, not TOO rare, and are THAT energetic. And whatever it is its interesting.

  17. pakoito says:

    Evolution 2013 finals is today, guys. Tune in to shoryuken.com for links to the streams and schedule!

    • Steven Hutton says:

      Listen you BUTTS! Even if you’re not into fighting games. Watch SOMETHING from the Evo finals. No matter what the endeavour when it’s done at the highest level of skill it’s worth watching.

      http://www.twitch.tv/srkevo1 The stream is here.

      • eclipse mattaru says:

        I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, so NO.

        If you expect people to click on your links, you might wanna do a better job explaining why they should even care. It’s Marketing 101, BUTT.

  18. jonahcutter says:

    It’s discouraging to hear titans live Valve not being willing to discuss this directly. That kind of behavior is expected from an entity like Sony. But Valve is more closely linked with, and part of, gaming communities.

    When their model was described in the article, the first thing I thought is that it is basically gambling. But gambling perfected in a way. They don’t pay money back if you win, just a piece of digital art. They one-upped Vegas in that way. It’s less addictive generally, according to the expert in the article. But still pretty damn crafty on Valve’s part, as their payout has no worth outside of their system.

    That they’re not willing to discuss it speaks to them knowing the negative aspects to what they’re doing.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      People really need to stop viewing Valve as some kind of Werther’s Original grandfather who only wants the best for us. They are like Sony, they are like Microsoft, like EA, Activision and Ubisoft. They’re just smarter, years ahead in terms of business practices and much more savvy about their customer base. We’re so used to being screwed right in the face, we welcome and are thankful for a good ass fucking.

      • F3ck says:

        Well, if it isn’t the most profoundly accurate statement I’ve seen on the internet today. Clever is good, but when it’s also true…oh my.

    • The Random One says:

      I honestly think TF2′s F2P model would be, if not perfect, at least mostly morally sound, if it didn’t have crates.

  19. Strangerator says:

    “Should games that want to be movies be watched as movies?”

    Oh hell yes! So long as these types of videos are allowed on YouTube.

    I am consistently disappointed by modern AAA games, because they don’t provide me with what I expect of a game. Games I BUY need to have preferably all of these traits 1)choice, 2)challenge, 3)consequence. I have just completed my third run through the Witcher 2 (Dark difficulty!) and that game provided me all of my required game traits. As a nice juicy bonus, TW2 has a fairly nice lore component and a detailed game world.

    A game like The Walking Dead has choices, but zero challenge. It falls in the middle on consequence, with only some decisions and gameplay failures resulting in any consequence.

    But most AAA games fall short on all three. True choices are harder to program, and they make it harder for the game to be a single narrative string, like a movie. Challenge can spoil the pacing of your storytelling, so typically games will be unbearably simple on “Normal” and harder difficulties simply make the game more annoying rather than more challenging. And once depleted of choice and challenge, it is almost impossible to make me feel a sense of consequence for my actions.. as I feel I played no significant part in the story being told to me.

  20. blackmyron says:

    The Secret World hasn’t really made me feel that way. Additional gameplay content (i.e. actual missions and such) are added for additional cost, I paid it, I played it, it was fun.

  21. sPOONz says:

    Comment fail.

  22. WladTapas says:

    That Cate Archer article was so well done that I went and bought both NOLFs from eBay right away. :P I recall I had no PC capable of running them when they were new.

  23. Synesthesia says:

    long live BMSR!

  24. NathanMates says:

    Battlezone 2 was also pushed out by Activision to die — released December 28th, 1999, buried in the post-Christmas hangover. Battlezone 1 and 2 have had patches from members of their programming team, even some released in the past year. Unfortunately, apart from this site, seems like there’s not as much press love or attention. :(

    Disclaimer: I’m one of those programmers patching Battlezone 2. In my spare time. On my own dime.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Warm congratulations and thanks for your hard work. Where can we find more news and regular updates on your labour of love? Do you have a Twitter feed, blog, website, or stalker fan club?

      Edit: I just picked up my archive box of CDs and the Battlezone II CD fell out into my hand. You can’t make that sort of thing up. It is Fate, I tell you.

    • Cugel says:

      Wow. Battlezone 2 was one of my first Windows games (my family had Mac for a long time). Excellent, excellent game. It was ArmA before ArmA for me, in the sense that you had open environments and really felt like an embodied part of the battlefield. Getting out of your vehicle and exploring on foot was such a thrill, and really something new back then.

      The art direction was great as well, and some of the missions were exceptional in terms of atmosphere. I remember being completely immersed in the first mission on Pluto, hanging on the edge of my seat while navigating those icy canyons. One of my fondest gaming memories ever.

      So yeah, really cool that you keep it alive! It would be great to see it on GoG.

  25. ffordesoon says:

    That “gameisms” article is intriguing, and the argument is valid to a certain extent. Certainly, I think that The Last Of Us’ few gameisms can occasionally gnaw at the sense of believability the game works so hard to create. But while the author is correct in a lot of little ways, and while The Last Of Us in particular does occasionally trip itself up in ways that can be briefly troubling, I believe the author is ultimately incorrect in one big way: that alllowing for the occasional gameism in an otherwise realistic game is tantamount to admitting games aren’t as good as movies, books, etc.

    And the reason why it’s wrong is because it puts the onus on games to perform flawlessly when other media are allowed to get away scot-free with tons of equally glaring lapses in logic. The only difference is that those media have an easier time pushing those lapses in logic to the periphery.

    Take Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Maybe it’s not the best movie ever made, but it’s a movie generally regarded as very good indeed by many people, and it’s served as an inspiration for thousands of video games – not least Naughty Dog’s own Uncharted series. As a story, it is famously deeply flawed in at least one very crucial way that is almost never remarked upon: Dr. Jones himself is completely incidental to the plot. The plot-relevant Nazis would have all ended up getting their faces melted off with or without Indiana Jones’ involvement. In fact, all he does is delay their failure.

    How many people realize that when they first watch Raiders? A statistically insignificant number of people. Of those, how many care? An even smaller number. Raiders gets away with something that would be death for other movies – even other movies in its genre! And the reason it gets away with it is because [i]everything else is so good[/i].

    The Big Sleep? Great movie, great book. A certain minor character gets bumped off in it. When the producers of the film adaptation asked Raymond Chandler who killed that person, he realized he had absolutely no idea, and told them so. Didn’t matter in the end. The book worked, the movie worked.

    There are plenty more examples, both minor and major. Very few stories ever told don’t have some arguable plot holes; it’s just that very few people notice them in the face of the totality of the work.

    What games have working against them is simply that flaws like bugs or mechanical inconsistencies are tough to hide. At least The Last Of Us’ few mechanical inconsistencies are there to alleviate frustration, thus making them far less noticeable. I’ve never met anyone who isn’t willing to forgive a few niggling technical flaws if they don’t hugely impinge on the experience.

  26. eclipse mattaru says:

    Why does everyone ask for sequels or spiritual successors? Do you realize what you’re asking for? No One Lives Forever 3: Halo with a female protagonist. Also, a hunky dudebro love interest thrown in for good measure. Also, the art suddenly becomes all “realistic” and gritty, and everything looks greyish-brown, and the story is SO DEAD SERIOUS because it has AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO DELIVER.

    Motherfuck sequels/spiritual successors, I say. Just have someone (Night Dive, where are you?) re-release the originals on Steam and don’t let anyone touch the IP ever again.

    • The Random One says:

      I think you’ll find people ask for sequels/spiritual sucessors because they want a new game with a similar feeling to the old ones. The fact that sequels and some spiritual sucessors tend to be corporate-driven genre-of-the-day generic games with nostalgia paintjobs doesn’t mean they need to be.

  27. engion3 says:

    Because nothing you said is actually true.

  28. basilisk says:

    I really hope you aren’t serious.

  29. basilisk says:

    Alright, specifically these:
    1. Gambling as some sort of ethical obstacle to decent business practice
    2. People who don’t have money to waste generally stay away from gambling to begin with
    3. You generally don’t feel sorry for the losers, because it was their decision to spend so foolishly
    4. I find it hard to take sympathy on the kind of person who spends so compulsively

    To which I reply:
    1. Institutionalised gambling simply cannot be “decent business practice”, ever. Even if you actually were exploiting only the rich with money to burn, it’s still exploitation.
    2. Blatant nonsense. Perhaps at a specific office, but it’s absolutely not true in general.
    3. It was their decision at the beginning, perhaps. When the addiction develops far enough, however, it completely overrides any rational thought. Those people are ill, and do deserve sympathy.
    4. See 3. Sure, it’s hard to take sympathy on an alcoholic who keeps drinking, but they are usually unable to quit on their own. Sympathy and help is precisely what they need.

  30. GernauMorat says:

    Well put basilisk. My own thoughts exactly but much better expressed than I would have managed

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