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Subject: Sci-Fi TCG Commercial Project rss

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Monsieur Space
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Hello everyone,

We're a small bunch of entrepreneurs (for lack of a better term, really; I use the word 'entrepreneur' to say that we're working on this pretty seriously) working on a science-fiction trading card game. Undoubtedly many of you have played a card game or two, which is why we would like to ask you a few questions. Obviously, we think our game is (going to be) pretty cool, but you know what they say about artists judging their own work - not to mention that cool does not equal commercial success. So here comes:

1. First of all, this is important so we know whether you're in our 'target group' (and how large that group is): do you like science-fiction games, and/or trading card games? Are you open to trying out new such games?

2. How complicated do you like your games to be? There's no exact scale here, so examples are great. (The obvious example being MTG, more/less complicated than that?) Feel free to give a non-TCG example.

3. We're considering adding unique digital codes to the cards that can be exchanged for 'virtual cards' on the internet. Obviously, we're focusing on physical cards at this point, but if someday we decide to go digital, we would want everyone to be able to use the same cards online as they already have in their decks. People shouldn't have to buy new cards for a different method of play. What do you think of this idea? If you play card games, do you prefer physical/online (if any), and why?

That's all! We would really appreciate it if some of you could give us a better idea of what you like in a game by filling out some of these questions. Thank you.

Take care,
MrSpace
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Why do you want to make a TCG and not a 'complete game in a box'?
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Brook Gentlestream
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MrSpace wrote:
1. First of all, this is important so we know whether you're in our 'target group' (and how large that group is): do you like science-fiction games, and/or trading card games? Are you open to trying out new such games?


I like science fiction games and actively hunt out interesting-looking science fiction card games, like Battlespace (on GameCrafter, not the FASA game). However, I am burned out on Trading Card Games. Around here, the LCG model is much more popular, but I'm even hesitant about jumping into an LCG. I like stand-alone card games that I can play with a group of friends right out of the box, and perhaps buy occasional expansions for over time. Examples would include Innovation, Gloom, and even Munchkin.

If you're new to the term, an LCG refers to a trading card game where "packs" and "boosters" are not randomized, so you always know what cards you will be getting. Consequently, there are no "rares" or "wasted packs" that ruin the game for some. "Traditional" CCGs/TCGs spark up a lot of jaded resentment and harsh criticism here.

MrSpace wrote:
2. How complicated do you like your games to be? There's no exact scale here, so examples are great. (The obvious example being MTG, more/less complicated than that?) Feel free to give a non-TCG example.

More complicated is generally better. I want deep tactical strategy. I want bluffing and counter-bluffing. I wouldn't be comparing your game to M:TG, I would be comparing it to games like Android: Netrunner and BattleCON: War of Indines. You can go far more complicated than either of these though and you won't lose me. Just keep the token count down. Tokens/counters tend to be regarded as something of a necessary evil for me.

MrSpace wrote:
3. We're considering adding unique digital codes to the cards that can be exchanged for 'virtual cards' on the internet. Obviously, we're focusing on physical cards at this point, but if someday we decide to go digital, we would want everyone to be able to use the same cards online as they already have in their decks. People shouldn't have to buy new cards for a different method of play. What do you think of this idea? If you play card games, do you prefer physical/online (if any), and why?

This would have no effect on me what so ever, as I would not be interested in playing online. I would be much more interested in a mobile App that contained a database of your rules, cards, and errata for my use while playing the physical game.
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Andrew Rowse
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For what it's worth, small-scale TCGs do not work. A number of people have tried the model on Kickstarter, and the result is always the same - failure.

If you're absolutely committed to a TCG system, go digital from day one. That model does still make money.
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Monsieur Space
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byronczimmer wrote:
Why do you want to make a TCG and not a 'complete game in a box'?


A fair question. Quite simply, the gameplay works best with a TCG-like game. We've also considered LCG and a stand-alone card game coupled with expansions over time (as lordrahvin mentioned), but TCG is the default. (LCG is relatively easy to switch to, thankfully, but stand-alone+expansions requires a major changes in how the game gets played.) We're also investigating different distribution methods due to problems many people have with standard TCGs, but that's of secondary importance at this point.

lordrahvin wrote:

More complicated is generally better. I want deep tactical strategy. I want bluffing and counter-bluffing. I wouldn't be comparing your game to M:TG, I would be comparing it to games like Android: Netrunner and BattleCON: War of Indines. You can go far more complicated than either of these though and you won't lose me. Just keep the token count down. Tokens/counters tend to be regarded as something of a necessary evil for me.


Heh. The people I work with often complain that I'm always trying to overcomplicate the game, but I see this may not be too big a problem. Of course, many of the interesting complications we sometimes think of lead to an unacceptable increase in token requirements, so we try to keep those down - we share your sentiment on that one.

lordrahvin wrote:
This would have no effect on me what so ever, as I would not be interested in playing online. I would be much more interested in a mobile App that contained a database of your rules, cards, and errata for my use while playing the physical game.


Noted.

KAndrw wrote:
For what it's worth, small-scale TCGs do not work. A number of people have tried the model on Kickstarter, and the result is always the same - failure.

If you're absolutely committed to a TCG system, go digital from day one. That model does still make money.


That's actually a major concern for us. We're not really opposed to starting small and being able to go from there, but that's where we run in the chicken-egg problem of people not wanting to play the game because their friends don't play it. We think this is one of the major reasons online would work easier, in a way. We're still thinking about this one.
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Nate K
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KAndrw wrote:
For what it's worth, small-scale TCGs do not work. A number of people have tried the model on Kickstarter, and the result is always the same - failure.

If you're absolutely committed to a TCG system, go digital from day one. That model does still make money.
Unless you're selling ARC, apparently.
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Tim M-L
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1. I like sci fi games, but have no interest in buying packs of random cards. i actively look for good sci fi games and actively avoid TCGs.

2. I like games with a simple core and lots of options branching off of that. In any given game, I'd like to use about 20 of those options (from a pool of at least 100 or more) and be able to know which of them are in play for that game from the beginning.

3. Digital codes are visually ugly. Having one on each card would make every card ugly, making your game overall an eyesore. If you can come up with some sort of digital code that is not ugly, you could make much more money selling it to others than selling any card game. Having said that, I have no interest in playing online card games.
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Monsieur Space
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timlillig wrote:
3. Digital codes are visually ugly. Having one on each card would make every card ugly, making your game overall an eyesore. If you can come up with some sort of digital code that is not ugly, you could make much more money selling it to others than selling any card game. Having said that, I have no interest in playing online card games.


One thing we've considered is adding one 'digital card' to each deck/pack/whatever-distribution-form-we-use that contains a single code, which imports all of the cards in the online program. This has solves the problem you mentioned, but has the drawback of making it impossible to import individual cards.
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Drew Dallas
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kurthl33t wrote:
KAndrw wrote:
For what it's worth, small-scale TCGs do not work. A number of people have tried the model on Kickstarter, and the result is always the same - failure.

If you're absolutely committed to a TCG system, go digital from day one. That model does still make money.
Unless you're selling ARC, apparently.


Didn't ARC switch from the TCG model to the LCG model?

As to the OP, if the game play is good that is all that matters to me. However if you have packs of random cards I'll not even try it.
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Paul Hackman
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MrSpace wrote:
byronczimmer wrote:
Why do you want to make a TCG and not a 'complete game in a box'?


A fair question. Quite simply, the gameplay works best with a TCG-like game. We've also considered LCG and a stand-alone card game coupled with expansions over time (as lordrahvin mentioned), but TCG is the default. (LCG is relatively easy to switch to, thankfully, but stand-alone+expansions requires a major changes in how the game gets played.) We're also investigating different distribution methods due to problems many people have with standard TCGs, but that's of secondary importance at this point.



May I ask why? I'm having a hard time thinking of any gameplay element that is enhanced by the TCG model. Presumably the ideal state of the game is for players to be able to field a playset of whichever cards they want in their deck (assuming this game has personalized decks). Players can acquire a playset of necessary cards through the TCG, LCG, or standalone model except that the cost is usually significantly different. But I don't see the gameplay changing. I'd be interested to know what aspects of the game are enhanced by random distribution (perhaps booster draft is the preferred style?)

Anyway, I enjoy SF games, though I don't play any SF trading card games. I do play Pokemon with my kids and Shadow Era online.
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Tim M-L
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MrSpace wrote:
timlillig wrote:
3. Digital codes are visually ugly. Having one on each card would make every card ugly, making your game overall an eyesore. If you can come up with some sort of digital code that is not ugly, you could make much more money selling it to others than selling any card game. Having said that, I have no interest in playing online card games.


One thing we've considered is adding one 'digital card' to each deck/pack/whatever-distribution-form-we-use that contains a single code, which imports all of the cards in the online program. This has solves the problem you mentioned, but has the drawback of making it impossible to import individual cards.


I don't think it would be impossible. Is there a point to tracking each virtual common? Even virtual uncommons seem only marginally worth tracking. So, you really just need to pair the code card with the rare cards in the pack. The code in a random pack would get the buyer its paired rare (or are there two?) + X commons +y uncommons. Of course, this is coming from someone who would never buy such a product, so take that for what its worth.

I'm also curious what mechanic you've come up with that could possibly make randomly packed cards an integral part of the game. If random packing is so important, can you play the game more than once?
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Monsieur Space
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I think the concept of TCG is creating some confusion here. I didn't mean to say the randomization was such an important part of the game. It's not, which is why we also don't have any problems with the LCG model. What I thought people meant when they asked why it had to be a TCG was "why do you have to distribute the game in multiple packages?", the answer to which is "there are too many different cards and playstyles (at this point already!) to make it feasible to get everyone all the cards.

This is why I said the 'trading card game' concept was important for the rest of the game.
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Meaker VI
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Add me to the 'confused about why TCG is the go-to model' list.

You sneaky ninja you; your explanation is the only one I could think of that makes sense ninja

Do you plan to give us any details on how the game plays, what it's about ('Sci-fi' can mean anything from Attack Vector: Tactical to Battlefleet Gothic to Cosmic Encounter and beyond; and they're all wildly different in setting, mood, and gameplay), what mechanics it uses, or what it looks like? Have you done playtesting? Did the playtesters respond positively?

I don't think games are usually sold by finding these kind of metrics, it seems that games do better when they build up a community around them (PostHumous Z and Gunship: First Strike! being two that I found interesting recently, but I still didn't buy).
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Dallas Tucker
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pomomojo wrote:
May I ask why? I'm having a hard time thinking of any gameplay element that is enhanced by the TCG model.


Drafting is big money for MtG, and that is my guess as to why they want to go TCG with this game. [EDIT: very wrong]

Concerning the OP, I am a sci-fi and card game fan, having played a bit of Magic, and dabbling in a dozen other CCGs. My favorite by far was Decipher's Star Wars CCG. I enjoy complicated board positions, so more complexity is a good thing.

I like the idea of not having to buy real and digital cards. I recently sold my Magic collection, but I continue to play Pauper Magic online from time to time. I prefer the feel of real cards in my hand, but online makes it easy to mess around with different deck ideas and find people to play any time.

Personally, I think LCG is the way to go, and I only plan on getting into LCGs in the future if I do get into a card game. (Pauper Magic costs very little to keep up with, since it is only commons, so I don't really count that).
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Matt Lee
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Like everyone above, I won't even look at any collectible distribution for a game anymore. It basically tells me that the game is going to cost far too much to explore in any depth, and unless it has a big license behind it nowadays, will fail miserably (yet even big ones with a lot of money behind it have failed quickly like Chaotic and Radekai).

So my answers:

1: I love games of all types and will check out almost all games, and heavily sci-fi related, but will look with a rather jaded eye towards anything that starts with the TCG format of distribution, and may be harsher critically towards those games.

2: It depends on how you define complicated and how it relates towards the player interactions. I personally enjoy a huge range of games and styles, but how do you see your target audience? An audience who enjoys Galaxy Trucker would usually be a far different type of fan than one who enjoys Andriod: Netrunner or Race for the Galaxy. Other older CCGs like Dune and Babylon 5 were somewhat complex as well and I enjoyed a lot despite the heavy similarities to Magic at the time, but I do remember others were confused and turned off by the need for the rulebook to describe the symbols and special game terms.

3: I'm really old school, so I'm not a fan of paying extra for virtual cards and would prefer to have physical cards where possible. Chaotic already tried this tactic and it died in less than 2 years, I think. Servers off and everything. It had a big publicity machine and a popular show that ran until 2010, but I believe still airs today and is still watched, but the game is defunct. The numbers on the bottom of the cards were pretty ugly to me and it did take a while to put in all the codes when you bought a few packs. Either way, the extra expense of the online servers apparently was too much despite the marketing behind it. I can't say I'm too enthusiastic of your chances with an unknown product and no big license behind it.

Considering Netrunner started as a TCG and even the bigggest fans of it who were skeptical prior to the current LCG release have admitted that the LCG format worked out well in that format, I'm also curious to know what gameplay reasons you could have that are enhanced and not punished with a random pack method.

Edit: Since I was far too slow, I see the TCG explanation, but I'll leave my text above intact anyway. If there are too many styles and cards, then it still doesn't say to me that a TCG distribution would be a good idea. Better would be themed box sets that could be sol together and owning them all would give you everything, sort of like how Yomi is sold as one mega set and 10 individual decks, but instead sold as one mega set and 3 collections that work as self-contained games yet can also be combined into the full set of games. Of course, if you have that many cards in one set, I'd argue that you haven't edited down the game enough to try to make a single box set that would work. Again, take a look at what FFG did with Android: NEtrunner from the original numbers of individual cards and still made a coherent box set with the ability to build decks like its CCG roots and plenty of room to expand if it did well.
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I think you might be putting the cart before the horse here asking about market size and talking about going digital and other distribution methods, when you haven’t even said one word about the game.

So you are new to the site, which is fine, welcome aboard, you’ll find this to be an excellent source for advice given the number of industry designers and publishers that frequent the site.

Rather than jump into questions that really have no meaning, because we know ZERO about your game, I think this approach might be better.

First how about an actual introduction; who are you?, what are you working on?, why did you join the site?, etc, etc There is actually a place for that on the forum.

Then come over to the designer discussions and actually introduce you game, say hey we’re working on this game, we’re at X stage of development, it’s a card game in the sci-fi genre, etc, etc maybe go into the game play a bit, share some of the rules, show a few cards. Let people know where you are at in the development process. Is this a game you have been working on for years or have you just decided, we’re going to make a card game, now let’s figure out what assembly line method we can use to maximize sales: TCG Check, online Check. Etc

I have to ask how long did you look at the site before signing up and posting? If you spent any time at all reviewing the design, general or kickstarter threads you would know that yes this site does include the target audience for card games, however not games using any kind of random distribution or collectible card model. And if you had read through the threads you would know putting TCG in your subject line was probably going to generate some negative responses right off the bat, which frankly isn’t fair because you might have a great game idea, however the collectible card games distribution model does not receive a great reception at least in the design discussions. Also if you follow the kickstarter threads you would see that pretty much every CCG/TCG project has failed unless they revamped to a standalone game model or pre-packaged decks etc, in case you are interested in crowdfunding to get your project off the ground.


Forget digital at this point, frankly it requires different development methods and you audience base is slightly different as well. First I would concentrate on making a great card game that you can either take to a publisher or publish on your own.


If you’re at the point where you are trying to analyze the market to determine the market size, which it doesn’t sound like you are, but just in case you’ll want to reword the questions and I would also suggest putting them in a survey using a site link survey monkey and then posting the link here, if you intend to get any useful data.

These would need to be reworded to something like

1. Do you like games in the science fiction genre? Yes or No
2. If so what type?
A. Space Exploration
B. Space Warfare
C. Alien Races


3. How many games do you currently own in the sci-fi genre?
A. 1-5
B. 5-10

4. What type of game are they
A board game
B card game

5. Would you be interested in a new game in this genre? Yes, No
6. If so what decision criteria would you use in your purchase decision
A. The game is different from the games I current own
B. The game has a new mechanic
C. The game has


Anyway you get the idea, you have to have questions which provide measurable results, either yes or no or give people choices, that’s the only way you can do any kind of analysis to determine market interest.

Asking about complexity of games isn’t going to yield anything useful, because how do you define complex? Is this going to be the same as how other people define complex?
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MrSpace wrote:
byronczimmer wrote:
Why do you want to make a TCG and not a 'complete game in a box'?


A fair question. Quite simply, the gameplay works best with a TCG-like game. We've also considered LCG and a stand-alone card game coupled with expansions over time (as lordrahvin mentioned), but TCG is the default. (LCG is relatively easy to switch to, thankfully, but stand-alone+expansions requires a major changes in how the game gets played.) We're also investigating different distribution methods due to problems many people have with standard TCGs, but that's of secondary importance at this point.


No game works 'better' because of a random distribution model. Ever.

Either your game works with everyone having complete access to all 'parts', or it doesn't.

TCG is your 'default', most likely, because you are familiar with one of the few successful TCG models (i.e. Magic:the Gathering), and you are not familiar with one of the hundreds to thousands of attempted knockoffs that happened in the decade following M:tG's introduction.

Magic succeeds not because it is a good game, but because it has incredible support throughout the industry. Friday Night Magic, tournaments, world circuits, etc, etc, etc...

I seriously recommend taking a long and hard look at why you believe your game works 'best' when players randomly don't have access to all parts of the system, and remember that there will be some players who DO have access to all parts of the system.
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Well, I love Science fiction and I want to see the Science fiction community grow.

If you love Sci-fi then just make the game and develop the audience. Building any game, business, and community are all challenges that we have to face as designers. Thus just do it because you love Sci-fi. Don't give up your day job, and do it as a hobby in your spare time. Keep your expenses low, by getting free help from other people who have similar interests. It a great way to learn more people skills in negotiation and leadership skills, needed to develop a sustainable business and economy.

You just need to put up a website and commit some time and effort to building enough of a presence that people will remember your brand. Thus you get an audience by just doing stuff, as you make friends and develop your people skills you get a group of people playing the game so it no longer the chicken or the egg, cause if you do it a community will exist.

So put something up and quit slack jawing! You get the best results by doing! Zengoku out!

p.s. I am waiting for the space alien amazonian edition!
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MrSpace wrote:
I think the concept of TCG is creating some confusion here. I didn't mean to say the randomization was such an important part of the game. It's not, which is why we also don't have any problems with the LCG model. What I thought people meant when they asked why it had to be a TCG was "why do you have to distribute the game in multiple packages?", the answer to which is "there are too many different cards and playstyles (at this point already!) to make it feasible to get everyone all the cards.

This is why I said the 'trading card game' concept was important for the rest of the game.


As a former CCG/TCG designer It sounds more like what you really need is something like a LCG. IE: Non-Random. Core game and lots of expansions.

Or if theres alot of themed factions you can go the themed starter route. IE: Faction A is in one box, Faction B is in another, etc. Players can pick which they like and have it all in one box. Lots of card games, C and non, have gone this route. Even Monsterpocalypse went that route with a mostly non-c themed starter.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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He's probably not going to notice these responses.... That, or MrSpace has another account.
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Clive Lovett
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I maybe wrong but here is my 2 cents:

1. This is not necessarily your audience. I think most gamers on BGG have played TCGs and are have probably kicked the habit of having to buy boosters to fill the addiction. I believe TCGs are more attractive to teens and university students.
2. Design a good game first. TCGs start with decks (as do LCGs). If the game cannot be played with just basic decks then the game does not work. Once you have a solid game then think about how you want to progress...LCG, CCG.
3. As someone who is a fan of sci-fi...what is your definition of sci-fi? Star Wars is not sci-fi? (yes I am being a nerd)
4. Bringing in a new TCG will require lots of marketing unless it is based on an already existing 'universe'...although conversely, exploring a new universe could be exciting.

I wish you luck but I will not be buying anymore TCGs, so I am out.
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Nate K
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Stormtower wrote:

He's probably not going to notice these responses.... That, or MrSpace has another account.


He used his account for a grand total of two days? That's... kind of depressing.
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OP: "Hey guys, what's the scoop on a new TCG?"

BGG: "Stuff that."

OP: "I'll just get my coat."
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kurthl33t wrote:
Stormtower wrote:

He's probably not going to notice these responses.... That, or MrSpace has another account.


He used his account for a grand total of two days? That's... kind of depressing.


Any guesses on if they've gone forward with this game and if it matches anything that's shown up in the past few months?

It seems there's been a TCG or two with digital codes on them announced or KS'd that I vaguely recall (but I'm out of the TCG genre so my attention span for them is short).
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Sturv Tafvherd
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I should start a couple of geeklists ...
-- one for every thread that says "CCG" or "TCG"
-- one for every thread that says "Kickstarter Live!" but gets less than 10%

Then we can check who ends up on both lists...
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