Feedback: Why our group has decided to stop playtesting


General Discussion


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We just completed Chapter 6: Red Flags last night and will not be moving on to playtest Chapter 7. I'm not going to include any kind of narrative in this thread and I'm going to attempt to avoid any kind of bias. Our group runs the gamut from overly pessimistic to overly optimistic about the fate of Pathfinder 2e. So, I'm going to stick with "just the facts, ma'am" and list the feedback that contributed to the decision to stop playtesting.

1. Members of the group are not having fun. They understand the goals of the playtest and how it makes it different from a normal campaign, but these differences have a negative effect on their playing experience. Here are two examples:
---- Creating many different characters that are only played for a short amount of time lessens immersion and interest
---- Participating in "stress tests" of aspects of the system brings flaws to the forefront

2. Combat takes too long. The length of each character's turn seems appropriate but too many rounds are required to resolve a combat.

3. PCs feel like the deck is stacked against them
---- When a PC and monster tie initiative, the monster automatically goes before the PC
---- Monster AC, saves, attacks, spell DCs are too high, making PC attack, spells, and defenses feel weak (we understand this has been addressed by Paizo, but it is still relevant to this playtest)

4. Few options to reduce complexity. One of the members of our group prefers making straight-forward characters, focusing on passive or constant effects. He does not like the array of combat and noncombat abilities a character ends up with after creation. He either feels bad because he's ignoring all these situational options, or feels bad because he has to focus his attention on what his character can do rather than focusing on the story or situation in front of him. He does not feel that there are enough chances to choose a passive option when faced with a character creation choice. (this is exacerbated by the rate of character creation in the playtest, and lack of character mastery since they are played for a short amount of time)

5. Moving even farther from logic. We understand that this is a fantasy game, but especially when we compare it the PF1e, there are things that stick out to us as illogical or even unfair. One thing that came up many times were touch attacks: "The fire giant in plate armor should be easy to hit with a touch attack!" and the DCs of skill uses at higher levels (swimming, climbing, balancing)

Like I said at the top, this is just a list of the reasons that contributed to our decision to stop playing the playtest. This is not an indictment of the new system. We do not all hate it; we've just decided to move on and feel that it is important to be transparent as to the reasons why.

In an effort of fairness, so that this post is not entirely negative, here is a brief overview of some things we like about the playtest:
1. Action Economy. Intuitive and balanced, simple but allows for complexity
2. Modular class design. Creative and allows for uniqueness among characters of the same class
3. Parallel scaling. AC, attacks, saves, DCs, skills all being derived from the same formula allows for balanced and logical interplay (Roll X against Y DC works for just about any combination of X and Y)
4. New ability score distribution. You don't have to abandon all your other stats in order to keep your primary ability score as high as possible. This creates much more three-dimensional characters, opens up a lot of creative archetype options and character builds, and reduces a lot of the "MAD" issues of the previous game.

Thank you for your time,
Dragonriderje


Dragonriderje wrote:


2. Combat takes too long. The length of each character's turn seems appropriate but too many rounds are required to resolve a combat.

How many rounds did your combats end up being? I know people have said this quite a few times on the forum, but mine have pretty consistently ended up at 4-5 rounds (with the end fight of Mirrored Moon basically over by round 2 thanks to the blasting sorcerer).


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Cyouni wrote:
Dragonriderje wrote:


2. Combat takes too long. The length of each character's turn seems appropriate but too many rounds are required to resolve a combat.
How many rounds did your combats end up being? I know people have said this quite a few times on the forum, but mine have pretty consistently ended up at 4-5 rounds (with the end fight of Mirrored Moon basically over by round 2 thanks to the blasting sorcerer).

Using Heroes of Undarin as an example (since I tracked combat rounds on a spreadsheet and thus know the answer).

Heroes of Undarin spoilers:
Event 1: 7 rounds
Event 2: 10 rounds
Event 3: 9 rounds
Event 4: 6 rounds
Event 5: 8 rounds
Event 6: 20 rounds (ended in a draw because the demilich ran out of resonance but the heroes weren't dead, so it just flew away)
Event 7: 17 rounds (it was clear the PCs weren't gonna win this one, but it took 17 rounds to finally finish them all off, mostly because of Heroic Recovery from hero points and lots of healing)

I realize Heroes of Undarin might not be the best example because it was made to be a combat slog, but it goes to point number 1, I think, to show that even though it was intentional it still felt very unfun.

My, personal, ideal length would be: The occasional 3 round stomp, most fights going to 5-6 and the occasional 10 round slog.


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Dragonriderje wrote:

Using Heroes of Undarin as an example (since I tracked combat rounds on a spreadsheet and thus know the answer).

** spoiler omitted **

Wow, that's pretty consistently twice as long as the combat for my group was. No wonder combat feels like a slog for your group!

I don't have any idea what's causing this disparity, though. Strange.

Silver Crusade

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Thebazilly wrote:
Dragonriderje wrote:

Using Heroes of Undarin as an example (since I tracked combat rounds on a spreadsheet and thus know the answer).

** spoiler omitted **

Wow, that's pretty consistently twice as long as the combat for my group was. No wonder combat feels like a slog for your group!

I don't have any idea what's causing this disparity, though. Strange.

I think that you're probably the outlier in this. Certainly I feel that combat is routinely taking far longer than in PF1 and that is also the impression I'm getting from others on and off the net.

No idea whats causing it, though. There really isn't room enough for optimization to make your players characters THAT much better than my players. Nor for really good Player tactics or bad GM tactics (bad GM tactics tend to lead to the bad guys not doing much damage but NOT to battles being ended very quickly).

My suspicion is that if we drilled down we'd find it either just a statistical anomaly (with enough groups, there are bound to be some of those) or one or the other group is making a mistake somewhere in the interpretation of the rules.


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This is all so flashback to 10-years ago:

"Combat takes too long."

"No it doesn't, you're playing it wrong."


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dragonriderje wrote:


Heroes of Undarin:
Event 6: 20 rounds (ended in a draw because the demilich ran out of resonance but the heroes weren't dead, so it just flew away)

This one is definitely a huge problem. Access to flight and ranged attacks with greater than 30 ft range is extremely limited in PF2, meaning that a flying creature with ranged attacks are incredibly difficult to handle. These long drawn out fights are also problematic since the fights themselves can easily drag out longer than the fly spell's duration, and it's just not realistic to drop four 4th level spells to get only half the party airborne for one encounter. However, this particular creature also has an at-will spell that can pretty much indefinitely keep one PC out of the picture. Along with its high AC this means that most parties have no realistic way to fight it. On the other hand, its offensive capabilities are kinda pathetic; it had no real ability to hurt a 12th level party despite being a 15th level monster.


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Dragonriderje wrote:
3. PCs feel like the deck is stacked against them ---- Monster AC, saves, attacks, spell DCs are too high, making PC attack, spells, and defenses feel weak

I dare say characters don't feel competent. With skill success rates around 50-60% the game feels more like Savage Worlds than Pathfinder. If it weren't for multiple rolls we'd never make it through some adventures. If the goal is to make the party collectively competent but individually incompetent, mission accomplished. But that doesn't make the character interesting.

Dragonriderje wrote:
4. Few options to reduce complexity. One of the members of our group prefers making straight-forward characters, focusing on passive or constant effects.

This is something I've also heard from players in the game in which I play.

Dragonriderje wrote:
He does not like the array of combat and noncombat abilities a character ends up with after creation...

And this is my biggest issue.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
With skill success rates around 50-60% the game feels more like Savage Worlds than Pathfinder.

Savage Worlds success rates start at 62.5% for a minimum level of skill, and get up to 87.5% for non-legendary PCs. Only an unskilled roll in SW or one with penalties gives you success rates like you see in PF2e.


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ryric wrote:
Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
With skill success rates around 50-60% the game feels more like Savage Worlds than Pathfinder.
Savage Worlds success rates start at 62.5% for a minimum level of skill, and get up to 87.5% for non-legendary PCs. Only an unskilled roll in SW or one with penalties gives you success rates like you see in PF2e.

Funnily enough, Savage Worlds had a pretty big impact on 4th Ed design, many of the team were into it at the time.


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
ryric wrote:
Chance Wyvernspur wrote:
With skill success rates around 50-60% the game feels more like Savage Worlds than Pathfinder.
Savage Worlds success rates start at 62.5% for a minimum level of skill, and get up to 87.5% for non-legendary PCs. Only an unskilled roll in SW or one with penalties gives you success rates like you see in PF2e.
Funnily enough, Savage Worlds had a pretty big impact on 4th Ed design, many of the team were into it at the time.

You should probably avoid that topic to prevent starting an edition war and getting the thread locked...


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Quote:

1. Members of the group are not having fun. They understand the goals of the playtest and how it makes it different from a normal campaign, but these differences have a negative effect on their playing experience. Here are two examples:

---- Creating many different characters that are only played for a short amount of time lessens immersion and interest
---- Participating in "stress tests" of aspects of the system brings flaws to the forefront

I get that people might not enjoy testing this way, but honestly, this is the best way to actually playtest a game. Campaign play is pretty much the worst, as it yields a lot of anecdotes and hand-waving that obscures mechanics, rather than real data resulting from testing and math.

Really there should be a lot more emphasis on repeatedly running encounters and changing only minor details (spells, feats or opponents) to see how they turn out.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Voss wrote:
Quote:

1. Members of the group are not having fun. They understand the goals of the playtest and how it makes it different from a normal campaign, but these differences have a negative effect on their playing experience. Here are two examples:

---- Creating many different characters that are only played for a short amount of time lessens immersion and interest
---- Participating in "stress tests" of aspects of the system brings flaws to the forefront

I get that people might not enjoy testing this way, but honestly, this is the best way to actually playtest a game. Campaign play is pretty much the worst, as it yields a lot of anecdotes and hand-waving that obscures mechanics, rather than real data resulting from testing and math.

Really there should be a lot more emphasis on repeatedly running encounters and changing only minor details (spells, feats or opponents) to see how they turn out.

How does playing the game the way it's not supposed to be played yield real data about how the game is supposed to be played?


Frozen Yakman wrote:
Voss wrote:
Quote:

1. Members of the group are not having fun. They understand the goals of the playtest and how it makes it different from a normal campaign, but these differences have a negative effect on their playing experience. Here are two examples:

---- Creating many different characters that are only played for a short amount of time lessens immersion and interest
---- Participating in "stress tests" of aspects of the system brings flaws to the forefront

I get that people might not enjoy testing this way, but honestly, this is the best way to actually playtest a game. Campaign play is pretty much the worst, as it yields a lot of anecdotes and hand-waving that obscures mechanics, rather than real data resulting from testing and math.

Really there should be a lot more emphasis on repeatedly running encounters and changing only minor details (spells, feats or opponents) to see how they turn out.

How does playing the game the way it's not supposed to be played yield real data about how the game is supposed to be played?

Because when the two are separate when they're not supposed to be it creates problems between existing groups of players sharing their experiences, and the others feel like they are playing completely different games when, in reality, they aren't supposed to be.

In other words, the intent of the playtest is meant to abolish questions such as yours being posed.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
In other words, the intent of the playtest is meant to abolish questions such as yours being posed.

No words, that is absolutely absurd, the point of a playtest is not to abolish questions, but to raise them.


Vic Ferrari wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
In other words, the intent of the playtest is meant to abolish questions such as yours being posed.
No words, that is absolutely absurd, the point of a playtest is not to abolish questions, but to raise them.

Good point. I suppose it's too late to pose the question of "Did I tie my shoelaces?" to the surveys. Whoops...


Wow. An rpg system is not a single game, it is a whole medium. Just like movies is not a singular thing, neither is any single rpg system. And like film has producers/directers that make a film with vast differences in style, so to do gms create vastly different experiences even when using the same system.

Trying to abolish that is mot only folly, but is attempting to abolish one of the best things about rpgs.


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Do I really have to explain the concept of "confounding factors", and why one might want to try to eliminate them in a playtest by removing unwanted variance where reasonably possible.


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Voss wrote:
Quote:

1. Members of the group are not having fun. They understand the goals of the playtest and how it makes it different from a normal campaign, but these differences have a negative effect on their playing experience. Here are two examples:

---- Creating many different characters that are only played for a short amount of time lessens immersion and interest
---- Participating in "stress tests" of aspects of the system brings flaws to the forefront

I get that people might not enjoy testing this way, but honestly, this is the best way to actually playtest a game. Campaign play is pretty much the worst, as it yields a lot of anecdotes and hand-waving that obscures mechanics, rather than real data resulting from testing and math.

Really there should be a lot more emphasis on repeatedly running encounters and changing only minor details (spells, feats or opponents) to see how they turn out.

The problem I have with this argument is if it’s not fun to play and I think

“what were they thinking”
The whole time why would I want to bother with the rest, I’m also tired of hearing that homebrew solutions fix a lot of problems, this is a new ruleset it needs to stand on it’s own if the only way to make it enjoyable to my players and myself is to rewrite half of it then why bother there’s already functional games out there.
Also sick of hearing about how it’s new, it’s not an excuse this is meant to be an improvement compared to it predecessor, like it or not this new system has to stand next to the old one and prove it’s worth investing in because like everyone likes to remind me my old books aren’t going anywhere so I don’t need to buy the new edition.

I want the game to be good but I honestly feel like this game was made for different people and is just wearing the pathfinder name tag for brand recognition.


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Snowblind wrote:
Do I really have to explain the concept of "confounding factors", and why one might want to try to eliminate them in a playtest by removing unwanted variance where reasonably possible.

Except your "unwanted varience" is the main feature, the core and central part of an rpg.


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Dasrak wrote:
This one is definitely a huge problem. Access to flight and ranged attacks with greater than 30 ft range is extremely limited in PF2, meaning that a flying creature with ranged attacks are incredibly difficult to handle. These long drawn out fights are also problematic since the fights themselves can easily drag out longer than the fly spell's duration, and it's just not realistic to drop four 4th level spells to get only half the party airborne for one encounter. However, this particular creature also has an at-will spell that can pretty much indefinitely keep one PC out of the picture. Along with its high AC this means that most parties have no realistic way to fight it. On the other hand, its offensive capabilities are kinda pathetic; it had no real ability to hurt a 12th level party despite being a 15th level monster.

Yes.

If I had to choose the straw that broke the camels back; the thing that ultimately led to my group stopping the playtest, I'd choose this fight. Obviously, it was not the entire reason, but it may have served as a tipping point. It was definitely the point where the levels of fun and involvement were the lowest from players and GM. I would've preferred if the creature had just wiped the floor with the PCs, something it probably should have been able to do given the level disparity and the resources already expended by the PCs.

Tezmick wrote:
Voss wrote:
Quote:

1. Members of the group are not having fun. They understand the goals of the playtest and how it makes it different from a normal campaign, but these differences have a negative effect on their playing experience. Here are two examples:

---- Creating many different characters that are only played for a short amount of time lessens immersion and interest
---- Participating in "stress tests" of aspects of the system brings flaws to the forefront

I get that people might not enjoy testing this way, but honestly, this is the best way to actually playtest a game. Campaign play is pretty much the worst, as it yields a lot of anecdotes and hand-waving that obscures mechanics, rather than real data resulting from testing and math.

Really there should be a lot more emphasis on repeatedly running encounters and changing only minor details (spells, feats or opponents) to see how they turn out.

The problem I have with this argument is if it’s not fun to play and I think

“what were they thinking”
The whole time why would I want to bother with the rest, I’m also tired of hearing that homebrew solutions fix a lot of problems, this is a new ruleset it needs to stand on it’s own if the only way to make it enjoyable to my players and myself is to rewrite half of it then why bother there’s already functional games out there.
Also sick of hearing about how it’s new, it’s not an excuse this is meant to be an improvement compared to it predecessor, like it or not this new system has to stand next to the old one and prove it’s worth investing in because like everyone likes to remind me my old books aren’t going anywhere so I don’t need to buy the new edition.

I want the game to be good but I honestly feel like this game was made for different people and is just wearing the pathfinder name tag for brand recognition.

From here on out I will be speaking about my own personal opinions (since I was trying to speak for our whole group in the OP)

I, personally, don't think the system is unfun to play. It's just that, collectively, we were not having fun *playtesting* the system. I understand the goals of the playtest. These things need to be tested.

Personally, I am the kind of person who is willing to run the same encounter 10 times, changing one variable each time, to test whatever certain thing needs tested. (In fact I may still run Chapter 7 by myself, because I'm crazy)

But, I'm not going to subject my gaming group to that! We play RPGs to have fun, and if we're weren't having fun doing this particular task, then we needed to move on.

The game needs to be playtested, and this seems like a great way to collect the kind of feedback and data Paizo is looking for. But, my gaming group doesn't owe Paizo anything. We played along because it was fun to try something new and contribute to the creation of a new edition of Pathfinder. But as soon as the flaws in the system or the frustrations specific with the playtest format outweighed the fun parts (trying a new system, contributing with feedback), it was time to stop.

I don't hold this against Paizo; I don't think they did anything wrong. I see it more as a mutual seperation, and its only fair to be transparent as to the reasons why.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
In other words, the intent of the playtest is meant to abolish questions such as yours being posed.
No words, that is absolutely absurd, the point of a playtest is not to abolish questions, but to raise them.
Good point. I suppose it's too late to pose the question of "Did I tie my shoelaces?" to the surveys. Whoops...

Odd, so to question design and development for a new iteration of a game, automatically excludes the questioning from credibility, and is therefore shunted into a mundane area such as "did I tie my shoelaces?"?

Did you?


Darksol, the system serves the same purpose to a rpg group as a camera serves to a film-maker.

A camera is not designed for horror films, though it might be designed to handle low-light conditions better.

Likewise, a rpg system has no "intended style of play," though it might handle certain traits better or worse.

An ideal camera handles any conditions the film-maker wants with ease.

Likewise, the ideal rpg system does everything easily.

Of course, that is not practical, as you improve one aspect, it comes at a cost, whether that cost is added complexity, more data tracking, or a reduction in ability to handle other aspects.

Thus, there is no such thing as a right or wrong way to play*, and how people are playing is really only needed to be known to give their feedback the proper context.

*Though personally, having better terminology and understanding of ghe different ways to play would be a massive boon to everybody, players, gms, and designers alike. I don't think many people understand the medium enough to communicate well about it.


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Snowblind wrote:
Do I really have to explain the concept of "confounding factors", and why one might want to try to eliminate them in a playtest by removing unwanted variance where reasonably possible.

No, but you can explain it to the developers whom already know this and are more interested in stress-testing instead of standardized testing based on the playtest difficulty which they already explained as being ramped up for such reasons.

You can also explain pointless questions and their relevance to the playtest. [sarcasm]My shoelaces need to know if I need to tie them or not, it matters for the playtest. [/sarcasm]


Vic Ferrari wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
In other words, the intent of the playtest is meant to abolish questions such as yours being posed.
No words, that is absolutely absurd, the point of a playtest is not to abolish questions, but to raise them.
Good point. I suppose it's too late to pose the question of "Did I tie my shoelaces?" to the surveys. Whoops...

Odd, so to question design and development for a new iteration of a game, automatically excludes the questioning from credibility, and is therefore shunted into a mundane area such as "did I tie my shoelaces?"?

Did you?

The point is such questions are irrelevant to the playtest, so posing them helps nobody, least of all Paizo.

You might be better off asking "Paizo, do you even know how to do a playtest?" Since that's basically what we're asking here. I'd just rather not be insulting and give Paizo the benefit of the doubt in that they actually have an idea of what they're doing.

But hey, if shoelaces are somehow relevant to playtests, then by all means keep asking.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
In other words, the intent of the playtest is meant to abolish questions such as yours being posed.
No words, that is absolutely absurd, the point of a playtest is not to abolish questions, but to raise them.
Good point. I suppose it's too late to pose the question of "Did I tie my shoelaces?" to the surveys. Whoops...

Odd, so to question design and development for a new iteration of a game, automatically excludes the questioning from credibility, and is therefore shunted into a mundane area such as "did I tie my shoelaces?"?

Did you?

The point is such questions are irrelevant to the playtest, so posing them helps nobody, least of all Paizo.

You might be better off asking "Paizo, do you even know how to do a playtest?" Since that's basically what we're asking here. I'd just rather not be insulting and give Paizo the benefit of the doubt in that they actually have an idea of what they're doing.

But hey, if shoelaces are somehow relevant to playtests, then by all means keep asking.

What about aglets?


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To be fair, tying your shoelaces would probably be an activity and take two actions to complete, not worth the action cost in a fight so you're better off not wearing shoes.

Clearly halflings are OP because of this.


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
What about aglets?

Their true purpose... is SINISTER.

Silver Crusade

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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:


Likewise, a rpg system has no "intended style of play," though it might handle certain traits better or worse.

That may be true of some games but it most certainly is NOT true of all games. Some games absolutely have an intended style of play (Drama System, Call of Cthulhu, Feng Shui, Buffy, etc etc etc). They can be adapted somewhat and stretch the boundaries a little but anybody using Feng Shui to run a "politics in high school" game is going to be about exactly as successful as somebody using Drama System to run an "Kick ass Hong Kong Action Adventure" game.

D&D (in ALL its incarnations) is still focused on a rules heavy high fantasy game where combat is expected to be a common occurence.


master_marshmallow wrote:

To be fair, tying your shoelaces would probably be an activity and take two actions to complete, not worth the action cost in a fight so you're better off not wearing shoes.

Clearly halflings are OP because of this.

It is when you have a DC 11 Flat Check to trip yourself and fall prone for each activity with the Move trait you take.

Also, Halflings have a heritage that makes it only one action to tie your shoelaces. Don't want them to actually make you wear shoes as a halfling unlike other heritage choices *cough*UnburdenedDwarves*cough*.

In other news, why isn't Orc a core ancestry?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


Also, Halflings have a heritage that makes it only one action to tie your shoelaces.

Heresy; no real halfling wears shoes.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

The OP made their point. After that, it gets pretty absurd.

This thread is locked.

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