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EtherBot

Doom 1 Doesn't Hold Up Anymore

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I thought that this would be a rant about how Doom's gameplay mechanics are outdated or whatever but it turns out that it's something else I entirely agree upon. I'd also apply the same to Half-Life, as I remember being deathly afraid of the aliens in that game as a kid (it's also my first game). I remember exiting the game everytime I saw that headcrab teleport in Unforseen Consequences and when I've finally gathered enough courage to play through the game at some point, I felt like a badass.

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17 minutes ago, BLλZING_DUST said:

I thought that this would be a rant about how Doom's gameplay mechanics are outdated or whatever but it turns out that it's something else I entirely agree upon. I'd also apply the same to Half-Life, as I remember being deathly afraid of the aliens in that game as a kid (it's also my first game) [...] I remember exiting the game everytime I saw that headcrab teleport in Unforseen Consequences and when I've finally gathered enough courage to play through the game at some point, I felt like a badass.

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I think this is true. Half-Life to me is more a sort of 70's science fiction b-movie/action-adventure thing. I actually almost never think about it as scary aside from remembering being scared of the first couple levels as a kid. The buildup is cheesy and palpable, but I guess you can only pull off that kind of thing once.

 

12 minutes ago, Xaser said:

A related-ish thought I've had is that while Doom was (to some extent) intended to be a realistic horror game, they really ended up shipping an action title (though the relative realism of its graphics back in the day meant it did hit a lot of spooky notes). To that effect, Doom 3 was id's attempt at recreating what Doom was supposed to be, whereas Doom 2016 instead focused on what Doom actually is.

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I think I mostly agree with this, but idk if I'd say it's about what 'was meant to be' vs 'what it is.' To me, its like I wrote in the post. Doom was a horror-themed game with a heavy mechanical bent towards action. Doom 3 was faithful but expanded most dramatically on the horror and Doom 4 was equally faithful while expanding mostly on the action. Doom 4 kinda ends up feeling more faithful overall I think because over time the original Doom has stopped feeling scary completely.

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Contrary to what most people might expect frome me, I actually think doom3 is a decent game that is competent at what it does, and it's worth playing once or twice.

I wouldn't consider Doom 3 to be sequel that is faithful to the classic dooms, however, and the main reason is that the focus in D3 is almost entirely on atmosphere, while gameplay feels much more like an afterthought in many places. Classic doom on the other hand, in particular doom2, was much faster in many ways, not just sheer player movement.

 

Sure, you can make the case and say that doom always was mostly about atmosphere, and therefore doom3 is much more of a spiritual successor than I would pesonally say it is (and I'm sure some folks might agree with you), but I don't think it's a hill worth dying on. Many of the gameplay choices in classic doom are so vastly different from doom3 that these games don't have much in common once you look past the general theme of "lone badass vs Hell". You can basically replace D3's theme with some abstract space theme like for example "Alien" or something similar, slap a different label on the box, and you'd have basically no common ground between the classics and D3 anymore, and that's a hill I'm ready to die on any day.

I've heard arguments regarding the gameplay that were along the lines of "they didn't have the means at the time, so of course a newer game is going to be different". I get that point of view, but it doesn't change that doom3 still feels sluggish by comparison and is much less "arcade-y" in my opinion.

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IDK, Doom 1 still feels a lot immersive for me.



Of course, it's not as spooky as before, but the experience has changed for something else which is still as good as originally. Doom 1 doesn't have really strong combat elements (unlike its sequel), but fortunately, Id games (kinda) recognized this and focused on exploratory level design with incidental combat instead of an actual combat-like layout (arenas and setpieces, which was more present on Doom 2). And the atmosphere still works great. Techbases and hellish landscapes are still fun to explore and go through. Fighting the enemies are fun as long the design allows the player to move, quickly kill the enemies and get flanked by others smartly placed on its labyrinthic design. Doom 1 has that, and some PWADs heavily inspired by it (like Deathless) also does it and it works great for me.

Edited by Deadwing

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I would hazard to speculate, from stuff like interviews, the Masters of Doom book, the Doom Bible, and such, that the whole action/horror split in perspective might've gone all the way back to the devs at id themselves... Tom Hall and Sandy Petersen (and maybe Adrian Carmack?) seemed more to be on the "horror game with action" side of things and John Romero and John Carmack more on the "action game with horror" side.  That's just my guess though.  I feel like Doom 3 while I wouldn't go as far as to say "what it was meant to be" was closer to the vision Hall had originally set out in the Doom Bible... you at the very least see some elements revived from there that didn't make it into the original.  But I also feel like a lot of Doom 3 was just plain imitative of Half-Life after that'd become the new yardstick of what a "good FPS" was considered to be, when before, Doom and Quake were that yardstick themselves.

 

I think that gaming in general has also just plain become a lot more jaded... Maybe it's partly an in-general thing, a been-there-done-that; I remember when I played through Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight my distinct thought was "if this came out in the 90s, it probably would've been hailed as some sort of cult classic but now it just comes off as 'fairly decent indie game' and not much more".  I was also looking at some shareware CDs not too long ago and having a laugh about how Doom was touted as "THE ULTIMATE VIRTUAL REALITY GAME" on the cover of one of them.  They sure loved the term "virtual reality" at that point in time and it seems pretty quaint now but I guess at the time, Doom really was pretty amazingly advanced.  And also maybe it's partly that we're all just getting older.  I had a similar "HOW STRONG ARE YOU!? WHY DON'T YOU DIE!?" moment to the OP's though with the cacodemon rather than the pink demon when I first played registered Doom.  I also remember being scared to the point of nightmares by some of the stuff in Monster Bash when I was a kid.  Both of those things are a bit of a laugh in retrospect, but I wasn't laughing back then (and what the hell, Apogee. Some of their stuff probably really wasn't appropriate for kids back in those days before ratings and stuff and people not knowing better, despite presenting as cute cartoony games.)

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32 minutes ago, Ralphis said:

Again, as a young kid, the Resident Evil and Silent Hill games also scared me so much that I had a hard time progressing. But only months later, I would be running through the games without a care because I was familiar with everything inside. The jump scares and freakish monsters no longer surprised or scared me, they were just part of the process.

 

I agree with this argument, but I brought up the horror element as a demonstration of tone more than anything. Like I said in another comment, I'm not particularly afraid of Half-Life anymore but that game still has a tone that carries through it on repeat playthroughs even 20 years later. It hasn't managed to devolve purely into mechanics to the point that that's the only thing people remember about it.

 

35 minutes ago, Ralphis said:

I think that any possible controversy over your thoughts would be put to bed quickly if you simply changed the title to "Doom 1 doesn't hold up anymore - for me". I will agree on most points, but a lot of that comes from your regular exposure to Doom.

 

This is pretty inconsequential, but I think I like the name as it is. I stand by what it says, although with some elaboration obviously, and thats what the actual text is for. I disagree with 'for me' because I am trying to make a larger statement about the way we as a culture talk about Doom, and not only my personal feelings about it.

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That's fair. I guess if I had to name my argument for general consumption, I'd go with "Doom is not what you think it is - and never will be"

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I had read some of that book in OP, but stopped, because i lost interest.

I love Ultimate Doom and Doom 3 (original) most of franchise. I like Doom II too, but it has too many annoying maps.

I don't accept Doom 2016/Eternal as Doom games, because they fit to Painkiller franchise MUCH more IMO.

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Horror in videogames relies mainly on graphics, sound design and movement.Doom 3 was a game where everything was designed with those elements to create horror experience. Dark shadows, disturbing sounds and sluggish controls make it scary. I feel that even the flashlight mechanic is very fun and helps the horror elements alot.

Classic Doom's horror elements relied more on sounds,low resolution and the fact that most people played it with keyboard only controls. Sound's were scary and you weren't able to see far so you had no idea what was coming. By using only keyboard for controls, game is alot slower experience and it does make Doom more scary. I feel that this is the original intented experience since even the difficulty levels in Original Doom 1 are all very easy, especially with modern mouse and keyboard controls.

 

With Doom 2, design evolved more into action game with many new mechanics added, mostly as new monsters.The was serious lack of monters variety on Doom 1 high tier monsters (only ones being basically flying imp and bigger imp with way too much health) so we got weaker version of baron, cacodemon that shoots lost souls, spooky scary skeleton with homing rockets, mini-spidermastermind, tank that shoots two big fireballs and the archvile in Doom 2.

 

Doom evolved to be less scary and more being about mechanical action. Natural aging of games has also caused Classic Doom to become more of an arcade shooter than normal first person shooter as the technology and design of modern games has advanced. Classic Doom has very well designed and fun mechanics that are actually deeper than many new FPS games and many user created wads use those mechanics in many creative ways.

 

I have been very casual Doom player over 15 years but only very recently I have been able to actually learn the actual mechanics and it has improved my gameplay alot. Mechanics are what I think makes Classic Doom great and I do feel that horror in Doom 3 causes to mechanics to suffer. Doom 16 mechanics are definitely better than Doom 3 but I do feel they still are no match to Classic Doom's mechanics. I do also enjoy fighting games and arcade shmups so it is clear that I like very mechanical games. With that perspective, I do feel that if Classic Doom has aged, it has become only better and more pure arcadey fun compared to newer FPS games.

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There's not much 'meat' to Doom.There's nothing interesting to dive into. No long-form discussion of its individual working parts. It's a simple action-fest with crazy demons and one dude crazy enough to slaughter them all. It's as simple as that.

 

I guess what I don't like about arguments like this is that people ignore the thought that goes into crafting that action. Every weapon and enemy serves a purpose and coupled with level design there's a beauty in the simplicity. Learning to ration ammo and what weapons to use on what foes in what situation, particularly on higher difficulties (Doom is kind of a mindless maze hunt on anything lower than "Hurt Me Plenty"), makes Doom more complex and interesting than just running into the room, peeking around the corners and pulling the trigger like in Wolfenstein 3D. I've also always felt this balance was handled better than many of its later competitors. Duke 3D is a well loved game but with weapons designed more to be cool than practical at times and enemies don't feel as well thought out. For instance, in my opinion the hitscanning Pig Cops having too much HP for the role that they fill. Doom 1 got the balancing act just about perfect.

 

People also focus on the graphical and technological leap which I think is significant and important but the gameplay itself is what makes Doom special and what has allowed Doom to persist (along with being so open to custom content, of course). I've read a lot of discussions both here and elsewhere on Doom's inner workings, especially since they pertain to one of the most important aspects of Doom, map making. I agree that there isn't much to discuss about Doom 1's atmosphere these days beyond the theming of the episodes (the sci-fi tech base, the seeping corruption, and ultimately hell itself), but I don't see that as an issue. I suppose I find game mechanics to be artistic enough on their own. Ultimately Romero and John Carmack were more interested in the gameplay above all else, with the sci-fi vs. hell theme serving as just a wicked backdrop, and that is what comes through in the final product.

 

I think the fact that first person shooters seem to have split into separate sub genres, the arcade action and the slower paced realism, speaks to that fact as well. What Doom brought to the table was never quite replaced even as technology marched on.

 

Doom 3 is what it is. It takes Doom in a survival horror route with heavy influence from Half-Life. When it came out I really enjoyed it, but much like the original Half-Life I never really feel like I have much reason to revisit it. Despite how much more there technically is to Doom 3 from a design standpoint, I'm not sure it's as interesting to analyze. I think the game gets a bad rap but classic Doom and Doom 3 are so wildly different in their experiences that I don't find polarized opinions very surprising. I've also met people who hate the old Doom games and think Doom 3 is the best the series has ever been.

Edited by Gunstar Green

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5 minutes ago, Gunstar Green said:

I guess what I don't like about arguments like this is that people ignore the thought that goes into crafting that action. Every weapon and enemy serves a purpose and coupled with level design there's a beauty in the simplicity. Learning to ration ammo and what weapons to use on what foes in what situation [...] makes Doom more complex and interesting. [...] Doom 1 got the balancing act just about perfect.

 

I agree, I just want to point out that when I say people say that there's no 'meat' to Doom, I'm referring to, like, experiential breadth. It's 'just a very good action game' or 'just focused on gameplay' etc. I think that's mostly all you can glean from it nowadays (so its good that thats all really really solid) but I feel like there used to be more.

 

9 minutes ago, Gunstar Green said:

I agree that there isn't much to discuss about Doom 1's atmosphere these days beyond the theming of the episodes (the sci-fi tech base, the seeping corruption, and ultimately hell itself), but I don't see that as an issue. [...] Ultimately Romero and John Carmack were more interested in the gameplay above all else, with the sci-fi vs. hell theme serving as just a wicked backdrop, and that is what comes through in the final product.

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In terms of whether or not 'it comes through in the final product' is a taste thing and I won't dwell on it. I just want to say I'm more interested in the lived experience of 'playing' Doom, and how it's changed in a lot of ways. The fact that its change is only bad for Doom 1 specifically if you treasure the stuff that's gone, of course, but for Doom 3 I think that not acknowledging the stuff that's gone can make a lot of the choices feel inexplicable and 'un-doom-like' which I personally think is pretty sad. Other than that there's not much for me to rebut.

 

13 minutes ago, Gunstar Green said:

I suppose I find game mechanics to be artistic enough on their own.

I find this fascinating and would really like some elaboration on this.

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Doom 1 is episode 1 in my opinion, all those techbases which aren't there in Doom 2, and also the whole weapon/monster balance are perfect there. Beyond that, it felt unfinished with only 2 new monsters and 2 new bosses, a huge hole in the midtier area, as you always had to fight against Barons and Cacos in harder levels which became tedious and repetitive, and they didn't fit well with the classic E1 monsters alone and without variety. Doom 2 was a quintessential upgrade, despite the questionable design. We needed that new weapon (in fact, a more damaging RL and CG would have been good too, not to mention the pistol) and all those very different new monsters which gave lots of variety in the midtier area, and many different combat scenarios.

 

I'm wondering how Romero's new D1 episode works. The E1 remake levels are based on the episode's unique Phobos texture set and low HP enemies, which is a different kind of gameplay, and it worked brilliantly, but the addition of E2 stuff and hellish environment is a different thing.

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3 minutes ago, EtherBot said:

I find this fascinating and would really like some elaboration on this.

 

I might just be crazy here but I'll try to expand anyway. I think it just comes with being an older gamer with a strong appreciation for golden age arcade games. A good risk/reward system or smartly crafted simple gameplay is to me as much of an achievement as the lonely atmosphere of Super Metroid. It's just not as glamorous to talk about.

 

My go-to comparison for Doom is Super Mario Bros. Neither were really the absolute first in their genre and they both largely only hold up and remain playable classics today because of what they offer mechanically. I don't know if my opinion here is a popular one but gameplay feel is as much a part of art in gaming as as any other aspect, it is after all the most basic way you interact with and interpret that game's world. Doom is Doom because of how Doom feels. Doom 2016 is basically a modern interpretation of the feeling Doom leaves you with so I think there's some merit to that.

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3 minutes ago, Gunstar Green said:

My go-to comparison for Doom is Super Mario Bros. Neither were really the absolute first in their genre and they both largely only hold up and remain playable classics today because of what they offer mechanically. 

 

That's actually pretty good one. It also works in that Super Mario Bros 3 is to Super Mario Bros 1 much like Doom II is To Doom 1. First game is great and a real classic but also pretty rough around the edges and the sequel improves the mechanics to true perfection.

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Interesting essay, I've actually taken my time and read it from the beginning to the end.

 

I don't really agree that the element of immersion of the original game is gone nowadays, if you take your time and pay attention to the detail and effort that was put into designing everything contained within it still offers much. Perhaps the overall tension created by the horror element of the game has somewhat vanished, simply because there's nothing really terrifying about it anymore, what it offered back then was done to death in other games by this point. I wasn't around back when it was made, nonetheless I had played NES games almost exclusively when I was a kid, and when I got my first Windows 98 PC Doom 2 (it didn't have the first) was easily the most realistic, advanced, and horrifying game I've seen until that point. The Specters and Mancubi made me shit bricks, and thanks to them and Shawn's Got the Shotgun (which I remember sounding heavier and much more sinister) I've never made it past MAP07 Dead Simple. It was definitely a unique experience, and personally I'd say Doom was an action oriented horror shooter, but ultimately leaned more towards the action part and not so much on the scary side, being there to enhance the immersion and atmosphere of the game as opposed to being the main focus.

 

The horror element was definitely an integral part of the series and important to the old id Software, this is very obvious with ports like Playstation Doom, and the general atmosphere of the games. The darker tone, combined with the more advanced lightning and sound effects show just how well Doom and Doom 2 work with such a take. This was emphasized even further in Doom 64 and eventually culminated in Doom 3.

 

Doom 3 is a divisive game among fans. Part of it, I think, is because it was named Doom 3, but it's actually a reboot of the series. This, combined with the fact that it was conflicted and not very well executed only added insult to the injury. It had little variation in its levels, which were also very linear, and relied on the same inefficient scare tactics until the very end. Part of the horror in the beginning was in the element of surprise, but the game quickly becomes predictable and it vanishes altogether. The game also offers more bases after returning from Hell, which was arguably the strongest part and it revealed a highly disturbing take that didn't rely on gore but rather strangeness and mystery. It carried a lot of negative emotions in its thick atmosphere. It wasn't all that fun either, which makes one wonder what was its ultimate goal. Whatever that was, it didn't see justice in the BFG Edition. Had it abandoned the jumpscares and shifted its focus onto something else halfway through it would've likely been a much better game, but as it stands, it's just a good game with a flawed execution. A lot of effort was most certainly put into it, but ultimately didn't quite pay off. Doom 64 on the other hand puts more emphasis on the element of horror than the original games but without sacrificing the gameplay/combat for it, so one can easily appreciate its seriousness while also having plenty of fun.

 

Whether the element of horror and the tension brought by it was eventually going to be reduced so much in the series or not... I'd say it was going to happen eventually, with all its flaws I'm sure Doom 3 pushed in that direction as much as it could, so even if, say, the original team members would've stayed around, we'd still have the new Doom games looking and playing mostly the same. I've read some short interviews with Romero recently and he said he's "absolutely" satisfied with the direction the series is heading to, so there's that.

Edited by seed

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Another thing to remember: Doom on the Playstation and Doom 64 are both games that tried to up the horror atmosphere more with some extra effects like colored lighting (especially in Doom 64), sound and music design, and so on.

 

To me, it's the perfect middle ground between genuinely spooky atmosphere and adrenaline-fueled horror, without being the pitch blackness and unsatisfying combat feel of Doom 3. Doom 3 was definitely a scarier game, but it was really one type of scare again and again, and if that doesn't hold up for you, it's easy to get bored with it and just stop playing halfway through like I did. 

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I can't possibly reply to everyone specifically, but I want to point out that my post wasn't concerned so much with the 'scariness' of either game so much. I'm more concerned about mood and presentation, in general, and I actually specifically described Doom 1's original tone as being of triumphant badassery over genuine peril, more so than it being, like, a nightmare thrill-ride of any kind. A lot of cool discussion has popped up, either way, just throwing my two cents.

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4 minutes ago, EtherBot said:

I can't possibly reply to everyone specifically, but I want to point out that my post wasn't concerned so much with the 'scariness' of either game so much. I'm more concerned about mood and presentation, in general, and I actually specifically described Doom 1's original tone as being of triumphant badassery over genuine peril, more so than it being, like, a nightmare thrill-ride of any kind.

 

I do disagree, I feel that playing Doom 1 the way it was intended, it is actually more of the nightmare -thrill-ride you're looking for. This means original low resolution and using only keyboard controls. Triumphant badassery, in my opinion comes only from as a reward from mastering the mechanics. Most games that focus alot on horror atmosphere will become boring eventually and will then rely only on their mechanics for their replay value. Game being "nightmare thrill-ride" is something that really has value only once. And it is something that does age very easily but because it isn't the most important part of Doom 1 gameplay, it means that Doom 1 it self has not aged, it simply has evolved into different kind of game compared to newer games like Doom 3 or Doom 2016.

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Just now, banjiepixel said:

Triumphant badassery, in my opinion comes only from as a reward from mastering the mechanics.

That's sort of what I'm referring to here, although maybe I really am overlooking the original control scheme's effect on things.

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12 minutes ago, banjiepixel said:

I do disagree, I feel that playing Doom 1 the way it was intended, it is actually more of the nightmare -thrill-ride you're looking for. This means original low resolution and using only keyboard controls.

id actually did recommend you learn how to use the mouse in the manual though, so saying it was "meant to be played" keyboard-only is a bit misleading. It's more like they had a crutch for keyboard-only players, but anyone who was half-competent with a mouse would be able to smoke them for the most part.

 

Tim Heydelaar (who was one of the guys behind Playstation Doom and Doom 64) actually just recounted a story of talking shit to the guys at id about how they'd destroy them at Deathmatch, and results went about as well as you could expect when Romero wielded a mouse. 

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7 minutes ago, Dark Pulse said:

id actually did recommend you learn how to use the mouse though, so saying it was "meant to be played" keyboard-only is a bit misleading. It's more like they had a crutch for keyboard-only players, but anyone who was half-competent with a mouse would be able to smoke them for the most part.

 

Tim Heydelaar (who was one of the guys behind Playstation Doom and Doom 64) actually just recounted a story of talking shit to the guys at id about how they'd destroy them at Deathmatch, and results went about as well as you could expect when Romero wielded a mouse. 

Wow thats a fascinating read I didn't realize he'd stopped by

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5 hours ago, EtherBot said:

tl;dr - Doom 3 is a great sequel in my opinion and the first Doom is cooler than most people think and also you're all idiots and the gameboy doom is the best source port obviously

 

EDIT: expanded and elaborated on Doom 3

 

What? Did someone edit this?

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Just now, Dark Pulse said:

id actually did recommend you learn how to use the mouse though, so saying it was "meant to be played" keyboard-only is a bit misleading. It's more like they had a crutch for keyboard-only players, but anyone who was half-competent with a mouse would be able to smoke them for the most part.

 

I didn't actually know that, I just assumed that mouse controls were included more for compatibility reasons, like if someone wanted to do it or maybe just use trackball or something. Still, mouse controls at the time were alot worse than in modern day, with forced vertical mouse movement and people using ball mice. And the fact that it really wasn't until Doom 2 that there was clear focus on harder difficulty levels and more advanced movement mechanic use. Doom 1 was designed more for both control methods while Doom 2 was more for advanced controls that used mouse.

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