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Author Topic: Dear Gamers, was Atari better?
A Rat Named Dog
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Until we can plug crap into the backs of our heads, VR will never be popular. Period. Give it up.
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Scott R
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Don't be so cynical.

Edit:

[Smile]

What makes you so certain, Geoff?

[ December 18, 2003, 06:37 AM: Message edited by: Scott R ]

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Noemon
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T. Analog Kid is exactly right. There are still classics being produced. Off the top of my head, I'd say X-COM UFO Defense, all three Civilization games, Planescape: Torment, The Last Express, and Morrowind all qualify as classics (of those, the only one I'm not positive of is Morrowind, and that's only because it's new enough (to me) that it hasn't had a chance to stand the test of time.

Other, older classics include pretty much Infocom's entire catalog (but especially the Zork games, the Enchanter games, Planetfall, Trinity, and Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy), M.U.L.E., Wings (still the most fun I've ever had with a flight sim), Sim City, Lemmings, Out of this World, Jump Man (I was actually surprised that this one was still fun, but it is).

The Atari 2600 classics are about as common. T. Analog Kid is right--there was a lot of Atari games that were horrible. Remember ET? The Atari Pac-Man, or the Atari Asteroids? That stupid bowling game? They were really, really bad. The classics, though, like Combat, Yar's Revenge, River Raid, Pitfall, or Warlords? We remember those.

I think that the gaming industry is cranking out classics at about the same pace it has since the beginning.

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zgator
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Yeah, I remember this.
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efrum
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I think one of the problems today with creating "classics" is the fact that the "arcade" has moved from the public arena to the private. Now we sit in our own homes and play these games either alone, or with one, maybe two, friends.

In the glory days, we went to Pojo's Nickel Palace and played individual arcade games in a crowd of people, some strangers, and some just strange. There was a group energy and excitement that contributed to the excperience. That, I think, is part of the nostalgia we feel toward these games today.

With todays games, however, if you don't subscribe to a gaming magazine, or surf gaming sites on the web, it's pretty tough to know what's popular, and what's not. So, for me that means not buying many games, and playing even less. I miss the old arcades.

efrum

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T. Analog Kid
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Tres, I 'm guessing you are disappointed with recent games, but remember, there's a lag time involved. the last few years have given us Half-Life/Counterstrike/Team Fortress, Age of Empires/
Mythology, Homeworld, Quake III (still umatched for pure carnage), Max Payne, and the still-unbelieveably cool Deus Ex... and that's just in the narrow range of games that I enjoy... I still haven't played GTAIII, the Hitman series, any Sim game (IL-2 and Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed are both supposed to be outstanding) or any roleplaying game (I would LOVE to play Morrowind but simply do not have the time to devote). Deus Ex 2 is amazing and from the incomplete versions of Doom 3 and Half Life 2 I have played, they are going to be truly great as well.

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Law Maker
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What do you mean there's nothing new to video games?

In my opinion, all games should be controlled this way. . . at least partially.

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Noemon
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Somehow, wilddivine.com suggests a porn site to me. Before I click on that link, tell me--is doing so likely to get me in trouble at work?
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Law Maker
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It talks to you when you first go there, kind of loudly on my computer, but it isn't porn. It's the website of a game called "The Journey to Wild Divine" The game consists of puzzles that are passed by controlling your breathing and hearbeat. Looks like fun. It's supposed to be good for you the way yoga is good for you.
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Noemon
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Good to know. With headphones on, I'll head there at lunch.
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Law Maker
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And here's a link to an article about Wild Divine from Discover Magazine.
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Tresopax
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quote:
In the glory days, we went to Pojo's Nickel Palace and played individual arcade games in a crowd of people, some strangers, and some just strange. There was a group energy and excitement that contributed to the excperience. That, I think, is part of the nostalgia we feel toward these games today.
This isn't true. I'm young enough that I never played games in an arcade environment, yet I still feel those games are superior.

What's more, it's not a matter of nostalgia either, as a number of the "classics" that I've come to love are games that I just discovered in the past two or three years. I had never played Tetris before, for instance, until three years ago. When I started playing it, I realized it was leagues better than most of what were being hailed as the best modern games of the time.

quote:
Tres, I 'm guessing you are disappointed with recent games, but remember, there's a lag time involved. the last few years have given us Half-Life/Counterstrike/Team Fortress, Age of Empires/Mythology, Homeworld, Quake III (still umatched for pure carnage), Max Payne, and the still-unbelieveably cool Deus Ex... and that's just in the narrow range of games that I enjoy... I still haven't played GTAIII, the Hitman series, any Sim game (IL-2 and Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed are both supposed to be outstanding) or any roleplaying game (I would LOVE to play Morrowind but simply do not have the time to devote).
Those games are great when compared with other recent releases, but really they are not that exciting, with the possible exceptions of Counterstrike and The Sims (although I've never been a huge fan of either of those personally.) I've also never played Morrowwind or Homeworld. But the rest are games that mainly just look cool, or are just upgraded (and often not-as-good) remakes of far older games.

[ December 18, 2003, 12:30 PM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]

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A Rat Named Dog
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On VR:

It's just a huge waste of energy for minimal, or even less, fun than a normal game.

First of all, the headset is useless. The human brain is perfectly capable of zeroing in its field of view on a small area like a screen and immersing the player without needing to have his head stuck in a sensory-deprivation tank. The true-3D effect of the headset is similarly easy for the brain to compensate for using a single flat, but well-made 3D image.

The control mechanisms are ridiculous. Gloves and stuff? They're incredibly imprecise, sluggish, and difficult to align with a person's body-sense. While mice and control pads have only two-dimensional control capabilities, that "limitation" actually simplifies control enough that it becomes easier to grasp and master than a fumbling 3D method. When 3D was new, people couldn't fathom how you could use a 2D control method to operate effectively in 3D space. Now, with thousands of people using programs like Maya and 3DStudioMax at their desktops, that barrier has been broken.

The bottom line on VR why buy a bunch of expensive, difficult to master, and largely benefit-free equipment when playing on a flat screen is so darn fun?

On Modern Masterpieces:

The Oops! I Did It Again vs Fur Elise comparison is a good one. I'd also point out that people have a tendency to whitewash their memories of past decades in the film industry, and are continually shocked at the "crap we put out these days", when we've been seeing "crap" in the theaters since the dawn of film a hundred years ago.

But I don't think the article is saying that modern games suck, while the old ones are gold. It's actually pointing out that while modern games have a lot more capabilities visually, the old rules of good gameplay still apply. Back when graphics, controls, and hardware were extremely limited, the good game designers really had to hone their craft to create worthwhile experiences. These days, it can be too easy for a development studio to lean on the artists to create something that will sell on beauty, or to think of their game as a pretty virtual world, and not as a game that people are going to need to play.

I did the same exact thing when I was new to this industry. I would think, "Okay, I'm making the Great Temple level. So I need a big pretty building here, a little village here, ooh, and a church, and an overlook that's nice and a bunch of cute little guys over here ..."

At no point did I try to conceive of the level as a set of challenges that needed to be introduced, understood, and overcome. And when I was designing the larger game, I thought, "We're going to have combat ... and running and jumping and stuff. So every level will be full of enemies and pits. The later enemies will do more damage and have more hit points." That was it. Only later did I learn how to craft a focused, masterable toolset for the player and parcel the challenges out in an intelligent difficulty curve.

The problem is, there are a lot of people who never learn those lessons, most of them in authority positions at publishers [Smile] People take the massive capabilities of modern machines as an excuse to be lazy or blindly overambitious, and in the end, it's the players that suffer for it.

Those are some of the factors that drag down modern games. There were different factors that dragged down old-fashioned games, too, and there were definitely some terrible ones back in the day. But look at the modern greats he cited. Deus Ex. Grand Theft Auto III. Counter-strike. And I'd venture to add more.

Viewtiful Joe perfected the 2D side-scroller.

The Max Payne series is the paragon of streamlined gameplay. One simple, challenging, and emergent skill (slow-motion gunslinging) gets you through the whole game.

The current crop of MMORPGs have their problems, but they also have millions of subscribers.

There are worthwhile and exciting things we can do today that couldn't even be imagined ten years ago. Massive persistent worlds, physics-based emergent gameplay, etc. It's good to learn lessons from the grand old games of the past, but we can't pooh-pooh the great strides and accomplishments that the industry is still making today.

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Jon Boy
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Those Infocom games rocked. I only ever beat a couple of them, but they were still great fun. By the time I was old enough to really get into video games, Atari was gone and Sega and Nintendo were in. But I was more into computer games. I remember being totally addicted to the original Sim City and Civilization. Of course, I'm still addicted to Civilization. . . .

[ December 18, 2003, 12:39 PM: Message edited by: Jon Boy ]

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Noemon
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I think that this would devolve into a "Yes it is!" "No it isn't" type argument fairly quickly. I think you're wrong about the wonderous games of yesteryear and the tired tripe that's offered to us today, but I can't imagine anything I could say that could sway you, or vice versa. It really just boils down to personal experience and opinion, and there's no arguing with that.
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Ron Lambert
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I never cared for the arcade style games, even in the beginning when "Asteroids" was new (yes, I go back that far). Truthfully, I was never much into computer games, period, but I did find myself drawn to the Zork adventure style games, even when it was text-only and no graphics. My all-time favorite was "The Dig" by Lucas Arts. I and my friends all really got into that one. It had good graphics, good background music, and a story line that mystified and intrigued. You were participating in a movie, with puzzles to figure out, and you could influence the direction events went. There was even an alternate ending, in case you made a different choice near the end.
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Noemon
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Ron, if you ever happen to come across The Last Express, it sounds like it's a game that you'd really enjoy. It's an adventure game also, with very interesting graphics. The backgrounds are all photo-realistic, with the characters being drawn in a style remiscent of Toluse-Latrec. The plot is compelling, the voice acting (in about 5 languages) is superb, the puzzles are so well integrated into the game that they don't feel like puzzles at all, with one or two exceptions, and there are quite a few possible endings. My favorite ending actually isn't even the official "success" ending, to tell you the truth. It's pretty much the only adventure game I've ever liked so much that I replayed it several times. Usually adventure games are one shot deals for me, even if they're done well.

The real crime is that after doing this one amazing game in 1996, Smoking Car Productions never did anything else. I *really* wish they'd get back together and design another game.

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Scott R
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quote:
why buy a bunch of expensive, difficult to master, and largely benefit-free equipment when playing on a flat screen is so darn fun?
Someday, VR is going to be a lot like Tad Williams 'Otherworld.' Or 'Wild Palms.'

Don't you think?

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A Rat Named Dog
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I haven't read either of those, so I couldn't say [Smile]

One thing the article does get right is the value of a centralized arcade where you can share experiences with other people on a casual basis. Multiplayer games are starting to serve the same purpose, but the potential is still largely unrealized in a lot of the current genres.

The latest trend in new MMORPGs, for instance, is to spawn "private areas" where you and your friends can get together to fight monsters without being hampered, KSed, or otherwise disturbed by people you don't know.

The problem with that is, it demands that you form a much more involved relationship with the people you play with, to the point at which you're willing to play exclusively with them for a time, instead of leaving your options open. I personally am more comfortable maintaining a casual aloofness from the community, and I don't like feeling like other people depend on me playing at certain hours and adapting my play time to their schedules. While I love interacting with other people, and sharing an environment with them, actually committing myself to them ("I'll play through this entire scripted experience with you, to the exclusion of anyone else") demands a lot more.

An even bigger problem, though, is the fact that you lose the casual community. The game becomes a totally designer-driven scripted experience for a limited number of players, rather than being based around the dynamic of a community of hundreds or thousands of players. Multiplayer games are attractive because humans are creative and unpredictable in a way AI cannot be any time soon. What's the point of a massively-multiplayer world where there are no chance encounters with other people? It doesn't feel like a living world anymore it feels just like any other single-player game with a small-scale cooperative option.

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twinky
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>> Most games, even the ones supposed to be the cream of the crop, aren't very good at all these days. They have good graphics, yes, but in terms of gameplay they are nothing compared to a lot of the old school stuff. <<

...too bad that all of those old "classics" have about zero on the story front.

Go play Planescape: Torment.

[Smile]

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Tresopax
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Not true.... look at games like Chronotrigger and Final Fantasy III (6).
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odouls268
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I wouldve liked Metroid Prime (GameCube) a WHOLE LOT better if it was NOT a first person shooter. If it was side scrolling it would have been AMAZING, as evidenced by certain short mazelike parts of the game which WERE sidescrolling and absolutely mindblowing how good they looked.

But these days everybody wants 3D first person shooters.

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Rhaegar The Fool
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Sorry guys, but I loved MaxPayne, one and two, and JK2.
*quails in fear*

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twinky
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>> Not true.... look at games like Chronotrigger and Final Fantasy III (6). <<

Those were hardly contemporaries of games like Asteroids and Pac-Man, though.

>> I wouldve liked Metroid Prime (GameCube) a WHOLE LOT better if it was NOT a first person shooter. If it was side scrolling it would have been AMAZING, as evidenced by certain short mazelike parts of the game which WERE sidescrolling and absolutely mindblowing how good they looked. <<

Ugh, I can't even begin to describe how strongly I disagree with that statement. I simply can't tolerate the side-scrolling Metroid games, including Fusion on the GBA. In fact, I can't really tolerate side-scrollers at all. Metroid Prime is one of my favourite games -- and this in spite of its lack of a real story. I thought the gameplay was unbelievable.

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Noemon
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quote:
Not true.... look at games like Chronotrigger and Final Fantasy III (6).
Wait a minute, if you're including games of that vintage in the Classics category, then I'm a little confused as to what you're arguing. At what point do you think that gameplay ceased to be as good as in the old days? I had assumed that you were talking about the old Atari 2600 games, saying that anything released on later platforms paled in comparison. I take it I'm wrong?
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odouls268
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quote:
Ugh, I can't even begin to describe how strongly I disagree with that statement. I simply can't tolerate the side-scrolling Metroid games, including Fusion on the GBA. In fact, I can't really tolerate side-scrollers at all. Metroid Prime is one of my favourite games -- and this in spite of its lack of a real story. I thought the gameplay was unbelievable.
Well, im really weird. You must remember, the ONLY system i have hooked up at present is my 8 bit nintendo. and its the only constant. I love old punch out and excitebike and mario bros and ESPECIALLY metroid. And i dont like first person shooters much to begin with, which is what everything seems to be nowadays.

And dont get it twisted, i LOVED prime. I just think i wouldve liked it much better. Now, Fusion is sidecrolling you say? I might have to run out and get me a GBA now.

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saxon75
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Let's see, I got my first video game system, the Atari 7800, around '85 or '86, I think. Among the games I had were Asteroids, Joust, Pole Position II, and Pac-Man. (My personal favorite was a little-known game called Solaris.) I first played Zork around '86 or '87. So that makes the old Infocom games pretty contemporary with the old console games we're talking about (in fact, Zork I was released in '80 and Infocom went out of business in '89). Given that there were no graphics at all in most of those games (indeed, much of the advertising was based on that fact), pretty much all of the focus was on the story. Well, OK, Zork I didn't have much story, but the Enchanter series did, as did the Planetfall series. And then, of course, there was A Mind Forever Voyaging, which still stands in my list of all-time best games.

Moving forward in time a bit, Star Control 2 was released in '92 and had a great story. And there were a number of games for the NES/Famicom that you can't say had zero story. For example, Dragon Warrior ('86), Final Fantasy ('87), and The Legend of Zelda ('87). Sure, they weren't exactly on par with something like Half-Life, but definitely more than zero story.

Not to say that all games back then were great or all modern games are crap. Just that I think you're not looking broadly enough when you say that none of the classics had a story.

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Maccabeus
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Actually, this Wild Divine game reminds me of a computer game that my best friend had back in the '80s. I didn't have a good enough computer for it, or I might've been willing to get it. Trying to stop pendulums by blowing on them with the wind...mazes where you could _only_ go through walls.

The irony was, it sent my stress level through the roof. I couldn't figure out that kind of puzzle easily enough, so I got frustrated.

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Tresopax
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quote:
Wait a minute, if you're including games of that vintage in the Classics category, then I'm a little confused as to what you're arguing. At what point do you think that gameplay ceased to be as good as in the old days? I had assumed that you were talking about the old Atari 2600 games, saying that anything released on later platforms paled in comparison.
No, my point (and I think the article's point) was that gameplay ceased to be as good when graphics and realism began to dominate the question of which games sold and which did not. This was more or less at the point where 3-D games began to be introduced - the post-SNES console wars. Everything before that are classics of a different era of videogaming, although the boundry is somewhat gradual. Everything prior tended to have simple and well-defined gaming rules.
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Scott R
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Tres, the moment you talk about gameplay and use as your two biggest examples RPG's, you're out of the conversation.

There is no gameplay in Chronotrigger or the FF series. Wander around, kill some stuff, pretend you're building character. That's about the limit there, buddy.

[Smile]

I have been disappointed with the CRPG offerings(I've mentioned this before)-- there is no actual role playing. Sure, you allocate stats, you chose an alignment of sorts. . . but there is no true freedom of expression.

I long for the day that I will be able to play a game with a character who is a 5th level beekeeper and a 7th level theif, who owns a apiary and runs secret missions for the king. . .

Morrowind, by the way has come closest to being an actual RPG, AFAIK.

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Tresopax
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Heh, I have a feeling there's a lot of RPG fans out there who would disagree with you. Supposedly, the gameplay is in the items, characters, and attacks you select - and in some cases the path you choose through the plot.
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twinky
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Tres, how is the gameplay in FF7 any different from the gameplay in FF6? I don't think the addition of 3D affected Square games one way or the other, aside from making them look prettier.

I have a very hard time seeing 3D as a step back in games -- perhaps because I'm not a twitch-gamer and don't find games like Pac-Man to be fun in the least. I'm not much for Mario (even the universally praised 3D incarnation, Mario64). I prefer deep and complex games (both in story and structure) to simpler games. I don't even play Tetris anymore.

There was a time when I played 2D games - Dark Castle, Crystal Quest, Tetris, and clones of classics like Asteroids and Centipede. What really hooked me on video games, though, was WarCraft II. I also played and loved StarCraft. However, as soon as WarCraft III was released, I picked it up and never looked back. The move to 3D was unquestionably good for the RTS genre, as the Myth franchise showed unequivocally.

Even puzzle games can benefit from 3D with intelligent design philosophies. Consider Nintendo's Pikmin, an oddball title by any stretch, and yet highly engaging in a Lemmings sort of way. Pikmin wouldn't be possible without 3D.

I also can't be bothered with 2D adventure games (for instance, the Mario games). However, 3D adventure games - The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, for example, I find quite enjoyable. Metroid Prime is another example. If Metroid Prime hadn't been so fantastically immersive and atmospheric -- traits which resulted in a large part from the game's move to 3D -- Nintendo would not have sold me a GameCube (I played it at a friend's and was so astonished that I bought a console specifically to play the game).

In short, 3D Is Good(tm). Take a look at the new Prince of Persia game if you need another example. I know I won't be playing the original game ever again. [Smile]

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Tresopax
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Well, I can't say I share your enthusiasm for it. I'd argue both Metroid Prime and Wind Waker are weak links in their respective series, and in both cases I ended up quitting midway through the games only to pop on the SNES and play their older, simpler counterparts. And I think Mario 64 should be the poster child for what has gone wrong with video games recently. (Consider Mario Sunshine, which is essentially the same concept, but which has somewhat flopped in popularity now that 3-D is no longer new and impressive.)

And it's not that modern games are more deep and complex. They just tend to be more convoluded, and since the creator has to restrict your options because they can't animate all those complicated possibilities, you end up feeling like you are just going through the motions some programmer has chosen for you, rather than actually playing a game. They end up actually engaging you on a shallower level than more basic games would. Sometimes it's almost more of a movie than a game.

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twinky
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>> I'd argue both Metroid Prime and Wind Waker are weak links in their respective series, and in both cases I ended up quitting midway through the games only to pop on the SNES and play their older, simpler counterparts. <<

Wow, I'm the exact opposite. I've tried to start A Link to the Past five or six times now and simply can't get into it. In contrast, I thoroughly enjoyed Wind Waker.

For immersiveness and atmosphere, 3D simply can't be beat.

>> And it's not that modern games are more deep and complex. They just tend to be more convoluded, and since the creator has to restrict your options because they can't animate all those complicated possibilities, you end up feeling like you are just going through the motions some programmer has chosen for you, rather than actually playing a game. They end up actually engaging you on a shallower level than more basic games would. Sometimes it's almost more of a movie than a game. <<

Why does the creator have to restrict your options? How is Metroid Prime more restrictive than Metroid Fusion?

You're always going through the motions a programmer has chosen for you, because you always have to work within the scope of the game. I find I hit this barrier hard in 2D games where I'm limited to what's on my screen; in 3D games where I can look into my screen I feel much more involved and am far more inclined to suspend my disbelief.

I think a pertinent question is what game genres are most affected by the 2D->3D transition. Here's how I would break it down:

  • Adventure games: adventure games are where we principally differ. I find the atmosphere and immersion in games like Wind Waker and Metroid Prime to be enthralling, and the use of 3D in level and puzzle design is something else I very much appreciate. You like them simpler, but I have to say I just don't understand how you feel.
  • Strategy games: 3D is unquestionably better, even if full camera control isn't given to the user. More feedback is always good in a strategy game.
  • First-person shooters: Again, 3D is obviously an improvement. Compare the flexibility in Deus Ex to Doom, or Halo to Marathon.
  • Puzzle games: Toss-up. 3D isn't necessary (Tetris comes to mind), but used effectively 3D can make for some fiendishly interesting puzzles. In the case of games like Myst, 3D is an obvious evolutionary step (cf. Uru).
  • Arcade games: Like puzzle games, this one's a toss-up. Ikaruga (a Raptor clone) didn't need to be anything more than top-down, and wasn't.
  • RPGs: 3D makes them prettier, but the important part is the story. Graphics aren't such a big issue here -- unless it's a game like FF:Tactics or Gladius, which I'd file under strategy anyway.

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Tresopax
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quote:
How is Metroid Prime more restrictive than Metroid Fusion?
Well, I never played Fusion, but I have played Super Metroid so I can compare it to that. The difference is that in Super Metroid I felt like I was exploring the way I chose, but in Metroid Prime it was if my path was preset. I find the clue I'm supposed to find (conveniently marked in another color for me), I do what it tells me to do, and then I'm off to the next room in the sequence. There's a definite right way to do it.

(A better example is the recent Zelda games. In the old ones you had a limited number of things to do [you could burn, blow up, or whistle - that's about it.] But in the more recent ones, as the world became more complex, they basically had to tell you what to do, because there were so many things to try that you couldn't possibly do them all [or if you had to it took forever] - and many of the things you might think of trying weren't animated, so they just couldn't be allowed.)

Prime also has the problem that it's just darn confusing sometimes, with all the graphics, and with the possibility that things are behind you, above you, or beside you without you knowing it.

quote:
Adventure games: adventure games are where we principally differ. I find the atmosphere and immersion in games like Wind Waker and Metroid Prime to be enthralling, and the use of 3D in level and puzzle design is something else I very much appreciate. You like them simpler, but I have to say I just don't understand how you feel.
Strategy games: 3D is unquestionably better, even if full camera control isn't given to the user. More feedback is always good in a strategy game.
First-person shooters: Again, 3D is obviously an improvement. Compare the flexibility in Deus Ex to Doom, or Halo to Marathon.
Puzzle games: Toss-up. 3D isn't necessary (Tetris comes to mind), but used effectively 3D can make for some fiendishly interesting puzzles. In the case of games like Myst, 3D is an obvious evolutionary step (cf. Uru).
Arcade games: Like puzzle games, this one's a toss-up. Ikaruga (a Raptor clone) didn't need to be anything more than top-down, and wasn't.
RPGs: 3D makes them prettier, but the important part is the story. Graphics aren't such a big issue here -- unless it's a game like FF:Tactics or Gladius, which I'd file under strategy anyway.

Actually, I'd argue 3-D is often worse for strategy games. In a lot of strategy, like civilization or simcity, it's all just a matter of graphics, so it makes little difference. But in some games it becomes a problem because it muddles the information you are getting. For instance, I've played a couple of games where you could attack only things adjacent to you, but the 3-D graphics made it near impossible to tell the difference between adjacent and a short distance apart. In others, stuff will be hidden behind some 3-D object, or the graphics will be so detailed that you can't easily make out the background from key units and game elements. I haven't seen any where the 3-D graphics actually provide more useful info than a 2-D system would - although 3-D does look better.
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Frisco
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It's tough to say for me. My all-time favorites are Tetris, Galaga, and Starcraft. [Smile] Then again, I'm in the process of getting over Starcraft, and Tetris and Galaga have been staples of my living room for about 17 years. My 5200[with 2600 adapter] and original NES are the only consoles that entertain me anymore. My Playstation disappeared at some point, and I didn't even notice until some months later.

If I want realistic, I'll go outside into the real world. And while I love ( [Roll Eyes] ) the outlet that is given to anyone with the urge to kill (or just finds it totally cool, man), I really can't get into FPSs.

In 100 years, Tetris will be the only game left from our time. Damn Commies!

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MEC
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I don't think that classic games will ever make much money, they're just too easy to replicate with java and shockwave. There are also tons of emulators and roms out there for older games.
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TomDavidson
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I think the move to ubiquitous 3D has hurt a number of genres that don't really benefit from it; sprite-based graphics will almost always look better, if done properly, and are considerably less "cluttered." On the other hand, a 3D engine offers some features that, if they're taken advantage of, are worth the conversion.
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Dagonee
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Just wait until we can play RTS games on one of these: Shimmering Images.

I'll save up for the 6' by 6' model. If I get right on that, maybe my Grandkids can have one.

Dagonee

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MrSpaz
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I disagree with the thread's original topic, the article at hand. I think the general gist of it is, "old games are better than new games," and I couldn't disagree more with that statement. Yes, games such as Joust still grab my attention on a constant basis, because yes, they're great games, but to say the entire gaming industry of that time was greater than it is now is an uncomfortably generalized statement.

First of all, not as many kids feel the way the article leads you to believe that they do. The world of gamers isn't that cut and dry.

You speak of lack of gameplay, then cite games such as Pac-man (move, eat dots, avoid ghosts, rinse, repeat. Is there a point to this? Is there some salvation in the end, or is Pacman doomed to the eternally haunted maze?) and Space Invaders, the extremely slow, shoot-down-one-at-a-time-because-the-game-can't-handle-two-lasers "classic" that's, to be frank, unbearably painstaking. I have a game on my TI-83 calculator called Phoenix that's better than Space Invaders.
Point is, yes, there are some absolutely great classics -- Joust and 1942 -- but there are also some horrendous ones.

"They were innovative," says the article. Yeah, no kiddin' -- they were the only ones of their kind. It's hard not to be innovative when there's nothing else out there. Their gameplay, however, is, in my opinion, highly overrated.

Generally, I have to agree with Noemon:
quote:
I think that the gaming industry is cranking out classics at about the same pace it has since the beginning.
Yeah, even with all of our bells and whistles, we've still got bad games. Ecco the Dolphin and State of Emergency, for example: Completely wasted potential. Meanwhile, we have our gems, just like the old days did. Super Smash Brothers Melee. Halo (overrated, I think, but still quite good). Splinter Cell.

This thread seems to have diverged near the end into a "what makes a good game?" tangent, which would make for a much more interesting discussion, I think. twinky's run-down of each genre and how the switch to 3d has affected them is right on the money. I personally believe that graphics aren't nearly as important as gameplay, but, well. Take Metroid Prime. It completely revamped the Metroid series while sticking to the same general Metroid concept (you have to get this suit/weapon/item before you can open this door to get this suit/weapon/item so that you can go back and open this door ...), a change that was in my opinion for the better. I thoroughly enjoyed the FPS aspect of it. (WARNING: Bad Pun Alert) It's a Prime example what today's gaming potential can lead to.

Anyway, my point seems to have gotten muddled: You can't simply say, "games were better back then," any more than you can say "music was better back then," or "clothing was better back then." You could argue that games are better now, if only because we've got better capabilities now than we had in the 80s, but that comes down to a matter of opinion. I personally enjoy Mario 64 much more than I enjoy Mario Brothers 3.

The fact that they're starting to release old games for the game boy and cell phones says something to me: It says that old games are being played when you're waiting for the bus, or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's. Yeah, they're good, but if I'm at home with time on my hands, Pac-man doesn't stand a chance against Wolfenstein or Metroid Prime.

twinky: On a slightly related note, I enjoy Starcraft far more than I enjoy Warcraft III, with the exception of a few of the rarely-seen well-made custom maps on B.net. I'm curious to hear why you like WCIII so much.

[ December 19, 2003, 12:04 PM: Message edited by: MrSpaz ]

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twinky
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>> Well, I never played Fusion, but I have played Super Metroid so I can compare it to that. The difference is that in Super Metroid I felt like I was exploring the way I chose, but in Metroid Prime it was if my path was preset. I find the clue I'm supposed to find (conveniently marked in another color for me), I do what it tells me to do, and then I'm off to the next room in the sequence. There's a definite right way to do it. << (Tres)

You do know that you can turn the "help" feature off, right? [Wink] Fusion also has a "help" feature. I think the addition of "help" has nothing to do with the move from 2D to 3D. There's a right way to do everything in Super Metroid, too; the difference is that you have to wander around getting lost for hours on end before you figure out what it is. Prime at least tells you where the next "plot point" will be, if you want it to. It doesn't tell you that you have to go there right away, though. Playing Prime I frequently got distracted by a new door I could open or a new area I could reach while I was on my way to somewhere else and would just go off exploring. I found it much easier to differentiate between rooms and areas in Prime than in Fusion or Metroid on the Game Boy or Super Metroid because the third dimension means that rooms don't have to be single-texture rectangles. It's much harder to get lost in Prime.

>> Prime also has the problem that it's just darn confusing sometimes, with all the graphics, and with the possibility that things are behind you, above you, or beside you without you knowing it. <<

Again, I don't find it that way at all. In the real world, if things are behind you you can't see them. If they're above you you can't see them. Being put inside Samus' suit takes the Metroid games from unbearable to amazing for me. And I definitely prefer having more options...

>> (A better example is the recent Zelda games. In the old ones you had a limited number of things to do [you could burn, blow up, or whistle - that's about it.] But in the more recent ones, as the world became more complex, they basically had to tell you what to do, because there were so many things to try that you couldn't possibly do them all [or if you had to it took forever] - and many of the things you might think of trying weren't animated, so they just couldn't be allowed.) <<

You know, I found what I could stand to play of LttP to be every bit as linear as Wind Waker. But then, some of my favourite games are completely linear -- Planescape: Torment is a prime example. System Shock 2, another great game (though one that was too scary for me to play for too long), is also completely linear.

In other words, linearity in games is not a crime.

In Wind Waker, they tell you what to do next to advance the story. Just like in Prime if you leave help on. They don't tell you about the million other things you can do in the world if you see fit, that's left to your own discretion. I don't really see a problem there.

>> But in some games it becomes a problem because it muddles the information you are getting. For instance, I've played a couple of games where you could attack only things adjacent to you, but the 3-D graphics made it near impossible to tell the difference between adjacent and a short distance apart. In others, stuff will be hidden behind some 3-D object, or the graphics will be so detailed that you can't easily make out the background from key units and game elements. << (Tres)

I have exactly the opposite problem. I find the hordes of stacking units in StarCraft incredibly annoying and thought that was a step back from even WarCraft II. Thankfully they fixed it in WarCraft III -- but then, they fixed a lot of things in WarCraft III, which I'll get to in a minute.

You'll have to give me examples, because I really find 3D graphics much more clear in terms of conveying information about the battlefield than 2D graphics. For turn-based RTS games it's not such a big deal, though.

>> I haven't seen any where the 3-D graphics actually provide more useful info than a 2-D system would - although 3-D does look better. << (Tres)

Then you've evidently never played Myth, a game which would have been impossible without 3D. When you aren't restricted by the game in terms of how you have to look at the world -- i.e., you're given full control of the camera -- it's much easier for me to grasp how things fit together on the battlefield.

Again, you'll have to give me specific examples rather than just using words like "often" if you want to get me to understand where you're coming from. If I can't picture it I won't be able to understand your view.

>> If I want realistic, I'll go outside into the real world. << (Frisco)

There's a difference between good graphics and realistic graphics. With the power of current graphical hardware, fantastical worlds can be made immersive and "realistic" while differing starkly from the real world you see outside. You can only do this if the graphics are good. Bad graphics just don't draw you in to the game world. Graphics are important.

>> On a slightly related note, I enjoy Starcraft far more than I enjoy Warcraft III, with the exception of a few of the rarely-seen well-made custom maps on B.net. I'm curious to hear why you like WCIII so much. <<

There have been a couple of threads that touched on this, and I know that some people here feel the opposite of how I feel just as strongly as I. However, here's why I love War3 and why I don't miss SC at all (note that I'm comparing SC+BW to War3+TFT):

  • I prefer the WarCraft universe. That's a personal thing. [Smile] I've been waiting for War3 since War2 came out; SC was just a nice detour on the way.
  • Low unit cap. The high unit cap (200) in SC combined with the low unit grouping size (12) made armies very difficult to manage as you approached your food limit (particularly as the Zerg), particularly given the 2D isometric view. Units disappear behind other units or mill around and are just generally hard to select and command. Basically, I much prefer small armies where I'm able to control each of my units.
  • Upkeep. The notion that you can support a massive army without paying an economic penalty just makes no sense. Upkeep is simple, but adds another level of depth to planning economics in the game. Also, it helps keep armies smaller.
  • Balance. SC was somewhat prone to rock-paper-scissors (or in this case, Terrans-Protoss-Zerg); this was obviously mitigated by playing on larger maps and with more than two players, but it still bothered me on occasion. War3's four races don't have this problem as much, though it's not something that can ever be totally escaped in an RTS where the races aren't identical.
  • Heroes. They make battles much more interesting. 'nuff said.
  • The Scroll of Town Portal. One of many things in War3 that help to finally rid us of players who turtle. The TP was more or less required once upkeep was implemented, too, since leaving units at home is wasteful when upkeep is involved. It puts the focus of the game much more on exploration and combat rather than town management.
  • Simpler tech tree. Keeps bases smaller and less cluttered, allowing for more interesting battles in bases and removing siege units from their position as near-prerequisites to victory.

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A Rat Named Dog
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The main reason I defended the article was because I don't think it's saying that older games are better. I think it's trying to point out that the "fun" in older games is based on the same principles as the "fun" in modern games, and better graphics and better tech doesn't make the newer games automatically into better experiences than the older ones. But it lists just as many modern classics as it does ancient classics Deus Ex, GTA, etc.

However, a lot of people ARE in the habit of pointing out the problems in modern games while glorifying older ones, so it is definitely worth pointing out that both eras have their classics and their duds.

It's also worth pointing out that an older classic (Joust) and a new classic (Vice City) are equivalent only when you consider them in their own context. Back when the competiton was E.T. and Pitfall, Joust was amazing, and was worth hours of your time hours that I willingly spent as a seven-year-old kid. But if its direct competition were ever Vice City, Joust would die a quick and painful death. The industry has definitely moved forward and built on the shoulders of the classics to great even better, more immersive experiences. But the efforts and skills of the developers in either era deserve the same kudos and admiration.

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twinky
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^^^^^

Indeed.

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Tresopax
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quote:
But if its direct competition were ever Vice City, Joust would die a quick and painful death.
Well, I've come across several occassions where I had to choose between an old classic (ones I'd never even played before) and a newer "favorite," and the classics have consistently been the better choice for me. Direct, head-to-head, the classics usually win. I've had Gamecube for a while now, but I haven't been able to get into any of the games, instead choosing to play some old NES games my friend just gave me.

Perhaps I'm just looking for something different than twinky in my games (all the fun in Metroid is in the getting lost!) But game makers should be producing at least SOME titles that cater to those of us who'd prefer simpler games more focused on fun and gameplay than graphics or complexity. Something as basic as InkLink surpasses most of the stuff sold at high prices in the gaming stores these days, in my view.

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Hazen
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Warcraft III illustrates to me one way in which games really have progressed, namely the amount of memory they have at their disposal. In terms of the graphics needed for the game to work, they really could have done it on the NES, since it is still pretty much 2-d when it comes to gameplay. But one of the attrations of that game, to me, is that they have such a variety of stuff, which they couldn't have managed during the NES era.

I do find myself agreeing with that article in some ways. Some old games had types of play that they just don't try any more. One I think of is Bubble Bobble. It is a totally unique experience. It doesn't have much of a story of anything, but it is still great fun.

On the other hand, there are a lot of games that they make right now that they couldn't have back then. I know I liked Half Life more than any side scrolling shooter that I have played (Even Contra, but I don't own Super Metroid, so Tresopax doesn't have to kill me). The extra dimension made for a lot more ways doing things, rather than just shooting as fast as possible. So I guess I'm kind of nuetral on this.

P.S. Geoff: What games have you designed? Have any been released yet?

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Maccabeus
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Certainly there are some true classics that are incredibly fun even today--I could spend a long time playing Pac-Man, Space Invaders, or Asteroids. The fun of these games is really basic--it has to be, because there were no great graphics to help them along. But aside from their classic status, they still wouldn't be able to compete today, at least not without a serious sprucing up. Even Missile Command would probably need a graphics overhaul.
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Mr. Sir
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What about "Populous: The Beginning". That's one of my favorite all time games. Are they ever going to make a sequel to that?
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twinky
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>> Well, I've come across several occassions where I had to choose between an old classic (ones I'd never even played before) and a newer "favorite," and the classics have consistently been the better choice for me. Direct, head-to-head, the classics usually win. I've had Gamecube for a while now, but I haven't been able to get into any of the games, instead choosing to play some old NES games my friend just gave me.

Perhaps I'm just looking for something different than twinky in my games (all the fun in Metroid is in the getting lost!) <<


You must be looking for something different than me [Smile] I too have old favourites, but I don't go back to them often. When I do, it isn't for very long (e.g. I play Battletoads on a friend's console about once per year for a couple of hours, which is more than sufficient for me to get my fill of side-scrollers for the year).

I definitely can't stand getting lost in a 2D world where all of the rooms look the same [Razz]

>> But game makers should be producing at least SOME titles that cater to those of us who'd prefer simpler games more focused on fun and gameplay than graphics or complexity. Something as basic as InkLink surpasses most of the stuff sold at high prices in the gaming stores these days, in my view. <<

This begs a few questions, though.

First, are there enough people like you that such a game would sell?

Second, is there anything in the "simpler" gameplay milieu that hasn't been done by a "classic" already?

Edit:

Populous had a sequel, but only one as far as I know. [Smile]

[ December 21, 2003, 10:17 AM: Message edited by: twinky ]

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Noemon
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There was a new Populus game a couple of years ago. I thought about getting it, but somehow it didn't look as captivating as the first two. Got poor reviews, I think. In any case, I thought that the first one was a great idea that wasn't all that much fun to play, but the second one, with the Greek god brought into the game, was phenomenal. Back in my Amiga days I spent months playing Populus II.
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Tresopax
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quote:
First, are there enough people like you that such a game would sell?
I'm pretty confident there are, just based on the percentage of the people I know who seem to feel that way.

A better question is whether or not the people who'd like such games would actually buy them, though. The problem is that there's a natural heavy bias in favor of good graphics, and it has a strong impact on their first impression (and therefore what they buy.) Give the average person Mario 64 and Mario 3 and I suspect that after a few moments of play they'll virtually all claim that 64 is the superior game. But make them play each for several days and I'd bet a large percentage switch that opinion, after the novelty wears off.

quote:
Second, is there anything in the "simpler" gameplay milieu that hasn't been done by a "classic" already?
Probably not much. But the same goes for more complicated stuff. Almost all the games made today are rehashes of old ideas. Almost all first person shooters are the same game, for instance. It's just a matter of making more effective or less effective manifestations of that game. The same goes for simpler games.

[ December 21, 2003, 01:05 PM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]

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