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Axe
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How does a game designer know when a trend is about to peak. For instance, Cards seem to be popular still, but will this likely continue?
Board games seem to be making a comeback of sorts (considering the stiff competition from computer games) as a family interaction tool.
But I don't see board games ever recovering the ground it lost. For one thing production cost and shelf space seem extremely expensive. Much cheaper to put something on a 1cent disk or better yet download it. Talk about something for nothing.

Dralius
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As far as predicting trends I don’t think you can. If you try to make a game to fit a trend you are likely to not have it finished before that trend has peaked if not ended.

I think that there is more to consider that just production cost when it comes to what a company puts on the shelf, they need to provide what customers wants. Sure there is a big video game market but in my house we buy at most 3 new titles a year. I have added 5 times that many table top games to our collection this year so far, and have my eye on a few more. The board games market is currently expanding and I don’t see video games affecting it greatly. They are two entirely different types of entertainment providing for different needs.

Stainer
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Quote:
The board games market is currently expanding and I don’t see video games affecting it greatly. They are two entirely different types of entertainment providing for different needs.

I don't know where you live, but it must not be on the same planet as me! Video games are a replacement to board games. If you want to sell a board game, you have to find something that's the really new and really unique. Otherwise you'll never peel youngsters, teens, adolescents, and even young adults away from their TV's and monitors.

If you believe any different than this, then you'll never get anywhere in the game industry. 36 billion dollars was made in the video game market last year (2004).

How much has board games made?

Rob

Dralius
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Quote:
If you believe any different than this, then you'll never get anywhere in the game industry. 36 billion dollars was made in the video game market last year (2004).

How much has board games made?

I think you took my statement wrong. I was not suggesting that board games were replacing video games or taking back the market. The board game market although tiny in comparison to video games has expanded their market in the USA over 400% in the last 5 years. This is all during the growth of video games market. I don't think video games stop people from playing board games or vice versa. It's a matter of what you would rather spend you cash and time on. The truth is board games were never that big of a business even before video games came around. They are two separate forms of entertainment as different from each other as books and movies.

Among the other strengths of video games, they have the ability to be quite visceral and through the use of imagery, music etc. can be quite exciting. What they don’t tend to be is social even with online multi player games people are physically separated from the other player which tends to emotionally separate them as well. Table top games are more social and a great deal of the pleasure of playing comes from interacting with the other players. When my adolescent nephew comes over to visit he does not ask to play our video games even though he loves them and owns many of his own. He wants to play a board or card game. All it takes to get kids playing board games is someone for them to play them with.

I am not sure what your experience is in the game industry weather it be video, board or others is but as a game designer my only concern is making good games that people will enjoy playing.

Scurra
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Stainer wrote:
If you believe any different than this, then you'll never get anywhere in the game industry.

Tell that to Days of Wonder. Or (at an even more extreme level) Wizards of the Coast. The two markets (board- and video-games) are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the video-game companies are clearly learning from board-game designs about how to deal with certain important aspects of games.

Zzzzz
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Re: Trends

Axe wrote:
How does a game designer know when a trend is about to peak.

I would expect that many designers/publishers dont worry about when a trend will peak. But how to cash in on the trend before it goes away. But keep in mind that trends have very time lengths associated with them. From a business point of view trend usually fall into one of three types/lengths: major, intermediate and short-term trends (short term, medium term or long term).

Many of the big boys handle the trend watching via their marketing and research divisions. Many companies will attempt to cash in on the current comsumer market desires. But many spend tons of money researching that "next big ticket" item. Not to mention they spend their time assessing the various age markets, etc. They do this in hopes of creating the next big trend!! They dont want to just be part of the trend (for us hobbyist designers following trends is not an easy job!) Chances are the big boys are positioning themselves to create that next big game well before it will ever be released (potentially 2+ years in advance). So it is hard to look past just look at what the consumer market current foams at the mouth for, since it will not help you see what the trend setters are building behind the scenes.

Stainer wrote:

How much has board games made?

I lost my link to the stats for this, but I will look around for it.

Stainer
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Quote:
The board game market although tiny in comparison to video games has expanded their market in the USA over 400% in the last 5 years.

400% is quite a lot. I don't know where you obtained that info, but if that's the case then the market must of been very small five years ago. The market isn't as big what some day-dreamers believe. Sure hasbro is making billions of dollars (Wizards of the Coast sold over 700 million dollars in 2004) but it's not close to that of video games (as you have stated). I don't think it ever will be.

Quote:
I don't think video games stop people from playing board games or vice versa.

Of course video games are taking away from board games. It's silly to think otherwise. The social aspect of a video game also exists. When I was younger and at a party we'd always bring out the sega and play it. We'd never bring out monopoly or anything of that sort. It was always video games.

Quote:
They are two separate forms of entertainment as different from each other as books and movies.

Nice analogy - I like that!~

Rob

Dralius
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Quote:
400% is quite a lot. I don't know where you obtained that info, but if that's the case then the market must of been very small five years ago. The market isn't as big what some day-dreamers believe. Sure hasbro is making billions of dollars (Wizards of the Coast sold over 700 million dollars in 2004) but it's not close to that of video games (as you have stated). I don't think it ever will be.

The information I gave you was incorrect, the time span was 9 years not 5.

This quote is from a posting on board game geek http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/81809

Despite the runaway success of electronic games, board game sales have exploded over the last decade, zooming from $700 million in 1995 to more than $4 billion in 2004, according to the Game Manufacturers Association.

phpbbadmin
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Stainer wrote:

Of course video games are taking away from board games. It's silly to think otherwise. The social aspect of a video game also exists. When I was younger and at a party we'd always bring out the sega and play it. We'd never bring out monopoly or anything of that sort. It was always video games.

Careful. You're making an assumption here based upon your own personal beliefs. One could safely assume that video games are indeed taking away from the board game market, but I would be willing to bet that the reverse holds true. I think if you really look at it, there will be very few cases where a person who was intending to buy a board game, changed their mind and bought a video game instead. The fact that both types of games fight for discretionary income does put them into competition, but it's not as direct as you seem to imply.

-Darke

Axe
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The trend in board game sales seems to be coming from 1. family unity building and 2. small companies with hip products; even trendy. Also the partnerships of new retail is helping.

I think that is perhaps our best hope. If it worked for B&N and Starbucks, might it not work for other target retailers (even their direct competitors like Barnies, and what about speciality stores even hair dressers). If were talking cards, the product could retail for $5 a very reasonable amount.

jwarrend
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Re: Trends

Axe wrote:
How does a game designer know when a trend is about to peak. For instance, Cards seem to be popular still, but will this likely continue? Board games seem to be making a comeback of sorts

I think you've zoomed out to a level of sweeping generalizations, and I don't think that will be very illuminating. There are games that would be classified as "card games" that are have no overlap whatsoever in customer base, while at the same time there are card games and board games that do; I think the distinction between "card games" and "board games" is rather arbitrary, then. Whatever the stats may be, in any year there have been both card games and board games that have sold well, so I don't know how much I'd worry about things at this level.

But the more important question is what impact market trends should have on the designer. Personally, I don't think chasing down trends in general is a recipe for excellence, unless one is adept and interested in designing a variety of games, and wants to choose which type to work on. For example, there's a trend in German gaming for games that can be explained in 5 minutes and played in 60 minutes or less. If you have a mind to make such games, then doing so might help your chances of publication.

Axe, you seem to be new to the hobby, and I think that's great; we're glad to have you here. If I might offer my humble opinion, I'd say that trying to amass market knowledge before just going and trying your hand at designing some games is putting the cart entirely before the horse. All the market knowledge in the world won't make one a better designer, and only good games will sell. By all means, continue to seek knowledge about the market, but focus most of your energy on learning how to design excellent games!

Stainer wrote:
I don't know where you live, but it must not be on the same planet as me! Video games are a replacement to board games.

First of all, Rob, drop the condescending tone, eh?

I don't think that comparing how many millions of dollars the two industries have made is terribly enlightening; one could deduce from your remarks that our hobby is dying and we should all pack up shop! But of course that's not necessary. The question for the game designer is, rather, "how do I design a game that will rise to the top of the board game market?" We don't need to "beat" video games with our designs; a game can be targeted to existing board gamers and sell just fine.

-Jeff

Johan
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Stainer wrote:
I don't know where you live, but it must not be on the same planet as me! Video games are a replacement to board games. If you want to sell a board game, you have to find something that's the really new and really unique. Otherwise you'll never peel youngsters, teens, adolescents, and even young adults away from their TV's and monitors.

Actually I have the feeling that it is the other way around. A computer game has too be good to take get people play them over a board or card game. For teenagers nowadays, board and card games are something new and exotic (I have teenagers in the house and they (and there friends) rather play board, card and RPG then video games.
I have also the feeling that more and more people can live on making board/card games (we see a lot of new companies every year).
We can not compare the industries.

Quote:
If you believe any different than this, then you'll never get anywhere in the game industry. 36 billion dollars was made in the video game market last year (2004).

Yes and I rather go to my local pub then play a video game. How much did my local pub make last year?

// Johan

Stainer
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Re: Trends

jwarrend wrote:
First of all, Rob, drop the condescending tone, eh?

I don't think that comparing how many millions of dollars the two industries have made is terribly enlightening; one could deduce from your remarks that our hobby is dying and we should all pack up shop! But of course that's not necessary. The question for the game designer is, rather, "how do I design a game that will rise to the top of the board game market?" We don't need to "beat" video games with our designs; a game can be targeted to existing board gamers and sell just fine.

Industries don't live in separate bubbles. A few products in the entertainment industry are being crushed by video game market. Movies (just look at the headlines hollywood is making these days about how the video game market is intruding on their ground - a video game is practically a movie that involves the players), board and card games - they all compete with video games.

I never said to pack up shop. I wouldn't be here if that's the case.

But if we're talking about how the game industry is doing, then lets be realistic. The board game industry is making a come back, granted. And I'm glad to see it (really, I am). I think we still have a very long way to go yet and letting down the guard will allow the industry slip back to where it was 10 years ago. Since the video game market is also gaining ground (and alot faster than the board game market!) we need to improve designs to match.

jwarrend wrote:
All the market knowledge in the world won't make one a better designer, and only good games will sell.

I think a good designer is somebody who can sell games, and somebody who can sell games knows what the game market wants. I always try to determine what the market wants (or if there's a hole in the market) and then try to fill it. All good businesses do that.

Darkehorse wrote:
Careful. You're making an assumption here based upon your own personal beliefs. One could safely assume that video games are indeed taking away from the board game market, but I would be willing to bet that the reverse holds true.

Granted, I was speaking from personal experience. But from what the newspapers and the journals and most everything tell us, the video game market is stealing the spotlight (and the sales!). Just a question: Why do you believe the reverse is true, yet start the sentence with "one could safely assume..."?

Rob

Stainer
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Re: Trends

sorry, double post...

Rob

Stainer
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Re: Trends

sorry, triple post...

Rob

Johan
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Stainer wrote:

Industries don't live in separate bubbles. A few products in the entertainment industry are being crushed by video game market. Movies (just look at the headlines hollywood is making these days about how the video game market is intruding on their ground - a video game is practically a movie that involves the players), board and card games - they all compete with video games.

Actually I think that you are totally wrong here about board games (10 years ago that was the case but not today). Board and card games are coming back from the crash and do not compete. Today does Video game compete with other activities as for example football (and other kid sports).
The Movie business is becoming more and more integrated with computer games, but they don’t compete either, they maximize there profits for there trademarks.

Quote:
But if we're talking about how the game industry is doing, then lets be realistic. The board game industry is making a come back, granted. And I'm glad to see it (really, I am). I think we still have a very long way to go yet and letting down the guard will allow the industry slip back to where it was 10 years ago. Since the video game market is also gaining ground (and alot faster than the board game market!) we need to improve designs to match.

...and the crash during the 90th. Here in Sweden there were 3 things that contributed to the crash. The crash was against a RPG market and the board games were just in the way.
- Magic (during 1993 it completely killed RPG).
- Computer games
- Christian right wing.

Magic entered 1993. It swiped everything away. New CCG did come every month, but it died 1996 when WOTC killed the market for new CCG with there patent. I think that the patent that WotC have is good since CCG was reduced and new types of games entered the market (German styled games with Settlers (1997) and Carcassone (2001) in the front line).

Computer games removed a generation from board games. The evolution of the games between 1995-2001 was stunning, but since 2003 we have not seen anything new (just bigger, better and more graphics (no new ideas since the SIMS)).
We lost the generation that are between 20-25 today to computer games, but a new generation is interested in board-, card- and tabletop- games.

Christian right wing had an intensive campaign in the end of the 20th century to remove RPG from the world. The debate was high and they succeeded to remove these games from the public.

I don’t want to go back 10 years since the board and card game market is stronger than it ever have been. I looking forward to the future (I think is bright).

Quote:
I think a good designer is somebody who can sell games, and somebody who can sell games knows what the game market wants. I always try to determine what the market wants (or if there's a hole in the market) and then try to fill it. All good businesses do that.

You are mixing the business part with game design. You are right about the remark, but that is not game design.

// Johan

Axe
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JW:

"Axe, you seem to be new to the hobby, and I think that's great; we're glad to have you here. If I might offer my humble opinion, I'd say that trying to amass market knowledge before just going and trying your hand at designing some games is putting the cart entirely before the horse. All the market knowledge in the world won't make one a better designer, and only good games will sell. By all means, continue to seek knowledge about the market, but focus most of your energy on learning how to design excellent games!"

Thank you very much for your warm welcome, and let me say that I have been blown away by the amount of support and kindness expressed by your regular posters. I have been "alone" in this insane endeavor for a good 6 months...so it was nice when I stumbled onto this forum. Normally, I don't like to participate in forums, as they eat up too much time. But BGDF has been a gold mine of ideas and sources. My partisipation has been an attempt to both give back and hopefully contribute to a useful and well organized site. I feel a bit like a thief scowering through the many threads searching for stuff I find very valuable. But I suppose thats natural.

You are correct, I am brand new to this field (I am an independent PD in consumer goods by trade), and am working on my first board game. The game I've developed, however, is in the dreaded dungeon crawl catagory (though with a different twist) but a flooded and done market none the less (I had no idea how flooded until after I already created the game). Those that have played it seem to love it, esp. boys 10-13. I have test marketed it amongst strangers (though not nearly enough yet) with mostly positive feedback. The real question I have I guess is, is it enough to be a great game, or do you need to be unique to sell.
I mean, if I'm going to be spending a good some of money on producing a product and selling it myself, I want to do everything I can to make sure I at least recap my expense. Before I even delve into ordering or manufacturing the product, I wanted your feedback on if trying to penetrate a saturated market (like dungeon crawl board games) is even feesable. Sure, I can launch the game through publications, web sites, free press, going to shows, etc. but, if the dungeon crawl board game market is going into decline, or just too saturated, I might just call it quits on this project and move onto something new.

Hell, I might even alter it to fit a slightly different niche (or create my own niche entirely). For instance, keeping the premise and rules, but changing the location, characters and artwork.

I think its just good business since to think of these things. Sure its great to have a great game that you believe in (as you point out, the most important thing). But I just don't want to loose alot of cash chasing an impossible dream. Its a matter of risk for me, and limited funds. :-)

Axe
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To comment on the board game vs video game comparison. I know for a fact if kids didn't have video games to play they'd be doing other stuff with there time (like playing more board games). I also know for a fact, that if I had computers and X-Box's etc. when I was a kid, I would have played fewer board games and been sucked up just like everyone else (I'm 37, so, I guess I missed the video boom by about 10 years).

Dralius
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Rob

From reading back on this discussion I get that your overall point is that innovation is what is needed.

Sure we don’t want to design clones of already existing games and everyone would like to come up with the new thing. Keeping an eye on the market is not a bad thing, I make a point when embarking on a design to look at what has been published to make sure that I am either exploring new territory or taking a unique approach whenever possible. There is also something to be said for refinement of old ideas. We are certainly also going to see many gimmicks introduced with the burgeoning smart paper technology, lets hope it has more to offer board games than standard electronics did.

What do you think we all need to do you compete with the other entertainment industries?

phpbbadmin
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Axe wrote:

...at least recap my expense. Before I even delve into ordering or manufacturing the product, I wanted your feedback on if trying to penetrate a saturated market (like dungeon crawl board games) is even feesable. Sure, I can launch the game through publications, web sites, free press, going to shows, etc. but, if the dungeon crawl board game market is going into decline, or just too saturated, I might just call it quits

I personally don't think the dungeon crawl board game market is saturated. My opinion is based upon three things: A) I personally have not played a dungeon crawl that really fulfills my idea of what a dungeon crawl should be. B) As with Magic, there hasn't been a dungeon crawl game that pretty much wipes the competition off the map. There are a lot of good dungeon crawl games, but none that clearly is 'the one' as far as sales and fanbase. C) There are a lot of people that play RPGs (which are in a lot of cases, just Roleplaying versions of Dungeon Crawls), if you can create a game that will pull some of those RPGers over, then you will have access to a huge market of players and potential buyers.

Just my $.02.
-Darke

jwarrend
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Re: Trends

Stainer wrote:
Movies board and card games - they all compete with video games.

I suppose it's worth defining our axioms here. I think many if not most of the members here are designing games primarily with the hobby market in mind, rather than the mass market. Customers in that market aren't trying to decide whether to buy a board game or a video game, but rather, are trying to decide which game to buy.

If we start talking about mass market games, such as are sold in stores like Toys R Us, then sure, board vs video may be relevant, but I have to tell you, I think that discussion is solely academic curiosity. The hobby market is a tough enough nut to crack, but the mass market is a whole different ball game, ruled by established household names (Monopoly, Candyland, etc) or licensed tie-ins to TV shows or movies. Pontification about how to capitalize on market trends ignores, in my opinion, the rather large problem of being able to get into the market in the first place.

Quote:

I think a good designer is somebody who can sell games, and somebody who can sell games knows what the game market wants.

I don't think you actually think this. Is a good musician one who can sell CDs? Is a good author one who sells a lot of books? Or put differently, is it possible to be a good author or musician absent big sales? By the standard you've advanced, the designer of Candyland is a genius; I think that making that claim requires adopting a highly unconventional concept of goodness in game design. I think it's more accurate to see a game's quality and its marketability as different entities.

Quote:

I always try to determine what the market wants (or if there's a hole in the market) and then try to fill it. All good businesses do that.

Not a thing wrong with that, but I stand by my statement that a game still needs to be good to sell, and the problem of designing a good game is quite different from the problem of designing a marketable game. But again, I'm speaking from the perspective where I'd be happier designing a great game that didn't sell than a lousy game that did. In that sense, I don't personally view market trends as being helpful to me in doing my best work.

-Jeff

larienna
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Quote:
The board game market although tiny in comparison to video games has expanded their market in the USA over 400% in the last 9 years.

That is exactly the problem about video games, they expanded to fast.

With the arrival of the new video game console, which on my point of view was to soon, a few of my friend and me are sincerely thinking that there will be a downfall or crash of the video game industry. The reason : no inovations. Nintendo might hold better since it had made some innovations to it's console.

The problem is that everyting has been done. There is nothing new on the market. We have a saturation of cliche genres like FPS and RTS which make it impossible to come with something new. Generally copanies thinks only about the money, so some type of games, like turn based strategy, are set asside since they are not enough profitable. Some companies try to mix genre to make some kind of innovations ( ex: Using collectible cards in RPG ). But as my friend stated, the only kind of game that can mix genre correctly are games like Grand Theft Auto.

I am now completely disconnected from the video game industry, and I don't care anymore what game will come out since nothing interest me. One of my friend won't buy anymore Video game console, he will stick to PC. And other of my friend are simply waiting to know what will happen.

I don't want to make a debate about which VG console is the best. But I predict that the video game expansion will finaly meet an end and they will have to reconsider their path.

Velociryx
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Re: Board Games and Computer Games....

The poster who made the book/movie anaolgy was heading in the right direction, I think, but there's more to it than just a "different form of entertainment."

In order to paint a more complete picture of the two different industries, two additional analogies come to mind.

The first is in buying furniture. You can go to the chain stores and get your cherry wood and pressboard piece for $900+ bucks, or, you can go to the unfinished furniture store, apply a little elbow grease, and get a better piece for less, and this is an apt comparison in the world of games, too. Fifty bucks for a new computer game title that you might play for three weeks and then drop, or (in most cases) a fair bit less than that for a game that'll likely stay with you for years (and even in the case of the "delux" games--Eagle's titles, for example-- what you're getting for the same money as a new computer title is truly amazing stuff!

Second thing is the social analogy. Yeah yeah, most computer games come with Multi-player these days, but it's not the same thing...any more than talking to your spouse via the intercom system in your house is a "social" event. It just isn't.

Contrast that with the idea of sitting around the table with your friends for an hour or two...whole different beast, and the more "connected" we get, the more valuable that social downtime becomes, and THAT, IMO, is why the sudden surge in board games.

$0.02

-=Vel=-

Axe
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V, some very interesting analogies. You wrote: "a fair bit less than that for a game that'll likely stay with you for years (and even in the case of the "delux" games--Eagle's titles, for example-- what you're getting for the same money as a new computer title is truly amazing stuff"

I agree with you 100% on this. My concern however, relates to:

1.access to the market (computer games are sold over the net largely (often downloaded), while board games seem to sell better when they can ben looked at in person.

2. Profit. Lets face it, per unit cost is HIGH for board games esp. compared to computer. Most guys I know don't think twice about dropping $50 on a good computer game. And they do drop them in a month for the next game (often by the same company). So, for a penny a DVD and another quarter for a plastic box and paper cover art you make a huge profit. If your enterprising you focus on net sales which are even more profitable (no shipping, no distribution, no sittiing on the shelf etc.). If I was someone with 50K and I had to choose to invest in a board game company or a computer game development company, all things being equal, I'd probably choose the later.

3. Age. The older we get, the more out of touch we get with what is culturally normal. I'm not a marketer by trade, but my observations of kids is that they do use computer/video games as a substitute for board games. Sure we have a tactile place that on screen games can't go, but its no where near the market size it used to be.

I'm not listing these things to be a big downer on creating table top games. Rather I'm looking for advise, given these conditions (assuming they're correct) whats the best corse of action. One method I've seen used successfully over and over is the creation of free salesmen. A few games in the FRPG market allow fans to write for the game, submit artwork, even write the rules. They then launch there products, and these 20-30 individuals go all over pushing the game. Another great method is to hit smaller retail stores with strong theme based games. Often allow for counter space (if only for a limited time).

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