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[GDS] MARCH 2014 "Make Mine Random" - Critiques

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iisjreg
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Black Hole Vortex - Response

Thanks for your comments. This was my first challenge and it's been very good. There seems to be a lot of questions, so I'll try to explain my thinking as much as possible.

Firstly, it was meant to be a very simple game without a lot of strategy but, obviously, this can put some people off.

Generally, I like to be much more thematic and illustrative in my rules but the word limit and lack of images was a shock for my first challenge.

Clarifications

Thank you Mr S. No, it's not that abstract. That was left in from when the game was originally more abstract. I don't want to get into definition discussions but... chess.

I do realise I should have been clearer:

Quote:
At the same time, players may move any other pieces a number of spaces either sideways or towards the centre.

should have been "...any of their own pieces, which have not been attracted towards the centre,..." (pieces which are attracted cannot be moved by the player in that turn, other than being attracted to the centre one space)

Players also can't move their pieces away from the centre (expect for the spaces that allow it).

The spaces nearer the centre would be have the greater point gains and losses.

The only time a player might move another players pieces would be by landing on the space that allowed it but this was really just a filler action, so I'll remove it.

An invalid spin is if the pointer of the spinner fails to rotate enough to move past two whole spaces. This was to get a balance between avoiding players just tapping the spinner slightly to not hit their own piece and to allow a player to still spin it softly. However, this whole idea could just be removed and say that the spinner has to spin completely...

Comments

The idea of hitting the pieces away with the spinner was what gave me the space theme because of the many sci-fi ideas of black holes, like 'teleporting'.

I could have the game in the box to avoid lost pieces but with a specific "out of play" zone, to avoid every piece staying on the board, but I don't think it would be too much of an issue in practice.

I really like anonymousmagic's idea of a modular board. Perhaps I could have different quarter-circles that fit together to make a circle and each one would have a different arrangement of spaces instead of just concentric circles. This would give more strategy to where you moved your pieces.

I'll do more proof reading next time :)

Thanks.

bike
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Black hole vortex - critique (overtime)

My gold. I liked the idea to have some skill in pointing which section to move (not too fast, not too slow), and the idea that fields gave discs special options. The idea of hitting the discs was a bit unclear.
I read your comment, I suggest players can only move some of their "other discs" sideways.

bike
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Hostile robot - critique (overdue)

My bronze. The idea of switching inserts, and give players the option to spin with the old or new one is nice. Theme is good. Destroy a robot that otherwise will hurt you.
In the current rules a random player will receive any damage done. That is just too random.
The idea of having multiple robots is good. Maybe the number of spinners can also be limited. You can either swap your top with another player, or spin (where it is not allowed to swap with a player who just took a new top).

bike
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Arctic Dissection - critique

Just missed out on top-3. Very clean game, excellent use of spinner mechanic. I am not sure this is totally random at the moment... give the players the option to either take the point, or spin again for a better split might work. Spin just once or twice.

bike
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Fate and the Wheel of Fortune - critique

The game feels to heavy/serious to have that much randomness by spinners. I did not see any specific spinner element in the game.
Sorry, no more comments. Game has enough in it to work on it further.

danieledeming
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Tuesday Critiques

Sorry I missed yesterday's

Just a couple points I'd add...

Black Hole Vortex:
This was my bronze - I do really like the circular game board and the corresponding movement, especially relative to the spinner. I agree that spinning pieces off the board isn't necessary, perhaps just removed from the board once they are drawn into the center?

Hostile Robot:
I really like the way you used the spinner in a unique and interchangeable way. Lots of replay value and variety. My criticism is that there didn't seem to be balance between the robot attacking and being disarmed; it felt like it would swing strongly towards one outcome or the other.

Additionally, I agree with the criticism that this might be better as a cooperative, perhaps against a horde of robots?

danieledeming
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Wednesday - Arctic Dissection/Fate and WOF

Arctic Dissection:
I liked the theme of this game - the cold war is always rife with possibilities and is especially topical now. I had similar difficulty with picturing how this game would play out, though. I couldn't see it and envisioned the game play as one coin flip situation after another. Maybe a better explanation would cure all those ills though.

Fate and the WOF
This was actually my gold - the only thing I really didn't care for was the title, just a little too wordy.

Something about the strategy of this game seemed really intriguing to me - you're basically trying to survive as long as possible, either by avoiding disasters or forcing other people into them. It's the kind of game that if you win, you have no friends when it's over. It was well thought out and used the spinner intelligently.

One criticism mentioned that the spinner mechanism could have been replicated with dice - which is definitely true, and I struggled with the same in my design. One thought would be to eliminate the peace sections from the spinner (more on that later) and have different inserts that weighted some disasters more likely for that game.

A big flaw I did notice was that your end game requires a 1/12 chance to happen 3 times. And while it may work out, there's a good chance you could have some really long games and a good chance you could have some really short games (what if the first three spins are peace?) Because you have a mandatory draw mechanic with the cards, perhaps your peace rounds could be shuffled into the draw deck?

Either way, I really liked the game and hope to see more on it.

andymorris
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My Thoughts

Fate

I gave this one a silver medal. It sounded interesting and was well thought out. I felt it had enough depth and potential that it edged out a couple of games that had more creative uses of the spinner. I didn't like having to spin three spinners all at once. Maybe it would make sense to get a little more dynamic use of the spinner by making the larger continents more likely to come up than the smaller ones. I think the severity of the disaster could be incorporated with the disaster spinner. I also agree that the title is too long, maybe The Fates or Surviving Fate? Overall a nice concept.

Arctic Dissection

This one just missed out on a medal for me. I really like the way the spinner is used and the idea of choosing between points and control. However, I felt like there wasn't quite enough depth there yet. I feel like there needs to be another layer of strategy where you need to do something with the area you control. Overall very creative, nice job.

Mr.S
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Bumbling Bees Critique

Interesting theme but I think you meant blind bees as they locate flowers based on ultra violet lighting. Bees are also considered the most intelligent of the insects and they do a dance to show the other bees where the good plants are. They are very interesting insects.

Now as far as your game goes:
I had to reread the objective a bunch of times... That’s not a good start. I am not sure you need to have 6 spinners either. So let me get this straight first... Each spinner represents a different flower / pollen color? And each spinner is like tossing a die to see if you get the pollen or not? Or does the spinner just tell you the direction you are heading? If it is both, you will always have a set path that you must take. Also, how many flower spinners are we talking about. It sounds like they are surrounding the hive 360 degrees, which would be A LOT of spinners (pricey for how much game there is)
Are some of these flowers farther away than others? That would make it more interesting as players would have to weigh the advantages (more points) vs the disadvantages (time to get out there). They could also pick up other pollen along the way. In this way, you don’t need to use the cards. In this particular game, I think the cards rather limit the playability of the game.
Overall, I like where this game is starting from, but I think it could use some tweaking and much more development before being play tested.

Mr.S
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Fishing Float

When you say a children’s type spinner... are you talking about a top? I don’t think that this is what was meant by “Spinner” in the context of this showdown. But, I will give you props for thinking outside the box.
The use of a top is not really necessary as you could just as easily use a large foam die or even a multicolored ball. The top would have to be pretty big to play this game, and I am worried about how that will affect game play. I think it would probably just end up being tossed like a ball. The use of a die or other multi-sided object would also yield basically the same outcome as the top.
Also I had a good laugh at “fases”. Please use a word processor next time.
So, this is a children’s game. I think that this game is a bit too complex for the target group. Throwing a large top on the ground would be more fun for younger kids, so you need to keep the rules simple. I think the target age group would prefer rules like, (each circle is the number of fish and the top will give them certain colors. Each player has to get 10 of a certain color.
The selling, dollar values, improvements, etc are all too difficult for your target audience.

davidwpa
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Thank you

I just want to thank everyone who critiqued my game today and I loved the advice and suggestions everyone gave.

Couple more general observations:

I do understand the game feels serious and perhaps this one just is. I just thought the theme was interesting enough to explore for this showdown. I also think that once in a while a game should be more serious and not every one needs to be lighthearted.

The reason I used three spinners is there are/were three Fates so there is a spinner for each of them.

Yes, with regard to the ability to substitute the spinner with dice, I suppose one could but that argument could be made in the end for almost any game. The swappable inserts could be substituted with a table or multiple tables of values that mirror the spinner percentages and you have the same result. To me the spinner, if really spun adds a dramatic touch to this game...who will get hit, how will they get hit and how many get affected? Again the three spinners matches the three Fates in a way. That was my thinking process.

Yes, the title could be replaced. I think I was having a "Love, American Style" moment when titling the design. (The title is similar to the titles used in that series). I agree it could stand for a better title...I just thought it was a clever summary, but I'm not hooked on it.

I do like Daniel's modification to move the peace from the spinners to the cards and add more opportunities for peace. The exact number of opportunities probably would need to be playtested to see what is optimal, however there was another end game condition which is if one continent gets wiped out at the end of a turn. That will also end this game.

I also like Andy's suggestion to combine the severity of the disaster with the disaster spinner.

Overall, I like this game design and will probably flesh it out more and I will admit that I may change some of the mechanics a bit because you all had some good advice.

Thanks to those who thought well enough of it to medal it. I appreciate all of your encouragement.

I definitely enjoy being a part of the community.

Peace,

David

anonymousmagic
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I'm sorry for falling behind

I'm sorry for falling behind on my critiques. I'll rectify this as soon as I am able to do so. Hopefully, that will be later today.

danieledeming
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Thursday Critiques

Bumbling Bees:
I really struggled understanding this one as well. I tried to picture it but the movement seemed stilted and the scoring wasn't clear either; my takeaway was that you wouldn't have very much control over where the bees moved or what they did because you're all using the same bees with different (most likely) objectives.

But again with this, it could just be the way the game was described and not an actual issue of the game play.

Fishing Float:
This game didn't make sense to me until I read the above critique and then realized you were talking about a spinning top and not a spinner. It makes trying to decide what your outcome is much harder, but it still seems pretty basic. Might make a decent children's game, but I could see most people spinning it right off the board. Maybe the pond needs walls? I do like the development cards aspect...would start teaching kids those game mechanics early and get them hooked!

andymorris
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My Thoughts

Bumbling Bees

I like the theme. I think this could make a nice kids game. However, I think it will need a fair bit of streamlining. Right now, there's a bit too much going on.

Fishing Float

I like how you handled the value of the different fish, I thought it was very creative. Overall I'm just not sure on the target. It feels too complex for kids, but I'm not sure if it would catch a gamer's eye. I could be wrong, maybe there enough gamers out there who like to fish and would love this game.

bike
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Bumbling bees - critique

I think moving bees is really hard. The can only be moved if the spinner points to their colour. Somehow players should be able to claim bees. Suppose a bee is close to the hive, and I can add pollen to it, and move it to the hive. Then my turn is over. The next player harvests the pollen and the points.

Those points can be solved, and it could develop into a nice childrens game.

Mr.S
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Gaja Moon Critique

I’d like to see more games in this theme, I found it interesting and I learned a new word!
So, these spinners are clear? That is interesting. The pie graph idea (of which I also used) is a great way to use the spinners in a way that can’t be replicated by dice or cards. You are playing with probability. However, I don’t think that this game really explores that aspect of the spinner as well as it could have. You are essentially making a random road. The pie chart tells you where to go, but using the probabilities to create a certain road is impossible as one wrong spin will destroy any attempt at a plan.
There are also far too many spinners to make this game economically viable. Consider one spinner to dictate the movements and some other way of marking the progress of the road. After using the spinner once, it could be reused in this way.
I don’t really understand the pick up and drop off functions of the game, but I like where this is headed. This game needs a better explanation.

Mr.S
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Do or Dial Critique

This may be a good math game, but I couldn’t understand it. I think we need to know more about how the spinner affects the game as well as a better description of it physically. There is also a lot going on with the dials. I assume that the discrete dials are somehow hidden from the other players, but it is unclear how. Also, when and how are they revealed? We also need a better physical description of the dials. How do you choose three actions (which dial, direction, player to challenge) from one dial? I also have no idea how a challenge works. What if there is a tie? What if two players challenge each other… do they play two challenges? There may be a good game in there, but I am just having a hard time picturing the game, components and mechanics. So, it is difficult to evaluate.

danieledeming
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Critiques

Gaja Moon:
This one was on my short list - I liked the theme on it, it was easy to get into and fits with the mechanic of the game. It had an interesting movement to it as well, and I think with the tile replacement, you've got great replay value. My only issue with the game is that it didn't seem complex enough to challenge players' strategies. It boiled too much down to luck for me - will they get the spin they need and will the tiles give them a favorable trade route - but, that said, I think it's the basis for a great game to develop out of...see what you can do with it, and keep cost in mind, too, like Mr. S said.

Do or Dial:
First off with this game, I had trouble keeping each of the different dials straight in the explanation, as well as what every dial looked like. Which I know is tough to explain in 500 words. Second, the math seems like there's far too many possibilities to have a fair chance at winning a challenge by anything other than luck - could just be the way I'm reading it though. Third, there's no rules regarding how/who to challenge, so I could imagine how a couple different problems could develop there. Also, I'd add that the lack of a theme affected my decision, as well as the fact that most of the 'spinners' in the game were used as dials, not randomizers.

andymorris
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My Thoughts on Gaja Moon

I'd echo what danieledeming said. I really liked the theme and the idea of placing the spinner onto the hexagons. It was really close to getting a medal, but it fell just a bit short because it didn't give the players enough control. Also, I'm not sure it makes sense for the board to wrap around. Maybe the drop off spots could be on the edges to force players to keep going back and forth. Overall I think there is lots of potential here.

andymorris
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Clarification on Do or Dial

Thanks for the feedback so far. I wasn't sure if I had painted a clear enough picture, but I hoped I had. I guess it's clear that I didn't. I was surprised how quickly my 500 words were gone.

Let me try to clear it up. The main spinner would have 18 possible outcomes, one for each available combination of the number, operation, and high or low. Each player has three face up dials that everyone can see. Two have the numbrs 1-9 and the third has the ways to modify the result. The discrete dial board has two dials on it. The first one has six options (clockwise/counter clockwise for each face up dial), the second dial has one spot for each player. The discrete board is used like the secret disc in El Grande, if that helps.

The game, in my head at least, is not supposed to be about the math, but about trying to guess what everyone else is going to do. I feel like it would generate some fun player interaction as people try and think along with each other.

bike
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Gaja moon - critique

Good use of the spinner, simple pick up and deliver mechanic that fits well. Wrapping around a non rectangular board will cause some confusion, you might need to place the tiles onto a real board with rows and columns numbered like a chess board.
The problem is that the spinners are too random. When on my second spin, the spinner ends in a single section that points towards my first spinner, my turn is over. That is the worst example. Players have very limited choice to make meaningfull moves.
Since the game is small, a high luck factor might not be too much of a problem. Could work very well with kids.

bike
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Do or dial - critique

For the effect you try to get (guessing what other players are going to do) the game feels too complicated. I do not think I totally understood. It can be played with 6, but every player has to challenge one opponent, confused me.
Not at all with spinners... but a great guessing game is http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/120/hoity-toity (from a well known designer)

bike
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Thanks for feedback

I admit I was not totally sure what a spinner was. I looked it up and got the Twister-type and also this type: http://education.scholastic.co.uk/resources/156741. I thought these were the same as: http://blog.mrprintables.com/spinning-top-poetry/ (4th image especially).
To give the spinner (spinning top?) the right amount of heavyness to give players after some tries the opportunity to land somewhat close to the center requires testing. I also think it would be good if the spinner would not spin very long, it makes the game last too long.
Later I thought that maybe all players spin their personal spinners at the same time, and, have improvements in the game to change the tops (more red fish for instance). When players spin together collisions might shorten the game, and give more chance to end near the center.
If the improvements are suitable for kids is open for debate, or playtest.
Mr. S. I am glad I could make you laugh at "fases". It is a proper word in my language, and even though I checked my entry various times, I have read over this one. I do not have access to a wordprocesser to check, but, have found something on internet that will do the same. Although this is about the game-submission, the point that proper English is needed when in contact with distributors is taken.

Mr.S
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Warriors of Spinaria Critique

The spinner in this game could easily be replaced by two D12s and a D8. The spinner doesn’t offer anything to the game.
This is relatively similar to my first entry in this contest, which I subsequently changed. I’ll try to relate it to your game. In my game, I had 5 spinners (like the one used in The Game of Life). The central spinner determined the pairing of either a Warrior or Creature to a Weapon or a Special power. The Warrior or Creature Cards would have base attributes and the Weapons / Powers would add to the attack/defense. This would result in a new character being created (Creature + Power, Creature + Weapon, Warrior + Power, or Warrior + Weapon). In my version, the spinner could not easily be replaced by cards or dice AND it is central to the game. My game also differed in that it was sort of a chess type of game with squadrons that you can maneuver. This is just an example of another way that you could have taken this game to meet the requirements of the showdown.
I felt like this game missed the point of the challenge, otherwise I thought it was a solid game. It wasn’t unique enough to make me want to play it, but I think it’s a game you could play with your friends and have a good time doing it.

Mr.S
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Critter Scramble

Ok, well this is a solid game. We know this from Slap, Set and games like that. There is a lot of information on each wedge. If you are doing a 12 sided spinner, I am not sure there will be enough room on each piece unless you plan on making very large spinners spinner plates.
I think that it might be interesting to incorporate different aspects of each card together: have the spelled color written in a different color, have certain numbers of critters to be number and critter together. I realize that you have essentially done this, but I think it needs to be done to save space. Having a number and a number of critters is a potential source of confusion.
I do like these types of games as a change of pace or filler game sometimes. It’s great to play with a younger audience, too. So yes, it’s ok, but it offers me nothing really that new. With six spinners, this game would cost far more than a game of slap (the same type of game). This game could just as easily be made with cards that have all of the information on them. As such, I couldn’t give this one a medal.

SugarPillStudios
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Thanks for the feedback

Thanks for the feedback everyone. This is my first GDS, and it's been very interesting to read all of the critiques for all of the entries. Here's a photo of a prototype for Gaja Moon. I'm a bit surprised about some of the comments about spinners being expensive... but the one in this image is available through The Game Crafter for about twenty cents. Although having said this, I am considering replacing the spinners with dice. This is why each tile has the numbers 1-6 around it's edges.

A big part of Gaja Moon (which may not have come across clearly in my submission?) is just choosing your starting position. You clearly have limited control over your path, but you can see which connections are more likely than others, and what those alternatives provide in terms of pick-up and drop-off utility. In a way, it seems a bit like strategizing about board positions in Catan to me(?). All of your comments have inspired me to push this design a bit further. I'm thinking about giving the resources that players pick-up and deliver alternate luck-mitigating uses: like move a spinner into adjacent sector, move one extra tile further on your turn, re-spin, or maybe a hopping over a tile... Lots of ideas to play around with.

Thanks again to everyone who's making this contest such an interesting experience.

SugarPillStudios
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IGNORE ME

EDIT: I'm not sure why the post above ended up appearing twice(?), but I cannot seem to find a way to delete this duplicate. Sorry folks.

regzr
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GDS Mar 2014 feedback

Critter Scramble
The game has a randomizer and player interaction, but not any effort on finding a new innovative use of the spinner.

Time is Money, Money is Fame
The game makes the clock tick away in a random way, not vice versa.

Bubbling Bees
The spinner stop function was a mystery to me. Otherwise it's good to see children's games to be created.

Hostile Robot
Adjustable probability system of a pie chart and a deck of pie charts. That's what later shall be remembered of this quite different design.

Black Hole Vortex
Many ways a sympathetic game. It's like the game commands players and let us see what happens.

Arctic Dissection
Nice try to build a not ever seen mechanics.

Gaja Moon
Reminded me of an interesting book and text "Random walk" there. Bellos, Alex: Alex's adventures in numberland, chapter nine.

Word Drop
Thanks to everyone who had time to look at my design Word Drop.

Do or Dial
My bronze. I was completely lost, but because there was so much fine sounding stuff, I did not dare to be not giving a medal. Hope someone will sort all that out.

Fishing Float
My silver. As kids, there was a time when me and my pal were fascinated by the spinning top. We made our own games around the toy. So, I think the dexterity element is absolutely okay in this challenge. And the combination of landing site and spinner result is natural.

Tornado Town
Somehow I missed this. Quite solid. Would have deserved my attention. (Exo Prime is more innovative?)

Warriors of Spinaria
The spinner has a minor role in the game. Too minor for this challenge.

Exo Prime
My gold. An innovative worker control mechanics. (How on earth I could apply that in my favourite genre?)

Fate and the Wheel of Fortune
I hooked on the theme and would like to see a game which actualizes its drama.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for sharing this challenge with me. Hope our great artists will get some times a chance to show their skills in GDS.

-regzr

andymorris
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My Thoughts

Warriors

Firstly, I like the name. It is very apt for the challenge. I'm not really familiar with this type of game, so it just didn't quite stand out enough to get a vote. Overall it was well thought out and should work pretty well.

Critter

I like the general idea of trying see the matches when they are intentionally being made to confuse you. I think could make for a fun game, but I think it would better with cards rather than spinners.

Mr.S
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Time is Money, Money is Fame

Is the clock the spinner? It doesn’t spin. It’s just there to track progress. The rule for this GDS was to use a spinner to create a random outcome that can’t be done with other randomizers. I felt it was quite clear that the spinner had to be used this way. Furthermore, the “spinner” is not even a main component of the game. (if you HAVE to explain that it is “random” there is a good chance that it is not)
As far as the actual game is concerned, I think it works fine. The starting player can get stuck in that role as the top parameter person goes first in the following round. Maybe the lowest score should start the next round. I think it would take a long time to finish a game. Also, the theme of this game is only loosely tied.
To be honest I didn’t look too hard at the mechanics as I think it is outside the parameters of this challenge.

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