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Author Topic: What is the Dream?  (Read 28099 times)
Ian Charvill
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« Reply #45 on: January 14, 2004, 03:53:01 PM »

Quote from: cruciel
Quote from: Ian
By roleplaying you're getting 'making a statement' plus X - however you define X. Standard answer as per creative agenda is exploration. If the statements you want to make are insufficient to hold your interests by themselves then you must really like some effect that the X has. You could express simulatinism merely as liking the effect of X more than you like the 'making a statement'.


Where this goes doesn't seem to disagree with you.  If Sim is 'The Right to Dream', then the Creative Agenda is 'The Right'.  Nar and Gam have an equal right to the dream, but Sim takes the right 'just because'.  It's the answer to "Why do you like X?"


Jason, you're missing my question, which I'd like to explicitely state isn't rhetorical.

For you, when you play, what is it you like about gaming in addition to making the statement?  Why do you, personally, game rather than having an ethical discussion with your gaming group?

The thing is, your "just because" sim example is recursive.  We could apply the same model to narrativists: why do you game? to make a statement; why do you make a statement? just because.  What does that tell us about sim that it isn't telling us about narrativism.  Same question; same answer - but of course the question needs pointing at the creative agenda in each case.

When playing sim, as players, we're getting aesthetic pleasure from the imagined elements and social reinforcement from the other players when they take the ball and run with one of our imagined elements, or otherwise indicate the coolness of one of our ideas.

When playing narrativist, Jason, why do you muddy your ethical and moral discussions with make believe stuff?  Why does one need demons to talk about co-dependency issues, or dwarves to talk about honour?

[I'm explicitely pointing this just at Jason, although I'd actually be interested in answers generally BUT that would really take the thread off course.  If anyone else does feel like answering it, new thread?]
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Ian Charvill
Jason Lee
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« Reply #46 on: January 14, 2004, 03:58:34 PM »

Gordon,

I think we cross-posted.

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
Hmm, this may just be a rephrase of what Ralph said, but let me try anyway - for GNS purposes, "why" is not important.  CA does not ask "why" you play, it asks where does play demonstrate your focus to be.


Does my response to Ralph address this?  The asking of 'why' is just how to dig out the intent.  I take intent to be why, but the word 'why' could carry a different meaning if you've got a slightly different context applied.

Quote from: Gorndon
What matters is what actually happened.  Did (per the e.g.)  Tara's portrayal of an injured PC contribute to play that reveled in the Dream?  Did it help in imagining what happens in a gunfight as fully as possible, such that the group as a whole got a buzz off the thrill (in whatever form) of it all?  Or did it contribute to Story Now in a way that made everyone feel comfortable with the "shape" of the imagined situation, such that they could - and DID - communicate something about the premise effectively?

[snip]


Did my response to Contracycle and John, plus the fact that we were talking about an instance of dysfunctional play, address this?  I don't see how successfully addressing theme is a prerequisite for prioritizing theme.

Lemme know if neither response addressed your point.
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- Cruciel
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« Reply #47 on: January 14, 2004, 04:38:03 PM »

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis


First of all - "just" because it's fun isn't going to cut it as an explanation for anything - one of Ron's earlier essays makes that pretty clear.  Second, "System" is one of the five explored elements that are part of the Dream - any impression that the Dream is equivalent to "realism" or living in the imagined world without metagame is NOT valid, as I just tried to make clear with John.  Exploration is EVERYTHING we do when we imagine together.

So . . . I'd change your last entry (caveats about four-word summaries and GNS-is-about-what-we-see taken as given, I hope) to "Sim:  Because it's fun to Dream, as a thing itself."  The "thing itself" part (or something like it, such as changing the entries from "because it's fun to . . ." to "the priority of play is to  . . . ")  is needed because everyone thinks the Dream is fun.  It's only some people (a good number of 'em - Sim's not meant to be a "lesser-child" in GNS) that want it to be all about the Dream


Hmm.  I had gotten the impression (rather strongly, actually) from Ron's essay that System was outside The Dream.  He talks about how "The game engine [...] is not to be messed with", that causality is king, and there must be strong real-person/character boundaries.  A good chunk of the essay goes over how different mechanics can support or take away from The Dream.  A particularly relevant quote (emphasis mine):
Quote

Two games may be equally Simulationist even if one concerns coping with childhood trauma and the other concerns blasting villains with lightning bolts. What makes them Simulationist is the strict adherence to in-game (i.e. pre-established) cause for the outcomes that occur during play.


This pretty much says flat out that Sim play is all about the in-game, which Ron sums up with The Dream.  I am suggesting that Sim play can be much more than just The Dream.  The examples I gave above are (I think) fairly clearcut examples of Exploring System, and in both cases - especially so with a playtest group - it's not about The Dream at all, but it's still role-playing, just role-playing that's heavy on metagame components - and it's fairly obviously not Nar, or Game (unless perhaps it's "can they make a system we can't break" which seems an A-OK Gameist agenda).

My other instant reaction is to say "Why isn't fun enough?"  

If we took some hypothetical roleplayers who best enjoy Sim play, and ask them why they play, we might we get answers like:
    [*]I love the feel of being inside a story - being able to go between the pages and see what the author doesn't show us.
    [*]Role-playing lets me "be" people I'm not, and explore situations and experiences as through a different set of eyes.
    [*]As a kid I always wanted to be Conan - roleplaying lets me pretend that I am.
    [/list:u]
    All of these are fairly strong Sim agenda, and barring a psychoanalysis of the people involved, reduce down to "Because it's fun."

    I would also dispute that for Sim, it has to be all about the Dream (apologies if that's not how you meant it, that's how it read) - that's the other side of the coin to saying that a Game-oriented player is all about the challenge.  He can't be - otherwise he'd be doing something that didn't distract him with all this exploratory overhead.

    It sounds like you're wanting a higher purpose than "role-playing is fun" for Sim play, and I think you're going to have a hard time reducing it.  I'll admit that one of the big stumbling blocks I've got with Ron's model in general is that Sim seems to be the catch-all "not here for challenge, not here for story" catagory.  If "Just here" isn't a good enough answer, I'm not sure you're going to find a single better one.  I do like your suggested rephrasing as "the priority of play is to...", because that doesn't exclude the other modes nearly so strongly as "all about the Dream".  Further, if The Dream is meant to include things that aren't specifically playing "in the game", then I'd be quite happy with "The priority of play is to Dream" as a good descriptor of Sim agenda.

    thanks,

    James
    (forgot to sign the last one. :)
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    Gordon C. Landis
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    « Reply #48 on: January 14, 2004, 05:54:17 PM »

    Jason,

    Yup, we cross posted.  Your why/intent conversation clears up some things - but in looking at what happened in play, "digging up intent" isn't going to be any help, IMO.  To paraphrase something I said elsewhere, "I meant to adress premise but instead I prioritized the dream" is meaningless in GNS terms.  What happened - did you address premise or prioritize the dream?  Figure that out.  ("Neither/None" and/or "I don't know" based on the bits of play under consideration are valid answers, BTW)

    Maybe the word "successfully" is tripping us up a bit - I do NOT take it to mean "well done" or "entirely satisfying."  But I DO take it to mean that premise addressing happened - and yeah, actually addressing premise is a prerequisite for prioritizing the address of premise.  Does that make sense/help?

    If Tara "had fun" because she got to address theme as some kind of internal mental state, that is NOT evidence that Nar was going on in play.  Evidence that Nar was going on in play would be that the players SAW that theme, grooved on it, and built from it.

    GNS doesn't look at what you are telling yourself is fun - it looks at what the players are demonstrating is fun.

    And to get back to Sim - what we see when Sim is happening is that the players are grooving directly on the creation/discovery of stuff in the imagined space, without connecting it to any particular challenge or meaning that stuff might represent.  Everyone can - in fact, to some degree as dictated by taste they MUST - groove on the imagined stuff, but only in Sim can you get the pure, undiluted Dream.  It leads somewhere where there is no challenge, or too much challenge?  That's OK, we aren't worried about that.  It leads to a place devoid of meaning, or where a particular meaning shines forth with undeniable brilliance?  That's also OK, we understand such things happen.  We're here to follow the Dream where ever it may lead, guided only by our tastes about the Dream.  G and N "stuff" is there in play - challenge and meaning are parts of the human mind, you can't avoid them, just like they can't avoid the Dream - but G and N stuff are in not the priority that we're there for, when we play Sim.

    Hope that brings it back on-topic - we may be done with this thread by agreeing that the answer is 2, Sim does have something special identifying it, and we can take figuring out what that is elsewhere.

    Gordon
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    John Kim
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    « Reply #49 on: January 14, 2004, 06:43:23 PM »

    Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
      Everyone can - in fact, to some degree as dictated by taste they MUST - groove on the imagined stuff, but only in Sim can you get the pure, undiluted Dream.  
    ...
    It leads to a place devoid of meaning, or where a particular meaning shines forth with undeniable brilliance?  That's also OK, we understand such things happen.  We're here to follow the Dream where ever it may lead, guided only by our tastes about the Dream.  G and N "stuff" is there in play - challenge and meaning are parts of the human mind, you can't avoid them, just like they can't avoid the Dream - but G and N stuff are in not the priority that we're there for, when we play Sim.  

    I don't agree with this.  In fact, I consider it a baseless fear to think that the Dream will lead you to a place devoid of meaning.  As I said, human imagining is inherently packed full of meaning.  Pure, undiluted Dream has more meaning than one could possibly hope to consciously arrange.  

    Is this meaning irrelevant to me?  Not at all.  It is precisely because of the richness and variety of meaning that I enjoy Simulationism.  Now, I agree with you that much of the meaning comes only after the session (i.e. Story Later instead of Story Now).  But that doesn't mean that it isn't important.  

    By analogy, imagine that I watch two movies.  The first one I can immediately see the moral message behind it as I watch it.  In the second, I don't.  However, after watching it I talk excited with my wife about it -- and as I ponder it I see all sorts of relations and interesting meaning that I didn't recognize at the time.  

    In short, "Story Now" is not the same as "Story".
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    Gordon C. Landis
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    « Reply #50 on: January 14, 2004, 06:48:30 PM »

    Hi James (we do like havin' those real names here at the Forge - thanks!),

    The five Explored elements are Character, Setting, Situation, System, and Color.  I think Ron's use of "in-game" and the common use of "no metagame" are very different things.  Now that I think about it, I bet that trips up many people and leads to a number of problems, and I don't know if we've ever adequately adressed that issue.  I'll think on that one a bit . . .

    As far as why fun isn't enough - well, the key question Ron asks to get the three Creative Agenda's of G, N and S is "what makes fun?"  (that's in this article , I think)  My last posts have talked a lot about what I think makes fun in Sim, so I won't repeat that.  But let's take your list of reasons someone might give for roleplaying; "inside story", "explore situations," "be Conan."  Those are answers to "what makes fun?"  And with no other info (like, the addition that what is neat about Conan is he's always struggling with who to trust and how to do right by his friends, and I - the player - want to make those decisions too) they are Sim answers, because they say that the priority of play for those folks is the Dream.

    And you're right, that's what I mean by "all about" - that's where the big charge, the big payoff, the REAL reason for playing lives.  Read "all about the Dream" as equivalent to "prioritizes the Dream."

    Which I think means we're in agreement - yay!  Provided that broadening of "in the game" makes sense to you.

    Gordon
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    Jason Lee
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    « Reply #51 on: January 14, 2004, 07:09:09 PM »

    Quote from: Ian Charvill
    For you, when you play, what is it you like about gaming in addition to making the statement?  Why do you, personally, game rather than having an ethical discussion with your gaming group?

    The thing is, your "just because" sim example is recursive.  We could apply the same model to narrativists: why do you game? to make a statement; why do you make a statement? just because.  What does that tell us about sim that it isn't telling us about narrativism.  Same question; same answer - but of course the question needs pointing at the creative agenda in each case.

    [snip]


    Ian, thanks for clarifying.

    I thought about the question a while, I ate dinner, I watched some tube, I went to work to start a software deployment, and then I thought some more.  I didn't get anywhere.  The question of why I choose to game instead of just talk about the issues directly came down to the question: why do people like stories, why do people imagine? (Why the interest in Exploration in the first place?)

    I really don't know the answer.  So, let me not try to dig so deep.  'Just because' certainly does seem recursive as you point out.  Would 'for its own sake' fit your tastes better?  (It's all the same to me.)  I think you've hit a real problem, that 'for its own sake' may be at the heart of it all, and that making it an answer in the first tier of motivation doesn't seem like much of a reason at all.  Of course, that leads me back to saying the answer to John's option two is no.

    Hmmm...  Maybe someone else has an answer, because the reason to do anything certainly can't be 'just because'.
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    Jason Lee
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    « Reply #52 on: January 14, 2004, 07:19:49 PM »

    Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
    Maybe the word "successfully" is tripping us up a bit - I do NOT take it to mean "well done" or "entirely satisfying."  But I DO take it to mean that premise addressing happened - and yeah, actually addressing premise is a prerequisite for prioritizing the address of premise.  Does that make sense/help?

    If Tara "had fun" because she got to address theme as some kind of internal mental state, that is NOT evidence that Nar was going on in play.  Evidence that Nar was going on in play would be that the players SAW that theme, grooved on it, and built from it.

    GNS doesn't look at what you are telling yourself is fun - it looks at what the players are demonstrating is fun.


    I think I take your meaning here.  I don't think I agree.  If you cannot address the premise all on your own, that is to say be prioritizing Nar without the group (successful or no), then GNS cannot diagnosis priority conflicts (because then GNS goals only apply to functional play).  If you are trying to address a theme, and are blocked from doing it, that creates dysfunction.  Failure at Nar doesn't mean you didn't prioritize Nar.
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    Gordon C. Landis
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    « Reply #53 on: January 14, 2004, 07:28:52 PM »

    Hi John,

    OK, I don't think we're actually in disagreement here.  My point was meant to be that for GNS-Sim, the absence (yeah, given the human mind, true absence just isn't going to happen - I got overly poetic there) or presence of meaning doesn't matter.  Which means you CAN have meaning if you want.  For YOU, meaning matters - and you can get that in GNS-Sim (all uses of meaning here being in the broadest sense - Story, NOT Story Now).  But under GNS-Sim, you don't have to care about meaning.  Not needed does not equal not possible.

    That movie analogy - well, analogies can be weak and all, but let me try this.  I assume you're comparing "theme in movie" to Nar and "theme afterwards in dicussion" to Sim?  I'd flip it around.  Since Nar is about directly doing meaning, the theme-in-discusion sounds more Nar to me, and theme-in-movie seems more Sim, in that the theme is just there to be enjoyed rather than you creating it.  Now, even the most heavy-handed theme needs you to in a sense "create" it by apprehending it as you watch - the analogy breaks down a bit - but I thought the contrast might still be useful . . .

    Gordon
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    Gordon C. Landis
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    « Reply #54 on: January 14, 2004, 07:39:52 PM »

    Quote from: cruciel
    I think I take your meaning here.  I don't think I agree.  If you cannot address the premise all on your own, that is to say be prioritizing Nar without the group (successful or no), then GNS cannot diagnosis priority conflicts (because then GNS goals only apply to functional play).  If you are trying to address a theme, and are blocked from doing it, that creates dysfunction.  Failure at Nar doesn't mean you didn't prioritize Nar.

    Jason,

    OK, I must be posting too much/too fast today.  I'd change your last sentence to be "Failure at Nar doesn't mean you didn't ATTEMPT to prioritize Nar."  But overall nothing I typed was meant to disagree with what you posted.  So I'm thinkin' it may be time to go to dinner,

    Gordon
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    Blankshield
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    « Reply #55 on: January 14, 2004, 08:03:31 PM »

    Quote
    Which I think means we're in agreement - yay! Provided that broadening of "in the game" makes sense to you.


    Yup, I think so.  

    I may need to reread The Right to Dream with that broadened term in mind, as it still reads to me very much that System is outside the Dream, which makes sense with how Ron was using the term, but is nonsensical with what we've been batting around here.

    I still think "because it's fun" is (or ought to be) good enough reason, though. :)

    Spurious example of the day:
    A gameist plays with a slinky to see how far he can walk it down the stairs.
    A narrativist plays with a slinky because it explores the propegation of waves.
    A simulationist plays with a slinky because it's a cool toy.


    thanks,

    James
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    Ian Charvill
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    « Reply #56 on: January 15, 2004, 02:59:46 AM »

    Hey James

    "The Dream" is referencing prioritization of exploration.  Within Ron's model the venn diagram runs

    [Social Contract[Exploration[Creative Agenda[Techniques[Ephemera]]]]]

    Which is to say techniques and ephemera - i.e. most of system - actually resides within exploration.  Which is also to say the system is in some sense the underlying physics of the dream.

    "Because it's fun" works on a general level but I think there's a standing assumption at the Forge that understanding why it's fun would allow you to have fun more reliably - both from a play and a design standpoint.
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    Ian Charvill
    Ian Charvill
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    « Reply #57 on: January 15, 2004, 03:16:15 AM »

    Jason

    Quote from: cruciel

    I thought about the question a while, I ate dinner, I watched some tube, I went to work to start a software deployment, and then I thought some more.  I didn't get anywhere.  The question of why I choose to game instead of just talk about the issues directly came down to the question: why do people like stories, why do people imagine? (Why the interest in Exploration in the first place?)


    Following on from my reply to James, I don't think 'because it's fun' or 'just because' or 'for it's own sake' are bad answers.  I just think better answers might allow us to play better games.

    I think our imagination is one of our survival traits.  I think it's pleasurable to use our imaginations for the same reasons sex is pleasurable - if we didn't do these things we'd die out.  Not just no shelter, no tools but no ability to tell when Thog is mad and about to hit us over the head with the jawbone of an ox.  We imagine in order to survive; and imagining is fun because were it not, we'd be less adapted to survival.

    Now the region that I'm not a behaviourist - and specifically why I find a lot in E.O. Wilson to disagree with - is that we haven't accounted for consciousness yet within the scientific model, and it's absense from the model wrecks the model.  It's like trying to predict whether it's going to rain without being able to see the clouds.

    Which is to say, the fact that imagining is fun doesn't tell us all that much about how we as conscious beings are going to react to it.  Certainly it doesn't tell us that: imagining is fun therefore there will be role playing games.

    I think it's sufficient to be able to assert that making stuff up without direct relevance to utility is a pleasurable activity for human beings.  Introducing utility to the process adds stress to the process and so reduces fun.  The achievement of that purpose will produce the pleasure of acheiving something.

    So pure imagination = the pleasure of imagination
    And goal-driven imagination = the pleasure of imagination - the stress of meeting the goal + the pleasure of achieving the goal.

    For simulationists we might merely say that the stress of meeting the goal is greater than the pleasure of achieving the goal so adding a goal creates a net disbenefit to pleasure.

    Now take the above with a supersized order of YMMV and also the fact that for all it's intellectual validity it tells us very little about how to make games more fun beyond providing a simple anatomy.  I mean, you could argue that to make a narrativist game fun for someone with simulationist tendencies you need to make it easy (i.e. reduce the stress of meeting the goal) to acheive the goal - and ideally to find some way of intensifying the pleasure of meeting the goal.  It's a very crude guideline at best.
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    Ian Charvill
    Gordon C. Landis
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    « Reply #58 on: January 15, 2004, 02:13:14 PM »

    OK, after a good night's rest:

    In saying (basically) that there's no Nar unless Nar is happening (duh), I was trying to focus attention on what we can actually see as play occurs rather than what's in the players head.  So if we can see that they are trying to address premise . . . yes, we can say that they are trying to make Nar happen.  Whether it actually "counts" as fulfilling Nar play will vary as a matter of taste across individuals - maybe even within the group. Appolgies for implying anything stronger than that.

    And yeah, "because it's fun" is certainly enough to know if you're having, well, fun.  And if that's all you're worried about, there is probably nothing in the hundreds/thousands of GNS posts here that really matters - you're playing, you're having fun, and that is enough.

    But if you aren't having fun, or if you're trying to get more fun, or you're trying to really analyze what's going on, THEN you need more than just "it's fun" - you need to know what makes fun.

    Hope that's a little more clear,

    Gordon
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    Blankshield
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    « Reply #59 on: January 15, 2004, 03:55:26 PM »

    Quote from: Ian Charvill
    Following on from my reply to James, I don't think 'because it's fun' or 'just because' or 'for it's own sake' are bad answers.  I just think better answers might allow us to play better games.


    Ok, I can see how that comes into play from a theory point of view, and with a broader view of The Dream, it's something I can buy into - I typically follow a Sim agenda, and exploring the whys of it is a trait to encourage in people making games. :)

    I think it's a big big topic though, and might show up one of the ways the model is stretched to cover - Game and Nar have a fairly focused agenda (challenge and addressing Premise), where Sim seems to be the "and all the rest of you are playing Sim" and to me, "the rest of you" covers a very broad spectrum.  That may well just be a built-in bias, however- because I tend to be a Sim player, that's where I have the easiest time seeing the full range of play.

    At this point I'm starting to ramble well away from the original point of this thread, though.  I went back and re-read some of the essays in the light of discussion here, and I think the best way to answer what Sim has that Nar doesn't is from Ron's original definition (emphasis mine):
    Quote
    Simulationism is expressed by enhancing one or more of the listed elements in Set 1 above; in other words, Simulationism heightens and focuses Exploration as the priority of play. The players may be greatly concerned with the internal logic and experiential consistency of that Exploration.


    The answer is that it doesn't.  There is nothing Sim has that Nar doesn't -  it just places it's importance elsewhere.  I think this has become my lightbulb re: the whole model.  None of the three modes have anything the others don't.  The only difference is where the importance is placed, and what emerges as the trend in play.  For Sim play, challenge and story are part of the exploration.  for Game play, story and exporation serve to heighten the challenge.  In Nar, exploration and challenge are means to an end: addressing the Premise.

    The only difference is emphasis.

    /epiphany

    thanks,

    James
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