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Author Topic: Rocks fall, everybody (who bid their HP) dies  (Read 23348 times)
Bill Masek
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« Reply #30 on: June 28, 2006, 08:53:19 PM »

Callen,

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Can't I, as the game designer say 'Nope, not these decisions over here, these ones aren't about sides and don't advantage anyone, no matter how you set them' or some such? Will readers believe me/accept what I say?

Yes you can.  But then those decisions must not be about sides and must not give one player an advantage over another.  Otherwise your game will be confusing.  You'll have the whole "this is how it should play" vs "this is what the rules actually say" Sikkim.

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We haven't begun playing yet, so there are no sides to be unevenly matched.

I strongly disagree with this.  If there is an important decision which could grant you an advantage, then it is part of the game.

Back to the poker example.

One player decides, before the game begins, whether the group plays 7 card draw or 5 card stud.  This decision is not about sides and does not give advantage to anyone.

Now lets say that each player makes this decision for themselves.  Even if the game has not started yet, players are making a very important strategic decision that will effect the outcome of the game.

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Imagine this: There's a cute girl at the gaming table and for some reason she's impressed by nerdy gamist tactics. You start doing really difficult challenges in the game that you didn't have to do, to impress her. You don't have to do these stunts and they risk a lot of your resources, but they gain her notice. So game A is an 'getting noticed by the chick' game and game B is the actual game. Doing well in game A (being noticed) doesn't help you at all with game B and resources. But doing well in game B does help you with game A.

I hate to say this, but it actually doesn't work like that.

In order to reap any of the benefits from these kinds of risks there needs to be something real at stake.  If you fail your fitness potential  must go down.  (Or at the very least she/they must be deceived into believing this.)

Your game does not have any real consequences to those playing it.  After the game is over you are no better or worse off if you bid well or poorly.  The risks are imaginary so the rewards will only be imaginary.

Best,
        Bill
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contracycle
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« Reply #31 on: June 29, 2006, 12:43:53 AM »

Your game does not have any real consequences to those playing it.  After the game is over you are no better or worse off if you bid well or poorly.  The risks are imaginary so the rewards will only be imaginary.

The same applies to chess and all non-professional sports.  This doesn't wash; you don't have to play poker for money to appreciate the thrills and spills, or strategy and guts.

I'm surprised to see such an argument because syurely we muist all accept this activity is represnetational rather than actual, but nevertheless we find it entertaining and enjoyable.  If your argument was valid, we should not.
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contracycle
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« Reply #32 on: June 29, 2006, 01:02:35 AM »

Quote

Your first problem is that resource bidding is not setting par for your game.  It is your game.  The resource bidding is the only real strategic decision players make.  Since you do not have a victory condition and there is no way to acquire more resources, the "goal" of this gamist game will, whether you want it to or not, will become resource conservation

Have you ever played Sim Farm?  Resource conservation  for its own sake is Not Fun.  There has to be some goal toward which resources are being conserved for this to be meaningful.
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Bill Masek
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« Reply #33 on: June 29, 2006, 09:42:51 AM »

Contracycle,

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The same applies to chess and all non-professional sports.  This doesn't wash; you don't have to play poker for money to appreciate the thrills and spills, or strategy and guts.

I am afraid that you misinterpreted my meaning slightly.  You can have fun playing these games.  A lot of fun.  However, you are not going to impress your friends or women by taking risks with pretend money.  If the resources you are bidding are fake then you can not be gusty with them.

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Resource conservation  for its own sake is Not Fun.  There has to be some goal toward which resources are being conserved for this to be meaningful.

If you are saying that this game needs a win condition you very well might be correct.  I am not saying that resource conservation is a good goal for a game.  I am just saying that, if he does not have any other win condition and there is no way to acquire more resources and his game is gamist, then the win condition will default to resource conservation.  So he either needs to add a win condition or he needs to make it a simulationist game.
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Try Sin, its more fun then a barrel of gremlins!
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Callan S.
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« Reply #34 on: June 29, 2006, 09:00:32 PM »

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We haven't begun playing yet, so there are no sides to be unevenly matched.

I strongly disagree with this.  If there is an important decision which could grant you an advantage, then it is part of the game.
Bang, okay, I think this is the sticking point.

Have you ever fooled around with level editors for computer games, like for never winter nights or 3D shooters? I remember back when I was a teenager someone in the gaming group got the editor for pools of radiance or such like. There was much excitement and I remember one comment made that was along the lines of 'Aww, wow, I could put 10000gp right in front of the spot you start at! Keeewwwlll!'.

Isn't this an example of an important descision that could grant them advantage?  Putting 10k of gold in front of the starting position is the smart move, surely?

To me, bidding zero resources is just like putting 10k of gold right at the start. Bidding resources isn't a choice you make as part of playing the game, it's a choice you make in designing the game. If it makes it any easier, consider my bidding mechanics to be a game design tool and not actually a game at all.
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Bill Masek
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« Reply #35 on: June 29, 2006, 11:01:48 PM »

Callen,

Quote
Bang, okay, I think this is the sticking point.

Have you ever fooled around with level editors for computer games, like for never winter nights or 3D shooters? I remember back when I was a teenager someone in the gaming group got the editor for pools of radiance or such like. There was much excitement and I remember one comment made that was along the lines of 'Aww, wow, I could put 10000gp right in front of the spot you start at! Keeewwwlll!'.

It is good to hear that we are getting closer to mutual understanding.

You bring up an interesting point.  What you are talking about is changing the rules of a game instead of making a decision in the game itself.  What you want to do is not written in the rules (source code of the program).  The same would apply to stacking the deck in Solitaire.  Or taking rules from one RPG and splicing them into another.  Basically, if you change the axioms of a game then you have a different game.

Unless I am mistaken, the bidding rule is written into the rules of your game.  Thus it is part of your game.

Now, for the remainder of this post, I am going to assume that you disagree with this.  Or, worse, you feel it validates your point. 

The availability of this kind of "game design option" you described only works in single player (or single human team) games.  Let us say that we were playing Starcraft.  You build a map where only you start with resources.  No one would be willing to play with you on that map.  You do not have this "game design option" because it requires group consent and the others would veto it.

Now let us say that instead of building the entire map, each player had the option to build their own starting area at the beginning of each game.  Whoever gave themselves the most resources would most likely win.  So everyone would always build their own starting area and give themselves as many resources as they could fit.  In this situation the "game design option" makes the game a lot less fun to play.

Quote

Callen, I have a question.  You say that this is a gamist game.  You say that the bidding mechanic is not part of the gamist game.

What strategic decisions do you make in this game and what are their payoffs?
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contracycle
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« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2006, 01:55:28 AM »

I think you have missed the point in both the response to me and above.  I CAN impress people even when there is nothing real at stake.  I would even say this is a very broad feature in our societies as real, red-in-tooth-and-claw conflict is bad for bystanders.

The only thing that needs to be at stake is my pride.  And my performance can garner kudos in its own right, not merely because of the result.  I can demonstrate wit, cunniong, elegance, dexterity, strength, stamina, all sorts of things, in competitions that are essentially fake.  Because what they are really for is to serve as catwalk upon which to strut.

A while ago I was playing Jedi academy online; my opponent opened with a long force-jump trying for the Death From Above.  As she came in, I did nothing but deliver one perfect cut that chopped her in half, and put my sabre away.  It MEANT nothing, but nevertheless it was cool, and self-validating.  And my humiliating defeats in similar imaginary arenas are no less humiliating for being imaginary.

What really matters is that I bet my own relf-respect and prestige in the outcome simply by picking up the gauntlet, by committing myself to achieve or fail.

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Callan S.
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« Reply #37 on: June 30, 2006, 06:02:30 AM »

The availability of this kind of "game design option" you described only works in single player (or single human team) games.  Let us say that we were playing Starcraft.  You build a map where only you start with resources.  No one would be willing to play with you on that map.  You do not have this "game design option" because it requires group consent and the others would veto it.

Now let us say that instead of building the entire map, each player had the option to build their own starting area at the beginning of each game.  Whoever gave themselves the most resources would most likely win.  So everyone would always build their own starting area and give themselves as many resources as they could fit.  In this situation the "game design option" makes the game a lot less fun to play.
Both of these are examples of putting 10k of gold at the start. You seem to be suggesting there is some irresistable bias involved if at some point there will be other players. That if someone in the future will be your opponent, then they are already your opponent right now?

Here's a difficult question: Could you, as a player, trust even yourself to use the rules as design rules, not as game rules? Can you? Or would you slip and start giving yourself little or not so little advantages?

I can trust myself, but not out of piousness. It's because winning by bidding nothing is just simplistic and boring. I mean, it's obvious - bid nothing, win. Um, yawn! I want more complex problems than that and I know that if I treat the game design rule as a game rule, I will not get to those more complex problems. Putting 10k of gold at the start will not get me to the complex problems I hunger for - I know this!

If your not interested in more complex problems, then the design is going to look broken. Because your going to be satisfied with bidding nothing and seeing it as an interesting victory over the game. Probably an 'interesting victory' as in 'Oh, that design wasn't very clever, we proved it broken so easily!"

Quote
Callen, I have a question.  You say that this is a gamist game.  You say that the bidding mechanic is not part of the gamist game.

What strategic decisions do you make in this game and what are their payoffs?
Have you ever played narrative type gamism, like in Eric's article? Anyway, the actual tactics possible aren't important to my design right now. Yeah, I know, crazy for gamist design not to revolve entirely around such stuff. No, right now it's about empowering people to bid what they want to bid and not have force techniques applied to them in regards to that. Thus we see what they really choose to risk.

No matter how complex the tactics, my gamism is screwed up if the tactician didn't lay down the bet himself.



Contra,

Damn well put. Genuinely putting yourself/your pride on the line with these resources is what makes them matter.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #38 on: June 30, 2006, 06:08:08 AM »

Hey, I gotta question that I don't think has been addressed:  What is the consequences (to the player) of losing a gamble?

If you lose all of your characters HPs, are you out of the game?

If you lose your character's social standing, does that mean in-game disempowerment (you can no longer participate in social sections)?

Other than "They're points, they've got to be valuable," what do these points actually do for anyone, and why is it bad to lose them?
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Bill Masek
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« Reply #39 on: June 30, 2006, 10:26:44 AM »

Callen,

Quote
Here's a difficult question: Could you, as a player, trust even yourself to use the rules as design rules, not as game rules? Can you? Or would you slip and start giving yourself little or not so little advantages?
...
If your not interested in more complex problems, then the design is going to look broken. Because your going to be satisfied with bidding nothing and seeing it as an interesting victory over the game. Probably an 'interesting victory' as in 'Oh, that design wasn't very clever, we proved it broken so easily!"

I am saying that even your "game design rules" need to be balanced.  The same way that Monster Rules scenario creation needs to be balanced.  The same way that any other gamist game with game creation rules needs to make damn well sure that the scenario creation system does not grant advantage to any one player.

One way to balance the rules is to require group consent.  This is why the building-the-one-sided-Starcraft-map "game design option" was not actually an option.  Other people had the power to veto it.

Let us say that you don't balance your "game design rules".  In almost every group there will be at least one (probably a lot more) person who will try to use the "game design rules" to grant themselves an advantage.  Maybe it will only be a little one.  Now everyone sees this and notices that that person has an advantage.  In the next design phase everyone will at least take as much advantage as that first person have.  Some will take more, so that they can get the same edge the first person had.  This will scale up and up until everyone attempts to acquire the most advantage possible.

Quote
No matter how complex the tactics, my gamism is screwed up if the tactician didn't lay down the bet himself.

I agree.  That is why, in every other game when you bet, there is a chance for you to get more resources back in return for what you bet in the first place.

Why do you consider betting to be a "game design rule"?  Other then the lack of pay off, how is it different from bidding in Black Jack, Poker or The Pool?

Quote
Have you ever played narrative type gamism, like in Eric's article?

Eric was playing simulationist D&D in that article.  And sure, I've played simulationist games.  I like them.  They are a lot of fun.  They also do not have the many of the problems that we have been talking about.

If you want this to be a sim game like what Eric was playing in his Article, then many of your problems will be avoided.  Remember, if you game is not about winning, then it is not gamist.

Best,
        Bill
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Try Sin, its more fun then a barrel of gremlins!
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Callan S.
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« Reply #40 on: July 01, 2006, 01:46:27 AM »

Let us say that you don't balance your "game design rules".  In almost every group there will be at least one (probably a lot more) person who will try to use the "game design rules" to grant themselves an advantage.  Maybe it will only be a little one.  Now everyone sees this and notices that that person has an advantage.  In the next design phase everyone will at least take as much advantage as that first person have.  Some will take more, so that they can get the same edge the first person had.  This will scale up and up until everyone attempts to acquire the most advantage possible.
You know, I was going to ask you if you thought something like this would happen but wasn't sure I'd phrase it right.

What your describing is a trust break down, where everyone sees that mutally agreed boundries are being put asside. So everyone realises that not only are there no boundaries to protect them, but they are going to lose out if they try and maintain those boundaries rather than also cross those boundaries themselves.

However, there is a currency that counters this: In a gaming group where the people care about each other (or in a new group who are prepared to try and care about each other), the person who takes this first extra advantage, cares about the other players and what they think. That means, when they say 'Your a dick for doing that', that player gets stung - more than any mechanical penalty could ever sting. You don't get the trust break down. People stick to the boundaries because they care about what the other players think. There are plenty of game accounts out there of gaming groups just flung together at a store or someones house, where you can clearly see how they don't care about what each other think, and the behaviour that results in.

Alternatively you can get groups who care about each other, but don't care about anything except simple tactical problems. When someone 'clicks' that you could just never bid resources, other players will slap their heads and think 'of course, why didn't I think of that??'. They then put down the game as they have now 'mastered' it.

Quote
I agree.  That is why, in every other game when you bet, there is a chance for you to get more resources back in return for what you bet in the first place.
Here's a thought to consider: If gamism revolves around peer appreciation, doesn't a mechanic that lets you focus on returns allow you to ignore whether your peers are appreciating you? You can just ignore that and still get the return. So, ironically, resource betting/return systems are actually pretty good at shutting out the need to take into account peer appreciation/gamism. 'Why should I care if it's a good or lame move in someone elses opinion? I still get the points!' and the rest of the players might think 'Damn, he doesn't care that I think that was lame - dammit, I'm going for the points too!'. This is the same trust breakdown as above, yet mechanically assisted because players can keep their heads in the sand that is 'I was doing it for the return!'.

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Why do you consider betting to be a "game design rule"?  Other then the lack of pay off, how is it different from bidding in Black Jack, Poker or The Pool?
It isn't. See my example above where the player was buzzed to think of putting 10k of gold at the start with the editor. There is no difference unless the person decides there is a difference between design rule and game rule. I realise I need to clearly mark where, as designer, I think it should go. But I can only hope users put the difference in the same spot.

Quote
Quote
Have you ever played narrative type gamism, like in Eric's article?

Eric was playing simulationist D&D in that article.  And sure, I've played simulationist games.  I like them.  They are a lot of fun.  They also do not have the many of the problems that we have been talking about.

If you want this to be a sim game like what Eric was playing in his Article, then many of your problems will be avoided.  Remember, if you game is not about winning, then it is not gamist.
Most sim games seem to revolve around the narrative right to address causality - to say what would happen next. I think Eric's play was low, low stakes. But I don't think he cared about what happened next, as long as he won. For example, if he tries to disable the trap, succeeded and an icecream comes out, many simulationists would flounder and be annoyed at the 'why would that happen next? Was it magical? No? What the hell??'. While the gamist just shrugs, takes the icecream and offers it to the next monster (suspecting it to be poisoned and on the off chance the monster is lactose intollerant). From his account, I think Eric would have been okay with icecream. How about you?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #41 on: July 01, 2006, 02:13:05 AM »

Hey, I gotta question that I don't think has been addressed:  What is the consequences (to the player) of losing a gamble?

If you lose all of your characters HPs, are you out of the game?

If you lose your character's social standing, does that mean in-game disempowerment (you can no longer participate in social sections)?

Other than "They're points, they've got to be valuable," what do these points actually do for anyone, and why is it bad to lose them?
Losing points is a measure of someones personal boast of skill. For example, if you go fishing, nothing bad happens if you bring in a small fish. But if you were prepared to say beforehand that you'd catch a big one, that's where the smaller size matters. Here losing points doesn't matter just like that small fish doesn't, unless the player was prepared to say beforehand they wouldn't lose any points. That's why the player must be empowered to bid zero resources, so they can bid zero when they don't dare to boast personal skill. It's a meaningless application of force for someone else (like a GM) to decide the player is putting resources at risk.

That said, I was thinking of being terribly traditional and that zero HP means your dead and out of the game, and losing all your points in any other resource automatically takes a small bite out of you HP. I'm not even sure if this supports what I want for the game, but I have it vaguely in mind. In terms of the social disempowerment example, no, nothing like that is planned (at a mechanical level).
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TonyLB
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« Reply #42 on: July 01, 2006, 05:37:01 AM »

Um ... okay.  Does winning stakes get you those points back?  Or, once you lose them, are they gone for good?
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Caldis
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« Reply #43 on: July 01, 2006, 07:12:45 AM »


So as I see it this is a resolution mechanic that is pretty small scale at this point,  handles one event.   One question I have, how does it actually resolve anything?  If the player bids no resources, which you say is a valid option does this mean they fail?  In which case how is bidding no resources an option?
Your first example mentions a cavern collapsing and players surviving if they didnt bid any hp, well how did the cavern start collapsing?  Is this a ramification of an earlier failure or is this just a gm initiated event? In which case shouldnt it be the players bidding to survive the collapse?

Oh and just for clarification when matching bids with the gm do they have to match the type of resources the gm called for or is it just an amount?
And is it a pool of all the players bids vs. the gm's requirement or is it done individually.

I think what would help is if you could make up a play example of this mechanic in action.  Try this scenario.  There's a princess locked away in the high tower of the castle.  Our three heros gather to rescue her.  The GM secretly decides it would take them 800 brute points to storm the castle because of all the extra guards assigned to defend the gate.  The players bid 50 wits points to instead come up with a plan that scares the guards off allowing them to get into the castle.

So how do we know if this succeeds or not?  Is there a minimum threshold for success?  Could the players have simply bid 1 wit point or is their value in bidding more?  Does the gm assign all his points to one value or can he spread them across more than one, say a value of 500 brute points, 200stealth points and 100 wits?
 
A followup question would be is their a limit on point spending by the gm or can he continually throw whatever resources he wishes at the players relying on his sense of fairplay to not overwhelm them rather than any in game limit?

 
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #44 on: July 01, 2006, 12:30:35 PM »

First of all, I don't think that Eric would go for icecream. How can you be so sure that he was a pure, 101% gamist back then, without any trace of simulationist concerns with causality, on the basis of such a short relation?

Now, to the point. I think that most of the confusion in this thread arises from a very limited view of gamism, or rather different views. Gamism is much broader in its scope than any of our personal perspectives here might suggest.

The mechanic presented will probably work just perfectly with a proper group. That said, I'm still not convinced that it would work for every gamist. It's rather suited for a very, very, very small number of gamists who realise this very, very, very specific version of gamism.

Actually, I don't quite agree that a desire for social appreciation is characteristic of the gamism as a whole. I'd even say that the "impress the girl" example wasn't an example of a gamist motivation, but of a completely out of game motivation, not connected with CA, that could just as well be realised in a different social context (I'd say that impressing the girl lays outside of even the meta-game level here, since it has completely nothing to do with the act of role-playing - it's not even "gaining social appreciation by the act of playing and winning", but simply trying to draw attention by means available; the player doesn't want to win the game - he wants to impress the girl).

I can think of a few possible drives that can result in gamist play, and there are certainly more:

-getting "an adrenalin rush"
-getting a sense of achievement
-having a desire for domination

And yes, a desire for social appreciation is there too, but (being a declared gamist myself) I'm perfectly sure that other drives can be separate from it. If it was impossible to have gamism without this social appreciation stuff, then playing only to make things go your own way wouldn't be gamist. Playing to beat on people in order to satisfy one's primal need for domination wouldn't be gamist. Even playing a computer game with the CPU, without any other participants or audience, but regardless trying to win, wouldn't be gamist. And it surely is, since such things don't fall under simulationism, and are in no way connected with addressing the premise.

"Playing to win" is gamist - but "win" might mean almost anything and the desire to "win" might arise from many different impulses. Gamist systems help to focus on a particular form of winning and stimulate specific impulses for winning.

This particular mechanic will work towards realising a specific version of gamism, but won't produce a specific effect on the players, won't motivate them to try to win in a specific way. It requires the whole group to already want to win in a very specific way. And that's all there is to it.

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Here's your homework: Give me examples of rules in any old game or even normal life, which are outside a gamist arena. Also give me examples of rules which are inside a gamist arena. Then we'll figure out what makes the difference between them and ensure my game has those signposts.

Probably any rule could be just as well inside and outside a gamist arena, depending on a particular gamist player we are talking about. It's completely subjective. Since everything could potentially be the focus of gamist play, it's impossible to draw a definite border of the gamist arena in the first place.
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