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Class design and combat performance

Balancing classes and combat performance  

117 members have voted

  1. 1. Should all classes be able to reach similar combat potential if the player chooses to do so?

    • Yes, my choice to play a certain class should not hinder my performance in combat
      33
    • No, not all classes value combat skills the same way. Classes should be balanced considering both it's combat and non-combat value.
      83


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Personaly I dont get why people want to be gimped in combat just because they like to have The feeling that their character is good a making potions.

 

Just for the fun of it. For the challenge. For giggles. Didn't you ever try oddball character builds in Fallout or similar games?

 

Yes i have, But it was like my 20s time that I beat the game, and i did that because I knew the game inside out.

But its not just me or you, or we the hardcore fans that have played the GoG when they came out, there is other part of the market, i know we funded the game some more that other. But Its about That if i have done that the first time i played Fallout 2 i was destroyed in hours to the game and i needed to start over gain, and then go to a guide to see what is better and what to pic. And after many times i could do the crazy oddball character. Just because i could.

 

But to be hones, Those games and this game diferent games and I would prefer to have the to aspects of gameplay split. Its easier its cleaner, you can make combat hard and chalenging and please those guys, and add tons of out of comabt repleyability, and please the non cobat guys. (Like Myself).

 

I know that if i beat the game 20 times the game was fun and chalenging and with a good story and it did not need for me to do a oddball character that needed me to know everithing about the game to succed, i know they will add iron man mode and what not to keep me going the extra mile once i know the game so well that i cant get my rush with out it.

 

But for new players making the "Wrong" choises its harsh, this is the MMO era, Where no one wants to loose, we have to accept that, and try to live it them and have our game that is better that the ones that came before with new ideas, new gamplay, new IP.

 

But thats just me, As a player in the bottom i like Class balance.

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Every choice of playstyle (classes) being equally powerful (and, for the best, mutually exclusive) in combat is better suited for single character combat-centric RPGs. But when a party-based RPG tries to make every class equally powerful in combat, it tends to homogenize classes. Making thieves and fighters equally powerful but in 'different ways' works well in theory, but not in reality because there are so many different ways to apply to a class' design. Especially since J Sawyer also wants multiple builds within a given class.

 

Party-based RPG class balance, I believe, is best at making every class appealing to the good of the party. And that includes (hopefully) out of combat gameplay, hence my vote.

 

Nonetheless, that also depends on how much 'out of combat' gameplay there'll be.

 

Just saying this could be the same with a split of in and out of combat. Each party member was a roll to play in combat, each one has a roll to play out of combat.

 

Blancing the Party for in and out of combat separatly should be the same, but its easier to balance both own its own than as a whole.

Now not only you have to balance the diferent builds of each class but you have to balnce the HM slave (yes its a pokemon reference, its the guy that dosent do anything but its there to help you out of combat) do you need a HM slave? how many, can you battle everithing or you cant if you have only one character with many out of combat kills and he can have them all like a 18 int rogue in D&D in 3.5 thanks to feats.

 

Im still inclined to my opinion that balance will be easier with each class aporting tools for in and out of combat. And you balance you party acording to your taste. speacialy if they dont overlap in what each one is good.

Edited by ReyVagabond

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Actually, World of Warcraft is a prime example of how isolating combat balancing doesn't make it any easier. It took them years to make class balance satisfactory, and that with a lot of cost: much creativity in character building was lost and the concerns of class homogenization was and still is ever present in the WoW community.

 

This may sound like a pointless example, WoW is a multiplayer game where people control a single character after all. But if you look at things from the perspective of a guild leader, who must pick which players (which classes) shall integrate the 10/25 man raids or the PvP community, which selects the 3v3/5v5 teams that work through testing and foreknowledge, you'll see that certain parallels rise.

 

Except one: as said above, each player only controls a single character - meaning that the issue of class homogenization may not be much of a issue. However, in Eternity we control the entirety of the party, meaning that class homogenization as a whole is a unnecessary sacrifice.

 

All this coupled with the fact that balance won't ever be reached anyway, means that I don't think the ease of balance matters to anyone but the designer's time and resources. And that's not really something to discuss, I suppose.

Edited by Delterius

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I consider non-combat class mechanic broken in single-player cRPGs. If you play a game where a non-combat approach is just as viable for progress, like Fallout or Deus Ex, it's fine, sure. But when you have to do all of those things with your party at once, role play becomes broken. That's because you can't roleplay 6 characters at once, you can do just one at a time, so that one should always do the talking (except when others interfere). So I am against balancing poor combat abilities with non-combat abilities. If you rogues/chanter/paladin doesn't hit as hard and can take much punishment, make him able to synergize with combat classes through buffs, spells, potions, shared tactics, so that it is still useful.

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That's because you can't roleplay 6 characters at once,

 

Why?

 

For one thing, because you are not six people at once. Then again if your companions have at least some sort of personality (i.e. we're not talking Wizardry or IWD-style party) you should never be able to make them say anything. Otherwise it will cheapen your character interactions with them.

Edited by Heresiarch

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I favor this move. As a person who prioritizes roleplay and dialogue, I like that this frees my hand in terms of creating characters. In the games where there is a trade-off, I find that every single freaking character I ever EVER build is a form of rogue or rogue hybrid to maximize my skillpoints and have more access to content. The problem being that pure content loss is too much of a sacrifice for playing a fighter, but I would often enjoy playing different character concepts. (And in games without this trade-off, I *do* play different builds and enjoy that.)

 

I mean, there is nothing wrong with a fighter who is clear-spoken, a good chemist, really frightening or really clever. All of which are understandable builds. I also see little to no problem with homogenization. BG2 has little to no non-combat abilities, the only class that actually really has many non-combat abilities is the rogue, but mages, fighters, and clerics(and their off-shoots) all have very important roles in the fight. The biggest problem there is balance, but it shouldn't be taken as a given that the trade-off is a necessary trait of an RPG.

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Warrior classes should be far superior at combat than other classes simply because that is what the class trains for. Mages should be behind the warrior classes at combat because their class training involves using magic, not martial combat. With a class system, the goal should be to create classes that can fulfill different(and multiple) roles in combat through different means with their base abilities. It shouldn't be to create classes that are perfectly able to match each other at what they excel in, if it was, then a classless system would be far preferable.

 

Not that classes shouldn't have plenty of customization options like skills and feats, I think that they should just have a base set of abilities that favor certain roles(like Fighters gaining combat abilities). Also Multiclassing should be included if possible.


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Wow not really sure who is responding to this poll but they need to go back to game design 101 class. All classes need to be valuable in combat. What "out of combat" skills would they even be balanced against? Picking locks? Speech skills? Most modern games (and PnP gaming systems) leave plenty of room for all classes to have access to some, if not all, of the most common out of combat skills. Combat and non combat have nothing to do with each other and should be balanced separately, not that you really CAN balance out of combat skills. Characters either have them or they don't.

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I don't think there's anything wrong with players giving up combat prowess for more out-of-combat prowess - like making a "charismatic cripple" character, who basically relies on his whole party to protect him while he stands in the back. I mean, this kind of character works in a game like Fallout, where your party size is dependent on your charisma score.

 

But yes, all classes should potentially be capable in combat, for a variety of combat scenarios.


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It's doubtful than they'll do it since the game is inspired by IE games which is based on DnD where all classes are useful in combat, except maybe thieves who sacrifice some of their combat potential for other skills.

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I'm a firm believer that strength doesn't = better fighter. I grew up watching TV shows like Macguyver who was a regular guy that used his brain and ingenuity and Doogie Howser wh was a teenage medical genius, and even though they were TV shows, they seemed more rewarding to me. Sort of like watching Basketball back in the day watching little guys like Spud Webb dunk the basketball. If you're already 7 feet tall, it's a gimmie you should either score a bagillion points, or stop everyone else from doing so. In RPG's sure if your a beefcake muscle head you probably are gonna kill lots of things, but it's predictable and boring. I'd rather have classes that do amazing things because they understand the playing field better than the meat shield. I'd prefer tactical smarts to practical smarts.

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I think the key thing here is that party dynamics are a bit of a strange beast.

 

Generally speaking, an average six man party often consists of something like 3 melee classes, 1 offensive spellcasters, 1 defensive spellcaster and 1 rogue-ish support class give or take a little. Now, traditionally, the melee classes are more suited for soloing a campaign than the magic lasses purely on merit of their greater survivability, and the fact that spellcasters have to rely on things like concentration for their attacks. Which isn't to say that it can't be done with, say, a wizard, just that its going to be more difficult, particularly at the beginning.

 

What I'd say is that balance should be as such that a mixture of classes in a party is encouraged. Individual classes shouldn't be necessarily balanced against each other, but instead balanced in such a way to promote class diversity. If a player wants to have a party of six barbarians that should be viable to a point, but, a party where you swap out two of those barbarians for a cleric and a wizard should realistically be exponentially stronger because the classes are designed to complement each other. The ability to boost up the power of the barbarians and blow up the weaker enemies before they even engage is worth more than two more guys doing the same thing as is already being covered. Similarly, if you had a party of six wizards, you'd certainly be a powerhouse of damage, but perhaps a couple of those wizards would be more useful replaced by a pair of paladins in platemail to form a protective barrier infront of your mages.

 

As far as skills go though, I'm happy for combat and non-combat to be mixed, largely because I see the whole RPG level up system as one of practical trade offs. It does certainly need to be maintained that all skills are sufficiently useful in the game so you don't end up with some irrelevant ones and some essential ones, but if you get that right, any skill should be worthy of consideration whether combat orientated or not, and it's up to the player to decide on the balance of what is a good tradeoff.

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This is why I prefer less classes with more granular roles. Then, within those classes, you can tinker with skills and create different archetypes.

 

What P:E has at the moment is six too many classes.

 

Fighters should be (duh) the masters of weapons (be it ranged or melee) and tactics (be they brute force berserking or finesse). They should perform best wearing armour. They should be the most difficult to kill in terms of sustaining physical damage.

 

Within that you could make a nimble, dextrous fighter or an iron-clad brute. Or a fighter who in fact gives up significant combat prowess, bar one or two weapons, to choose a symbiotic skill from another class pool (i.e. to create a Sword Saint, Paladin-type fighter or scout).

 

You can apply this across classes to make divinely-inspired mages, sneaky clerics or greatsword-toting rogues. But the one thing these classes have in common is focussed access to a specific skillset that performs a defined role in combat.

 

Classes don't automatically mean shoe-horning. But they should focus on their core skills but allow the player to twist them. Combat mage is still a mage, he's just chosen to give up some arcane specialisation to allow him to duke it out in melee using his spells. Sneaky fighter is still a fighter, she just prefers to use dodges and flashy parries in combat, and prefers to scout a melee before jumping into it.

 

So on and so forth.

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This is why I prefer less classes with more granular roles. Then, within those classes, you can tinker with skills and create different archetypes.

 

What P:E has at the moment is six too many classes.

 

Fighters should be (duh) the masters of weapons (be it ranged or melee) and tactics (be they brute force berserking or finesse). They should perform best wearing armour. They should be the most difficult to kill in terms of sustaining physical damage.

 

Within that you could make a nimble, dextrous fighter or an iron-clad brute. Or a fighter who in fact gives up significant combat prowess, bar one or two weapons, to choose a symbiotic skill from another class pool (i.e. to create a Sword Saint, Paladin-type fighter or scout).

 

You can apply this across classes to make divinely-inspired mages, sneaky clerics or greatsword-toting rogues. But the one thing these classes have in common is focussed access to a specific skillset that performs a defined role in combat.

 

Classes don't automatically mean shoe-horning. But they should focus on their core skills but allow the player to twist them. Combat mage is still a mage, he's just chosen to give up some arcane specialisation to allow him to duke it out in melee using his spells. Sneaky fighter is still a fighter, she just prefers to use dodges and flashy parries in combat, and prefers to scout a melee before jumping into it.

 

So on and so forth.

 

While that is a valid approach, the problem with that is that instead of promoting unique character concepts as it *should* do, you rather end up having people dabble a bit in everything and end up with rather bland fusion characters, which particularly in a party based RPG, kind of defeats the point of carefully planning your party. I think they are about in the right place right now, there are a couple of extra class concepts they *could* do (a spellcaster with the warlock spell style for instance) but I think this is about right.

 

What I would suggest however is a really robust feat system that allows you to dabble a bit in some of the special abilities of other classes where there is some definite overlap grounds.

 

The monk is an interesting example for instance as its a class that is very much focused on specific abilities that only it has and in a way that makes sense that only someone with monk training could access them. It wouldn't make sense for instance if some undisciplined rogue just learnt how to do the quivering palm thing that monks have in D&D. But looking at the "neighbouring classes" of a monk, which are arguably fighter (martial focus), rogue (dexterity focused combat) and wizard (unarmoured discipline based), you could allow a bit of too and fro between those classes if you are willing to invest in some feats to do so.

 

By taking a feat tree based on fighter training, you might be able to use your ki though fighter weapons rather than unarmed, and the fighter in turn might be able to use the ki on their weapons.

 

By taking a feat tree based on rogue training you might learn about a less powerful version of sneak attack techniques while the rogue might be able to learn how to do a flurry of blows with their daggers.

 

By taking a wizard based feat tree you might be able to learn how to focus your chi into projectile energy blasts while the wizard might learn techniques for adding (some) of their wisdom score to their armour class while unarmoured.

 

This would literally only apply to classes with some degree of crossover - for instance, monks and barbarians shouldn't really be able to cross over their skills as they rely on completly opposite themes - one based on complete discipline, the other based on complete lack of discipline. Paladins and rogues would be another pair. Perhaps limit it to one other classes discipline per character and give each class three choices so as not to swamp things.

 

The tricky thing here is balancing it so no class has all its options available to another (as that then makes it pointless being the first class anyway) so this wouldn't include advanced techniques (quivering palm, druid shape changing, higher level spells etc) or, where it does take a primary class feature, make it a less powerful version of the originating classes one so as to not make the original one redundant (turn undead, lay on hands, rage, flurry of blows, favoured enemy, animal companion etc) but giving classes a chance to develop in logical directions without a clunky crossclass mechanic.

 

This would of course be fairly complex to pull off and you'd have to have it so the core classes had merits compared to the hybrid ones, but could be an option if well done.

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At worst when the classes are all balanced out, the difference between them is down to visuals.

 

1st level fighter can hit 10pts of damage with claymore and is protected 4pts by scale armor.

1st level wizard can cast 10 points of damage with magic missile and is protected 4pts by weak magic veil,

1st level ranger can shoot 10 points of damage with composite shortbow and is protected 4pts by padded armor.

 

6th level fighter can hit 2 times for a total 30 pts of damage with valyrian claymore and is protected 10pts by lamellar armor.

6th level wizard can cast 30 points of damage with lightning ball and is protected 10 pts by magic veil,

6th level ranger can shoot 2 times for a total of 30 points of damage with composite longbow and is protected 4pts by armored jack.

 

12th level fighter can do 15 pts of area damage 10ft radius with whirlwind attack.

12th level wizard can do 15 pts of area damage 10ft radius with fireball.

12th level ranger can do 15 pts of area damage 10ft radius with area suppression fire mega attack.

 

There, classes are all balanced out, everybody has their own way of fighting, everybody is equally effective.

The game is robbed of class differentiation beyond visual flavor, doesn't matter one bit which class you choose or what kind of party you build.

Or maybe fudge around and give fighter 2 pts more damage and armor, since the other two do ranged damage. Makes no difference.

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At worst when the classes are all balanced out, the difference between them is down to visuals.

 

1st level fighter can hit 10pts of damage with claymore and is protected 4pts by scale armor.

1st level wizard can cast 10 points of damage with magic missile and is protected 4pts by weak magic veil,

1st level ranger can shoot 10 points of damage with composite shortbow and is protected 4pts by padded armor.

 

6th level fighter can hit 2 times for a total 30 pts of damage with valyrian claymore and is protected 10pts by lamellar armor.

6th level wizard can cast 30 points of damage with lightning ball and is protected 10 pts by magic veil,

6th level ranger can shoot 2 times for a total of 30 points of damage with composite longbow and is protected 4pts by armored jack.

 

12th level fighter can do 15 pts of area damage 10ft radius with whirlwind attack.

12th level wizard can do 15 pts of area damage 10ft radius with fireball.

12th level ranger can do 15 pts of area damage 10ft radius with area suppression fire mega attack.

 

There, classes are all balanced out, everybody has their own way of fighting, everybody is equally effective.

The game is robbed of class differentiation beyond visual flavor, doesn't matter one bit which class you choose or what kind of party you build.

Or maybe fudge around and give fighter 2 pts more damage and armor, since the other two do ranged damage. Makes no difference.

 

There's plenty of ways to balance things in an interesting way no?

5+5=10

2+7+1=10

1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1=10

 

If this was damage it would result in very different damage patterns. Maybe some spells buffs work well with one type and not with others. Interesting things can come about even if they all amount to the same value.

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At worst when the classes are all balanced out, the difference between them is down to visuals.

 

1st level fighter can hit 10pts of damage with claymore and is protected 4pts by scale armor.

1st level wizard can cast 10 points of damage with magic missile and is protected 4pts by weak magic veil,

1st level ranger can shoot 10 points of damage with composite shortbow and is protected 4pts by padded armor.

 

6th level fighter can hit 2 times for a total 30 pts of damage with valyrian claymore and is protected 10pts by lamellar armor.

6th level wizard can cast 30 points of damage with lightning ball and is protected 10 pts by magic veil,

6th level ranger can shoot 2 times for a total of 30 points of damage with composite longbow and is protected 4pts by armored jack.

 

12th level fighter can do 15 pts of area damage 10ft radius with whirlwind attack.

12th level wizard can do 15 pts of area damage 10ft radius with fireball.

12th level ranger can do 15 pts of area damage 10ft radius with area suppression fire mega attack.

 

There, classes are all balanced out, everybody has their own way of fighting, everybody is equally effective.

The game is robbed of class differentiation beyond visual flavor, doesn't matter one bit which class you choose or what kind of party you build.

Or maybe fudge around and give fighter 2 pts more damage and armor, since the other two do ranged damage. Makes no difference.

That should only be true during the first levels, after a while enemies should be more resistant to different types of attacks.

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There's plenty of ways to balance things in an interesting way no?

5+5=10

2+7+1=10

1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1=10

 

If this was damage it would result in very different damage patterns. Maybe some spells buffs work well with one type and not with others. Interesting things can come about even if they all amount to the same value.

 

That should only be true during the first levels, after a while enemies should be more resistant to different types of attacks.

 

I'm not saying the battles wouldn't be tactical or enjoyable, or that there'd be absolutely no difference between classes or attacks.

I'm saying that the class differences would become more superficial and thus the party building would lose an aspect I enjoy.

 

Sure some enemies would be more easily dispatched with fire than lightning, and there's a difference between 30 and 3x10.

But the difference between classes is diminished if fighter can hit 4 snap hits for 10 pts each or one strong hit for 40 pts,

while the wizard can poink 4 magic missiles for 10 pts each or one firebolt for 40 pts.

 

I'm talking about the fundamental difference between classes, deeper than the flavour of doing attacks.

It might be more fun for the player of individual character if he can manage the situation just as well as the other character,

only doing his own special attacks and manoevers. But to me, that lessens the fun of managing the party.

 

Opinions differ and I hear 4th edition D&D is well liked by many players, well disliked by others.

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^ Hey, welcome to 4th Edition D&D.

 

You've obviously never played 4E. It has its flaws, but any aspect of the class/level up system is not one of them.


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I speak for no automatic points in leveling at all, but rather a limited selection in what you can spend points on, decided by what you actually use in gameplay.

What would define the characters would be that they can set more points on something if they have practiced it, which makes sense realistically.

I personally think it would be a good idea to have classes that are not given, but earned.

Which also makes sense realistically.

 

The possible exception to this would be if you chose to choose a background which placed you, at least partially in a class, at least in the eyes of others, in the way that coming from a long line of wizards and being gifted with magic would make you partially a wizard, no matter the extent to which you choose to ignore the magic you possess.

 

Clearification: You start the game without class or skills (alternatively a class acquired from a chosen background, which would not limit you but, at least partially, define you in the eyes of other characters) then if you spend every breathing moment picking and grinding herbs until you level up you will be able to set say 10p on herbalism, and nothing else, while if you fight a little using magic, you speak to people, you create some things, you read some books and you practice a little swordsmanship, then you can set 2p on swordsmanship, communication, creation, combat-magic and lore.

If you do all those things but you practice with your sword a little more than you fight with magic you can only set 1p on combat-magic but 3p on swordsmanship, etc. and if you favor swordsmanship before all else, having 30p on that and an even 5p on everything else, you would gain the class "Swordsman".

If you continue with an even development on more than two traits you remain without class.

(Class would then not affect anything save other characters' reaction to you in-game; doors opened and so on, but would in that have an impact, not so much on the character's development, but on the individual/group-storyline, which increases replay-value drastically)

 

The most realistic thing would of course be to not have a level-system at all, but a fluent development of all characters, giving you immediate feedback on your efforts.

 

A problem still remains with class-transitions; should you then always be a swordsman but merely a bad one if you stop focusing on the sword? Should you shift class if another value rises above the sword? If so, how many points above should be required? Should, and how would one, combine classes; can you be a "Bladed mage", and if so, how many points would be required of the two values, and between them and the other values? etc.

 

The idea is far from perfected.

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It's already been established that they're separating combat and non-combat skills so that players don't have to choose between one or the other. One obvious method would be that players receive points to invest in each area separately on level up. They'll likely come up with a less obvious method.

 

The most realistic thing would of course be to not have a level-system at all, but a fluent development of all characters, giving you immediate feedback on your efforts.

 

Despite having levels, you've essentially just noted the TES system of "skills go up by using them." It hasn't worked well in Oblivion or Skyrim, I highly doubt Obsidian will be taking the Elder Scrolls route here. It leads too easily to grinding, either for exploitative/powergaming purposes or because the rate of skill levelling is too slow and leaves players dependent on crafting overpowered items for success in combat.

Edited by AGX-17

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Warrior classes should be far superior at combat than other classes simply because that is what the class trains for. Mages should be behind the warrior classes at combat because their class training involves using magic, not martial combat.

 

In every AD&D game high level mages were far superior at combat than warriors. Same reason, because it is what the class trains for, getting to know really damaging combat spells. Or did you mean combat only as sword-to-head physical combat? Then yes, a fighter is more capable than a mage at that.

 

Note that Obsidians definition of combat is probably a wide one where anything that hurts or avoids your party being hurt is part of your combat skill set. That doesn't mean that the mage can substitute for the fighter on the frontline. It just means every class has its use in combat and no class needs to sacrifice its worth in combat to also be good at diplomacy or crafting.

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