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Deep Dive into Gaming Realism - Escape From Tarkov in Bloom


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Spectator6
Posted (edited)

NOTE: Here is a video rendition of this post, for those who prefer :)

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Let me ask you this:

In making a realistic game, what responsibility does the developer have to be true to its source material? Is it *just* about content? What about the outcomes and player behaviors?

To explore this topic, let's use something completely off the cuff.

Company A

Let's say Company A makes a basketball game. And they make it so that players are able to nail shots on the court from any location with a rather high degree of accuracy. Let's say 

  • Within the paint 100%
  • Within the three point line 95%
  • Just beyond the three point line 93%
  • Within half-court 92%
  • Everywhere else 90%

How would that affect things? 

Sure, it'd still be a basketball game. Players still have to dribble, make passes, follow the overall rules and structure of the game. There's still a ball and two goals, still five players from each team on the court at the same time. 

And yet… It probably wouldn't play out anything like a real basketball game. Players would inbound the ball and immediately shoot it. Or they'd take one step over the halfcourt line then send it flying.

  • Boom, they nail it! 3 points. 
  • And the next time, boom, they nail it! 3 points.
  • Over and over and over…

And let's say that, after watching how things play out, Company A goes a bit further...

"Ya know, this is cool and all, but this is just too slow. Let's increase the flight speed a bit for the ball and make players run a lot faster. That way people don't have to watch the ball sailing through the air for so long after each shot. And if they want to move the ball up court a bit, drive into the paint, or whatever, they don't have to wait as long to get there."

But is it realistic?

Ehh… That may be stretching it a bit. Sure, it does color within the lines in a lot of ways (court size, goal height, rules, teams, players), but the creative liberties they've taken with the shooting accuracy, movement speeds, and ball speeds are clearly over the top.

Company B

Now let's say Company B comes along and does its thing. Except they're gunning for the realism crowd. So they overhaul the accuracy to better reflect real-world performance. (I'm just making up numbers here, so bear with me)

  • Within the paint 92%
  • Within the three point line 64%
  • Just beyond the three point line 48%
  • Within half-court 13%
  • Everywhere else 2%

They slow down the player speeds to mimic the gaits of real players, make the ball travel at reasonable speeds, all that jazz. And they find that the way players approach the game more or less resembles how people really play it. They run plays, the set screens, they move the ball around to find openings.

Is it realistic?

Seems to be! After all, they're doing their best to reference real basketball footage in coming up with their algorithms and stuff like that.

Company C

Now let's have a third company enter this whacky example. Company C comes along and does its thing. Except they're wanting to shake things up a bit. They like what Company B did, but they just find it a bit too hemmed in and straight laced. 

They keep the same "based on reality" stuff from Company B's game, BUT! With a twist. 

The standard shot performance is able to be influenced by the players. Want to nail those three pointers more often? Well, now you can! Through a series of dexterous keyboard and mouse inputs. 

You see, if the player clicks his mouse to the tune of "Here Comes the Bride" as he takes a shot, the accuracy increases by 75%. That's making it rain! And it doesn't stop there. Because you see, if he taps out an accurate morse code rendition of Nikita's "We will we will be we will we will be", it increases by 1,000%. Anywhere he takes the shot, it's practically a guaranteed draino. 

The game releases and it goes gangbusters. Players have never seen anything like it. All around the world, players are memorizing keypresses and mouse-clicks to favorite songs and one-off memes. It's insane, complete pandemonium. A whole slew of games is made building on these same "player driven" mechanics. The landscape is forever changed. No one can imagine playing a game without these types of tricks.

But what is it? Would anyone looking on say it is realistic?

Umm…. Probably not…

However, at this stage, it seems the target audience doesn't really care. You see, the purpose and role of the game has changed. Rather than give players a glimpse for "a day in the life" for what it's like to actually play basketball, this gaming era is all about competition. It's now about creating a vehicle that let's players best each other in the most eye-catching (cough cough ego driven) ways.

###################################

<childish interlude>

You ever see kids play. Go back in time when, when you're in your bedroom playing with your GI Joes or whatever. You've got'em all lined up, in different poses and postures, helping to set the scene. You walk your guy in and give a speech just before you leave to take on the big bad enemy. And just before the grand battle kicks off, your little brother comes crashing in with his own action figure. Swooping in from the sky and, within the span of 10 seconds, completely decimates your forces.

"What the heck?" you say. "You can't do that! You can't just fly in here! The base is miles underground, you've gotta take the elevator!"

The little brother persists, "Who cares, I'm a super hero! You can't tell me what to do!" Zap boom blast! As he shoots lasers from his eyes.

Not to be outdone by such stupidity, the big brother jumps in, "Oh yeah? Well my guy has a force field! He blocks your attacks!"

"Oh yeah? Block this! This slime eats through your force field and covers your dude, burning through his armor!"

On and on and they go, constantly trying to one-up each other with more and more fantastic feats and abilities. 

And to what end? When does it stop?

You see, it all started when the little brother broke the rules. Rather than respect the laws of physics and take the elevator, he defied time and space and simply "flew" in passed the miles of rock and earth. From there, it all spun out of control.

###################################

Limitations and constraints are what keep players "honest". Creating a plausible representation of realism may have more to do with what the player is NOT allowed to do rather than what he IS allowed to do.

If we look at a flight sim like DCS or BMS, can a player pull a 15 G hairpin turn out of a nosedive, while corkscrewing, and loosing bombs over his target? Sure, he can try! But his plane would be ripped to shreds, cutting his little escapade short. Due to how the game is structured, there are plausible real-world consequences carried out in how things are represented to the player.

There is a certain level of player agency, sure, but the underlying purpose of the game is to model and represent things so that these behaviors return a fairly believable "What if?" scenario back to the player.

In the same way, then, I feel the supposed "realistic" FPS genre as a whole has lost its way a bit by having the standard be more about content ("Ohhh wow! They have an Heckler and Koch!") while completely neglecting any sort of even cursory judgement toward player behaviors and acceptable performance windows.

To me, a game that claims to be realistic that allows players to regularly and consistently "outshoot" trained professionals is broken. It's an indication that something is wrong with what's going on under the hood.

And don't hear me wrong, I'm not advocating for some form of "ALL OUT REALISM NO COMPROMISES!" because guess what? When we are confined to a mouse and a keyboard and a monitor, when we have to deal the cold hard logic that comes with the ones and zeroes of algorithms, concessions MUST be made. Things MUST be abstracted out. @tobiassolem has some excellent comments on this as well, about how we're ultimately dealing with a fake "facsimile" of reality and I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments there!

But even with that said, it needs to be grounded in SOMETHING. And preferably something other than supposed realistic movies. Let's take our boy Keanu as an example. Here's a quick little montage I put together showcasing how reality often differs from the fake scenarios we devise for competitions. It's called Hero VS Uhoh

The point I'm making here is that, yes while those can be good for stressing and refining certain fundamentals, standing and delivering is a far cry from how a person should train for real life situations. In keeping with the bball analogy, they're as different as shooting free throws vs overcoming an aggressive defense when you need to make the game wining shot. 

And it’s the reason why some of the greats have penned some wonderful works, why entry teams regularly train together, why this stuff plays out differently in how it looks and how it moves…  It's because when your own butt's on the line in a life and death situation and you are confined by reality, it becomes more about respecting odds and probabilities than relying on raw skill. Because just like we saw with our boy Keanu up there, it's darn near impossible to razzle dazzle your way out of a situation where the decks is strongly stacked against you.

###################################

Now to bring it back to topic at hand, games regularly make a lot of assumptions across a multitude of areas, including

  • Foot speed
  • Jump height
  • Carry weight
  • Reload speeds
  • On and on 

There is one area, however, that gives up a lot of ground to the player and that is in accuracy performance.
    
This is where things get tricky. Because while most players are okay and see no problem with the game dictating movement speeds, reload speeds, jump heights, etc one area that some players want a greater level of control in is shot placement and accuracy.
        
Yet this one concession in this one area is what breaks the bank because it strongly incentivizes games to make full auto spray patterns much too tight. Why? Like we saw in the basketball example, it's so the player can "override" plausible reality and inject his own level of "skill"
        
And how is that done in FPS games? With a sort of mouse movement minigame.
        
After each shot, the weapon's point of aim will drift upward by a certain amount. In order to keep the weapon on target, then, the player needs to actively move his mouse downward to counteract this motion. This is something I'll call "always up recoil".

2033045829_alwaysup.jpg.2ace4f822f3d0bc720f2ca2a337098eb.jpg
        
"But always up recoil is the best we have!" some will say.

  • At creating a mechanic players can "compete" over? Sure, maybe so.
  • At creating realistic outcomes? No.

Because once that mechanic is mastered by a bunch of no-lifers, what happens then?

For this reason, it seems to me that a proper recoil system relies on "blooms" more than "rises". It focuses on how widely the shot pattern displaces away from the central point of aim. That is what provides a sort of "safeguard" to player performance and helps prevent the subset of "elite mouse skillz" players from breaking the intended mold because it has a certain level of inaccuracy "baked-in" to the player's performance.
        
Simply put, beyond close contact ranges, for many weapon platforms, the full auto grouping should be wider than a human torso. And surprisingly enough, I find that at lower levels, Escape From Tarkov does a fairly good job at this.
        
Let's watch this short clip together. It is with an unmodded AK at fairly close range. Pay attention to how the front sight post drifts to the left and right during this full auto course of fire, causing the shooter to miss his target.

Interesting, eh? To me, that's a reasonable representation of recoil.
        
The problem, though, is that as the PMC levels up his skills and with more and more barbie attachments added to his weapons, this bloom size is greatly reduced. To the point where all the player really has to contend with is the initial muzzle rise, allowing him to land "pie plate" sized groupings at very unrealistic ranges.

And THAT seems to be the number one cause of the the full-auto lazerbeam meta. Not necessarily the muzzle rise (or lack thereof).
        
A better solution, then, may be for EFT to keep the type of muzzle deviation/travel in the game we saw in the above example and have it continue to apply across ALL weapon modification levels and character skill levels. Do that, and I am fairly certain EFT's full-auto laserbeam meta would die overnight. Leading to MUCH more fulfilling gunplay and player behaviors that are more authentic and engaging, where semi-auto tends to be the favored fire mode among players.

Here's how that might look:

combo.thumb.png.117feae49059819c841b3bedd8dc171c.png

If the devs want a more concrete, hands-on example, then I'd advise them to check out the original old-school Rainbow 6 series. Redstorm Entertainment, its developers, clearly indicated that THIS is the sandbox they want players to play in. And commensurate with that expectation, THESE are the "rules" if you will surrounding player movement, shooting accuracy, etc.

And a big part of how that was accomplished was through a very precise and intentional use of bloom mechanics rather than the sort of "active" player management that comes with "always up" recoil systems.

To this day, I feel that the original R6 and its sequels, along with Ghost Recon, are one of the hallmarks on how to properly influence player behavior to "set the tone" of what a game seeks to accomplish and the situation it seeks to express to its players.

Were they perfect? No. They had their shortcoming as well, mostly due to rather simplistic health and damage systems (this is why most players opted for the small and compact mp5k submachinegun in R6, for example). But when it comes to studying what influences player behaviors and decisions, it may provide an excellent base for BSG to build from.

Rather than give players the "freedom" to shoot like a Terminator and bunny hop like morons to safety, those titles said, "Hell no. Not in this killhouse, you're not. Don't like it, twinkletoes? Then don't play it. This is about tactics and planning, not being your own unique snowflake and making a highlight reel of your OMGisthiswhatitfeelsliketobeaunicorn!? back to back 360 noscope meta plays. Instead, you've gotta learn to outclass your peers in other ways."

And for my money, THAT is a dose of reality that would send EFT over the top, further cement its unique place as a self-proclaimed hardcore realistic battle simulator, and help it really stand out among the sea of generic arcade-ish shooters.

###################################

Thoughts? Improvements? Thanks for reading :)

###################################

Postscript: And on the topic of recoil directions, there is a bit of a wives' tale out there that rifles, in and of themselves, flip upward. This is simply not true. The recoil impulse itself is imparted  more or less straight backward and it is the underlying structural response of the shooter that causes it to "flip". Brace the rifle against a brick wall (or against the shoulder of a shooter that knows what he's doing in taking a proper stance), for example, and no such flip will occur (though maybe a tad in the case of a live shooter). What there will be instead, however, is muzzle displacement as the shooter's muscles and nervous system try to "keep up" with the impulses.

Let'er rip Bob Ross!

1817793612_straightvsflip.jpg.65b2b7bd76c5b4d6870c93d777efe5f9.jpg

One thing BSG could explore, however, is the concept of a shooter "bracing" for repeat shots on target. Maybe introduce an ever so slight time window when the player stops on a dime so that, if he shoots before allowing his character to "settle", he will experience pronounced muzzle rise.

828047904_notbraced.jpg.45a7e60122231090e28e7d5e532415e1.jpg

But if he waits a brief moment and allows his character to take up a proper position, then he'll experience more or less "straight line" recoil impulses.

1629756955_LVfullauto.thumb.jpg.7ad90cf6a7bffa0681f523a9ba8b56cc.jpg

Because something that's very difficult for games to convey is how somewhat "rigid" (for lack of a better word?) a person must be while moving in order to maintain the ability to at-the-blink-of-an-eye place accurate rounds on target in quick succession.

Edited by Spectator6
Typos, formatting
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gkcx2002

Nice wall of text but I just couldn't. You have way to much free time on your hands. Find a cure for cancer instead, maybe?

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Spectator6
13 minutes ago, gkcx2002 said:

Nice wall of text but I just couldn't.

Even the Youtube link right at the top isn't worth your time, eh?

9 minutes ago, gkcx2002 said:

You have way to much free time on your hands. Find a cure for cancer instead, maybe?

Not really. Just added to it here and there over the course of a week as or so as time allowed. 

Either way, I thought you were better than that@gkcx2002, to post such a throwaway and mean spirited comment...

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Majlo

Excellent post, nice read, and I agree with just about everything said and demonstrated.

All I have to add is that "recoil patterns" shouldn't be as "static" to the weapon as we see currently in game.
"Recoil patterns" should almost fully be dependent on what muzzle device is attached and how that would "throw" the aim around IRL and not on recoil percentages from the devices, grips, and stocks.

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RACWAR
Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Spectator6 said:

To this day, I feel that the original R6 and its sequels, along with Ghost Recon, are one of the hallmarks on how to properly influence player behavior to "set the tone" of what a game seeks to accomplish and the situation it seeks to express to its players.

Were they perfect? No. They had their shortcoming as well, mostly due to rather simplistic health and damage systems (this is why most players opted for the small and compact mp5k submachinegun in R6, for example). But when it comes to studying what influences player behaviors and decisions, it may provide an excellent base for BSG to build from.

Great topic as always, and I agree with your sentiment that you made here, of how there should be more mechanics in place that get players to emphasis away from run and gun style gameplay, and instead make them focus on precise single-fire shooting in oder to achieve a more authentic and true-to-life experience that more resembles the "combat sim" which EFT once wanted (still wants to. .?) be.

Although I feel like you could have saved yourself the efforts of those first two elaborate anecdotes with something much shorter and simple, such as "you reap what you sow.". Which I think also would have got your point across. :P

 

But the main thought that this topic here sparked for me, was, how you would/could visually represent and implement something like this into EFT.

Since, you obviously know this already, but in EFT you have the projectile always leaving the gun from the tip of the muzzle, and your projectile will fly towards where your barrel is pointing. (Disregarding stuff like windage and bullet-drop here for the sake of the argument.)

1.thumb.png.638b6c5acf962a13f71cb69fa6596984.png

Whereas in many more arcade-ish games, you have recoil not represented by where the gun visually points, but rather by the creation of an arbitrary "spray" mechanic, that disregards where the barrel actually points.

2.thumb.png.299f95385e4ca344193f191d9488d146.png

And that is also the case in the R6 video that you showed off.

So again, I'm wondering how you envision such a mechanic to be visually implemented and represented within the game, without having your gun go all over the place?

Edited by RACWAR
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Spectator6
1 hour ago, RACWAR said:

Although I feel like you could have saved yourself the efforts of those first two elaborate anecdotes with something much shorter and simple, such as "you reap what you sow.". Which I think also would have got your point across. :P

Ha, it's possible! :)

I've found that, sometimes, changing the context of an idea can make the issue seem much more obvious. Like, "Oh, well OF COURSE the kid's brother shouldn't be able to pull off superhuman stunts! OF COURSE Company C's game is no longer realistic!"

But yeah, perhaps I could try getting to the point a bit faster.

1 hour ago, RACWAR said:

But the main thought that this topic here sparked for me, was, how you would/could visually represent and implement something like this into EFT.

Ahhhh :) I'm so happy that you picked up on that @RACWAR!

You're absolutely right that a big part of what helped "guide" players in R6's approach was in giving the player direct and obvious feedback as to HOW his foot movements and mouse movements were affecting his aim precision. And this was conveyed by the crosshair.

Since EFT doesn't have any sort of HUD element like this, would "end results" be enough of an influence for players? That after a bunch of trial-and-error situations, players would eventually come to realize the cadence and rhythm the game wants the player to respect?

1 hour ago, RACWAR said:

Since, you obviously know this already, but in EFT you have the projectile always leaving the gun from the tip of the muzzle, and your projectile will fly towards where your barrel is pointing. (Disregarding stuff like windage and bullet-drop here for the sake of the argument.)

1.thumb.png.638b6c5acf962a13f71cb69fa6596984.png

Whereas in many more arcade-ish games, you have recoil not represented by where the gun visually points, but rather by the creation of an arbitrary "spray" mechanic, that disregards where the barrel actually points.

2.thumb.png.299f95385e4ca344193f191d9488d146.png

This one is very interesting too! 

At the outset, just as a point of clarification (and I think you already know this, so this is more for other participants in this discussion) I'm using the word "bloom" here not to mean cone fire, but just the overall manner by which the muzzle moves around during the course of fire. So for a visual, WHERE the point of aim is dancing around to during this compilation is what I'm referring to as "Bloom"

From a more birds-eye view, it could be argued that whether the barrel itself is moving (EFT) or only the point of impact (cone fire mechanics), the end-result for the player is largely the same.

That said! There are some ways this might work in EFT...

If we watch the R6 footage closely, we'll see that upon turning quickly, the crosshairs bloom out and then, once the player slows his mouse movements, things "collapse back inward" to show the character is more or less ready to fire.

This means that, if the player were to fire while he's turning DURING the "bloom out" stage, the point of impact could be quite a bit off center. 

Something similar may be able to be represented in EFT in having the weapon "lag behind" a bit while making fast mouse movements. 

So while ADS'd, it would take a moment for the sights to "catch up", which may have a similar effect to R6's "bloom out".

And similar with sidestepping/footwork... In my mind, this same level of instability could readily be communicated by a more random-ish sway/movement pattern being imparted to the sights.

In real life, I find things don't "swing around" quite as wide as R6's crosshair suggests. And when it comes to EFT, they may not need to. A few degrees here or there, combined with some sort of "pause" to become fully braced may very well work wonders for EFT's weapon handling.

Here's another Bob Ross showcasing how the different approaches may yield similar player outcomes

image.png.694c2434009e31ac0d54e1fe142b11e5.png

One more major difference is that, from a recoil sense, bloom is applied and "builds" AFTER the player starts firing his weapon. Whereas in R6, it was also applied BEFORE the player starts firing, sort of as a cheap stand-in for inertia/momentum.

(Does that help our discussion along at all?)

Great stuff as always @RACWAR:):)

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Spectator6
Posted (edited)

I'm putting together some notes and ideas for a Part 2 video, which will showcase *how* some of these concepts might be brought into our beloved EFT.

  • Is there anything *YOU* would like to see?
  • Anything you'd like to have addressed or covered in some way?
  • Anything you'd like to see clarified a bit more?

And just FYI, there's no need to request "More cowbell". That's already assumed right from the get go :p

Edited by Spectator6
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Foxl

As a new player i realy dont see the issue, as alot of other things go on as well here thats not realistic at all: magic healing items, cold-blooded cultitst, scav bosses with 400hp on the head, super thight hip fire with a flash-light i mean how does that even work.. but the game is not meant to be realistic its more a loot-shoot-skill lvling hybrid.

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Majlo
5 hours ago, Foxl said:

super thight hip fire with a flash-light i mean how does that even work..

That's... kind of what's being talked about in this topic.

5 hours ago, Foxl said:

scav bosses with 400hp on the head

This is definitely dumb and should be re-done. Everyone should (as we're all "human characters") have the same amount of "health". Just because you're "important" or you're "boss" doesn't mean you should be able to survive more than anything else.

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traumacode
Posted (edited)

If this game were to ever be made in conjunction with an Omni VR and a gun model to simulate real recoil, I think we will have one of the most realistic games to date.  I will also be in great shape at that point and be able to throw my gaming mouse to my cat when I play video games.

 

Adding video for Omni VR in case someone hasn't heard of it before.

 

Edited by traumacode
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Vortex_Bear
14 hours ago, Foxl said:

As a new player i realy dont see the issue, as alot of other things go on as well here thats not realistic at all: magic healing items, cold-blooded cultitst, scav bosses with 400hp on the head, super thight hip fire with a flash-light i mean how does that even work.. but the game is not meant to be realistic its more a loot-shoot-skill lvling hybrid.

There are discussions that meds should heal hp over time and pain medication should not be able to be taken as a prophylactic, however I feel that even in it's current state the medical and healing system is quite extensive, much more than any other game I played, and I like it even though it could be better. Religious cultists to varying degrees are a real thing, scavs, raiders and scav bosses should definitely not have any more hp for their heads than any other character and the recoil, aiming, movement and jumping mechanics all require to be overhauled and refined imo.

The reason other aspects are less of an issue now is because we as a community have been providing feedback for a long time now and fortunately the devs are very open to our feedback and are usually doing the right thing eventually. I just hope that they will look deeper into the discussions like these and not just glance over them, as Spectator6 and others raise some very good points that can help to further improve the game. Surely the devs should be able to find the sweet spot with making the game more realistic while still having it be fun to play and improve various systems in certain ways, to the point where these are more seen as logical refinements, such as having different stamina bars for arms and legs instead of a combined one for both as it used to be. If done correctly such changes will even further improve the gameplay and make firefights more interesting and tactical instead of COD like how it sometimes currently is.

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Foxl
18 hours ago, Majlo said:

That's... kind of what's being talked about in this topic.

This is definitely dumb and should be re-done. Everyone should (as we're all "human characters") have the same amount of "health". Just because you're "important" or you're "boss" doesn't mean you should be able to survive more than anything else.

I dont think you understood my point, this game is not meant to be realistic, its not a survival game or a mil-sim, its a loot-shoot hybrid kind of game with an extensive gun fucus that we have never seen before in a game. So if we have all this why should the recoil be so realistic, whats so realistic about items spawning, going to the same spot to get that golden rolex 10game sessions at a row?

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Majlo
6 hours ago, Foxl said:

this game is not meant to be realistic, its not a survival game or a mil-sim

That's... literally what it says it is/wants to be on their own official website...

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betin69

There is no way in hell a 9mm armor piercing is more efficient against armor than a regular 7.62x51, period. Game is not realistic.

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BaronOfTheHill

100% agree, I bought this game for the realism and I feel deceived by the devs in this aspect.

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