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Old 05-25-2003, 04:32 AM   #1
torhan
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Ok Everyone, Ive been debating things within my Skull on wether to try to put an advance AI system within my Mud.

I know it would be great to have mobs that an interact with players, to even have it to a point where players and mobs are hard to tell apart.

Even have mobs hunt with other players as member of thier group.

Just a couple ideas.

But the reason for the post here is to get everyone elses opnions and ideas on what they would like to see in a mud AI wise.

So please anyone with an opinion on this let me know.

Thank you everyone in advance.

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Old 05-25-2003, 02:31 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by (torhan @ May 25 2003,03:32)
I know it would be great to have mobs that an interact with players, to even have it to a point where players and mobs are hard to tell apart.
Good luck. There's not a single AI in existence that can fool people, and the best ones (which still don't even approach fooling people over any length of time) suck up a ton of processing power. Now try having thousands of them running in a free mud. Ain't gonna happen.
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Old 05-25-2003, 08:08 PM   #3
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There's not a single AI in existence that can fool people
Actually ELIZA, which was written by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966, did confuse some people, and today there are much better tools available (although admittedly they wouldn't fool most people for long).

However the real difficulty with AI is conversation - and that's something that could be cut back significantly within a mud.  Instead of trying to make the mob hold a logical conversation, you could make it respond in the same way as a player who isn't interested in chatting (brief replies, ignoring or insulting if it doesn't understand how to respond, etc).

Instead of conversation, the main focus of mud AI should be on acting appropriately, and that's something that's already been done many times before.
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Old 05-25-2003, 08:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ May 25 2003,19:08)
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There's not a single AI in existence that can fool people
Actually ELIZA, which was written by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966, did confuse some people, and today there are much better tools available (although admittedly they wouldn't fool most people for long).

However the real difficulty with AI is conversation - and that's something that could be cut back significantly within a mud. Instead of trying to make the mob hold a logical conversation, you could make it respond in the same way as a player who isn't interested in chatting (brief replies, ignoring or insulting if it doesn't understand how to respond, etc).

Instead of conversation, the main focus of mud AI should be on acting appropriately, and that's something that's already been done many times before.
Like I said, can't fool anyone for any length of time.

And I've yet to see any mud by anyone where the NPCs act appropriately. For that matter, I've yet to see any game period where the NPCs act like they're anything but NPCs.

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Old 05-25-2003, 08:22 PM   #5
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Like I said, can't fool anyone for any length of time.
If they're trying to hold full conversations. However the objective here presumably isn't to make a mob which holds a human-level conversation, but instead to create a mob which acts like a human player. And unless you're playing a heavy RP-oriented mud, that's unlikely to require much in the way of conversational skills.

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And I've yet to see any mud by anyone where the NPCs act appropriately. For that matter, I've yet to see any game period where the NPCs act like they're anything but NPCs.
I have - except for the conversational skills. But in terms of playing ability, there have been numerous cases of bots which can play as well as most players. Back in 94/95 I even saw a mud which added such mobs into the mud - they showed up on the "who" list, gained levels, and grouped up with each other. The real problem was that (being on 24/7) they quickly overtook all the regular players.

The real trick for acting like a human isn't AI - it's AS. Artificial Stupidity. You need to dumb the computer down to a believable skill level. That's why when you play a computer game, the computer opponent doesn't tear you apart every game - it makes mistakes, doesn't respond as quickly as it should, etc.
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Old 05-25-2003, 08:36 PM   #6
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Well the idea that i had was to make the Mob so it would do stupid things, like die. But also, i was going to make it so it would act like most players, short responses like said above.

I want to make it so the mobs have a higher interaction within the mud, instead of just being there.
That is my goal, I want to make it so mobs remember you, what you do, the mobs would have like a collective consious (spelling, been a long day =P). They would then offer to group with you, offer to help yo in some way.

Just a bunch of ideas i have, I have an idea in mind on how to get the processor power i will need, but its all just up in the air right now.

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Old 05-26-2003, 01:23 AM   #7
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Are you looking at ALL mobs, or just some, I went a step further than special procedures, and set up NPC classes (my mud is classless - so maybe professions is a better word) and left it up to the builder to be realistic with what classes they assign to what mob (if any), as it would be stupid to have a bird of paradise mob trying to act like a blacksmith.

It took a lot of work, but since I had found that all the mobs get polled in some way or another anyway, it was worth it to get a bit more life in some of them, this can also give the appearence that they all do something at times even though many are doing nothing, the ones that do, give the whole area/room an appearence of purpose
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Old 05-26-2003, 02:05 AM   #8
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If they're trying to hold full conversations.  However the objective here presumably isn't to make a mob which holds a human-level conversation, but instead to create a mob which acts like a human player.  And unless you're playing a heavy RP-oriented mud, that's unlikely to require much in the way of conversational skills.
So in other words, mobs can do very limited sets of activities in muds somewhat convincingly. Killing things is hardly the sum total of "playing" a mud.

Examples from our games: A mob isn't going to be able to intelligently go about acquiring a shop (can only be purchased from other players), intelligently stock that shop by acquiring items the way a player can, or search out players to sell that shop to for a profit.

A mob isn't going to be able to participate in politics at all as it lacks the ability to communicate at more than an extremely rudimentary and rote level.

A mob isn't going to be able to participate in the writing and art contests we have monthly.

A mob isn't going to be able to effectively participate in city raids the way a player can (ie independently cooperating with other players from its city).

Yes, if you define "playing" as "bashing monsters" then a mob can be somewhat convincing. Of course, without the ability to learn, how is the mob going to keep up with the latest player innovations in bashing? It can't, because that would require it to parse communications from player to player, and good luck managing that.

I mean, saying a mob can "play" a mud just as well except for communication is saying almost nothing. Communication is what muds are all about.

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Old 05-26-2003, 08:08 AM   #9
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I mean, saying a mob can "play" a mud just as well except for communication is saying almost nothing. Communication is what muds are all about.
Well I can't speak for your mud, but most of us are trying to create games, not glorified talkers.  Within a gaming context, most things can be simulated - that includes single combat, large scale battles, questing and exploration, building, purchasing and running shops, gathering resources, manufacturing items, and so on.  Even from a conversational point of view, it is possible to create a mob that can pass simple scrutiny - and as I've said before, in most cases that is sufficient.

It all depends on how you design your mud and what your objectives are.  If you're trying to create a game in which every action is roleplayed out through emotes, then obviously it's going to be very difficult to create any sort of mob.  On the other hand, if you're trying to create a game which is heavily automated, then you should be able to create a fairly reasonable simulation of a player.  One possible scenario might be a race-wars game in which the two opposing races cannot understand each others language - in such a scenario you could make it extremely difficult to distinguish enemy mobs from enemy players.

Simply stating that it cannot work without even finding out what the original poster is trying to achieve is very shortsighted, and hardly the sort of response I'd expect from the lead designer of a successful mud.  Do you think you'd be where you are now if you'd listened to that sort of advice from other people when creating Achaea?
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Old 05-26-2003, 01:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ May 26 2003,07[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]8)]Well I can't speak for your mud, but most of us are trying to create games, not glorified talkers. Within a gaming context, most things can be simulated - that includes single combat, large scale battles, questing and exploration, building, purchasing and running shops, gathering resources, manufacturing items, and so on. Even from a conversational point of view, it is possible to create a mob that can pass simple scrutiny - and as I've said before, in most cases that is sufficient.

It all depends on how you design your mud and what your objectives are. If you're trying to create a game in which every action is roleplayed out through emotes, then obviously it's going to be very difficult to create any sort of mob. On the other hand, if you're trying to create a game which is heavily automated, then you should be able to create a fairly reasonable simulation of a player. One possible scenario might be a race-wars game in which the two opposing races cannot understand each others language - in such a scenario you could make it extremely difficult to distinguish enemy mobs from enemy players.

Simply stating that it cannot work without even finding out what the original poster is trying to achieve is very shortsighted, and hardly the sort of response I'd expect from the lead designer of a successful mud. Do you think you'd be where you are now if you'd listened to that sort of advice from other people when creating Achaea?
I'm trying to create worlds with game-like elements inside of them, rather than games with world-like elements. And regardless of which type you're creating, the entire point of a mud is the multiplayer aspect, which relies on communication. Mobs are simply ****-poor at conceiving and constructing meaningful communicatio.

And as for my advice, he can take it or leave it. Still, there's probably a reason we're the most successful new text mud company since Smutronics started up over 15 years ago. I maitain there is no feasible way to make mobs that are indistinguishable from players. I understand he mis-stated his original intent, incidentally, so I'm not trying to dissuade him from following through with his re-started plans.

--matt
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Old 05-26-2003, 02:28 PM   #11
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And as for my advice, he can take it or leave it. Still, there's probably a reason we're the most successful new text mud company since Smutronics started up over 15 years ago. I maitain there is no feasible way to make mobs that are indistinguishable from players. I understand he mis-stated his original intent, incidentally, so I'm not trying to dissuade him from following through with his re-started plans.
There are different types of success than the popularity of your mud, the length of time your MUD is up, and even, *gasp*, the amount of money you make in a month on it. If I made a MUD, or anything else for that matter, that has innovative ideas in it, whether or not those ideas work out, I would count my MUD a success. If you do that, you've made that much progress on improving the world, and that to me is the only thing that truly matters in life, improving things so that others after me can enjoy them. I enjoy what the people before me imagined, so why not do the same for others?

It doesn't matter if it's impossible, what matters is that he tries his best at making his mobs indistinguishable from people. Because he _will_ make progress, even if that progress is a bit of renewed interest in the field for a good coder, and if we keep trying, eventually, it'll be a simple thing to do. But only if. It sounds corny, but it's very true.

Don't compromise on making your mobs the way others think is possible, Torhan.
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Old 05-26-2003, 02:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ foo)
I'm trying to create worlds with game-like elements inside of them, rather than games with world-like elements. And regardless of which type you're creating, the entire point of a mud is the multiplayer aspect, which relies on communication. Mobs are simply ****-poor at conceiving and constructing meaningful communicatio.
Muds do not have to rely on English-language communication to take full advantage of the multiplayer aspect of a game world. One may have a profound playing experience without ever exchanging a word with another human in the game. In fact in some games I would rather the other players be barred from speaking ;).
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Old 05-26-2003, 02:54 PM   #13
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Of course, without the ability to learn, how is the mob going to keep up with the latest player innovations in bashing?
Assuming we avoid NLP and restrict ourselves to killing, questing, and exploring, there is no reason mobs cannot learn. Especially if you grant them a collective knowledge base (though that may not be a good idea, depending).

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And regardless of which type you're creating, the entire point of a mud is the multiplayer aspect, which relies on communication.
Perhaps some muds rely on communication, but unspoken aspects seem dominant on hack'n'slash-ish muds, in my experience. Similarly to when I play a first-person shooter, say Natural Selection, I don't lay down hours of discourse to breach a room... When we go in, we each know which way to point, where the shotgun should be, where the hmg should be, etc... In fact, commander's can (and routinely do, given one of our comms doesn't have a mike) rely almost entirely on waypoints (which show up on your hud) without mentioning a word.

Well, I'd apply the same to muds, at least in terms of grouping, killing, and so forth. Imagine a mud in which say, tell, ooc, etc were all disabled. If you grouped up and went xping, I imagine that the mobs would do perfectly well. You could use pointing to distinguish targets, and when attacking, hope that everyone can reason through where they should be... Clerics healing, tanks tanking, etc... There are more than a few players out there (in fact, dominant on some muds) that talk little to none, but take full advantage of the multiplayer aspect.
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Old 05-26-2003, 04:55 PM   #14
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And regardless of which type you're creating, the entire point of a mud is the multiplayer aspect, which relies on communication.
No, the multiplayer aspect relies on social interaction - there are numerous examples of successful multiplayer games which have very little actual direct communication between the players.

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Mobs are simply ****-poor at conceiving and constructing meaningful communicatio.
No, mobs are not "****-poor" at communication - what they are poor at is conversations, and as I've already pointed out, those are not always necessary in order to make a mob appear human.

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And as for my advice, he can take it or leave it. Still, there's probably a reason we're the most successful new text mud company since Smutronics started up over 15 years ago.
"Success" is a relative term, and depends entirely on what you're trying to achieve.

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I maitain there is no feasible way to make mobs that are indistinguishable from players.
And I've already given examples of how it could be done.
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Old 05-26-2003, 05:43 PM   #15
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I rely heavily upon Pulp Fiction philosophy, so according to Mr. Wolf
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                 If a cop stops us and starts stickin' his
                  big snout in the car, the subterfuge won't
                 last.  But at a glance, the car will appear to
                 be normal.

So appearantly there is not much need to make mobs "indistinguishable" from players, only to give the outward appearance of intelligence.  This is very manageable, almost basic on some levels.  From smarter mobs in combat, mobs with goals, mobs that remember and hold grudges,  they all are implented in various forms all over the place.  My suggestion to you Torhan would be to check out some of the different muds that implent these kinds of things (usually they are very eager to promote these features, so finding which games to visit should be somewhat easy) and find out what you like/dislike, make your improvements and get the ball rolling.
As far a conversation goes, even the great scripts like the Alice and similar bots were not able to hold up under close inspection.  Even if there were the capabilities to create indistinguishable bots, conversation included, I'm not so sure that I would want it. What I am getting out of conversation with mobs is a decent Q&A that draws from a knowledge bank.  Talking to a farmer about the weather, how it affects his crops.  A shopkeeper may know about any recent violence in the area or any known thieves.  Do the conversations need to hold up to human-to-human level?  I  try to keep them as seperate beasts, talk to mobs to get tidbits of info, talk to humans because thats where the strong relationships will be formed.
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Old 05-30-2003, 03:30 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by (Spazmatic @ May 26 2003,13:54)
Well, I'd apply the same to muds, at least in terms of grouping, killing, and so forth.  Imagine a mud in which say, tell, ooc, etc were all disabled.  If you grouped up and went xping, I imagine that the mobs would do perfectly well.  You could use pointing to distinguish targets, and when attacking, hope that everyone can reason through where they should be...  Clerics healing, tanks tanking, etc...  There are more than a few players out there (in fact, dominant on some muds) that talk little to none, but take full advantage of the multiplayer aspect.
Yes, this can be done somewhat well (I've still yet to actually see it done where it would fool me for any length of time though. You guys are all imagining that human players only ever act with the goal of bashing monsters in mind. Even while bashing monsters, players exhibit tell-tale quirks that I just have never seen mobs in any sort of game exhibit.)

My biggest problem with this discussion generally is the idea that muds are fundamentally about bashing monsters. I also take issue with the "Follow your dream no matter how possible it is." ethos that at least one poster evidenced. Dreams are wonderful, but they should come with a reality check or you're bound to be forever disappointed. I advised him against his pursuit because it's more likely he'll become the UN Secretary General than create mobs that can play a mud indistinguishably from a human.

--matt
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Old 05-30-2003, 08:18 AM   #17
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My biggest problem with this discussion generally is the idea that muds are fundamentally about bashing monsters.
You're the only one who has stated that, as part of your straw man argument. The rest of us have been discussing creating mobs which simulate the gaming aspects of muds, which in many cases is the primary focus of the mud, and of which combat is only one such aspect.

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I also take issue with the "Follow your dream no matter how possible it is." ethos that at least one poster evidenced.
A few years ago, I logged on to a mud using an unknown name, and played around for a while. After a while I ended up in a conversation with the immortals of that mud, and mentioned that I was planning to create a mud of my own one day. I told them about some of the features I was planning to add, and the head coder laughed - he told me that the features I wanted were impossible. I never did tell him that I had already created my mud - and that the features I described were already implemented.

Aim too high, and you can always lower your goals if it gets too hard. Aim too low, and you'll never pull yourself above the level of most other muds.

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I advised him against his pursuit because it's more likely he'll become the UN Secretary General than create mobs that can play a mud indistinguishably from a human.
I have played many computer games "where players and mobs are hard to tell apart" (quote taken from the original poster). To the best of my knowledge, none of the developers of those games have gone on to become the UN Secretary General.
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Old 05-30-2003, 03:00 PM   #18
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You're the only one who has stated that, as part of your straw man argument. The rest of us have been discussing creating mobs which simulate the gaming aspects of muds, which in many cases is the primary focus of the mud, and of which combat is only one such aspect.
At least you recognize that monster bashing is not the end-all, be-all of muds. As far as the gaming aspects go, how would the political game be simulated by mobs?

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A few years ago, I logged on to a mud using an unknown name, and played around for a while. After a while I ended up in a conversation with the immortals of that mud, and mentioned that I was planning to create a mud of my own one day. I told them about some of the features I was planning to add, and the head coder laughed - he told me that the features I wanted were impossible. I never did tell him that I had already created my mud - and that the features I described were already implemented.
Yes, that's a wonderful story, but it doesn't mean much. The reason mankind made it to the moon is because it started off aiming to break the atmosphere, not journey to an adjoining galaxy (which is, for all practical purposes, currently impossible). Breaking the atmosphere was a very lofty goal originally. Escaping the galaxy would have been considerably loftier, of course. The difference is that one was attainable and one was not. Pursuing the unattainable is a waste.

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Aim too high, and you can always lower your goals if it gets too hard. Aim too low, and you'll never pull yourself above the level of most other muds.
Well this I certainly agree with. Of course, the level of most muds is so low to begin with it's hard not to overcome that level given any reasonable level of effort by any reasonably competent person.

I'm still waiting to hear about these games so that I can go check them out and discover that I have no problem at all telling the NPCs and players apart. If they allow any free-form written communication or any sort of creative self-expression (in other words, if they allow any communication whatsoever), they will be easy to tell apart. And, considering that all action is communication, well, good luck. Perhaps if a game only had one single action that someone could perform, and those actions could only be performed in set intervals of time, and must be performed in those intervals (giving no control over the player character, in which case the player character is an NPC anyway), I could see it.

--matt
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Old 05-30-2003, 05:03 PM   #19
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Question

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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ May 30 2003)
At least you recognize that monster bashing is not the end-all, be-all of muds. As far as the gaming aspects go, how would the political game be simulated by mobs?
The mobs could analyze the influence statistics of various pursuits and 'players' in the game. Perhaps they could be assigned personalities on top of their normal AI so that they would have a predisposition to 'oppulent spending to impress' or if they're the evil type 'public whipping to frighten'. They could form alliances and coalitions in order to influence the various councils, giving votes to their friends and weighing decisions based on their own goals and the goals of their friends and foes. They maneuver for a piece of the pie of whatever alliance they are a part of by buddying up with the powerful, and perhaps hiring assassins to take care of those that are not in agreement with their policies. Assigning statistics for goals, influence, alliances would make this all quite possible.

I think this would be a very interesting system with or without humans =).
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Old 05-30-2003, 07:00 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by (Yui Unifex @ May 30 2003,16:03)
The mobs could analyze the influence statistics of various pursuits and 'players' in the game. Perhaps they could be assigned personalities on top of their normal AI so that they would have a predisposition to 'oppulent spending to impress' or if they're the evil type 'public whipping to frighten'. They could form alliances and coalitions in order to influence the various councils, giving votes to their friends and weighing decisions based on their own goals and the goals of their friends and foes. They maneuver for a piece of the pie of whatever alliance they are a part of by buddying up with the powerful, and perhaps hiring assassins to take care of those that are not in agreement with their policies. Assigning statistics for goals, influence, alliances would make this all quite possible.

I think this would be a very interesting system with or without humans =).
And the first time a human asks the NPC what his stance is on issue X, and starts questioning him in detail, the NPC will look like exactly what it is: A piece of relatively dumb code attempting, futiley, to look intelligent.

--matt
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