Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

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eleazar
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Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#1 Post by eleazar » Thu Nov 09, 2006 5:07 pm

EDIT: The core proposal is revised twice in this thread. See Proposal #2, and Proposal #3 if you want to skip ahead.


I did a search and read the relavant threads i could find. I'd like to propose the simplest solution i can think of that is strategicly interesting and intuitive. I'm following what seems to be the consensus that commerce should happen implicity, i.e. you don't build and control the ships that move non-military resources between planets.

I've thought of elaborations, and exceptions that could reasonably be added to this, but like i said, i'm trying for the simplest intersting solution. If it doesn't allow for something of strategic value, it could be elaborated with stuff like ideas about partial blockades.

I'm going to explicitly use the example of food redistribution, but i think very similar rules could be used for the redistribution of other resources, trade, military resupply (if this is implemented), and possibly even population migration. I will take into account the ownership of planets within the same system by different empires, which neccesarily complicates things.

Definitions:
your side = belonging to you or your allies
uncontested = there have been no enemy fleets in the system this turn.


Friendly Node: The full exchange of food occurs between planets that can be connected by an unbroken line of friendly starlane nodes. The starlane between 2 friendly nodes is colored the color of your empire (as per current version).
A friendly node is a system that fulfills one of the following:
  • * Contains only your side's ships and planets.
    * Contains one of your side's planets, and neutral ships and/or planets.
    * Contains no inhabited planets but, contains a your side's stationary, uncontested military ships.
Netural Nodes: Partial exchange of food occurs between planets whose connection must pass through a neutral starlane node. Partial exchange is 50% of full exchange.
A neutral node is a system that fulfills one of the following:
  • * Has not been explored by your side.
    * Contains planets belonging to your side, and enemies, but the enemy ships do not have uncontested control of the system.[edit: added these 2 lines]
    * Contains no ships or inhabited planets.
    * Contains only netural ships and/or planets.
    * Contains your side's planets, and a both your side's and enemy ships at some point in the turn. (i.e the system was contested)
Hostile Nodes: No exchange of food occurs between planets whose connection must pass through an enemy starlane node.
An enemy node is a system that fulfills one of the following:
  • * Contains enemy planets, but does not contain your side's planets.
    * Contains a stationary, uncontested enemy fleet.
This would give strategic value to the shape of your empire, since divide and conquer is a more viable strategy if you can try to starve out a planet or group of planets. Building far-flung colonies becomes a calculated risk. War disrupts commerce. And it makes disolving an alliance with an neighbor who you've intermingled with a mutually damaging proposition.
Last edited by eleazar on Thu May 24, 2007 10:14 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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#2 Post by utilae » Thu Nov 09, 2006 6:31 pm

I like this idea. It is simple!!!

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#3 Post by SowerCleaver » Thu Nov 09, 2006 7:04 pm

eleazar wrote:Netural Nodes: Partial exchange of food occurs between planets whose connection must pass through a neutral starlane node. Partial exchange is 50% of full exchange.
A neutral node is a system that:
  • * Contains no ships or inhabited planets.
    * Contains only netural ships and/or planets.
    * Contains your side's planets, and a both your side's and enemy ships at some point in the turn.
What is the reasoning behind the structure where situations like the 1st and 2nd bulletpoints are treated the same as a situation like the 3rd bulletpoint? I would think 50% exchange is still a penalty and don't see why merchant ships cannot pass through unhindered non-inhabited systems or neutral systems. As to contested situations like bulletpoint 3, I agree with the 50% penalty.


Another question: do we factor in the speed of merchant ships in redistributing goods? If a scout ship with the cutting edge engine and extended fuel tank gets to a system in 5 turns, I would think the very first merchant ships would also need 5 turns transit time to get to the system. If a blockade occurs and subsequently resolved, the two systems need to establish trade again in 5 turns. The 5 turn figure would diminish as more engine/starlane/fuel techs are available.

Also, is it a consensus to treat civilian trade and military supply in the same manner?

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#4 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Nov 09, 2006 8:02 pm

I don't see a need to have a concept of "partial exchange".

There could be just two classes of node: open and blocked. Open nodes are nodes that aren't blocked. Blocked nodes are systems that contain enemy military ships (at war with your empire) or are being blockaded (not at war, but not letting your ships (inc. freighters) pass). Unexplored systems are also effectively blocked. Previously-explored but presently empty systems are not blocked. Ships have to stay in a systems for a whole turn to block it. Is there anything important this doesn't achieve that the concept of neutral nodes would?

Not having "partial exchange" also avoids the issue of what % to make partial, (why 50%?).

Also, if we're going to have limited exchanges / blockades, then some consideration of what to do with disconnected planets or sub-groups of planets with regard to sharing and stockpiles. It's not practical for the player to keep track of multiple sub-empires' separate stockpiles of various resources. Civ3 "solves" the similar problem for resource trading by saying only resources connected to the capitol are able to be traded, though lets any local source supply any cities it is actually connected to, regardless of whether the capitol is connected. For FO, the imperial stockpile could be kept at the capitol, meaning any planet that can't reach the capitol could be prohibited from stockpiling its excess resources. Planets would still be able to share any excess or fill shortfalls from excesses to which they are connected, but stockpiling would be prevented. Only planets connected to the stockpile location would be able to draw from the stockpile to meet shortfall needs.

Alternatively, stockpiling could be non-automatic... as in you'd need to build a building to enable stockpiling, and the building's location would determine what location needs to be connected to a planet to allow that planet to make use of the stockpile. For simplicity, we'd likely only allow one location (different per resource?) to function as a stockpile centre.

That might be a bit off-topic, though the whole stockpiling / trading system likely needs to be considered together to arrive at an optimal design...
SowerCleaver wrote:do we factor in the speed of merchant ships in redistributing goods? If a scout ship with the cutting edge engine and extended fuel tank gets to a system in 5 turns, I would think the very first merchant ships would also need 5 turns transit time to get to the system.
Actually keeping track of supply disruption times and delays to reestabish is impractical and overly complicated and of not much use for gameplay. If abstracted supply (no freighters flying around) is to work, it has to be instantaneously on-off.

However it has been suggested to have the rate of supply or cost of supply change with distance for fleet resupply. ie. you'd have some max rate of supply for a fleet, and the actual rate would fall with distance of fleet from supply point.

For planet resources, likely all supply would need to be at the same rate... which is instantly fast, regardless of distances.

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#5 Post by tzlaine » Thu Nov 09, 2006 11:50 pm

Geoff wrote:I don't see a need to have a concept of "partial exchange".

There could be just two classes of node: open and blocked. Open nodes are nodes that aren't blocked. Blocked nodes are systems that contain enemy military ships (at war with your empire) or are being blockaded (not at war, but not letting your ships (inc. freighters) pass). Unexplored systems are also effectively blocked. Previously-explored but presently empty systems are not blocked. Ships have to stay in a systems for a whole turn to block it. Is there anything important this doesn't achieve that the concept of neutral nodes would?
I find this persuasive from a KISS point of view, but I also like the idea of mine-neutral-theirs for supply. This indicates that the only area in which you can operate with impunity ("for free", in a sense) is inside your own territory. Outside of that, you cannot get supplies nearly as easily. In enemy territory, you can't get them at all.

One the subject of cut-off partial empires, I think that subempires should be able to produce and distribute supply and resources as before, but just not stockpile anything. This discourages fragmentation (and makes it an option for attackers), and dramatically reduces the UI and micro burden of having lots of stockpiles to keep track of. Restricting resource distribution to the planet or system of origin is too much, IMO, since I think this is a simplifying rule that would be extremely frustrating as a player ("There's a surplus right here, but they're starving right next door!", etc.).

P.S.
eleazar wrote:A friendly node is a system that:
  • * Contains only your side's ships and planets.
    * Contains one of your side's planets, and neutral ships and/or planets.
    * Contains no enemy or neutral planets and contains a your side's stationary, uncontested military ships.
This second bullet point indicates that a neutral node can contain neutral planets, and the third one indicates that it cannot. Was this just miswritten slightly, or did you mean something I'm not getting?

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#6 Post by eleazar » Fri Nov 10, 2006 12:13 am

SowerCleaver wrote:
eleazar wrote:Netural Nodes: Partial exchange of food occurs between planets whose connection must pass through a neutral starlane node. Partial exchange is 50% of full exchange.
A neutral node is a system that:
  • * Contains no ships or inhabited planets.
    * Contains only netural ships and/or planets.
    * Contains your side's planets, and a both your side's and enemy ships at some point in the turn.
What is the reasoning behind the structure where situations like the 1st and 2nd bulletpoints are treated the same as a situation like the 3rd bulletpoint? I would think 50% exchange is still a penalty and don't see why merchant ships cannot pass through unhindered non-inhabited systems or neutral systems. As to contested situations like bulletpoint 3, I agree with the 50% penalty.
Geoff the Medio wrote:I don't see a need to have a concept of "partial exchange".

There could be just two classes of node: open and blocked. Open nodes are nodes that aren't blocked. Blocked nodes are systems that contain enemy military ships (at war with your empire) or are being blockaded (not at war, but not letting your ships (inc. freighters) pass). Unexplored systems are also effectively blocked. Previously-explored but presently empty systems are not blocked. Ships have to stay in a systems for a whole turn to block it. Is there anything important this doesn't achieve that the concept of neutral nodes would?
The game doesn't need "neutral nodes," but IMHO the minimal increase in complexity is justified by the increase in strategic interest. It seems oversimplified to me that resources flow equally well between your core worlds and the "outer rim" colonies with (possibly many) empty or non-friendly systems in between. Notice that an empty node is turned from "neutral" to "friendly" if you park some military ships there— sort of an ad-hoc garrison. Commerce to multiple outlying colonies can be partially disrupted by destroying a garrison, or blockading a strategic system. In an "open/closed" system described above, the only way to disrupt commerce to a group of planets is to completely surround them. Of course completely blocking commerce is the same in either proposal.

From a GUI perspective, the colored lines drawn between adjacent systems that you control, were a far too obvious and elegant item, for me to avoid thinking of game-state information for them to communicate.

Also it seemed too lenient that battle in a system would not disrupt commerce, and too harsh that battle completely disrupted commerce. So i proposed a half-way state.
Geoff the Medio wrote:Not having "partial exchange" also avoids the issue of what % to make partial, (why 50%?).
I don't see this as a great issue. "50%" is conveniently half way between "all" and "nothing." It also translates neatly into the term "half." Would you prefer "57.3%" ? ;)
The "50%" represents a simplified abstracted cumulative loss from piracy, increased cost of traveling further, taxation/bribes for the netural empire's crossed, increased cost of insurance, and some merchant's unwillingness to risk leaving the safety of their native empire.
Geoff the Medio wrote:Also, if we're going to have limited exchanges / blockades, then some consideration of what to do with disconnected planets or sub-groups of planets with regard to sharing and stockpiles. It's not practical for the player to keep track of multiple sub-empires' separate stockpiles of various resources. Civ3 "solves" the similar problem for resource trading by saying only resources connected to the capitol are able to be traded, though lets any local source supply any cities it is actually connected to, regardless of whether the capitol is connected. For FO, the imperial stockpile could be kept at the capitol, meaning any planet that can't reach the capitol could be prohibited from stockpiling its excess resources. Planets would still be able to share any excess or fill shortfalls from excesses to which they are connected, but stockpiling would be prevented. Only planets connected to the stockpile location would be able to draw from the stockpile to meet shortfall needs.
The above approach seems congruent with the previous design decisions like the global production queue. It's also pretty simple. It's my preference.
Alternatively an expensive "supply depot" building could be constructed, or shipyards could act as supply depots. While this would still be less micromanagy that giving each planet it's own queue and stockpiles, it mars the purity of the global production concept.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
SowerCleaver wrote:do we factor in the speed of merchant ships in redistributing goods?...
Actually keeping track of supply disruption times and delays to reestabish is impractical and overly complicated and of not much use for gameplay. If abstracted supply (no freighters flying around) is to work, it has to be instantaneously on-off.
Agreed.

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#7 Post by eleazar » Fri Nov 10, 2006 12:23 am

tzlaine wrote:P.S.
eleazar wrote:A friendly node is a system that:
  • * Contains only your side's ships and planets.
    * Contains one of your side's planets, and neutral ships and/or planets.
    * Contains no enemy or neutral planets and contains a your side's stationary, uncontested military ships.
This second bullet point indicates that a neutral node can contain neutral planets, and the third one indicates that it cannot. Was this just miswritten slightly, or did you mean something I'm not getting?
Each of the 3 points are independant descriptions of a "friendly node." I don't mean the 3 points to be cumulative. Does that clear it up?

I edited the first post for clarity, and added a condition to take into account a system where enemies both own some planets.

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#8 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:45 am

eleazar wrote:It seems oversimplified to me that resources flow equally well between your core worlds and the "outer rim" colonies with (possibly many) empty or non-friendly systems in between. Notice that an empty node is turned from "neutral" to "friendly" if you park some military ships there—sort of an ad-hoc garrison.
Needing to "fill space" with ships to have efficient intra-empire resource exchange is appealing. It gives a purpose to have roving groups of fast attack / long range cruisers that can take out an enemy's behind-the-front-lines space-filling sentry ships, but which would be too weak to fare well against powerful but slow-moving main battle fleets. It also gives a way to disrupt commerce with groups of cloaked ships in a similar role that doesn't involve magically creating a group of freighters for them to battle...

That said, much of the same results could be had by requiring all resource sharing to be along secured routes. Presumably those freighter captains don't like risking unprotected routes. Sounds a bit harsh compared to what's been assumed, but it might work...

Also, regarding partial sharing, it's not clear how it would work. You say that (perhaps) 50% sharing is allowed. What does that mean exactly? The planet can export 50% of its surplus, or get 50% of it's needed imports for locally-produced things? That would imply a planet can import more if it's building more, which doesn't make much sense.

It might make more sense to talk about partial import restrictions if we had a larger system of import limits, unrelated to just blockades. There was some discussion about imposing limits... particulaly for shipyards so that one remote shipyard on the doorstep to the enemy can't build a huge fleet far from the main empire supporting it, which might destroy any tactical movement strategy stuff on the map. If we had such a system in place already, it would be easier to make reasonable limits on importing / exporting due to blocades....
Also it seemed too lenient that battle in a system would not disrupt commerce, and too harsh that battle completely disrupted commerce.
I think it's reasonable to block civilian shipping through systems in which battles are occurring...

Geoff the Medio wrote:Not having "partial exchange" also avoids the issue of what % to make partial, (why 50%?).
I don't see this as a great issue. "50%" is conveniently half way between "all" and "nothing." It also translates neatly into the term "half." Would you prefer "57.3%" ? ;)
The "50%" represents a simplified abstracted cumulative loss from piracy, increased cost of traveling further, taxation/bribes for the netural empire's crossed, increased cost of insurance, and some merchant's unwillingness to risk leaving the safety of their native empire.
My point is that it's arbitrary...57.3% is no worse, aside from being even more weird looking. The arbitraryness worries me, as it seems like there's probably a better system possible that justifies such numbers. The reduced rate of supply to fleets for example, would drop the % rate of supply based on distance, making the resulting supply rate not completely arbitrary. I realize this might end up being just a bad argument to complicate things, but I still don't like arbitrarily chosing a number for something like this.
Alternatively an expensive "supply depot" building could be constructed, or shipyards could act as supply depots. While this would still be less micromanagy that giving each planet it's own queue and stockpiles, it mars the purity of the global production concept.
Production and fleet resupply aren't the same thing. The abstraction would be that within your empire, there's lots of resources moving about and you can get what you want where you need it, while fleets far from the empire, or any supply depot, are not routinely passing by civilian freighters or having stuff shipped to them by civilians. Instead, you'd need specialized organization centres from which to send out fleet resupply... ie. the depots.

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#9 Post by eleazar » Fri Nov 10, 2006 5:11 am

I'll address this point then go to sleep...
Geoff the Medio wrote:There was some discussion about imposing limits... particulaly for shipyards so that one remote shipyard on the doorstep to the enemy can't build a huge fleet far from the main empire supporting it, which might destroy any tactical movement strategy stuff on the map. If we had such a system in place already, it would be easier to make reasonable limits on importing / exporting due to blocades....
I can understand why it would seem unfair to build a shipyard on the other side of the galaxy, and then start pumping ships out with the full industrial force of an empire far away. However that is can be dealt with using my concept. If there's no netrual or friendly path to the shipyard, it can only produce ships with the resources of the connected planets (if any).

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#10 Post by marhawkman » Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:11 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:
I don't see this as a great issue. "50%" is conveniently half way between "all" and "nothing." It also translates neatly into the term "half." Would you prefer "57.3%" ? ;)
The "50%" represents a simplified abstracted cumulative loss from piracy, increased cost of traveling further, taxation/bribes for the netural empire's crossed, increased cost of insurance, and some merchant's unwillingness to risk leaving the safety of their native empire.
My point is that it's arbitrary...57.3% is no worse, aside from being even more weird looking. The arbitraryness worries me, as it seems like there's probably a better system possible that justifies such numbers. The reduced rate of supply to fleets for example, would drop the % rate of supply based on distance, making the resulting supply rate not completely arbitrary. I realize this might end up being just a bad argument to complicate things, but I still don't like arbitrarily chosing a number for something like this.
the alternative is coming up with a complex formula..... Example: I have 4 ships, and one enemy ship attacks, thus resource sharing is disrupted by 25%. It'd get really REALLY complicated when used over multiple starlanes and if you attempt to model the effects of enemy planets and take into account ship sizes.....
Alternatively an expensive "supply depot" building could be constructed, or shipyards could act as supply depots. While this would still be less micromanagy that giving each planet it's own queue and stockpiles, it mars the purity of the global production concept.
Production and fleet resupply aren't the same thing. The abstraction would be that within your empire, there's lots of resources moving about and you can get what you want where you need it, while fleets far from the empire, or any supply depot, are not routinely passing by civilian freighters or having stuff shipped to them by civilians. Instead, you'd need specialized organization centres from which to send out fleet resupply... ie. the depots.
I'm pretty sure that when he said "supply depot" he was thinking about a way to store resources.
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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#11 Post by SowerCleaver » Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:34 pm

eleazar wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
SowerCleaver wrote:do we factor in the speed of merchant ships in redistributing goods?...
Actually keeping track of supply disruption times and delays to reestabish is impractical and overly complicated and of not much use for gameplay. If abstracted supply (no freighters flying around) is to work, it has to be instantaneously on-off.
Agreed.
Will population immigrate with instantaneous speed also? If so, what prevents a player from depleting 20 pop planet to 0 pop in a single turn when the enemy armada is approaching? If not, why the difference? Since all ships move FTL on starlane, I don't think the acceleration/brake time should affect the ship speeds measured in turns(presumably years).

Also, note that this is not something a player should keep track and micromanage constantly. Actually there's nothing a player can do about this other than researching engine techs. Therefore I don't think abstracted supply (no freighters flying around) logically has to be instantaneously on-off.

The game play value of this is that it takes longer for your pop to grow from 1 to 2 if you settle farther from your closest colony. Since it adds a factor to consider in deciding where you settle your colony and does not require microing, the only down side of this is coding complexity, I think.
the alternative is coming up with a complex formula..... Example: I have 4 ships, and one enemy ship attacks, thus resource sharing is disrupted by 25%. It'd get really REALLY complicated when used over multiple starlanes and if you attempt to model the effects of enemy planets and take into account ship sizes.....
Another alternative is trying to choose the most important factor and disregard other factors. For example, we can calculate the % by simply comparing the "power" ratings of the two fleets.

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#12 Post by eleazar » Fri Nov 10, 2006 7:37 pm

SowerCleaver wrote:Will population immigrate with instantaneous speed also? If so, what prevents a player from depleting 20 pop planet to 0 pop in a single turn when the enemy armada is approaching?.
From what i've read players will usually not be able to instantly evacuate a planet. However, the question of "why" and "when" the migration of populations happens is a matter for a different topic. However the possible destinations of population could be determined by my first post here.


If you wish to argue for time-delayed redistribution, please explain how it's more fun or more stategicly interesting, or even easier on the AI. The fact that it may be more "logical" or "realistic" is a very weak recommendation for this game.

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#13 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Nov 10, 2006 8:25 pm

SowerCleaver wrote:Will population immigrate with instantaneous speed also?
No, there would be a limit on the rate of population transferred each turn, however the transfer would start or stop instantly with no delay between it disappearing from one system and when it appears at another system.
The game play value of this is that it takes longer for your pop to grow from 1 to 2 if you settle farther from your closest colony.
The rate of migration calculation can depend on distance to sink from source.

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Re: Redistribution & Blockades: a simple solution

#14 Post by SowerCleaver » Fri Nov 10, 2006 9:26 pm

eleazar wrote:The fact that it may be more "logical" or "realistic" is a very weak recommendation for this game.
I agree.
eleazar wrote:If you wish to argue for time-delayed redistribution, please explain how it's more fun or more stategicly interesting, or even easier on the AI.
Strategic implications from instantaneous redistribution:

- it takes longer for your initial colony pop to grow if you settle farther from your closest colony (if no migration is involved).
- it further rewards races investing in engine/fuel/starlane techs.
- (partial) blockades are more painful; the victim is further motivated to fight blockades rather than sit through.

Whether these strategic implications justify the coding complexity is a fair question, but instantaneous redistribtion seems oversimplified to me.

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#15 Post by eleazar » Fri Nov 10, 2006 11:34 pm

Some of my concerns with redistribution that takes time.

• It's harder for the computer to know how much to ship.
There are no stockpiles on individual planets. So if planet B needs food, and planet A has extra, planet A sends out an invisible ship with X amount of surplus food to B. Suppose it takes 5 turns for the food to get there. In the meantime:
  • B may no longer need the food, in which case it will be sent somewhere else?
    The enemy fleets may conquer additional systems, possibly causing the invisible transport to go the long way around, or to be boxed into a corner.
    If the transport gets boxed in or forced along a longer route, does the auto-economy send another transport or hope the first one gets through?
    Will the computer be able to predict a outlying system's shortfall before it happens?
• It's harder for the player to know what's going on.
The whole point of invisible transportation, is so the player doesn't have to manage it. However, if you have an unknown quantity of goods tied up in transport, which will arrive at an uncertain point in the future, the invisibility becomes a problem. The amount of resources you will have next turn becomes hard to predict.

• It's harder to code. Since playtesters won't directly see the redistribution it will be hard to figure out what kind of weaknesses the redistribution AI has.


Sure these problems could be resolved, but is it worth the effort?

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