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Poll Why do modern games release in buggy, broken states? Do developers need more time to develop games across the industry?

Do games need more development time?

  • Yes they do

    Votes: 41 36.9%
  • No they don't

    Votes: 2 1.8%
  • The issue isn't development time at all

    Votes: 18 16.2%
  • The issue isn't solely development time

    Votes: 50 45.0%

  • Total voters
    111

Africa's Toto

Banned
Jan 7, 2018
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Is game development being held back by increasingly tight deadlines?

My opinion:
Games release with more bugs than they used to, and buggy, broken games are more common than they used to be.

Yes, games in the past had significant bugs on release, and yes, they were also horrible and game-breaking.
But it wasn't almost every single game. When a game went gold then, you could take that physical copy, store it, take it out after 5 years and have almost the exact same experience as someone who'd just bought it. A playable state, with few game-breaking bugs and systems working as intended.

And crunch is another topic entirely, but I think it's always been a part of game development. It's just worse these days.


Some of my guesses for why this is:
- Overambitious development goals
- Ease of digital patching making QA less prioritized
- Pressure from investors/shareholders in the case of public companies

Note: I'm not counting live service games as they're basically early access in all but name (to me).

Thoughts?
 
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UnNamed

18+ Member, acts like 12 year old console warrior
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Games cost a lot. But optimize and fix bugs cost a lot more. So companies release games hoping their bugs are not critical so they can fix it while they make money.
 
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mansoor1980

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Vae_Victis

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Because they can.

Money always follows the path of least resistance. If the final stretch of bugfixing costs a certain amount of money, you release the game and then see where to go from there (drop support, selectively work on some bugfixing, adopt fan/mod solutions created for free for you etc.).

It's the same reason why Early Access and pre-orders exist. Developing means money goes out. Selling means money goes in. You want to sell as much as you can before you have to commit as much as possible of your budget to the project.
 

Guilty_AI

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Apr 12, 2020
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Its not just about those, game scope and complexity are also much bigger nowadays. That isn't the fault of devs and publishers either, its just the players that keep demanding "bigger and better" games all the time. Just not having the latest word on visuals for example can reduce sales prospects among mainstream public by a lot.
No open world? No dynamic day-night cycle and weather? No intricately detailed animations? No buy.

I think more games should start adopting early access models nowadays, they can be quite effective for testing and balacing games, as well as advertising themselves by their actual merits, rather than having to rely purely on its visuals and trailers for marketing,
 
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Kao The Kangaroo

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Feb 17, 2021
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Well, there is a lot of different hardware, and it can cause a lot of trouble. Games get tested on different computers with different specs, but it's nearly impossible to test it on every build out there.
It's also a matter of the publisher, who pushes the developers to work faster to release the game.
It's the size of the game, the size of the community.
And it's the money vs. passion game. If you're passionate about your work, you will work on fixing as many bugs as possible, if you're not then it's just a 'whatever' attitude.
 

Ellery

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It is because people who are not passionate about games, but business, make decisions that affect games more than we would like to.

And I also agree with a lot of points you brought up. Developers are the true "victims" here. They are between a rock and a hard place working on extremely ambitious games that require 50x the work games used to 20 years ago whilst they have to bow down to the moneypeople that expect them to create the next Fortnite game bringing in billions for investors.
 

RedVIper

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Just not having the latest word on visuals for example can reduce sales prospects among mainstream public by a lot.

Does it though?

The biggest games in the world all have shitty to mediocre graphics.

Fortnite, LoL, CS Go, Fifa, all the nintendo games, minecraft.

Seems like pushing graphics is mostly done by AAA developers that aren't actually capable of making good games.
 

SJRB

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May 10, 2012
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It's the never ending clash between actual developers and management/shareholders.

The former want to release a properly tested and functioning, feature complete videogame.
The latter wants to make MOTHERFUCKING MONEY ASAP.

That said, current gen videogames are infinitely more complex than they were, say.. during the PS2 era. The bar keeps getting raised, and a lot of times developers are punching above their weight class.
 
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VFXVeteran

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Nov 5, 2019
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Yes, I think development of games should take longer to publish. The key to robust code is being allowed time to do the R&D on the engine itself and introducing it to the artists so that they can take it through it's paces. The graphics engine should always be going through iterations. I remember interviewing with iDSoftware a few years back and their attitude was "we are in a hurry to make the game so we don't spend any amount of time on R&D. We develop as we go.." . To me, that's a horrible way to develop a new game/new generation. Back in the old days, John Carmack did a LOT of R&D with his graphics engine and took his sweet time making the games. That has all but disappeared these days.
 

Guilty_AI

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Does it though?

The biggest games in the world all have shitty to mediocre graphics.

Fortnite, LoL, CS Go, Fifa, all the nintendo games, minecraft.

Seems like pushing graphics is mostly done by AAA developers that aren't actually capable of making good games.
Two of these are free, the other ones have had big names for the longest time. Only exception here is minecraft, which actually adopted an early access model.
 
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Shut0wen

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Oct 29, 2020
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Is game development being held back by increasingly tight deadlines?

My opinion:
Games release with more bugs than they used to, and buggy, broken games are more common than they used to be.

Yes, games in the past had significant bugs on release, and yes, they were also horrible and game-breaking.
But it wasn't almost every single game. When a game went gold then, you could take that physical copy, store it, take it out after 5 years and have almost the exact same experience as someone who'd just bought it. A playable state, with few game-breaking bugs and systems working as intended.

And crunch is another topic entirely, but I think it's always been a part of game development. It's just worse these days.


Some of my guesses for why this is:
- Overambitious development goals
- Ease of digital patching making QA less prioritized
- Pressure from investors/shareholders in the case of public companies

Note: I'm not counting live service games as they're basically early access in all but name (to me).

Thoughts?
Tbf most of it comes down to many chefs in the kitchen, one bad code can fuck up everyones day, i have a friend whose worked on alot of big games and he says publishers answers to getting a triple A game developed is to hire people on temporarily contracts and if things are still messy then to bring in outsourced companys, here in the uk game devs get tax reductions for hiring alot of people and once a games complete they drop all of those on temporarily contracts until they work on another big game, a think the biggest problem these days is that games have to be huge and over 12 hours of gameplay with over 1k people working on these games except they should be keeping it down to a minimun of 300 people having longer development time and having no crunch hours, look at duke nukem forever, that game was in dev hell for 12 years and by the time it came out dev cost qas 40 million (which isnt that expensive for a game considering it had that many years of dev)
 

Ballthyrm

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Jun 21, 2013
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Can we stop comparing Games today with games from the past ?

The reality is that the scope of the work needed for each game has expended faster than the Engineers ability to make tools and Engine to counteract it.
As a result the amount of people needed to make a state of the art game has exploded.
You can't compare a game made by 20 people in a year to a 1000 people team in 5 years.

"technology" doesn't make better games, there is no such thing as better "technology", we just ask more of it every year,
so the better "technology" just get used to make some old thing faster but that doesn't really solve the new thing that everyone wants.



Video game development doesn't share a lot of attributes with standard software development.
People who think it's just a management issue and we could just fix it by switching to Agile development or copy what the big tech companies are doing , they are wrong.
The immense majority of the cost of a game is upfront, you have to invest a ton of money to even see if your game is going to work or not.

There isn't a lot of shortcuts and you can't really release the minimum viable product on the market and then build on it
People who think early access represent like 20% of the work are mistaken, it's more like 80%, the game is here, it's working and now we can spend 80% of our time working on the remaining 20%.
There is a reason we've seen so many adopt this business model, the bugs, the small features, the balancing it's very very costly and provide little to no value unless you have a big user base.



The price of games hasn't risen at all in 2 decade even with all that inflation.
So MTX had to step in to make up for lost revenue as just the expansion of the market wasn't covering it.

Think of it like this, we've switched to a market where the people invested in a Franchise are the ones paying for it.
If you like the game, you pay MTX, you "tell" the Devs to keep improving the game.
Before all that cost had to be absorbed by the Devs to convince people to buy that game.
So they were shouldering all that cost upfront, and people used to pay for it , people used to pay for finished games ($60 in 1996 is worth $100.58 today)




TLDR: people used to pay for finished games, they aren't anymore.
Game business has evolved into a more efficient market.


Further Reading -> https://www.raphkoster.com/2018/01/17/the-cost-of-games/
 
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Roni

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As QA for IT projects, I can say this with certainty: IT projects in general need more development time. But each day of development is expensive, so Business likes to work some magic and pretend the same amount of work that requires 30 days can be done in 20.
 

Shut0wen

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Games cost a lot. But optimize and fix bugs cost a lot more. So companies release games hoping their bugs are not critical so they can fix it while they make money.

True but theres alot of other factors as well like the games engine for one, good example is masterchief collection and a majority of games made on frostbyte which isnt battlefield, 343 not only had the reach engine for halo 1 2 but also had backwards compatible code in there as well which made code online hell, 343 and numerous other devs had to come in and fix the mess, also frostbyte was purely made for first person shooters, so many games such as fifa, need for speed and mass effect were all effected, all games which didnt have enough time from the publisher to modifer it to there needs, only game i know which didnt get that affected was dragon age but EA given bioware 4 and even they came out saying it was hell to do
 

Guilty_AI

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And they all make morey money than those AAA games pushing graphic fidelity.
Because they either adopt completely different models from that of release_finished_game->profit, or because they were lucky enough to have a big name to make all the advertisement by itself.
Also, some of those like FIFA do have great visuals, not ot say other things that can help advertising the game like famous football players.
 
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Shut0wen

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Plus alot of time is taken away from a game when creating a fake demo, gearbox spent almost 6 months making there aliens demo knowing fine well there game was shit
 

nkarafo

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As i always say, the digital/online distribution was only beneficial to publishers, not consumers. Among other things, being able to patch their games whenever they want is a fail-safe mechanism for them. Therefore, they won't hesitate to release games in a state that would be impossible to release back in the PS2/GC/XBOX era or before that.

They sold the patching idea to console users as something beneficial for the users because "if there's a bug we can now fix it for you, unlike the old days" but that became "we don't have to care as much about bugs as we did the old days since we can patch them when we have the time".

Everything is done to please publishers. Never forget that.
 

ZywyPL

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Nov 27, 2018
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Yes. But the root of the issue is investors who require to see projected sales/revenue/profits for the given fiscal year/quarter, and the companies actually fulfilling those projections/expectations, hence the games are being released no matter what most of the time.
 

Matt_Fox

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Jul 24, 2019
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Why are games more buggy than they used to be?

Evolution in tech.

More can go wrong with a car than with rollerskates.

The more complicated and ambitious video games become, the harder they are to make work.

And that's a good thing. We want games to push the envelope, even if they sometimes fail, because that is how we progress and get better.
 

Thirty7ven

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Apr 13, 2020
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Unfortunately a lot of "gamers" are IQ starved and didn't mind going along with publishers in their quest to turn initial releases into a profitable bit of QA. They got these people to pay to play betas, and have them eating that shit sandwich with a huge smile in their faces as they swear by how good it tastes.

Same people normalized paying for online.
 
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Alright

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Why do they release buggy, broken games?

Because they can.
 
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Umbasaborne

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For these big AAA games, assume that most devs would need 5 plus years to launch them
In a non broken state. There isn’t enough time in a console generation so put it out now and patch it later has become the name of the game
 

Animagic

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Games are bigger and more complicated than ever before. It’s honestly a miracle any big game gets made and shipped at all.
 
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Sakura

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Because they can get away with it. If nobody bought buggy and/or unfinished games, then they wouldn't do it.
But because people do buy the games, it is a lot easier (and cheaper) to release games before they should be released, let the users playtest it for you for free, and then fix bugs/add content after the fact while you are making money from the game sales.
It's generally the same reason there are so many fucking early access games these days.

It sounds like a good idea on paper. The ability to fix bugs/improve the quality of the game after the fact. In the past, a released game was often the final version, so the ability to fix it after launch should be a benefit to all. In reality though, this really just means games now have a lower quality threshold for release.
 

nerdface

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It’s a lousy trend.

I usually pay for the digital version, to help them beta test the cart release I’ll double dip on.

I probably need professional help.
 

Andodalf

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Games are bigger and more complex than ever, and nowadays, If 1 out of 1000000 Have a bug happen, it goes on the internet and everyone sees it. There are some very egregious examples these days, but on the whole it's par for the course.
 

kingpotato

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Sure a lot of things can go wrong with more complicated software, but developers have better tools and engines to start with so a lot of it still boils down to talent, time and money.

Older games I can remember include Mega Man for dos, ninja turtles for nes, willy beamish for sega cd, superman 64, Daikatana for pc.

I think on the whole things are better. Before if you bought a buggy broken game, that was the end of the story. There is a bigger market around games that serves up more info to consumers about the game they are considering. Every modern gaming platform has the ability to receive patches to fix bugs.
 

nerdface

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I think on the whole things are better. Before if you bought a buggy broken game, that was the end of the story.

That’s not always true, either. Metroid Prime had a pretty rad targeting exploit you could use to get double-jump at the beginning of the game.

It was patched on future disks.
 

Reality Czar

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Bugs are just as prevalent as they used to be but games are infinitely more complex. Modern gamers are spoiled because of all the content and systems. Plus it is easier for people to find and share glitches. Within a day of a game’s release we can compile glitches from all over the world. IMO this gives a false impression.

It is funny to think back on glitches in 2d platformers vs playing MGSV for 500 hours and not seeing a single one.

I owned the TMNT DOS game that had a game breaking bug that wouldn’t let you past the third level. No patches available it’s just the game is always and forever unbeatable.
 
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supernova8

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In most cases in the past the game that shipped was the game. Only in extreme circumstances would they somehow patch it and even if they fixed it for all future purchases, they would have to re-distribute a load of new discs (with the new code on) to customers before the fix.

I'm 30 so I was a kid back in the days when we didn't have online patches, but I don't remember any "recalls".

Nowadays they know they can hype a game to shit, release it as a buggy mess and as long as they get loads of sales they'll fix it later.
 

Punished Miku

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Take away the internet and sell a game on disc and suddenly most of that will be gone. They plan for consumers to be the testers because its cheaper and because they get away with it without being punished in the wallet.
 
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kingpotato

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That’s not always true, either. Metroid Prime had a pretty rad targeting exploit you could use to get double-jump at the beginning of the game.

It was patched on future disks.
Sure it was fixed in this case and that scenario has happened for other titles. Still your copy was only fixed if you bought the game again or there was some exchange program set up. Definitely the exception and not the rule.
 

kingpotato

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Take away the internet and sell a game on disc and suddenly most of that will be gone. They plan for consumers to be the testers because its cheaper and because they get away with it without being punished in the wallet.

No amount of testing and thorough review could replace the feedback from actually launching a title. Players put more hours collectively in a title on day one than the entire QA team can for the length of development on larger titles.
 

Foorbits

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It's nearly impossible to properly test an online focused game unless you have an extended Early Access period or attempt to patch the game on the fly.

No how matter how much you test internally gamers will find a ton of exploits and you will run into a lot of unforeseen bugs post launch.

I think publishers shy away from EA because by the time the game officially launches a lot of the hype is already gone.
 

LordCBH

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Because publishers want things released NOW to appease shareholders/get their executive bonuses.
Sometimes the blame falls on the developer though. Like if I was EA, I’d have also been done with Anthem after it being in the works for 6 years with only a fake demo to show for it.
 
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Digital download opportunity and systems having giant storage.

If this was the Xbox/PS2/GC era or earlier there is no way games would release as broken or incomplete.

The 360/PS3 era either. Ya there patches, but they were super small. If it wasnt for getting RRoD in 2012 when I bought a 250gb Xbox, I would had got through the entire 360 generation with a 20gb HDD. And that was enough for dashboard updates, XBLA/Indie downloads, saved games and all patches.
 
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Punished Miku

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No amount of testing and thorough review could replace the feedback from actually launching a title. Players put more hours collectively in a title on day one than the entire QA team can for the length of development on larger titles.
Then release a beta.
 

johntown

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I really cannot remember the last time I had a game that I would consider unplayable due to bugs. There are really only a handful of games I play at launch so that may have something to do with it. With Cyberpunk I never had any game breaking issues. A few amusing bugs but nothing major.

I think it has to do more with getting games to run on systems that really cannot handle them.
 
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iQuasarLV

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Then release a beta.
As long as people continue to buy the games on day one studios will continue to let the free QA happen.

We can only blame ourselves when we complain about how game X is a buggy unplayable mess.

Day one release is no longer a finished product. It is Early Access until the GOTY version comes out. That is the re-launch of the actual finished product.
 
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Ballthyrm

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As long as people continue to buy the games on day one studios will continue to let the free QA happen.

We can only blame ourselves when we complain about how game X is a buggy unplayable mess.

Day one release is no longer a finished product. It is Early Access until the GOTY version comes out. That is the re-launch of the actual finished product.

That's a problem only if you want to play games at launch.
Otherwise it's better, you get a cheaper game that's polished.

It's like free games with MTX that's aren't pay to win.
Well thank GOD for the whales, I get to play great games for Free.
 

Bartski

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Bugs are just as prevalent as they used to be but games are infinitely more complex. (...) Plus it is easier for people to find and share glitches. Within a day of a game’s release we can compile glitches from all over the world.

I think it was a GDC talk on QC I've seen, don't remember which one (if anyone has an idea please correct me), where someone ran the numbers on the hours of testing a game gets throughout its whole development, based on average QA AAA department manpower size, outsourcing, all the different variables...
So a large, complex, big selling release, gets more in-depth "testing" of its features within hours (minutes?) after it's out the door, than all of the testing that was done on it while it was in the making combined, in overall gameplay time.
Really interesting, eye-opening talk, exactly on the subject of the OP, if I have time I'll look around, would be the perfect thread to share it.
 
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DaGwaphics

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I'd say it's mostly just an issue of "because you can". In the pre-internet era (on consoles anyway) they couldn't be sure if an update would ever reach users, so, getting something working was more important. Now they know they can release a messy version on that disk and potentially still have a month or two to work on that day 0 patch.
 

CuteFaceJay

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Normally over ambitions get in the way and putting the game on too many platforms.

Cyberpunk 2077 ran into similar issues as Battlefield 4 did when they were trying to put out a game moving to a new gen while still 'supporting' older gen. While ending up with a broken game for 1 year+

Like really who tries to ship a new game across 5 platforms at the same time? You're asking for trouble doing that kind of shit.
 
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