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What do people mean when they say Civ VI is "dumbed down?"

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by salty mud, Aug 17, 2020.

  1. acluewithout

    acluewithout Deity

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    Very much agree with all of this.

    Particularly agree there a few tough choices and the game being largely about memorising mechanics.

    Part of the problem is the absence of certain mechanics that would make the game tougher. Another part is just how stuff is balanced. And then there’s also the limitations of the AI.

    So far, I can see stuff like this getting better as the game keeps being developed, but the improvements are very much incremental with a healthy dose of two steps forward one two three steps back. Secret Societies is a good example of the problem - core Mechanic is actually fairly well balanced, but then FXS didn’t really include any barrier to getting a SS or any trade-offs for having one, and then also threw more and more Governor titles at players. Honestly. How do you get so much right and so much wrong at the same time?
     
  2. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Well, I think they kinda screwed up at the start, due to Firaxis insisting on reinventing the wheel every time, and thus repeating the same mistakes. A lot of the badly balanced stuff came from Vanilla (chopping, amenities, meme errr I mean pikemen, OP pay to win DLC civs), and Sir Magnus a lot in RF really didn't help. Did they really think Korea wasn't going to be broken? And the WC lol; why not just copypasta'd what worked? We've spent basically 4 years trying to fix the mistakes of the past but I guess sometimes you gotta go where you gotta go.

    Gathering Storm was a really good expansion and ironically the dumb AI has been getting less dumb over time. So as much as we say the AI is hopeless, it may actually be the way to get a proper challenge for some people. It's not ideal, but I've come to terms with that.

    Now, I know a lot of people are going to reply to me with "lol, but I don't care about any of that!" and you know, that's actually fine. I'm just trying to get people to understand why certain players are always like so bored and complaining about difficulty (don't need to list names by this point, right?)

    Maybe we're just past the point of tradeoffs, and into indirect missed opportunity costs. Even a long time ago, Firaxis knew players didn't like to be punished. Especially in the modern gaming, this is especially true and perhaps old school players really need to keep that in mind. We're never returning to stacks, for example. Just gotta move with the times.

    Btw, I'm well aware a lot of generic "dumb down" arguments are made by people that just really want to sound smart, but I would like to say that is also nonsense since preferences don't determine intelligence-- dumb people can listen to classical music and still be stupid after all. I generally don't speak with that level of condescension towards preferences. Well, unless you think Ruhr Valley is the best wonder or Scotland is better than Korea at SV or something. But that's just nonsense.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
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  3. nzcamel

    nzcamel Nahtanoj the Magnificent

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    :agree:
    This. Big time. The game is even more complex than IV; though I'm not saying it is a better game than IV.
    Of course IV was harder to win than both V & VI, in large part, because it didn't have 1UPT, which favours the human player.
     
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  4. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

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    I wouldn't say Civ 6 is "dumbed down" exactly. There's quite a bit more in the way of options and complexity compared to say Civ 4. It's indisputable though that Civ 6 is much easier.

    It took a very long time for me to beat Civ 4 at Deity, but only half a dozen games or so to get there in Civ 6 (I barely played Civ 5, so I'm not going to compare to that). There are a few reasons for this:

    1) The AI is inept at 1UPT warfare. There simply isn't the threat of an AI invasion taking you out once you've invented ancient walls. A typical AI invasion is half a dozen random units suiciding against the nearest border city, and then nothing much happening. Also an issue in AI vs. AI - I think I've only once seen an AI conquer another completely, and in a lot of games no cities of any relevance change hands at all. This wasn't the case in the earlier games - AIs could and would expand by conquering their neighbours, including the human player given half a chance.

    2)The game tends to be rather stagnant beyond the first couple of ages - and therefore easy to predict how to win. Borders rarely move unless I take action. Provided I got sufficient land in the initial grab for a decent tech pace, I will win a space race victory eventually, unless I choose a different route.

    3)The victory conditions are easy to cheese - diplo and religious especially can easily be won by a civ that is losing miserably by any other metric. The AI really doesn't seem to try and win that much, so the end game just turns into hitting next turn while one timer or another counts down to victory.
     
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  5. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    I'd say all strategy games worth their title have a very deliberate structure that consists of series of focal points where all your efforts need to converge to a very clear point in time (or turn #), with the aim to exert (hopefully) such enormous pressure on the opponent that it will break it. And, if this focal point fails to deliver the expected result, both sides need to readjust and repeat the process (if the game allows it) to reach the next such focal point.

    I think the proper name for this action (at least in most games I know of) is called "a timing push". Once someone truly masters the game, be it Civ4, Starcraft or Europa Universalis (or any other game that requires strategy, really), lines between "prep time" and "timing pushes" becomes blurred to such an extent that player gameplay becomes more akin to magic in its virtuosity.

    Civ6 suffers from having both too many trivial mechanics and too few important mechanics, instead of trimming the number of mechanics and making them interact with each other more profoundly. Its current state puts the game into the hybrid Strategy Sim category, which is fine as I like both Sim City and Civ.
    A true strategy game will emphasize what not to do/build over what to do, as this plays to the weakness of both human and AI opponents, where the latter will be all over the place with priorities. I mean, imagine Shaka being your neighbor in Civ6 and doing nothing but spamming crossbowmen, melee units and campuses. It would be a very short match indeed.

    While Civ6 leaves options open for strategizing, the end result is basically a mild, neither-here-nor-there sandbox game that is more suited for youtubers and streamers to fill their hourly quotas with nonsense, with just enough excitement to make not completely bland, putting the success of the game into the hands of their personal charisma (if it's there; YMMV).

    How many times can I truly be excited about mining up those lucrative volcanic soil tiles, when the crossbow rush and pillage card already solved the game for me? Adding "more volcanic soil" like secret societies is not the answer.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
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  6. JesseS

    JesseS Warlord

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    Would this be the case if the AI were able to consistently win science victories on deity around turn 200 though?

    IMO, Civ6 is the most complex game in the series by far, with all of the interlocking district, governor, and quest mechanics. There's plenty of strategizing to do, it's just that:
    1. Strategic trade-offs in Civ6 come in the form of opportunity costs, rather than choices having negative consequences. Building a settler with 30 turns left to the end of the game is never going to be a net-negative...but is it the best use of resources? Sure, in a science victory, you need campuses everywhere eventually...but do you build those first, or expand further with settlers, or build a military? Do you chase every eureka or beeline for science buildings? Which governors do you prioritize? There are tons of choices to make, ranging from useless (but almost never negative) to great, and top-level play is about optimizing these choices.
    2. But, optimizing these choices is not actually necessary to win, even on the highest difficulty, because the AI doesn't optimize for victory. None plot out how to conquer the world, they just end up in territorial skirmishes. They will build a spaceport in every city but waste its aluminium on helicopters. Generally, if you can survive the early game, the AI might look like its a threat to win, but rarely will actually follow through before the very late game.
     
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  7. mdl5000

    mdl5000 Prince

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    the tech quotes are getting worse and worse.
     
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  8. Sostratus

    Sostratus Deity

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    I used to explain back before R&F that where previous games said “3=5-2” civ6 will say “3=1+2”
    The mechanics really aren’t different but it becomes a question of winning vs winning more. I think a lot of people liked having the negatives though. It’s harder to feel “successful” when the measuring stick is arbitrary amounts of say, gold income, vs Civ5 where simply being positive meant you were doing things right.
     
  9. kabu3000

    kabu3000 Chieftain

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    If I had to boil it down to one defining issue I would say this: In all previous Civ games, the AI could be a threat to the player, at least through their military numbers and insane bonuses. This threat was reduced in Civ 5 by getting rid of stacks, but at least there was always the potential for conflict. In this game, after ~ 80-100 turns, the AI turns into a gold dispenser running in the background.

    Ignoring for a moment all the things that were removed from previous games, such as the diplomacy options in Civ 4 or ideologies in Civ 5, we got quite a lot of new content in the game. More civs - with more abilities to set them apart, too - districts and adjacencies, governors and the culture tech tree, a new victory type, placable wonders to make everything look prettier but to also somewhat restrict wonder spam, climate change, more differentiated city states, all the sick yields all of the time etc.

    All well and good, but not only are a lot of these newer concepts not really fleshed out or terribly impactful, they are accompanied by...
    • absolutely braindead AI, incapable of pursuing any victory type in a meaningful manner. I don't buy the excuse that this game is "too complex to make a compenent AI for it".The modders that made Vox Populi made a pretty great AI with a similarly complex game. It's far more likely that the AI is intentionally designed this way, since it is now even incapable of doing things that it could do in Civ 5.
    • never-ending alliances and friendships making the player immune to war (on any difficulty) to ensure that they are not bothered while building up their cities and spamming wonders.
    • zero potential for late-game confilct due to the lack of ideologies or any significant impact of differing government types or religions on diplomacy.
    • almost no negative impact of founding as many cities as possible as early as possible, even if it's a city in the snow surrounded by ice and with 3 workable tiles.
    This essentially makes the addition of seemingly more complex mechanics like districts null and void. The mechanics are there, but they don't really matter. Perhaps districts are more complex than building the same buildings in the city center, but you don't NEED to find good spots for your districts to maximize your yields or optimize your strategy to win because if you vaguely know what you're doing, the AI will not win the game quicker than you anyway (has anyone EVER seen the AI win before turn 300 on Deity?).

    Additionally, some previously important aspects of Civ games were simplified: Luxuries (amenities now) hardly matter at all, while they were critical in a previous games. Civ 4 and Civ 5 (and I would assume the previous versions as well) provided the player with some downside to settling too many cities too quickly, now you can just go wild. There is no longer any real need to develop cities with a large population, 10 pop is all that's required. The World Congress is just...awful.

    In my opinion, this game is definitely dumbed down compared to its predecessors. But I also understand that I am clearly in the minority when it comes to my preferences in Civ games, as my main desire is to have a challenging game that is not trivial to win most of the time. Civ 6 is primarily a city builder sandbox game, which seems to be what the majority of the playerbase want.
     
  10. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    This is a pretty big point. Yes, you should value spots for strong district spots. But in practice...

    * We still build +0 campuses if we can't get any better, because there's really no way to get science otherwise

    * We still build +0 theater squares in culture victories, because its adjacency are largely impractical.

    * We still build +0 trade districts because you're limited to 1 trade route per city, excluding wonders and great people. But you need districts for great people. Why would you not build a trade district because of 4-6 less gold?

    * There's no point turning down a flipping city, regardless of quality, because there is no cost whatsoever.

    * T3 buildings are pretty weak outside of the Research Lab. In general, the only pop 10 bonus card that really does anything is Rationalism.At the same time t1 buildings are cheap and most are way too effective for their cost. This encourages spamming a bunch of crappy cities with districts and a t1 building.

    * . Basically, only the Industrial Zone (and maybe EC/WP) are the only fun ones because placement truly does matter-- a useless IZ is worse than useless. But even in that case, they hardly matter outside of science victories, and more for the power which was a good mechanic GS made.

    So is there really a choice here? Regardless of adjacency, you're still going to build those same districts in every city that can, and if a city flips to you, you take it. You don't need to, much like you don't need to chop, but not doing so is just handicapping yourself. Yes, there is the occasion where you decide to settle near a natural wonder and slot in a special Holy Site to boost your nonexistent faith output which improves your flexibility. These moments are great, because it allows for variety, but it's by and far the exception to the rule.
     
  11. elitetroops

    elitetroops Deity

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    The last couple of posts pretty much nailed it. More decisions doesn't necessarily add complexity if the decisions themselves aren't complex and impactful. It's been a while since I played this game, but I don't recall having a very hard time deciding if I should place my Campus in the spot with the best bonus or some sub-optimal spot. Complex decisions would have multiple options with pros and cons that have to be weighed situationally.

    While good decision making in Civ VI certainly is rewarded with a better finish date, you aren't really punished for bad decision making. This is the main thing I'm thinking of when people say "dumbed down". Even if you don't play very smart, the game is holding your hand, making sure you have a good time and don't accidentally hurt yourself, then gives you a nice trophy at the end.
     
  12. Hammurabbit

    Hammurabbit Warlord

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    Not sure if "dumbed down" is the right word, but I wish the leaders where less cartoonish, and by that I'm not (only) referring to their visual appearance but also in their behavior. They are mostly acting according to their agenda - which is typically quite simplistic or cartoonish - and care less about winning the game or surviving. As mentioned above, alliances and friendships are also pretty broken. Add to that mostly random behaviors in how they vote in world congress and the diplomatic strategy in Civ6 is pretty dumb.

    I think the agendas actually could be a pretty interesting element, if it was acted out more in interactions with the player (now we just get an agenda specific comment once in a while and a modifier).
     
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  13. leandrombraz

    leandrombraz Emperor

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    It isn't a choice because you already know an optimal way to use it. The game has been out for 4 years and this mechanic has been discussed to death in these forums, with math formulas and whatnot. The fact is that there are a lot of choices involved in chop/harvest, a lot that the player needs to consider before he decides what to do with a resource/feature and, despite what people might say in these forums, chopping isn't always the best option, there are a lot of factors that might change your decision, including your playstyle. The complexity, depth and the opportunities are there. For example, woods:

    Woods.png

    This is everything that you need to consider when you have woods in a tile. A experienced player knows what to do and can make that decision quite easily most of the time, but you can't judge this only from the perspective of someone who has been playing and discussing this game for years. You can't also judge it only from a competitive/speedrun perspective, since Civ isn't a strictly competitive game and what the player is trying to accomplish can vary. It's common to see players that struggle to decide what to do with their resources/features, and there's a lot that can be done with these resources that can lead to different strategies and playstyles, often based on the map, civ and victory condition you're going for. Removing it or not is a complex choice, regardless if you already have an optimal, general way to use the mechanic.


    The Civ community isn't limited to these forums and it's quite likely that OP saw people calling Civ VI dumbed down outside of Civfanatics, where this is often one of the adjectives used when people just want to rage and show how bad the game is, without actually making any kind of argument to support their claim, other than more adjectives. If you waste some time browsing the steam forums, you'll find quite a lot of these threads. Good luck finding a detailed argument there.
     
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  14. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    It was nothing close to a 4 year discussion. If anything, the math was us struggling to find something more interesting.

    Note that Woods is probably one of the few resources that require any thought at all; the others are mostly limited to pantheons. Appeal isn't even a thing outside of cultural victories and Earth Goddess so needing to master it in no way is needed. Neighborhoods? Well, I mean I guess we can consider that part of the game.

    Combat boost? I mean, this isn't like the first version of Civ to provide an advantage to terrain; I guess the movement changes do add a bit of complexity.

    Wonder Placement? You mean exactly one? I think we're sorta stretching it here. I guess Holy Site adjacency sorta counts, but then again they only count for unimproved tiles.

    lol here's the thing. Stuff like Appeal and Neighborhoods have been irrelevant since I started playing, and same goes with mills. If anything, I've been spending these years trying to place them in the game. They're just not that interesting.

    But what about people that play competitively? I don't judge this game from a speedrun perspective because I don't do it. But those people trying to accomplish those things are definitely entitled to their opinion.

    If anything, I would argue that most of the complexity you described only matters from a speedrun perspective. Otherwise, chopping not always better would not even be relevant. Yes, from an extreme micromanagement perspective, it is actually inefficient to mass chop everything early because it escalates the cost of builders and it is worth saving chops for later wonders and space projects. However, what will people really learn from mastering this? Maybe shave off some extra turns; for most of it this hardly matters.

    I mean there are some legitimately interesting decisions in this game, namely what you build first, how to win a DV, or how to take advantage of Monarchy (no meme). But these are all micromanagement decisions that just doesn't appeal to the group that wants to be seriously challenged. You can argue that it's not the game for them, but that doesn't really mean they're wrong either.
     
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  15. leandrombraz

    leandrombraz Emperor

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    Appeal and Neighborhoods are irrelevant to you and that has absolutely nothing to do with the point I'm making. Good or bad, the fact is that it's an option. Are neighborhoods good? No. Are they needed (to win)? Rarely. Are they an option? Do they exist? Do players build it? Yes. Options that add complexity aren't just the right ones, the ones that an experienced player will pick. The bad ones have an effect on the game too and they are used, regardless of your own view on neighborhoods. People build it, either because they don't realize that it's a bad option or because they are doing something completely different from how you play, with their own objectives. For those who build it, that's a consideration that they need to make when deciding if they will keep woods in a tile. Appeal, even though you're downplaying it by a lot, might not be a thing in a lot of situations, but it's there. You hover the mouse over a tile and there it is, the thing has appeal. You need to know what appeal is and what it does. You chop some woods, now the tile has less appeal. It exists, as a choice, it has an effect on the game, effect that players often interact with, considering the huge variety of playstyles and experience level. These mechanics add complexity, which is relevant in a discussion about how dumbed down a game is.

    You get an "Ideal Terrain" bonus when your unit defends on woods. A player could decide to keep woods just to boost the defense of their units in their territory. Is that an absurd proposition for an experienced player? Yes, the production boost is way more valuable, but it's an option, it's something that the player can consider and there's people that actually makes that choice.

    Woods give adjacency to Holy sites even when improved.

    I'm not saying they aren't, I'm saying that you need to see this from the perspective of every playstyle and experience level, including those who speedrun. I'm including, not excluding.
     
  16. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Having options for the sake of having them doesn't sound like quality to me. That just seems really shallow. It is fine that some options are not as good as others-- things that are situational strong are actually some of the most interesting choices. For example, Spearman are normally crap, but if you can get the anti-melee promotion, they become pretty decent units. There's also synergy with things like Oligarchy. This is an example of what I could consider quality or perhaps even complex decision making. Because it's not black and white, and can be easily proven as such. It certainly doesn't rely on extreme subjectivity either or overwhelming people with a grocery list.

    But then when you talk about isolated systems of which appeal mostly is and there are less systems for it to interact it, almost to the point of being disconnected from the game sorta like tourism and it's not even a matter of it being good or bad, but rather even fitting them into anything interesting. Tossing more stuff on top of it doesn't actually do anything.

    Of course, I can't actually disprove that other people care about appeal, well sure. If we're really just going down to "well it's just your opinion" then there's nothing I can really say about that. But it is a bit funny to see how people view how I play the game, since it's probably wrong. I usually roll fractal or shuffle maps in the hopes of getting a very nonstandard map so it forces the use of things that are normally considered bad, such as Audience Chamber or even farm spam. That is what I mean by meaningful choices, and it has absolutely nothing to do with experience or even skill.

    Again, this is not anything new to the franchise, so not even sure why it'd be brought up.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
  17. oSiyeza

    oSiyeza Prince

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    To me means that most mechanics are in reality the same mechanic with different names. Just bonus you have to chose in accordance to your victory.

    The AI plays its own game, barely interferring with the player, and your goal is pretty much accumulate bonus to win before the turn 350+, which is when the AI starts to be close to victory.

    Pretty much you dont need to know anything about city building, empire management, diplomacy or wars, since the game does not offer much in those fronts.

    You pretty much need to spam cities and the districs associated with your victory type, and the only challenge of the game is to be more efficient at adding bonus as you go up in difficulty.

    That is the reason I find the game so disappointing and find somewhat valid the dumbed down claim.

    Civ V was already critisized for being a dumbed down version of Civ IV. Now Civ VI seems to have forgotten many of the lessons of Civ V. But to be honest, it has brought also new cool things to the table.

    That is what it makes the game so frustrating. VI improves in a lot of ways previous games, while at the same time is the worst version of civ in many other ways, in places where IV or V were much better.

    For example, diplomacy, domination, WC, religion, spionage, challenge, avoiding grind and repetition, empire management, flexibility of gameplay, inmersion, meaningful mechanics and choices... and some others; are subjects where Civ VI fails compared to previous games.

    It does not help that after the longuest post release support in any civ game, with the most patches and more content post launch, being the most expensive game in the series. Many basic parts of the game such as the World builder or the hability of the AI to win at domination by itself still do not work.

    Maybe is not so much that the game is dumbed down, but instead that in some ways it treats the players as if they are dumber.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
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  18. nzcamel

    nzcamel Nahtanoj the Magnificent

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    See, I disagree with this; though I do concede that against the AI it can be a fair critique. Against human players though the decisions absolutely still matter. 5 was more dumbed down because there was far less choices to make, and so many turns were just clicking the next turn. Compared to 4 I was bored. So I am open in 7 to it being a bit simpler as long as the AI can handle what remains; but stripping it back as much as V did, should be avoided if possible.

    The one place 6 is "dumbed down" without question is the agendas.

    I think sticking with correct terms matters. Ergo 6 should not be called dumbed down. It is mostly easier to win in SP than 5 was. That is a different thing to dumbed down.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
  19. kotpeter

    kotpeter Warlord

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    • Let's not tie AI disabilities to game's complexity. It's a separate topic.
    • Being a grand strategy game means favoring strategic complexity and thinking over things. Civ VI favors mechanic complexity and memorizing gameplay patterns.
    • One of core flaws of Civ VI is that there's no strong direct connection between raw population and science/culture. Most science/culture yields are from districts and buildings, which dumbs down citizen management mid to late game and obsoletes many playstyles.
    • Maintenance of buildings and units does not scale well with GPT. Trade routes are very powerful in this regard and push players to play "wide" even further.
    • For some reason there's no policy to speed up production of siege units.
    • Building and using a nuke is much faster than protecting against one.
     
  20. Equilin

    Equilin King

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    I will argue that "memorizing gameplay patterns" go against "strategic complexity".
    Especially when Civ6 mechanic complexity matters less than it looks, since you can do it the wrong way and still works, ruining the whole point of being complex.
     
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