Game Engine, Tips, and How to Play FAQ

#1The Wu 2003Posted 7/30/2008 11:28:54 PMmessage detail
Game Engine, Tips, and How to Play FAQ

Because I was requested, this is a copy/paste of my faq for SC4.
This FAQ and general gameplay tips guide is made for all the new people (and older players who want to brush up on basics.)
Goto Message Detail and "Request Sticky" if you wish this to stay on the front page.

Please do not post until I have finished posting everything up and said I’m done. Thanks.
Please do not post until I have finished posting everything up and said I’m done. Thanks.
Please do not post until I have finished posting everything up and said I’m done. Thanks.
=)

This FAQ so far is Version 1.1, dated 7/29/2008
Change list:
Added more details regarding CFs
Added video examples for some sections
Minor corrections


Table of Contents:
1. What does 33A, FC B+K, BT etc mean?
- Let’s start with the directional inputs
- Now for the buttons
- Misc
2. Hit Levels
- Hit Level “rules”
- Throws
3. Guard Impacts, and Guardbreaks
4. Teching (Ukemi)
5. Just Frames
6. Definition of “Combo”
- Juggle
- Air Control
- Stun Combos
7. Armour Breaking, Critical Finishers
8. General (vs mode) Play tips AKA "How to improve"
-“The characters have too many moves! I don’t know when to do what in battle! How should I start?”
-"I keep on losing! How can I get better?"
-“What are frames, and what do I do with them??”
-“What are tiers? Are there any tiers? If so, do they really matter? And how do they matter?”
-“So, what are the tiers for SC4? "
-"Well, I think _____ character is the best... right?"
-“What about playing against the CPU/AI? I can improve by playing against that right?
-“Is online play a good place to practice? “
-"What are the general rules for competition?"
-“So, how do I go about learning the game?”
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#2The Wu 2003(Topic Creator)Posted 7/30/2008 11:29:23 PMmessage detail
1. What does 33A, FC B+K, BT etc mean?
Before you read this FAQ, it is important to first know the conventions that Soul Calibur players use when describing moves. It may seem weird at first, but it is a universal (PS3 OR 360), organized, and consistent way to ‘talk’ Soul Calibur.

Also, try to avoid using street fighter conventions like d, d/b, b, as one of the main buttons for Soul Calibur is “B”. So instead we use conventions similar to Guilty Gear XX and VF communities where we use numbers for directions instead. Using HCF (Half Circle Forward) and QCF (Quarter Circle Forward) is ok, but avoid using directions that may confuse input with the buttons.
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Let’s start with the directional inputs.

Control Layout:

7 8 9
4 N 6
1 2 3

1 = Back Down
2 = Down
3 = Down Forward
4 = Back
N(or 5) = Nuetral
6 = Forward
7 = Back Up
8 = Up
9 = Up Forward

Which means basically, those are the 8 directions + Neutral (which means not pressing any direction).
This assumes you are facing right. If you are facing left, then just flip it around.
If you have trouble memorizing it, you can always look at any standard keyboard's number pad.


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Now for the buttons:

G = Guard Button
A = Horizontal Slash Button
B = Vertical Slash Button
K = Kick Button

Default mapping on a 360 pad would be:
Vertical is Y
Horizontal is X
Kick is B
Guard is A
(thanks to Dark Summoner)

===
Misc
WC = While Crouching (Some may use FC, or Fully Crouched)
WS = While Standing (from a crouch. In other words, hold guard+2 until you are crouching, then release. The brief moment you are standing up, that is WS)
WJ = While Jumping (during jumping up)
WL = While Landing (landing after a jump)
FC = Forced Crouch/Fully Crouched

SS = Sidestep (tap a side direction -once-)
SW = Side Walk (tap and -hold- a side direction)

BT = Back Towards (Your back towards an opponent)
TC = Tech Crouch (Moves that "duck" over high moves)
TJ = Tech Jump (Moves that "jump" over low moves)
JF = Just Frame (requires strict timing)

DOS = Double Over Stun (Can be escaped by holding guard then hitting 5 directions)
KND = Knockdown
AT = Attack Throw ( Video Example of ATs : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ASKMb9NxWcQ&fmt=18 )
AC = Air Control (See Combo section)
SWT = Switch Characters (single player only http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=WXx6VAJaOnM&fmt=18 )

[ ] = Hold
_ = or
: = Just Frame input (strict timing hits)
… = repeated input
+ = Together
, = Followed by (B,K = push B, after that, push K)
< = Delayed

Small letter case followed by capital: Slide input; input very quickly. For example, aA refers to taping the A button followed by another press quickly, while AA refers to just pushing A, then another A. Like wise, aB means to push the A button then slide quickly to the B button. Sometimes people will use "~" As slide input also, for example, A~B = aB.

CH = Counter Hit. (hitting somebody while they are doing a move can result in CH, usually higher damage or additional hit properties like launching, tripping, or stunning)

NC = Natural Combo (strings of moves like basic AAs or BBs that naturally combos after the first hit connects)

NcC = Natural Combo on Counterhit (Like NC, but requires additional CH to naturally combo)

8WR = 8 Way Run. 8WR by holding a direction to run in that direction. To do an actual sidestep, tap 7_8_9_1_2_3. To sidestep then 8WR, tap, then hold the direction.

Soul Charge (A+B+K in past Soul Games) is no longer in the game. A+B+K Now Taunts.
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#3The Wu 2003(Topic Creator)Posted 7/30/2008 11:30:50 PMmessage detail
2. Hit Levels:

H = Hits High
M = Hits Mid
L = Hits Low
SM = Hits Special Mid
SL = Hits Special Low
SH = Hits Special High
UB = Unblockable

To do a "standing" guard, hold G.
To do a "crouching" guard, hold 2+G.
To jump, hold guard, and push 7 or 8 or 9.

Hit Level “rules”

High attacks can be ducked, and can be blocked standing.
Mid attacks hits people crouching, and can only be blocked standing
Low attacks can hit people standing, and can only be guarded low.
Special mid can be guarded standing or crouching. (like generic 2A quick slashes) Special Low is the same, but you can jump over them.
Special Highs negate other moves TC properties (Kilik's 5AA, Asty's 5AA etc). (Thanks to masamuna)

Note that high moves can also be ‘ducked’ by doing a move that has crouching properties("Tech Crouch), and likewise, low moves can be ‘jumped’ over by moves that has jumping properties("Tech Jump").

Unblockables are... well, unblockable. Though some UBs only hit high, enabling you to duck, and some hits low, enabling you to jump over them, some does not track, so you can sidestep around, etc.

Throws

Normal A+G and B+G throws are considered “High”
But there are special command crouch throws that targets people who are in a crouching state. Those are usually preformed by doing 2A+G or 2B+G.

To escape A+G throws (or special throws that requires “A” escape), push A when the throw “arms” just connects with your Character. For B+G throws, push B.
===

3. Guard Impacts, and Guardbreaks

GI = Guard Impact
JI = Just Impact
GB = Guard Break


There are two different of GI. One is the front GI and one is the back GI.
You can front GI high/mid by pushing 6G, front GI mid/low by pushing 3G.
You can back GI high/mid by pushing 4G, Back GI mid/low by pushing 1G.

Front version parrys them into a GI stun animation in which you can quickly counter attack.
Back version pulls them onto the floor. If they hit a wall while being back parried, they will be wall stunned.

Also, doing the ‘wrong’ level of GI when somebody attacks you can result in you getting “Counter hit”’d.
Note that if one person has been Guard Impacted and is in the standing GI'd stun, he/she can still guard impact back, but cannot block until the stun is over. Thus, even if you guard impact someone, it’s possible to not get any guaranteed damage out of it.

Guard Impacts also take away from the opponent’s Soul Gauge. (see Critical Finish section)

Just Impacts:
If you time your GI perfectly, instead of the regular flash effect, it will have a different, glow-red effect. This is a Just Impact, where any move you do directly afterwards will be granted "counter hit" properties.

Guard Break moves are moves that "crushes" an oppn's guard. It does no damage when you break the guard, but it does cause a slight stagger in which they can't move. (and if you recover fast enough, you can score some free hits) Note that they can still guard-impact when being GB'd. Guard Break moves are great for taking chunks away from Soul Gauge (see Critical Finish section)

You can GI Guard Break moves, but you generally you can not GI unblockable attacks.

Video of Front, Back, and Just impacts.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gA9Myu5wu2Y&fmt=18
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#4The Wu 2003(Topic Creator)Posted 7/30/2008 11:31:37 PMmessage detail
4. Teching (Ukemi)
When you are taken off the ground, and is about to land, you can quickly get back up by pushing G.

You can also “techroll” towards the background by pushing 8G, or towards the foreground by 2G.

Note that after teching there is a brief moment of time when you are vulnerable to additional hits, so sometimes it’s better to take that one ground hit and get knocked back away a bit more, then get back up safely. Setups that takes advantage of the post-tech vulnerability are called "tech traps".

Video example of a “tech trap”
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=tR2VRva3KaU&fmt=18
After Amy does 3B, she does 3B,A. If they lay still, the A will go over them, but if they try teching, then the A will sweep them off their feet.

Note that there is also a “Just” Tech, where you can recover much faster/when you usually can’t.
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5. Just Frame
Just Frames are moves that require strict timing. They can be moves that have better properties like better recovery, more damage, or they can be full extensions of moves. To get them down, you must first learn the proper timing, and then practice and practice until you can get them down.

Just Frames “Flash” when you do them correctly.

Here is a video with some examples of Just Frames.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ojj-0OyTLO8&fmt=18
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#5The Wu 2003(Topic Creator)Posted 7/30/2008 11:32:20 PMmessage detail
6. Definition of “Combo”

There is always confusion to what is a combo and what is not, and it’s one of the first things one has to learn before getting better at the game.

“A combo is a series of 2 or more moves in which ALL of the hits are guaranteed after the first. In other words... If the opponent gets hit by the first hit of the combo, the rest of the following attacks will hit regardless of what the opponent does. The opponent CANNOT block or avoid the followup hits.”

So in other words, randomly doing a long series of moves one after another does not mean it’s a “combo". By doing just a "string" of moves that your oppn can block half way through, the rest of the hits will... well... not hit. Beware that the in-game combo counter in practice mode may not always be correct... sometimes it's very open to what counts as a "combo", even when there are ways to get out.

So, what are some examples of combos?
Mitsurugi: AA (Basic example of an NC)
Xianghua: CH AAB (Basic example of an NCC)

Video example of NC and NCC
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=tKU6EI2dYEw&fmt=18
(Notice the red flash indicating a counterhit)

To refresh your mind:

NC = Natural Combo (strings of moves like basic AAs or BBs that naturally combos after the first hit connects)

NcC = Natural Combo on Counterhit (Like NC, but requires additional CH to naturally combo)

Juggle : A combo That is done after launching your opponent in the air.

Example:
Mitsurugi: 3B, 236B.
Mitsurugi launches the oppn into the air with 3B, and while he is helpless in the air, Mitsu hits him with a 236B.

Another example:
Cassandra: 3B, 236B

Video Example:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=MbdpabLjNL8

Air Control

Note that for juggle combos, usually after the first air hit, the person being juggle can do something called Air Control . That means by holding a direction while in the air, you can move yourself towards that direction. This prevents long series of hits in juggles from being real combos (so you can’t do 3B, A,A,A,A,A repeat until ring out.) So you beginner Talim players out there, no, you can NOT repeat her in-air kicks until they ring out. AirControl prevents that.

Video example of Air Control:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JFk-s3x0F7I
First time Kilik did not Air Control, and gets hit several times. The next two he ACs to the side, evading the hits.

Stun Combos

Some moves, esp on CounterHit, will cause an unbreakable stun. This special type of stun usually have massive amount of visual "static" effect, and the next move, providing it also have counter hit stun properties, will also cause a stun. So what happens is you CH someone with an attack that can stun, link as many stun-attacks as you can and thus have a long ground stun combo (maybe end it by juggling at the end)

Video Examples of Stun Combos:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=zQ5MDrxc0EY&fmt=18

However, note that DOS (Double Over Stuns) and many other stuns can be escaped (To escape, hold guard and push 5 different directions), so keep all these factors in mind when you are trying to create real combos.

Video Example of Stun Escape:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=yrlC_kwRtuI&fmt=18
First time, Mitsurugi did not escape the stun, so he gets hit by Amy’s BB. Second time he escaped in time to block.

Make sure you know where your stuns can be broken! Against good players it is good to have a mixup plan incase they break your stun (try Throwing, or Low attacks)
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#6JerrelyPosted 7/30/2008 11:32:33 PMmessage detail
How do you switch characters during a tag team
#7The Wu 2003(Topic Creator)Posted 7/30/2008 11:33:00 PMmessage detail
7. Armour Breaking and Critical Finishers
The clothing and armour on your character is divided into 3 sections, high, mid, and low. By getting hit alot in each section will result in the "lost" of that piece of armour, in which it will stay that way for the rest of the match. For example, if your leg armour gets broken off during round one, it will last for round 2, 3, etc. Getting hit in a level with broken armour will result in slightly higher % in damage.

To do a Critical Finisher (One Hit KO) Keep on hitting a blocking opponent until their Soul Gauge (orb) turns red, and then flashing red. If you keep on attacking at that point and they still keep on blocking, their guard gets “Soul Crushed”; even non-Guard Breaks will cause shatter it if you do them enough. Once in “Soul Crush” state, you have about half a second to hit G+A+B+K and it will activate the Critical Finish.

You DO NOT need to break their armor first. The Soul Crush breaks their armor at which ever level your soul crush attack was. (Thanks to Jaxel for the info)

Video Example of how to do Soul Crush and Critical Finisher
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=EcZioiEbnkQ&fmt=18

Note that Guard Impacting someone can also take away from the Soul Gauge
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=0hSr2vyg-O8&fmt=18

Critical Finishers are somewhat rare; you won’t see it in every match. However, there will be quite a few matches where the Soul Gauge will be flashing red. Take advantage of the situation and put pressure on the other guy; you don’t –have- to do a critical finisher.

For those of you who think it’s impossible to do in a match:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB1Cz7jfelE&fmt=18
It’s part of the game, so learn it and use it.
===

8. General (vs mode) Play tips. AKA "How to improve"


Q. “The characters have too many moves! I don’t know when to do what in battle! How should I start?”

A. Generally, for every character, there are only 10~15 moves “worth” using as main moves. Sad to say, but there are a lot of trash moves in each character’s moveset that are just bad, or have another move that does the same thing or better. So, as such, try to limit yourself to the character’s 10~15 “best” moves to start with, learn what each move does and when to use them, THEN branch from there into more of the character’s moveset. Overwhelming yourself with 100 moves isn’t going to do much good if you don’t know the core ones well.

Other things to learn one by one is: common “safe & quick” moves like AAs and BBs, common juggle and combo follow-ups, A good mid, and good low, and throw to get a basic mixup plan to confuse your oppn, hits that can hit a grounded oppn, and branch out from there. Do not worry about "spaming" as some inexperience players would call it. If you don't practice and know all of your character's basic moves down to the last property, you'll never learn to setup the more advance ones.
To help you get started, these folks have kindly made a great guide to help players get started on their characters:
http://www.mycheats.com/view/superguide/3148460/soul_calibur_4/ps3
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#8The Wu 2003(Topic Creator)Posted 7/30/2008 11:33:25 PMmessage detail
Q. "I keep on losing! How can I get better? ”

A. Practice, Practice, Practice. And when I say practice though, I don’t mean mindlessly play and play and repeat bad habits. Go ahead and observe yourself in a match (or record yourself!) see what you are doing right, and what you did wrong that made you take damage. If you are always getting hit after doing ____ move, STOP doing that move so carelessly, or at all. If you see yourself launching someone into the air but you don’t do a juggle after wards, DO A JUGGLE FOLLOW UP. Take advantage of free damage, and avoid unnecessary risks when you can. It may sound simple, but a lot of people do moves for the sake of doing a move and get owned for it. Like wise when you slammed your oppn onto the ground, DON'T do a move that can't hit grounded oppns or setup for something else. If the dude you're playing always blocks high and never blocks low, DO low attacks and put a few throws in there. If they always try to 8WR, use attacks that track and stop using non-tracking ones without thought! Think about the situation, then act accordingly.

And regarding Combos (True combos, see combo section above) just knowing juggle or combo for every combo starter is not enough. If you do not connect the first hit in the first place, all the combos in the world are useless. So make sure you mix up your attacks to make your oppn guard the wrong level, then the combo chances will appear.

=P And if you are mashing, stop mashing. Soul Calibur is a series that is really friendly to beginner players who want to get good as there isn’t much technical difficulties (like doing 20+ hit combo off an FRC in Guilty Gear for example, as combos in SC are like 2 to 3 hits, lol). So slow down, learn the top 10 moves, and go from there. You’ll be fine.

And if you are still having trouble, consider recording yourself playing against another person, then posting it on youtube to show good players here and ask for tips. There’ll be a lot of newbies who don’t know anything posting about your video, but there WILL be useful tips from vets that’ll help you out. Don't worry about doing "the same thing that everybody does" with the character. This is a fighting game, with a limited amount of moves you can do... there's bound to be somethings that a character is good at that everybody will use if they want to be good. What you should worry about is HOW you use those tools that everyone else has access to, and form a play style using those tools in your own way.

Also, don’t worry about being “cheap” or not. The worst thing you can do that gets in the way of you and your playing partner’s skill growth is not doing what is effective. Without facing up to what seems to be the most powerful, you will always be destroyed by it. Face it. Learn it, and get around it. The top players in fighting games all went through the same thing you did when they first started. But they got better by playing better people, and use what they can to the best of their ability to push other people to do the same to them. The result is each match will always be exciting, and after each match both the players will be improving.

However, if you are playing casually and have people who do not want to learn to get around very effective strats... then forget that part (the "don’t worry about being “cheap” or not" part) since doing your best against someone who does not want to learn will result in "you are so cheap!" calls and a general slaughter if you are levels above them. Just know that someone who does not learn will be handicapped against someone who have seen the worse and beaten it. So getting to know what kind of competition your opponent is (casual? semi-casual? or competitive?) will help increase the fun factor for all parties.
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#9The Wu 2003(Topic Creator)Posted 7/30/2008 11:34:05 PMmessage detail
Q. “What are frames, and what do I do with them?”

A. This maybe a little complicated, but it is very important to those who are trying to learn the
deeper side of the game. A frame is an literal frame of animation. To put things in perspective, there are 60 frames per second, and a generic A slash would be around 10~12-ish frames, depending on the character doing it.

If say... two characters do a "B" slash at each other, player 1's "B" being 12 frames in speed, players 2's "B" being 18 frames in speed... player 1 will hit player 2 first (and the 12-frame "B" will most likely cause a counter hit).

How it is important is that it gives advance players a way to accurately file a move’s speed, block recovery, wiff recovery (aka miss), and hit recovery.

For example, let’s say theoretically, Cassandra’s B attack, on hit, lets her recover 5 frames faster than her oppn. Let’s also say, if the B attack is blocked, then Cassandra recovers 5 frames SLOWER than her oppn.

In an actual match, while some inexperienced players label it "Counting frames", lol, you don’t have to remember the actual numbers .Just know if you are at a disadvantage or advantage in any given moment after a move.

So let’s say you DO hit with the B move; you are at an advantage, and thus any move your oppn does will need to wait until that 5 frames wear off. You can continue to mount your offence without fear that a big attack is going to be in your face.

BUT, what if your B attack got blocked in the first place? Then you would have understood that you are no longer free to do what you want without risk, as you will have to wait for the 5 frames of disadvantage to wear off before you do anything else, giving your oppn a small time frame to start up his own attack.

This is one of the main things that separate a normal player from an advance player. An advance player would know when to press on and when to defend, while an inexperienced one will miss offensive openings and often get counterhited after trying to keep on attacking when their attack is blocked.

Frame Traps (an application of using frames to your advantage)

By using attacks that gives you a frame advantage, you can create situations where your oppn maybe tricked into attacking you, and instead he will get counterhitted instead because all of his moves have delay from your frame advantage. This is called a frame trap. Take note of your attacks where it -looks- like you are not safe on hit/block, but you actually recover very fast, to bait someone into attacking you at a disadvantage.

Here is an example of a frame trap.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wEkHj_ErLOE
Amy does 1KA (blocked) and notices Xianghua tries to AA afterwards. The recovery of 1KA on block is good, so Amy sets up again, Xianghua tries to counter with AA, but Amy frametraps her and gets a counter hit 6BBB.
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#10The Wu 2003(Topic Creator)Posted 7/30/2008 11:34:45 PMmessage detail
Q. “What are tiers? Are there any tiers? If so, do they really matter? And how do they matter?”

A. Tiers... the full analysis and ranking of advantages and disadvantages the character have in relation to the entire cast of characters as a whole. The theory is that in a game, there are factors that will never change; hard coded into the game itself. Damage, speed, moves of a character. Tiering takes those unchanging information and process all of them to see which moves are the best, which moves are the worse, and which characters can use those moves to the best and worse effect.

Yes, there are tiers. Every single fighting game that has different characters have tiers. And on the rare chance that all the characters in a game are about evenly matched, there are still ‘one on one’ tiers, aka ‘matchups’ in which one character have an advantage over another.

HOWEVER tier lists made by the top level players assume that the character is being played correctly. So, if a nub who doesn’t know what he’s doing picked a high tier character, and he doesn’t know how to use the advantages that makes the said character high tier, then he’s going to have random (and most likely poor) results due to his lack of skill.

And so, a player who doesn’t know the game inside out, who doesn’t know matchups, advantages and disadvantages of all of the characters, have no access to constant high level competitive play to test theories are in no position to come to any conclusions about tiering because his opinion is simply uneducated and inexperienced/limited. (Sure, newbies can have an opinion, but... http://brindedcow.umd.edu/philosophy/opinions.html )

Remember, tiering info is just that; information. Nobody is telling you to use so and so top tier, or that you can’t use low tier. Play who you want, but to get better one needs to learn everything about their character; even reasons why the character is good or bad.

So do tiers "matter"? From an overall gameplay standpoint, yes, they do. Some characters are just naturally good (A character that can always to almost 50% damage easily off easy to connect moves will be better then a character who can barely get 20% max damage off a bad move)

For competitive players out there, a tier chart by itself is useless. What a good player would look for is the reasoning that went behind the final product (the tier chart) and proceeds to try his best to take advantage of his character, and make up for the disadvantages of his character. He would understand –how good- some moves are, aka the risks and rewards that goes with them. If he is using a high tier character, he'll be darn sure to use the advantages. If he's using a low-tier character, he'll try very hard to play in a way that avoids the glaring weakpoints.


Q. “So, what are the tiers for SC4?"

A. As of writing (Game just got released), unclear, only speculations. Tiers,( or the full analysis and ranking of advantages and disadvantages the character have in relation to the entire cast of characters as a whole ) take a lot of theory and a lot of testing. It would normally take several months of high level play (such as competitions, tourneys, gatherings, research, etc) to find out what is good or not. Usually during that time somebody will find something amazing, boosting the “value” of a character, but a week later somebody may find a way around it, even discover a new, even more powerful thing.

In other words, we won't know until the dust is settled from players battling it out for a few months, when the tier list would be somewhat stable. Meanwhile though, you can read, or even participate in character discussions and along with everybody else, would eventually reach a sort of tier enlightenment from understanding all the characters or something, lol. =P Aka go seek details on those good/bad things being discovered, not the list.
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