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Old 04-01-2012, 03:51 PM   #1
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Top 40

With around 180 games in my library right now, along with a nerdy streak and just a dash of OCD given to me by my parents, I thought I'd compile a list of my Top 40 games on Steam just to see what people think. After a painstaking process involving hours upon hours of reading and watching reviews and gameplay clips on YouTube, hours upon hours of actual gameplay played by yours truly - not to say mulling over a hairsplitting categorising process, I've finally arrived at my Top 40.

The list consists of Indie/Casual games costing less than £20 with no "triple A" titles or big-budget games. About half a dozen cost between £10-£20 but most were picked up for way less than a tenner. I've decided to put them under six convenient categories and there follows very brief summaries of each. In order to back up my claim that these are "Top 40" material, over the next few days I intend to put up six posts with the reviews of each game under each category. This is just something I thought I'd throw out to the forum and I hope y'all enjoy reading.

Here's that beginner's guide to each category:

Control a unit with some sort of missile emanating from it to make something go boom, squish, squelch, splat, smash or blast. Due to the intense and absorbing gameplay mechanic that these games have, they are usually good for a 10-15 minute blast.

Negotiate a unit around varying types of terrain with the aim of completing the level in the shortest time possible. Precision jumping, flying and/or running is the skill to perfect as levels increase in difficulty. Again, while a blast to play, 15-20 minute sessions are usually about right as frustration and the strong desire to smash the screen often sets in.

Various forms of creeps enter the map with a view to destroying or taking something from your base. The player needs to prevent this eventuality by strategically placing "towers" on the "battlefield" to kill the offenders before they reach their goal. Done well, a good TD game is the ultimate challenge for the player with OCD as you can continually try to improve your score as you become more proficient in clearing the levels.

In contrast to the more frustrating precision platformers, platform puzzlers usually have no time pressure but involve moving a character or object around various terrains while negotiating a vast array of puzzles and traps and (sometimes) enemies out to stop you. The process invariably consists of manipulating, moving, traversing, destroying or utilising all sorts of things like; blocks, pulleys, bridges, guns, ladders, platforms, moving platforms, robots etc etc. It is always a shame when you finish a really good platform puzzler because, unlike the other types, the game is truly over and they don't offer much in the re-playability department.

5. PUZZLE GAMES (6 Games)
These games simply have a certain, generic puzzle-type element to them. Match 'em ups, sliding blocks, lemmings-type games can all be put under the puzzle game banner - but some, while having a very simple premise, have bells and whistles which also incorporate elements from other types of game. (Obulis, for example, mainly involves just snipping a piece of rope to release balls but it has plenty of platform puzzler game elements to it.

Quite simply, these are those hard-to-categorise games that defy being pigeon-holed but are thrown into this category for the sake of convenience. For example, Rock of Ages did not make my Top 40 but how the hell would you categorise that game!?


I hope this wasn't too much of a tl;dr post but I thought I'd just lay my stall out first. In my next post I'll start with six of the best shoot and blast games available on steam.
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:05 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Fatartosh View Post
After a painstaking process involving hours upon hours of reading and watching reviews and gameplay clips on YouTube
So some of these you haven't even played yourself?
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:24 PM   #3
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Either I'm to tired or you failed to explain what you actually want to achieve.

If you have a Top 40 then that's totally awesome... for you. I don't see why anyone else should be interested in it.

And this belongs to Off Topic either way.
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:41 PM   #4
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Bob - Incorrect. The "hours upon hours of reading and watching reviews and gameplay clips on YouTube" allowed me to make an informed choice when making a purchase. As I go on to say in the same sentence, I have also compiled the list as a result of hours and hours of gameplay myself. In short, yes I have played all the games.

tacc - I had intended for this to be for the delectation and delight of the steam community. Ideally, I thought that, as I complete the list, it may generate a bit of discussion and debate. My hope was that as it's about the games we all play, it would automatically be of interest.
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:51 PM   #5
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Sounds like an interesting read, I look forward to the lists. This does seem to belong in Off-Topic, but the forum won't let someone post there until they have 10 posts.
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:56 PM   #6
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Contrary to previous posts, I think it is a pretty good idea if I understand it right, which is that it is basically reviews of your top 40 casual games. Although, personally, I am not that big a fan of the genre you chose [Casual], I think this could be a great help for others more interested in casual games.

Good luck.
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Old 04-01-2012, 06:03 PM   #7
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There are no first person shooters in this list. As they personally make me nauseous after just 10 minutes of playing, I need a less queasy way of engaging in some stress-busting relief. Sometimes, all you want to do is blast many things into oblivion with some sort of satisfying accompanying explosion. It's often just the explosion itself that gives satisfaction - so if you're a developer and you give the player the feeling that he really is destroying with pleasure, you're onto a winner.

Like it or not, this is the Grand Daddy of the "twin-stick" 2D Shoot & Blast game. Slick and fast, no-nonsense negotiating of the extremely retro menu screens greet you as you feel your way around this portion of the game. No chug, no waiting - just straight to what you're looking for. Hit the play button and it sends you straight into the rectangular top-down battlefield. You control a small round unit and merrily blast away at the geometric shapes that hover menacingly around you.

Explosions are simple yet stunning as they crackle and blast with a large satisfying sparkle. As you survive and negotiate your way around the screen with more enemies coming at you, the gameplay gets more and more frenetic as you die in a sea of kaleidoscopic pixels. A game lasts for about 5 or 6 minutes but the usual reaction after the "game over" screen appears is to fire it up again and dive straight back into the action.

There is only one mode - last as long as you can and accumulate the highest score that you can; simple yet all you really need in a game of this calibre.

The second of our "twin-stick" Robotron type games is a cousin to Geometry Wars with the gameplay being similar but not quite as fluid. Still, enemies are very varied in types and killing them is highly absorbing. "Adventure mode" is a last as long as you can and get the best score affair while "Tally mode" has you entering a "room" which you clear in order to get the best score and to move onto another room. In "Tally mode" the game is just a 30 second blast but the great thing about this is that each of the 89 "rooms" gives you the choice to play one of seven different colour belts. (White is the slowest speed while black is the fastest.) This means that after each game you see a screen with all 89 levels, indicated by a small square, and the relevant coloured belt that you cleared the screen on. Good stuff.

While the game is definitely a blast, rooms can get highly cluttered and restrictive, and as your ship is so sensitive to the controls it can be very easy to collide with the enemies or missiles you're trying to avoid. One death ends the round and that 12 second wait to dive back into the fray can seem very long. Finally, would it not have been too much trouble to have the belt screen on the same screen as the level selection screen so the player doesn't have to jump backwards and forwards between screens?

Nevertheless, Mutant Storm Reloaded is a great game to dip in and out of for the odd 15 or 20 minutes of mayhem.

This is the last of our "twin-stick" Robotron-type Shoot and Blast games. As opposed to our previous two, we have here a more "arty" offering with the simple menu screen creating a more sedate, almost zen-like atmosphere to the proceedings. Although the twin-stick / glorified-Asteroids-type mechanic is still in evidence, points are not scored by blasting everything in sight (although this is part of the deal) but in collecting the little dots that are left behind in the aftermath of destroying enemies.

Eight varying levels, with slightly different "rules" being applied in each constitute this titles USP. However, resounding and unique strumming sounds of guitar strings accompany explosions rather than the usual digital sounds you might normally associate with such things. The points you accrue by collecting those dots can then be used to unlock the other levels. The game stores your high-score for each level and you can then have a go trying to beat that score in the future.

Everyday Shooter has an ambient soundtrack while in the menu screens but, I have to say, those menu screens can be confusing in that it can take quite a while to work out how the game all fits together. During actual gameplay, the sounds of the guitar ring out good and true and it's a pleasing soundtrack overall.


I will write about the other three tomorrow as it's 2AM and I am ready to hit the hay. What I also plan to do, by the way, is to mention the "near misses"; those games that are good but didn't quite make the cut.
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Old 04-01-2012, 07:27 PM   #8
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The reason you are probably getting nauseous from first person shooters is most likely down to a wrong FOV (Field Of View) setting for you. Given that most console ports couldn't care less about the PC audience has sadly become very common the last few years with titles having as low as 55 FOV.

Given that a PC gamer sits significantly closer and usually a smaller screen (The closer bit being the main factor by far), such narrow FOV can cause nauseousness for a lot of people. The common range for a PC gamer lies between 85 to 120, most preferring around 90.

I myself suffer a lot from it too and can't for instance play any of the COD's due to their ed up FOV, playing battlefield however with some FOV tweaking (since they allow it) works just fine.

You might find that with games where you can tweak the FOV setting that you can play them just fine given the right settings (also keep in mind, theres horizontal fov and vertical fov, they are NOT the same!)
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by tacc View Post
If you have a Top 40 then that's totally awesome... for you. I don't see why anyone else should be interested in it.
I'm interested.

Besides, the posts could make some good discussion points.

+rep OP, and I look forward to your further posts.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:06 AM   #10
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Thanks for the encouraging posts and the explanation regarding the FOV and the nauseous issue. I agree that the general quality of big releases in PC games has gone downhill over the last few years - so I guess it's just as well that I'm enjoying the casual/indie games at the moment. Nevertheless, here are the next three Shoot & Blast games of the six that are in my Top 40:



This game from PomPom (the makers who brought us Mutant Storm Reloaded) has the player controlling a spaceman who traverses a series of straight platforms while blasting at a series of weird and wonderful aliens. You complete levels, which take around 3 minutes, and are then taken back to the main score screen where you can peruse which levels you have completed and which high scores you want to go back and beat. Explosions and the deaths of the aliens is extremely satisfying helped by the animations and the strange variety of absorbingly soft cushiony sounds that accompanies each death.

At the end of each level, symbols are shown to indicate which targets you have completed and which you still might want to achieve. The actual score screen menu is a bit cumbersome to scroll through though and is overly complicated - a simple square-like chart covering just one screen (like they use in Mutant Storm Reloaded) would have been more user-friendly than the awkward spherical debacle that they actually have in my opinion.

Still, this is a satisfying title to unwind with if you're up for 20 minutes, or so, of destruction. One more thing, you will definitely want to change the key bindings to make sure it's the right set-up before you settle down to play.

5. SHATTER - £6.99
Strictly speaking, this game is not really a shoot 'em up because you don't generally fire missiles from your ship to blast things (although you do in the form of a power-up when a meter hits the end). In actual fact it's a break-out game but because you do release a ball at the sparkling neon blocks, and because said blocks explode in a sea of sparkling glory, I have chosen to put it in this category.

Shatter's outer space theme has you floating around between levels and throwing you into various screens which you have to clear by destroying glittery blocks. You do this by continually knocking a ball towards them with your bumper or paddle. There are 10 worlds to journey through in "Story Mode" with each one having about 7 levels to clear and a boss battle to end with. After completing a world you get a short bonus mission - frantically knocking back 3 balls that increase in speed until they pass behind you - and are shown your score. A high-score is shown for you to beat again if you wish.

One of the main draws of this game is the melodic, electronica type music that plays in the background as you journey through each world. Just cranking up the volume and watching all those blocks explode, as you progress, can give you quite a buzz.

6. ZUMA DELUXE + ZUMA'S REVENGE - £6.99 + £6.99
With their extremely simple, child-friendly / family-type games PopCap games may not pose a threat to the mainstream, big-budget, blockbuster PC gaming world but they do create some good solid titles of harmless innocent fun. The Zuma games are precisely that. An immovable frog spins around on its access while different coloured bowling balls appear from its mouth. A trail of bowling bowls enter on a track and slowly move towards a hole. Your job is to shoot at the trail of balls from the frog's mouth with the intention of matching three balls of the same colour before they reach the hole. Matching three causes an explosion and clearance of those balls. Complete the screen and then move onto the next level.

You have various modes of play from the menu screen and, with Zuma's Revenge, 70 challenges to keep the high-score and achievement hounds happy. Explosions come in the form of the sound of bowling balls colliding together but there are also various power-ups to pick up along the way which keeps the gameplay fun and dynamic. Of the two, I would recommend Zuma's Revenge because there is more re-playability in that there are challenges and clearer high-scores to go back to and improve on.


This concludes the first six of my Top 40. Here are the near misses:

A. Waves / Scoregasm / Bullet Candy - These games are all from the "twin-stick" Robotron-type school of games and while perfectly fun to pick up and play for a quick blast, just don't have the same polish as those games in my Top 6 of the Shoot & Blast category.

B. Who's That Flying?! - Nice to have the option to go back to improve on high-scores but the movement just seems to be a bit oversensitive. Does not quite make my desert island selection.

C. Ballistic / Fireball / Inferno+ / Super Crossfire - Four very decent games by Radiangames but sadly not stocked by Steam. Ok, not a "near miss" as such but worth mentioning.


In my next post I shall move onto the Top 6 precision platformers.
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:11 AM   #11
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+ rep, excellent work
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Old 04-02-2012, 11:43 AM   #12
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Like Shoot & Blast games, precision platformers are good for a 15-20 minute session; not least because they can prove extremely frustrating. Firing up a level for the 10th, 15th or 20th time to get that jump right or to beat that lame best time is an all too common occurrence with these babies.


7. SUPER MEAT BOY - £11.99
Super Meat Boy is your quintessential precision platformer and is to precision platformers what Geometry Wars is to the twin-stick Robotron-type game. i.e. It's the Grand Daddy of them all. Here, you control a squidgy red square that jumps around progressively more difficult platforms and obstacles in order to rescue his white blob of a girlfriend.

Times are recorded to one-hundredth of a second and the feeling that you can do better is prevelant throughout the whole experience of doing the game. The menu screens are clear and display all best times in a user-friendly way. My only minor gripe is that you cannot restart a level while actually in the process of completing a level; you must restart either after you have completed the level (and are watching the replay) OR directly from the menu screen.

The soundtrack is absolutely kick-, as they say, and it's definitely a game you always find yourself coming back to.

8. NIMBUS - £5.99
Operating on momentum alone, you control a rocket that is propelled by all sorts of contraptions that you find on the landscape such as electronically charged trampolines, cannons that you direct and get fired out of and arrows that give you a boost. The idea is to reach the chequered flag blocks in a short a time as possible. It's ingeniously and beautifully done to a soft enchanting soundtrack which will definitely have you falling for that "just one more go" mentality.

Times are recorded to one-thousandth of a second(!)and your best time is revealed at all times which shows what you have to beat. You're also shown how your time fares with the rest of the world. (My best time puts me about 672nd in the world on a certain level.) Thankfully, unlike Super Meat Boy, you CAN restart mid-level if you mess up - and this is as simple as pressing the "R" key. A restart is immediate with zero, and I mean ZERO loading time.

The menu screen is not that great with each level denoted by a blue cube on some strange map which are linked by short paths. This means you have to click on the cube to replay it but it's hard to remember and you only really remember the level when you're thrown in. Still, the challenges are ingeniously designed and there is even a ghost rocket so you can see how you compare with a previous attempt.

9. STORM IN A TEACUP - £2.99
This extremely cutesy game by Chillingo Games has your wild yellow-haired character flying around in a teacup collecting sugar lumps! It's set in a childlike, brightly coloured, arty landscape full of a variety of devious obstacles to block your way and to impede your progress. A very important move in the game is to float gently or to fly at a certain consistency and this is achieved by repeatedly tapping the space bar key. If the meter runs out though, you're out of power and you sink!

Your best time is recorded only if you collect all the sugar-lumps, find the hidden sticker AND complete the level without dying. If you do die, you get returned to the latest checkpoint and carry on in your merry way BUT, of course, it would only be for practice from then on in as your time will NOT get recorded - which I suppose is fair enough. The loopy-kooky music, by the way, is pleasant enough... for about 3 minutes! After this time it becomes far too sugary-sweet and will definitely need to be switched off if you don't want to allow yourself to be completely brainwashed with such a tune.


Next Top 3 precision platformers to follow.

Last edited by Fatartosh: 04-02-2012 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:18 PM   #13
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10. DUSTFORCE - £6.99
Taking a huge leaf out of Super Meat Boy's book, Dustforce has you controlling a cleaner who moves through levels by jumping around while sweeping dust. (It actually looks nothing like dust - more like brown leaves - but there you go.) Added to this is the fact that you have various attacks which are needed to do away with various enemies and obstacles, including mid-air attacks, and you have an extra element to the game which makes it one of the most difficult precision platformers (in my opinion) to play.

Awards are given, along with grades, after completion of a level but I have still yet to work out what they all mean or, indeed, what a bleedin' "finesse" is. The menu screen actually involves your character journeying around a large landscape and arriving at doors with names that don't really mean anything, adding to the impenetrable nature of what this game is all about. I know it may seem odd to put a game into my Top 40 which I find really difficult and without really knowing what it's all about, but in time, I believe, as I revisit it, I'm sure it'll become clear to me.


The bizarre, and little known, Wik and the Fable of Souls has sadly been removed from the Steam store and is no longer available from that source. Anyway, unlike other precision platformers, in this category, Wik is not about achieving the best time but about collecting gold coins and getting the best score - and as there is a high-score screen (which allows the player to try to impove) it comes under the precision platformer banner.

In Wik, you control a gremlin or goblin type creature who leaps around and who swings from various ledges and platforms with his extraordinarily long tongue. You collect grubs, which you feed to another creature as part of the objective of the level and collect gold coins to improve your score. There are two modes, "story" and "puzzle" mode which allows you to play in two different ways. Bizarre, but all good solid platforming nourishment.

To be brutally honest, Worms reloaded is not a patch on the more solid older titles in the Worms' series like the vastly superior Worms World Party or Worms Armageddon. For some reason, rope-handling and jet-pack handling, in particular, have become puzzlingly more difficult to control making the Time Attack missions, for one, anything but fun. The Puzzle Pack, in addition, have puzzles that are just too difficult to work out. Even the lower frame-rate is an issue.

The menus also are sub-par. Why is the player forced to scroll through everything and click away before arriving at what he's looking for. What is wrong with having everything on the one screen so you can go directly to what you're after? Still, Worms Reloaded appears in this list simply to make up the numbers and for the lack of any other better title. If only Steam stocked Kona's Crate!!


The near misses:

A. Kona's Crate - A glorified and an exceptionally good Lunar Lander type platform game involving delivering a crate on a floating board. Not available through Steam.

B. Worms Armageddon / Worms World Party - Quality games not available through Steam.

C. Gish - A tad difficult with a timer in operation but no option to actually play a level again!?


Next up will be my Top 6 Tower Defense games.

Last edited by Fatartosh: 04-02-2012 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:01 PM   #14
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To the first-timer, tower defense games just seem odd. You don't really have any direct control over anything but rather place units on the battlefield and let them do the work for you. The fun comes in the form of seeing how well these units dispatch the creeps as they try to infiltrate your base - and, of course, developing a strategy that achieves higher awards.

13. DEFENSE GRID - £6.99
Defense Grid is your classic, traditional, solid tower defense game that, quite frankly, leads the way in no-nonsense traditional tower defense games. In "story mode" you are taken to a map of a futuristic world and, quite simply, place towers on the available squares - and then watch as the enemy robots and monsters follow their path and get mown down, burned and fried. The gameplay is 100% solid and stable and the learning curve is perfectly weighted as you are gradually introduced to the different tower-types as you progress through the game.

In a nutshell, Defense Grid gets pretty much EVERYTHING right: The progression of the level of difficulty; the variety of the map designs; the ability to go instantly back to the previous checkpoints when you mess up; the speeding up of the game when required; the zooming in and out feature; the overall stability and fluidity of the game - it's all there. Even the various game modes keep the Defense Grid experience dynamic and absorbing with replayability aplenty. If you only get one tower defense game, this has to be the one.

14. PLANTS V. ZOMBIES + ZOMBIE PIRATES - £6.99 + £9.99
Personally speaking, Plants V Zombies was the first tower defense game I bought and, to be honest, is the ideal introduction to this genre. In this case, towers come in the form of plants while your enemies come in the form of zombies as they trundle across your lawn towards your house. You place the plants, generally, on the left side of the lawn and watch as they fire at the zombies who approach from the right. The paths the zombies take and the firing lines are generally along a horizantal line so it's easy to tell where reinforcements should be placed.

The game is NOT rocket science and is a bit on the easy side, if anything, but is still lots of fun to play. It comes with some interesting mini-games along with a few other bells and whistles and is highly recommended if you're unsure of what tower defense type games are about - just don't take it too seriously. Zombie Pirates is a kind of sequel which has you playing the side of the pirates and is, obviously, set on the sea.

15. iBOMBER DEFENSE + PACIFIC - £2.99 + £2.99
If it's a basic, simple, top-down tower defense game that you're after, with solid gameplay and just the right level of challenge, then iBomber Defense is your answer. Set at the time of WW2 with yer basic creeps of infantry, vehicles, tanks and planes - you control bog standard defense structures of guns, artillery and anti-air missile launchers etc. You can then upgrade these in a straightforward three-tier upgrade system during play in an attempt to prevent the enemies getting through.

Waves of enemies just keep on coming and it's up to the player to decide where to strategically place the defenses, whether to upgrade or to place additional units and when to sell any unwanted units. After the campaign has been completed, which consists of 22 missions, you can then have a crack at "Quickplay" mode which has you completing the missions again but with a view to achieving three objectives to pick up the three awards for each.

iBomber Defense Pacific is essentially a sequel with an entire new campaign introduced, slight tweaks to the gameplay and a few bells and whistles thrown in. But also with the option of replaying missions in order to get the awards. Unlike Zombie Pirates, iBomber Defense Pacific is a must-have, no-brainer purchase for fans of the original game.

Last edited by Fatartosh: 04-02-2012 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:31 PM   #15
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You write well. After complete your Top 40 you should think on something new, I think many people will like to read. +rep
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