PS2J 330 News – Modern Gaming Art

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Star Wars Battlefront II: Celebration Edition

      • 2017
      • Third and first person action shooter followup to the Battlefront reboot of 2015 that has you fighting on the ground and among the stars across a variety of maps in the Star Wars universe, with both the multiplayer Battlefield-style gameplay we’re used to in the series as well as a single-player campaign
      • The Celebration Edition bundles it along with a large collection of aesthetic customization content that was available through in-game purchase, all the way from launch up to and including The Rise of Skywalker

CES 2021 highlights

  • Razer showed off Project Hazel, clear futuristic face masks that qualify as N95 respirators, have a good silicone liner to prevent leakage or foggy glasses, and amplify your voice to help keep speech from sounding muffled
  • They also have the Project Brooklyn gaming chair, a bucket seat with an integrated keyboard tray and 60” curved display for more immersion
  • Panasonic has an AR HUD system for vehicles that use eye tracking and projected images on the windshield to show an intelligent overlay including alerts and directions lined up with real-world objects
  • LG showcased their new rollable display tech, leading to scroll-like devices with a thick rounded edge and an adjustable display size
  • Brink Bionics has the Impulse Neuro-Controller, a glove that can detect your intention to click your mouse 80ms before your finger moves
  • ColdSnap wants to be the Keurig of ice cream, aiming to provide pod-based soft-serve made to order in under 120 seconds
  • Petpuls is an AI driven smart dog collar that will decipher up to five different emotions (happy, anxious, angry, sad, relaxed) and track your pet’s activity and sleep
  • And Vuzix has some microLED smart glasses that actually look like something humans would wear, with the added benefit of cellular connectivity, noise-cancelling microphones, stereo audio, and a 3D HUD shown across both lenses

Lucasfilm Games is shifting their entire development strategy, opening the doors to more studios and ending EA’s monopoly on the Star Wars IP

  • The first big news to come from this is that they’re collaborating with Ubisoft on a story-driven open-world Star Wars game, which will be led by Massive Entertainment
    • You might have seen their name on things like Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Far Cry 3, and Tom Clancy’s The Division 1/2
  • They went on to say that their relationship with EA isn’t completely ending though, which makes sense after the great success of Star Wars: Squadrons, and the middling success of Fallen Order
    • This is some good news for Reddit commenters who brought up a great point- why hasn’t Respawn taken their Titanfall chops and made a Republic Commando title?
    • Though that just reminds me how the Clone Wars TV show put a hard stop on the Republic Commando / Imperial Commando books, and makes me a little sad
  • But on to more hope- apparently Lucasfilm Games will also be working with Todd Howard, MachineGames (the team behind the new Wolfenstein titles), and Bethesda on an upcoming Indiana Jones title as well!
  • I’m really looking forward to what Lucasfilm kicking their gaming division into gear will mean for the next few years of releases

CD Projekt’s co-founder released an explanation this week of exactly what happened with Cyberpunk 2077’s development and release

  • In the video statement he defended the development teams and said that the decisions lay solely on his and the board’s shoulders, and promised they would work to regain the trust of gamers
  • Apparently the game was initially developed for PC and then ported to consoles, which led to many of the issues running on PS4 and Xbox One as they underestimated the difficulty of the port
    • And the big reason why review keys for console weren’t sent out until right before release was just because they were still working hard trying to iron out all the issues that they had found
  • The path forward
    • More updates are coming with bug fixes, updates and improvements
    • Once the biggest fixes are out they’ll be releasing free DLC packs aimed at the first half of the year, and the PS5 and Xbox Series optimization updates in the second half
  • So all told we should have the Cyberpunk we were hoping for before the end of 2021, which is something at least. Whether people will start trusting the developers again will remain to be seen

Citing concerns over censorship, a North Idaho internet provider blocked Facebook and Twitter this week

  • For anyone who isn’t aware, Twitter and Facebook banned Trump from their platforms due to violations of their terms of service after he incited a riot that invaded the US capitol building in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results
    • Keep in mind that this is completely legal, and that the First Amendment only protects speech from being limited by the government
  • According to emails sent by “Your T1 WIFI” to its customers the ISP determined that this was censorship of their customers and information, so they decided to block access to the sites as of Wednesday
    • Your T1 WIFI stated that about 2/3 of its customers had called in asking the sites to be blocked because of these concerns, so the next logical step was to censor block the sites from all customers
  • They’ve since walked back the decision and made it an opt-in process instead, but the damage may already be done- a spokesperson for the Washington Governor’s office said that the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division would be looking in to the matter because of Net Neutrality violations, which forbid broadband internet providers from blocking lawful content and services

In related news, the right-wing social media site Parler has gone dark after being pulled from not only the Apple and Google app stores but also the Amazon web hosting services that the site was running on

  • Apparently Parler was basically chock full of nazis, radical extremists, and terrorists, with much of the content focused on inciting and coordinating violence or other illegal activity
    • Daring Fireball described it as “4chan with rightwing celebrity endorsements”
    • For example Parler investor Dan Bongino, a Fox News commentator and former NYPD police officer, said in a Parler post that the company was “not done with Apple and Google” and encouraged users to “Stay tuned to hear what’s coming.” One user replied: “It would be a pity if someone with explosives training were to pay a visit to some AWS Data Centers – the location of which are public knowledge.”
  • All of this went against the terms of service of the various platforms it was connected to, so therefore it was kicked out even after being given warnings and deadlines in which to implement some kind of moderation plan
    • As it turns out, Parler was actually even in direct violation of its own terms of service
  • Some have taken to screaming first amendment and censorship, but I cannot stress this enough- freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences
  • And those consequences will be coming- apparently in the wake of the US Capitol riot a researcher began archiving every Parler post to create a lasting public record for future researchers to sift through
    • Hacker @donk_enby pulled dozens of terabytes of content, including raw unprocessed photos and videos that include metadata like the exact GPS coordinates at which they were recorded

This Week In Gaming History

January 9 – 2000 – Mario Party 2 – N64 (North America)

  • Mario and a range of well known Nintendo characters, including Yoshi, Bowser, Luigi, and Wario return for some more party action.
  • The second edition includes 5 new boards, each with a specific theme, such as Space Land, Western Land, Horror Land, and Mystery Land.
    • Each board includes unique attributes in relation to the theme, but the main goal is the same: complete the board game over a certain amount of moves and be the player to have the most coins and/or stars at the end.
  • The single player story mode allows one person and 3 CPU controlled players to play each board.
    • Once you play a specific mini-game (64 in all), they become available to purchase using the coins you collected in your games to play anytime.
    • Multiplayer allows 2 to 4 people to play the game.

January 10 – 1997 – Obsidian – Windows

  • The plot of this Myst-influenced 5 CD adventure game involves issues such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
    • Fortunately, the bundled strategy guide explains the basics of these subjects.
    • Gameplay is linear and largely based around puzzles.
  • Obsidian’s had an imaginative advertisement campaign.
    • Combining both printed ads as well as television spots, the campaign was unusual as it portrayed several common situations twisted in a way that defied all laws of physics, nature and logic followed by the tagline “Your rules do not apply here”.
      • For example: a printed ad showing an empty room lit by an overhead lamp, only the lamp produces darkness instead of light.
    • Yet the most impressive ad was the famed “egg” TV spot, which featured a guy dropping an egg to the floor with unexpected results.
    • This commercial became a particular object of cult among publicity buffs and won 3 Gold Clio awards and became a permanent feature on the New York Museum of Modern Art, as well as being a regular on TV commercial specials, and a runner-up for a Cannes Golden Lion award.

January 11 – 2005 – Resident Evil 4 – GameCube

  • Plot:m
    • Picking up six years after Resident Evil 2, the fourth game in the series follows former cop (now US agent) Leon S. Kennedy to Europe on a top secret mission to investigate the disappearance of the president’s daughter Ashley.
    • As Leon encounters unimaginable horrors, he must find out who or what is behind everything.
    • Old friends…and enemies…lurk around every corner as Leon attempts to find out who is truly behind the kidnapping of the president’s daughter.
  • Resident Evil 4 is a major change from the previous installments.
    • Instead of a fixed third person perspective, the game features a new “behind the back” movement camera angle and an “over the shoulder” aiming feature that allows players to control their gun movement for specific body part hits.
    • It features a brand new AI system and more open environments that allow enemies to work together to capture and corner Leon.
    • Enemies are now humans, which allows them to climb up ladders, open doors, and use weapons throughout the game.
  • The entire item system has also been revamped, so that smaller items no longer require an entire item space to hold.
    • Instead, items take up blocks of space in a briefcase according to their real life size, to allow for many more items and weapons.
    • Leon can collect treasure from enemies or from the surrounding area, and visit the infamous “merchant” to purchase bigger briefcases, treasure maps, weapons upgrades, and powerful weapons such as the one-shot RPG.
    • There is also the Mercenaries from Resident Evil 3, which allows the player to play survival scenarios as character such as Hunk and even Albert Wesker himself.
  • Development:
    • The earliest version of the game was announced for the PS2 under Resident Evil 2 with director Hideki Kamiya.
    • This build was eventually cancelled as a Resident Evil installment and became the title known as Devil May Cry.
    • Eventually, development was moved to the Gamecube console and another build emerged.
    • This was the first version to feature Leon from RE2. The game’s main menace was to sport a hook on one of its hands, and the logo for the game reflected this (this can still be seen in the final logo).
    • More versions were created and cancelled before Shinji Mikami took over and transformed the title into what it is today.
    • Of all the builds developed, only one of them was never unveiled to the public (it was the one that was being worked on right before Mikami took over).
    • Early in the development stages the game’s setting was Japan, not Europe.

January 12 – 2016 – That Dragon, Cancer – Windows, Mac, Ouya

  • That Dragon, Cancer is an autobiographical and crowd-funded game created with a small team and based on the experience of the couple Ryan Green and Amy Green, who lost their son Joel Evan Green to cancer.
    • The game consists of fourteen interactive sequences that chronicle their time with Joel, incorporating their thoughts and experiences, and voiced by themselves and their other children.
    • It represents a love letter to their son and a way to immortalize him.
    • Joel was diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor when he was twelve months old, leading to terminal cancer, but he went on to live for four more years until he passed away in 2014.
  • Each scene shows a different moment of their time together with Joel, both the highs and the lows.
    • Scenes are often abstract or involve metaphorical interpretations of situations and are played from a first-person or a third-person perspective with small amounts of interaction and exploration.
    • Sometimes there are choices for the player or optional parts that can be explored or examined.
    • There are scenes at the pond, playing with a duck, in the playground, the hospital and so on.
    • Scenes show both the positive moments such as Joel playing or the conversations with the other children, but also the couple when they argue, the moment of the first diagnosis, the conflict between science and faith and so on.
    • A part of the crowd-funded contributions also involves messages and art incorporated in the game.
  • Along with the game, a documentary called Thank You for Playing was filmed, documenting the game’s development and the last years of Joel’s life.
    • It was released in 2016. The game was released on what would have been Joel’s seventh birthday.

January 13 – 2004 – Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel – Xbox, PS2

  • Setting:
    • In a post-apocalyptic future, a society known as the Brotherhood of Steel is born, wielding powerful weapons and armor from the time before the war, they seek to bring some form of order to the wastelands of what used to be the United States.
    • As a new member(s) to the Brotherhood, you’ll soon find yourself separated from your comrades and forced to contend with a variety of missions and challenges alone.
    • Radscorpions, Super-Mutants and Deathclaws are all in the Brotherhood’s way, and bringing an end to their tyranny will certainly make the wasteland a safer place.
  • Brotherhood of Steel is an action game set in the Fallout universe.
    • The Brotherhood members are well armed and carry full clips of ammo (which does run out).
    • New weapons of various nature can be found and equipped to bring new tactics.
    • Shooting down enemies earns experience points and these points are used to improve the attributes of various individual skills.
    • Additionally, your character will have to contend with finding keys and other objects, protecting NPCs and jumping over bottomless pits.
  • Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel features a product placement for the real life Bawls energy drink.
    • This may be jarring to fans of the Fallout series, who are used to having Nuka-Cola as the post-apocalyptic drink of choice.
  • Fan response to this game was so overwhelmingly negative that Interplay actually shut down the official Brotherhood of Steel message board.
    • It is so hated by the Fallout fanbase, the game’s section on the No Mutants Allowed forums (one of the biggest Fallout forum) is called: “Fallout: Piece of Shit (PS2, XBOX, My Lower Intestine)”.

January 14 – 1999 – EA pulls Tiger Woods 99 on Playstation for bootlegging South Park

  • Company recalls PSX version of Tiger Woods 99.
  • A bootleg episode of Southpark was found on the CD in normally unused space.
  • The file was only readable via a PC, and was invisible to the PSX console.
  • Recall was issued since Southpark is offensive to some people.
  • Roughly 100,000 copies were affected.

January 15 – 2002 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front – PS2

  • Based on the Mobile Suit Gundam anime series.
    • Ride with the bad guys as you battle Earth Federation forces for independence.
    • Take control of three mobile suit teams. Use strategy tactics to infiltrate federation bases.
    • Use a wide variety of Mobile suits equipped to kill.
    • Strategically set your route to carry out mission objectives successfully

Tidbits

  • Samsung unveiled their new Galaxy S21 series of phones with edge-to-edge display, 120hz refresh rate, and 8K video recording
    • The Ultra model also brings a larger display and S Pen functionality for people that miss the Note series
    • Unfortunately it looks like not even Samsung staff are that into their hardware, with tweets promoting the release being marked from “Twitter for iPhone”
  • WhatsApp is now in a rush to reassure people that some of their data is still safe after changing its terms and privacy policy to include significant data sharing with Facebook
    • Backlash from those changes saw Signal and Telegram hitting the top of the free app charts on iPhone as people found other options for messaging
    • They went out of their way to list the things they don’t share like private messages, call logs, and your location, but doesn’t mention what they do share like device usage, IP address, and unspecified “other information”
  • Apple announced a set of new major projects this week as part of its $100M Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of colour
    • This includes an innovation and learning hub both in Atlanta and online, an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, and venture capital funding for entrepreneur POC’s
  • Roku has purchased Quibi’s old content library of about 75 shows and documentaries for well under $100M according to the Wall Street Journal, giving them exclusive rights through to the end of the year and shared streaming rights through 2027
    • Roku will be offering the content for free with ads, which likely means that a lot more people will see these shows now than would have otherwise

 

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PS2J 304 News – eScooters-19

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

      • 2014
      • Puzzle platforming game where, in a Labyrinth-esque plot, Max accidentally sends his little brother away with a magic spell he finds online and has to go rescue him
    • >observer_

      • 2017
      • First-person psychological horror game following a detective that can hack people’s minds as a form of interrogation
    • Project Warlock

      • 2018
      • First-person shooter that takes inspiration from games like Blood, Doom, and Heretic, featuring non-linear levels, keys, power-ups, and secret areas as well as some light RPG mechanics
    • Forsaken Remastered

      • 2018 remaster of the 1998 release
      • Single or multiplayer first-person shooter that has you playing a mercenary looting the post-apocalyptic husk of Earth
    • Dream Daddy

      • 2017
      • Visual novel developed by Game Grumps where you can choose between seven different fathers to date, with a customizable appearance and multiple endings
    • The Flame in the Flood

      • 2016
      • Roguelike survival adventure game where you play a young girl using a raft to navigate an apocalyptic flood that has turned the world into a series of islands
    • Steel Rats

      • 2018
      • Touted as a ground-breaking evolution of the 2.5D action arcade genre, it puts you into a retro-futuristic world with a wide array of skills and physics-based motorcycle combat
  • Epic Games

    • ARK: Survival Evolved

      • 2017 release of the 2014 early-access title
      • Action adventure open world survival game that has you using firearms and improvised crafted weapons to defend yourself and your base against hostile humans and creatures
    • Samurai Shodown Neogeo Collection

      • 2020
      • The classic weapon-based 2D fighting games known to its fans as SamSho
      • SAMURAI SHODOWN was originally released on the NEOGEO in 1993, followed by its sequel SAMURAI SHODOWN II in 1994. The series became a trilogy in 1995 with SAMURAI SHODOWN III, followed soon after SAMURAI SHODOWN IV AMAKUSA’S REVENGE released in 1996. Seven years later the series returned with 2003’s SAMURAI SHODOWN V, and SAMURAI SHODOWN V SPECIAL released the following year on the NEOGEO… The new SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION also includes a title never before released to the public. SAMURAI SHODOWN V PERFECT is a mysterious final version of SAMURAI SHODOWN V SPECIAL.
      • Also includes online fights and a museum mode with over 2,000 development documents and images, and hours of interviews with the developers
  • As part of the Black Lives Matter movement, itch.io has released the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, looking to raise $5M in an even split between the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the Community Bail Fund

    • Over 1500 different works from almost 1200 creators, worth thousands of dollars, all for a minimum donation of $5 USD
    • Includes popular games like Nuclear Throne, Night in the Woods, A Short Hike, Minit, and Celeste
    • Also has a lot of other things like comics,  assets you can use to make your own games, tabletop RPG or LARP rulesets and scenarios, and more
    • It’s enough content that they actually updated their game library pages to include a search function, since anyone that buys it will immediately have a very full library

BLM Updates from the tech and gaming world

  • Infinity Ward updated the Modern Warfare and Warzone loading screens to show a message in support of Black Lives Matter
    • This has led to some complaining about getting politics shoved in their face, but as KingOfTheYetis said on reddit “My feeling on it is that if this screen bothers you, then you’re the problem.”
    • They’ve also made an official statement saying there is no place for racist content in their game, and they’re adding additional resources to monitor, ID, and ban racist content
  • John Boyega, the actor who plays Finn in the latest Star Wars trilogy, made an excellent speech that was captured online and quoted by the official Star Wars Twitter account, calling for an end to racism and reminding us that black lives have always mattered
    • Some on Twitter pointed out the hypocrisy though, after Disney edited the The Force Awakens movie posters in China to make him smaller than BB-8
  • Rockstar Games shut down access to Grand Theft Auto Online and Red Dead Online for two hours on June 4th to honour the legacy of George Floyd during his memorial service
  • Tim Cook released a statement on Apple.com titled ‘Speaking up on racism’, calling on everyone to look past a return to comfortable normalcy and aim for a higher future that lives up to the ideals of equality and justice
    • They’ve also put their money where their mouth is, or at least a very small fraction of it, with their new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative backed by a $100M commitment
  • Many music and streaming services around the world went dark for Black Out Tuesday on June 2nd, with Apple music calling on everyone to speak and act out against racism and injustice of all kinds
  • Sony delayed their PlayStation 5 event that was scheduled for June 4th, saying they didn’t feel that it was the time for a celebration, and that they wanted to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard

Sony’s livestreaming PlayStation 5 announcements today, and we’ve got some highlights

  • We’ll be seeing a sequel to the wildly popular Marvel’s Spider-Man on the new console, starring Miles Morales from Ultimate Spider-Man and Into the Spider-Verse
  • Gran Turismo 7 will bring us more shiny cars, beautiful landscapes, and an interesting new campaign mode that lets players unlock and customize cars by winning races
  • An expanded and enhanced Grand Theft Auto 5 will hit sometime in 2021, bringing the 6.5 year old title to yet another generation
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will have the titular duo transported through multiple dimensions with full detailed game worlds loading instantly
  • Returnal is a sci-fi third person shooter where you play a pilot stranded on a mysterious world where, somehow, each time she dies she resurrects but somehow changed
  • Square Enix showed off the very pretty Project Athia, which we don’t have much detail on but is from the studio that worked on Final Fantasy 15
  • Stray is finally bringing us the full release of what was previously known as HK Project, a cat adventure game with you wandering a city as an actual housecat that I’ve been following updates since 2015
  • Another Little Big Planet title is on its way, called Sackboy: A Big Adventure, with full 3D movement and a ton of new gameplay mechanics
  • Oddworld is back with a return to its cinematic 2D platforming roots in Oddworld Soulstorm
  • Ghostwire: Tokyo looks like a first-person action adventure game from the developers of The Evil Within that has you saving the city from all sorts of yokai from Japanese mythology
  • Demon’s Souls, the original Soulsborne game from 2009 that spawned Dark Souls and Bloodborne, is getting a fancy new remake for the PS5
  • Deathloop has you playing as a Dishonored-style assassin stuck on an island filled with people trying to kill you over and over, and you need to break out of the time loop by killing the 8 bosses before midnight
  • Horizon Forbidden West is bringing us back to the world of Aloy from Zero Dawn, and it looks like a lot of fun. It might finally motivate me to play the first one
  • And the PS5 itself was shown off, and it’s pretty… well, pretty. They’ve kind of gone the opposite way from Microsoft- the Xbox Series X is like a blank computer tower or other appliance, whereas the PS5 has white curves holding a tall, thin black rectangle, kind of reminiscent of an awards trophy
    • Also has two versions, one with and one without the 4K bluray drive
    • The one without looks a lot smoother and sleeker, but I have a bunch of PS4 discs still laying around that I wouldn’t mind being able to continue playing, so it’s a tricky choice
  • The console itself will be launching this holiday season, and the games they showed will be coming in the next year or two

There’s a $5B lawsuit in the mix accusing Google of violating US federal wiretap laws by tracking the activities of users in Incognito mode

  • The class action argues that Google is surreptitiously gathering info about what people view online and where they browse while in Incognito, and deceiving customers into believing that they’re controlling what information is shared
  • A Google spokesperson said that Incognito mode isn’t built for that, but rather to prevent activity from being saved to your browser or device. “As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity.”
  • Some may have thought that Google themselves wouldn’t be one of those websites, but considering their business model for many years has been in large part giving away services for free and monetizing usage data, if people don’t want to be tracked they might have to try a little harder
  • The plaintiffs say the lawsuit likely covers millions of Google users who, since June 2016, have browsed the internet using Incognito mode. So with the class action seeking $5,000 each in damages for violation of wiretapping and privacy laws, the lawsuit will amount to at least $5B

Tidbits

  • eScooters from Lime and Bird are back in Edmonton, and their COVID-19 precautions seem to be putting everything on the riders
    • While they mention cleaning them when they’re put out, they’re expecting people using the scooters to use hand sanitizer before and after riding, and also mention that people should wear masks when out and about
  • Apple has recently been awarded a patent for “synthetic selfies”, allowing people to coordinate a live composite shot of multiple people that aren’t physically near each other
    • Apparently they applied for the patent back in 2018, but this is some pretty solid timing for a feature like this
  • According to the latest leaks, the upcoming iOS 14 expected to be announced this month at WWDC 2020 will be compatible with all devices currently running iOS 13, including the 5 year old iPhone 6S
  • Trump has signed a new executive order aimed at social media and how they police content, with many asking if what he’s doing is even legal
    • The new directive is looking to change a federal law that has prevented tech companies from being sued or held liable for most posts, photos, and videos shared by users on their sites
    • This was, of course, soon after Twitter called out the US president for making false and inflammatory statements about mail-in voting
    • It’s not all black and white though, as changing this law could also impact third-party counterfeit items sold on Amazon and force Uber to be responsible for sexual assaults that take place in the company’s rides
  • Zoom is developing a new end-to-end encryption service, but only for their corporate clients
    • According to CEO Eric Yuan “Free users for sure we don’t want to give that because we also want to work together with FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose”
  • A quick reminder, I’m still keeping my eye on ABTraceTogether and once they start using the proper exposure notification tech I’ll start using the contact tracing app and let everyone know

Upload on Amazon Prime

  • A sci-fi comedy series created by Greg Daniels, of The Office and Parks and Rec, that feels like Black Mirror meets The Good Place
  • Futuristic time when you can choose to have your consciousness uploaded to the one of a number of proprietary afterlives before you die, combining life after death with some good old fashioned capitalistic dystopia
  • Solid series, with good writing and pacing, though it sometimes feels like the writing team couldn’t decide on how to best use some of their story beats
  • The first season is definitely worth checking out, and another one is already on the books.

 

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