Monthly Archives: April 2013

On the Shoulders of Giants

Hey Gamers.

I’ve been hard at work gaming and writing for you, the dear reader.

Don't give me that look.

Don’t give me that look.

While it’s a short post today, I figured I’d remind you all of how awesome X-play was.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCxu88yNP6Y

So awesome.

For anyone unlucky enough to have missed it’s massive Decade plus run, X-Play (originally named GameSpot TV, and at one point entitled Extended Play), was a show that started on ZDTV, eventually moved to Tech Tv and then finally, G4. X-Play was kind of a sketch comedy meets gaming news show, where you’d get a mix of the funny and the functional with hosts Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb.

Gaming Greats.

Gaming Greats.

I’d say it was one of my favorite gaming variety shows growing up, but it was really the only gaming variety show while I was growing up. That should give you an idea of how ahead of it’s time it was in focusing on such an important medium, and how essential it was in helping shape young gaming minds. Between catching the weekly show on satellite TV, and waiting patiently for my EGM to arrive each month, X-Play was one of my only sources of gaming gossip, and represented a broadening of horizons. The show really represented the bulk of  gaming, or at least, that gaming was a meaningful culture, and not just random toys I messed around with. An important message of enlightenment in shaping my own views, and expanding the dialogue of gaming, always armed with a great sense of humor.

Adam Sessler’s succinctly declared question and response: “So you like Xenosaga? What the FUCK is your problem?” still stands as one of the most virtuous sentiments I’ve ever agreed with aired on television.

In any case, if you were somehow in the dark, I’m sorry to say that the show ended on January 23rd, after a massive fifteen year run. While I haven’t watched TV regularly since 2007, X-Play was one of my regular choices of entertainment. Through G4’s constant abuse of it’s own programming, the entire networks original intention of gaming TV went kaput in the past few months, and with it, a gaming legend. Considering TV’s waning importance as a technology, and the amount of other ways in which to get gaming news, it’s a sad realization of little surprise.

Adam Sessler is still fighting the good fight over at Rev 3 games, and is a top notch choice for gaming entertainment. Morgan Webb has not announced any plans as to what she’s moving onto, but I hope she finds success in any of her pursuits, even if that doesn’t entail bouncing back into the gaming fray.

In closing, I stand tall in saluting the iconic status X-Play reached, and will use the shows influence over me, in continuing the work of spreading gaming cheer.

ATE Big Boss

Keep Gaming,
~Pashford

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Quickie: New Tricks

Hey Gamers.

I have this uncanny ability to let time get the better of me.

I just know how to deal with it better than others do.

I just know how to deal with it better than others do.

While there’s been loads going on in the gaming realm to speak of, today’s quickie is about my ever building excitement for Watch_Dogs, the open world Ubisoft game that warns “everything is connected”. Well, there is a healthy dose of morality that enters into the equation, involving the hurt and heal of such a technologically driven world, but that’s part of the titles fascinating nuance. The open world game has been done in so many ways, so many times, that any new comer has to go up and beyond basic bravado to capture the audience.

And the game made short work of that.

And Watch_Dogs made short work of that.

Watch_Dogs was first announced at E3 last year, and was integral in Ubisoft’s domination of the show. The game would again be shown at Sony’s PS4 press reveal, which I covered extensively in this write up. The game’s intrgue lies in the main character, Aiden Pearce, and his ability to tap into the “smart city” he inhabits. Since everything is connected, through basic hacking, he’s become somewhat of an all powerful techno-mancer.

Like this, but way more subtle.

Maybe like if Robo-Cop…

ATE Like this

…did a fusion dance with Schwartzman.

Probably.

In any case, this is one dog that won’t stay down, as any news about the game always makes the biggest noise on any given day. Like the hounds of hell itself, Ubisoft has unleashed more info on an unsuspecting gaming public, and we feel excited as we are torn apart…(that we have to wait just a little longer to play it).

Ubisoft has announced today that Watch_Dogs will be available on November 22nd, on all major consoles (and some unannounced ones as well).

A new game play trailer has also been released.

Ubisoft has also released some information regarding some special editions, and in good fashion, have a multi-tiered system of offerings, for those who want the game, those who love the thought of playing the game, and those who want to be the game.

The lowest tier of special edition of Watch_Dogs, comes in two flavors. Those who pre-order directly through Ubisoft’s website  <gp_link type=”http” loc=”//shop.ubi.com/WatchDogs”>http://shop.ubi.com/WatchDogs will receive a piece of DLC being dubbed “The Breakthrough Pack”, which promises more content, and unlockable rewards for the main game.

The second tier, being referred to as the “Uplay Exclusive Edition”, not only includes “The Breakthrough Pack”, but a second and thrid  DLC mission entitled “The Palace Pack”, and “The Signature Shot”. The third mission unlocking an assault rifle weapon that can be used in the main story upon completion. With this edition, you will also receive the ever classic Steelbox for the game itself.

The third and fourth tiers respectively, look to be the swagtastic behemoths we’ve known modern day special editions to be. The first one, entitled “The DeadSec Edition”, can be seen here, in all of it’s glory.

Comes with a game, too.

Comes with a game, too.

In this edition, you will receive the following:

–      A 23cm Aiden Pearce Figurine
–      Steelbook
–      DedSec Collector box
–      Watch_Dogs Artbook: artworks and illustrations that inspired the game
–      Original soundtrack of the game
–      Watch_Dogs map of Chicago
–      Set of 4 collectible cards: discover Watch_Dogs iconic characters through augmented reality
–      Set of 3 exclusive badges

Plus, the previously mentioned DLC packs.

The fourth edition is distinguished, but equally bombastic with it’s offerings.

WD_VIGILANTE_EDITION_mockup_UK

This Edition Includes:

–      Vigilante Collector box
–      Aiden Pearce’s cap
–      Aiden Pearce’s mask
–      Original soundtrack of the game

Needless to say, the DedSec and Vigilante Editions look to be as serious as special editions get, and will give you a shit ton of awesome. Ubisoft hasn’t mentioned which of these editions will remain territory exclusive, or be released world wide, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see the bulk of these make it stateside. A price has also not been announced, but considering price tags for special editions of these calibers from a historical perspective, I’ll speculate with the following:

-Regular Special Edition with the DLC bonus, regular price, with digital content as pre-order incentive.
-UPlay Edition (with Steelbox and three DLC missions), will go for ten dollars more expensive.
-DedSec_Edition will go for $120.00, considering all of the physical swag on offer.
-Vigilante Edition might retail the same as DedSec, coming in also at $120.00

Well, those are my guesses, and based on Ubisoft’s past dealings with special editions, I wouldn’t be suprised if we see the prices go too far in either direction. I can’t yet speak for how much more expensive PS4 and 720 games will be, though I stand worried that this concern is too real for my own wallet’s sake.

In any case, even if you have no need for the fancy, Watch_Dogs is slated for Nov 22nd, and will be ready to vie for a top spot for everyone’s Game of the Year.

Happy Gaming,
Pashford

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Quickie: Subject to Change

Hey Gamers.

A thousand apologies for a break in the regular updates. With my portal to the internet dead and defunct, the gaming masses were unreachable,  leaving me stranded in a place I don’t visit too often.

Desert of the Real situation, I'm afraid.

Desert of the Real situation, you see.

What’s worse is I don’t even have a lot of time at present to go into detail about all of the gaming goodness that has transpired in the past couple of days. Among the crazier hype trains blasting by, the news of the next Xbox announcement falling on May 21st (10 AM PDT) is one of the biggest. With the loud nature that was the PS4 press event, and the party that followed, you can imagine my anxiousness in looking forward to seeing another huge part of the next several years. Even if that starts with me getting excited about an announcement about an announcement.

Desert of the Real situation, I'm afraid.

Desert of the Real situation, you see.

The event will be streamed both on Xbox Live and Xbox.com at the aforementioned date and time, and you can imagine the storm of news that will bellow forth soon afterwards. With all of the talk about price points, “dealing” with always online gaming, and additions of questionable tech functionality, any gamer who’s any  gamer is going to be very interested to see what transpires.

And Hopefully, and not just perspire.

And Hopefully, not just perspires.

I think Microsoft is in a very precarious situation right now. With the Wii U having a hard time focusing on just being a game console, and the PS4 taking a heavy embrace of social media, Microsoft is going to have to burst forth with careful ambition. We know MS wishes to make the Xbox the hub of the living room, so it’s safe to say they’ll also pursue this mass inter-connectivity. Also, with Nintendo having a solid stable (and too many idle horses in them) of games to parade, MS also has to service a very demanding bunch of Call of Duty players, who will one day run out of bullets and seek new battlefields. This delicate balance of core vs casual, while demographically tainted by title, can be utilized to service the in-between.  There are plenty of people who just want games, and a steady stream of them. Others still, don’t necessary want to just stream their games.

Before you know it, we have to start laughing at the concept of having to discuss “what makes a video game console”, as if video games weren’t enough to do that in the first place.

Desert of the Real situation, I'm afraid.

Desert of the Real situation, you see.

Rest assured, whatever perverse reality we’ll be given, or the one we think we want, I’ll be right there to cover the event from minute one. Look forward to that and more, in the future of ATE.
As one last aside, I normally take a break from posting on the weekends, but considering my lack of regular updates during the week, I’ll be sure to bring you guys something fresh from the gaming oven to snack on over the weekend.

Till Then…

Happy Gaming
~Pashford

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Quickie: Eat Me Alive

Hey Gamers.

Moving from examining curious to noticing the  hungry, gaming is never hesitant in trying to satiate all of our major sense.

Though, on occasion, gamers are force fed unnecessarily.

I'm gonna be sick.

Is this even edible?

Among the delicious and less appetizing choices we have on the menu today, there is definitely something here for everybody. First up, I wish to mention that Kirby’s Adventure has finally been released on the Wii U Virtual Console. This title is just another in a long line of treats Nintendo has very leisurely sprinkled out to Wii U owners. Despite the digital titles slow release pace, the game is most certainly fun, and a NES classic that reminds us of the hay day of Nintendo Fare.

Not that Nintendo fans are starved for nostalgia.

Not that Nintendo fans are starved for nostalgia.

The main upshot here is that Kirby’s Adventure is only 30 cents right now, a gift by many standards. While I appreciate the generosity, and will enjoy playing through the game again, the question remains: does Nintendo realize what’s happening? That they’re once again falling into the very same rationing problems of consoles past? With important delay, after unbelievable delay, followed by saddening cancellation, you’d think Nintendo would be working hard to get us newer games faster, or older games to us less slowly. All of this in an effort, to at leaast try and reinforce the truth that “it will be different this time“,  and that “we won’t fuck the software release schedule up for the Wii U” <citation needed>.

Hmm…this all seems vaguely familiar.

In any case, I at least have my consolation prize, in the form of mass gluttonous fun with my favorite pink ball of puff.

Kirby, seen here about to mug Whispy Woods

Kirby, seen here about to mug Whispy Woods

Next on my list of good eats, involves the announcement of the Metal Gear Solid: Legacy Collection (PS3 Exclusive).

!

!

This massive compilation of the best in stealth action, is slated to hit in the not too distant future of June 2013. In this gargantuan gathering of gaming greatness, you have MGS1, MGS2 HD, MGS3 HD, MGS4 (with trophy support), Peace Walker HD, The VR Missions, Metal Gear 1 and 2, and two extra Ashely Woods digital graphic novels involving the MGS series.

Did I mention Snake Eater?

Tasty.

Mmm, Tasty.

While some of you may be miffed about having so recently bought the last MGS collection, give it some time. The amount of content all in one place here is staggering. I’m imagining with solid ports in the collection, and a modest price point, Konami will have people going absolutely ape over this.

The alternative involves Konami back stabbing.

The alternative situation a far grimmer one.

 Next up is a bit of an all you can eat buffet, with just another in a long line of indie bundles that represent delicious in all the right ways. The newest Indie Gala Bundle, offers up a host of great indie and AAA titles alike. For a measly five bucks, you can score yourself a slew of well spoken of indie titles, including Shank 2, a vicious good time. In a some what out of the ordinary move, a huge title, in the way of Mass Effect 2, is thrown into the mix. That game alone is worth more than five bucks, and you’re getting nine more titles for the same price. Not only that, but you can adjust what you pay, so if you want all of the money to go to the developers or entirely to a charity, the choice is yours.

The little guys need to eat too!

The little guys need to eat too!

Lastly, with a mention that may ruin the appetite, is the most absurd mention of eats on today’s menu. While Microsoft has been known to commit downright horrific atrocities, I see they still have the chutzpah to try and top themselves, in an endless cycle of malice. With a most definitely overlooked intention, and intensely obvious repercussions ,  a Pizza Hut app has just gone up on Xbox Live, allowing one to summon any number of calorie orbs, directly through their dashboard, and into their dying faces. Microsoft assures us “It’s better with Kinect”, which is akin to reminding us that animal abuse is easier with a hammer.

Speaking of abuse easier to do with a Kinect...

Speaking of abuse that’s easier to do with a Kinect…

While I’ll ignore criticizing individuals on whatever diets they choose, however poor, I do believe Sterling observed it best: ” I’ll add this to the list of things I’ll crank out the next time Microsoft tries to pretend its Gold account scheme is oh so necessary because otherwise it’d have no cash.” While it hasn’t been stated that one will need a Gold account to access this app, the likely hood is incredibly high. The real problem here, beyond people using their bodies as toxic waste dumps, is the unavoidable bullshit related rationale the Pizza Hut app gives, in providing one more superfluous reason Gold costs $60 (as a reminder, the only way to enjoy mulitplayer experiences on the console).

The act of ordering pizza, which you can do on the phone, or via the internet, is already a free enterprise, like many other travesties advertised as premium on the Xbox Live Dashboard. This mention of pepperoni, and the promise of more cheese, is a sign of foreboding that Microsoft will once again, rationalize a higher price point, or somehow squeeze more inane finance, out of an already broke demographic, with an already broken system. The sad notion is some of us are gorging too hard to care, and others just can’t resist the taste.

Pictured: The Average Xbox Live User, after the Implementation of the Pizza Hut App on Xbox Live.

Pictured: The Average Xbox Live User, after the Implementation of the Pizza Hut App on Xbox Live.

The PC guys laughed from moment one when they heard online gaming was going to cost gamers any money, let alone lots of it.. I turned a blind eye to the Xbox Live price point, and somehow deemed it okay, with the unavoidable truth that my friends had it, and I needed it too. As a person who enjoys all gaming, these truths of peer-pressure frighten me, in the notion I have no real power in my spending habits, when faced with all or nothing. I use the service an untold number of hours a year, and is the only saving grace here, though I’m always left wanting something more refreshing, wanting nothing more than walking away with a cleaner taste in my mouth. A higher price point is good, but the value must be just.

Microsoft never did learn how to temper the gaming masses, or how best to impress them with savory sweets.

You know how best to feed the hungry masses?

Feed them what they're hungry for.

Feed them what they’re hungry for.

Happy Eating
~Pashford

 

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Encyclopedia Muranica: Killing the Cat

Hey Gamers.

I’m back, after a well needed weekend. As you may have noticed on Friday’s post,  last week ended on a bit of a weird note.

In fact, the whole week felt really weird.

Like this weird.

Like this weird.

At least from a personal stand point.

Upon further inspection, I examined testers struggling to get the appreciation they deserve, Nintendo announced a new Zelda game, and yet another game takes a page out of Resident Evil 4’s book.

Externally speaking, a pretty normal week in gaming.

I move forward, now, in search of something shocking. With an effort to reach the unexplored, I march on with the hopes that I may observe, or even stumble upon a new truth in gaming. One that will test the core of my analytic abilities. One that will create a sense of shock and awe. Something…or someone that will force me into a state of mental duress, and make me question the very fabrics of reality.

Oh no.

Oh shit.

As if by some cosmic coincidence, or just some cruel unavoidable joke in my gaming world, I’m once again found staring into the eyes of wild insanity. In my quest to defeat my own curiosity  I’m actually cornered with only Curiosity, and the morbid master of it’s domain.

Peter “The Fable” Molyneux.

Seen Here: Sonic super excited, after detecting he isn't going to be the butt of the joke in this article.

Seen Here: Sonic Super excited, after detecting he isn’t going to be the butt of the joke in this article.

While I do enjoy using my flowery word play, I am not playing around when referring to the act of being cornered by curiosity, as it’s Peter Molyneux’s newest game. Curiosity has been out on Android devices since late last year, and I remembered hearing about the project, on the heels of hearing about the news Peter Molyneux had left Lionhead to start a new development studio, 22cans. Knowing Peter’s track record, I’m sure his initial idea for founding 22cans, involved building the companies office on an island in space.

At the last second realizing how impossible that actually is.

Peter's original concept drawings of 22cans offices.

Peter’s original concept drawings of the 22cans offices.

Curiosity was, in pre-hype phases, billed as a “social experiment”. This is due to the rather unorthodox nature of the title, as Curiosity itself, doesn’t contain any real game design mechanics. Just you, a bunch of other players, and a gigantic fuck off cube that has something in the center that’s  “life changingly amazing by any definition”

…advertises Mr.Molyneux.

Reading into Peter's subtext, I'm forecasting a thought as to what's in the cube's center.

Reading into Peter’s subtext, I’m forecasting a thought as to what’s in the cube’s center.

Yes, that’s right, “Curiosity” contains nothing but a massive cube, and a bunch of players tapping away at it, in the hopes of collectively seeing what awaits in the center. You might think “Quirky little community project we got going on here”…but there is  one catch. Only one player can see what’s at the center. Which means after all is said and done, time invested, and money lost (if you ended up buying any of the DLC to help you tap away cubes faster), only one out of the tens of thousands of people working at the massive project will know what’s inside.

Will the person who reaches the center lie about the contents? Will they greedily keep the information to themselves? Will they begin a Kickstarter, and hold the content of the cubes center hostage via finance?

Like sand through the hourglass, so are the games of our lives.

Like sand through the hourglass, so are the games of our lives.

If you want the shit straight from the horses ass, here’s the down and dirty in it’s rawest form.

As you can see, the game represents the essence of absurdity. I brushed Curiosity aside initially when I first heard about the title , because I thought Peter Molyneux was just talking shit about an insane idea he had, not an insane idea he had made. Most of what he says I take with a grain of salt, after some of the more outlandish statements he’s made in the past. The reason I bring it up now, was a random post on gamasutra.com by writer Mike Rose, who alerted me to the depths at which the game is reaching, as it stumbles further down the rabbit hole.

Peter Molyneux, see here at a 22cans board meeting.

Peter Molyneux, see here at a 22cans board meeting.

The new depths of madness the game has reached  involves that random post, and my discovery that Peter Molyneux and his team are now allowing people to pay real money to reverse the progress the players have made thus far, by adding cubes to fill back in the holes players have already made, essentially extending the life of “Curiosity”. This is through certain players,  causing more work for the other players, who are trying to get to the center, by adding cubes they’ve already tapped away.

As a quick recap of the nonsense I just mentioned, players are paying, to stop other players, from likely never seeing what they’re helping to uncover.

An artists rendition of what an average Curiosity player looked like upon hearing the "pay to reverse" aspect of the game.

An artists rendition of what an average Curiosity player looked like upon hearing the “pay to reverse” aspect of the game.

As the article I linked to stated, and the writer Mike Rose has already aptly pointed out, Peter Molyneux has successfully monetized trolling with this in game option. I suppose Peter wanted to start outsourcing the trolling, after so many years of being exhausted of doing it himself. If this recent move is any indication, Curiosity possesses a greater aspiration to the psychotic than I had once imagined. With the situation of the concept degrading into further madness as time goes on, through the help and (un)intentional? abuses of the 22cans development team, and the king of Trolls himself, Peter “The Fable” Molyneux.

A sneak peek at the upcoming auto-biography of Peter Molyneux

A sneak peek at the upcoming biography of Peter Molyneux

So, what does this all mean?

Going back to my opening sentiment, this all feels really weird.

Yes, this weird.

Yes, this weird.

Yet, upon further inspection, an Android game is attracting people by novelty alone, gamers are unnecessarily paying for useless shit to be used in game, and Peter Molyneux continues to talk absolute shit about video games again.

Externally speaking, a pretty normal week in gaming.

I must say, this whole Curiosity concept has my analytical abilities at a stand still. I think that in some odd twist, Peter Molyneux has come up with a concept so insane, it 360’s back into the rationale. While the game doesn’t really possess any real design aspects to speak of, the players find reasons to keep coming back to participate. The only real “win condition”, is one that 99.9999% of all players won’t achieve, and may not even ever known about, yet they still try to help the group “win” by tapping away the cubes. The game even features players working against other players, but gain no sense of domination over them, or any in game benefit from doing so. In fact, they even lose real money in the act. If anything, they are putting themselves at a real world disadvantage for a personally perceived notion of 1-up man ship, or some abstract sense of virtual reality non-conformity.

Pictured: Another social experiment involving a cube.

Pictured: Another cube involving a social experiment.

To imbue a little sense of meaning and sense out of any of this, beyond a slew of parodies and references, I will now speculate in a slightly more serious light.

(Briefly)

I won’t take some high brow or hardcore gaming stance on this, with declaration that this isn’t a game. It most certainly is, as observed by the Supreme Court ruling in 2011 , the case involving Brown vs Entertainment Merchants Association. Games being protected under the first amendment, and by extension, being given rights as an art form and freedom of speech, forces a reminder that concepts like Curiosity, need not follow the arcade template of old to dictate a video game experience. The premise of the game simply needs to make you feel, respond, or think, and the title has achieved concurrently, a game, and thusly, a piece of art. Not every piece of art is going to be as revered as the Mona Lisa, mind you, and I will not be the one to stroke Peter Molyneux’s ego with this exact comparative notion.

I simply wish to point out my own struggle, in analyzing the game, and what Curiosity possible represents.

Have we finally reached a point where a game can exist by merely a name, the entertainment an abstraction, and the content our own?

Does Curiosity represent some kind of virtual reality equivalent of Schodinger’s Cat? Does Curiosity represent a first, in creating the proto-type of rhetorical game design? Is this experience some kind of perversely sardonic crowd sourced joke , through the use of irreverent communism?

Or is Peter Molyneux just talking absolute shit about video games again?

I think, in this case, the conclusion is not knowing.

I think, in this case, the conclusion is not knowing.

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Armageddon

Hey Gamers.

I got nothing right now.

Nothing except how awesome the intro to MK: Armageddon was.

Right?

Yeah, that’s it.

Happy Gaming,
~Pashford

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Link to the Future

Hey Gamers.

While I was really excited to bring to you the breadth of excitement and information the Nintendo Direct from yesterday brought us, I just couldn’t get to everything I wanted to finish by the end of the day.

A failure that's been far more costly in days gone by.

  A failure that’s been far more costly in days gone by.

I loved everything I saw, and have this intense feeling Nintendo sees the Wii U as an even odder man out than the Wii was. This leads me to believe they know lightning won’t strike twice, and are really going all out in trying to accept fan feed back they may have had at arms length for awhile now, and really want to service the fans through series and games that have been begging for follow ups for sometime.

In essence, creating a 360 effect of Nintendo re-exploring the familiar.

In all of the right places.

In all of the right places.

The most exciting announcements for me involved the Legend of Zelda series, which included the fast approaching relaunch of the GBC Oracle titles on the virtual console, and a brand spanking new Zelda, acting as a follow up for Link to the Past.

Reggie explains the nitty gritty:

Having been a vocal detractor for Phantom Hourglass, I am super excited to get my hands on a new worthwhile portable Zelda experience. I love what they’re doing with the art style and 3D visual designs, and love the more honest approach to a full on top down Zelda title. As an aside, I would like to point out, this new Zelda title, continues to overcrowd the “Failure” alternative in the Zelda timeline story, the one involving Link losing to Ganondorf at the end of Ocarina of Time.

This proves to me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when Link loses…

Shit Gets Real

Shit Gets Real

I’m reminded of the delightful fan made film, involving speculation of the infamous timeline, before Hyrule Historia launched, and is well worth a watch.

A new Zelda, time travel, and crazy fucking pigs, oh my.

That’s it for today gamers. Despite a struggle for quality content and a mixed mood, I’ll always be more than happy to talk about Zelda.

Happy Gaming
~Pashford

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