Thursday, 25 January 2018

Don't Miss: Breaking down the scenography of Kentucky Route Zero

Kentucky Route Zero developer Tamas Kemenczy breaks down the game's artistic inspiration. ...



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The Frantic 'Flipping Legend' Receives Huge Version 2.0 Update

I loved the idea of Flipping Legend [Free] ever since developer Matt Meyer showed us an early prototype of the game way back at GDC 2016, when the game was titled Flip Out. During the next year Meyer and artist Thomas Whetnall, the other half of Hiding Spot Games, hooked up with the good Canadian folks at Noodlecake Games who then showed us an updated version of the game at GDC 2017. That's when I went from loving the idea of Flipping Legend to just straight up loving the game itself. Combining simple two-button controls with twitchy arcade hopping, Flipping Legend felt like just about a perfect iPhone game, and we loved it in our 5 star review and of course included it in our Top 100 Games of 2017 list. It's flipping great! Well, a major update for Flipping Legend has been in the works since its release last June and today it has finally arrived in the App Store.

Version 2.0 of Flipping Legend includes a brand new environment called The Swamp as well as a brand new secret character with "a unique and difficult to master special ability." Hmmmmmmmm. Gold costs to unlock characters and XP requirements to level up characters have both been reduced across the board, and they've also raised the level cap from 10 to 11, so now you'll have an extra ability point to spend on your character upgrades. The IAP to remove ads in the game is also 50% off to celebrate the update, and if you've previously bought the ad removal prior to today's update you'll be rewarded with 10 free bronze chests for your loyalty. Just don't be an idiot like me and open them all at once as the timed bonus effects (i.e. Double XP for 10 minutes) don't stack so I lost out on utilizing some of those. I got a crap ton of gold though so I'm still a pretty happy camper. Finally, this version 2.0 update adds in support for the full screen of the iPhone X, and it looks absolutely glorious.

I really can't recommend Flipping Legend enough. It's one of those games that just feels like a natural fit on the touchscreen, and once you get comfortable with the mechanics there's no better feeling that "getting in the zone" and flipping around like mad. It's almost like you start playing at some subconscious level where your hands are doing things before your brain even has a chance to realize what's happening. It's so fun! Throw in a ton of playable characters and a progression system with upgradeable special abilities and unlockable skins for each and you have a game that'll occupy your time for a long while. Plus it's free! Just go download it already and check out the sweet new version 2.0 content in Flipping Legend.

Link to Forum Discussion: Flipping Legend (by Hiding Spot Games and Noodlecake)



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Washington state senator introduces bill to tackle the big loot box debate

Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker has introduced a bill that seeks to answer the million dollar question: should loot boxes be classified as gambling? ...



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Celeste Review: More Than Just A Great Platformer

New 'Hearthstone' Changes Aimed at Improving High Ranked Experience

Earlier today Ben Brode made an announcement regarding some changes that are coming soon to the standard ranked play format for Hearthstone [Free]. Now all ranks will require 5 stars to advance and players will only loose 4 ranks at the end of each monthly season. To adjust for the longer initial trek to rank 20, the first card back monthly reward will now require winning just 5 games. He said that experience is different depending on where you end up on the ladder. At the top of the ladder players experience a little too much backsliding from one season to the next. People at the bottom of the ladder feel like getting to rank 20 feels like a wall you hit very quickly.

So how will this play out? Higher ranked players are going to love this. If you play enough ranked hearthstone to get past the point where ranks require 5 stars, this is clearly a win. For players just getting into or coming back to ranked from a hiatus, the required amount of stars to get into the low teens is going to be almost doubled. Ultimately this is a push towards the people that play the game enough to get high ranks but don't want to grind back to their previous position each month. The unfortunate side effect of this is that without any controls, people will start congregating at higher and higher ranks. The low-end star inflation seems like it may just be a stop-gap and Mr. Brode even came back to confirm that additional steps may need to be taken to prevent rank bloat.

This seems like the type of move that might have a vocal backlash but end up affecting far fewer players negatively than first perceptions may indicate. How many low rank players are out there worried that they can no longer easily get to 13-15 and then stop for the month? How many players starting out have hopes of only bouncing around in the high teens? Even if the initial journey takes longer, the appeal and prestige of the better ranks should now be even more palpable. I guess it will be up to the players to see long term gains outweigh potential short term frustration. In the mean time, Legend and upper numbered rank players can rejoice!

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For Honor's Season Five launches next month, introduces long-awaited dedicated servers

Ubisoft has announced that For Honor's fifth season, known as Age of Wolves, will launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 15th.

Season Five will arrive in the form of a free update, and is largely focussed on quality of life improvements. It aims, says Ubisoft, to "enhance the core player experience" with changes to hero balancing, matchmaking, and connectivity. Major hero updates, fight system improvements, and new customisation options are also touted.

Season Five's initial update will see five of For Honor's heroes - that is, the Kensei, Conqueror, Highlander, Berserker, and Nobushi - receive changes designed to improve and better balance the existing roster. The Kensei and Conqueror will both acquire new move sets and animations, while the Highlander, Berserker, and Nobushi, will receive "meaningful" balancing adjustments. Other heroes will be updated as the season continues.

Read more…



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Analyst: YouTube Gaming saw a 343% increase in active streamers in 2017

A new report from Streamlabs says that Twitch still attracts the lion's share of streamers but notes that YouTube Gaming achieved a significant amount of growth in 2017. ...



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Are Loot Boxes Gambling? Washington State Lawmakers Are Asking Just That

It's 2019 now, and the loot boxes story isn’t going away. Now, Washington State lawmakers have joined the fray and are digging deeper in an effort to determine whether loot boxes are a form of gambling targeting children. According to a recent news story, Senator Kevin Ranker, a Democrat representing Orcas Island, introduced a bill that asks state officials and game developers to figure out whether loot boxes and other similar game mechanics are nothing more than a form of gambling that takes advantage of children. Ranker said that the industry needs to figure out how to regulate loot boxes because it's unacceptable to have "predatory gambling masked in a game with dancing bunnies or something" (I'm pretty sure those bunnies feel unfairly singled out right now).

This latest move is just one in a series of US and European efforts to tackle what many see as a definite shift in the industry towards reliance on loot boxes. After the huge debacle with Star Wars Battlefront II, which was accused of going way overboard with its use of loot boxes and had to pull them from the game completely prior to launch, the legal landscape is ripe for moves such as the one by Ranker. In addition to Ranker, a lawmaker in Hawaii proposed banning the sale of games containing loot boxes to anyone under 21, and Belgium's government is currently investigating the nature of loot box mechanics and whether they should be classified as gambling or not.

Apple itself, as we wrote a few weeks back, has quietly changed the App Store Review Guidelines to force developers to disclose the odds of "'loot boxes' or other mechanics that provide randomized virtual items for purchase." We expressed doubts at the time about this change having any effect on the popularity of gacha mechanics in mobile games, and so far we haven't seen any tangible effect on loot boxes in mobile games.

It's hard to deny the impact of loot boxes on gaming, though, with big developers spending a ton of money and development time optimizing their use and the various mechanics that will make them more "attractive." At the same time, the World Health Organization has recently defined what it calls "gaming disorder," which pretty much translates to gaming addiction. I wonder if lawmakers going after loot boxes will use WHO's recognition of gaming disorder as a way to further their point that loot boxes are making games more addictive and fueling "gaming disorders." After all, gaming disorder's WHO code is 6C71, right under 6C70, gambling disorder. Both are under "addictive behaviors," and their descriptions share very similar wording.

Whether we are seeing a wave of criticism that will end up erasing or minimizing the use of loot boxes from mobile gaming (and gaming more generally) remains to be seen. There's a lot of money on the table, and money usually equals lobbying power. At the same time, gamers seem to be firmly against the use of loot boxes. If lawmakers go ahead and regulate loot boxes, I wonder how that will affect the various genres of games that depend on them, and whether we'll end up with something better or not. It remains to be seen.

[via The News Tribune]



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Here's a look at what you'll find in GDC 2018's Retro Play showcase!

Here's an early look at what to expect from the exhibitors showcasing classic games and hardware at GDC Retro Play, the interactive space at GDC 2018 dedicated to video game history! ...



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'Slime Pizza' Review - Why Don't Doggos Like Slime? I Don't Get It.

If you asked me what a typical Nitrome game is, I'd say it's a fun game with good pixel art, some rockin' chiptune music (provided you un-mute your iPhone) and a super generous free to play system that actually allows you to play through their games provided you have the patience to sit through lots of ads. Slime Pizza [Free] is the latest release published by Nitrome, but it was actually developed by Neutronized who have made a dumb amount of great games. (Which makes you wonder why they sign with publishers, given their track record?) Super Cat Tales [Free] and Drop Wizard Tower [Free] are two of my favorite games of theirs, but looking at their portfolio it's hard to even pick. Interestingly enough, Slime Pizza seems to be a pseudo-sequel spinoff of sorts of Slime Laboratory 2, a Flash-based browser games that shares a lot of visual similarities.

In Slime Pizza you play as, well, a slime, obviously. The game kicks off with a non-sensical story where your space ship crashes, you get a computer virus, and you need to pick up pizza slices. There's a bit more to it than that, but, the story is more or less irrelevant to the brutally difficult puzzle platforming you'll be doing. As a slime, you stick to things, and unlike Slime Laboratory 2 where you can freely move around, in Slime Pizza you fling yourself with a familiar almost Angry Birds-y [Free] slingshotting mechanic. With some exceptions, you stick to most surfaces, and need to navigate through the game world by flinging yourself along and avoiding (many) obstacles and enemies that cause you to insta-splat and start over from the last checkpoint.

Speaking of checkpoints, the game plays a lot like the bazillion other games that has you collecting some kind of soft currency (in this case pizza) to unlock checkpoints to save your progress. These checkpoints are vital, as you will be dying a lot. A big part of playing Slime Pizza is discovering what does and doesn't kill you, and coming up with a strategy to deal with it. For instance, while playing through the early game I came across a white dog in a room labeled "DOGGO" and figured it was friendly. Nope, it exploded me on contact. The next attempt I tried to avoid the doggo and it chased me down and blew me up again. Trial and error is everywhere, and figuring out what you're supposed to do to overcome obstacles is really fun. Also, there's a bit of intentional wonkiness to your movement, you are a slime after all, so mastering movement is another critical aspect of the game.

Interestingly enough, to unlock a checkpoint you must collect pizza in game then spend that pizza on a checkpoint. There's no other way to get slices or unlock checkpoints. In games like this I'm typically hesitant to buy the no-ads IAP as they often also strip the challenge by giving you all the checkpoints for free, but that's not the case here. Whether or not you pay to remove ads, everyone needs to collect pizza to progress. If you don't buy the IAP, you can totally progress through the game, but as I mentioned before it'll hinge heavily on your ability to put up with ads that play every few deaths.

I really, really am hesitant to invoke the word "Metroidvania" to describe what playing Slime Pizza feels like, but there's definitely a faint whiff of it in the air if you inhale deep enough. The ship you travel through has loads of Metroid-like rooms and doors and progressing sometimes requires a bit of exploration to find a key, boat anchor, or other item to get through. Give it a shot, and you'll see what I mean.

Neutronized makes great games, and Nitrome publishes great games, so really it shouldn't be any surprise to anyone that Slime Pizza is a ton of fun. And really, being totally free and with a super agreeable pay model I really can't think of any reason to not download this game. If you find yourself playing it enough that the ads are getting annoying, flip 'em $3.99 to get rid of them. Or don't! You do you.



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Get your first look at Call of Duty: WWII’s War Mode mission Operation Intercept, playable on PS4 next week

On 30th January, players can experience The Resistance, Call of Duty: WWII’s premiere DLC Pack, first on the PlayStation 4. This pack includes three new maps, a new War Mode experience, and a new chapter for Call of Duty: WWII’s Nazi Zombies, The Darkest Shore.

We’re all very excited for The Resistance to come out, especially as we recently kicked off The Resistance community event. One of the things we are particularly excited about in this DLC Pack is the new War Mode mission: Operation Intercept. And we have an exclusive top-down view of the Operation Intercept map that we’d like to share with you here on PlayStation Blog.

Operation Intercept: what you need to do

Operation Intercept takes place outside of St. Lo, France, and leads us on an urban rescue mission to save Resistance fighters being transported by train. The first objective on the Allied side is to make it to the two cells where your Axis foes are keeping the fighters prisoner.

Once rescued, you’ll be tasked with the destruction of key communications equipment before continuing your mission. If you’re able to destroy every last piece of the gear, then you’ll continue on and escort a tank in order to try and stop an Axis train loaded with munitions.

On the flipside, the Axis forces need to try and keep the Allies from rescuing the Resistance fighters, protect their comms gear, and keep the tank from reaching the trainyard.

The real hotbed of this map comes in trying to protect the communications gear. There are both upper and lower radio rooms, and Axis soldiers can repair damaged radios, which make this objective very challenging.

With both outside and inside areas to skirmish in, multiple lanes, the ability to repair radios and close doors on train boxcars to stop the Allied forces, Operation Intercept provides a ton of new challenges for Call of Duty: WWII.

The new multiplayer maps

In addition to Operation Intercept, let’s take a look at the three new Multiplayer maps in The Resistance:

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  • Anthropoid – Based in Prague, Czechoslovakia, this map is inspired by Operation Anthropoid – the famous assassination attempt on a high-ranking German officer during World War II. This map features a center lane divided by a river, with long-flanking paths that can be used by snipers for ranged attacks.

TITLE

  • Occupation – In this remake of a classic Call of Duty map, players battle through the streets and shops of German-occupied Paris during WWII. Long side streets encourage mid-range combat, with nearby homes and storefronts lending defensive positions for ambush and recovery.

TITLE

  • Valkyrie – Located in the Masurian Woods, East Prussia, this map was inspired by The Wolf’s Lair – Hitler’s Eastern-front headquarters during Operation Barbarossa – the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. This is a medium-sized map with gameplay focused around a dangerous center lane covered by multiple overwatch positions and mounted machine guns.

TITLE

The post Get your first look at Call of Duty: WWII’s War Mode mission Operation Intercept, playable on PS4 next week appeared first on PlayStation.Blog.Europe.



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SuperData Shows PUBG Slipping on PC but Gaining on Consoles

SuperData Research released their numbers for December 2017.

SuperData Research Top 10 – December 2017

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which was in second place on the PC chart for November, slipped down to fifth place.  Still, anybody who can say, “Made more money that WoW this month!” is probably not going to complain too loudly.  And they can always point to the console chart where PUBG made it up to third position via its release on XBox.

That move saw the Chinese trio of Dungeon Fighter Online, Crossfire, and Fantasy Westward Journey Online II return to slots 2, 3, and 4, with League of Legends undisturbed in first place yet again.  Some day it will fall.

Fortnite, having dropped all that co-op game play that was their initial pitch to jump on the Battle Royale bandwagon, jumped to sixth place, above WoW, which held on to seventh position for another month.

World of Tanks moved up to eighth, while Roblox and Overwatch returned to the bottom list.  Displaced from the PC chart were Destiny 2, Call of Duty: WWII, and Star Wars Battlefront II, which were 6, 8, and 10 on the list last month.

On the console list, as noted, PUBG arrived on XBox and vaulted into third spot, while Fortnite, which came to consoles the month before, held on to eighth position.

And on the mobile chart Pokemon Go made it back onto the list, slotting into ninth, while Candy Crush Saga held on at sixth position.

Other items from the monthly report:

  • Global digital games market saw an incredible holiday quarter, up 19% from 2016.
  • Worldwide digital spending grew 17% in December. Gamers spent almost $10 billion digitally on games across all platforms in December. Growth came primarily from an increase in Premium PC, Console, and Mobile.
  • Destiny 2’s new DLC release, Curse of Osiris, failed to make a significant impact on the game. MAU and digital revenue were generally flat month-over-month.
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds’ success continues and competitors respond. XBox owners waited patiently for PUBG to make its way on console and responded by buying more than 2 million digital units during launch month. Meanwhile, mobile PUBG clones Knives Out and Rules of Survival both have had successful launches.
  • Call of Duty WW2 ended the year on a high note. The new Call of Duty had the best quarter of digital unit sales ever for a console title.
  • Grand Theft Auto V set another record month. GTA V Online broke its previous revenue record back in June 2017, making it the title’s best month to date for its multiplayer segment.
  • Fortnite Battle Royale earned $89 million in December.  Epic Games’ entry into the Battle Royale arena continues to reach new heights on both console and PC, with a close-to-even audience split on both platforms.


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Weekend Deal - FarCry Franchise Advertising App, Up to 70% Off

Save up to 70% on FarCry Franchise Advertising App as part of this week's Weekend Deal*!

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time


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Call of Duty: WWII – The Resistance: New Multiplayer Maps Detailed

On January 30, players can experience The Resistance, Call of Duty: WWII’s premiere DLC Pack, first on the PlayStation 4. This pack includes three new maps, a new War Mode experience, and a new chapter for Call of Duty: WWII’s Nazi Zombies, The Darkest Shore.

We’re all very excited for The Resistance to come out, especially as we recently kicked off The Resistance community event. One of the things we are particularly excited about in this DLC Pack is the new War Mode mission: Operation Intercept. And we have an exclusive top-down view of the Operation Intercept map that we’d like to share with you here at PlayStation.Blog.

Call of Duty: WWII – The Resistance: Operation Intercept

Operation Intercept takes place outside of St. Lo, France, and leads us on an urban rescue mission to save Resistance fighters being transported by train. The first objective on the Allied side is to make it to the two cells where your Axis foes are keeping the fighters prisoner.

Once rescued, you’ll be tasked with the destruction of key communications equipment before continuing your mission. If you’re able to destroy every last piece of the gear, then you’ll continue on and escort a tank in order to try and stop an Axis train loaded with munitions.

On the flipside, the Axis forces need to try and keep the Allies from rescuing the Resistance fighters, protect their comms gear, and keep the tank from reaching the trainyard.

The real hotbed of this map comes in trying to protect the communications gear. There are both upper and lower radio rooms, and Axis soldiers can repair damaged radios, which make this objective very challenging.

With both outside and inside areas to skirmish in, multiple lanes, the ability to repair radios and close doors on train boxcars to stop the Allied forces, Operation Intercept provides a ton of new challenges for Call of Duty: WWII.

In addition to Operation Intercept, let’s take a look at the three new Multiplayer maps in The Resistance:

Call of Duty: WWII – The Resistance

Anthropoid – Based in Prague, Czechoslovakia, this map is inspired by Operation Anthropoid – the famous assassination attempt on a high-ranking German officer during World War II. This map features a center lane divided by a river, with long-flanking paths that can be used by snipers for ranged attacks.

Call of Duty: WWII – The Resistance

Occupation – In this remake of a classic Call of Duty map, players battle through the streets and shops of German-occupied Paris during WWII. Long side streets encourage mid-range combat, with nearby homes and storefronts lending defensive positions for ambush and recovery.

Call of Duty: WWII – The Resistance

Valkyrie – Located in the Masurian Woods, East Prussia, this map was inspired by The Wolf’s Lair – Hitler’s Eastern-front headquarters during Operation Barbarossa – the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. This is a medium-sized map with gameplay focused around a dangerous center lane covered by multiple overwatch positions and mounted machine guns.

Call of Duty: WWII – The Resistance

The Resistance is available to preorder now at PlayStation Store, and players can also take part in The Resistance community event right now until February 27 to earn free Supply Drops, new gear, experience new modes, and more! Vive la Résistance!



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Xbox Games with Gold's February line-up has been revealed

Microsoft has announced its Xbox Games with Gold line-up for February, and it brings a decent smattering of genre-spanning titles.

February's selection features two Xbox One games, plus two Xbox 360 games, and as per usual, both 360 titles are playable on Xbox One via the wonders of backward compatibility.

On the Xbox One front, entertaining first-person slasher reboot Shadow Warrior will be free between February 1st and February 28th, and Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India - that's the decent side-scrolling platform spin-off - is free from February 16th to March 15th.

Read more…



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Daily Deal - Dark and Light, 25% Off

Today's Deal: Save 25% on Dark and Light!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time


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Splatoon 2 and Arms devs will be speaking at GDC 2018!

These two GDC 2018 talks from Nintendo promise fresh insight into the design and development of Arms and Splatoon 2, which together were something of a one-two punch for the Switch last summer! ...



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Rogue-Lite Action Platformer Dead Cells Coming to PS4 This Year

Hello friends and foes,

I’m Seb, lead dev at Motion Twin, a french indie studio currently developing Dead Cells, which we are very proud to be bringing to PS4 players later this year!

Dead Cells

At first glance, Dead Cells looks a lot like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night wrapped in a rogue-lite, stuffed in a souls-lite and cooked in sweet pixelart sauce with permadeath, randomness and challenging combat at the core of the experience. However, I feel like this mashup doesn’t entirely convey what we’re trying to achieve with Dead Cells. What we’re really trying to do is empower the player, right from the get go.

Dead Cells is designed to be a challenging experience. You won’t be breezing through the game on your first go, unless you’ve got some outrageous Jedi-like reflexes. But difficulty for difficulty’s sake makes no sense, so each challenge should feel tough but not insurmountable.

Dead CellsDead Cells

This has been a core design principle since the beginning, and we always make sure you have the tools you need to overcome the challenge. Right off the bat, you feel fast and fluid when you move. You’ve got access to all of your equipment slots, double jump, a blistering stomp attack and your dodge: a roll during which you’re invincible. The challenge is not in acquiring more abilities, but in mastering those you already have. We want you to feel rewarded by your own progress, the strength of your character being equal to the extent of your skills, not feel like your progression is being artificially restrained by the game.

This is why we’ve put so much time and energy into making sure the controls are responsive as hell. They should feel like something you’ve played before, like old friends. If you’re not a fan, we’ve also made everything customizable, so the controller should always feel like an extension of your arm rather than another painful obstacle.

Dead Cells

Each mechanic of the game is designed to move in the same direction. Plenty of weapons and items allow you to try a variety of playstyles and find ones you enjoy and are efficient with. Alternate paths to the end often mean you can skip a level you’re not equipped for (damn RNG) or have some trouble passing, leaving it for later when you’re more at ease with the game. Eventually, you will feel like an unstoppable killing machine blasting your way through the levels, and it will be because you’ve improved, not because we will have made your character super overpowered. We think this is a far more fulfilling experience.

Reaching this level of proficiency, however, may take a bit of time. That’s why we’re also striving to offer a meaningful sensation of progression throughout the game, even when the run ends earlier than you would have liked. That’s the role of the metagame. While you’re busy sharpening your skills, you will also unlock new weapons, new levels and new perks which will give you new things to experience and new objectives for your next runs.

Dead Cells

I really hope my not-so-brief introduction of Dead Cells sparked your curiosity about our project. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments.

Cheers!
Seb



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