I will play every level in Eternal X and comment on them.

For topics about the story, help in a certain level, game discussion, or finding/discussing content.

Post May 17th '10, 23:14

Echoes of Eden
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Whatever the reasoning is behind them existing in this story, it's still stupid, and it's unfortunate that no one ever redrew the PID sprites because they are horribly out of place.

With this level there is a substantial increase in difficulty, as there are scads of these bastards and they all do a pretty good chunk of damage with each hit. This level is pretty short and straightforward: find the silly Gravitronic Blades and head to the upper floors of this installation. The first half of the level, in the basement, is a huge and expansive maze. There are defense turrets that don't hurt the Nightmares but they sure mess you up pretty good; the Nightmares themselves (that is what they're called, right) hurt you quite a bit too, and then there's everything else when you reach the surface.

There really isn't actually a lot to say about this level. For being the climax of this huge overarching storyline, it begins with a pretty average level and a trivial mission in itself. It just seems like the figurative budget ran out here.

Level design: 3/5
Architecture: 2/5
Combat: 2/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 17th '10, 23:29

RyokoTK wrote:Except the key thing about it is that it's a choice that the player makes. It's not the same thing as a scripted event throwing you off-guard. Maybe this is just me, but even if I get snookered by the level design into making the wrong choice, as long as the right choice is available, I end up feeling like an idiot because the failure is mine to some extent.

That's just as true in the intralevel layout I was making an analogy to.

Say you are instructed on a level to get to [plot widget], without directions as to how, and so you run down the big open hallways taking the obvious route there, thinking you're making progress toward your objective, only to be surprised at the end when the ceiling has collapsed, which you can easily be forgiven for not foreseeing, and you have to go back and sneak through an air duct to find a different route to the [plot widget].

By comparison, in Eternal, you have the implied goal of saving the universe from one form of doom or another, and if you take the obvious straightforward path and you will end up going down a timeline thinking you're doing everything right and making progress to some objective and then at the end of that timeline everything goes sideways, usually in ways a reasonable person might not have seen coming, but thankfully you have a time machine so you can backtrack through time and make a less obvious series of choices to progress toward your goal in another way.

In both cases, going down the obvious route is equally "your fault" or not, and the obstructions you encounter are easily unforeseen, and thus easily forgiven for not expecting. Sure, you COULD have chosen to duck through the air vents to take the alternate route to the plot widget to begin with, and so running down the the big obvious hallways was a "failure" on your part, but only inasmuch as you didn't see an non-obvious problem coming.
-Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
Director of the Xeventh Project, the team behind Eternal
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
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Pfhorrest
California

Post May 17th '10, 23:30

The Dead Live in the Catacombs
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Not a lot to say about this level either, actually. It's a pretty straightforward gauntlet of more of these PID enemies as you mindlessly slash your way through them with the fluorescent laser swords. The architecture has improved a little bit from the previous level, and the layout of the level is more or less coherent; it's basically a linear sequence of low wide corridors that at least have the decency to loop back to the beginning so you can recharge and save every now and again.

As before, this level just feels a little too... normal for such a monumental episode of plot.

Neither of the Jjaro weapons feel right to me. The projectile for the Wave Motion Cannon is so large that if you fire it in a corridor that's too low or narrow, it'll immediately clip one of the surfaces and detonate in your face. Thankfully it doesn't hurt you, but it also doesn't work basically anywhere in this level. The blades have a much large reach than the sprite would suggest -- probably 1.5 WU or so? -- but because there's no projectile graphic, it just feels weird. Considering the fact that I'm slaughtering like 10 of these guys in a single blush, there isn't an appropriate level of satisfaction in the swords. I basically just tap a button and everything dies.

Level design: 3/5
Architecture: 3/5
Combat: 2.5/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 17th '10, 23:32

Pfhorrest wrote:By comparison, in Eternal, you have the implied goal of saving the universe from one form of doom or another, and if you take the obvious straightforward path and you will end up going down a timeline thinking you're doing everything right and making progress to some objective and then at the end of that timeline everything goes sideways, usually in ways a reasonable person might not have seen coming, but thankfully you have a time machine so you can backtrack through time and make a less obvious series of choices to progress toward your goal in another way.

In both cases, going down the obvious route is equally "your fault" or not, and the obstructions you encounter are easily unforeseen, and thus easily forgiven for not expecting. Sure, you COULD have chosen to duck through the air vents to take the alternate route to the plot widget to begin with, and so running down the the big obvious hallways was a "failure" on your part, but only inasmuch as you didn't see an non-obvious problem coming.

I think this just boils down to a difference in perception about the failure branches, but one thing I can address it to personally is knowing that the branch level is always the fourth level in a chapter. You have no good reason for each chapter being exactly 10 levels, and so when I'm on the fourth level I know I have to weigh my options more carefully -- but half the time it just involves looking for the less-physically-obvious option.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 17th '10, 23:45

Not a Natural Formation
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I'm already quite tired of this chapter. Thankfully the levels are so short, but they're all, from a design standpoint, extremely bland, and architecturally uninteresting in general. This level has pretty much the same issues as the previous two, only at least the architecture is a little bit more... there than the previous levels.

The only thing I will address is that the enemies respawn on this level, and they do so in the cheesiest way: by literally reappearing in front of your face, right in front of the save point. I understand that you want to impress upon the player that the hordes are endless, but you gotta use a little bit more tact than that, buddy.

Level design: 2/5
Architecture: 3.5/5
Combat: 1/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 17th '10, 23:51

Pfhorrest wrote:saving the universe from one form of doom or another


heyyyy
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Shadowbreaker
Melbourne, Victoria

Post May 18th '10, 00:33

Deep Into the Grotto
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This level is bad. It's really, really, really bad, and the thought of having to replay it upon choosing the wrong choice at the end is more than I can tolerate, so I hope to high heaven I did the right thing for my own sake.

There's only one thing worse than a really bad level, and that's a really hard really bad level, which this one is. The inherent problem with this level is not only that it's an annoying and overly-long switch hunt maze, but it has infinitely spawning enemies in great numbers and you can die very very quickly, and they can chase you freely over the entire level so you have absolutely nowhere to hide. In my course of trying to punch all of the switches on this level, I died more times here than probably anywhere else in the entire game -- combined. This, coupled with the fact that your blade ammo is finite and the WMC doesn't work properly, means you are always forced to run away at top speed.

It's not a lot of fun. In fact, it's not only not fun, but it's unbelievably aggravating, and if I weren't pointlessly and needlessly forcing myself to finish this game I probably would have stopped playing right here. I didn't even realize fully what the objective was until I was some distance through the level, because I was too focused on not dying basically immediately to the endless hordes, and by the time I did catch on I had to retrace all of my steps in order to find out which stupid switch I passed up. This level sucks.

Making the choice at the end of the level seemed to boil down to catching Hathor in a logical error of sorts, if my knowledge of Marathon lore is correct. (Also because choosing the obvious choice in this game is always wrong.) So, at least it beats having to break an out-of-the-way wire that no one told you about, or something like that. In fact, as far as "choice" goes in this game, this is the only one where it actually feels like a legitimate choice. Unpfhorseen was close, but I think it was too obvious that Tycho was evil. But I guess I'll find out if I'm right or not before too long.

Level design: 1/5
Architecture: 3/5
Combat: 1/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 18th '10, 00:53

This Message Will Self-Destruct
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"You got your infinitely respawning enemies on my sprawling Pfhor ship!"
"You got your sprawling Pfhor ship on my infinitely respawning enemies!"
Two bad things that go worse together!

I have nothing else to say except that it truly is as if "Dysmentria" and "Deep Into the Grotto" had a child and the child contracted Fetal Alcohol Syndrome along the way. This is a catastrophically poor ending to an otherwise pretty good game. I must be on the failure branch because this is literal punishment. :(

Level design: 1/5
Architecture: 2/5
Combat: 1/5
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 18th '10, 01:34

We Met Once in the Garden
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You know, this level really isn't that bad. I'd go so far as to say it's the best of the Jjaro chapter, but that's not a difficult task. For one, I'm back to fighting Pfhor, which is wonderful in comparison to these PID assholes -- yes, they are on this level as well, and they do respawn infinitely again, but in far fewer numbers than the previous two. The level is also marginally more straightforward, and it's even somewhat attractive. It's the best attempt at an outdoor environment this scenario has had to offer, even.

Plus it's finally an ample opportunity to put the Wave Motion Cannon to good use. When it's not glitching to hell and back, it's actually a really fun weapon, and certainly the level seems to be designed around its use, which is pretty appropriate. Basically the entire level involves jumping on rocks and then blowing up a swarm of Pfhor over and over -- and that's not too bad.

Not a lot to say about this simple but fun level.

Level design: 3.5/5
Architecture: 4/5
Combat: 4/5

Where Giants Have Fallen
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I suspected I'd be playing this piece of shit for real for a while after Pfhorrest hinted at it the first time I complained about it. He was on the money about one thing: going through this level the normal way is horrible. Everything looks the same, and even with all of the guideposts the way is not clear enough. Plus it's now populated with PID assholes, though for the most part they thankfully don't attack you. So really, it's one excessively long jumping puzzle at 15 frames per second, and if you fall down, you probably have to start the entire thing over again.

This is the last real level! What the hell is this? This level is terrible and horribly anti-climactic; at first, a more charitable person might think "wow, it's that dream level but it's real!" Except the level is bad, and it's a tedious and overly-long jumping puzzle that serves no purpose except to be tiresome.

I should just stop here on this level, because I have nothing but bad things to say about this.

Level design: 1/5
Architecture: 1/5
Combat: 1/5

The Near Side of Everywhere
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Predictably, the final level is the first level in reverse. Except it's a GODDAMNED REBELLION, I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU WOULD STOOP THIS LOW. :)

Anyway, it's over, except for the 11 failure levels I have remaining. I'll tackle those later.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 18th '10, 01:59

My final thoughts about Eternal X:

Pfhorrest had a cool story to tell, and despite me maligning it from the get-go for its use of time travel, it was actually pretty sensible and a good opportunity for some distinct settings. But at the same time, I don't think the story would have necessarily been much worse if it didn't use time travel at all. If that makes sense. At the worst, the presence of time travel gave Leela the opportunity to channel Paul Atreides and try to manipulate the future through the present-past. It was really only Hathor herself that I disliked as a character, for lapsing too much into stereotypical villain monologuing a bit too much. At the same time, I regret that Tycho only had a role at the beginning of the game, because his more subtle scheming was a lot cleverer than Hathor's blatant megalomania.

Eternal has had such a colossal and storied history and has had so many revisions that it's not entirely unsurprising that the levels are as inconsistent as they are. Especially since so many different people had made maps at some point for Eternal, but it seems like it was an outlet for a lot of aspiring mappers to get a place in a project rather than a few truly talented and dedicated mappers to really make the game shine. EDIT: And it's remarkable how far along it came from its earlier versions. Even Eternal Mk. V was terrible.

What this means is basically what I've seen throughout the course of the game: few of the levels are really particularly good or really richly developed, and a lot of them have that kind of overly-simple feeling of more amateur mappers (not that that's a knock against them, since I made quite a few levels like that in my day). There are a few really excellent maps that stand out, though, but at the same time, even the poor maps are perfectly playable and not really frustrating; the precipitous drop of quality in the final chapter is certainly a deliberate decision on Pfhorrest's part rather than the fault of the mappers, and that's the exception, not the rule.

The idea to be able to choose your own fate -- consciously or not -- is an interesting idea that I personally disagree with, but I see the merits of it. As I mentioned before, I think it would have been a lot more successful and compelling if the choice was made more clear and distinct, and was an issue of the actual player having to carefully consider the consequences of his actions and think about what the AIs have said, rather than the decision being engineered through shady map design. In other words, "Deep Into the Grotto" did the success/failure decision properly, and "Dread Not" did it poorly.

I also think the rigid structure of the scenario's chapters played against it in the end. Every chapter didn't need to have 10 levels; in fact, only the Drinniol chapter really had enough plot content to make it that far. Having the branch level always being 4 levels in, and having 3 more levels after that, is just unnecessary and I can only imagine it made writing the storyline more difficult since you're trying to adhere to an artificial structure that you put in place in the first place.

The weapons were generally extremely fun to use. The Pfhor weapons that served as the backbone of your arsenal were very nicely balanced, and I used all four of them extensively; despite having the trusty Assault Rifle, there were plenty of opportunities when the other weapons were better, and I think the Scattergun was my real favorite. I wish there was more Fusion ammo after the second chapter, but overall I certainly didn't need either the Cronus or Ouranos for the most part. The enemies were also fun to use, and because most of them got small buffs, it felt like the difficulty was appropriately geared for people that actually played the original Trilogy. The difficulty curve itself is shallow, but that's to be expected when the game is 50 levels long.

The one thing that the CLIQUE always poked fun at Eternal for were the textures, and the graphics in general. They're not very good by themselves, it's true, but some mappers really put them to great use and made some cool-looking levels. Lazier mappers, however, made extremely bland and terrible levels. What I think is weird is the mixture of the almost childish M1 enemies and the more gritty and "realistic" M2 foes. The PID enemies just looked completely stupid and out of place.

Overall, Eternal was consistently decent; rarely terrible, but also rarely great. It was obvious that a great amount of detail and thought was put in the story, and I wish that the levels were there to match it.

Best levels: A Friend in Need, Babylon X, The Incredible Hulk
Worst levels: This Message Will Self-Destruct, Deep Into the Grotto, Where Giants Have Fallen
Prettiest levels: A Friend in Need, Dread Not
Last edited by RyokoTK on May 18th '10, 02:12, edited 1 time in total.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 18th '10, 03:15

I'm just gonna say i thought all the jumping around the cliffs in the last level was kind of fun. I'd also just like to point out that you, Ryoko, are guilty of obnoxious jumping sequences while being attacked in the Accolade in TGI. You know, that one little obnoxious jump that you had to strafe jump across. I didn't know about strafe jumping the first time I played it so I died A LOT. Although it was only one part and the rest of the Accolade was great fun. The fact that there was lava all over the place didn't help though.

Edit: I'd also just like to say these scenario reviews you've done have been incredibly helpful to me for figuring out what NOT to do in a map.
Last edited by Horkeldorf on May 18th '10, 03:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Horkeldorf

Post May 18th '10, 03:20

Horkeldorf wrote:I'm just gonna say i thought all the jumping around the cliffs in the last level was kind of fun. I'd also just like to point out that you, Ryoko, are guilty of obnoxious jumping sequences while being attacked in the Accolade in TGI. You know, that one little obnoxious jump that you had to strafe jump across. I didn't know about strafe jumping the first time I played it so I died A LOT. Although it was only one part and the rest of the Accolade was great fun. The fact that there was lava all over the place didn't help though.

Edit: I'd also just like to say these scenario reviews you've done have been incredibly helpful to me for figuring out what NOT to do in a map.

As you will see when Phoenix comes out (hopefully in the next couple of months), I have learned a considerable amount from my own mistakes as well. The Accolade is an awful level, I will be the first to admit.

EDIT (I never think before I post): Figuring out what not to do in future map design is basically the point. Like any architectural project review, the jurors will be critical and propose suggestions to your project -- but if the project is done, they know full well you can't go back and fix it. I don't expect Pfhorrest to go back and fix every little thing I've pointed out because, beyond the fact that his opinion is certainly as valid as my own, he's got to be sick of this stupid thing by now anyway.
Last edited by RyokoTK on May 18th '10, 03:25, edited 1 time in total.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 18th '10, 04:26

Just imagine how much fun Where Giants have Fallen would be if the entire bottom of the map was full of lava!
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Horkeldorf

Post May 18th '10, 06:09

Horkeldorf wrote:I'd also just like to say these scenario reviews you've done have been incredibly helpful to me for figuring out what NOT to do in a map.

I agree. I don't know if Horkeldorf meant it sarcastically or not, but I actually think that these reviews have helped me gain some M4R47H0N (4EVER) knowledge.
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gmanyo

Post May 18th '10, 06:22

Well, on the topic of textures, as a seasoned texture maker I'd like to say that many of Eternal's textures looked really nice, and would have been amazing if instead of a whole bunch of tints, there were actually some textures that were meant for specific places. I've never been able to phrase this properly. My point basically is shown in Ryoko's last screenshot. None of those textures look as if they were actually created specifically for the purpose of lining giant exteriors of structures; they could fit anywhere. Perhaps had he more 1 WU slabs of metal or whatever, I wouldn't have this nitpick. He had many slaves but few soldiers, I suppose.

Of course, I'm not saying he should break the theme by having what I am suggesting, like having lots of colors and rust and detail and caution walls and rows of small B&E's, etc. - Eternal really has a feel to it, in my opinion. It's the sort of feel you get when all of the stuff is really different, really new, really consistent, and it all works. Rubicon definately had this, RED sort of had it but it didnt "work", Evil didn't because it just an Infinity scenario with different monsters.



I also hope you enjoyed playing all of those Wasps, Lookers, and Flickta.
Last edited by Shadowbreaker on May 18th '10, 06:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Shadowbreaker
Melbourne, Victoria

Post May 18th '10, 09:52

RyokoTK wrote:As you will see when Phoenix comes out (hopefully in the next couple of months), I have learned a considerable amount from my own mistakes as well. The Accolade is an awful level, I will be the first to admit.


The Accolade is not a bad level. I think its really cool. But the final lava run, I'll agree with any dissenting remarks.

And one more thing...

...

DO RED NEXT! DO RED NEXT!
MoppyPuppy
Lake Nebagamon, WI

Post May 18th '10, 11:11

I also hope you enjoyed playing all of those Wasps, Lookers, and Flickta.

I didn't mind them, actually, for the most part. Wasps were basically harder-to-see Drones, but the Scattergun completely destroys Wasps so I didn't mind them. Lookers were pretty rare and, unlike Rubicon, they weren't placed specifically to screw the player over, so they weren't a problem. And Flick'ta are chumps, so they weren't an issue either.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 18th '10, 13:04

MoppyPuppy wrote:DO RED NEXT! DO RED NEXT!


From what I have read, Ryoko despises RED in many ways. His main problem was the fact that Ian's attempt at making the scenario "Hard" just made it "Cheap"; there's like no saves anywhere and if you don't have White Health the whole time you are basically dead. We all accept that RED had the coolest monsters ever, but they were also some of the most overpowered and in some ways un-fun to fight.

I'll go ahead and say that I thought RED was pretty good. The atmosphere is really nice, and you really get the feeling of some sort of biological nightmare. The dialogue from Ian sort of sucked, and the whole "Well rather than just being some kickass cyborg who kills shit you are really an immortal death machine in human form" was a bit cliché.
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Shadowbreaker
Melbourne, Victoria

Post May 18th '10, 13:47

gmanyo wrote:I agree. I don't know if Horkeldorf meant it sarcastically or not, but I actually think that these reviews have helped me gain some M4R47H0N (4EVER) knowledge.

I wasn't being sarcastic. These reviews are pretty handy for inexperienced mappers (like me) to read and learn what makes a map/scenario good and bad.
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Horkeldorf

Post May 18th '10, 16:14

RyokoTK wrote:Best levels: A Friend in Need, Babylon X, The Incredible Hulk
Worst levels: This Message Will Self-Destruct, Deep Into the Grotto, Where Giants Have Fallen
Prettiest levels: A Friend in Need, Dread Not


Thanks thanks thanks :D
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goran

Post May 18th '10, 16:54

RyokoTK wrote:The Accolade is an awful level, I will be the first to admit.

not to get off topic for more than a moment, but The Accolade was one of your MEMORABLE levels, and you shouldn't be so quick to knock it. it had a whole bucket of flaws, but the idea was solid.

really, thinking about it, two of the three Accolades were memorable.
dude, seriously. dude.
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thermoplyae

Post May 18th '10, 20:59

thermoplyae wrote:not to get off topic for more than a moment, but The Accolade was one of your MEMORABLE levels, and you shouldn't be so quick to knock it. it had a whole bucket of flaws, but the idea was solid.

really, thinking about it, two of the three Accolades were memorable.

I have a lot of fond memories of The Accolade for a few reasons, the most important (in my mind) being that it was my first 1024-polygon map, but also because of the scope of the level -- it was huge! But it was also an unholy pain in the neck and it looked dreadful.

The other two -- Mordor and Valley of the Damned -- I liked a fair bit better, Mordor being the obvious champion of the three. I did like VOTD too, but it was pretty unmemorable at the same time I guess.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 18th '10, 21:02

One thing I realized the other night when looking at the Eternal X maps in Weland -- Drictelt is responsible for almost all of my least-favorite maps in the game. He's improved an incredible amount since 2006ish though!
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post May 18th '10, 21:56

You've improved, too.


At kissing ass.
underworld : simple fun netmaps // prahblum peack : simple rejected netmaps
azure dreams : simple horrible netmaps // v6.0!!!: thomas mann's greatest hits : simple simple netmaps
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irons
(.Y.)

Post May 18th '10, 21:57

irons wrote:You've improved, too.
At kissing ass.

Dude I can smooch the hell out of that fine European ass.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

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