Friday Fun: Open Thread!

My character in RIFT (which launched in headstart yesterday), a short, purply-blue skinned female Mage with short spiky hair.

Hey everyone!  First of all, sorry about the radio silence over the past week – things have been pretty busy around here with GDC preparation and other things getting in the way.  But that’s not going to stop the heroic OPEN THREAD this week!  Go ahead and chit chat about whatever is on your mind, and I hope everyone has a great weekend. :)

So, whatcha playing?

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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47 Responses to Friday Fun: Open Thread!

  1. I’ve been playing Mass Effect 2 lately, when my disabilities haven’t been distracting me… which is often ._.

  2. TheLaquidara says:

    I just got done with Dead Space, and by that I mean I stopped having fun and decided to uninstall the game in the middle of chapter 11, which I believe is the second to last chapter. The game is just a series of hallways to me.

    I bought a bunch of Tomb Raider games during a Steam sale, I actually bought all the TR’s available through Steam except Legend, since I’ve already played that one. I’m actually looking forward to get into these games at some point, not really a fan of TR, but I have fond memories of playing the older TR games along side my mother… I mostly watched as she played, I could never get my head around those controls.

    Lastly, I bought the Guild Wars trilogy. It’s always been my intention to get into the series, especially after playing and really enjoying the trials, but for whatever reason, I always put off buying it. Fun game so far, I’m surprised at how lively the community is. I do have a gripe, aside from the scantily clad clothing… the game has the definition of prissy run animations for women. Seriously, it’s so over the top it’s almost laughable. It’s actually kept me from playing some classes, sadly.

    On a side note, I’m excited for next month, lots of games coming out that I’ve been waiting a long-ass time for. Okamiden and Monster Tale for the DS is what I’m mostly looking forward to. Also kinda interested in Pokemon Black/White, as it seems to be actually updating the game this time around. I personally had a hard time with the other Pokemon games due to the overwhelming feeling of deja vu. Also, kinda looking forward to Crysis 2, not a fan of the first one, but the leaked single-player beta YouTube videos have actually done a lot to get me interested in the game.

    • TheLaquidara says:

      Ack, there’s a new Steam sale. Spellforce 2 50% off for 10 USD. I’ve never heard of this game before, it’s being described as a Diablo meets RTS. It looks pretty darn neat, anyone here recommend it? Any positive or negative criticisms?

  3. Jayle Enn says:

    I’ve been playing RIFT, Divinity 2, and RIFT, in pretty much that order.

    One of the things that amuses me about RIFT is that the guys are sometimes stuck with the cheesecakey armour as well. At the end of the beta, I saw a big, burly Bahmi guy run past in red and silver piecemeal plate, and a bright red fantasy Speedo.

    Grabbed the Dragon Age 2 demo the other day (ugh, ugh, bleck) and been vaguely tempted to pick up the Fallout: New Vegas DLC, but I haven’t brought myself to finish the main campaign yet.

    • Oh dear, is the dragon age demo that bad? ._.

      • Korva says:

        Basically, it feels like about 99% combat. Repetitive, boring combat against faceless hordes in what would be called a “hose level” in Germany: a long corridor with no branches, no special features, no way to go but forward. There is very little dialog, and said dialog now uses a Mass Effect style dialog wheel, which means you no longer have any idea what exactly your character will say as the wheel only shows a curt approximation of the (now voiced) lines.

        I felt no emotional connection to the three NPCs who are supposed to be my character’s family. The storytelling style is annoying to me as it is no longer your character’s live, authentic experience but a tale told by one NPC to another many years — with no guarantee that he is even remotely telling the truth. This means that these two NPCs interrupt the game without warning to blather among themselves. The player was just in mid-conversation or mid-fight? Too bad. Blather and fast forward.

        I wasn’t planning to buy DA2 since most of the changes sounded off-putting on paper, but I wanted to try the demo anyway. I can’t say it has changed my decision. Yeah, it’s “just a demo”, but it was enough for me.

    • Korva says:

      Not impressed with the DA2 demo, eh? I feel the same. There were a few things I liked — to be precise, there were exactly two characters I liked (Aveline and Flemeth) but the rest left me cold or annoyed me. As a demo for a “proper CRPG” I call this thing a complete failure: either it fails to bring out the RPG elements of the game, or the game doesn’t really have any, and either way is bad. I’m an oldschool Bioware fan but I do NOT like the way they are going with their last games.

      I’ve been playing Dwarf Fortress, but less so than before as I’m stuck between wanting to work on my v31.18 forts, trying the new v31.19 features, and waiting for v31.20 for bugs and annoyances from .19 to be ironed out. I’ve also been playing less WoW because my fringe RP guild is in a real slump and I’m a bit burned out, with it and with the game itself. Really, if it wasn’t for the people I’d be long gone without regrets …

      • Jayle Enn says:

        I always wanted to like the older Bioware and Black Isle games, but the ‘code your own decision tree’ AI and pausable real-time combat always left me cold. I’m fine with true turn-based or true real-time combat, but combining the two was jarring and really takes me out of a game. The DA2 demo felt like a weird Diablo mod with an over-the-shoulder camera and the ability to just hold the button to keep attacking removed, which combined with the pause-and-command schtick made things feel completely disjointed.

        That and the game sets itself up to be mocked and riffed on from the OMG BLOOD ALL OVER BLUDBLUDBLUUUUUD ‘Hi, we’re Bioware, we made this BLUUUD-filled game’ logo video.

        • Korva says:

          Interesting, I’m very much in favor of the pauseable semi-real-time, semi-turn-based gameplay myself. :) By code-your-own-decision, do you mean the combat AI scripts? The first thing I do is turn those off, I’m way too much of a micromanaging control freak to like the idea of NPCs making their own decisions and messing up my combat plan.

          I did like the first Dragon Age game, and the blood dragon could work as a nice calling card for the franchise, but the “blood everywhere, look, this is really gritty and mature” hype is … yeah. Ridiculous and overdone. We touched on the faux maturity of violence (and sex) in the other post and sure, you CAN make such themes mature. But used as titillation without much if any critical reflection, they are pubescent at best.

          • Jayle Enn says:

            *nods* That’s what I meant, sorry for not being clearer. Strategy has never been one of my strong suits, and I find it highly distracting to have to change pace so abruptly and often. Oddly though, I had no real trouble with it in Fallout 3 or Mass Effect– maybe melee scenarios make me slip into a panicky hack-and-slash mindset.

            The blood dragon animation is very technically impressive, and evocative, but their adolescent fixation on splashing blood decals everywhere in-game almost turns it into self-parody.

            Watching… I can’t remember if it was a trailer or the opening cutscene, but at one point a dragon spreads its wings behind the main character and matter drips from their undersides like trails of blood. Watching that, and finally realizing that the same image in the promotional stills draws a small army of human silhouettes in red and white, really impressed me. Unfortunately, the gameplay mechanics just left me cold. There’s no pleasing everyone, though.

      • I haven’t even played DF .31.19 yet; I couldn’t get past the paucity of minerals. I’m okay with less; I’m not okay with THAT MUCH less.

        I’ll probably play .18 sometime though; unless .20 fixes the mineral thing and comes out before I get to that.

        • Korva says:

          Yay, another DF player. :)

          Yes I don’t like the resource scarcity at all either, especially in combination with the new vague embark screen. It’s a complete crapshot now — do I land on a decent embark that supports steel or bronze using industries, or are those “shallow” and “deep metals” worthless cobaltite and garnierite and I’ll have to fend off ambushes with nothing but leather armor and bone bolts?

          Toady has promised to balance things a bit better and probably add a metal scarcity/abundancy world gen parameter. Until he does, I will make only “test forts” in the new version.

          • Just noticed that DFHack is out for the new version; I might try it again now that there’s a reveal tool and I can, you know, check to see if the ‘metals’ are magnetite and tetrahedrite and not orthoclase and cobaltite (as much as I like the bright colors… :P)

            Or I’ll just stick with .18 where copper is on every map, and sedimentary layer = iron.

            I may also just wait a while; my anxiety has been really bad lately and playing games seems to make it worse. ._.

      • Denis Farr says:

        The demo left me feeling ambivalent. There were things I liked, and things that left me meh. Largely, it feels like a demo to showcase the battle style, rather than give the sense that this is an RPG. It almost feels like they’re addressing that part of the fanbase, assuming we accept the RPG elements are fine. For the most part, I trust them on that.

        However, I do enjoy the framed elements of storytelling they’re using, so that’s an area we won’t likely see eye to eye–for me that makes the roleplaying interesting.

        As a demo that is supposed to be indicative of the game, however? It definitely fails. I’m not entirely sure what could have been done to make it better without being a spoiler-filled avoidance for many, though. Everything they showcased there was known in some part by people who frequent the forums there.

  4. Lyss says:

    I’m in on Rift as well. I almost wish I had gone mage, though, as they seem significantly less prone to the battle-bikini armor on females than the other callings. Nothing raises my blood pressure like picking up a nice new piece of armor, seeing the icon in my inventory looks like a pair of pants, seeing it described as pants or trousers… and putting it on my character only to have it show up as a pair of leather panties. Argh.

    • Jayle Enn says:

      Ugh, I hear you. A little into my first beta session, I found myself wincing every time I tried a new bit of armor on, expecting the draftiest.

      It’s probably some species of confirmation bias, but I get the impression that armour -coverage- is better the less -protective- it is– like the starting plate torso piece has a bare midriff, and subsequent bits are just as bad, while leather is downright businesslike.

      Speaking of leather, I miss the duster my rogue got during beta. That coat looked downright bad-ass, with its built-in utility belt and metal plates sewn in over the shoulders.

  5. Kimiko says:

    I would like to hear your opinions on Radiant Historia (DS). It looks like a great game. It gets great reviews too. But still, I’m hesitant to buy it because the main character is male only. What do y’all think? Am I being too picky and missing out? Or would this be reason to dismiss the game for you as well?

    Currently I’m replaying Sword Of Mana (GBA). It’s nice to play a Mana game again. I’ve played this before, but emulated. Now I own it. The story is okay, but was clearly written for a male hero first, with a female heroine an afterthought. I wish Seiken Densetsu 3 (only Mana game not to make it out of Japan) and Legend Of Mana were available on handheld consoles.

    • Korva says:

      With the caveat that I do not know the game in question, I don’t think you are too picky. My personal policy is that I much prefer female protagonist, and if a game pretends to be a CRPG, I “demand” gender choice as well as a degree of other customization options — else I can’t look at it as a roleplaying game and am not interested.

      It’s all fine and well to expect that players, readers or viewers should be able to identify with any protagonist, but if some of us (read: women, gays, people of color, etc.) have to exercise that ability far more often than others and generally have less diverse and less satisfying “role models” then something is wrong in my book. So I see no issue whatsoever in saying no, I will invest my time and money in entertainment that at least gives a vague nod to people like me instead of a game/book/movie that only caters to the “default straight white male”.

      • Sharks says:

        Oh, amen on that! There is nothing that bores me more than seeing yet another cookie-cutter protagonist. Bleh. Radiant Historia has been piquing my interest from a gameplay standpoint, too, but the protagonist-I’ve-seen-a-hundred-times-before is putting it on my “get it when it’s a bargain/rental” list. If I could play as a (strong, reasonably clothed) woman, it probably would have been in my collection on day one. But if developers are going to lock themselves in a narrow corridor when it comes to demographics, they ain’t getting any of my money. I’m off to play Persona 3 Portable instead, which lets me (finally) choose my player character’s gender. Is it any wonder why I’m going to start that game within the next week when Persona 3:FES has lain untouched on my shelf for three years?

    • Doug S. says:

      From what I can tell from the reviews, Radiant Historia is a JRPG that tells a story about specific, pre-defined characters. In general, the convention of the genre is that you don’t get to customize your character’s appearance or personality very much; they’re a lot like books or movies that way. (Would it make sense to have a film that has you choose the main character’s gender before you watch it?) If you’re just sick of every game having the same (male) protagonist, then, yeah, you’re not being too picky if you decide to skip it, as long as you’re also willing to treat other games similarly. But if it’s specifically the lack of customization that annoys you, in order to be consistent you’d also have to be willing to pass on a game that had only a female protagonist.

  6. Lake Desire says:

    I just got a gaming PC and it’s finally up and running. I’m playing Final Fantasy XIV since there is no subscription fee right now. Anyone else play it? I’m only an hour in and don’t know how to do anything! I’d be interested in getting on a server with some of you all.

    Also should I check out Rift? What server are folks on?

    • Jayle Enn says:

      I’m on Belmont right now, to sign up with one of the secondary SomethingAwful guilds. Cuppy’s over on Lotham, according to her blog. Not sure about anyone else.

      • Lake Desire says:

        SomethingAwful is still around? I remember a gaming board I used to post on getting into forum wars with them 10+ years ago.

        • Jayle Enn says:

          Oh yes, we’re still kicking around. Lowtax is married and has a daughter, at least one of the other front page writers has actually published a couple of books, and my forums account is turning eleven sometime this Summer.

          Things are a lot quieter, these days: forum wars and invasions are forbidden on pain of banning, and there’s low-to-zero tolerance for homophobia and racism. Transphobia and the concept of privilege are still works in progress, alas.

    • Maverynthia says:

      There’s a couple of us playing FFXIV on Figaro server, myself and Tekanji and her friend. One of my friends was going to join us too… whenever they can get money for the game and there was another on Iris that kinda fell into the void.

    • Lake Desire says:

      I went with the Besaid server because it is the unofficial RP server and seems well populated. If anyone rolls there, let me know! My character is Lake Desire just like here.

  7. Laurentius says:

    Kicking back in nostalgia and one of my fondest coin-up memories: Puzzle Bobble aka Bust-a-Move. Got myself original version on emulator and PC version Bust-A-Move 4 and been playing it over and over and I plan o play it over the weekend too. I love this game!

  8. Jamie says:

    Well I stopped playing Dragon Age for a while partly because it was killing me on the inside, partly because I had the last week and the coming week full of work (paid and university kind) so yeah.

    Then I got back into Minecraft which I know will bugger up everything in some way, but goddamn is it fun to play, I’m going to build castles everywhere, everywhere I tell you!

  9. no one important says:

    I’ve mostly been playing NCAA Football 11. That’s right, a sports game. *bows head in shame*

  10. 12Sided says:

    I played the DA2 demo… I really don’t like the voice acting for Lady Hawke, she sounds breathy and posh, not like the bad-ass refugee farm hand, who lived life on the run because her sister (and possibly herself) were in danger of templars because they’re apostates. I can’t elp but think of the monty python line “oh-oh no buttered scones for me major, I’m off to play the grand piano.”. I could probably get used to it if not for the witty conversation options being delivered with this smug self satisfied tone, as if she’s so proud of her own wit. That not how you deliver dry, sarcastic lines! Now I have to play super-serious, great.
    Love Interests were also announced (heterosexual ones anyway) and my worst fears confirmed. Merril, the character from the first game who has been redesigned with the body proportions of a child is a love interest. You can have sex with someone who looks like a 13-15 year old. The creepiest part is I know this can’t be a horrible mistake because bioware had children in DAO with the same kind of proportions and we’ve seen human women in DA2 all with adult builds.

    • Robin says:

      Given that Hawke’s mother is a noble, I don’t think it’s that unreasonable that they wouldn’t sound like farm hands. I can’t say I noticed her voice at all really, but I have the same accent as her (and I’m not exactly posh either) so it just sounds ordinary to me.

      I agree about Merril’s redesign, though. In DAO her design was a little bland so I can see why they might have wanted to change things now that she’s a companion, but I was really surprised just how much younger she looks in DA2.

  11. Alex says:

    I am playing the crap out of Pokemon HeartGold still. Black/White is out soon!!

  12. Shy says:

    I played the Dragon Age 2 demo and am pretty in to it. I found myself disconnected from the combat in the first game, so this is a step in the right direction for me. Beyond that… *shrug* I’m interested in seeing the full game, at least.

    I’m really more invested in Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. I can play it on the train! :D

  13. ninjapenguin says:

    Just finished 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (and by finished, I mean all the endings). I like having a room escape game on the DS (yay for increased game type diversity!) and that the visual novel content gave a good reason to replay–and that the “true” ending felt worth the replay. I wish they’d allowed the opportunity to skip puzzles you’ve already played through before on those replays though.

    I was highly disappointed in the costume design. A large breasted woman in a belly dancing costume that defies physics? A school girl whose official illustration has her bent at the waist, with her tiny skirt just barely covering her underwear? And the final girl, our chaste girl next door, who is of course the hero’s love interest?

    But at least the characters were written better than they were shown. The scantily clad woman is a highly intelligent computer security expert. The large, rather intimidating black guy is a heroic cop. There’s a character with a disability (blindness) who is not helpless (he makes some claims about his increased hearing capabilities that venture into Disability Superpower world, although he could be lying about this). Characters that you expect to be Good …aren’t. Characters you think are Evil …aren’t. The storyline is a combo of horror and scifi/fantasy as nine people play a rather gruesome game as part of an experiment.

    Overall, I’d say that it’s a very interesting game in a genre (well, two genres) I like, and I hope there are more to come like this. I just wish they didn’t feel the need to add in gratuitous “fanservice” that will push away gamers who might otherwise be part of the target audience.

    • FarisScherwiz says:

      I really liked 999 too. I was iffy on the character designs, but they really flipped those expectations around with the writing (I kind of wonder if they did this on purpose, as the whole thing seems to function around taking your assumptions and turning them around on you.)

  14. Denis Farr says:

    I’ve been playing through Portal multiple times while reading some Donne and Kate Chopin. Some manner of post is brewing there.

    Otherwise, have been working my way through the Splinter Cell games. Unfortunately, I’ve hit Double Agent, which is a major step down in quality from Chaos Theory. Also, I’m confused by how often gender and references to homosexuality have popped up. The very first game started off with making a you never forget ‘like riding a bike’ reference that morphed into ‘like wearing high heels’ between two male characters. Then there was a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell piece in reference to a wrestling team in the news headlines between levels. Double Agent has dialog between two guards about one supposedly hitting on the other. Not sure what to make of it all.

    • TheLaquidara says:

      Oh, Splinter Cell! The series the picked up where Metal Gear left off, at least back in the day. Yeah, going from Chaos Theory to Double Agent is indeed a jarring experience. It’s been a long time since I’ve played Double Agent, but I remember how cumbersome that game was, talking purely in gameplay, it’s been so long that I can hardly remember any dialog. I also could not stand the day themed levels, I liked that they tried, but I feel they failed. I also missed Amon Tobin’s work from Chaos Theory, I felt his stuff really helped give Splinter Cell a unique sense of style and personality that, to me, was missing from previous SC’s.

      And this was all on the 360, I’ve heard the horror stories of the PC version. Somewhere around Ubi’s Prince of Persia era, their PC ports started going downhill, with Double Agent being one of their lowest points. Sadly, their ports are still sketchy and are made even worse with their horrid attempts at DRM. I really wanted to play Assassin’s Creed 2 when it first came out on the PC. :(

      Ahem, mini-rant aside, are you planning on playing Conviction? I’m really curious about that game and would love to hear your opinions on it. After playing Chaos Theory and that fancy Batman game just before Conviction, I felt that it would be a step down and leave me disappointed, so I’ve kept my seat planted on the fence.

      • Denis Farr says:

        Yeah, that’s what I really, really don’t understand. The original and Chaos Theory? Wonderful PC ports–no issues. Could use the mouse to navigate menus, and just generally had no issues.

        Double Agent? Can’t use the mouse to navigate menus (always a pet peeve of mine when porting games), all manner of glitches, and one whole level where you can’t quickload without the game crashing. Of course, loading doesn’t work either–like at all. I can save all I want, but unless I quit to the main menu, I can’t load the game, despite the option being in the menu during play.

        *breath* It’s been frustrating.

        I also found it curious that Clint Hocking left by the time Double Agent was released–from what I’ve played of his games, he has an excellent eye for game design (level design in particular).

        Fortunately, Ubisoft had a glitch one evening where Conviction was only $1 in their online store, so I do have it. Will be playing it once I muddle through these last few missions of Double Agent. I’m thinking I might do a post about the retrospective (though I haven’t played Pandora Tomorrow, as it’s not available online for digital download).

        • TheLaquidara says:

          Wow, that’s totally messed up. It’s one thing to release a game in a broken state, another to leave it in that state. That’s just depressing. I was actually close to purchasing Double Agent on Steam after going through Chaos Theory, but it looks like Batman saved my ass. :P

          Second your pet peeve. I equally hate it when a PC game doesn’t properly map the desktop mouse sensitivity in the game, especially when it’s a game that switches between having your mouse cursor on screen to interact with certain elements of the game, and then switching it to where there is no cursor on screen, but your controlling the camera… *cough* Dead Space *cough*

          And totally jealous on your Conviction pickup. The wonders of digital distribution!

        • Rob says:

          (Sorry for the long-winded post! I saw a Splinter Cell discussion going on and felt compelled to chime in.)

          It’s interesting that you single out the first and third as being superior (in terms of ports at least), Dennis, especially given the following; the first and third game (Chaos Theory) were done by Ubisoft Montreal, while the second (Pandora Tomorrow) and the PC version of the fourth (Double Agent) were actually done by Ubisoft Shanghai.

          I first became aware that something odd was going on when I got the PS2 version of Double Agent and discovered that it was almost completely different from the PC version of the same game. My PS2 version played quite similarly to Chaos Theory: I had the old familiar GUI with the light meter and sound meter, and the co-op missions continued to evolve on the “two agents working in parallel to the events happening in the single player game” thing. (For example, the two unnamed agents are key in helping Sam escape with Jamie Washington during a certain early mission.)

          And it didn’t have those blasted day levels that TheLaquidara mentions. :) From what I saw of it, the PC version took things in a fairly new direction. The Wikipedia entry for Double Agent is an interesting read.

          I liked Double Agent, though I’d probably still put Chaos Theory on top.

          As for Conviction, I had serious problems with it at first. I’d always role-played Sam Fisher as someone who valued human life… at least to a certain extent. I liked that the Splinter Cell games always allowed me to play in that sneaky-sneaky, ‘knock people out without killing them’ kind of way. In Conviction you’ve pretty much lost all capacity to use non-lethal force and are even required to eliminate enemies in order to proceed, more than a couple times. Even when you do manage to sneak by groups, they can sometimes disappear right in front of your eyes, with the game assuming, “you must’ve killed those guys if you’ve made it to here.”

          I eventually rationalized it as, “The years have been hard on Sam; he’s apparently snapped and become just as monstrous as the people he hunts,” and it eased the disconnect I was feeling between the old Sam and the new. I was pleasantly surprised at the end though when… well actually I’d better not say anything, to avoid inadvertent spoilers. :)

          Overall I thought Conviction was fun, but I felt that it was nowhere near Chaos Theory in terms of story-telling, or whatever those game principles I can’t describe are that made it feel… better.

  15. lemurcat says:

    Nintendogs + Cats.

  16. Oh and I just remembered something else. Specifically, the trailer for Skyrim seemed specifically egregious in their assumption that the player character was male. Which is making me less than enthusiastic about it. ._.

    (Though come to think of it, Morrowind did the exact same thing IN THE GAME. Like, nobody even bothers to note that the prophecies your all fulfilling don’t fit your gender >.> Even the people who are trying to discredit you. ._. It was a tad jarring.)

  17. I got a realm-transfer and a new guild in WoW. I think and hope I’m going to be a lot more at home there. It’s an RP server, and there’s just so much more going ON at any given time. The improved quality of the people-watching ALONE makes it worth the 25 bucks.

    Outside WoW, I have the new chapter in the King’s Quest fan-sequel waiting for me, plus the new King’s Quest III fan-remake, so it’s gonna be a nostalgey sorta week. :-)

  18. Jinian says:

    I’ve been convinced by several recent posts to try FFX-2, and I’m liking it pretty well. (Paine is forbidden to ever be a black mage again, though. Between the weird outfit and the “ice ice, baby” it was a major source of sadface.) And of course there is Rock Band 3, the only game I can get the boyfriend to play with me.

  19. FarisScherwiz says:

    Someone gave me Hyper Dimension Neptunia, but I’m kind of wary of playing it. The story sounds interesting and it seems basically all the characters are female, but the fanservice on the box alone makes it seem incredibly iffy to me. Perhaps I will try to get through it and maybe write something on it, I dunno.

    Besides that, I installed Kotor 2 and will be giving it a shot soon. Also need to get back to Fallout: New Vegas.

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