- Game of the Year 2019 - Results are in!
- Posted by HockeySam18 on March 01st, 2020 @ 05:03 a.m.
Voting has closed and the final results of the 2019 AoKH Game of the Year Awards are in!
Stealing the show were Bassi, Mr. Wednesday, and Lord Basse, who collectively claimed all five awards in the revamped GotY. Special attention is merited by Bassi, who holds the rare distinction of winning Designer of the Year two years running!
An honorable mention goes to Julius999, Rewaider, and Possidon, who appeared prominently in the results and only missed out on titles of their own due to some exemplary work by the aforementioned victors. Congratulations is in order for Possidon, who shocked all by becoming the first designer in AoKH history to complete a project a whopping 8 years in the works!
Head on over to the forum thread to congratulate the winners!
- Re-Revived Community Spotlight I: Filthydelphia
- Posted by Major Helper on February 29th, 2020 @ 03:18 a.m.
The curtains open, revealing a dark stage, with nothing but two red, high backed chairs, illuminated by spotlights. On the left one sits the interviewer, Major Helper, with his legs crossed, leaning his head on his hand. As if only now noticing the audience, he jolts and fixes his posture.
Ah, hello there everybody! It is a pleasure to have you here. As youre all well aware, Ill be conducting tonights interview with Filthydelphia. Hes truly a long, long, LONG-standing member of the HeavenGames community, as well as part of the Forgotten Empires team that we know and love. Without further ado, Filthydelphia!
With a grand sweep of his hand, Major Helper stands up to receive Filthydelphia who appears from the right of the stage amidst the applause, smiling and waving his hand. After a firm handshake, the two men take their seats. As the audience calms down, the interview begins.
Its a pleasure to have you join us tonight. I know it's rather sudden, but how're you feeling about this interview?
Is that the first interview question? *chuckles* Im feeling good about it. Its great to have an opportunity to answer any questions you have and let the community hear a bit of my voice outside of just the campaign scenarios.
Indeed it is, abrupt and kind of awkward as it might be. Glad to hear you're enthused. Let's start with getting to know YOU, first of all. A/S/L?
I'm 34 years old, male, and currently live in Chicago. I live right by the famous "Bean" statue and Lake Michigan is a stone's throw away from me. I can actually see Lake Michigan from my living room window.
Ooh, impressive. As a Finn I know and can certainly appreciate a good lake view. Tell me about yourself in real life. What field do you work and/or study in? What hobbies do you have? What brings you enjoyment in life?
Im currently a second-year Master of Business Administration (MBA) candidate at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which is the #1 MBA program in the world according to many rankings. Im pretty sure I had nothing to do with that, though! Im also currently a captain in the United States Marine Corps Reserve where I have the honor to command a very large company of about 500 Reserve Marines. Its a maintenance unit so my Marines are everything from truck mechanics to radio repairmen to gunsmiths. I joke that real-time strategy games like Age of Empires are a major reason why I became a logistics officer in the military, but theres definitely a kernel of truth in that. Playing these games growing up, you realize just how important the process of turning resources into combat power and moving men and supplies across the battlefield is to victory. As far as hobbies go, its tough to have many outside of Age of Empires these days with school and my military obligations, not to mention my work with Forgotten Empires! Id say Im fortunate enough to get paid to do my hobby which is to work on such a great franchise and tell the stories Im interested in through the games campaigns, both official and custom works.
Amazing! What came first, army or business studies?
I was a Finance major for my undergrad, worked a bunch of odds jobs, then joined the Marine Corps. I commissioned, meaning that I became an officer, in 2013. I started on my MBA in 2018.
Mm, I see. Do you have a goal to aim for?
Professionally, Id like to continue serving in the reserves as long as I can. Its fulfilling work and Im a patriot at heart. Besides, its definitely great to go away for a weekend once a month and do cool things like military field exercises, weapons ranges, and truck convoys! I suppose when your day job is making video games, you need something pretty out there to spice things up! In the civilian world, I received an offer to work at a major video game publisher this September so Im excited to continue working in this industry! My long-term goal and dream is to become the head of a game development studio.
That's a pretty impressive juxtaposition, honestly. Combining what's typically considered a pretty sit-down job with something that's the absolute opposite. On the other hand, it does make sense too, gotta blow off the steam somewhere. And your long-term goal's certainly not setting the bar too low!
I'd also like to think my military training helps me in designing tactically fun scenarios.
Ah, good point. What sort of games would you be interested in developing, were you to one day achieve your dream?
With Age of Empires, you really see the power that games have in teaching history and other skills. I think there was an article in one of those trendy business management blogs about how someone learned everything they needed to know about running their start-up from Age of Empires! I think video games sometimes have a bad reputation, but theyre awesome tools for learning problem-solving skills and learning about history. When I played games like Age of Empires and Civilization as a kid, it inspired me to read tons of history books! So I would love to develop a brand new historical strategy game, especially one that would introduce something entirely new and different to most gamers. For example, in doing research for the African Kingdoms DLC for Age of Empires II, I learned a lot about West African cultures and mythology and I think a game that brings some of that history to life would be awesome! But regardless of the theme of a game, I cant wait to work on new projects in this industry!
It is certainly undeniable that games have a huge potential to teach people in various subjects, as well as boost their interest in them. Take me (and probably every gamer in a non-English speaking country) for example, there's no way I'd be able to use English as proficiently as I do without games. Its the same with history, too. I doubt I'd know half of what I do without strategy games like AoK and Hearts of Iron 2. So, would your development studio be strictly strategy-game based? Or do you think there's space for other approaches like character driven exploration or some such?
Oh, I dont want to give the impression that Im only interested in strategy games! And certainly, me having my own development studio is far in the future, if it ever happens! Id say any type of game can do the same things that Age of Empires does, which is immersing gamers into a unique and different world and making them want more outside of the game. I think that really describes the most exciting games to be a part of: ones that make players want to invest more time in the game's world even when not playing it. Whether it's learning about the underlying history, or reading novels related to a fictional game, or whatever else! I think every video game developer is thrilled when gamers are still excited even after they leave the main menu. Special props to games that also allow the community to shape the game through UGC like mods or custom scenarios. Games like that really have great communities!
Those are certainly the best kinds of games, regardless of whether they're based on real life or not. I can't even count the amount of hours I can use modding games and researching how to do things more efficiently in them. Since we're already on the topic of games, walk me through the games of your life. What was your first digital game, and when did you play it for the first time? What are the main games that followed and that you held dear? Are you perhaps a PC purist or a consolist? Or is it whatever goes, it's all good in the end?
My first introduction to video games was sometime in 1990 when I was 5 years old. I have no idea what this game was, but my uncle had some sort of pixelated medieval fighting game. Think something like Mortal Kombat but with pixelated men fighting with quarterstaves. I was hooked. In grade school, we played educational games like the original Oregon Trail, Number Munchers, etc. Not long after that, we got a PC at home. I think the first game that really captured my imagination was the Dynamix/Sierra WW1 flight simulator Red Baron. I voraciously read everything I could on WW1 aviation. My introduction to real-time strategy games came with the first Warcraft, but the Age of Empires demo really struck a chord. I remember playing, I think it was the Rise of Rome demo, loving the ancient vibe of the menu and the music. When I saw a lion chase a gazelle past my town center on the first mission, I was hooked. It felt like a real, immersive world on that little screen, like I was transported back to the Stone Age with a world of wonder through the black fog on the game map. I couldnt get enough of it! I guess you can say the rest is history. I have a PC and used to own an XBOX 360. I think if you're primarily a strategy gamer, you need to be on PC, but that distinction has mattered less and less over time and will probably not matter in the future with the technology changes happening over the next several years. And nowadays, you can find some pretty impressive games even on mobile!
Sounds like history has always managed to strike a chord within you! What brought you to HeavenGames? Was it AoEH or AoKH that you first signed up for? What made this place gain a spot in your heart that makes you still visit it, untold years later?
I played Age of Empires before the second game came out so I was first on AoE Heaven back in 1998. Theres a quirk about the HeavenGames websites in that no one is registered before 3/31/1999 because there was a forum update that day that wiped everyones registration data. You can check every user on those two sites and none have a registration date before that, though some of us were certainly around from the earliest days! I think the custom scenario community really is the biggest draw to these sites. It was certainly the reason I got there. You can even find some of my embarrassing first attempts at scenario design hidden in the depths of the AoEH Granary! I stuck around until around 2003. The HD edition of Age of Empires II really is what brought me back at the end of 2013 again, as a scenario designer. Its great to have a community of designers eager to help each other out by answering questions and giving feedback! Were lucky as fans of Age of Empires to have someplace like AoE and AoK Heaven because sites like this are rare for other games. Plus the Blacksmith really is an incredible and valuable resource. You could spend a lifetime playing Age of Kings and only barely scratch the surface of everything thats in the Blacksmith!
Indeed, the community surrounding Age of Empires games is amazingly good, with many talented and creative individuals that have made a huge amount of content that, to this day, gives an untold amount of enjoyment to the players. I'm assuming that scenario design is what got you your job with Forgotten Empires, or am I mistaken? What do you do there?
Im one of the campaign designers on the team. I worked on the African Kingdoms and Rise of the Rajas DLCs for HD, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, and Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. Specifically, the campaigns I designed were Almeida (Portuguese), Bayinnaung (Burmese), Ivaylo (Bulgarian), and the remade Sforza (Italian) and Prithiviraj (Indian) campaigns for DE. The latter two have been completely redone from scratch with an all-new story and scenarios. I also worked on about half the scenarios in the DE version of AoE1. I was recruited through AoKHs own HockeySam18 back in early 2015. I was actually deployed overseas for the military at the time but jumped at the opportunity to work on a franchise thats been so dear to me. I think I even created the first outlines for the Almeida campaign originally an Afonso de Albuquerque campaign, in fact when I was overseas! Besides designing campaigns, I try to help the team anywhere else I can. One great thing about Forgotten Empires is that were such a small team and were all passionate fans of our games. Bert, the head of the studio, is open to feedback and ideas from everyone across the team so Id like to think we all contribute in many ways besides our specific roles.
You're clearly an important part of the team, no doubt about that!
At this point, Major Helper takes a look at his wristwatch, raises his eyebrow and takes a swig of water from a bottle hidden behind the chair. Noticing this, Filthydelphia checks to see if he has a bottle too. Finding it, he chugs down half the bottle, clearly parched. After both men have finished getting refreshed, the interview continues.
Whew, we're approaching the end stages of the interview. It has been quite a marathon. Are there other things you'd like to tell about yourself, your work or what you're up to? If yes, fire away, if not, we'll move onto the traditional quick questions.
Well, I do want to plug some of my custom content and my YouTube channel. Ive put out 10 custom scenarios for Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition since the game launched so if you still somehow havent gotten enough campaigns, be sure to check those out by searching for PhillySouljah either at https://www.ageofempires.com or through the in-game mod manager. As for my YouTube channel, Ive been doing a Lets Play series on the campaigns I worked on right now, Im covering Sforza. I talk about the history, the design choices, and even explain why Sforza is the Renaissance Han Solo! So if you want to check those videos out, subscribe to my channel Filthydelphia Creations at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClKwkfFF0iXCo9bn2Zj2iMA! Besides that, that's it. Let's fire away the lightning round!
Make sure to check out his stuff, everybody! It's definitely worth your time. Here come the quick questions, no need to think about them too hard. Feel free to elaborate on your choices if you want to, though!
Red vs. Blue?
Here's one closer to my heart:
Orange vs. Green?
Should've been the first question to totally throw me off! Green.
Nice, good choice!
Chocolate vs. Ice cream?
Invalid. Chocolate ice cream!
City vs. Countryside?
City. I'm in Chicago and used to live in NYC and Philly. Not sure how to survive in a place without a subway system!
Baseball vs. American Football?
Football hands down. Baseball is like a cure for insomnia!
So I hear, never watched it myself. Never watched the Finnish version of baseball, either.
Favorite source of caffeine?
None. I actually don't drink coffee, caffeinated teas, or sodas. Don't drink alcohol or sugary drinks either. I'm totally weird.
Atypical, but certainly interesting!
Happiness vs. Contentedness? *mutters* What a mouthful of a word, contentedness, contentedness *chuckles*
Is this a trick question? Not actually sure what the difference is. Let's go with contentedness, since it seems you get happiness from that word and I'm only here to make you, the interviewer, happy!
Much appreciated! Personally I tend to think contentedness is what one ought to strive for, as happiness is passing, with shifting goalposts, while being content with what you do and how you are, is a state of being. Well, from my point of view, anyways. Here's the last one:
Glass half-full or half-empty?
Half-full. Everything will work out. And even if it doesn't, you have to believe it will.
Thats a fine way to think indeed. Last but not least, you can offer the world something. A bit of life advice, a recommendation for a book/movie/game/whatever, something like that. The words free.
Heres a very important piece of advice: if you havent yet played Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, play it now!
*laughs* A fine businessman to the very end! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. It's been a fun couple of hours.
Thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure.
The men shake their hands and bow to the audience that bursts out in applause. Then, the lights dim and the curtains close, signaling the end of yet another Community Spotlight. The audience eventually calms down and begins to leave while chatting to each other about the contents of the interview.
- Hidden Gems: Black Knights and The Horsewizards
- Posted by Possidon on February 23rd, 2020 @ 05:47 a.m.
Black Knights & The Horsewizards
Have you ever noticed that amongst the great heap of trash that you can find in the Blacksmith, every once in a while you can come across something that is truly great, yet has slipped through the public eye to become lost to time?
Well that is where this brand new feature comes in. Many of you are probably aware that I love to post reviews; I especially love to dig deep into the blacksmith to find something new. Over the years I have some across a bunch of undiscovered gems lingering in the depths of the Blacksmith waiting to be discovered. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to do just that. Every month I will be introducing you to some of these files which I have found. Many of these will be smaller files, that may not necessarily warrant their own Blacksmith Feature. These will range from smaller mod packs made up of a single unit or two, to minigame scenarios or maybe even something slightly larger that might not have as many downloads as it deserves.
For this months feature I will be introducing you to two interesting units from the early days of our heaven.
Black Knights - by Big Travis
Every scenario needs an antagonist. Do you ever feel like sometimes you can't find a unit in the editor that looks evil enough to portray that evil warlord threatening the land? Then let me introduce you to the Black Knight, a nifty little unit by Big Travis. A well respected modder back in the early 2000s, Big Travis is perhaps best known for his two large conversations Axis & Allies and North America to Arms. As the name suggests, this unit is a knight in black armour, equipped with a bright red sword. In reality this is just a recolour of a two-handed swordsman, but done exceptionally well. Have you ever wanted a better unit for your evil villain or a demonic knight for your fantasy scenarios? Well then this is defiantly I unit you should check out.
The Horsewizards - by Theodred
Fantasy scenarios are a common occurance, you can find a large number of them in the Blacksmith. Many of these feature characters that practice magic, and there is a good variety of modded units that you can use to represent them. Agammemnon's Wizards & Warlocks is probably the most popular of these, or you could use Gandalf from one of the many Lord of the Rings mod packs. However, sometimes you might need a magical character thats a little bit faster, maybe something that can ride a horse. That's where the Horsewizards come into to play. This unit by Theodred is another old gem from 2001 that I discovered a while ago. This unit is decent copy and paste model that merges the Priest from the original Age of Empires game onto the horse of the Conquistador. Adding some lightning bolts into the units attacking graphics then turns this interesting unit into a mounted wizard, hence the name. A great addition to any fantasy scenario, this is also one of the only mod packs that I have found that adds a mounted wizard into the game.
It's important to note that both of the units are quite old, and were uploaded as AKX files. For those of you who do not know, AKX files were used for the most popular modding tool of AOKH's early days: Mod Pack Studio. Unfortunately, Mod Pack Studio no longer functions on modern operating systems and we now directly use SLPs files rather than AKX. However, that doesn't mean these units are useless. There are various tools that you can use to extract the SLP files from the AKXs, Turtle Pack, SLX Studio and 7Zip can all be used and there are guides in both the University and the Forums that can help you with this.
So, there you have it, two unique and interesting hidden gems from the depths of our Blacksmith that you now know exist, if you didnt already. Go and check them out now!
What do you think of our new feature? Have you found any hidden gems in the Blacksmith that you would like us to feature? Let us know in the comments below?
- Some of us return to the mortal realms
- Posted by Sebastien on February 16th, 2020 @ 8:44 p.m.
- As you know (or we've announced), the site is currently going through some changes and we're building something that will help grow the scenario design and modding scene further into the future.
Part of that means having staff that are active and engaged in the community, perhaps more so than previously.
I regret to announce that Dead_End and Lord Sipia are no longer staff. Whilst both are long term, respected members of the community, and very capable staff; it's just unfortunate (and understandable) that life sometimes gets in the way.
Matt, Possidon and myself, have took over Blacksmith duties from Dead_End, and Major Helper will still be managing the Towns Crier, with support from the rest of the staff.
Can we all give a thank you for their time and commitment. You'll no doubt still see them around the forums, but just not in colors.
- Defend the Spot Scenario Contest: 2020 Definitive Edition
- Posted by Mr Wednesday on February 15th, 2020 @ 3:09 p.m.
- Once again the call to all you scenario design and editor enthusiasts goes out! And this time, get your Definitive Edition editor tricks ready!
We are excited to announce the Defend the Spot 2020 Contest, exclusively for Definitive Edition entries. This competition pits designers against each other to design a defensive scenario. Whether it's a castle siege, holding a pass, or a bridge defense, designers will be asked to use Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition to design a scenario where you must defend against superior forces to win the day. Go HERE to scope out the competition, or go sign up yourself!
- Blacksmith Feature: Mare Nostrum (01.31.20)
- Posted by Possidon on January 31st, 2020 @ 03:38 a.m.
- Article written by HockeySam18
After a long hiatus, the Blacksmith feature is back! For this future, we'll be diving into an oft-ignored sector of AoKH's treasure trove of content. Released in the summer of 2014, shortly after his timeless masterpiece The Relics of Athalen, Mare Nostrum RP is Lord Basse's spin on the RP genre of multiplayer scenarios.
What is RP? What even is multiplayer, you may ask?
RP is a game mode where players assume control of various factions set in a unique world--historical, legendary, fantasy, or a mix--with its own lore and backstory, and conduct themselves as if they were the actual sovereigns of their respective regions. Players agree to abide by a set of rules and conventions of the genre and the specific map; you may not declare war on another player without a valid reason, for example, and diplomacy is conducted through the game chat. Furthermore, each faction has its own independent motives and claims that players can choose to pursue or ignore throughout the course of the match. You are conceivably free to disobey the rules and behave callously towards your neighbors--but don't be surprised if the other players dogpile you for it.
Dive into the world of Mare Nostrum, which is set in the fictional Gwyndlegard universe that you might know from Lord Basse's other custom campaigns. Play as the domineering titans of Amaria, Arthalien, and South Ondoria, all with nefarious designs upon their smaller neighbors; or take command of the smaller states of Yellowside, Berydia, Seragon, and Gwyndlegard, all with ambitions far exceeding their size. The gameplay revolves around an inland sea ringed by land, requiring players to carefully order their priorities--will you invest in a booming yet vulnerable economy, or assemble formidable land and naval forces to back up your expansionist claims?
Despite the peaceful beginning of the scenario, players will soon be drawn into deadly conflicts as resources run low, colonies declare independence, and the strong claim sovereignty over the weak. The variety in the design of each faction lends contributes to the endless replayability of the scenario. Factions in an initially strong position can be disadvantaged later if they allow their rivals to grow, and with seven players the possible combinations of alliances and their potential to shift are manifold. The balance of power is always tenuous, and the smallest aggression has the potential to set off a catastrophic conflict.
One major strength of Mare Nostrum is in its dedication to the proverbial tenet that 'less is more'. While most RP designers out there cram their maps with fortresses and objects to the point of overflow--often because they try to encompass too much in too little, Mare Nostrum has no such sense of unhealthy congestion. Players all begin with decently-sized settlements, but outside of them lie vast woodlands, verdant open plains, an arid, forbidding desert, and rich islands to claim. The map encourages players par excellence to expand organically, and a seamless byproduct is the competition that such conditions encourage. This approach is so effective that yours truly can shamelessly admit that one of his prior works was heavily influenced by it
To help orient players, the author also saw fit to provide downloaders with two mapshots of the file, one plain and one annotated with the territories and initial claims of each faction:
Mapshot | Annotated Mapshot
These are by no means binding, but serve as a general guide for newer players. Additionally, in typical fashion unable to resist complementing his works with a rich story, the author has included a manual in the download with some lore that the players are free to enjoy--and has also filled out the ingame information panels with rules, a brief backstory, and motives.
\In sum, Mare Nostrum RP has and will guarantee players hours of fun, and rightfully stands among the hegemons of the RP scenario genre. Download the CD version or the HD version of the map here on the AoKH Blacksmith, or subscribe to the file on the Steam Workshop!
CD Version | HD Version | Steam Workshop Link
Without further ado, rush to download and enjoy! Go forth and conquer--and see you next time!
- Wings Reborn!
- Posted by Sebastien on January 22nd, 2020 @ 12:05 a.m.
- Once there was a man, who rose up the ranks in Age of Kings to Cherub.
Then, alas, he was no more.
But fear not, for he has returned! Possidon is a long standing forummer with great experience in scenario design and modding, and was previously a very active staff member; running a number of threads and helping with features.
He's also currently active in game, and has recently released his very own eye candy mod pack here.
As Seraph, I'm super excited to have him back on board, and you'll no doubt be seeing a lot of new blacksmith features and other exciting things from him in future.
Can we all give a warm welcome to our friendly new Cherub, Possidon !
- Blacksmith updates! Definitive Edition and UP 1.5 is here.
- Posted by Sebastien on January 08th, 2020 @ 5:31 p.m.
- Hi all,
As you know, all the current staff here are currently working on some interesting things here to improve the site and bring you new content. There will be much more of that to come as we move into 2020, which, I hope you can look forward to.
One of those elements is site improvements, and today we're focusing on the Blacksmith.
You can now select Age of Empires II: DE (Definitive Edition) on your upload under 'version', as well as Userpatch 1.5 (for none HD/2013 Edition players). We have also updated the HD version to coincide with the new Steam name to '2013'. I have also added a category for Age of Chivalry mod, a long standing and independent total conversion which up until now has been quite difficult to find custom content for.
As you know, Age of Empires II has been through quite a lot of changes over the last few years and some scenarios or mods are incompatible with other versions or require additional steps to work. Hopefully, these new game versions will make it easier for you to find what you're looking for, and please utilize these new categories to help others find your work more easily.
The new game versions are as follows:
Age of Kings 1.0
The Conquerors 1.0c
Age of Empires II (2013
Age of Empires II (2013): The Forgotten
Age of Empires II (2013) : African Kingdoms
Age of Empires II (2013) : Rise of the Rajas
Age of Empires II: DE
Age of Chivalry
The old upload limit of 256mb has been upgraded to 512mb. This will allow you to upload larger modpacks and/or total conversions for UP1.5 and 2013 Edition. DE still offers new challenges in regards to file size, so we'll be looking into that and keeping track of uploads to determine any steps in regards to that in future.
As well as some minor changes under the hood to improve Blacksmith functionality (56k download speed timers are now a thing of the past - where they belong ), there will be continuous improvements over the next few weeks fixing any files which got lost in the change, and hopefully search function improvements.
Thank you for reading, and let's have a great 2020. Happy New Year to everybody.
[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 01-08-2020 @ 05:47 PM).]
- 2019 Fantasy Scenario Contest Results!
- Posted by Leif Ericson on January 08th, 2020 @ 07:41 a.m.
Another scenario contest has come to a close! Our winner is iLikeHell, where you must help a band of heroes save the princess. In second is HELLKNIGHT61 with his third installment in his DOOM series. Come congratulate the contestants in the Fantasy Scenario Contest thread!
Check out iLikeHell's entry: Link
Check out HELLKNIGHT61's entry: Link
- The Writing Competition is back for 2020!
- Posted by Sebastien on January 08th, 2020 @ 06:58 a.m.
Since 2008 our forummers have had four opportunities to write their best short stories and other short works of fiction, and now The Writing Competition! is back for another round!
You may have wrote new stories for your scenarios or played other peoples adventures in game; now is your chance to show the community how well you can write any fictional short story or poem, or read the work of others.
Interested? Then click yourself over to the brand new contest thread, get acquainted with the rules and start writing! The deadline is February 29th, so you have two months of procrastinating before finally writing something up two days before deadline!
[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 01-08-2020 @ 09:00 AM).]
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