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October 22, 2014

Dear Reader,

Before I get into all the crabby negativity, my first post is up at Epic Slant.  Go check it out!  It’s positivity in print!

I’m in a crabby mood today.  It’s been a rough few days; I injured my back last Friday (largely because I’m simply out of shape and in my mid 30s), and it’s been hurting – like I almost couldn’t sleep Friday night hurting.  That’s messed up my walking, which I do almost all day as a teacher.  Of course this is the week I have lunch duty, so that compounds the problem,.  Additionally, we teachers (who keep being referred to as volunteers even though we were mandated to participate; I hate that kind of double speak, more than I dislike having to stay for an activity that’s a jokish waste of time) get to provide a “literacy night” for the 10 sets of parents (we have 150 students in 6th grade – 10 are confirmed as coming, and since it’s raining, I bet some don’t come anyway) who are going to show up tonight.  Because I live so far away, I can’t drive home, so the people who will be getting home the latest are also the people who can’t leave in between the the end of the school day and the event.  I’ll be “at work” for 14 hours today, just to get to go home, go straight to bed, and come back to work tomorrow.  Crabby.

Of course none of this has to do with the students, and I’ve held for a long time that when I’m annoyed about teaching, it’s never really the students; it’s the other adults.  These things are no exception, but the confluence of events this week has just piled it up to make it really unpleasantly noticeable, like too many corpses in the gutter.

On “happier” news, I’ve been farming tricky treats for the two new pets that are available.  I’m glad that they’ve added something; too many times holiday events have come and gone with no substantive change from the previous years.  i know it’s not much, but every little bit helps.  I’m just leisurely flying around on my paladin (who has the fast flying) while playing other games at the same time.  I’ve mostly been playing X-Com; I know I’ve played and quit that game over and over, and I feel like I might be about to do it again.  I’m not playing on Ironman mode this time, which means that I feel compelled every time one of my dudes gets critted by a long-range, behind-full-cover alien shot to just reload.  That’s not really the spirit of the game, though, is it?  I don’t know.  I just don’t feel right about it.

I’ve been doing the whole “only move once and overwatch every turn until you see aliens” method, but even that’s far from foolproof.  After too many of the above situations, I’m sure I’m just going to turn the game off and do something else.  But for now, it’s keeping me attention while I otherwise fly around and loot candy buckets.

I’ve been playing Wildstar alongside WoW, which has been fun as a comparison.  I’m still happy with WoW’s controls, but Wildstar’s more-active-movement combat system feels better.  I still like The Secret World the most, though, even though a lot of people complain about how the combat “felt” in that game.  I’m not sure how it “felt” to others, but I liked it.

I’m still making progress in Long Live the Queen, too, but I’ve died a lot.  I didn’t die at all at first; I didn’t really even realize that death was the “fail state” of the game.  I guess I played a really good first game, but then I agreed to duel some little jerkoff, and he killed me.  I had like 50+ sword skill, too, so I’m not really sure what I should have done differently there.  It was an ENORMOUS amount of time invested and lost, and then I died again like twice almost in a row right towards the start of the game.

Anyway, so that’s my state of being: crabby.  I could be more long-winded and negative, but I’ll spare you.  I just hope my injury continues to heal and goes away sooner rather than later.


Stubborn (and hobbled)

End of an Era

October 17, 2014

Dear Reader,

It is, by definition, the end of an era: the era of 5.0.  I’m pretty satisfied with the changes, to be honest, even though the last two times I was very dissatisfied.

I was able to achieve most of what I wanted in 5.0.  I blew up pet collecting, though not in the same way that my guild member Doda, did, who I’m a bit envious of (in a nice way).  She’s my local version of Navi, another pet master who I look forward to talking with in the new expansion about all the ways we can continue to poké it up.

I finished my challenge modes, and even really feel like I added value to the groups I was in.  That wasn’t so in my earliest ones, months ago, as I really didn’t know what the heck was going on.  My buddy Bury kept saying “Use cap!  Use cap!” but I had no idea what he meant.  Eventually I asked, and he was, of course, referring to capacitor totem, a button that wasn’t even on my bars. It was, shall we say, a sobering experience.

In the last few, we were being tanked by my buddy Lonnie, who I feel did a really excellent job for his level of experience.  He’s simply not done most of the dungeons this expac because, well, why would you?  He easily handled Shado-Pan and both Scarlets.  I kept on to help him, and he ended up getting them all done, too, at the very last minute, though I had to go to bed before that.

I felt a bit bad because I inadvertently engaged in some social vortexing of my buddy Balk.  You may remember the Penny Arcade comic about the “vortex of social obligations” (whoa – I’m the 3rd and 4th Google link when you search “Penny Arcade” plus that phrase…).  I’ve felt that way before, burdened but feeling obligated to help someone in my guild.  I asked Balk for help, to which he immediately obliged, but as the help grew from helping me with my 3 to helping everyone with all their dungeons (Lonnie had zero before those three), the vortex sucked Balk in.  Balk had a lot of other goals that I think he didn’t get done because he was helping us, which kind of stinks, and for which I know both Lonnie and I are sorry (though perhaps Lonnie less so since he capped over 200 mounts with all the phoenixes.  What an ugly looking word: phoenixes).

Regardless, I had a lot of fun doing them, even when we were struggling.  I had a lot of fun with Brawler’s Guild, too, with the universal “un-fun” Hexos fight.  I was stuck there for quite some time, then, one morning, I angrily tried and “one-shotted” it (if you can call failing 100 times then succeeding the first time on a new day one-shotting).  I look forward to the expansion of that mini-distraction, as well.

As for the changes, well, there’s a lot, but I stand by my statement that I feel the classes were changed less this expansion patch than the last two.  It may be that my dps role is what didn’t change, that my specific main class and spec – ele shaman – didn’t change that much, or it may just be that I’ve skewed the size of the change in the last two patches in my memory, but I just don’t see a huge change like I did after 4.0 (where I was druid healing and they broke it… or unbroke it, perhaps) or 5.0 (when I was pally tanking and they broke it… or unbroke it, perhaps).

I also love the stat squish.  I’m a big opponent of power creep, and as the WoW graphs show, there’s been a LOT of that over the past few expansions.  Going from 4k or so tank hp to over 1 mil tank hp over 4 expansions doesn’t show a logical, linear progression.  I’m glad that they’ve reigned it back in a bit.

I’m confused about all the new gemming and enchanting numbers; apparently old stuff may be better than new stuff – I don’t know.  I’ve heard a lot of cross-talk about it, but haven’t done any investigations. Regardless, it seems like something that will likely be fixed, so I’m not investing a ton of time into it.

The real time investment comes with my perennial (or bi-annual, to be more accurate) decision: what do I want to play in the next expansion?  I don’t care so much about being the “best” class within a particular role so much as I want to make sure I can contribute without bringing the group down (like bear tanks were “so bad” back whenever).

I don’t know if I want to stay with my shaman or not.  It’s become very familiar and comfortable, so there’s a draw to stay, but at the same time, I like to experiment and do other things.  I liked my mage a lot for its mobility, for example, and my rogue for its sneakiness, and my druid for its versatility, so I’m just not sure where I’m going to land.  I’ve got a month to think about it.

So at any rate, that’s where I’m at for the moment.  I hope you’re enjoying the patch as much as I am (old raids are LOLZ mode now, btw, if you haven’t been in there).


Stubborn (and LOLZing old raids for fun and mounts)

P.S. Oh, as a plug for my new moonlighting job, head over to Epic Slant Press (I can’t link here because I’m at work and can’t access “gaming” websites – should I be insulted I can get to Sheep The Diamond?  But it’s in the sidebar).  I’ll be featured there once in a while, and the other authors are excellent writers who you should check out, too!

The Questionnaire

October 13, 2014

Dear Reader,

Jasy of Cannot be Tamed suggested that bloggers answer a gaming questionnaire.  I’ve been sitting on it a while, but finally took the time to answer the last few questions.  In the spirit of other such “challenges,” I’d like to suggest the staff writers of Epic Slant Press who have not yet answered these questions take the time to do so.  I’m curious who my new coworkers are!

  • When did you start playing video games?
    • My first video games were on the Atari 2600, as my mother was interested in computers from when they first became prevalent in her life during the 1970s.  I don’t have any specific memories of the Atari, but I do remember our next system, the Commodore 64, which is still in stasis in our attic somewhere because I’ve staunchly refused to let them throw it away.  I specifically remember the cartridges and 5¼ floppies on which I played Frogger, Cleopatra’s Needle, Summer Games, and a game where you rode a unicycle and kicked balloons up in the air (Kickman, perhaps?), but I’m sure there were others.  I also remember some very early text-based adventures that I was far too young to understand at the time, which means they didn’t get much play.
    • After the Commodore was the Tandy 1000, on which I know I started playing role playing games.  I don’t remember any specific titles for the Tandy 1000, but that’s likely because we didn’t get one until after the Nintendo came out, and I’m QUITE sure I got my first Nintendo in May of 1987 for my birthday.
    • The only other really significant computer gaming milestone came for me in 8th grade when I won a writing contest, the prize of which was a x386 computer.  I don’t remember the model of it, but it was mine.  It was my first computer, and I’ve had one of my own ever since then.  Of course, that also taught me a very important lesson should I ever decide to be a parent: DON’T LET YOUR KID HAVE A COMPUTER IN THEIR ROOM.
  • What is the first game you remember playing?
    • As above, I can specifically remember some of the Commodore 64 games.  I know that in Summer Games, for instance, my by far best sport was pole vault.  I have no idea why.
  • PC or Console?
    • Both, of course.  After the x386 I got an early intel chip (I don’t remember which one, but I skipped over the x486 model entirely), then better and better computers up until now.  I think I’ve owned – let me see if I can remember – probably 7 computers since I was in 8th grade?  That seems about right.  In the same time frame I’ve owned the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, N64, Playstation, Playstation 2, Wii, and XBox 360.
  • XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?
    • All of them.  I stayed with Nintendo a long time because of the Final Fantasy series, which I also jumped to Playstation for the 7th installment of.  Each system I bought after the Super Nintendo I likely picked up for a very specific game, which usually then left me disappointed in the rest of them.  The XBox is the exception – I got that for free when I purchased a laptop and barely have used it at all.  I played Portal 2 on it, and that’s about it.
  • What’s the best game you’ve ever played?
    • I’ll have to go by genre:
      • JRPGs: Final Fantasy 3 (aka 6 – the one with Terra and Locke and Shadow)
      • Computer RPGs: Fallout 2
      • Platformers: Klonoa - yes, that’s a weird one, but it was excellent
      • Shooters: Does Fallout 3 count?  If not, then Borderlands 2
      • 4x: Honestly, I think it was Galactic Civ 2 or Space Empires 4; I can’t really differentiate them in my memory any more.  What made it so good was the depth of the diplomacy system, something the more traditional Civ games have always lacked.  Of course, Master of Magic and Master of Orion 2 rank quite highly up there, as well, but they suffer in the ranking simply because I was younger and understood much less.
      • RTS: I was never really fast enough for the RTS games; I’m such a defensive player that against harder difficulties I’d always eventually be overwhelmed.  I don’t really have a “favorite” of these as a result.
      • Other: Star Control 2.  Isn’t that everyone’s?
  • What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?
    • I’m really not sure; they’re so forgettable.  I can certainly tell you the games I’ve been the most disappointed in:
  • Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.
    • Half-Life 2.  Yeah, I said it.  I don’t know why, but it just never did much for me.
  • Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
    • EYE: Divine Cybermancy was riddled with bugs, bad translations, and had multiplayer co-op issues, but I still really liked it.  It was what Deus Ex should have been.
  • What are your favourite game genres?
    • RPGs, hands down
  • Who is your favourite game protagonist?
    • Probably Cecil from Final Fantasy 2.  He was struggling with some serious issues of loyalty versus goodness.
    • Terra from FF3, for that matter, for many of the same reasons,
    • All the Fallout protagonists, because they often have tough choices to make.
  • Describe your perfect video game.
    • It’s likely an MMO or at least a large co-op team game.  It has a variable skill system, like a Fallout game or The Secret World, smooth, action-oriented combat like TERA, a deep lore that’s available but not necessary to delve into to understand the game, and a vast collection and crafting system like Fallen Earth.
  • What video game character do have you have a crush on?
    • Kirby, and mostly because he or she is the most odd answer I could think of.  I have a wife, people, who I love very much.
  • What game has the best music?
    • You really have to ask Syl and Syp of Battle Bards questions like that.  They are, in my opinions, the custodians of a vast modern day video game music knowledge database.  The best music you might not have heard of yet, though?  Paper Sorcerer.  Check it out.
  • Most memorable moment in a game:
    • The Mysidian Twins Polom and Porom petrifying themselves in Final Fantasy 2. I cried.
  • Scariest moment in a game:
    • Most terrifying or horrifying?  Terror is way overused in both movies and games and relies only on the primal flinch/fear instinct.  Horror is about a disconnect with everything you know and understand.
      • For terror, probably the first time I played Resident Evil.  I wasn’t familiar with the zombie genre and didn’t know that they’d be getting back up if you didn’t headshot them.  I killed the first one, then turned around to putter around at a door, and then got startled when I turned back towards the “dead” zombie and found it approaching me.
        • For that matter, there was a game called Legacy: Realm of Terror by Microprose (my tied-for-favorite game developer who did X-Com and other awesome games.  It’s tied with Square Enix) that had a lot of moments like that.
        • For horror – hmmm.  Horror’s a lot harder to do.  Even the beginning of Mass Effect 3 is a bit horrible, where you see the kid, then see him again, and then see him again, and he gets killed.  That’s pretty horrible.  Undoubtedly, though, the most horrifying game series I’ve played is The Walking Dead, in which horrible things happen over and over.  Probably Duck’s death followed by his mother’s.
  • Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:
    • Again, that’s probably from a Walking Dead game.  There’s so many; those games were so good.
  • What are your favourite websites/blogs about games?
    • Why, it’s, of course!  But I assume you meant others.  I really like Jasy’s site, but to be fair to everyone, check out my sidebar.  I love them all.
  • What’s the last game you finished?
  • What future releases are you most excited about?
    • I don’t like the hype cycle, so I mostly stay away from it, but I’m intrigued by Star Citizen.
  • Do you identify as a gamer?
    • Yes, Shamelessly.  I don’t go around announcing it to everyone I work with, but if asked, I don’t hide it.  Since I also play pen and paper RPGs, which are far less mainstream, admitting that I play video games isn’t a big deal.
  • Why do you play video games?
    • To have fun!  I like the challenge of video games, and the stories, and the unique approaches to old genres.  I like the socialization of it, too, when I can play with my friends who live 1000s of miles away.  Video games bring people together – all games do, in fact, and even the root of the word, the “ga” sound, comes from the same root that forms gather.  Games bring us to the table, digital or physical.  What we do after is up to us.

So there’s my answers.  I hope you enjoy!


Stubborn (and questionnaired)

Some Kind of Shift

October 8, 2014

Dear Reader,

I’ve recently undergone some kind of shift in my playing.  I’m not certain I know what it is, but I have a theory.  I said in Illinois when I was teaching college that I had moved on the Bartle’s axes (that’s the plural of axis, there, reader, not the sharp-edged weapon) a little more towards socializer than I had been in the past.  I said at one point, in fact, that I didn’t see any reason to buy a game if it didn’t have a co-op feature that I could play with my wife or buddy.

Well, something’s slid that needle back to the other side, now.  A lot of the Humble Bundle games I’ve purchased were not co-op.  Now, admittedly, I bought packages of games, so I didn’t have full control over what I’d bought, but really, none of them were co-op.  I have again become perfectly satisfied with playing by myself.

A lot of my recent game time has been by myself, in fact.  Now, I don’t want it to seem I’m trying to isolate myself; I’ve been playing Civ games with my buddy Balkoth and Wildstar with my wife, so it’s not that I’ve become a loner, but I’ve just become more willing to sit alone and play games – like I used to be.

I suspect that this is related to my teaching.  I hypothesized before that I had become dissatisfied with hardcore WoW play and become more social in games because I was less satisfied with my job in Illinois.  I said then that the relationship with my students was different and less fulfilling than it had been in New York, where I taught 8th grade.  Now that I’m back in a public school, it may be that I’m getting my socialization in during the day the way I used to and don’t need it from games anymore.

It’s a working theory, at any rate.  We’ll see if I go through another rotation in the next few months.

In other news, I’ve been really enjoying Long Live the Queen.  It’s essentially a game where you groom a princess into becoming a queen by having her learn various skills and navigate social or political situations.  My buddy teased me about it, asking why I was “just now” buying this game since it’s “so perfectly suited for me,” but teasing aside, I’ve enjoyed it a lot.  I have no idea what the “end game” state is like, so right now I’m just doing what I think is best, as a real person in such a situation would have to.  If you haven’t heard of it, check it out; it’s definitely a little weird, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing!

One of the best features for me is that it can sit on the sidelines while I’m doing other things, then be there, ready for action (or the lack thereof in most cases), when I need something to do.  I spoke about other games like this – microsession games – not too long ago.  You can just take a turn when you can and ignore it otherwise.  The other games I’d mentioned were Candy Box and A Dark Room.  These are perfect games to have up in the background when you’re writing, playing a turn- or round-based game, or playing an MMO with someone else.  When it’s time to take a short break, there’s your next turn, ready to go.

So if you need a sideline game, that’s one to give a try.


Stubborn (and solo)

A Long Overdue Catch-up

October 3, 2014

Dear Reader,

As the title says, this is largely just a bullwall (think a BBB Bearwall, but with Tauren) of what I’ve been up to.  First, I think I’ve hit my stride – even being a little sick (I was a lot sick this past week) – I wasn’t desperately in need of a nap today (which is a Stubborn family tradition).  That may – MAY – mean a better correspondence schedule than the past few weeks.  I’m hoping my body is basically finally adapted to the challenge of being a public school teacher again.  To illustrate, we had a field trip to Luray Caverns today (google it), and at the end, I was a bit fatigued, but my wife was WIPED OUT.  She’s not developed the chops for it (though I’m sure she would after a few weeks, like I’ve had).

I’ve also got some big news.  I got picked up as a co-blogger on the soon-to-be-rebooted Epic Slant Press LLC Blog!  My writing will occasionally be featured there alongside two other wonderful bloggers.  I’m really excited by the opportunity to work alongside Ferrel, a long-time friend of the blog whose work has been inspiring me for a long time.    The blog there is more focused on board and card gaming, so the two sites shouldn’t compete for topics much, so I think it will be an interesting way to start thinking about a new genre.  Keep an eye out both here and there, and I’ll cross reference as I can.

In gaming news, I’ve been playing a lot of different games, thanks to the Humble Bundle.  The by-far top of the list right now is Defender’s Quest, which has been a real treasure find from the Bundle.  It’s essentially just a good ol’ fashion tower defense, but I still really like the unique aspects of the gameplay.  It’s a good mix of RPG as well, where you can level characters and choose their talents D2 style, while also getting gear (including special gear from challenges) all the while.  It’s got multiple classes, a variety of acceptable solutions to the tower defense levels, and a pretty decent story, as well.  It’s not going to win any graphics awards, but that doesn’t bother me too much.  If you’re in the market for a single-player strategy game, I’d highly recommend it.

While my brother-in-law was visiting, he, my wife, and I all played The Yawgh, one of the most fun party (if you have parties of only 3 or 4 people, like I do) games I’ve every played.  Often, party games are just a series of silly challenges designed to make people look foolish so everyone can have a nice laugh together.  This one was a cooperative story telling game with a lot of hilariously fun, unpredictable outcomes.  It was another steal from the Humble Bundle.

Lastly, I’ve been playing Wildstar.  I don’t know if I pointed that out to you before or not, dear reader.  I was keeping it a little secret, though only a little.  I only play with my wife, and her play time is very limited, so we’re still in the first zone, but we’ve been enjoying it.  It’s no great shakes; it’s another WoW-like game, which isn’t a complaint, mind you, as it builds on many of the best features of WoW.  I’m playing the Stalker, which fits my rogue-love, and my wife is playing a medic, which she seems to be enjoying.

So that’s what I’ve been up to recently.  Check out Epic Slant Press if you’ve never been there before; they’ve got a lot of neat articles, books, and games for sale, all of which I’ve enjoyed.  You could, too!


Stubborn (and caverned)

Happy to Help

September 26, 2014

Dear Reader,

Recently, I was contacted by Navi about a post she was tossing around that became this post.  I felt pretty honored to be her (or one of her) sounding board(s).  I figured I’d steal a little of her wind here and give myself a post for the first time in a while by publishing my response to her offering.  If you haven’t read it, you really should; it brings up a very interesting ethical situation, and besides, my post won’t make since out of context.

Here it is:


Let me start with two of my favorite quotes:
“Redemption is the highest form of good – not justice.”
“Tolerance is meaningless without tolerance of the intolerable.”
It’s really hard to live by these quotes, and no one does all the time, but I think your attitude in this case fully embodies both of them, and I think you have a completely legitimate concern about how your guildies reacted.  Safe places have to be safe for everyone, not just the people who came in having “earned” it.  Once they misbehave – make it an “unsafe” place for others – then they go, as in this case.  But the decision is still up to them.
I had a similar situation recently.  Well, not similar, but not terribly unlike your thoughts about “What if this kid really does give up on growing up because of this?”  Balk’s flex had a really bad interaction with a guy who had routinely come with us, and a bunch of guildies went after him on openraid.  He deserved it, mind you; he said some pretty terrible things, but for god’s sake they DESTROYED this guy’s capability to find other groups.
I still have him on my friends list, by chance, because I once set up the flex when Balk was away.  I don’t want to talk to him because I assume I’ll get the same vitriol that the others got.  And again, he was horrible, right in front of me, but I feel like they might have taken it too far getting him banned from openraid.  I wondered, too, if that flex was the only thing he enjoyed during his otherwise unhappy week, and they’d taken it away.
I’m sure I’m being melodramatic, but my point is that I completely see where you’re coming from, and I think your post does a good job explaining it.  I think you should post it, assuming you’re not worried about guild blowback or anything, and I think you should use it to start a discussion about the difference between justice and prejudice.  They have the same root, after all – judgment.  They were clearly prejudiced, and perhaps for good reason, but that doesn’t mean you don’t let people try to redeem themselves.  Quite the opposite, in fact.
That’s the thing about being “good.”  You constantly have to open yourself up to situations in which you may be vulnerable, which leads to the whole Spaceballs “Good is dumb” belief.  It’s not, though.  It’s daring, and forgiving, and strong enough to survive when people often don’t end up redeeming themselves.  But still, good tries.
What do you think, dear reader?  Is it stupid to help people who are likely beyond helping?  Or does good always at least try?
Stubborn (and still around, if only just)

Google Training

September 16, 2014

Dear Reader,

Today, I got to be the recipient of “Google Training.”  Naturally, this was a complete waste of my time, as I used to be one of the  (unofficial) “Google Experts” at my old community college, a place where, if I said I knew how to do something, I was respected enough to be believed. Sadly, such is not the case, anymore.  Now, though I know just about everything there is about basic Google app functionality, I get to sit through 45 minutes of “training.”

Naturally, the first fifteen minutes was used to check if I set up my non-Google gradebook properly.  At the beginning of the year, we were sent an email describing how to set up the gradebook, which I followed to the letter, as I assume most people did, so this checking over my work was, again, a waste of time.  On top of that, that I had to sit long enough to write this correspondence instead of working on things for my students certainly indicates that there was a problem.

Forgive this general venting session, but this is precisely what I hated about being a student in school; I don’t need to sit and do boring old things simply because some of my colleagues can’t follow directions, and as an adult, I damn well don’t need to be told that my work needs to be checked after I tell someone I did it.

This is a common problem with teachers; I may have fallen into it myself if I weren’t with my wife.  She put a quick stop to any of that nonsense when I started coming home and being bossy. Teachers often don’t have an “off” switch; they begin to treat other peers the same way they treat their students.  Since some teachers treat their students pretty terribly, this means that they end up treating their peers pretty terribly, too.  For example, I got snapped at today as if I was a child because I dared to point out that I had gotten the set-up email and followed the directions instead of just silently complying with the trainer’s orders.

By the end of the training, we had covered how to sign in to a Google account, change one’s password, and use Google docs.  What revolutionary new things I’ve been exposed to in this forty-five minutes of training.  What revelations.

In gaming news, well, frankly, I haven’t played any.  My parents were visiting, so I spent almost the entire time with them.  Now they’re gone, though, so I can get back to my regular routine.

More on games next time.


Stubborn (and poorly trained)


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