Game Skeleton, Systems, and Mechanics [TW2 Megathread]

EricEric Member, Administrator
edited April 14 in Feedback

Let us know your thoughts on specific systems in the game, e.g. gem collection, expansions, respawn, mercenaries, charms, squad upgrades, tower construction, win conditions, overall pacing.

When providing feedback, please use the following format:

  • X happened
  • It made me feel Y (or I’d like to feel Y)
  • (optional) Here’s a suggestion to improve it


  • SpideyCUSpideyCU Member
    edited March 2

    Audio announcements: when I hear "unit construction completed", I immediately check my army tab to see if I should deploy. Since this happens so frequently for auto-constructed workers, it's distracting for a situation in which I can't do anything much of the time. It makes me feel unnecessarily distracted.

    If I had to make a suggestion, I'd like to only have this announcement for squad/mercs.

  • TheUlfTheUlf Member
    edited March 3

    Mentioned it in my first impressions, but it seems more relevant here:

    Gem Collection:
    Competing with allies to slap collectors onto gems feels silly. The 5 second cooldown on the hero's 'T' ability feels quite tedious when you're alone in a secured area just waiting to set all the nearby allied gems to gather, but feels like a real blessing/curse when an allied hero is nearby as well. With the game being team focussed and gems spawning with specific team alignments, it feels off to be competing for resources with allies and entering odd standoffs while our hero's wait for 'T' to come back up.

    One instance where this particularly felt wrong was assisting an allied force take out a mid-range titan camp. Their hero was busy or had died in the fight, but they were still dedicating their troops to taking down the titans. My army was still small by comparison, but hero was nearby and this allowed me to capture all the reward gems that spilled out as loot for their efforts. Being a robot, they didn't mind, but this seems like a pretty nasty window for griefing between human players. While the I can see the cooldown being important to avoid spamming it onto an oddly placed gem in the middle of a fight for a free dps soaking hp pool or other weird edge-cases, the resource being player-specific doesn't make much sense to me.

    I'd much rather see gems as a shared-gathering resource - in other words, for collected gems to grant resources to each player on the team, regardless of who placed the collector (though not as a shared-spending-pool, i.e. the team gathers a gem from the middle worth 10, I spend 5 immediately, my teammates both still have 10 to spend at their leisure). Gems seem like something that it should be important to fight the other team over, but not something worry about managing who gets diverted what on a micro level. At the macro level, it seems like it would still be interesting to have gems that come from bases and mining workers still be player specific so that diverting strategies can still be done, but at a scale that's easier to recognize, coordinate, and agree upon.

  • EmperorRahemEmperorRahem Member
    edited March 3

    Not entirely convinced where this information belongs, but this thread feels like a balance thread. After three games as Celesta (first game 52 min, second game 42 min, third game 34 min)

    The Merc camp you choose seems to have little effect in the game. --- Between Raiders and Assault I felt it didnt matter which group I had --- (I guess this is all opinion and without PvP I can't tell/test what is best) The Mercs seem just like bonus units you use to push enemy objectives and rarely use for team fighting. And if that is the case they don't need to be separated into Assault and Raiders

    I will play the other races tomorrow when I wake up and give my opinions how they fair in my pseudo competitive perspective -EmperorRahem

  • LordAbenLordAben Member

    After playing a couple of games, I have found that having a bank of scrap just seems like it will always happen. In other RTS games, whenever I have a bank of resources, I feel like a bad player. I am not sure if this is supposed to happen, but I feel like it would make the game feel better if there was some kind of scrap sink. I am not sure yet if this is supposed to happen or if I am missing something but it just feels weird. Maybe if there was a merc that costs only scrap? Or maybe if expansions cost scrap? Maybe if there were less scrap gathering places and an extra available gem gathering place?

    Also I like the way that you just get (gold) income in the game. I feel thought that if I am "out"-playing my opponents that I should feel like I am outplaying my opponents. My first thought is to add some kind of income based on the pvp activities that happen but that could get out of hand and cause a lot of steamrolling, maybe if there were objectives through out the map that could cause the increase of income? almost like a deal damage to this camp or hold this objective and based on how each individual or team does they can have additional income?

  • DantaroDantaro Member

    The game feels. . . slow. While some of that seems like it comes from a somewhat sluggish response time, other parts are just that movement IS slow. Getting across the map, or even moving small groups of units feels like it takes forever. The delay on things like the gem collection ability don't help the game speed feel either. For lack of a better example, it feels like playing SC2 or SC:BW on normal speed rather than fastest. Maybe it's just me, but I'd like to see the speed kicked up just a bit.

  • BurdockBurdock Member

    I agree with Dantaro, though I think its to do with move speed feeling slow VS the new larger map size more then anything.

  • AnderrAnderr Member

    Not sure exactly where to put this but I think when the resource workers spawn, you should get rid of the "unit complete" notification it gives, because you don't really interact much with your workers to begin with

  • Resonance22Resonance22 Member
    edited March 6

    I agree with TheUlf that competing for Gem collecting with your teammates feels frustrating because I feel we should be working together. I believe that having teammates in the middle of the map should feel like a blessing, not also sometimes a curse. If my teammates grab all of the gems because I am 30 seconds late to the middle it feels like we aren't working as a team. Fighting over gems with allies is kind of like a FFA feeling. This was my most notable frustration during my first 3 games. On a smaller note, it felt kind of unfair when my gems spawned inside the range of an enemy Tower or just on the edge because it would die instantly and there were some cases where it was barely out of the circle and still died. It felt like the game was trying to bait me into wasting my cooldown on a gem I couldn't ever take unless I already had a huge army. Since killing Reward Towers already drops gems I don't think gems should be able to spawn in the range of enemy Towers, but maybe it's fine if the range indicator was more accurate. I also agree that it seems a bit too easy to float scrap at the moment so maybe there could be another way to spend it. Anyway, the biggest issue in my opinion is fighting with your teammates over gem spawns. ;)

    I am not sure though if capturing gems should reward your entire team, but rather I was thinking one possible solution would be that if I claim a gem that my teammates can still claim it as well before it disappears. Like they can stack a claim on top of the same gem so we both get the gem if we both claim it before it disappears (when it disappears it would award both of us and not reset the timer). I hope that makes sense. That way it still rewards teammates for being in the same place, right place at the right time, rather than globally rewarding everyone which could snowball the game a little.

    Besides that I think fighting over gem spawns is a very fun mechanic and an interesting way to encourage players to fight each other. So far I've really been enjoying Atlas. Units have enough health that it does not feel bad to misclick slightly (would feel awful to lose your entire army so quickly, so I like this). Overall pacing feels good to me since my games last around 35 minutes, so maybe it's the large map size that gives a slow impression to some (but I'd have to play more to get a better feel for it). I personally feel like Starcraft 2 is a bit too fast (at least with how quickly units die) and that is intimidating for casual players. I really like how resources don't run out so casual players can play at their own pace. It's a little odd to have so little interaction with your economy directly as to me that is one of the best parts of Age of Empires 2, but in Atlas I think it works. One of the most satisfying things so far has been when I mark a target with Vela's Fair Warning and then snipe it with Deadeye's Take Aim. It feels great executing combos and I appreciate the abilities are still useful on their own. Same with the hero level scaling, it feels good that the abilities are still solid at low levels. It also feels excellent that Vela serves my long range safety archetype that I love to play in RTS and all other types of games. :+1:

  • JiviraJivira Member

    After playing a few more games (see first game response in that thread), there are a few things I wanted to add about mechanics. Keep in mind that while I have familiarity with many RTS games, my APM and other skills are rudimentary in terms of execution.

    I agree with most here that competing with allies for the gems in the middle and dropped from neutral camps seems like punishing teamwork. In more recent games, I often avoided my allies unless there was a fight starting for this reason. I had to basically offset my T cooldown with an ally's in order to get an even share, if we were both in an area, especially in early game where you don't have the army needed to clear camps.

    On scrap, I feel I need to follow up from my first games feedback. Now that I have played a few games I am doing better at spending more of it, but due to the issues with getting gems, it is only really a limiting factor in the early and late game. Play wise, I end up using it for upgrades in the early game because there is no way I have the gems to get sufficient low tier mercs to use the scrap. Late game it starts to balance out as I have enough army to have better gem collection options and the high tier mercs use enough scrap to where I can spend down what was saved up. However, this progression and balancing of resources is confusing as a new player coming in. (@Day[9] Great job with the tutorial. I would be far more confused if not for that.)

    Solutions might be slowing the influx of scap, but it might also be swapping up the balance of costs on merc units. If some of the early mercs cost less gems, then it would be easier to spend the scrap via buying mercs.

    Someone else mentioned wanting to get click to select on the unit thumbnails in the top left UI and I like that idea. Even just a hover text for the unit names would be helpful for new players. A few times I found myself searching around the UI to find the unit name so I could understand the ability upgrade tooltips. I eventually remembered the stats box in the bottom right, but that sort of information is helpful to have in several places.

    One other thing I was having trouble with was knowing when and what camps to try to clear. I expect this will be easier with coordination with allies and after playing many games. However, it is rough as a starting player trying to figure out a plan of action. I saw a few color coded maps from players that were slightly helpful, but eventually, it will be nice to see more detailed guides for this. Most of the camps have a very similar look model wise, so I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't ready to face some of them (after dying in previous games at a similar army strength). It's not a huge deal, but looking for more ways to telegraph to the player as to which camps are harder than others would be helpful for casual players like myself.

  • ArixaArixa Member
    edited March 6

    I'll start with what I think is probably the most telling feedback. I played in the first beta weekend, coming out if it excited for the next weekend to hurry up and come, so I could see the game refined and expanded. That weekend finally came, and it didn't even take a whole game against bots to make me not want to play anymore. I had to actually force myself to even do a pvp game, which did not improve things at all. Reasons below.

    Mercenaries: My initial impression with these units was confusion. Not only were there two separate corps to choose from but each had a dozen units to try to wrap my head around. This seems really out of place in a game whose design seems to be about boiling down things into small concise races. Even once I was past reading through all the text and started trying things it felt terrible. At best, they were just more units, albeit ones I was really scared to let die because they wouldn't respawn. At worst, they felt so out of place and clunky that it was a struggle to even control my army(select all was especially frustrating to use now), OR they were so ridiculous in effect that my army felt irrelevant in comparison(leviathan was a big offender of this).

    Resources: The new resource was odd to me as it just felt like 'gems again'. There didn't seem to be a lot to spend just one or the other resource on so I didn't get why they were both there. It wasn't actively in the way of my enjoyment, though. The fact that I couldn't mine gold was. Having no way to focus on developing my actual squad, made expansions and resources feel pretty bland.

    Trinkets + no 'traditional' upgrades: Trinkets felt forgettable to me, so much so that I often forgot I had them, because pressing the button didn't seem to matter much. The sprint one was nice for running away from bad engagements, but that was about it. Too bad they cost scrap, which was much more important for building mercenaries than for such a minor buff. The lack of attack/armor/etc. upgrades worked with the charms costing scrap to make the actual squad units feel even less important.

    Overarching problem of these: Everything that changed made my squad choice and tactics feel irrelevant. The squads were the coolest part of the first weekend, and now I don't even care about them.

    Persistent problems: There is still no way to actually opt out of the wimpy tier one marine/zealot in the game, which still leads to the first half of every game feeling identical no matter what you pick. Mercenaries actually helped assuage this problem in the late game at least, but they do so by making the squad units feel like useless cannon fodder, so I doubt that was the intent.

  • Experience: Sauceninja's kid "Dude, it tells you how much you're short on resources when you're spamming to build? That's sick. They should keep that."
    Feeling: He's right.
    Solution: Great Idea!

  • Disclaimer: I am a novice RTS player and I only played two bot games and two PVP games. The last RTS I was into was Broodwar, and I only played LAN games with my schoolmates.

    Mercs were extremely confusing. There were so many different units, with extremely varied applications, divided into two groups before the game even starts, and then further divided into two groups based on upgrades. It was overwhelming.

    Intuitively I thought that mercs should supplement your squad's weaknesses, or enhance their strengths. So when playing Hydros and seeing that one of the groups was labeled "Assault" I thought that this would lend some much needed damage to my squad, but this didn't end up being the case because they were so expensive and on its own my squad really struggled to gather resources. Not to mention the high cost made losing mercs very punishing so it seemed unwise to use them for anything other than very safe camp or structure clearing.

    In practice, I just build Leviathans and otherwise neglected mercs because I couldn't justify spending resources on units that had a good chance of being destroyed without contributing a great deal to battles. This was reinforced by the tutorial video, from which I got the impression that Leviathans were the endgame unit, so why build anything else?

    Given the squad divisions into psuedo DPS, Support, Tank roles, I would like mercs, at least a tier 1, to be more generic synergistic units that are easier to acquire. By this I mean, as a Tank squad, I should be able to pick up some medium range/damage assault-type mercs to supplement my forces. As a DPS I should be able to pick up some bruiser/tank units to protect my ranged damage dealers. The mercs shouldn't be exciting, that should be reserved for your squad units, but they should be useful. Additionally they should be less resource intensive, specifically less gem intensive, so that they are more expendable. This would allow players to create well-rounded armies that are still differentiated by the unique and exciting abilities of their squad units.

  • On Gems and Map Use

    Quick note between meetings, there was some discussion in discord about the general character of gem usage, particularly regarding players feeling like they had too many or too little. I found that in the games where I spent more gems, the more gems it felt like I ended up with. It really did feel in that order, and not the other way around. While the simplification hides a lot, and one could draw tons of false conclusions, the thing that rings true is that it felt like I had a much stronger economy and machine running when I was making small purchases as opposed to banking, and I felt much more in control as a result.

    Having a complete vision and tower game with the lower level mercs might have led to slower games, but it felt strategic and fun. I like the feel of the game when I'm playing both at the level of the main screen, moving my units and hero around and flinging skill shots everywhere (while often missing), and playing at the level of the mini-map, capturing and losing territory and battlefield info. It's rewarding to have that feel of laterally stretching one's focus and exercising the noggin. Towards that end, I'd love more features that require interaction with the map, even to the level of having a Diablo-style en-big'ened map as part of the tab screen.

    Bonus points if, for example, that large map was available before the match starts, had markers, and was shared with your teammates.

  • JiviraJivira Member

    @CohLysion said:
    Bonus points if, for example, that large map was available before the match starts, had markers, and was shared with your teammates.

    I do not know if this was your intent, but I love the idea of having a quick mission planning moment with the team before starting using markers and a map. The design of squads really speaks to a need to work together, but I felt a bit of a gap in terms of gameplay elements that supported that, aside from the strength of an enemy (be it player or neutral).

  • wondiblewondible Member

    I placed an expansion, and an enemy immediately showed up and killed it while it had about 1% health.

    I felt cheated because I was out 10 gems and it only got a few % built.

  • TrumpetmcoolTrumpetmcool Member
    edited March 13

    Sorry it took so long to post this but I was waiting to post some other feedback that's being compiled by some of the non-daily testers (Burdock is working on it as we speak). Seems it's taking longer to compile it together so I'm posting my feedback on Mercenaries from the Playtest Weekend #2. Thanks for making such an awesome game and I can't wait to see it progress better than it already is :)

    I don’t think mercenaries in Atlas are a bad thing but I think they suffer from an identity crisis. The definition of what they are is lost to me because some of them provide the squads certain buffs in order to overcome the other team (healer, enhancer, martyr), others are like the mercenaries you see in the SC2 campaign that give your army more fire-power (orion, juggernaut, leviathan), and some are utilities for a specific strategy (transport, teleporter, trapper). Maybe with more lore the term mercenary might fit better (ex: they are units looking for a way to make money (scrap) by working in the “army” and they have special talents that would benefit everyone) but right now it feels disconnected with the game. When I think mercenary, I think of the mercenaries from SC2; they had a clear purpose of what they did for your army - a quick way to give you control of a situation in the means of strong fire-power wherever you needed it. Every mercenary had that purpose and did nothing else. The mercenaries in Atlas are slow to build, come from the back of the map and have multiple uses. I’m not saying I want mercenaries from SC2 but there isn’t a clear definition to be like oh that mercenary makes total sense as to why it exists. I have some ideas that might narrow down their purpose.

    So the upgrade system was taken out of this weekend playtest #2 to see what people thought of mercenaries and charms, which makes total sense; got a new system, what do people think of it without being shadowed by a similar system. I say similar system because a good number of mercenaries have passive abilities that provide a temporary “upgrade” to a unit for x amount of time. With the reintegration of an upgrade system, those mercenaries might be taken out to give clearer definition of what the term mercenary means. Some of them could also be worked into a charm.

    Next would be the SC2 mercenaries that are sometimes the game ending unit to keep games from going on too long. There are also mercenaries that are kind of just thrown in to deal with anti-air or faster paced units. These all would be fine to label these as mercenaries but they are lost in the sea of other mercenaries. They also take away identities of certain squads. Some squads are tankier than others and some do more damage than others. To give a quick and bursty squad the ability to be tanky with a certain mercenary might take away it’s quick and burstiness. But sometimes you might need that when say you’re solo on bot. It’s hard to say for certain where these mercenaries fit but they definitely have a single purpose separated from the other mercenaries. They might fit into a new squad or maybe a certain tier could take care of that problem.

    If you take out mercenaries that give buffs to squads and mercenaries that deal with other units/buildings, you’re left with units that provide strategy on the battlefield. They also lose their definition of a mercenary unit because at the core of each are either an action or a specific item for a player (transports carry units, teleporter is immediate transfer of units, healer heals units that go outside of a tower, trapper drops slow traps, blinder throws a blinding cloud). Mercenaries that boil down to an action are harder to narrow down how they fit in. A good example of a unit in SC2 that is constant in all three races is a transport ship. Each one has a way to transport units around the map in a faster way than walking but have the risk of being shot down. Maybe instead of being a mercenary, a transport could be constructed at the main base and be used during the game. Or maybe it could just exist at the start of the game or at a certain time into the game where when destroyed another one would be built after X amount of time. Mercenaries that are essentially an item like traps or blinding clouds can be put into an item that you can buy at the charm store or something similar.

    If more mercenaries find their way into other parts of the game then I feel the definition of mercenary becomes more clear. Integrating them into the upgrade system, creating another squad, a part of the constant units that everyone has available and/or adding them to the shops are the only ways I can think of but Artillery might be able to find better ways.

  • WittyHorseWittyHorse Member
    edited March 29

    I've been thinking about Sean's questions regarding how expansions and statefulness feel ingame. Statefulness if rather low and expansions are both squishy and un-impactful feeling (of course they're highly important, they just don't feel like it right now). I've starting pondering: what if we didn't have expansion buildings at all? Instead, having resource nodes that give big payouts in the places where expansions are currently.
    First of all, how will these nodes spawn resources:

    1. Periodically:
      Every few minutes at a set amount. This is the most stateful and straightforward implementation.
    2. Fountains:
      Fountains refill at a certain rate but can be harvested out with enough workers. This is less stateful than 1 because the importance of the fountains grows as their reserves fill, there's never that moment of_ "Okay, fountains are spawning!" _as 1, so it's easy to forget an have fountains sit max at max reserves.
    3. Geysers: (a mix of 1 and 2 in a way)
      The geysers pump out gold at a certain rate for a few minutes into a reserve. Then, they have to stop for a period. The reserve can be mined out at any time, but it will only refill while the geysers pumping. I'm imagining that one round of pumping will fill the reserve, and after that the reserve can't fill any more unless it's harvested.
      This one is hard to call, but I'm the most excited about it. There will be the change-in-state when the geysers start "gushing," but there's less finality to harvesting them because the payoff still gradually builds over time into a reserve, so teams don't have to drop everything at one moment to harvest them. I think this implementation has a lot of fun implication that can be played around with and fine-tuned.

    Then, there's the question of how one collects from nodes:

    1. Heros need to be present and use their "building" ability somehow:
      This is the most stateful as you have to commit your hero to being around for the entirety of the harvesting, which is a very hard state transition both into and away from this event; it might be the kind of hard state transition that Atlas needs.

    2. Manually send workers from home base:
      Imagine building all your non-quad worker units at home and being able to choose which nodes to send them to. This would be neat because it allows teams to determine how much "cut of the cake" each player gets from a secured node's payout. Also, a player can choose to produce more non-squad workers in order to scale up more at the cost of early strength.
      This implementation is very RTS-feeling (which I would like to see more of in Atlas) and also gives teams more strategic options, as currently the only use for non-squad worker units for the enemy team to kill and halt your harvesting for a period. Players must be diligent to send their workers our to gather from resources if they choose make them, or they can focus on their squad and roaming to gather gems.
      An implication of this would be that workers travel from the node back to home base to deposit the resources, thus ensuring enemies still have a window to pick off worker lines (and possibly gather the dropper resources as gems).
      There's also the possibility of players being able to produce workers to harvest for another player, but that might have the undesired consequence of teams feeding everything to one player.

    3. Automating all or part of 2:
      Automating parts of 2 could make it easier on players or make gathering with workers safer in some ways.

    As for towers and defensive structures:

    1. I still think they'd be necessary to protect your "claim" to certain resources, and also your worker lines. Otherwise, we'd have the issue currently experienced that the enemy can freely destroy and expansion wherever your team isn't around. Securing nodes will also be a cooperative effort by the team, since it's likely the whole team will want some of the node, and no one person could adequately secure a node.
    2. Moreover, if you don't have static defense, the enemy could sneak in a bunch of non-squad workers to quickly harvest all the resources from a node that you're currently harvesting and then run back to their base like a thieving mission. :) It'd be neat to see what strategies arise from not having nearby resource collectors and no way of hard-securing resources.

    I'll keep thinking on these ideas and hopefully come up with more, but I'd love to discuss them so far!

  • TorkkTorkk Member
    edited April 15

    I'm a bit biased since I've mainly only played RTS games in the past, but I do feel like this game feels lacking in more of the interesting RTS elements that have made games like Starcraft and Starcraft 2 so great.

    The way that progressing your tech feels a bit gamey. As in, it would feel better if you created something physical to increase your tier instead of just upgrading something. I feel like putting in more traditional RTS elements like base building and more difficult forms of macro would make the skill differential higher and give you more things to do while your army is moving around the map instead of just staring at it spamming V. Doesn't necessarily require an intricate tech tree of buildings where you basically have to build an entire city to access the highest tier of units, but doing things like building an upgrade facility, production facilities, etc, it makes it feel like you're more involved. While automating so many things does make it easier for a casual player to enter the game, it does make it feel like the game is lacking some sort of interaction with your unit production and tech advancement. In reality, all of gaming is just pressing buttons correctly, but it shouldn't feel that way.

    The unit interaction also feels a bit too slow. I've had the same problem with Grey Goo, though it was much worse in that game. I think adding some sort of global speed increase to the game would help with the units feeling better to micro and maneuver. It never feels good to micro manage a unit that doesn't move very quickly, especially if it has an acceleration. In games like Starcraft, the instant response you got from moving units like the Vulture, Dragoon, or Hydralisk (in the case of SC2, this is most prevalent in units like Stalkers, Marines, and Zerglings) feels good because of the speed of which they respond and move. Units like Tempest and Battlecruisers never feel good because of slow acceleration and slow movement. While obviously you need slow units in the game as siege or power options, it'd feel a lot nicer if everything in general moved on a bit faster. Since there isn't a lot going on in the game, it will also further challenge a player into being faster than the opponent to more guarantees that the better player wins. There's also issues with pathing that gets in the way, but there's a thread for that so I'll go into it there. ^_^

    It feels very wrong to me about how the population mechanic works in this game, as someone who has worked for 15 years to remain un-supply blocked will tell you. This more than definitely has something to do with the level of automation that this game provides. You don't really feel like you're in control of much, you feel like you're being babied and coddled into getting the things you need, and are forced to really only focus on your army movements and micromanagement. Micromanagement isn't difficult when you don't have any multitasking to do, and since this is a 3v3 game, the amount of multitasking is already limited by the fact that you can rely on your teammates. Add in the fact that the macro is incredibly easy and seems to offer a very low skill ceiling, the game does't feel like it has many things going on at once unless there are battles happening around.

    Another thing that's a bit of a pet peeve of mine is not being able to hold down Q W or E to produce units en masse and very quickly. It just feels very unintuitive that I can't do that. Also, things like being able to hold the A key while clicking multiple times feels good when there isn't much going on and you are just trying to keep your fingers busy, but with the current build you have to keep repeatedly hitting A, which like the unit production problem, feels very unintuitive that you can't just hold A and keep clicking.

    Basically, what it comes down to, this game mostly feels like a traditional MOBA where you can produce the creeps through limited macro interactions, but fully control them along with the Hero. If this was the aim, then that has been a success, but I feel like to further separate yourselves from the rest of the crowd you do need to have some more traditional RTS elements to make the game feel more unique and more of a blend of two amazing genres.

    EDIT: I was wrong about static defense, removed it. ^_^

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