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Armscar Coder

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Armscar Coder last won the day on August 21 2020

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  1. This game reminds me of Karate Champ, one of the arcade games I would play at the pool when I was growing up. The background graphics are great and that ship is just so majestic. Every time I see it, all that comes to mind is "I want that." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mfSfekiZeE&ab_channel=jkman999
  2. @Jason_Atari, Stack Game is really a 1K game (with room to spare!). @bluswimmer had to "expand" it to 2K to make it work with the Harmony cartridge. Super impressive.
  3. I saw this on ZPH and was super impressed, especially for 4K. I love the sound and action of the mouse scurrying from one place to the next. Can't wait to give this one a try.
  4. Congratulations @alfredtdk! You are the winner for the longest time to receive your package. For the record, it started its journey on Dec. 11th, so it will just be a little over two months by the time you get it. James from @ZeroPage Homebrew gave it his best shot, but he had to settle for second place. I am happy to report that all of the Doggone It! packages have made it to their destinations, or as for my Brazilian friend, are very close. There were a few that took the scenic route, but in the end they all made it. I want to thank everyone for their support for Doggone It! and the recognition it received at last week's award show. There were a lot comments of "well deserved" and as much as I appreciate those words, I would emphatically say that all of the nominees are deserving. There are some great games out there and for Doggone It! to be rubbing shoulders with them on stage and my name be mentioned with fellow developers was deserving enough. I also can't say enough about the awards show itself and the professionalism that it exuded. Thanks to James and gang for their hard work. I am already looking forward to next year's show when I can just kick back with some popcorn and watch. Doggone It! has had its moment and I believe it's time to move on. I hope this will be the last post I make in this forum thread and that the Doggone It! topic starts to make its way done the forum page. It's simply time to talk about other games. But before I "sign off" I do want to address a few things. The issue appears to be my Atari system. I was playing Amoeba Jump a while back and discovered the same phenomenon of the title song missing the first few notes the first time through. I reached out to a few Doggone It! recipients and they have reported back that they did not experience this issue. So, I believe all is good except something possibly wrong with my light sixer. A few weeks back Al inquired about the possibility of putting Doggone It! in the AtariAge store. I was initially hesitant about the idea and had been during the game's development. My concern all along was that the game would take on a different meaning. Even my wife periodically reminded me not to "change your passion for glory" as Survivor so well said in Eye of the Tiger. I want Doggone It! to celebrate the individuals it was made for and what they did for my family. But now, I have reconsidered. I do want to be able to share the game in physical form for those who want it and I do want to support Al and AtariAge. And, if further sharing my story can help someone out there, then I believe the passion can continue to live on. So, stay tuned for a potential release announcement from Al. If Doggone It! ends up in the AtariAge store, any proceeds I would get from sales will be donated to the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. I do not have a specific charity that I prefer someone donate to. I would advise that they do so as they feel led. One thing I would mention is the effect of reaching out to someone who is currently in their cancer battle, especially if they are going through treatments and are ill from the side effects. During my tough days I looked to get through the day as soon as possible so I could get to the next day. I did this day after day, knowing that one day I would get to the point when it wouldn't hurt anymore. I tried to pass the time doing anything. One of the highlights of the day was reading cards and letters from my friends, family, and sometimes people I didn't even know. The letters were the best because they were longer. I would often read them several times. On days when there was little or no new mail, I would go back and read the letters again. So, I would not want to discourage anyone from donating money to a charity but I do feel that a bigger and more immediate impact can be made by just writing a letter, even if it is to someone you don't know that well. And that is going to cost you a stamp, an envelope, and just some time. That time, and the thoughtfulness behind it, will go a very long way. @Rogerpoco, once the pandemic is over, I look forward to it. A concept of a new game is taking shape, but don't look for anything playable in 2021. I will say that in its current state, its a military style shooter. And yes, @MarcoJ I had the idea prior to your announcement of Modern Battle (which premiered on ZPH last night). There should be no mistaking the two though, as I will attempt to fit the new idea into 4K. I can't say thank you enough to the Atari community. It has been a wild, but thoroughly enjoyable ride. I have never been one to comment much in the forums (just as I seem to be getting the hang of it). I may be fairly quiet until news of my new game, but I'll be out there following and playing all of the current new batch of games and the ones yet to come. I thought I would end with a video I came across a while back. It gave me a chuckle and for all of you Doggone It! fans out there, I hope it does for you to. Take care. - Andrew
  5. I have added packaging files to the very first post for those that will not be receiving a physical copy. The attachments include .pdfs for the manual and Nathan Strum review. I also included images of the notepad (extra item thrown into the box) as well as a couple of images of the box. I also realized that I never answered @fakecortex's question. I had wondered if someone was going to ask. Herbie (my graphic designer) came up with the P&M logo (not by my request). The "P" and "M" represent the initial of the first names of my two children. Happy new year everyone. - Andrew
  6. Yes, there is only a slight volume change. As I was learning Assembly language I was pretty determined to make as much of the code mine as possible (part of the reason it took me so long to finish). I didn't reinvent the wheel on everything. Among other things, I did use the well established available macros and horizontal positioning subroutine. The little research I did do told me that sometimes programmers made their games too loud. This drove my initial release to have as low a volume as possible (value of 1 for AUDV0 and AUDV1). When the game was played on ZeroPage Homebrew the first time, James and Tanya could barely hear the game, as they had the volume turned way down. Before ordering the cartridges from Al, I decided to bump up the volume. I used a couple of other homebrews games to calibrate where the volume should be (Amoeba Jump being one of them, a great game by the way). I was still really nervous about modifying the code after it was final, so I decided on a very simple change. At the beginning of the overscan, a value of 2 is loaded into the A register and stored into the VBLANK. Initially, I used asr to change the A register to a value of 1 before storing it into the volume registers. The cartridge version uses the snippet of code shown below, replacing the asr with asl, storing a value of 4 into the volume registers. ; Turn on vertical blank. lda #2 sta VBLANK asl sta AUDV0 sta AUDV1 When I received the first batch of cartridges from Al, I tried them out right away. When the cartridge version is played on my vintage machine, the first note or two of the title song screen is missed on the first time through. The title screen song loops continuously and every time it is played thereafter, it is fine. I went and checked the cartridge binary file on my Harmony cart and it didn't skip the notes. I tried the cartridge on a Retron77 and it didn't skip the notes. I must admit, that I was initially very frustrated with this result. I wanted everything about this game to be perfect. Then, I caught myself being motivated for the wrong reasons. I had lost sight of why I made this game. Doggone It! was developed to honor those that have helped me in my cancer fight. I was going down this slippery slope, again, of the game being about me (I must give my wife credit for reminding me of this several times in the past). I am sure there is someone out there that can explain to me why the notes are skipped the first time through and the program fix for it. But in the end, I decided just to let it go. Every time I play Doggone It!, I want to hear those notes being skipped to remind me that the game isn't perfect. Those missing notes were the furthest thing from my mind this past week when I presented the game to my friends, my doctors, and my employer. But, I am only human, and when I play Doggone It! in the future, I just may need that reminder that this game wasn't about me. Thanks to everyone for your continued positive feedback. Special thanks to @KaeruYojimbo and @Karl G for sharing their personal experiences. Cancer does change a person. I know it has given me more compassion for others going through similar circumstances, a compassion that I didn't have before. I consider that the best lasting side effect of my cancer experience. - Andrew
  7. My Doggone It! Atari journey is complete. My name is Andrew, a.k.a. Armscar Coder, and I would like to tell you more of the story behind Doggone It!. As most of the readers of this forum thread know, I made Doggone It! to thank and honor certain people who have helped me during my bout with cancer. I make no apologies for being a little tight-lipped about some things until now. I did not want to take the chance that the honorees would find out about the game before I could present it to them. I was finally able to do that earlier this week. This past week has been release week for the physical copies of the game. What has made it more special is that the physical release has coincided with a significant milestone in my cancer journey: two years of being in remission. With the type of cancer I had, due to its aggressiveness, most recurrences occur in the first two years after treatment ends. Statistically speaking, I went from a roughly 50-60% five-year survival rate to 90%. For the first time since my diagnosis, the phrase “had cancer” is starting to feel genuinely more natural than “have cancer.” I do want to give a special thanks to two AtariAge members who have contributed to the physical release of Doggone It!. To @bfstats for providing the box inserts. Thank you so much for allowing me to press the easy button for part of the packaging process. It may have just saved my sanity. To @Nathan Strum for providing a full in-depth review of Doggone It!. Thank you for fulfilling part of my homebrew development bucket list. Your witty reviews in the AtariAge store definitely helped me get through some of the harder days during my post-treatment recovery. I also want to call attention to my graphic designer, Herbie. He is responsible for the design of the cartridge labels, manual, and game box. Herbie happens to be my wife’s cousin and I went against the old adage of “don’t do business with friends or family.” Herbie put up with my many revisions, and the physical release of Doggone It! has been exponentially better thanks to his work. In the near future, I plan to add files for the manual, Nathan Strum review, box cover front, and box cover back to the very first post of this thread for everyone to download. I have had some individuals reach out to me inquiring about the costs of Doggone It! and offering to pay for part or all of their boxed copy. Allowing me to provide these games for free is my personal pleasure and is what I set out to do, as a celebration of life. I have been able to pick up a couple of odd jobs outside of work that helped pay for the publishing costs, allowing me to essentially break even. If you are receiving a physical copy of Doggone It! and it puts a smile on your face when you open up the package, then the extra work was totally worth it. Why “Armscar Coder?” My second surgery was an eleven-hour affair that included removing the right half of my tongue, where the tumor originated. What my surgeon referred to as “fatty tissue” was removed from my left arm and attached to my remaining tongue. The picture below shows what my arm looked like a couple of days after the surgery when the bandage was finally removed. This next picture is what my scar looks like today. It has healed considerably, but it still gives me a little bit of street credibility. I actually like my scar. It is my literal battle scar. (Please excuse the plug for my favorite Atari 2600 Homebrew show. I can’t help it that the shirt is comfortable.) When I decided to make an Atari 2600 game, I did struggle for a while on what the game would be. As I was beginning to crawl in learning Assembly, I brainstormed a few ideas (at that time my ignorance of what was possible was still bliss) but never had a home run idea. Finally, I started to think of what connection I could establish between all of the intended honorees of the game. I was finally able to establish dogs as a possible common theme. I know several people have inquired if I was a delivery driver in a previous life. No, I wasn’t. The delivery driver idea was just a way that I could fluidly connect all of the dog elements together and still have a cohesive game. So, that is when Hank was born. Now, I would like to introduce you to the characters of the Doggone It!. Hank Hank is 100% fictitious. I was never a delivery driver nor do I have any family or friends who are delivery drivers. Nor do I know anyone named Hank! That name just seemed to work and it just so happened to be the name of my son’s favorite Thomas the Tank Engine train when he was little. I have no personal preference for UPS, but my kernel only had time for a single color for the truck sprite and I thought the brown color better conveyed a delivery truck as UPS rather than white for FedEx, which may have been mistaken for an ambulance or something else. Crazy Culvert Kitty We do have a cat named Alice, but Crazy Culvert Kitty is also fictitious. While my family and I lived out of state for my treatments, one of our neighbors helped take care of things around our house, including often checking on Alice. She is a great neighbor and happens to love cats. With a nod to her and that cats are somewhat of a natural enemy to dogs, it just worked well to have Crazy Culvert Kitty on Hank’s side while he’s trying to deliver packages. I do like the color purple, but the flashing purple evolved to be the best color for distinguishing Crazy Culvert Kitty from the other game elements and to help identify power-ups. Level 1 The first level is dedicated to our friends. They used to live near us in Virginia, but several years back they moved to North Carolina. My cancer care eventually led me to the University of North Carolina Cancer Hospital. When it came time for my radiation and chemotherapy treatments, my family and I lived with our friends for seven weeks. Even with best friends, hospitality can be worn out, but we never got the feeling that we weren’t welcome. In addition to all of the material things they provided (like feeding and housing us) they were a lifeline to the emotional state of my wife and kids. The do have a wooded yard as depicted in the game. Oliver and Tinker Oliver is the son of our friends and just so happens to be the best friend of my children. Below is a picture of all of them with their dog Tinker, after I presented them with their copy of Doggone It!. Tinker is much bigger when standing up. In the game manual, there are a few inside jokes. One in particular I wish to explain is the reference to unscented paper towels in the description for level 1. The radiation I received to the head/neck area caused much inflammation to the linings in my throat and I was constantly spitting up mucous. The way I described it to people was to imagine the biggest loogie you ever spat. Now imagine doing that every minute while you were awake. I would spit several times into a paper towel before throwing it away, and I was going through over a roll every day. I could only tolerate the unscented, natural ones without being nauseated. We ordered the largest box of these paper towels we could find. Here is a picture of Oliver’s father playing Doggone It! for the first time with Tinker looking on. Level 2 Level 2 is the cancer hospital. Did anyone wonder why the background color for this level was this particular shade of blue? Yes, it did add a nice splash of color and contrast to the other levels, but the real reason is that it is the closest I could get to Carolina blue, or the blue color used by the University of North Carolina. I cannot say enough how wonderful the UNC hospital experience has been for us. The layout of the level is a waiting room with chairs. Dr. Hackman Here is a picture of my surgeon, Dr. Hackman, after I presented him with his copy of the game. This is the man who operated on me for eleven hours. He is as down to earth as they get, yet mighty good at slicing and dicing. His sprite represents him in scrubs. Dr. Chera Dr. Chera is my radiation oncologist. He usually is wearing a white lab coat, hence his sprite design and reference in the manual. He told us this past week that he had to stop wearing lab coats since the start of the pandemic. His hair is floppy and sometimes wild, and I tried to capture that in his sprite. Here is a picture of me with Dr. Chera after I presented Doggone It! to him. Therapy Dogs The therapy dogs are real, but I never saw one. After my surgery, I recovered for seven days in the hospital. Twice I was visited by a therapy dog, but both times I was in the bathroom. Since going to the bathroom in my condition at that time was quite an ordeal, by the time I was done the therapy dog had left. These missed opportunities granted me the freedom to make up the dog sprite and color. I chose the color black to contrast the colors of Tinker on level 1 and the hot dogs on level 3. Gong The gong is real and is in the waiting room of the UNC radiation oncology department. Here is a picture of me striking the gong after my last radiation treatment in September of 2018, which is the tradition for every radiation patient to do at UNC after their treatments are finished. I was not feeling very well that day, so that is why I don’t appear to be celebratory. Also, that is not me trying to start a new hair style trend. The radiation that exited the back of my head caused hair loss there, but it grew back a few months later. Level 3 I work as a manufacturing engineer at Modine Manufacturing in Buena Vista, Virginia. We are an HVAC manufacturer, making a variety of products from small gas-fired unit heaters to large rooftop air conditioners. Level 3 is the best representation of the factory floor I could do with playfield data in my kernel. On this level, the objects in the plant are fork trucks and the green shapes are mechanical power presses. Dwight and Hot Dogs Dwight is the maintenance supervisor for our plant. If you ever need someone to work on a piece of equipment, there is no one better, no one. He is also just an all-around great guy. The maintenance supervisor works well with the game story line, but I cannot think of anyone better than Dwight to represent the great company that I work for. Most of the HVAC products we make are for commercial/industrial applications. We do make a line of residential garage heaters referred to as Hot Dawgs. To avoid any potential intellectual property issues, I decided to just go with hot dogs instead. Part of my job is to maintain the sheet metal punching equipment that makes the parts for this type of heater, so I do have some attachment to the hot dogs. The hot dog sprites include flames coming off of their backs. Here is a picture of Dwight beside a Hot Dawg heater and the Hot Dawg logo. Well, here I am end at the end of Doggone It!. There were many days that I never thought I would make it this far. As mentioned in a previous post, I will be taking a break for a while. My family has given me unconditional support during the development of Doggone It! and they deserve a lot credit for its completion. My wife has a creative endeavor of her own to pursue, and it’s time that I return the favor. During this break I hope to actually get back to playing Atari 2600 games. I have started playing Pitkat which is amazing. It is intimidating to me that Pitkat is @MarcoJ’s first game. I also want to check out this Zoo Keeper thing everyone keeps talking about. All kidding aside, @johnnywc you do great work and though I never will reach your “Yoda” level of programming, it inspires a "Padawan" programmer like myself to reach a little higher. One of the lasting side effects from my cancer treatments is a much-diminished taste of sugar. I can’t taste ice cream at all. The AtariAge community has added a sweetness to my first-time homebrew development experience that I will appreciate for a long time. Thanks to everyone for allowing me to share my game and story with you. - Andrew
  8. Once Doggone It! is complete, I'll probably be taking a little bit of a break. The entire process has been emotionally draining, the actual code writing being less so. That being said, I do have an idea for a new game. I do some limited programming at work, but it is for industrial machines interfacing with PLCs, HMIs, drives, etc.. Programming for the Atari 2600 in Assembly language has challenged me to think differently when coding. I want to further challenge myself to develop a scrolling shooter. Don't worry, this one won't be based on any personal experiences. It is only a concept at this point and will probably remain mostly a concept while my kids are still young. My wife often reminds me that they are only little once. So, will I develop games in the future? Definitely. Just don't look for anything anytime soon. Discovering the AtariAge community has been one of the many positive outcomes of the hardships I have endured. There is no walking away from that.
  9. Maybe all of the votes are still being counted or are "lost in the mail" but I do appreciate those that listed Doggone It! as their favorite or most surprising game this season. But a special thanks to everyone (at least so far) for not listing it as the worst game. I imagine a few of you were tempted to do so. I gave a shout-out to y'all over in the 2600 programming forum. And yes, I did acknowledge @Rogerpoco for his high score. Hopefully that isn't rubbing salt in any wounds. I want to thank all of you guys and gals again for allowing Doggone It! to be part of the 2600 High Score Club. You have broadened my horizons to the expanse of the AtariAge community, which is good for coding nerds like myself.
  10. I have had an inquiry from someone on the "Oprah" distribution list to where things stand with Doggone It!. Since there may be others also wondering, I thought I would give a quick update. For those of you on the list that haven't provided a shipping address, please go ahead and do so. The cartridges from AtariAge have been received. I imagine to no one's surprise, they look great. The manual layout/design is complete and is off to the printer. The box design is in the first round of editing and will hopefully be complete in a coupe of days. I still can't reveal too much, but I will go ahead and share the full manual/box cover design. I would like to take this opportunity to give a couple of shout-outs. The first is to anyone who puts together a complete game with a manual and box. My graphic designer is doing all of the heavy lifting, but I have still found this process to be more overwhelming than I ever imagined. It is definitely not as easy as some people make it look. In the future, I think I will just stick to coding. The second shout-out goes to the Atari 2600 High Score Club. Doggone It! was part of the Homebrew competition this year and they knocked it out of the park. My all time best score on Doggone It! would have only been good for second place, and not too far from fourth place. @Rogerpoco, I commend you for putting the high score to a place that I didn't think was possible, above 60k points, and you have done it twice. It seems all of my attempts to catch you are fruitless. Last night, I got to the place that usually stone walls me: round 6 (9 packages), level 3, last package. I played this particular game on a real cartridge, which is still very surreal for me to see. Just seems like yesterday I was trying to understand why you have to set the carry bit before doing subtraction. Now, I can hold my finished game in physical form in my hand. Very surreal. OK, this update was a little longer than I originally intended. I'll be in touch with everyone on the distribution list via PM when Doggone It! is ready to ship. I am still thinking that will be early to mid-December. I will try to ship the ones going internationally sooner. I plan to have one more update post after the intended recipients get the game. That will complete the journey and you will be able to meet some of the characters from the game. Thanks to all. - Armscar Coder
  11. Mind blown. My first reaction was to drop to my knees Wayne and Garth style and start chanting "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!" With my best score being just over 53k, I always thought that somewhere in the low 60k was possible, but was it really achievable? I suppose it was like going to the moon for the first time. I am sure some back then were like "Yeah it's possible, but I'll believe it when you hand me some moon rocks." Well @Rogerpoco, you delivered (and if you can post a video of your game, I would love to see it). Once @Vocelli informed me that the 2600 HSC was going to play Doggone It!, I made the comment to him that I was excited to see what professionals could really score on Doggone It!. I never thought any of you would top my best score. I have been humbled. I have been playing a few games of Doggone It! myself over the last two weeks and I have topped out at around 51k. I think that that puts me in third place (at least for now) for this competition. I have been humbled. What I have now just come to realize (and I think it took those doses of humility) was that you guys (and gals!) are gamers. I am a programmer. I am not a gamer. Rogerpoco's explanation of waiting for the Kitty is something I never considered. You guys are not always pushing the boundaries, you are redefining them. I am so glad that Doggone It! was included in this competition, as I hope this experience will make me a better programmer. I have no hope of becoming a better gamer (unless I start writing in some cheats). - Armscar Coder
  12. Sneaking onto AtariAge real quick during lunch. @Atarian7, no, you cannot save more than one power-up. The stored power-up is indicated by the icon just to left of the score (what I call Hank's power pocket). If it just looks like a rectangle, it means it is empty. The other icons are somewhat self-explanatory: Dog invincibility -> dog icon Truck pause -> truck icon Double Package -> "x2" icon Fast Feet -> This is one that is a little bit of a stretch. It is supposed to be a foot sharing the shape of an "F" for "fast." If you have a power-up stored and pet Crazy Culvert Kitty, you will get another power-up chosen at random and it becomes active immediately (due to randomness, it may be the same power-up stored in Hank's power pocket). You can always activate the stored power-up by pressing the fire button, except when a power-up is already active (as described in the previous sentence). @Jason_Atari, happy to hear (and relieved) that the button issue may be on your end. Thanks for the update. - Armscar Coder
  13. @Rogerpoco and @Jason_Atari, awesome job! Not sure how many attempts led up to these scores, but they are great feats considering you have been only playing for a week or so. What warms my heart more is @Lauren Tyler posting a good score after her initial reaction. Thanks for giving it another try. @Jason_Atari, as far as the button issue goes, when starting a new level by pressing the fire button, a stored power-up should not be activated until the button is released and depressed again. I am pretty sure I tested that many times, but just to make sure I verified it again on my 2600 system this morning. I haven't gotten any similar feedback, so not sure what would be going on there. Maybe try to replicate it and let me know? Regardless, thanks for the feedback. - Armscar Coder
  14. @Rogerpoco, need I remind you that the appropriate response is "doggone it!"? Amazing results from everyone. I'm genuinely impressed by everyone's scores in the short amount of time that you have had access to the game. As I mentioned before, my best is just over 53,000 and I have been play testing Doggone It! for months, not to mention I know a thing or two about the code behind it. Keep it up! Someone is going to break 50,000!
  15. From the posted requests in this forum thread and AtariAge PM inquiries, as well as extending the offer to a few individuals that have helped me in my Atari journey, I have counted nineteen potential recipients for a free copy of Doggone It!. I couldn’t bring myself to limit the free copies to just ten people, so I decided to pull an Oprah. Everybody gets a car(tridge)! As mentioned in an earlier post, the cartridges will come from AtariAge. I will be sourcing the boxes and manuals myself. I don’t have any experience here, so I hope I can live up to the quality you are used to from AtariAge (at least the cartridges will be top of the line). If you don’t like it, I’ll refund your money and you can keep the game! (That’s my attempt at humor.) Below is the list of everyone that will be guaranteed a copy of Doggone It! with a box and manual. I broke it out into two different lists based on the versions available (NTSC and PAL60). If you didn’t specify, you are getting NTSC. If I missed someone that made the request, please let me know. The only thing I ask is PLEASE BE PATIENT. We are still working on the manual and box design. Even when they are done, I don’t expect it to be released until mid-December as that it is when I hope to reveal the game to those that it was made for. For those on the lists, please provide me an address through AtariAge PM for where the game should be sent (though I am not in a hurry based on the expected release date). NTSC @adamh9700 @Arenafoot @AtariTexas @bfstats @jwelsh @Karl G @KevinMos3 @KevKelley @NostAlgae37 @Prizrak @Rogerpoco @Skwrl63 @socrates63 @splendidnut @sramirez2008 @TrekMD @ZeroPage Homebrew PAL60 @Al_Nafuur @Philsan This will be limited release and I will be giving away all of the copies (some to friends and family in addition to the lists above). I have no plans to ask for it to be in the AtariAge store. It’s Al’s store, not mine. But more importantly, for this project I feel a great need for finality. I want this game, just like my cancer, to be a chapter in my life that I can close and not be part of any legacy.
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