Techtree Contest #17 - Results

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Riki

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Contestants were to create a Techtree themed around Swarm. Interpretations were encouraged to get creative and think outside the box.





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  • 1st place: 750 experience points
  • 2nd place: 600 experience points
  • 3rd place: 450 experience points
  • Entry: 150 experience points
  • Judge: 50 experience points per entrant
The three winners will receive an award icon representing the winning entry.



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Theme
How well the various elements of the Faction (including aesthetics, gameplay & design) fit together in a thematic manner such that they feel like they are representative of the given Faction, as well as that of the chosen Contest Theme. Well-fitting & polished aesthetics which complement a cohesive theme will be graded well; poorly-considered or lacking thematic elements will result in a poor score./25

Gameplay
How well the various elements of the Faction work together to achieve the tactical synergy & gameplay style the Faction has, as well as how efficiently each element performs its particular function. Strategic systems that endow an identity to the Faction, comprehensive & well-though-out roles which complement a cohesive Faction will be graded well; ill-considered, insufficient or over-compensating roles will lose points./30

Creativity
How original the design of the Faction is in terms of innovative ideas, clever implementations, or creative concepts. Innovation and creativity will be rewarded; extensive re-use of existing elements in vanilla factions & poor originality will result in a poor score./45
/100


  • Judgement: 70%
  • Poll: 30%
FinalScore = (30*Reached_Votes/POSSIBLE_VOTES) + (70*Average_Judge_Score/POSSIBLE_SCORE)

@Leods updated his entry 16 days after the end of the contest. This means a cumulative penalty of 136% on his final score. Since this will result in a negative score, he has been disqualified.



Theme: 23/25

Grey Goo comes to mind when I think about this contest. I adore the concept of mobile bases, and the Mastermind is certainly an interesting take on that. You have a literal interpretation of Mastermind leading a mass of horrid creatures around, it was satisfying to see. The three unique Old God choices don't feel hollow, as I played with each I was able to see real benefits from the unique units and bonuses. Caustic Venom is a fantastic anti-air concept, particularly when paired with such a mobile unit. There's perhaps not enough distinction between unit silhouettes though. Unique units and the Mastermind abilities all jive together quite well so I know what to expect when picking a god.

Gameplay: 25/30

Starting with three Harbingers is a substantial advantage both for rush potential, and the incredible gold boost they provide. Having the Creeper on a separate build menu from the other basic structures is a tad confusing, although the instant summon is quite good. I get the sense that the Mastermind is meant to move around with the army as despite his health and armor he is quite weak. I felt that I couldn't leave him behind without significant protection, and then was worried about defending when bringing him along. While I have three Harbingers it's also a concern because I can't replace them, and if I lose my Mastermind I need one. It's not the best loop to be in as a player. I ended up hiding one Harbinger on the map. It's also not great that I can't change Old Gods in a game. It's a critical part of RTS that I can adapt to my opponents moves at a cost, but here if they successfully counter a particular Old God I am not able to adjust. This race really needs a dedicated food structure. Creepers and Maws are both prime targets when attacking a base due to resource gathering and item shop. Generally, you don't want to worry about your opponent wiping out more than one resource at a time on a given building/unit. Maws are also huge and make base building difficult. Some quality of life improvements would help, such as having the available upgrades and units on menus attached to the Rift - there's no benefit to having them on the Mastermind as far as I can see, although it fits the theme. There could have been more synergy though between units, perhaps an overarching ability unique to each Old God that all units have. The resource system has some pitfalls, I can see where you were going but the end result feels a bit rushed. What you've really created here is a race that relies on heavy and constant pressure, but certain choices such as the inability to train more Harbingers/C'Thrax throws a wrench in that. Finally, the inability to choose a neutral hero is a significant drawback for me as they unlock many strategies.

Creativity: 38/45

You did an excellent job communicating the purpose of units with visuals. For example, the Punisher with Psychic Shock has a clear anti-mage feel. There's room for improvement though in the Old God unique units, and the units overall. Many feel the same, and I was a bit disappointed that each Old God didn't have its own unique tier three unit. As far as the spells there were a few that stood out as more unique: Psychic Shock, Atrophy, and Nether Volley. Many were simply stat adjustment spells though. I would be curious to see this race with all mobile buildings.

Total: 86/100

Bugs:
  • The SFX for summoning is way too loud
  • Sometimes the progress bar does not show any progress, it seems to be limited to techs that take more than 60+ seconds



Theme: 17/25
Your building choice mostly suites this race. You did an excellent job though on the research flavor: Calcium-Rich Wedges, Bile Bomb, Ravage, and Indiscriminate Appetite come to mind. I also loved the flavor text - but really what do they put in those guns? Riled Residents is a fantastic idea for passive base defense and on point with your theme. I rarely got the sense though that units were building on each other or operating in a cohesive way beyond a few AoE buffs. To be clear you're racial theme is in a good place, but I don't get a sense of how this evokes Swarm. A solution there is to rely more on the corpse mechanic you've included in several places to further encourage massing and attacking. I can see the potential here.

Gameplay: 24/30
I would give Subterranean Apartments to start, it's central to the usefulness of the Entrance in defending from harass. Secret Tunnels is fairly similar to a Nydus network, which is an issue as there is no range on Trapdoor, and it has no upper limit on units (as far as I saw). Stink Cloud is compelling to use as it provides a unique area denial ability as I can target my own units and "build" a protective barrier. Perch is a neat idea but I worry it detracts too much from what should be an aggressive race. I can either leave 1-3 valuable air units in it as defense while I attack or only use it when defending my base. There is an opportunity to build them outside an enemy base, but overall the unit identity seems confused. It would however be a substantial upgrade to a larger version of the Kobold Cannon. Overall this race has way too many spells/abilities with buffs/debuffs to manage. I was overwhelmed at several moments as I clicked on units in combat and they had max buffs displayed.

Creativity: 35/45
Where you fall short here is in the similarity to a traditional race. It's good as I know where to find what I need, but also not what it could be in terms of imagining a Rat race (no I'm not talking about the economy). I was expecting more of a mutation or evolution system for combat upgrades instead of the standard armor/weapons. As far as the race you may have been able to apply Ravage as a racial trait for example and have corpse consumption be AoE, lending to that bloody image we tend to have of rats. The casters from the Hall of Skulls also don't evoke what I imagine rat casters to be. There are eight active abilities and some of them really could be applied to any race as-is. The Direbow is another example of this. Where you nailed a rat spell was Calcium Rich Wedges, which provides a dual purpose of the unit in a useful way. Stink Gun is one of the most creative units I've seen in recent contests

Total: 76/100

Bugs:
  • Music is way too loud
  • Loading into Bunkers often returns an 'out of range' error when units are right next to it



Theme: 13/25
It is immediately obvious from the aesthetics that this race is mana-based. Unfortunately, I don't see how swarm as a theme is present here. There isn't anything I can see that is indicative of large groups of units (spells that build off each other, abilities that benefit from numbers, fast replacement of units, rapid expansion, etc). As an overall race, you do get the focus on mana across, but I'm left wondering how this fits in this specific contest.

Gameplay: 20/30
Having all the basic research on the Mana Generator means I need to build two or wait longer for casters. It is also such an important target and thus a concern for me when base building due to its mana regeneration. I end up wanting to shove it back in my base somewhere meaning I can't take advantage of the regeneration. Borrow is fantastic for this race. It provides a high skill ceiling for those who want to maximize mana utilization. This also highlighted a critical issue with this race: it has essentially infinite mana, the most useful resource in War3. In addition to rather high mana pools for all units, Borrow, typical regen rates on units, and Mana Generator, there are five units with abilities that manipulate mana on enemy units somehow. There's also Spectral Return which makes the Manamother essentially free to cast spells with no concern. What all of this means is my enemy almost never had mana, and I was Smaug on my pile - not terribly challenging. This race should struggle to regenerate mana on units (low regen rate) and need to use those abilities to stay in the game. The building system you chose is fantastic for base design. My only comment here is there's no indication of cast range, and no error message when I am not able to place a building. There are also certain units that I'm not sure I understand the usage for. For example, the Dragonfly is a powerful AoE denial weapon/healer, but is squishy and would be immediately nuked down. It can Escape to Astral, but then it can't damage/heal.

Creativity: 28/45
Having the word "mana" in so many names is boring: Manatower, Mana Generator, Manashop, etc. I appreciate the addition of boats. Despite the thought you put into the overall design, and certain aspects such as the build system, most abilities are slightly altered vanilla counterparts. Given the reliance on mana, I expect the spell roster to be comprised of stacking/merging concepts that allow the player to benefit from the swarm concept. There isn't too much here to differentiate the Manapure from a vanilla race. Even hero abilities for the most part are basically vanilla spells, and this is typically where contestants pick up points.

Total: 61/100

Bugs:
- No error messaging for build radius



Theme: 12/25
It's certainly an insect race of sorts but beyond that, I'm not sure what the identity is meant to be. I see where you were going in terms of a swarm but there's not much in the tech tree to reinforce that concept.

Gameplay: 12/30
The first few minutes of this race were rough. It wasn't clear at all what anything was meant to do. I really should start with 1-2 Tentacles. Blight doesn't count as Corrupted Zone? How do I get more Corrupters (this didn't seem possible)? The harvesting system is interesting, although it will mean rapid deforestation and my Tentacles will end up spread out over a large area. The Nerubian Monolite and Treasure Altar are odd, having structures be placed for you is not a good idea for player agency. Being able to have multiple Herald's of the Old One is madness considering the chaos damage. Burrow not having a range is nuts as I can instantly move an army anywhere. Overall there's quite a lot of clarity issues in how to use units and how to even get units.

Creativity: 20/45
There was an idea here. The tree system had potential. It would have been interesting to see the trees be converted into units by consuming health from a group of trees.

Total: 44/100

Bugs:
- I was not able to replace Corrupters. On a hunch, I explored in WE a bit and found that you had too many items on the Overlord and so his ability and units were pushed out of the UI. I fixed this and did some further testing. The Broodmother is a fantastic idea for a land carrier and fits both your race and the contest theme well. The Broodmother should have been your main starting unit/hall and only sell units. Everything else could support her and her brood so your base is simply a long-range support system. Give her massive health/regen with upgrades and low/no damage so she can be a front line unit. I would not have her also produce heroes. I'd love to see you expand on this race.





Theme: This is an interesting entry to tackle. For what can be seen ingame it is a mix of Faceless and Nerubian. There appears to be mixes of other insect races from WoW lore, so generally it's a mix that works at least in lore. Some of the model choices are… interesting. While the unit models seem to be reasonable (based off what can be seen ingame – more on that later), the aesthetics for some of the other aspects of the faction such as Lumber and Corrupted land can be a little jarring. Bringing it back to the contest theme of Swarm, it is hard to see where this faction swarms with only one exception – a fairly hidden ability, you can upgrade your Tunnelers to spawn four Spiderlings each every four minutes. While not the most swarmy concept in execution, it is still an idea that touches upon the contest theme. 12/25


Gameplay: It becomes challenging to assess the gameplay concepts here as a great deal of the faction is actually inaccessible ingame, so I took the liberty of looking through the World Editor to assess some of the intended ideas. With what is available ingame, you can rush the enemy base with up to four melee siege units that deal over 100 damage per attack. Needless to say, this definitely breaks the game. Where the techtree becomes inaccessible is when it comes to getting Amalgamates from the Overlord which leads to getting access to more of the techtree. The problem is that the Overlord sells too many items while also being a unit, so the option for getting units from it never comes up. Based off the Object Editor, however, the Amalgamate lets you produce an Evolving Egg which lets you produce with a Nerubian Web Maker or the Scarab Digger, your gold harvesting unit. Right off the bat, these are too many unnecessary steps required to getting more gold harvesters – especially when you factor in there is no ability or hint given that you need to burrow your Scarabs next to the gold mine to harvest gold. It's an interesting idea, but it adds so many unnecessary steps in between. Unit roles seem to be at least somewhat considered – the Faceless One Destroyer, for example, is advertised as being an anti-structure unit. In that sense it certainly is – however, it is far too effective at this role and is made available to you at the beginning of the game. With what is made available, even without being able to get new units, you can still win games easily by rushing – this needs a lot more work. 5/30


Creativity: Nomadic races are not a new concept, but every time I see them creators have different takes on how to accomplish it. This actually does have some interesting ideas within it – the way the Scarab Diggers burrow to gather gold does actually circumvent the issue of requiring a drop-off point without needing to produce a Haunted or Entangled Gold Mine. While the execution does cause complications in the gameplay section, it is nonetheless a creative solution to a recurring problem with nomadic factions. The way the lumber is harvested, similarly, while not exactly ideal, does get around the requirement for a drop-off point. Some ideas are completely unconventional and while I would not recommend them, are still creative – such as getting access to your researches by upgrading a corrupted tree into a Tentacle. I would not recommend this but I have to admit, I have never seen this before. Even the way you get access to your heroes – for the one hero class that is available – is pretty unique. For a lot of the problems with execution, there is some bizarre ideas here that are definitely different. Where the faction is let down is that the design itself wasn't particularly well executed, and so while some of the ideas were definitely creative, the creativity sort of stops just shy of producing a quality implementation. The unit designs themselves are fairly mundane for the most part (the Tunneler is a notable exception to this), but a lot of it being inaccessible to play ingame does make it difficult to judge in that respect. To give credit where credit is due, you definitely put some thought into some of the biggest issues with nomadic factions. 18/45


Judge's Notes: Nomadic factions are a notoriously ambitious undertaking for any techtree creator. While I will give kudos for trying something so daring, I will caution against it in future – I think some of these concepts may be a bit beyond your capabilities at present, and that's nothing bad to admit to – this is really hard stuff. Personally, I would recommend taking a few steps back and trying to get something more basic working, and definitely try to make sure you can test your map out so you don't have too many core design issues that make your work not appear ingame.


Total: 35/100



Theme: This is a bizarre faction to look at a glance when you first try it out. Instead of a Town Hall you have a very imposing floating Faceless One, and instead of your more traditional workers, you get three identical Faceless heroes. This sets the pace as this being the Heralds Of Oblivion, you having your three hero choices designated to producing what is required to dominate the world. The aesthetic choices for the faction tend to work rather well – the training and research graphics are a nice touch, and despite only having four different structure options available to the faction, your base doesn't feel empty. Tying into the Swarm theme, the early game units come in plentiful numbers, training two at a time and costing 1 food each. Your later unit options start costing more food, however you still tend to get decent numbers. There could have been more connecting to the Swarm theme, although what is there is very good, and the training mechanics implemented allow you to replenish your armies very efficiently. All in all, a solid effort. 19/25


Gameplay: There's a lot to both critique here and give praise towards, since this entry is very experimental. It was incredibly bold to have your workers be three identical heroes that you start the game with. The way it was executed means you can win any game by rushing, however, the idea is still very compelling and will definitely make up for your losses in Gameplay in the Creativity field. The Town Hall being replaced by such a powerful unit that can also attack is also an interesting choice. While it does offer base defense, you're more likely going to worship C'Thun for the movement speed bonus and the additional Maw attack range so you can rush the enemy base and summon your Maws and your designated lumber harvester on top of their base. The limitations to gold and lumber harvesters are both a fairly drastic restriction but also double as a very formidable rush option. The unit designs themselves, however, are really well thought out. The unit abilities are very interesting, and with a couple of unique options offered depending on what Old One you decide to worship, there's a lot of replayability in the faction. The techtree component is very well fleshed out with a lot of research and unit options made available, and while the training can become a little sketchy given you have to click each individual structure to tell it what you want to train or research, it does work well. Ideally, it would be done with less clicks. 16/30


Creativity: This is where you get a lot of the points lost in Gameplay back. This entry was very experimental, and with that came a lot of incredible ideas. The concepts of starting out with three heroes could be reconsidered to start out a lot weaker, perhaps with researches to make them stronger, making up for starting out with three heroes for free. The Mastermind being able to deal so much damage and have so much health at the start of the game could be balanced out by reducing its movement speed to a crawl with advancing to the next tier doubling as a stat boost for it. These ideas are concepts that come off the top of my head because this faction is inspiring. It demonstrates new ideas and steps so far out of an established comfort zone to try something radically different, and I commend it greatly for that. Going back to the unit abilities again, these are very well thought out and an absolute delight to play around with. The hero abilities are also a lot of fun, and the Old God options adding unique flavours (including Yogg Saron that changes one of your heroes for a new Warrior hero) really fleshes the faction out. Well done. 45/45


Judge's Notes: It really is great to see such an experimental techtree design pushing the boundaries for new ideas. Where it does fall flat, I invite both yourself and others to consider how it might be reimplemented as a lot of the ideas are already very intriguing and do seem genuinely worthwhile exploring in greater detail. As per usual, the unit design is amazing. Love it.


Total: 80/100



Theme: Oh man. Swarms of rats spreading disease and eating bodies. The aesthetic works rather well for the faction (who knew warcraft 1 styled orc structures worked so well with gnoll structures?), with the gameplay dripping with Swarm strategies. True, both your starting units cost 2 food each, not allowing them to be overly swarmed, but with the overarching theme lending itself towards a plague of rats and there being so many summon options, you get to play this faction like a true Swarm faction. On top of this, everything about the faction is just fun – the music is a hilarious addition that ties everything together, and the most food you'll ever designate to a unit is 5 for the Underhulk. You're going to have great numbers, a lot of summoning fun with Cheese Golems, controllable rat critters and the capacity to summon hordes upon hordes of Rabid Rats from your food production structures to overwhelm any early game aggression (and potentially run the risk of supply blocking yourself). This entry quite literally oozes charm. 25/25


Gameplay: The synergy here is incredible. While there are some minor mechanical issues, I can give credit for what ideas were meant to work. For example, the Kobold Cannon, as far as I can tell, does not actually produce corpses – but were this to work, I can see where the synergy would line up remarkably well with quite a few units sporting abilities based around consuming corpses, including your most basic melee infantry option who can gain up to 10 stacks of attack speed boosts if he eats well enough. The Cheese Golem is a very interesting take on early game healing from the item shop and works really well, even inciting nearby rat units to attack it on summon if they need the health (and the rats even stop attacking it once they hit full health!). The Entrance is another great example of the kind of synergy within the game. Serving as your food production structure, every time it receives 100 damage, it will summon a Rabit Rat for you. Your worker units have a Salvage ability, which allows them to retrieve some resources by dealing 150 damage to a structure you control. This ties in phenomenally well if you need the extra numbers for some base defense, and also works really well for just getting some extra resources. The Repurposed Gold Mine seems like an unnecessary addition, as it doesn't really offer any variety to the gold harvesting or add anything to the gameplay at all other than you being able to target it with Salvage for a temporary econ boost at the risk of it being sniped later on. It would be impossible to go into too much detail about all the intricacies of the faction, however, without it getting too wordy – suffice to say, the Stink Gun is worth checking out for an example of good unit design, in the instances where basic or ingame abilities are used it is done where it both makes sense and adds to the experience, and this entry has only minor complaints from me on the gameplay front – it's a solid traditional entry. 27/30


Creativity: Despite being a more traditional entry, there's some really innovative ideas here. As was touched upon slightly above, there are some instances where ingame abilities and some more basic ideas are implemented within units – these instances are few and far between and work effectively in tying the faction together without it becoming overly complicated. When it comes to the more custom ideas implemented, they are done in such a nice and efficient way that doesn't take away from the gameplay with a very clear insight towards performance for the player. Coming back to the Stink Gun, for example, being able to disable its attack is a great idea for such a potent form of line damage. It both enables wonderful creativity while making it work for the player. The issue I run into here is, once again, I can't cover all of the intricacies of the faction succinctly. The Perch can hold up to 3 Wailpups which allows it to shoot multiple targets at once, the Wailpups coming out to attack enemy units. The Parmesan Shooter can be upgraded to heal friendly units with its AoE damage. Despite playing like a more traditional entry, this has some amazingly innovative design choices throughout it. I look forward to seeing more from this contestant. 42/45


Judge's Notes: Upon closer inspection, corpses were being produced by the Kobold Cannon. I haven't changed what I wrote because I wasn't docking points for a minor technical error regardless, and the idea was what was judged. I would like it to be known that this faction is a prime example of simple done right – this plays like a traditional race with non-traditional ideas incorporated within it that aren't overly complex but are compelling enough to play and explore.


Total: 94/100



Theme: The Manapure is a hodge podge of various races and magical beings cooperating together with a communist approach to mana. The general theme of the units selected is an overarching purple aesthetic, which works surprisingly well together, although a lot of the kinds of creatures you'll see together are a little bizarre – yet aesthetically it somehow works, for the most part (I did not care for the Wither hero's model). There is definitely a lot of mana being used throughout the race, or at least, a lot of units and structures have mana – whether or not they use it is a whole other matter. What I find a little difficult to locate, unfortunately, is the connection to the contest's theme. It's unfortunate, too, since it seems like there was opportunity for a lot of summoning through the use of mana, and it would give you license to get a little overpowered with how many units you can get given they would all be able to be dispelled. So while the aesthetic is serviceable enough for the most part, the main part that is letting you down here is that I, personally, cannot see this as a Swarm faction. 9/25


Gameplay: There's some interesting design choices here. The gold harvesting works well enough, although I admittedly took a bit to find it. The building mechanics also work well enough, however, I find the combination to be a little rough. Beginning construction of a new structure interrupts the gold mining process, which is an issue in the combination of these styles. Fortunately, the food production structures are also able to construct structures, so this is a temporary setback – until you need to upgrade to tier 2 or 3. This will leave you unable to harvest gold from that structure until the upgrade is done. It is very unfortunate – just as the difficulty in expanding. To expand, you will need to stretch your wells across to extend your building range. Arguably, however, this is just a different way of playing the game, and it does harken back to the days of Command and Conquer and Red Alert. Still, in the context of Warcraft 3 this can present issues with trying to get to new gold mines once the old ones run out, and even in Command and Conquer games you could build more than one MCV (or, depending on the game, simply relocate your original one). There are some hints of good design concepts in this regard, but there is also some counter-intuitive design here. Onto the units, every unit has the capacity to have mana. Some lose their mana over time, and your starting unit can do absolutely nothing with mana other than lose it. All units have the “Borrow” ability which allows units to take 100 mana. This isn't the greatest design in the sense that it is a little clunky to use, and with your primary starting unit not even having anything to use mana on, it doesn't make a lot of sense in some cases. The techtree design is also questionable, as your tier 1 units are a ranged unit with magic damage and a melee unit with siege – the siege unit costing 80 lumber and the ranged only costing 135 gold. The training structure for the siege unit costs 140 lumber(!) at tier 1, while you get your magic ranged attack from the lumber mill (for some reason, although it actually sort of works in this context). The combination of magic and siege damage makes the early game murder against medium armor but insanely potent against heavy and fortified. Add in the fact the siege attacker starts with Bash, it's a very strong fighting force to open the game with. That being said, the rest of the techtree itself tends to suffer from similar design concepts, with some interesting ideas here and there (the Manadigger is… somewhat interesting). A lot of conflicting design choices here. 13.5/30


Creativity: I feel this is a little lacking for this entry. On some occasions there's a unique ability idea, but a lot of it is reskinned ingame abilities and a surprising amount of missed opportunities with such a concept. Some instances, the mana a unit can have isn't even able to be used. Some of the ideas presented certainly indicate a level of potential, however, and that can be given credit. The Manadigger was an interesting unit with its capacity to procure mana by attacking buildings and being able to use that mana to repair your own mechanical units and structures. But even that falls a little flat when in combination with the amount of reused ingame abilities. The Thunder and Spell Training as at least nice to have. 15/45


Judge's Notes: It's a bit of a shame that this entry missed out on some golden opportunities here, but that is where it is worth mentioning the core idea is a good one. Expand upon it more, have fun with it and come up with ideas you'd like to see incorporated into a faction. Also definitely remember the contest theme – in this instance, think of “Swarm” and how you want to incorporate that.


Total: 37.5/100






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Assigned Staff: @Heinvers & @Riki

Contest | Poll
 
Last edited:
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Congrats to all of you, nice ones
I've noticed the feedback, really thanks for giving it even when I got technically disqualified. I got it, and will be making simpler techtrees on the next contests. Maybe -a years on the future- will be trying to take the concepts of this entry and create what I originally imagined for it.
Anyway, again, congrats to all of you, specially @Riki ofc
 
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