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GDC 2012 adds track keynotes, 'Flash Forward,' reminds On Feb 2nd reg deadline

The 2012 Game Developers Conference has announced a number of new highlights, track keynotes, and the all-new 'Flash Forward,' ahead of the February 2nd early deadline for pass registration.

Sessions this year for the March 5th-9th San Francisco show include a lecture from Heavy Rain creator David Cage from developer Quantic Dream. In "Virtual Actors and Emotion in Games," Cage will give the first public demo of the new technology his studio is using to create emotional resonance, as well as discuss practices for capturing actor performances.

Game design legends Cliff Bleszinski, Sid Meier, Peter Molyneux and John Romero will come together for a discussion on the key games that have and continue to influence them in the panel "Forgotten Tales Remembered: The Games That Inspired Leading Innovators."

Naughty Dog Lead Game Designer Richard Lemarchand will return to host the popular "GDC Microtalks," a one-hour session featuring ten prominent speakers with a variety of points-of-view, this year each considering the theme "Playing for Time."

Details on these and all of the 400+ sessions at GDC 2012 can be found at the official GDC schedule page, with final talk times due later this week.

In addition, this year, the Main Conference content begins on Wednesday, March 7, at 9:00am with the GDC's first-ever "Flash Forward" session. The Flash Forward gives all Main Conference speakers the opportunity to grab attendees' attention by taking the stage for just sixty seconds each to give a brief overview of their session.

The Flash Forward will provide the opportunity to hear first-hand what will be discussed in sessions taking place Wednesday-Friday, and allow attendees to decide which talks best suit their interests. The Flash Forward is expected to be a fun, fast-paced, can't-miss event.

GDC is also introducing a new format for its keynote sessions. Rather than one central main conference keynote, GDC will feature six Track Keynotes, one for each discipline on which the main conference tracks focus, and featuring industry luminaries like Plants Vs. Zombies creator George Fan, ex-EA and current Zynga COO John Schappert, Bungie lead engineer and attendee-favorite GDC speaker Brian Sharp and more. The track keynotes are:

GDC 2012 details Audio track talks, from Bastion to Crysis 2

The organizers of the 2012 Game Developers Conference are highlighting this year's Audio Track, covering Supergiant's indie hit Bastion, Crytek's big-budget shooter Crysis 2, and GDC's ever-popular Demo Derby.

These talks all fall within the show's Audio track, just one of seven main tracks at the show's jam-packed Main Conference. Within this track, the industry's top audio professionals will share their knowledge and experience, offering lectures that span production tactics, technical innovations, aesthetic design, and much more.

The Audio track -- along with the rest of the Main Conference, will take place Wednesday, March 7 through Friday, March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

To gain access to all the notable sessions within the Main Conference, please register for an All Access or Main Conference pass at the official GDC website. In addition, if you are just interested in the Audio track, a specialized lower cost Audio pass is also available.

Here are the notable talks newly featured in GDC 2012's Audio track:

- Looking back on the success of the indie darling Bastion, Supergiant Games' audio director, Darren Korb, will host "Build That Wall: Creating the Audio for Bastion." During this session, Korb will demonstrate how he oversaw and coordinated the game's eclectic music, haunting vocal tracks, and even the its dynamic narration and sound effects, all on a very limited budget.

- Four years after hosting an audio-oriented talk on Crysis 1, Crytek returns to host a follow-up session, "Crysis of Audio II." Here, R&D audio engineer Thomas Wollenzin and co-audio director Florian Fuesslin will pick apart the technology and implementation strategies powering the audio of the studio's recent Crysis 2. Along the way, the pair will present numerous audio and video examples, detailing their audio production process and the pipeline that kept the team on track.

- Elsewhere, the Game Audio Network Guild will once again host its Demo Derby event, offering budding audio professionals a chance to get feedback from top developers working at Valve, Loot Drop, Sony, and more. This year, GDC will feature specialized events for music and sound design, and all active, registered members of the Game Audio Network Guild are welcome to submit demos for panel critique -- of course, all other attendees are more than welcome to attend the session.

Fez, Woolsey, Failure Workshop sessions added to GDC 2012 Summits

In the latest update for the 2012 Game Developers Conference, show organizers have revealed three new specialized Summit talks, including a technical postmortem of Polytron's Fez, a localization overview with legendary translator Ted Woolsey, and the indie-focused Failure Workshop.

These talks join an already jam-packed lineup for the show's eight specialized Summits, which cover emerging or otherwise influential sectors of the game industry, from Independent Games to Localization and beyond.

The Summits will take place during the first two days of GDC 2012 -- from Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out all of the exciting Summit content can do so by registering for an All-Access or Summits & Tutorials pass on the official GDC website (a specialized Independent Games Summit pass is also available).

The following are some of the newest sessions to be added to the GDC 2012 Summits:

- Within the Independent Games Summit, programmer Renaud Bedard of Polytron Corporation will host "Cubes All the Way Down: Fez Technical Postmortem." Here, Bedard will outline the challenges of bringing the highly-anticipated IGF nominee Fez to life, while sharing some lessons learned from the game's four year development cycle.

- Over in the Localization Summit, former Squaresoft translation guru Ted Woolsey (Final Fantasy series) and industry veteran Matt Whiting (both from Microsoft Studios) will go over the history of video game localization, while offering a look at emerging trends in the practice. The talk, "Game Localization: Using the Past to Understand the Present and Predict the Future," will begin with a look at the early 90's, and will eventually look toward the future to evaluate the viability of machine translation, crowd sourcing, and more.

- Finally, the popular "Failure Workshop" will return to the Independent Games Summit this year to provide a platform for key indie devs to outline their missteps and lessons learned from some of their most recent projects.

The Indie Fund's Ron Carmel will host this year's proceedings, and
participating developers include Scott Anderson and Steve Swink (Enemy
Airship, discussing Shadow Physics), Jamie Cheng (Klei Entertainment/Shank, discussing Sugar Rush), Amir Rao (Supergiant Games, discussing changed elements in Bastion), and Colin Northway (Fantastic Contraption, discussing multiple projects).

GDC 2012 partners with Iam8bit for 'Magnetic Game-O-Matic,' launches contest

With the 2012 Game Developers Conference just over a month away, its organizers have announced an exciting opportunity to win an All-Access pass to the San Francisco show, revealing a continued onsite partnership with the game artist, marketing, and production group iam8bit for live-drawing of wacky game concepts.

This year, GDC will once again partner with the independent artist group iam8bit (creators of last year's 'Painting With Pixels' art exhibit) to bring a similarly inspirational and syntactical activity to the show.

In its own area on the second floor of Moscone West, iam8bit will host the "Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic" from Monday, March 5th to Friday, March 9th. In this area, GDC attendees will be able to use hundreds of oversized (and magnetic) words to pitch their next great concept for a video game.

Throughout the show, notable industry artists will take a few minutes to sketch their interpretations of some of the most interesting game concepts onto screens. In addition, show attendees will also be able to turn up to draw their own art on screens or paper, alongside the featured artist. (Schedules featuring the featured artists will be posted in the near future.)

GDC organizers encourage everyone to participate in this "social experiment of totally random proportions," since what happens during the event is completely up to the GDC community -- there's no way of telling what everyone will come up with! For more information on the Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic, please check out the event's official page on the GDC 2012 website.

As for the new contest, it hinges on getting creative with GDC 2012's brand-new set of game industry lingo magnets, which have already been mailed to a number of past event attendees. If you've never attended Game Developers Conference or haven't received a set of your own, don't despair, as anyone is welcome to participate.

Using either the physical magnet set or the PDF available online, you must arrange your words into the most creative game industry-related phrase, poem, haiku, or statement you can come up with. After doing so, please post a photo or screenshot of your creation on Twitter with the hashtag #GDC2012.

GDC 2012 adds Meier, Inafune, League of Legends talks

2012 Game Developers Conference show organizers have revealed major new talks featuring game design advice from Sid Meier, a Japanese game industry breakdown from Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune, and Riot Games on League of Legends' success with Dominion.

As part of GDC 2012's Main Conference, these talks will be categorized among its six discipline-specific tracks, spanning Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts, and will take place between March 6 and March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out all the exiting content in the show's Main Conference can do so by registering for an All-Access or Main Conference Pass via the event's official website (a specialized Audio pass is also available). Discounted prices for early registration will end Thursday, February 2.

The following major talks are among the newest additions to GDC 2012:

- In the Game Design track, the legendary Civilization creator Sid Meier (pictured) will host "Interesting Decisions," providing a detailed breakdown of how developers can make a player's gameplay decisions more interesting and rewarding.

Throughout his talk, Meier will examine a number of popular games to show developers how they can best present decisions to the player, and provide enough feedback to ensure a well-realized and satisfying experience.

- Elsewhere in the Game Design track, Capcom veteran and Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune (now of Comcept Inc.) will offer his thoughts on the challenges facing the Japanese game industry, particularly as Western developers continue to dominate the market.

His simultaneously translated talk, dubbed "The Future of Japanese Games," will consider the current trends and prevailing ideas in modern game development, and will identify what Japanese developers can learn from video game history.

GDC Awards honor Missile Command creator, First Amendment game lawyers

The 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA), the peer-awarded highest honors in video game development, have revealed the recipients of two of its Special Awards -- the Pioneer Award, given to developers for creating breakthrough video game genres or concepts, and the Ambassador Award, given to those who have helped the game industry advance to a better place.
This year's Pioneer Award will be given to Dave Theurer, one of Atari Inc.'s legendary arcade game designers from the 1980s. Theurer created classic titles such as Missile Command, Tempest, and I, Robot, which helped create modern game genres and define the early days of gaming.
The Ambassador Award will celebrate Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith, the First Amendment lawyers in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown, et al., v. Entertainment Merchants Association, et al., for their support and their fight for game developer rights.
Given away at Game Developers Conference every year as part of the Game Developers Choice Awards, the Pioneer Award celebrates individuals responsible for developing a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history, paving the way for the many developers who followed them.
This year's honoree, Dave Theurer, began his trailblazing career in the video game world in 1980 with the release of Missile Command, a seminal trackball-based shooter that was a milestone in early computer games.
Following on from this in 1981, Theurer created the iconic, vector-based tube shooter release Tempest, the original psychedelic shooter, which inspired a slew of other innovations in arcade video games and was an early title to use 3D perspective in gameplay.
As his final title in the game industry before moving to a successful career in enterprise software, Theurer then designed cult, groundbreaking arcade title I, Robot. This 1983 arcade game, not commercially successful at the time, is legendary for being the first commercial video game with filled 3D polygon graphics, as well as being the first video game to feature camera control options -- and was years or even decades ahead of its time.
"It's very difficult to find a game developer who doesn't have a single memory of Missile Command or his other classic, Tempest," said Meggan Scavio, general manager of the Game Developers Conference. "We're delighted to honor Dave Theurer for his work as a designer which resulted in shaping so many developers' creative drive in the genre."
Also being honored at the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards are the recipients of the Ambassador Award, which recognizes individuals who have helped the game industry advance to a better place, either through facilitating a better game community from within, or by reaching outside the industry to be advocates for video games to help further the art form.
This year, the Choice Awards Advisory Committee voted the First Amendment lawyers in the historic U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. EMA as recipients of the Ambassador Award. Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith led the legal team that convinced the Court that content-based restrictions on games are unconstitutional. The landmark ruling established First Amendment rights for those who create, develop, publish and sell video games, and is incredibly important to the past, present and future of video games as a creative medium.

GDC Play hall adds 'History Of 3D Games' museum exhibit

Game Developers Conference 2012 organizers have announced a special exhibition open to all GDC 2012 attendees, showcasing the history of 3D graphics in games, from the Vectrex through N64 to PC and beyond.

Batman, Double Fine, Gravity Rush talks revealed for GDC 2012

The lineup for the 2012 Game Developers Conference is growing ever larger, and today the show's organizers have chosen to highlight some notable talks from the Main Conference, including art-focused lectures on Batman: Arkham City and the upcoming Vita title Gravity Rush, as well as an in-depth look at Double Fine's prototyping and production process.

As part of GDC 2012's Main Conference, these talks are categorized among six discipline-specific tracks, which cover Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts. All Main Conference tracks will run from March 7 through March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out all the exciting content in the show's Main Conference can do so by registering for an All-Access or Main Conference Pass via the event's official website (a specialized Audio pass is also available).

The following is a selection of the latest notable talks to be added to GDC 2012's Main Conference, ahead of the February 2nd early registration deadline:

- In the Visual Arts track, Rocksteady art director David Hego will host, "Batman: Arkham City - Journey from the Asylum to the City," in which he will dive into the evolution and creative process behind the visuals of the studio's latest comic-inspired action game. Along the way, Hego will detail how the team infused elements of the Batman universe throughout Arkham City's game world, which both excited players and created an avenue for rich visual storytelling.

- In another Visual Arts lecture, Sony artist Yoshiaki Yamaguchi will offer a behind the scenes look at the art direction driving the upcoming action adventure title for PlayStation Vita, Gravity Rush (pictured). The talk, titled "Bringing the Visuals of Gravity Rush to PlayStation Vita," will examine the game's primary artistic influences, and will provide unique insight on creating sharp visuals with Sony's latest handheld.

Gardens of Time, Google, Mad God sessions added to GDC 2012's Social & Online Games Summit

This week, organizers of the 2012 Game Developers Conference continue their regular series of updates by announcing new sessions for the show's Social & Online Games Summit, with talks covering Playdom's popular Gardens of Time, the Flash MMO Realm of the Mad God, and Google's latest in Open Web tech.

These talks join a number of other notable sessions for the Social & Online Games Summit, all of which will offer unique and in-depth insight into the ever-changing realms of Facebook gaming, browser development, traditional MMOs, casual games, and beyond.

All eight of GDC 2012's specialized Summits will take place during the first two days of the show -- from Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6 a the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out the content in these Summits can do so by registering for an All-Access or Summits & Tutorials Pass on the official GDC website (a specialized Independent Games Summit Pass is also available).

The following is a selection of the latest talks to be added to GDC 2012's Social & Online Games Summit:

- Playdom's extremely successful Gardens of Time helped pioneer the hidden object genre on Facebook, and in "Gardens of Time: Design Problem Solving," creative director Eric Todd will examine how this influential game took shape. Throughout the session, Todd will look back on the game's conception and development, detailing the problem-solving lessons he gleaned from designing, launching, and operating Facebook's first major hidden object game.

- Elsewhere, Spry Fox CEO David Edery will outline how the Flash-based MMO Realm of the Mad God (developed in partnership with Wild Shadow Studios) found surprising success despite breaking some well-established tenets of online game design. The talk, "Realm of the Counter-Intuitive God," will look at the game's numerous eccentricities, from its bullet-hell combat to its strict permadeath mechanic, to examine what worked, what didn't, and how these choices affected the game's bottom line.

- Finally, Google software engineer Vincent Scheib will host "The Bleeding Edge of Open Web Tech," picking apart the latest developments in the world of browser-based games. During his presentation, Scheib will focus primarily on client side web technologies, including Web Sockets, WebGL, Mouse Lock, Web Audio API, and more.

Epic's Bleszinski, Monaco's Schatz to host GDC, IGF Awards

Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski (pictured), one of the key visionaries behind the Unreal and Gears of War games, will take the stage during the 2012 Game Developers Conference to host the 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards.
In addition, Pocketwatch Games' Andy Schatz, creator of 2010 Independent Games Festival Grand Prize winner Monaco will return for his fourth stint as host of the Independent Games Festival awards, now celebrating their 14th edition.
The two award ceremonies will take place at 6:30 PM on the evening of Wednesday, March 7th during GDC 2012 in San Francisco. For the third consecutive year, enthusiast video game site GameSpot will exclusively live stream both award shows via its official site, YouTube, and other streaming channels.
Once again, the Independent Games Festival will return to GDC to encourage the rise of independent game development and to recognize the best independent game titles. The 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards recognizes the creativity, artistry and technical genius of leading industry professionals and games released in 2011.
As design director at Epic Games, Cliff Bleszinski has been a key visionary behind the award-winning, multimillion-selling Unreal series, as well as Gears of War, which has become a billion dollar franchise. The series' original title received top honors at the 2007 Game Developers Choice Awards, and was crowned the winner of the Best Game, Best Technology and Best Visual Arts categories.

GDC 2012 details new Expo Floor, Career Pavilion exhibitors

As part of a continuing series of updates, organizers of the 2012 Game Developers Conference have debuted new details about over 170 companies now exhibiting during the March show's Expo Floor, Career Pavilion, and the brand-new GDC Play showcase.

These three major sections will receive their own standalone exhibit areas at the San Francisco based show, and will offer attendees a chance to check out exciting new tools and products, network with the industry's top professionals -- and even discover the latest games from some of the industry's up and coming developers.

This year, the GDC Expo Floor (floor plan, see Page 2) -- open from Wednesday, March 7th to Friday, March 9th -- will once again host expansive booths from major companies such as Nintendo, Sony, Intel, Google, Nvidia, Gaikai, Crytek, Unity, and many more.

Elsewhere in the main Moscone North hall, the still being added-to GDC Expo will feature companies such as Tapjoy, Adult Swim Games, 6Waves, Sony Ericsson, BigPoint and PayPal, as well as schools such as DigiPen and the Academy of Art, all of which represent other essential facets of the games industry.

The ever-popular Independent Games Festival Pavilion will once again be a major element of the GDC Expo floor, showcasing all of the professional and student finalists for the 14th annual Independent Games Festival.

In addition, a number of specialized Government Pavilions will pepper the hall, providing spaces to show off the latest and greatest tool companies and game makers from a given area. Countries and regions hosting Pavilions this year include Germany, Korea, Nova Scotia, Belgium, Georgia, Scotland, and many more.

Elsewhere, in its own dedicated hall in Moscone West, the GDC Career Pavilion (floor plan, see Page 1) will give aspiring and professional developers a venue to talk and network with some of the most influential companies from throughout the industry. Major firms already confirmed include AAA companies including Insomniac, WB Games, Blizzard, Sony, Ubisoft, and Activision, as well as top online game companies such as Crowdstar, Riot, Nexon, Tencent, and more.

2012 Independent Games Festival announces Student Showcase winners

The Independent Games Festival has announced the eight Student Showcase winners for the fourteenth annual presentation of its prestigious awards, celebrating the brightest and most innovative creations to come out of universities and games programs from around the world in the past year.

This year's showcase of top student talent includes the lithograph-sketched 2D logic puzzler The Bridge, from Case Western Reserve University, Art Institute of Phoenix's magic-moth platformer Dust, and DigiPen Institute of Technology's part-psychological-evaluator, part-boot-camp-instructor, possibly-part-malware action game Nous.

In total, this year's Student Competition took in nearly 300 game entries across all platforms -- PC, console and mobile -- from a wide diversity of the world's most prestigious universities and games programs making the Student IGF one of the world's largest showcases of student talent.

All of the Student Showcase winners announced today will be playable on the Expo show floor at the 26th Game Developers Conference, to be held in San Francisco starting March 5th, 2012. Each team will receive a $500 prize for being selected into the Showcase, and are finalists for an additional $3,000 prize for Best Student Game, to be revealed during the Independent Games Festival Awards on March 7th.

The full list of Student Showcase winners for the 2012 Independent Games Festival, along with 'honorable mentions' to those top-quality games that didn't quite make it to finalist status, are as follows:

The Bridge (Case Western Reserve University)
Dust (Art Institute of Phoenix)
The Floor Is Jelly (Kansas City Art Institute)
Nous (DigiPen Institute of Technology)
One and One Story (Liceo Scientifico G.B. Morgagni)
Pixi (DigiPen Institute of Technology - Singapore)
The Snowfield (Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab)
Way (Carnegie Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center)

Honorable mentions: Be Good (DigiPen Institute of Technology); Lilith's Pet (University of Kassel); Nitronic Rush (DigiPen Institute of Technology); Once Upon A Spacetime (RMIT); Tink (Mediadesign Highschool of Applied Sciences)

Sworcery, PopCap, Zynga/ArenaNet talks added to GDC 2012 Summits

With the 2012 Game Developers Conference quickly gaining momentum, the show's organizers have chosen to showcase the show's newest and most notable Summit talks, including a behind the scenes look at Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, a PopCap lecture on fostering online communities, and Zynga and ArenaNet on online game AI.

These talks join an already robust lineup for the show's eight specialized Summits, which cover emerging or otherwise influential aspects of the game industry, ranging from AI, Social & Online Games, to Independent Games and beyond.

The Summits will take place during the first two days of GDC 2012 -- from Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6 a the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out all of their content can do so by registering for an All-Access or Summits and Tutorials Pass on the official GDC website (a specialized Independent Games Summit Pass is also available).

The following is a selection of the latest notable sessions to be added to the GDC 2012 Summits:

- In the Independent Games Summit, Capy co-founder and president Nathan Vella will take a moment to look back at one of 2011's most unusual, yet captivating mobile games: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. His talk, "Perhaps a Time of Miracles Was at Hand: The Business & Development of #Sworcery," will dive into creative and business-focused risks that helped the game find both critical and financial success.

- Over in the Social & Online Games Summit, PopCap's customer engagement lead, Stephanie Bayer, will host a talk dubbed "Community Commodity." This session will explain that while it's relatively easy to attract players to a new online game, developers need to be very careful with how they treat the players they have. Bayer will outline how PopCap creates a thriving social ecosystem for its games on all platforms, encouraging even casual players to stick with these titles long-term.

GDC 2012 debuts notable new Production, Business Track talks

In this latest update for the 2012 Game Developers Conference, the show's organizers have debuted new and notable talks within the Production and Business, Marketing, & Management tracks, detailing new sessions on Words With Friends, frustration management at IO Interactive, The Witcher 2, and the Indie Summer Uprising.

The Production and Business, Marketing, & Management tracks are but two of the seven full-featured tracks at the upcoming San Francisco show, covering the industry's most important management trends and its emerging business strategies, respectively.

The following are the latest sessions to be highlighted for these two Main Conference tracks, taking place on the Wednesday to Friday, March 7th-9th, of GDC 2012:


- In "Words With Friends: Building and Growing a Game on the Top of the Charts," Zynga With Friends CTO Vijay Thakkar will discuss how the studio's popular word-scramble game grew from a modest, small scale title into one of the top juggernauts of mobile gaming.

Thakkar will further detail the technical challenges developers can expect to face when managing any project that grows to encompass multi-platform, or even cross-team development.

- Elsewhere, Square Enix and IO Interactive's user research manager, Janus Rau Sorensen, will offer advice to help weed out overly frustrating bottlenecks from a game's design. Throughout his talk, "Arrrgghh!!! - Blending Quantitative and Qualitative Methods to Detect Player Frustration," Sorensen will delve into a computational model that helps identify patterns of frustration, helping developers quantitatively assess which parts of their game need extra attention. Sorensen's presentation was co-written by Dr. Alessandro Canossa of Information Technology University of Copenhagen.

In addition to these talks, GDC organizers have previously detailed Production track sessions covering BioWare's approach to product ownership with the Dragon Age franchise, and Naughty Dog's internal approach to remaining detail-oriented while still shipping on time.

Business, Marketing, & Management

- Using examples from the critically-acclaimed The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, CD Projekt RED joint CEO Marcin Iwinski will outline show studios can develop blockbuster franchises while operating on a modest budget. His talk, dubbed "Witcher 2: How CD Projekt RED Sold Over a Million Copies of its Exclusive PC Game And How You Can Too," will go over the conception, development, and eventual sales of the Witcher franchise, providing an inside look at the business of this fantasy role-playing series.

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