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My Issues With Gamespot's New Review System

As promised, here is my own personal viewpoint on why the new review system is not the amazing product Gamespot wanted it to be. I will approach my argument from two prospectives: first from the angle of a quick-reading gamer who doesn't want a full blown essay review, and secondly from a gamer who has been with Gamespot for several years (both of which apply to myself). I intend to primarily address those aspects of the previous review system which have been dropped for the new Emblem, 0.5 increment system. For those keeping track, these are all the components still available to users for use in user reviews (component scoring, difficulty rating, learning curve, etc.).

When unveiling this new system, Gamespot said their reasoning for such a makeover was caused by the fact that many games of today's era cannot be simply reviewed by a weighted averaging system ("You don't need us to tell you that graphics in Guitar Hero aren't all that important"). This argument is indeed valid for a handful of games, most of which possess a special controller of some sort (guitar, gun, DS and Wii games in general), or which are heavily reliant solely on addictive gameplay (WarioWare games immediately leaps to mind). However, there are a plethora of games reviewed under the old system that still received a proper score...why? Two reasons: the reviewer was usually less critical of the other components that didn't really matter, and the existence of the Tilt value.

You can just as easily make the argument that most if not all RPGs really didn't fit into the averaged score scheme, as there was no category for "Story". But that isn't true. Value and Tilt always took an RPGs story, and rythm games playability, a Wario game's quarkiness into consideration. It also added in the amount of fun the particular reviewer had playing the game while also controlling how greatly that reviewer's own opinion affected the score. Gamespot will deny this, but really look at the trends over the past few years of each reviewer. Jeff Gerstmann loves racing games, and was always prone to giving them a stronger nudge. Alex Navarro, the self-proclaimed bubble-gum gamer, wasn't always hyper critical of a game's flaws (such as those in the Smackdown series) because despite those flaws the games were just plain fun. The recently departed Greg Kavasin always boosted a game's rating with the Tilt value if the game tried to do someting inventive (Killer 7 comes immediately to mind). He also had a thing for RPGs.

Sure, tilt skewed the score, but knowing by how much it did was invaluable to a person looking for a good game. The same holds true to the scores for Graphics, Gameplay, Sound, and Value. Some gamers won't play a shooter unless it's uber-pretty. Some RPG fans won't play one that has a so-so soundtrack. Some action/adventure gamers won't by a game that doesn't last past 8 hours. Still others don't care about these things. Having individual scores for each judgable category allowed gamers to immediately see what they were looking for.

The further addition of the Good/Bad sections enhanced this, as gamers could see what exactly boosted/lowered any given statistic. Say voicework was amazing but the soundtrack was not so great, and the Sound score came out an 8. If I prefer voicework, I know I've found a winner. If I'm a soundtrack nut: "eh I think I'll pass because it looks like that 8 is ballooned by something that's nice but not all that essential." Or perhaps: "Hey, why is the value/tilt so low for an RPG game with such great gameplay? OIh the story blows! It's Grandia all over again. No thanks." Or lastly: "What good are great controls and sounds if I can't see the head of what I'm shooting?"

Under that scheme, every single game rec'd an excellent buffer treatment which readers could access within 10 seconds of viewing the review webpage, no matter what type of genre the game adhered to. Sure, the overall scored mattered, but not nearly as much as how that overall score was reached and what it implied. I was comfortable accepting that score because I saw where it came from, and more importantly knew that the reviewer's opinion was being held in check. And again, I could see all of this rather quickly. If I had any concerns/issues, I'd scroll down and read the review.

Queue the new review system. Suddenly there is one overall score, followed by a bunch of emblems which are cryptic in appearance and more often than not parrot the Good/Bad sections. The emblems themselves aren't necessarily all that bad. They've grown on me from what little experience I've had with them, and help to further address issues which can bother/impress a gamer (in-game adverts, artistic graphics, great story, etc.). The problem is that these emblems only work for games that receive a review score between 8-10 or 0-6. Those games will accumulate a TON of badges, as the evidence has shown. Unfortunately, games between 6-8 on the review scale don't actually receive badges. With the average being around 2 badges for these games, there isn't really any upfront information for them.

Yes, these games all fall into that range of "Mediocre-Good" games, but some gamers will still be willing to play those games if they adhere to their own needs of gaming. I myself usually would not look at a shooter that receives lower than a 9 in graphics (which, under the old system, could greatly affect the overall review score). RPGs on the other hand, the most important thing to me was that it was playable enough for me to enjoy the good story. Thus, RPGs that landed a 7.0 score were still on my radar if they had a decent story, not necessarily a badge-worthy story, but a decent one. FF1 is one such game. Gamespot gave it zero badges, and the only "useful" upfront info for the game is that it's showing its age and that it's a classic. ?!?!....

More importantly, the emblems have absolutely zero context to operate within. "So great, the voice acting is awesome but the music is repetitive. The game got an overall score of 8. How is the sound reflected in this? Wait, the graphics are artistic, the gameplay is so-so. How'd this game get an 8? I thought gameplay was a must for a Platformer game...they don't say anything about the story or game length...i'm confused."

To further my point on this, take a game like EVE Online. It probably would've received three badges: a badge for a huge world, a badge for excellence in graphics, and a badge for extremely slow paced. Now remember, there is no component score here, so EVE would've received either a 6.5 or a 7.0 for a score under the new system. That combined with 3 badges and probably the following under the Good/Bad segments: Good - Best looking Online RPG to date, that is so big; Bad - game's size fails to suck you in early w/ convoluted controls and slow pacing, lacks customization wanted in MMO. does this help me?

Furthermore, throw a game like City of Heroes in and compare the two reviews under the new scheme. CoH is a smallish world with amazing customization options for your avatar, but extremely repetitive battle system which gets boring after a month's worth of play. Yet, CoH gets an 8.0 or 8.5, and probably more badges, both good and bad. Which is better? EVE has an insane online community. CoH's is far more laid back. Both have repetitive battle schemes, but EVE can have battles with over 200 ships in a given area. One is Sci-Fi, the other superheroes in a more advanced world. You remove that one number from their review pages, and CoH and EVE look like identical games, and your own preferences would have to choose which to play. Unfortunately, all you have is a handful of badges to help you make that decision. There is no upfront assistance.

And that is the biggest problem I have with this new system. There is no upfront assistance that is useful. You can take away the overall score on any two games in the same genre who's score lands between 6.0-8.0 and they look like the same game. This is ambiguity, not quick and succint information. Also, I no longer know how certain things affected that overall score. Is the reviewer really being objective? I'm not accusing Gamespot of just throwing scores on games based on how much they like them, but all reviews are to a great extent subjective in nature. At least under the old system, I could see how subjective with the Tilt value. More importantly, I could see how the score was reached.

Other sites, like Gametrailers and IGN, do not average the score they place on games. But they do at least provide component scores. IGN does for similar categories as Gamespot used to, while Gametrailers picks the three categories which affected their rating the most and shows their individual scores. I find I trust their reviews more because of this, as I can see that it's not just a subjective take because they are being open with what it is that turn them onto a game, and what scared them away. Sure, the scores aren't averaged, but at least I can make my own decision on how imporant each score is. Neither of them are as good as Gamespot's old system, but hey that's just my opinion.

In short, I like many others am all for the emblems being used in combination with the component scores for Sound, Graphics, Gameplay, Value, and Tilt. I do want the averaged score back, but I can settle for the current approach of .5 increments and unaveraged overall scores if I had those individual scores to go with it. I don't think I'm the only one asking for this, as many less articulate and more offensive posts across Gamespot can attest to. Yes, we are the posting minority. But as Nappan and Shrek have pointed out, Gamespot typically has a 50/50 split in their posting users on opinions for their updates and changes. That has not been the case with these updates, especially if you remove all those posts that were pro the change before it even occured.

I'm done ranting and raving. I'll review games the way I like to, using the system I trust (and hope it doesn't leave as well). For those GS admins that read this, thanks for paying attention this long. You won't hear from me again about all this.

As always, the peanut gallery has spoken.

The Peanut Gallery's Top 10 Cartoon Characters

Cartoons have come a long way from their early beginnings as entertaining 15 minute family-fun spots during moviecasts to the current trend of adult humour and addressing political themes. Narrowing down such a great history isn't just a job for any man, but for one who only watches one kind of TV - the cartoon. Yes, this is biased...get over it.

10. Batman - starting out as a solid spin-off of the first Batman film starring Michael Keaton, the Dark Knight has been in cartoon form ever since. Whether it was Batman, The New Adventures of Batman and Robin, The Batman/Superman adventures, Batman Beyond, The Batman, or Justice League Unlimited...good ole Bats has been around the block. Throw in 4 films (one of which went to theaters) and you have one heck of history.

9. Rocky and Bulwinkle - ahhh, 50's charm. I don't quite understand it, I don't know why, but these two characters are STILL some of the most well known cartoons around. Heck, they even got their own crappy live action cartoon that starred EVERYBODY: De Niro, Alexander, Russo, Goldberg, Goodman...the cameos were all over the place to show love for the Moose and Squirrel.

8. Cartman - "You have hippies." Cartman is a cultural phenomenon...easily the most hated and loved character in South Park. He rose to superstardom because of his willingness to say those things we didn't dare, and be sincere about them. Sure, he's all kinds of a$$hole, but we all love him because he's right far too often.

7. Pikachu - he brought the Japanese style of cartoons to the American mainstream. Sure, he was aided by a few best selling video games. But the charm of this little yellow rat thing, combined with the brilliant matching of game style to cartoon, paved the way for marketing anime to elementary and middle school children, and gave the genre its foot hold here in the states.

6. Snow White - One movie. One FREAKIN' movie. And everyone has seen it. If you were once under the age of 7, you've seen this movie. It's like parenting 101. You were probably forced to watch Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty right after this. But SHE hooked you in. She made you Disney's b*%@h. You can't deny it.

5. Mickey Mouse - sure, an entire franchise carries his head's outline as its primary logo (and no its not Hitchcock). Mickey will forever remain a legend with the carrying power of the House of Mouse and his perpetual presence in video games, clothing apparel, name it. He really is the icon of the industry (much as Mario is of gaming). If you know cartoons, you know Mickey Mouse.

4. Bugs Bunny - Bugs edges out Mickey on the sole fact that Warner Bros were more willing to take risks than Disney. Hence Bugs' cartoons and co-stars are a wee bit more testy: many will crossdress, cultural references are spewed by Bugs as he flees the maniacal guy with a get the point. Also, Bugs' image has withstood the sands of time more durably than Mickey, as he continues to pop up in film (Space Jam, and that not-as-aweful-as-everyone-said one with Brendan Fraser), as well as his having a catchphrase that is still in wide use: "what's up, doc?"

3. Sponge Bob Square Pants - I hate this guy. I mean, I really hate this guy. I wish the show didn't exist. But really, this is sadly the future of cartoons for children...ADD acid trips. It started with the randomness of shows like Johnny Bravo and Dexter's Lab, which was cool. Then someone decided to throw Cow and Chicken out there as a more childish Ren and Stimpy. Gross. Then, mainstream culture got its hands on it, as the doomsday device that is Nikelodeon got a hold of it. Out popped this strange cartoon that is more popular than Football with kids and probably has just as much name recognition in America as Harry Potter. THe movie was terrible, that pirate is obnoxious, and there are wayyy to many strange undertones to the show...but its here...

2. Scooby Doo - The cartoon for all ages. This talking dog and his gang of meddlesome kids have solved mysteries since the 60s. He is the lone strong horse left from the Hanna-Barbara franchises, with new direct-to-tv movies popping up at least once a year and a guarantee attempt at a new spin off occuring once a decade. Scooby Doo, where are you? Here FOREVER!

1. Homer Simpson - You can't deny his powers. The D'oh of Homer is quite literally a human philosophy. As the near 20 year run of the family from Springfield nears its debut film (and probably its series end), you cannot deny the influence all of the Simpsons have had on culture. D'oh is on its way into the Enlgish dictionary for goodness sake.

The Peanut Gallery's Top Ten Comic Book Bad-arses

People so extreme that if they all existed you would need a new pair of undies. With one or two notable exceptions, these characters do not possess any super power other then butt-whooping abilities (sorry to the boys in red and blue).

10. Alan Quartermain (The League of Extraordinary Gentleman) - any guy who winds up being portrayed by Sean Connery is a winner to me. Oh and he's an old dude who beats up on things with super/creepy powers. Huzzah.

9. Wedge Antilles (Star Wars) - Going from a bit player in the movies to an icon in the Expanded Universe, Antilles is probably the strangest Bad-arse on this list. He does most of his killing from behind the joystick of an X-Wing, but likes to rough it up with his fists every now and then. But hey, if you count the number of people killed as the primary criteria for Bad-arseness, the number of people who died on the 2 Death Stars this man helped blow up far outweighs anyone here.

8. Green Arrow (DC Comics) - I know what you does a sissy communist with a gag weapon arsenal wind up here. The simple answer: the non-canon comics starring Mr. Queen have made him into a very grumpy man who likes hurting people to send political messages ala Stalin.

7. John Constantine (Hellblazer) - I almost didn't put this guy here, because the man does have a BIG EXTRA SOMETHING backing him up. But, this is a relatively normal guy who beats up on the supernatural and demonic...a Bad-arse in my book.

6. Daredevil (Marvel Comics) - He's blind. He jumps off buildings for fun and justice. Oh, he's blind.

5. Marv (Sin City) - I'm sorry, but any guy this f-ing ridiculous deserves to be here. I mean c'mon, the man is CRAZY and happy to be so, and it took more than one shot from the electric chair to put him down for good. Whoa.

4. King Leonidas (300) - "THIS IS SPARTA!!!" I rest my case. Yea, the comic was awesome. The movie took the awesomeness to insane levels. Leonidas barely edges Marv out because of the red cloak...and the man pouch.

3. V (V for Vendetta) - Driven absolutely insane to the point of believing solely in anarchy, and burned beyond recognition, this is one bad mutha. The movie tried to turn him into a hero...WRONG! Making V a hero is like telling Superman to break the just doesn't work. V just LOVED chaos and revenge, and set an entire country into anarchy all by his lonesome. Rock on.

2. The Punisher (Marvel Comics) - He kills people for justice. His whole life is his weapons and his hits. He has no secret identity. He can hurt you in a lot of ways and will probably enjoy it too. He only loses to number one on this list because...

1. Batman (DC Comics) - ...Good ole Bats has to deal with a "real world" life where he gets to be a billionaire playboy, and manages to beat the living crap out of people but keep them living just so he can do it again. I mean, what's not to love about that?

The Peanut Gallery's Top Ten Films Nobody Watches

10. John Carpenter's Starman (1984) - Jeff Bridges is an alien. Need I say more?

9. Payback (1999) - "Be Ready to Root for the Bad Guy." - couldn't have said it any better.

8. Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) - Dolph Lundgren AKA B-Movie Ahhhnold at his finest.

7. Demolition Man (1993) - Stallone comes as close as possible to portraying Duke Nukem on the big screen...oh and Wesley Snipes actually looks like Nukem to boot.

6. Bubba Ho Tep (2002) - Bruce Campbell plays a senior citizen Elvis fighting an Egyptian mummy in a nursing home with the help of a black dude who thinks he's JFK.

5. Le Placard (2001) - Straight man becomes gay to keep his job at a male necissities factory. You do the math.

4. The Science of Sleep (2006) - Mildly insane artist tries to wooo girl while occasionally slipping into hallucinations inspired by his artwork.

3. Thank You for Smoking (2005) - Nick Naylor is a true American Hero.

2. 13th Warrior (1999) - MANHOOD to the EXTREME! Oh, and Banderas plays an with it.

1. The Machinist (2004) - How Christian Bale went from being literally 2D in this film to being able to fill out a batsuit is beyond me. Oh, and the movie is downright creepy.

The Letter that got me modded, in it's entirety:

I know that we, the humble viewers of your works and toils, are not actually paid to do this job nor are we in any way techincally superior to ya'll in your knowledge of game reporting/reviewing. However, you have a fanbase. This fanbase for better or worse is greatly rebelling against the primary issue inherent in all these little cosmetic facelifts (the thing I am not apparently allowed to flame against in this particular thread). This is simply not going to go away. We aren't the pro-wrestling fan base that is prone to massive turnover rates and sudden bouts with amnesia. We are gamers who seek intellegent feedback concerning possible purchases. We want to be informed consumers.

The two keywords here are "intelligent" and "informed". Badges are for elementary school or people who feel the need to have accomplished something (alaXbox Live). Since a game cannot attend school or feel pride, slapping badges on it seems pointless. Shrouding your reviews in a mosh posh of photographs isn't going to help us reach a decision, and the new review system is well broken to the umpteenth degree, for so many reasons that ya'll have opted to send your readers on a wild goose chase for a forum that will probably be given very little attention because ya'll are right and we are wrong. The "intelligent" and the "informed" no longer have a guage for your reviews, which I still believe are incredibly well written but lack the "umph" from having a stabilized, calculated value attached to these words, thereby giving us, your readers, the capability of receiving a succint and keen-eyed view of a given product.

Look no further than your new Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition review. You highly advertise a system of bigger and better, yet one of your key new additions. the badges, make absolutely no appearance in this review. I would assume this just adds to your statement that the game is mediocre, but in what sense. There are no badges, the reviewed number, a 6.5 i believe, no longer displays a basis for such a value, so your readers are left with the only option available to them: read the "Good" and "Bad" and the whole review. Oh wait, that's what we used to do, and back then we also had a quantified value before we did read on! With a game published by the Squeenix banner of doom, where hundreds of thousands of readers possibly hang their purchase in part on your words, you've failed to provide them with the service you are claiming to provide: a quick and upfront display of what the game's about. Since the game is apparently trapped in mediocrity, there is no "upfront" info. This update hasn't served its purpose. You've effectively taken a step backwards in this mission.

Lastly, this new update seems to assume that every gamer is the type that doesn't care to actually read anything available on your website. Quite frankly, a review is supposed to be in-depth...not a quick gloss. Your approach seems to say "ya'll don't really care what we have to say, so here's some in-game shots and some quick thoughts we had." Judging by the other comments heaped on you by other readers, your main base does not seem to be in agreement with this new logic, as most come to this site for a reason: to READ about video games. Yes read, even gamers like doing that. And intelligently written reviews/news/commentary to boot. Wow its almost as if gaming is a legitimate part of society now. And maybe I won't just go buy that Star Wars game because I liked the movies.

I have never bothered to post anything on the forums before because I've never cared too much. When Kavasin left, I got a little upset since he was the only person I trusted to review the games I liked. The more and more I sit around on this site, the more and more I realize that things have gone downhill since leadership changed, which seems to be solely a product of the recent lack of communication between readers and editors. Hopefully my taking some sort of action can make you realize just how awful these changes are. If not, there are other places out there to find my reviews from. However, none of them succeeded in being so critical, so upfront, and so sharp with their eye for the medium of gaming. Do not let this die.

I've been censored...Huzzah!!!

For those of you who had the priviledge of readingthe concise and sensible argument I posted on the New Enhancements forum, the Gamespot gestapo have deleted not only that rather lengthy essay, but also all the forum posts referencing my little manifesto. Sadly, I was too stupid to think they would actually delete this, and do not have a saved copy of the thing, nor do I intend to waste anymore of my time yelling at a brick wall of stupidity. I feel accomplished in that I've pissed them off enough to honor me with a deleting of my posts and a *gasp* warning to lower my level...HEAVENS TO MERCETROIDS....ANYTHING BUT THAT!!!

EDIT: Figured out how this "YOU'VE BEEN CENSORED" system works and found the original post. It is above.

In response to Gamespot's general lack of a brain...

Runix's Rants will be in high gear the next coming weeks. Expect my own personal colorful sense of humor, hatred, and general lack of respect for most of the known world to drain into this newer version of my reviews/random blogs. The only review that will remain in its current form is my Final Fantasy VII review seeing as it is the only one I had a legitimate reason/argument to present.

C'mon Gamespot, what're you thinking!?!

So, I'm reading the new transformers game review, with all that fancy new upgrades Gamespot has made to their review system. As usual, the written part of the review is a typical, solid piece of writing that points out all the pros and cons about a game.

Then the bad set in: Upon reading about how much the reviewer approved of the voice acting and graphics, I automatically scrolled up to see "how good" these two things were, and immediately realized that I no longer have a guage value to compare against the written review and other games. I felt lost and empty inside...okay maybe not seeing as i have no care about that particular game. However, when a game comes out that I am looking forward to possibly purchasing, you will find my happy butt cruising reviews on OTHER websites in hopes that I can see exactly what it is about a game that makes its review score so high/low. YOU'RE CHASING AWAY A LOYAL FAN!!!

Oh and those badges...I'm glad someone feels the need to apply boyscout logic to video game reviews. I spent just as much time trying to figure out what each badge meant as I used to spend reading the good and the bad sections. There is no useful change present in any of this nonsense. This site has officially become more ridiculous and shady than some random fan site that says "Halo 2 is teh HAXXORs!!!" I mean honestly, if I wanted these kinds of review scores, I'd go to IGN...wait no even they haven't stooped this low yet.

WHAT DO THESE NUMBERS MEAN? WHY DO I CARE ANYMORE?! I'm a gamer who wants a crisp balance between graphics, sound, and gameplay. I'm far less critical of RPGs, and am hypercritical of FPSs. Under the old rating system, I could get a general idea as to whether or not I'd like a game. Now...I have no bleeding idea. I don't care what yall say, unless I see how the average score was achieved, I stand by my statement that ya'lls reviews are no more than the personal and biased opinion of the gamer who has written the particular review.

Prove me wrong...please.

So I played through FF8 again...

Why, you ask? Well, I just like to torment myself like that sometimes. Truthfully, it was because a few of my friends seemed utterly shocked that I despised the game so much. And, if you haven't noticed yet, I've wasted quite a bit of my life playing through Square-Enix's flagship franchise, so for me to say I actually hate one of their games is...well strange. So yea, I was convinced that I should give this game a second chance,and proceeded to wasted another two day's worth of life to change my mind.

Now I simply loathed this game.  I've never raced so fast to a finish of an FF before. Clocking in at an incredibly short 33 hours played upon defeating Ultemecia, the only worthwhile part of playing through this game was to see the after credits cut scene for the first time (silly me, in my disgust of the game the first time through I rushed to turn it off so I could get on with life). 

So, rather than re-review this god-awful game, I have decided to give you the Top 10 Reasons why no Final Fantasy/RPG gamer should ever be compelled to play this game:

10. I've never felt so urged to hit something as when Rinoa flirts with Squall during battle scenes...and this isn't Pirates of the Caribbean pseudo-witty banter in-between cannon fire. This is, "Tee-hee I'm a Blonde" flirting while someone's being shot at or hanging from a scaffold 1,000 feet in the air.

9. "Waaa, waaaaa, waaaaaaa...Rinoa...waaaaaaa" - Squall. Love story or late be the judge.

8. The only worthwhile character, Seifer, becomes lost in this crapfest of a story, and his conclusion couldn't be any lamer. Goin' Fishin' anyone?

7. Yes, the FF Series is well legendary for its ridiculously lucky characters and their plot devices (FF10's acquisition of the airship immediately leaps to mind), but this game takes the cake on its lunacy. Honestly, what were the writers thinking? "Let's have our characters be lost in space, only to find an airship floating aimlessly less than 100 yards away, one which hasn't been seen nor heard of in 12 years! That'll be a great way to introduce the Ragnarok and bring the lovebirds back to Earth!" Even worse: "Dude, let's make a time compressed world! Oh oh! Laguna will know exactly what they'll have to do in said world, and can fabricate this amazingly complex plan which will go off without a hitch!" This game makes the logic leaps found in the original Batman series look normal.

6. Dude, Rinoa becomes a sorceress and has awesome powers like...uhh...yea.

5. Draw System.

4. "Waaa, waaaaa, waaaaaaa...Rinoa...waaaaaaa" - Squall.

3. Random encounters that are more tedious than ever thanks to the ill-thought out enemy leveling system

2. Hurray high tension moments! Wait, I have to spend two hours realigning my junctions. Oh and there isn't really anything going on on-screen now is there? What's with this stupid mini-game smack dab in the middle of all this? Seriously, its as if the game goes out of its way to make "exciting moments" more tedious than anything else.

1. RPG's are about two things: Amazing stories and a fun battle system. FF8 fails in both regards. No character in this game beyond Squall has a background story that affects the overall plot. After disc 2 you can walk through every battle with the Aura spell and just watch Squall swing away. Don't bother upgrading weapons, just find a good junction spell. To heck with items, just turn them all into spells and go along your merry way. FF6, 7, 9, 10, and 12 all had sidequests which enhance the characters' backstories...FF8 has...well nothing.


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