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Tuesday, January 8, 2002

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MWSF: Lineage Coming to Mac (Updated)
9:19 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In an announcement sure to thrill Mac RPG fans pining for a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game, NCSoft have both announced and demonstrated that their online-only RPG Lineage: The Blood Pledge is coming to Mac OS X. This is amazing news for several reasons—although you most likely have never heard of it, Lineage: The Blood Pledge is the most popular MMORPG in the world, with over four million subscribers (currently all in Asia). This is also the first time Mac users have been invited to join a PC MMORPG after its launch, something many pundits said was nigh impossible. The game is already up and running under Mac OS X, and is due to launch in February—yes, of this year!

Here is the press release:

NCsoft(tm) Corporation, the world's largest independent online game company, today announced Lineage(tm) for the Mac. With its superior power, performance and graphics capabilities, the Mac is a tremendous platform for online gaming. The timing is perfect as NCsoft recently launched the North American version of this massively popular subscription-based online game and is building on more than four million subscribers and 330,000 concurrent users worldwide. The Mac version, which launches in February, will be on display in the Mac OS X Game Arcade at the Macworld Conference and Expo taking place this week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA.

"We are obviously thrilled to be able to bring Lineage to a new audience," stated Richard Garriott, legendary game developer and executive producer at NCsoft's Austin, Texas office. "Companies that do not release Mac versions of their games these days are making a giant mistake. The Mac and its super-modern operating system, Mac OS X, provide the ultimate gaming experience and there's a huge untapped market of gamers using this platform."

Mac users and PC users will be able to play alongside each other in Lineage. The game raises the concepts of community, player interaction, and combat to new levels with the introduction of Blood Pledges-strong alliances with friends and allies in the game world. Once a Pledge is formed, the players can develop a strategy for overtaking a castle.

"The Mac offers the most powerful hardware, exceptionally stunning 2D and 3D graphics and the best game titles for both casual and hardcore gamers," said Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations. "We are delighted that NCsoft is opening the doors of Lineage to the entire Mac community. The combination of Mac OS X and Lineage will connect avid Mac gamers around the globe and revolutionize online massive multiplayer role playing games."

Lineage players can choose from four different character archetypes—a heroic knight, clever wizard, nimble elf, or royal prince/princess.

Creating a character is quick and easy. New players can immediately jump into the game and learn the ropes in a Lineage new player area where they may quickly level up and learn the basics in preparation for the adventures and perils that lie ahead. And unlike other subscription-based games, Lineage offers FREE updates that expand the game world to exotic new lands filled with fierce creatures.

Lineage comes with a 30-day free trial. After the trial period, players are charged US$15 per month. Players can save money by purchasing four months at a rate of US$11.25 per month. An Internet connection is required to play Lineage.

Update: NCSoft currently have no plans to bring Lineage to Mac OS 9, although they have said it would be possible if demands warrants it. (Although the Mac OS X client is a Carbon application, it contains a number of BSD UNIX calls that would have to be replaced with Carbon calls in a Mac OS 9 version.)

As you can see, Mac OS X users have a lot to look forward to. For more information on this game, be sure to visit its web site, and watch IMG for Mac-specific details in the future. Stay tuned for more Expo coverage.


MWSF: Westlake Talks Games
4:50 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Westlake Interactive might not have a booth on the Expo floor, but that doesn't in any way diminish their immense status in the Mac gaming community. We talked with Glenda and Suellen Adams about their many projects underway (currently nine), as well as their general thoughts on the Expo and Apple. The biggest and more exciting news of the moment was the fact they could announce their work on The Sims: Hot Date and Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds.

Hot off his port of Age of Empires II and Civilization III, Brad "Strategy-Man" Oliver has been assigned to work on the Battlegrounds title. Apparently Brad is a huge Star Wars fan and was theatening to beat anyone down with his mock-lightsaber if they tried to take the port from him. It's hoped the port will be quick and in time for release mid-April.

While Westlake may not have received as many requests for Hot Date as Aspyr Media, Glenda did say they have consistently received eight to ten emails a day about the game. Phil Sulak is currently helping out Mark Krenek with the port. Because this third expansion is much more than just a collection of new objects for the game, it is rather complex. April is still the month they're shooting for, despite the extra levels of complexity.

As mentioned in our Aspyr report, Spider-Man is now in the final stages of release. All that is needed now is final approval from Marvel, who hold the license for the game. This is a common hold-up for franchise games like Spider-Man or the huge upcoming franchise Harry Potter. Speaking of the magical title, both Glenda and Suellen were proud of their quick work on the game, which runs great under Mac OS X.

Due to getting Harry Potter out, Undying took a back-seat for just a bit. Now Westlake plans to get back on the Undying train as soon as possible and try to get the game out by the end of February. The skeletal animation system is still causing some problems with the port, but the work on Harry Potter (also an Unreal Tournament-based game) should help speed things up.

While on the subject of Unreal Tournament, we did ask them about the possibility of Unreal 2 or the just-announced Unreal Tournament 2. It's still too early to say at this point, though both Glenda and Suellen seemed optimistic about such ports.

Max Payne is being worked on by ex-Apple employee Cary Farrier. While he's only had the huge title for a few weeks, good progress is already being made. They expect to hit First Playable in February with a release later this spring.

Work on Return to Castle Wolfenstein is finishing up, with Duane Johnson on the case. Graeme Devine was also on the floor and seemed very happy about the port. German gamers will be happy to know a Mac version is being made for them that complies with German law restricting the display of Nazi symbols.

After talk of games, Glenda gave a quick rundown on Mac OS X and OpenGL. For the most part, Westlake is very happy with Apple's current level of developer support. There are still things to work on with some 3D and HID Manager issues, but for the most part the direction is good and the future should bring even bigger things.

Westlake Interactive

MWSF: MacSoft Ships, Prepares for New Releases
4:46 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

MacSoft at Macworld Expo shipped two highly anticipated titles, Civilization III, the best-selling strategy game from creator Sid Meier, and the epic strategy thriller, Myth III: The Wolf Age. Both titles were flying off the shelves at the show.

As far as new games go, MacSoft told IMG they didn't have any new games to announce. The company has been busy the last few months trying to ship both Civilization III and Myth III. The company did, however, give us a few status updates on some of their upcoming games. According to MacSoft's Judy Corey, Max Payne, the award-winning third-person shooter, should be out sometime in April and is currently being ported over to the Mac by Westlake Interactive.

In other news, Stronghold, another strategy game, is on schedule to ship in March. MacSoft is also hoping to ship the Mac version of Master of Orion 3 in the spring. If all goes well, this should be a simultaneous release on the PC and Mac.

Oh, and we also asked about the Mac version of Duke Nukem Forever. About all we could get out of them was "hahahahaha."

Firaxis Games
Civilization III
Firefly Studios
Remedy Entertainment
Westlake Interactive
Max Payne
Buy Civilization III
Buy Stronghold
Buy Max Payne

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MWSF: MacPlay Shows Icewind Dale, Other Updates
4:10 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

As soon as the show floor for Macworld Expo opened this morning, IMG headed over to MacPlay to get an update on some of their new games. In addition to Giants and Baldur's Gate 2, MacPlay was showing off Icewind Dale, the role-playing game created by BioWare due in March of 2002. Icewind Dale is set in the Forgotten Realms. It's a classic dungeon crawl using the BioWare Infinity Engine (which was used in Baldur's Gate). In the game you journey deep into the Spine of the World mountains, a harsh and unforgiving territory teeming with fearsome and merciless beasts. There you must confront an ancient evil that threatens to unleash an unspeakable horror upon the face of Faerûn. MacPlay told us that the port of Icewind Dale is the capable hands of Baldur's Gate 2 programmer, Chris Jacobson.

Unfortunately MacPlay wasn't showing No One Lives Forever at the show. It seems the highly acclaimed first-person shooter is about one week away from first playable. The company did say that the game is still scheduled to be released sometime in March. In the game you assume the role of Cate Archer, a beautiful but deadly operative working for UNITY—a super secret organization fighting to free the world from the clutches of H.A.R.M. The 1960s-influenced spy action game features killer weapons, vivid international locales, and deadly arch villains.

As for other announcements, MacPlay's secret project codenamed Deuce will be announced tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2 PM. Be sure to check in tomorrow around that time to find out what Deuce is.

MacPlay also told IMG that a beta version of the Giants: Citizen Kabuto multiplayer patch should be available sometime today. In other news, MacPlay said that Starfleet Command II is being ported to the Mac by The Omni Group and will be Mac OS X-only.

We also asked MacPlay about Fighter Squadron. At this time MacPlay doesn't have a progress update.

No One Lives Forever
Icewind Dale
Buy No One Lives Forever
Buy Icewind Dale

MWSF: Huge Aspyr Update
1:39 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

One of the first companies IMG spotted on the show floor this morning was famed publisher Aspyr Media. They were very excited about being on the keynote stage yesterday and about their new announcements of Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds and The Sims: Hot Date. And don't forget about 4x4 Evolution 2, which was announced just before the Expo started and should be out very soon.

We got the rundown on a number of these projects, starting with the much anticipated Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Apparently the game is now in its final beta stage and only two to three weeks away from hitting store shelves, thanks to quick work by Westlake Interactive. As you might have seen in the keynote yesterday, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is also very close to release. It is also in final beta, and they expect it to ship in the next few weeks as well.

As reported by IMG before, Spider-Man is in production as we speak and should be shipping next week. 4x4 Evolution 2 should follow shortly, with an expected release in the first week in February. They are working with developer Terminal Reality to finish off some last remaining bugs before it heads out the door. Hot Date, the third Sims expansion, should be available in April, followed by Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds later in that month. Apparently the demand for Hot Date has been overwhelming from Sims fans, who can now rest easy knowing it will be out very soon.

Not to be forgotten, it is still hoped that Undying will be out by the end of February.

Aspyr Media

MWSF: ATI Ships Radeon 7000 Today
10:42 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

ATI Technologies followed up a Macworld Expo announcement of their new cards with an extended press release offering details on the Radeon 7000. The most exciting news? Not only will the card support full-screen anti-aliasing (FSAA), but they will make a PCI version of the card, allowing users of older Mac systems to enjoy a new level of performance, or allowing those with AGP systems to add a second graphics card. Here are the details:

ATI Technologies Inc. (TSE:ATY, NASDAQ:ATYT), a world leader in the supply of graphics, video and multimedia solutions, today introduced the RADEON(tm) 7000 MAC EDITION, a mainstream graphics solution for Apple users featuring dual display support and hardware acceleration for Mac OS X.

The RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION is ideally suited to users with older Power Mac systems wishing to increase their display real estate, update their graphics capability or increase their overall system performance. It also enables newer, AGP-based Power Mac owners to add one or more displays to their systems using one of the available PCI slots.

Featuring 32MB of DDR memory and ATI's PIXEL TAPESTRY(tm) and HYPER Z(tm) technologies, the RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION delivers excellent 2D and 3D performance. Additional ATI features such as VIDEO IMMERSION(tm) and hardware acceleration of OpenGL(r) and QuickTime(r) under Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X, ensure that the RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION delivers excellent value for its price range, and meets the evolving needs of the mainstream PCI Mac market.

"The powerful 3D performance and flexible dual-display support that characterize the RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION make this an excellent graphics hardware choice for Mac users who are looking for proven and reliable technology at an attractive price point," said Stan Ossias, Product Manager, Mac Products, Desktop Marketing, ATI Technologies Inc. "The product's multiple display capability supports a variety of combinations of output through DVI-I, VGA and TV-out connectors."

FSAA (Full Scene Anti-Aliasing) technology, designed to minimize jagged edges and smooth images, is also enabled on this and other RADEON MAC EDITION products, bringing a high-end feature into this segment.

The RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION is ideal for mainstream Mac users, both at work and at home. For business users, RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION delivers exceptional 2D graphics and productivity benefits. For the home, RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION delivers solid 3D performance, integrated TV-out and ATI's VIDEO IMMERSION technology for industry-leading DVD playback. RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION supports both Mac OS 9 and OS X.

With a manufacturers' suggested retail price of (US) $129, the RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION graphics card offers more features and value than any other graphics card in its price range. It will begin shipping today to distributors and retailers and will be on shelves next week.

Update: Yes, the press release does note FSAA support for older Radeon Mac Edition products as well. ATI told IMG that the Radeon 7000 drivers enable FSAA on the Radeon Mac Edition.

That price point will be very sweet for those of you looking to replace an outdated Voodoo5 card or upgrade from a Rage 128. Stay tuned to IMG for more details from the show floor.

MWSF 2002

MWSF: Westlake Porting Star Wars GB, Hot Date
10:36 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In a bit of Macworld Expo news with no surprises, for a change, Westlake Interactive revealed that they are the porting house working on Aspyr's next big money makers, Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds and the expansion pack The Sims: Hot Date. That Westlake is porting these titles is no shocker; they previously ported all of the Sims titles, and Galactic Battlegrounds is based on the Age of Empires II game engine, which was recently ported by Westlake to the Mac OS.

For details on both of these exciting products, visit the Aspyr web site and the official product sites.

Announcement at Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Hot Date
Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Hot Date
Buy The Sims: Hot Date

GeoMAME Reaches .57
10:28 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In all the Macworld excitement we missed an update to a great piece of emulation software: GeoMAME has reached version .57, leapfrogging the current version of MacMAME by a point release. This most recent version supports the few new games added to the Neo Geo catalog as well as the speed and bug fixes included in MacMAME's Carbon release.

Visit the GeoMAME web site for more details and downloads.


ATI Updates Mac OS 9 Retail Drivers
10:09 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

ATI Technologies yesterday released updated Mac OS 9 drivers for their retail video cards. Specifically designed for the Radeon Mac Edition and all Rage 128-based products, this driver update contains a few specific fixes to the Mac2TV video-out technology and other tweaks.

The update requires OpenGL 1.2.2 or later as well as QuickTime 5. One new feature this driver update adds is adaptive de-interlacing for DVD playback, which provides a smooth image when the source material for the DVD was from video tape rather than film (such as a television show or documentary).

Posts on Accelerate Your Mac and VersionTracker indicate there might be some problems with this update for certain users, so you might want to visit those sites and check out the possible problems and solutions that readers have reported. Visit the ATI web site to grab the new drivers.

January 7 ATI Driver Update for Mac OS 9
Acclerate Your Mac

MWSF: Nvidia Claims Desktop Domination (Updated)
9:54 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In an announcement intended to take the wind out of ATI's sails just as they announce the Radeon 8500 for Mac OS, graphics chipset maker Nvidia has claimed that GeForce graphics processing units are now the standard hardware included in Apple's line of desktop machines.

Update: While the inclusion of the GeForce2 MX chipset in Apple's radical revision of the iMac line brings Nvidia closer to a full sweep of Apple's desktop lineup, a quick check of the Apple Store reveals that the ATI Rage 128 Ultra persists in last summer's iMacs, two models of which Apple continues to sell for under $1,000. ATI chips also ship with all of Apple's portable machines.

No one can be certain how long the current situation will last, as ATI's next-generation cards are still in progress, and the Power Mac G4 line failed to get its usual revision or speed bump at this Expo. All eyes will be on Macworld Expo Tokyo in March.

Here's Nvidia's press release:

NVIDIA Corporation today announced that with Apple's introduction of the new iMac with GeForce2 MX, NVIDIA graphics are now standard across all Macintosh desktop platforms. The performance and quality of NVIDIA's graphics combined with Apple's revolutionary ergonomic iMac design provides consumers with an affordable, high-performance desktop for today's exciting digital solutions.

"In one short year NVIDIA has become the top-to-bottom provider of GPUs for the Macintosh desktop platform," said Jeff Fisher, vice president of worldwide sales at NVIDIA. "The pairing of Apple's new iMac with NVIDIA's award-winning graphics technology guarantees consumers an unparalleled computing experience."

"The new iMac will redefine what consumers can expect from their computing experience," said Philip Schiller, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "The new iMac's revolutionary design combines the power of Mac OS X and PowerPC G4 processors with incredible GeForce2 MX graphics for an exciting 3D experience."

Combining NVIDIA's award winning GeForce franchise with the new iMacs make for a uniquely powerful multimedia platform. The GeForce2 MX delivers razor-sharp, crystal-clear 2D graphics and 3D graphics in full 32-bit color and also offers advanced 3D performance by delivering over 25 million sustained triangles per second and 800 million texels per second.

IMG will be speaking with Nvidia at the Expo, and we'll bring you more details as they come in.

GeForce2 MX
MWSF 2002

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Sin 1.1.3 Beta Released
9:39 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

A helpful post to the IMG forums pointed out that "Burger" Bill Heineman has released a beta patch for the first-person shooter Sin, a long-awaited event. This is still a beta version, not an official release, so users should bear in mind the usual beta caveats: be prepared for crashes and oddities.

Visit Burger's iDisk file site to grab the patch. For more information on Sin, read IMG's review.

Sin Gold
Burger Bill's Home Page
Review: SiN Gold
Buy Sin Gold

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Apple Features Harry Potter
9:29 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Right behind Aspyr Media's keynote demonstration of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to a thrilled Macworld crowd, Apple has posted a feature article on the little wizard. The detailed article has screen shots, quotes from the developer, and of course a heavy dose of pro-Mac OS X propaganda.

This game is due from Aspyr in the very near future; we're sure fans of the book series and movie will be thrilled. Read the Apple feature for more details or visit the Aspyr web site.

Apple - Games - Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Buy Harry Potter

Trade Wars: Dark Millennium Update
9:19 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The web site for Trade Wars: Dark Millennium has been updated with new screen shots and details on gameplay. Yet another massively-multiplayer online role-playing game coming to the Mac OS, this real-time strategy and combat title is based on the classic BBS game of economic and strategic warfare, Trade Wars. The Mac OS version is promised soon after the game's release for the PC late this summer.

For a refresher, here's an excerpt from the press release:

Trade Wars: Dark Millennium is a persistent Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMPOG), allowing players to pilot ships through the vastness of space and explore mysterious uncharted planets.

Dark Millennium is an online game, which combines the fun of online roleplaying and player vs. player competitive combat. Through Dark Millenniumís extensive quest system, players will be able to participate in single player and multiplayer quests, both cooperatively and competitively. Quests cover a wide range of complexity, from simple errand quests to epic adventuring quests (some approaching the scope of a traditional single-player RPG), from simple squad-based combat missions to full-blown RTS assault missions capable of altering the course of the on-line universe.

Trade Wars will offer several groundbreaking innovations such as:

- Fast paced action roleplaying combat against multiple opponents. (Similar to Blizzard's Diablo II)

- A unique and robust quest system, providing players with both traditional roleplaying (RPG) and competitive real-time strategy (RTS) missions.

- An extensive customization of the playerís avatar and spaceship. (Additional customizable / upgradeable vehicles to be announced later)

- A dynamic universe, constantly evolving and changing through in-game events.

- Adventure, trade, and compete with thousands of other players.

The first PC beta of the game is due as soon as next month; we'll keep you posted on development progress for the Mac version. Visit the Trade Wars web site for more information.

Trade Wars: Dark Millennium

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MWSF: ATI Announces Radeon 8500
9:19 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In an announcement many have been anticipating since the cancellation of Macworld Paris in October, ATI Technologies has finally announced and demonstrated their next-generation Radeon 8500 Mac Edition to a thrilled Expo crowd. If you have read either one of our in-depth reports on these cards, you know this is one press release worth waiting for: these cards should be out next month and ship for a lower price than you would expect.

Here is the press release:

ATI Technologies Inc. (TSE:ATY, NASDAQ:ATYT), a world leader in the supply of graphics, video and multimedia solutions, today introduced the RADEON(tm) 8500 MAC EDITION graphics board, based on ATI's feature-rich and innovative RADEON 8500 GPU (graphics processing unit).

The RADEON 8500 retail graphics board for the Mac platform, featuring a core clock speed of 250 MHz and a memory clock speed of 275 MHz, as well as 64 MB of DDR memory, will power users through graphics intensive business applications or the most challenging games on the market. The RADEON 8500 Mac Edition delivers up to 25 percent higher performance than the nearest competitive product (1). Available in February, it has a suggested retail price of (US) $299.

"The RADEON 8500 MAC EDITION delivers a new standard of performance, functionality and visual quality for Macintosh gaming and 3D design," said Stan Ossias, Product Manager, Mac Products, Desktop Marketing, ATI Technologies Inc. "Not only will the RADEON 8500 MAC EDITION offer an unbelievable gaming experience, but the new technologies in this GPU, bring new features and functions into the professional space as well."

The RADEON 8500 MAC EDITION brings many experience-enhancing technologies to the Macintosh platform such as:

* TRUFORM(tm), ATI's innovative rendering technology that helps deliver smooth and natural 3D images in a performance-efficient manner;

* SMOOTHVISION(tm), ATI's FSAA (Full Scene Anti-Aliasing) technology, designed to minimize jagged edges and smooth images;

* SMARTSHADER(tm), ATI's advanced programmable pixel and vertex shader technology is also enabled in the GPU's hardware, allowing for more complex and realistic texture and lighting effects without sacrificing performance;

* HYPER Z(tm) II, a next-generation memory bandwidth saving technology that boosts rendering performance by 20 percent;

* CHARISMA ENGINE(tm) II, which supports transform, clipping and lighting (T & L) at 62.5 million triangles/second peak processing capability;

* PIXEL TAPESTRY(tm) II, the RADEON 8500's 3D rendering engine, which uses four rendering pipelines to process an incredible 2 gigatexels per second for incredibly high fill rates in 32-bit color at high resolutions; and

* VIDEO IMMERSION(tm) II, a second-generation technology that enables integration of industry-leading digital video features, including DVD (digital versatile disc) video playback and advanced de-interlacing algorithms for unprecedented video quality.

The AGP card, which is compatible with both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X, is an ideal replacement for older, factory-installed graphics cards in Power Mac computers. It also features multiple display capability, supporting a variety of combinations of output through DVI-I, VGA and TV-out connectors.

For more information on these cards and their capabilities, read through our two detailed previews (one with many movies and screen shots of the card in action).

Preview: ATI Radeon 8500
Feature: Radeon 8500 In the Flesh
Radeon 8500

Mac Games News for Monday, January 7, 2002

MWSF: New iMac, Updated iBooks, iPhoto...2:14 PM
MWSF: Aspyr Makes the Keynote, Big News10:42 AM
MWSF: MacSoft Ships Civilization III10:29 AM
Elite Force 1.2 Patch Released6:00 AM
Quake II for OS X Released6:00 AM
Quake III 1.31 Beta 3 for OS X6:00 AM
Unreal Tournament 2 Confirmed6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, January 7, 2002 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Friday, January 4, 2002
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Friday, December 28, 2001

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