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Valve Takes the Offensive on Warez Users? 1127

Posted by Zonk
from the burn-warez-monkeys-burn dept.
Drull writes "It's claimed by a poster on filefront.com that Valve might have released a "Warez" version of Half-Life 2 to monitor and ban those who attempt to use it. This is the news from some guy with a filefront account, so take it with a grain of salt.
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Valve Takes the Offensive on Warez Users?

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  • by Random Guru 42 (687672) <chris@c[ ]acid.net ['old' in gap]> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @11:55AM (#10854370) Homepage Journal
    They aren't toying with anyone's computer. Apparently, they check to see when it's run if it's the "warez" version and then ban the person's Steam account(s). It's up the the pirate to install and try to play the game, first of all, and if he's found to be naughty, well, he gets what he deserves.

    Though any false positives that may occur do suck.
  • by Nos. (179609) <andrew AT thekerrs DOT ca> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @12:21PM (#10854717) Homepage
    to actually play the game, in single player mode, it still takes several minutes from the time I click on the icon to start the game before I can even choose to load a saved game -- this time is spent starting Steam, then verifying that my copy is legit
    Sorry, but you're wrong here. That time is spent loading the game. Want proof? Exit Steam. Disconnect from the internet, and restart Steam. This will start steam in offline mode (it can't talk to Valve - you have no internet connection). Now launch HL2. I bet you won't notice a difference in load times. Why? Logging into steam authenticates you. It may check for updates when you first try to start HL2 (I'm not sure if it does this when you launch Steam, or at regular intervals whenever Steam is running), but there is very little network activity from Steam when launching the game.
  • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @12:30PM (#10854860)
    I purchased my copy from Steam, after cancelling my pre-ordered boxed copy from ebgames. I had every preloaded about 2 weeks ago.

    On Tuesday morning I started up my PC and Steam before I went into the shower. 12 minutes later, when I got back, everything was done and Half-Life 2 was ready. I even played a little bit before heading to the office.

    I realize some people had major problems; and while it sounds like a LOT of people, I don't know how high the percentage is.

    Steam was a success in MY view, but I'm sure others disagree. Personally, I think Steam's a great idea so long as it's not a springboard to something sinister; like mandatory "renting" of the game.

    There was talk on a forum about perhaps they'd offer the ability to rent the game for a month or 2 if you want for dirt cheap (after all, how often do you just play a game for a few weeks and forget about it), but it would be optional and you could still fully buy the game. But I don't know if this was just shooting the breeze or something that Valve touched on.

    My Steam experience was quite positive, I'd use it again to buy software if the situation arises.
  • by GeckoX (259575) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @12:54PM (#10855167)
    You didn't read the post you just responded to.
    He wasn't suggesting that you turn steam off, disconnect from the internet, and start up again to save time.

    What he said was: Do that and the time to load will BE THE SAME.

    His point being, quite obviously stated as well, that it is NOT steam that is slowing you down. His point is that it is the game itself that is taking time to load.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:20PM (#10856364)
    Yeah, won't help for online play, but what kind of idiot plays pirated games online anyway?
  • In related news... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kenja (541830) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:11PM (#10857058)
    In releated news, due to piss poor QA you HAVE to install Counter Strike if your trying to install HL2 off of the retail CDs. If you dont select Counter Strike (which is on disk five) the installer will look for the final file "hl2.ico1" on disk four and not find it (because its not there) forcing you out of the installer after swapping four disks. If the game wasn't so good I'd be REALY pissed off, as it stands I just take my aggression out on head crabs.
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tobias Luetke (707936) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:12PM (#10857068)
    I knew it, and I'm waiting a few extra days before I buy the game, simply because I don't want that hassle.

    Or better yet. did the right thing and bought the game in advance over steam
    Buying over steam had many advantages:

    • You instantly got to play CS:S
    • You saved a buck or two in some cases
    • You money went to valve instead of Vivendi
    • You had HL2 preloaded on your harddrive (no cds)
    • You could start playing 10 minutes after the game was released
    For me Steam was a huge success. Its just stupid to distribute digital data over physical mediums like CDS when there is a boardband internet connection available. After purchasing steam stays incredibly useful. You will never have to search for your f$%^& cds and put them in your drive. If you want to play hl2 online in two years all you need to do is double click the game. You deleted the game ? NO PROBLEM. Steam downloads it for you. You are not up to date ? NO PROBLEM. steam updates you. You don't have the map / mod / whatever ? NO PROBLEM. People need to get used to the idea of steam. yes it might have caused some problems but that was to be expected.
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:5, Informative)

    by chowells (166602) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:16PM (#10857115) Homepage
    Sorry, but your post is completely untrue. Steam insists on logging online every time you play Half Life. And I'm talking about single player, not multi player. This morning it took me 10 minutes to load Half Life because steam had problems logging in. There is meant to be an offline mode for Steam, but this is only for dialup users. Somehow it automatically detects the internet connection. Am I really meant to fumble around the back of my machine, and unplug the ethernet cable (interrupting whatever else I might be doing online like downloading a large file) just to damn play Half Life?
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:26PM (#10857248) Journal
    The worst part is that according to the linked forum, no one says Valve has released a warez version to fool pirates.

    End of story, IMHO.

    This is the official word:

    "We're running a bit of an experiment. We're keeping track of the accounts that do this and will be shutting them off."

    Then it's assumed the "experiment" was to release a warez version. The "experiment" can of course be anything, like leaking an invalid key to some IRC channel. But that would be nowhere near spreading a warez version. It could probably mean something else too as "keeping track" is quite ambiguous.

    The FileFront guy goes on with

    "Therefore, I strongly suggest that you DO NOT participate in these illegal activities as it would only lead to your own harm."

    Why, the most common cracked version doesn't even connect to Steam. How would they be able to do anyhting? And if you loose your account, you're free to make a new one. Maybe they ban by IP ranges, but that's risky for dynamic IP's and nothing like that is even mentioned.
  • Re:I would laugh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Neophytus (642863) * on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:26PM (#10857249)
    It is very possible for any client on the internet to retrieve the list of connected ips from the tracker. After all, it's just a fancy http server.
  • by The-Bus (138060) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:27PM (#10857265)
    This is from a Wired article entitled "Warez Wars" [wired.com]:

    NFO files do more than brag or supply installation instructions; they testify that the ware is a bona fide release, guaranteed to work. And this is more than just posturing; a group's reputation is paramount. Each release is painstakingly beta-tested. These are their products now, their labors of love. Nobody wants to find a "bad crack" in his hands after a seven-hour download. Nobody wants to be accused of being "unprofessional." Nobody wants the ignominy of anything like the bad crack for Autodesk's 3D Studio that made the rounds in 1992. For all intents and purposes it ran correctly, all features seemed 100 percent functional. Except that the dedongled program slowly and subtly corrupted any 3-D model built with it. After a few hours of use, a mesh would become a crumpled mass of broken triangles, irrevocably damaged. Cleverly, Autodesk had used the dongle to create a dynamic vector table within the program. Without the table, the program struggled to create mathematically accurate geometry - and eventually failed. Many a dodgy CAD house saw its cost-cutting measures end in ruin. Autodesk support forums and newsgroups were flooded with strangely unregistered users moaning about the "bug in their version of 3D Studio." A rectified "100 percent cracked" version appeared soon after, but the damage was done. The Myth of the Bad Crack was born, and the pirate groups' reputations tarnished.


    If "Valve" releases a bad CD crack, so be it. It's not really from Valve so there's no recourse. If that's what they're doing, I don't see a problem with it. Makes the pirate's job that much harder.
  • by Nos. (179609) <andrew AT thekerrs DOT ca> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:30PM (#10857295) Homepage
    but I can't even move the SteamApps dir without reinstalling Steam :/
    That's too bad. When HL2 started preloading I ran out of room on the partition I had it installed on. So I moved steam and all the games/mods I had installed to another partition without reinstalling anything. How, I exited steam, moved the steam folder, updated my shortcut. Not sure why you can't do that.
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:3, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:31PM (#10857315)

    These same server problems affect every MMORPG on day 1

    That's funny. I have bought a number of Blizzard games and I have never, ever, had a problem playing the LAN or single-player components immediately, without having internet access.

    What valve did was inconvenience their user's without effecting piracy at all. There are already hacked copies that play without an internet connection floating around. Valve just made the official version (in addition the unavoidably costing money) less functional, and harder to use than the hacked version. And you know what, I'm not buying the game...or pirating it. I'll buy from someone who does not automatically assume I'm a criminal. They won't know or care, but maybe, in time, developers will realize that treating their customers like crap is not OK.

  • by radish (98371) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:37PM (#10857382) Homepage
    You get like 30 days or something to activate. So yes, if you're away from a net connection and a phone for 30 days after installing XP, you may have problems.
  • by telemonster (605238) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:37PM (#10857385) Homepage
    I bought the original Half-Life to play DOD with friends. Then they released Steam(ing pile of DRM ad delivery garbage). For months I couldn't play the games because updates broke video compatibility. Then all of a sudden it worked, for a few weeks, then it broke again with security issues when connecting to other hosts. Then a few weeks later it works again (after more fixes are retrieved). It is a nightmare!

    Everyone cries about Circuit City and their failed Divx initive. Steam cries of the same thing. It's an advertisement and upsell delivery system.

    After suffering thru Steam, I would chuckle if people cracked the Steam software delivery system, or reverse engineered the Steam authentication system so rouge servers could auth clients on private networks.

    I am proud to admit that Steam/DOD/HL started working just in time to deliver ads for HL2.

    Warez puppies dissapointed me, they didn't manage to unlock the preload of HL2 or crack the authentication garbage.
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:5, Informative)

    by arose (644256) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:49PM (#10857550)
    Check back again in 70 years (if copyright won't be extended until then) when you can't play public domain Half Life 2.
  • by fahrvergnugen (228539) <fahrv@h[ ]ail.com ['otm' in gap]> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:57PM (#10857675) Homepage
    Nonsense, there's many good reasons to disable CD-checks. I don't want to put extra wear on original media unnecessarily, or on the drive. A disc always in the case is much less likely to get scratched than one that's in and out of the case constantly. Further, some programs are wrapped in copy-protection that is so heinous it keeps particular hardware from using the game in the first place (BF:1942). The first thing I do after buying a single-player game is download the NoCD crack.

    Having said that: If you buy Half-life 2 over Steam, there's no CD check. Further, the store-bought version comes with fewer features than two of the Steam variants, and if you're not into collecting PC game boxes, all you get is 5 CDs in paper sleeves. Further, Steam allows you to make CD-based backups.

    In addition, Valve makes an exponentially higher margin on the Steam-based distro, and by buying via Steam you fuck Vivendi in the ass. This feels especially good to me, as Vivendi is directly responsible for gutting Papyrus, Sierra, & Dynamix, three of my favorite developers. So really, it's the best of all worlds.

    I had a great experience purchasing via Steam. I pre-ordered the game, and pre-loaded the encrypted data. At 12:01am Tuesday morning, the game started decrypting, and by 12:10am I was playing.

    I still have my reservations re: Steam. Giving the publisher centralized control over whether I can use their software after I've paid for it makes me very uncomfortable, but the black market appears to be taking care of this issue for me already, and buying the CD-based distro of HL2 doesn't alleviate this problem, so I still recommend going with Steam.
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:2, Informative)

    by Elminst (53259) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:00PM (#10857726) Homepage
    Sure.. and for every complaint you see, there are at least a dozen other people that had no problems whatsoever.

    Tuesday night at 8 PM EST, smack in the middle of prime internet time, I clicked purchase, entered my info, waited about 2 minutes for the purchase validation, was greeted by a thank you.
    Started the downloads of the files at about 8:10.
    Went to the gym. came back to watch the download finish up at an average 1.9 Mbps. Closed my email and chat windows, and started it right up.
    Loaded, played for about half an hour and went to bed. No problems at all.

    And based on the response on a gaming forum I run, out of all our active users, roughly 100, there were 3, that's THREE, that reported problems with STEAM on the first night.

  • Re:Even though... (Score:3, Informative)

    by DigitalRaptor (815681) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:12PM (#10857876) Homepage
    I doubt this very highly.

    Are you sure you didn't start playing the game before it had completely downloaded? You can start playing at about 40%.

    600M is a LOT of traffic and data. I don't see them even wanting anywhere near that much data just for normal gameplay, not to mention the degredation in the multiplayer experience and making it pointless to even try on a modem.

    I'd be surprised if even 6 MB were transferred the entire time you were playing single player (that wasn't related to updates or initial content downloading).

  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:22PM (#10857996) Journal
    No, you login in Offline Mode, that's why it's there.
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:5, Informative)

    by brkello (642429) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:29PM (#10858063)
    Wow. Here is an even better idea. If you don't like the company, don't play the game. Don't pirate it, just ignore it and go on with your life. The options aren't: buy or pirate. Obviously you failed to realize this. You sit on your side bithcing and moaning how you were inconvienenced. It would have eventually worked, but you decided to over-react. All you wrote was a long ass justification for copyright infringement. Congratulations, your morals suck. The people who worked 5 years on this won't get any of your money...and you are so proud of yourself, that you want them to pay you money. Beyond my comprehension...it's people like you who are the problem.
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mike Bridge (8663) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:38PM (#10858162) Homepage
    trying clicking 'run in offline mode' they put it into steam as an option, for a reason, after all. and steam can also backup your games to CDs or DVDs now (right click, backup, click which games you want backed up, choose .iso size, and it makes'em)
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tenareth (17013) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:42PM (#10858231) Homepage
    Yes, just like every game when first released, tons of complaints about this bug or that bug, video driver this, driver that. Every game/program has had issues when first released, Steam's only lasted a few hours. (I've been playing HL2 since right after release, and I never had to set foot in a store, that is a GREAT thing IMO). Steam keeps my patches up to date without me having to hunt for websites, and their online community is great.

    Quite honestly, the amount of money it would cost them to support that initial influx of traffic (which would then be wasted 3 days later when normal traffic resumed) was not justifiable by the few people that would be a lost sale. Most people will grumble a little, then play the game happily.

    Valve has supported a no-cost-per-play system for years that hundreds of thousands of people have been playing, they are a great company IMNSHO and they did a good job with the release of HL2.

  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cryptnotic (154382) * on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:45PM (#10858274) Homepage
    Did you even read more than the first sentence of his post? He said that offline mode doesn't work if you have an active ethernet connection.

  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2004 @05:04PM (#10858489)
    I heard a similar argument this week and, just out of curiosity, tried to install the original Half Life from a perfectly legal CD, a 1.0.0.x copy. Following the standard install path, I reached the point where Sierra Utilities solicitously informed me that it needed to be upgraded to 1.1.1.x, offered me a list of defunct FTP sites, and gave me the Continue and Cancel options, both of which helpfully uninstalled the game without prompting me. Of course there are workarounds, but that's not the point. If they won't keep the update FTP site for the original game up and running, why would they keep the authentication server up for the sequel in 6, 8, 10 years' time?
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:2, Informative)

    by karstux (681641) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @05:05PM (#10858506) Homepage
    Wow... a whopping 100 users? That's one hefty statistically sound sample size! Not. If you look at, for example, the slightly larger gamespy hl2 forum, you'll see quite a lot of complaints.

    And yeah, I had access problems, too. I was able to play directly after release (which was cool), but the whole day after that, access to steam was erratic at best. Not cool.

    The point stands: There's no need for a single player game to connect to its maker every damn time it is played. It's a measure of control, and the objective is to get the unwashed masses used to it. That's evil.
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:3, Informative)

    by llamaluvr (575102) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @05:48PM (#10859053) Journal
    When there's laws governing the transaction of said "intellectual property", it's no longer just a gentleman's agreement.

    In a microcosm shielded from laws (and supposing moral relativism), the agreement for a person to not steal another's car just becomes a "gentleman's agreement", too.
  • by yknott (463514) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @05:52PM (#10859106) Homepage Journal
    If you want to play hl2 without going through steam, make a shortcut to "c:\(install path)\hl2.exe" -steam

    This allows you to run hl2 without going through steam at all.
  • Worked real well.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrgrey (319015) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @06:05PM (#10859256) Homepage Journal
    2 minutes to find a no steam crack [megagames.com].

    2 minutes to download the crack.

    2 minutes to install.

    Total time saved from not using steam. 3 hrs. 52 minutes.

    You feel better whether you bought it or not.

  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:2, Informative)

    by atta1 (558607) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @06:17PM (#10859400)
    I've said it before, I'll say it again. I attempted to install a purchased, boxed copy of HL2 on a system at work which is not connected to the internet because part of my job is testing. Guess what? I can't play my legit copy on this system. What's wrong with this picture? I will be returning this copy and I will not be playing HL2, now or ever. Before anybody comments, it's obvious I'm not alone, and there are many games I have never played on principle, and won't play.
  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frobnicator (565869) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @07:14PM (#10859947) Journal
    I'm not terribly thrilled with having to validate online before playing, but you're gonna be downloading patches, mods, etc. to avoid the starting bugs anyhow, so what does one more wait get ya?
    That's fine, up until the server goes offline. When that happens, Valve might actually be breaking the law.

    The 9th District Appeals Court (They are based in WA, which is in the 9th district) decided way back in 2001 that software sales are that, SALES, and not LICENSES. (See this court decision [uscourts.gov].)

    This is an issue that is discussed very often inside the industry, and I was shocked when I heard Valve was going to do it. Required unlocking With a major title, it isn't quite as big of a concern since they'll probably have their servers up for 5 or 8 years.

    When smaller companies start doing it (which more will decide to do), and they either fail or have their domain name expire or get hijacked, you can bet there'll be lawsuits following. Especially if the game is considered a sale, since the registration would effectivly block access to an object that the individual owns.

    I think the parts of the court decision most applicable is:

    Because we look to the economic realities of the agreement, the fact that the agreement labels itself a "license" and calls the payments "royalties," both terms that arguably imply periodic payment for the use rather than sale of technology, does not control our analysis. .... Other courts have reached the same conclusion: software is sold and not licensed. .... In particular, the following factors require a finding that distributing software under licenses transfers individual copy ownership: temporally unlimited possession, absence of time limits on copy possession, pricing and payment schemes that are unitary not serial, licenses under which subsequent transfer is neither prohibited nor conditioned on obtaining the licensor's prior approval (only subject to a prohibition against rental and a requirement that any transfer be of the entity), and licenses under which the use restrictions principal purpose is to protect intangible copyrightable subject matter, and not to preserve property interests in individual program copies.

    Of course, I'm not a laywer so maybe that means something else; It sure seems obviously bad or maybe illegal to me, and the other game developers I have talked to since Valve announced their decision a while back. IANAL,YMMV,ETC.

  • Re:I would laugh (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tobias Luetke (707936) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @07:22PM (#10860003)
    And i'm sure valve know about this since the very creator of bittorrent is a valve employee
  • by Sir_Dill (218371) <slashdot.zachula@com> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @07:27PM (#10860033) Homepage
    I got HL2 via steam the day it came out....infact...I forgot that it was coming out and didn't notice until I saw it available on steam.

    Now, I don't know what the big deal is but I personally applaud Valve for going this route. They have created an efficient, effective and protected method for digital content delivery. I think Valve is one of the few game studios out there that deserve my money and it really annoys me to to see complaint after complaint about a company taking steps to ensure its success.

    Steam has worked flawlessly for me since installing it in april when I got the HL2 coupon with my videocard. In fact I feel that valve is so deserving of my money that I purchased the collectors edition even though I had the game for free. They put alot of work into producing what I feel is one of the best games ever produced if not THE best. If they want to track the pirates, so be it. If they want to mangle the stolen copies so that all the weapons turn into fuzzy bunnies, who cares. Honestly, anyone who has ever downloaded warez(you know who you are) knows that its illegal...PERIOD. Any judge that would allow a lawsuit from a scorned pirate should be disbarred. *whine* I stole the game and they broke it. Whatever....cry me a river.

    As for the whining about a slow connection, thats what the retail outlets are for. I may not be able to play a multiplayer game via a 33.6, but I can sure as heck log onto steam long enough to validate my copy.

    Complaining about Steam is like complaining about HD content providers that aren't providing an SD equivalent. Steam isn't for everyone. This is the future and as broadband becomes more ubiquitous in the world, Steam and steamlike distribution channels will be more common.

  • Re:Take a lesson (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jace of Fuse! (72042) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @07:44PM (#10860134) Homepage
    The likelihood of Acclaim going out of business is what?

    Acclaim is actually doing well? You must be talking about a different Acclaim, but not the one that publishes shit title after shit title.

    Because This Acclaim [bizjournals.com] has financial troubles. Or were you being sarcastic?

    Sorry if I misunderstood.

    Wait, you must've been sarcastic, because Virgin/Vivendi/Fox may very well end up selling their software subsidaries.

    I don't know anything about the state of Argonaut.
  • by necro2607 (771790) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @08:20PM (#10860397)
    This makes me think of Myth - The Fallen Lords

    You could play online on Bungie.net, and it was damn fun!

    But guess what? the Myth:TFL bungie.net server died in some big crash. They didn't replace it (they essentially said they didn't feel like it). So now you can't play the game online anymore!

    Of course it says right on the box you can play online on bungie.net

    So, for some reason it's okay for me to not get the functionality I paid for? I really question the legality of that, and the moral 'okay-ness' of it at the very least...

    Sure the game is old, but I've still wanted to play it numerous times (along with a bunch of friends) back on good ol' bungie.net in a big 16 player game or whatever, but no.... *sigh*
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:17PM (#10860769) Homepage
    What bothers me the most about HL2 is the fact that you have to log into steam every single time you want to play a single player game.

    That's completely incorrect. You have to connect once, to unlock it. That's it. I'm not saying I agree, just that you're arguing against fiction.
  • by Snaller (147050) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @10:15PM (#10861138) Journal
    If you want to play hl2 without going through steam, make a shortcut to "c:\(install path)\hl2.exe" -steam

    This allows you to run hl2 without going through steam at all.


    Not here it won't. First of all there isn't a hl2.exe in the install path.

    If you have been through all the download and decrypt stuff, there is an hl2.exe file in an obscure folder within the steamapps directory, but if you run that you get an error message:
    "This application has failed to start because Steam.dll was not found. Re-installing the application may fix this problem."

    So it doesn't work...
  • by hkmwbz (531650) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:54AM (#10862711) Journal
    There was a working crack, actually. It was pulled, but later re-released with improvements.

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