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Rockstar Creates 'Cheaters Pool' For Game Hackers 228

Posted by timothy
from the we-call-this-area-d-block dept.
itwbennett writes "Rockstar Games announced yesterday in a newswire post that the company has created a 'cheater's pool' (sort of like the populating of Australia with criminals) where players who have hacked the game to give themselves advantages will only be able to play against other cheaters. Although, Ars Technica points out that players may actually prefer the 'special' world."
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Rockstar Creates 'Cheaters Pool' For Game Hackers

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  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lithdren (605362) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @03:51PM (#40327355)
    I find this idea rather interesting, but I worry what might happen to someone who was placed in this pool by mistake?

    I can imagine that the aim-bot writers would find this rather interesting, you'd have a natural-selection pressure going on where the best and fastest aim-bots would survive. I have to wonder what might come of something like that.

    Wouldn't make the actual game very fun though.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by localman57 (1340533) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @03:56PM (#40327423)

      I find this idea rather interesting, but I worry what might happen to someone who was placed in this pool by mistake?

      It still seems better than an outright ban. The guys sent to Australia probably thought it better than the gallows.

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by malakai (136531) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:04PM (#40327537) Journal

      The details of this system are scary.

      First, this is designed for:

      Anyone found to have used hacked saves, modded games, or other exploits to gain an unfair advantage in Max Payne 3 Multiplayer, or to circumvent the leaderboards will be quarantined from all other players into a "Cheaters Pool", where they'll only be able to compete in multiplayer matches with other confirmed miscreants

      Which smells to me like they had poorly implemented server side checks, and people who modified their save games or other client in memory vars, were able to rocket to the top or run around invincible. That's just plain bad server-side programming on their end. I don't doubt with the right queries into their server storage they could identify accounts that bypassed something they were supposed to spend time on or accrue. If they had the right amount of auditing sprinkled in.

      If you see anyone in Max Payne 3 multiplayer using invincibility hacks, infinite adrenaline, score cheating or doing anything else suspicious, just send us an email at maxpayne3.banhammer@rockstargames.com and include the following:
      -Platform (PC, PS3 or Xbox 360)
      -Cheater’s Gamertag / ID
      -Description of the violation
      -If possible, please include concrete evidence, such as a video or a screenshot

      Wow, again, very scary. So the server trust the client for things like invincibility, adrenaline, _actual score_..etc. Is this a FPS from 1993?

      Will this find aimbots, wallhacks or radar? No. It never will and never can. If you have to trust the client to run your 'aimbot detection code' then you already lost that battle. ( sure, statistically you can find weak cheats, or push down new detection code to try and catch them off guard, but the good ones have checks in place for that ).

      All and all, this is part PR ( "Hey we're really mad at those darn cheaters and we'll try and make a difference!" ) and part cover up ( "Oh, we fucked up and let you do crappy memory hacks to rule our leader boards, we were in a rush and couldn't get all the server state checks done in time, plus it was so laggy, so we just decided to trust the client. Now we know better, have more time on our heads, so we'll retroactively try and determine people that cheated and remove them from the leader board")

      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ottothecow (600101) <ottothecow@gma i l . com> on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:28PM (#40327907) Homepage
        Well the way these things usually work are that they don't have to be perfect at catching you cheat, but they only have to catch you once.

        Its not even that novel of a concept...look at Valve and VAC, if you get caught cheating on a VAC secured server, your entire account gets blacklisted and can't play on other anti cheat servers (and this applies to every game linked to your steam account which is actually kind of scary). There are still other servers that don't enforce anti-cheat but my guess is they are filled mostly with hackers and pirates (so basically...a cheaters pool).

        What happens is someone comes up with a nice hack, people start using it, Valve figures it out and bans everyone it can catch, and then the hack author notices it has been found and they modify it in such a way that it avoids detection again. Every time Valve does this, they ban a bunch of accounts who are gone forever unless they come in and buy a new game. It doesn't stop cheating or make it impossible...but it puts a financial burden on the cheater.

      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@nOspaM.cornell.edu> on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:40PM (#40328127) Homepage

        This is why I never purchased Crysis 2 and likely won't purchase Crysis 3.

        The single player game was gorgeous, and the graphics were stunning.

        The game had enormous multiplayer potential, but - For all their expertise in making a graphics engine, they didn't know jack shit about networked multiplayer.

        If a player shot a pistol at another player, take a guess where the decision on amount of damage done was made? You'd think that after years of online gaming, it would be the correct answer: The server.

        You'd be wrong - The damage calculations were done BY THE CLIENT. Both offensive (weapon damage) and defensive (armor effectiveness) calculations were done on the client. Weapon damage calculations were done by the client of the player firing the weapon, armor calcs (esp. for vehicles) were done by the client of the player being shot at.

        The XML files in which weapon and armor attributes were stored weren't integrity checked at all.

        As a result, it was dead easy to change an XML file, eliminate all bullet spread/variation from a pistol, and declare each bullet as doing 99999 damage. The client would say to the server, "I hit player Y for 99999 damage" and the server would believe it, no questions asked!

        Similarly, the server would notify the client of a player operating a vehicle, "You were hit by this weapon class for X damage. How much of that was actually absorbed" - For example, most armored vehicles had 80-90% damage reduction from small arms fire. Well, just like the 99999 damage pistol hack, it was easy to declare a 99% (or even 100% I think) damage reduction to any weapons type. So you could easily create an attack helicopter that was immune to everything but controlled flight into terrain... In nearly every game I ever played, a cheater would eventually get access to an attack helicopter, and even if you decided "fuck it, if you can't beat em', join em'" and gave yourself super-rockets - they could fly around the map with impunity.

        I actually eventually decided that the most interesting challenge for the game would be to see how far I could modify things without anyone calling me out - and thanks to the blatant cheaters, it was amazing what you could get away with (think 600 horsepower pickup truck, mobile antiaircraft cannon that could depress its turret by 10 degrees below horizontal, etc...) without anyone accusing you at all.

        I think I played legitimately for a week, experimented with cheating for a week as an experiment, then deleted the game. It was so insecure as to be utterly pointless - blatant cheaters in every match, and my own experiments showed that there had to be a whole pile of more subtle cheaters lurking.

        • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

          by X0563511 (793323) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @05:13PM (#40328625) Homepage Journal

          Who played Crysis for multiplayer? Cheaters apparently. I never even tried, I just enjoyed the single-player game.

        • by Lehk228 (705449)
          that actually sounds like a fun way to mod the game, roll out a mod that forces server side distribution of those variables, with points earned while playing that allow you to modify your gear weapons and vehicles. UT2004 has a server mod that builds in an RPG like element, it works great with progressive invasion mod, all players are allied anyways so having some players able to shoot for 5x the damage of others isn't a big deal, and it lets more and more insane waves of monsters be beaten b
        • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

          by citizenr (871508) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @06:46PM (#40329545) Homepage

          This is why I never purchased Crysis 2 and likely won't purchase Crysis 3.

          The single player game was gorgeous, and the graphics were stunning.

          The game had enormous multiplayer potential, but - For all their expertise in making a graphics engine, they didn't know jack shit about networked multiplayer.

          If a player shot a pistol at another player, take a guess where the decision on amount of damage done was made? You'd think that after years of online gaming, it would be the correct answer: The server.

          You'd be wrong - The damage calculations were done BY THE CLIENT

          Sounds like ARMA / ARMA 2.
          There is a very popular mod called DayZ ( http://dayzmod.com/ [dayzmod.com] ) for ARMA2. It features persistent character and permanent death. Popular cheats involve :
          -calling thermonuclear strike on a whole 250km2 island killing up to 50 players instantly
          -throwing whole server population into the air, they all die when they fall down
          -uploading your own mission file to the server spawning AI, This one is quite clever :) Ranging from spawning 3 women in Burqas following each player :DDD through small military convoy shooting all players on sight, ending with full blown carpet bombing done by AI.
          -spawning items out of thin air. Somehow Arma lets ordinary players spawn a BATTLESHIP on top of a building :) not to mention all the guns, equipment and vehicles your heart desires.
          -speed hacks / invisibility / aimbots / invincibility / flying (yes, player can tell server his position and server will just place him there without asking).

          -and my fav, changing whole server population into goats! :o)

          All that possible while being ordinary player joining MULTIPLAYER server, server that talks to a master server supposedly keeping track of all the players.
          Did I mention their standard security practice was to ask server admins to mail RDP passwords for all the servers, in cleartext? and that the official mail account got hacked and most of the servers turned into malware zombies for almost a week? and the official website and forum deleted, including most recent backups :D Shit is hilarious.

          Some of those companies just ignore past 10 years of experience and reinvent the wheel (or just cover their ears/eyes and pretend there is no problem) :(.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        I wonder how well it will cope with non-software cheating. You can get autofire mods for XBOX and PS3 pads, for example. In fact you used to be able to buy programmable pads for older consoles where a single button could execute a complex combo in a fighting game, for example.

        I remember back in the 90s there was software you could run on a PC used as a network bridge between the game machine and the router. A simple interface allowed you to adjust lag, drop packets or just stop forwarding packets for a few

      • by Jeng (926980)

        Modifying behavior may be cheaper than trying to remove that behavior via programing.

        I do agree though that they should be able to code correctly at this point, it is not like this is their first online multiplayer game.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      The big advantage of doing this instead of banning them is that if there's a problem with the detection algorithm then the players placed there by mistake will play against other players placed there by mistake, no damage done.

      • by Applekid (993327)

        And those mistakenly flagged will be forced to endure cheaters blatantly cheating, ruining the experience for them when they've done nothing wrong. If there's no way to get back to the general population, they might as well ban themselves by not playing anymore. Either way, they find themselves unable to fully play the game for which they paid.

        It's like enjoying Tetris for the multiplayer aspects until the server decides I'm doing too well so it's going to send me a non stop flow of S shapes.

        I guess it can

        • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

          by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @05:27PM (#40328789)

          I agree, if only because you simply cannot play a multiplayer game on the internet these days without someone accusing someone else of cheating, hacking, 'glitching', whatever you want to call it. Very few people lose because they're just not as good as the other people in that particular match, no, it's because everyone else is cheating. I mean, people bitch and complain about campers for Christ's sake, and they're not even cheating, they're just not running around like the rest of the retards and are actually employing some strategy beyond "Mash all the buttons!! Fire all the weapons! Jump jump jump jumpity jump jump!!!!!"

          If some chickenshit 12 year old accused me of cheating because I had the audacity to kill him more than he killed me, and I ended up lumped in with a bunch of fucking wall-hackers and aim-botters for all eternity because of his butthurt, I would be furious and demand my money back. If they refused, I would never purchase another game from them ever again. There'd better be some sort of concrete proof required other than community feedback, even if they're depending on repeated infractions, because obviously people that are very good play a lot and hence will probably have a lot of bullshit reports of hacking/cheating just by virtue of that fact alone.

          Ask Microsoft how many bogus "system tampering" reports they get from butthurt players. I bet less than 5% of those reported are actually guilty of anything other than being better than the person that reported them.

          Outside of all that, though, I like the idea of a dedicated place to hack and such. I just disagree with the whole "email suspicious behavior" thing because I feel that is just going to be totally abused.

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anubis IV (1279820) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:22PM (#40327819)

      I remember back in the early 2000s when I was playing Medal of Honor: Allied Assault that I was using various exploits to wall hack and have no recoil. I also found a server that was permissive of cheating. Some of the most fun I had was on that server, since the best players there figured out how to exploit the cheats against the cheaters.

      For instance, one person could draw attention through a wall while someone else came up from behind, effectively allowing you to use bait without ever endangering yourself. Or you could leverage the fact that everyone with wall hacks "pre-fires" at corners when they see enemies about to round them. Just run headlong at all corners and suddenly stop before turning them. The enemy will generally waste some ammo or will even need to reload, giving you a chance to engage them on your terms. You might even exploit the fact that the other player doesn't know how many walls are between the two of you to get them to leave themselves vulnerable. For instance, if you know they're aiming a rocket in your direction, put a wall between yourself and a window that they can see, pretend that you're crouched under the window, then stand up suddenly. As often as not, they'll launch the rocket prematurely, leaving you safe and them open for easy retaliation.

      There's still a lot of room for fun, experimentation, and even skill when you have everyone on a level playing field, even if that field is different than the one most people are playing on.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        I remember playing quakeworld teamfortress (customtf) when there were cheaters using aimbots.

        How do I know they were using aimbots? I bound some commands so that when I scrolled my mousewheel I would jiggle/sidestep/strafe left and right very quickly (like alternately pressing A and D quickly, assuming a WASD setup).

        When I jumped off a wall these bunch would be able to snipe me in the air nearly 100% of the time. But when I was standing right in front of them and "jiggling" they would miss me. Normal unassi
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:29PM (#40327941)

      I find this idea rather interesting, but I worry what might happen to someone who was placed in this pool by mistake?

      If you read the terms of the EULA, you'll find out: You can beg for mercy, and perhaps Caesar will grant you a reprieve. Maybe. If he doesn't have gas that day from eating at Taco Bell. You have no rights to the aforementioned virtual world... you can be removed for any reason or no reason, and if you paid money, well tough nuts. You were informed by psychic eminations of the terms when you handed them your credit card, which was a binding and unappealable legal arrangement, and you can't return the product for a refund once you've opened it, you know, in order to read the terms. -_-

      This is why I don't pay for software for personal use anymore; If a company can take away what's mine on a whim, then it wasn't really mine to begin with, and I don't spend money on things I don't get to keep.

      • I don't spend money on things I don't get to keep

        So you have never have, and never will, rent a house, hotel room, car, etc?

        These days I play the freemium game 'world of tanks', there's no pressure to pay and they do a great job filtering out cheats. I do pay, but what I am getting (with or without paying) is a service, not a piece of personal property. Sure I put the free client on my machine to use that service but after that I just let it do it's stuff and enjoy the game. Now if you trash a physical piece of property you have rented the owner is l

    • Wouldn't make the actual game very fun though.

      I disagree...hacking is tons of fun when everyone is involved in hacking and it's not being used to beat people unfairly. Hell, even going back to the Game Genie/Gameshark days on the consoles, there was tons of fun to be had just playing with the codes and seeing what you could do and what kind of bizarre behavior you could coax out of the game...

    • They are missing the whole point of cheating: To gain an advantage over others.

      If there is no advantage, where they have to compete "fairly", then the cheaters will not play there. The only people who will play there are ... I am unsure but someone will play there, possibly the cheat writers.

    • by arose (644256)
      Nothing worse than would have happened if they were banned by mistake instead.
  • by Firehed (942385) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @03:52PM (#40327371) Homepage

    Seems like a big improvement over the typical banhammer approach. Let cheaters play with other cheaters while legit players can continue to enjoy the game normally. Contrast this to Blizzard's apparent approach where everyone thought to cheat (even in single-player, apparently, since they've blurred the single vs multiplayer line on D3 with this always-on crap) suddenly have their $60 purchase made worthless.

    • by alen (225700)

      Blizzard is on a money grab where they expect people to pay up for digital crap

      its funny how slashdotters think that buying crap in farmville and similar games is a waste of money. but when blizzard does it people will spend ridiculous amounts of money for digital crap

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cpu6502 (1960974)

      If I was a Blizzard or Rockstar player, and they suddenly banned me because of "cheating", even though I never did cheat (or even know how to do it) I'd be pissed. I'd probably start stealing their games. (Since there is no legal recourse against corporations.)

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        Hard to steal a blizzard game that matters. WoW and Diablo 3 both have your data (character) on their servers, and SC still requires battle.net. No battle.net and you can't really play those games.

        I only have the steam version of max payne 3 so I'm not sure if it uses steamworks out of the box or not, but you could get your whole steam account banned for pirating a steamworks game.

      • by bky1701 (979071)
        "I'd probably start stealing their games."

        Why would you take out your anger on software stores by stealing the property they already paid the publisher for? It only means they have to buy another copy.

        Unless you meant piracy, which is not stealing, and you should use proper, non-weasel-worded terminology to describe it.
        • by Dahamma (304068)

          You are welcome to go "pirate" the Diablo 3 DVD as much as you want, since it's useless without a battle.net account and activation code.

          So, really, the only way to play without paying *is* in fact to steal a legal copy of the game...

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Except that in D3 you can't be purely single player. They overtly made the choice that the game is a multiplayer game. Any solo experience is really just not directly playing with other people, but you're still connected to the same economy. If you give yourself 100 million gold to buy stuff from vendors in your own space that's one thing. But when that 100 million gold goes out into the broader game economy where everyone is tied together you have a problem.

      With max payne all you really get are achieve

    • by MORB (793798)

      Blizzard's approach is to make games that are single player or cooperative only and to make them so easy that there's no reason to cheat.

    • by Endo13 (1000782)

      Exactly. I've already thought about this kind of possible solution before. I think I would much prefer it over current solutions. Being unfairly categorized is much less bad than being unfairly banned.

    • by dlb (17444)

      It would be even better if they renamed all the banished to "Zod" "Nom" or "Ursa".

  • by busyqth (2566075) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @03:53PM (#40327385)

    the company has created a 'cheater's pool' (sort of like the populating of Australia with criminals)

    And just like Australia, the cheater's pool will become a lawless hellhole, where might makes right, as biker gangsters fight for supremacy in the irradiated wastelands.

  • That's fine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Thursday June 14, 2012 @03:54PM (#40327399) Homepage

    Although, Ars Technica points out that players may actually prefer the 'special' world."

    Sounds like a win all around, then. The cheaters get their "special" world, and the non-cheaters don't have to deal with them. What's not to like?

    • Although, Ars Technica points out that players may actually prefer the 'special' world."

      Sounds like a win all around, then. The cheaters get their "special" world, and the non-cheaters don't have to deal with them. What's not to like?

      False positives

      • by Endo13 (1000782)

        So if you got hit with a false positive, you would rather be banned than simply relegated to the cheater server? At least with this solution you still get to play.

    • by jmerlin (1010641)
      What's not to like? How about the fact that the only way to get to the "special" world is to be caught cheating outside of the "special" world. Why can't I say "I want to play in the special world and use this cheat, then when I'm bored go back and play normally." You can do that with Punkbuster games (just search for punkbuster disabled servers, or put up your own). You can do that with VAC games (just search for insecure games). On and on and on. People who want to create cheats can with most games
  • "My Aimbot totally pwned your Aimbot!"

  • by Anrego (830717) *

    That actually sounds like a lot of fun.

    The detailed article didn't specify.. but I hope they provide a way for regular players to visit. Maybe even allow regular players to cheat in the cheating environment without losing their right to play in the regular (assuming they don't cheat there).

    I can however see that used as an excuse. "Oops, was playing in the cheater realm and forgot to disable cheat mode..".

  • Honeypot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2012 @03:59PM (#40327477)

    Sounds like a honeypot to me.
    Rockstar will be able to observe a plethora of hacks in action to better prevent them on normal servers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:02PM (#40327509)

    Playing in cheat servers in CS: Source was fun but something interesting happened if you played in the server for a while.... most, if not all of the hackers ended up playing hte game properly.

  • stop and RTFA first (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eponymous Hero (2090636) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:02PM (#40327517)
    there's no idyllic haven for cheaters like the headline and summary imply. they put all the cheaters together and then see if they cheat again, and when they do they get the ban hammer. the only way to stay in the cheaters pool, and the game itself, is to stop cheating. even ars technica missed this important bit of info.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Looks like you misread the article.
      Cheaters can be forgiven and reenter normal play after the first offence. After the second offence, they're permanently 'banished' - to the cheaters pool, not banned from the game.

  • WoW (Score:2, Informative)

    by Triv (181010)

    Blizzard tried this in WoW, sort of, in a super-clever way.

    Battlegrounds used to provide no XP when in them, so it was possible to hit the top level of a bracket through quests and such, outfit yourself with the best gear for that level you could find, and just sit at that level decimating all the normal players you'd end up fighting against. "Twinking."

    But Blizzard turned on XP gains in battlegrounds, so if you did that, you would eventually level out of that bracket and into the next one. BUT. They also p

    • Re:WoW (Score:5, Informative)

      by cfalcon (779563) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:18PM (#40327753)

      Twinking was never cheating, is the difference. The correct comparisons would be teleport hacks, which normally result in perma-bans.

      Throwing all the twinks in the same BGs hasn't stopped it- it just forced them to organize so they can have their twink time. A twinked character is far more powerful than a regular one, but it is all within the confines of game stats- a cheating FPS player has any number of bizarre advantages that create essentially an entirely different game.

      That being said, you still can't cheat in the cheater pool, or you get kicked out, so it is nothing like twinking in the twink pool (which was the whole point of the twink pool).

    • Now only if WOW would open a bot's are allowed server. Some of my favorite times on Asheron's Call was watching AI that I wrote going around the map exploring and PKing anything it ran across.
      • I don't play WoW, so I may be wrong (or outdated). But as I understood it bots are "allowed" but you have to be at the keyboard at all times. Kinda Like Google's self driving car in NV and soon CA.
        -nB

    • I like the EVE solution: If it's within the in-universe rules and doesn't involve hacking, it's actively encouraged. Stab those backs! Never fight fair! Bastardly tactics are not only encouraged, it's the only way to win.
      • Re:WoW (Score:4, Funny)

        by History's Coming To (1059484) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @05:42PM (#40328963) Journal
        Agreed. I play Battlefield with a mate who's actually very good, but will rage quit out of a game if we're losing because "the other players are cheating". His definition of cheating so far includes:

        Using shotguns
        Sniping
        Being good with helicopters
        Pinning us down and mortaring us
        Being better than us (probably)

        It's a war simulator, there's only one thing I can think of in the game that breaks the Geneva convention, and that's shooting people on parachutes before they hit the ground.
  • Where in the release does it explicitly state cheaters will be able to continue to cheat in this secondary pool? It only states that the pool of available players would be confirmed cheaters.
  • by at10u8 (179705) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:23PM (#40327827)
    Knowing of previous incidents, I suspect that itwbennett may have an interesting time when next dealing with Australian customs.
  • Do you suppose they might be able to quarantine the 12-year-old rednecks in the same way? Not to dismiss the extent to which cheaters ruin gaming, but the fratcore are way worse.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:30PM (#40327953) Homepage

    Has anyone else noticed that the water in the cheater's pool is always a bit warmer and greener?

  • by Cyko_01 (1092499)
    watch out for the first graders. They always pee in the water
  • The International Olympic Committee has announced its definitive response to doping, 'roiding, and other "unsportsing" performance enhancements: The All-Drug Olympics. [nbc.com]
  • ...instead of the banhammer....and enable offline play for this "pool"
  • I used to play a PC game online called "Interstate 76". It was a game where you would drive cars around a virtual desert, and shoot at each other with turrets mounted on the cars. Shortly after the game was released, people started to figure out how to "hack" their cars by manipulating the game's files locally. With a bit of knowledge and a hex editor, you could customize the art on your car (although it would only be visible locally), and you could also override the number/type of turrets you were allowed

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