The RetroBeat: How Dotemu makes retro gaming magic
When you’re a retro gaming fan like me, then Dotemu may possibly maybe be one in all your accepted smartly-liked studios. The corporate has made its identify as a developer and creator by reviving basic franchises with gorgeous video video games like Shock Boy : The Dragon’s Lure and Streets of Rage 4. It’s moreover publishing a remake of the basic city-builder Pharaoh and increasing a sequel to the arcade hit Windjammers. Ultimate month, Dotemu comfortable nostalgic avid players by asserting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.
The corporate is a frontrunner inside the retro-revival movement. It’s not factual exploiting mature gaming franchises nonetheless moreover reviving them with passion and care.
I presently interviewed Dotemu’s CEO, Cyrille Imbert. I requested him in regards to the new TMNT mission and the way it got here to be, and we moreover talked about his firm’s construct as a premier retro gaming studio. I moreover clumsily tried to rep him to carry encourage one in all my accepted Genesis franchises. (You miss 100% of the entire pictures you don’t make a alternative and all that.)
Proper this is an edited transcript of the interview.
GamesBeat: Was the TMNT deal arduous to lock down?
Cyrille Imbert: It didn’t really feel that assorted than basic video sport licenses by method of potential and talks we had with Nickelodeon. It’s factual that it’s a giant firm. We’ve labored with huge corporations for some IP, ultimately, nonetheless this one is reasonably huge. A type of licenses there. That’s a giant allotment of their work, to have an effect on positive their licenses are in principally probably the most gripping fingers. That’s one factor they attain masses. They’ve tons of assorted licenses in assorted media. It was a bit of assorted. However appropriate from the provoke, we had a factual reference to the Nickelodeon crew.
For me, ensuing from our DNA, it was foremost that we labored with the ’87 construct. That was a inside most dream. Nevertheless it factual made sense. Additionally, ensuing from — not handiest as keen on the mature TMNT video video games, nonetheless moreover ensuing from we wished to take a look at that coming encourage, that’s our childhood. We knew that we’re not the most convenient ones round who need that. We pushed for that, nonetheless with a whole opinion of learn to obtain it and what it is a long way going to aloof search like. We have been already engaged on Streets of Rage 4 encourage inside the day. All of it made sense, and I deem it made sense for Nickelodeon as successfully.
Nevertheless it took a while. It’s factual ensuing from random suggestions that I’ll’t communicate. Nothing out of the long-established. It’s factual that some events on the a great deal of aspect meant we couldn’t sign the relief appropriate away after first discussing it. It took fairly a while, virtually two years, to rep that accomplished. Nevertheless it wasn’t ensuing from each social gathering wasn’t into it. We factual the largest to rep every individual on board and that takes time, specifically when there are modifications inside the a great deal of teams over time. At Dotemu we’ve realized to be affected person and to not at all cease. That’s what we did. It would undoubtedly took construct.
The foolish issue of all that is that reasonably early in sample, possibly after six or eight months, after our first contact with Nickelodeon, we met at GDC, and I realized from the blokes at Restricted Glide Video video games, from the blokes at Nickelodeon, I realized that there was one other studio that was proposing squawk materials for a sport, comparable to what we have been proposing. I used to be like, OK, that’s not at all factual information. However that’s life. That’s the way it goes. Nickelodeon, it was fully regular for them to realize that, to obtain assorted concepts and suggestions. However I managed to know on the the identical day who was on the a great deal of firm doing the pitch. It was Tribute Video video games. I knew that via Restricted Glide Video video games, ensuing from they heard about it. They’re factual pals with them. And on the entire I obtained their piece of email. I knew in regards to the company, nonetheless not at all met them specifically individual. I requested in the event that they have been obtainable for a gathering inside the afternoon. We met and talked. We had virtually the the identical opinion. It was fully in-line. I believed it was full, ensuing from encourage inside the day we have been questioning who could be principally probably the most gripping studio. It was appropriate there. We acknowledged, OK, let’s stroll collectively as an fairly fairly a great deal of of doing two separate proposals. Let’s be a part of forces and level out one factor indubitably chilly that’s in step with Nickelodeon’s expectations, that can maybe possibly please the followers, and that may be made by followers, ensuing from that’s one in all many greatest suggestions of all our initiatives. The teams are precise followers and know each factor about these initiatives. That’s the way it got here to be.
It was a prolonged anecdote, nonetheless it ended reasonably successfully, and now now we must always carry an unprecedented sport. It’s not over but, nonetheless it’s a factual step. We now know that we’re not the most convenient ones delighted about this.
GamesBeat: Was there any pushback about going for that frequent chilly entertaining film gorgeous?
Imbert: I don’t know exactly the interior discussions at Nickelodeon, nonetheless from my aspect, it wasn’t a subject. From the provoke, I acknowledged that’s how we wished to realize it. We didn’t are trying to realize it in an unbelievable method. We crossed our fingers that they might accumulate. Nevertheless it was not at all a subject like, no, that’s not that it’s probably you may maybe possibly possibly deem, or it’s going to be full-refined. I don’t learn about these inside discussions. It’d want taken a while to validate that. However for me it not at all looked to be a giant train.
GamesBeat: By method of the basic TMNT video video games, Turtles in Time is the one people deem about. Are you taking inspiration from a few of the a great deal of video video games?
Imbert: Shredder’s Revenge is a beat-’em-up, so many of the muse comes from the mature Turtles beat-’em-ups, specifically Turtles in Time, which was doubtlessly the most convenient of them, the arcade model. However Tribute Video video games labored on assorted TMNT video video games inside the previous, a while inside the previous. They’ve already been impressed by assorted video video games, and that’s what they’re trying to realize one other time. Taking inspiration from assorted video video games, chilly suggestions from assorted video video games.
However inside the finish it’s a beat-’em-up. It’ll be primarily impressed by beat-’em-united statesfrom that period, not handiest Turtles. Inspiration goes to be taken from all these considerable beat-’em-up video video games that got here out encourage inside the day. We’ve got bought some freedom round that.
GamesBeat: Attain it is a long way foremost to speak to Konami in any respect? Does it have any rights involvement on this?
Imbert: Not on our aspect, on the least.
GamesBeat: The basic TMNT arcade video video games are additional gracious than Streets of Rage 4. Are you going to have an effect on this new TMNT sport’s fight additional superior?
Imbert: The premise goes to be reasonably an identical in Tribute’s suggestions. That’s why we obtained alongside on the mission. They’ve this opinion of taking many of the really feel, the factual suggestions of the video video games encourage inside the day, nonetheless together with smartly-liked gameplay. Feeling and mashing these collectively, trying to look out a steadiness between what made these video video games full, what made the entire journey full, and translating it to a shiny period with smartly-liked gameplay mechanics, additional mechanics which may maybe possibly be not too invasive. Similar for Streets of Rage. We’re not going to realize an RPG with a pair of paths and one factor full-advanced and smartly-liked. We’re going to comply with the basic method of a beat-’em-up, nonetheless together with mechanics that may strengthen the core mechanics, the fundamentals of what makes a factual beat-’em-up, nonetheless increasing it, discovering good touches and mechanics that may strengthen the entire suggestions. These little particulars that may have an effect on a giant dissimilarity.
Above: Streets of Rage 4 with the basic character sprites.
Picture Credit score: Dotemu
GamesBeat: With Streets of Rage and TMNT, there’s been a revival in beat-’em-ups. It wasn’t method encourage that it seemed like a tiring type. How attain you deem the entire beat-’em-up scene had this type of huge revival presently?
Imbert: For me it was irregular that we weren’t aloof taking part in beat-’em-up. It was the a great deal of method round. For me it was like, why? Proper this is so factual. Why aren’t we taking part in that? I don’t indubitably know. It factual is smart to me. It’s a full type. It’s chill. They don’t have full-lengthy classes. You’re going to be able to play with your folks. You don’t ought to deem too highly effective. It’s so good, good moments that you will have with beat-’em-ups, whether or not or not they’re on the RPG aspect or additional on the arcade aspect. It doesn’t indubitably matter. If it’s effectively-made, it’s constantly factual. I’m full-delighted that it’s coming encourage and that we’re contributing to that.
Pointless to recount I bear in mind once I was speaking with assorted companions about Streets of Rage when it wasn’t introduced. They acknowledged, yeah, nonetheless a beat-’em-ups? Are you positive? No individual performs these on the current time. It’ll factual be a exiguous crowd taking part in that. They weren’t positive it was principally probably the most gripping opinion. On occasion I had doubts. I checked out the a great deal of numbers, principally probably the most up-to-date releases, and there weren’t lots of them. I wasn’t positive people would favor it. However inside the finish, people have been looking out at for that. I’m glad we contributed to that, and optimistically it’s going to stop there now.
GamesBeat: With Shock Boy and Streets of Rage, you took the distinctive pixel search and tailor-made it into one factor additional hand-drawn. With TMNT you’re sticking with pixels. Why did you have an effect on that alternative?
Imbert: It’s largely about discovering principally probably the most gripping crew for principally probably the most gripping mission. For Shock Boy and Streets of Rage, the crew with Lizard Cube and the gifted Ben Fiquet, who took care of each of these initiatives, it factual made sense. He’s so factual at animation and character construct. All the things about it is smart. We thought it was a factual opinion, specifically for Shock Boy, ensuing from it’s an 8-bit sport. It didn’t age successfully. It’s aloof very charming, nonetheless it’s tougher than taking part in Streets of Rage 2 in the intervening time, for instance. It the largest to have one factor assorted, and Ben is extraordinarily gifted. The primary time we noticed the artwork work, it was most gripping. He managed to translate the 8-bit artwork work into one factor fully HD with a residing universe. It was so chilly. Streets of Rage, the distinctive video video games are good. Shock Boy III is de facto good. However the Streets of Rage video video games are youthful than Shock Boy. They aloof search indubitably good.
If we wished to stroll for one factor pixelated first, then we wouldn’t have accomplished it with Lizard Cube, ensuing from it’s not principally their most foremost ingredient. On the a great deal of, we acknowledged, now we must always attain one factor assorted, ensuing from in any other case the difference wouldn’t be that big. It factual made sense. Due to the we have been working with Lizard Cube, the problems they’d in suggestions, even ahead of we began to work on the mission, have been indubitably in-line. If we had these graphics encourage inside the day, we’d have acknowledged, sure, that’s it, that’s the way it must be, ensuing from it’s additional in regards to the alternative inside the second. It factual clicks. It feels appropriate. For TMNT, ultimately, once I obtained the primary unfaithful screenshots from Tribute Video video games — I do know their password. I do know the way pleasing they’re able to work on pixel artwork work. That factual made sense as successfully. Streets of Rage won’t be principally linked to arcades. It’s a console sport. It doesn’t have that hyperlink with the arcade. It is smart to have pixel artwork work TMNT, ensuing from it’s been a really prolonged time, initially. Streets of Rage, there was nothing after the third one. TMNT, there have been some tries, many video video games for the previous 20 years. Practically none of them have been pixel artwork work. It factual made sense. It clicked.
It the largest to be pixel artwork work, nonetheless with the considerable artwork work we all know Tribute can current, that indubitably shined inside the trailer we launched. After we noticed these first artworks, it was full. We knew people would favor it, ensuing from we most popular it, as avid players and as followers. We knew it was going to work. Nevertheless it’s not one factor we indubitably thought via masses, favor it the largest to be this sort. We factual thought we’d attempt it, specifically with their abilities. Let’s watch what they’re able to attain with their maintain abilities. Whereas Lizard Cube is additional about HD hand-drawn animation, Tribute Video video games is additional about very good dapper pixel artwork work. It labored out.
GamesBeat: How attain you stroll about selecting the initiatives for Dotemu? Is it additional about looking for franchises that have been tiring for a whereas, or is it additional about teams impending you?
Imbert: It’s a bit of of each. On occasion teams potential us. As an illustration, for Pharaoh, the remake we’re doing, the crew got here to us to realize one other sport first, a city-builder. However then we acknowledged, you’re factual at doing metropolis builders and as effectively you like that, what’s your accepted sport? They acknowledged it’s Pharaoh, the most convenient metropolis builder ever made. Would you like to realize a remake of Pharaoh? Sure, ultimately. Then I wanted to take a look at if it was that it’s probably you may maybe possibly possibly deem and discuss to Activision. This time it got here from all aspects. On occasion it’s on our aspect. It would probably be full to work on that license, every individual could be delighted to take a look at it coming encourage! First we discuss with the IP holder and watch if it’s that it’s probably you may maybe possibly possibly deem, beneath what conditions. If it indubitably works out successfully, ahead of proposing the relief, we look for principally probably the most gripping studio to realize that. It would even be our inside studio that’s engaged on Windjammers 2 appropriate now. Or it is a long way going to even be an exterior studio as successfully.
We try and get your hands on principally probably the most gripping match. It would’t be one other method. It must be a most gripping match between a studio that is aware of the license by coronary coronary heart and the license. Over time I’ve had some proposals from studios ensuing from they know what we attain they usually additionally know now now we have methods of getting licenses, even though it seems most not probably. However at any time as quickly as we’ve felt there’s a exiguous probability the studio doesn’t indubitably know the game, we refuse these initiatives. It would’t be any assorted method. It’s so refined. The followers put a query to so highly effective. We like these licenses as successfully. We don’t are trying to level out one factor that may be immoral to the license. We’re trying to stroll additional. We’ve got set to work with principally probably the most gripping people, people that know each factor about these video video games. It would’t be any assorted method. For Windjammers, for instance, not every individual on the crew, inside the studio, knew in regards to the sport or carried out many of the sport ahead of. That’s why we began to realize a remaster of the distinctive model, so we have been positive we’d know each issue in regards to the first one ahead of initiating manufacturing on the 2nd one.
GamesBeat: Attain you’re going to have many pitches turned down? Or would you roar additional pitches are approved than rejected?
Imbert: We’ve got bought additional pitches which may maybe possibly be rejected, for positive. Likely 1-out-of-10 is permitted, and it takes a while.
GamesBeat: Working with these established franchises, how highly effective ingenious freedom attain you’re going to have with each specific individual?
Imbert: It’s in regards to the the identical for each mission, ensuing from the diagram we potential the IP holders is we include a opinion. We include a proposal, elephantine proposal with the entire particulars. That’s how we are trying to realize points. If the IP holder doesn’t agree with that, OK, why not, nonetheless what attain they’re trying to commerce, and is it aloof in step with what now now we have in suggestions? If it differs too highly effective and we really feel it’s not principally probably the most gripping method to realize points, we factual don’t attain it. Until now, on the least, at any time as quickly as we got here with a opinion, it clicked as successfully on the IP holder aspect. They noticed the hypothesis held collectively. It made sense. Due to the each factor is location appropriate from the initiating, virtually each factor, or on the least the large opinion is there, then now now we have freedom, ensuing from we’re initiating the ingredient. We didn’t ought to commerce points shortly. We factual ought to comply with the opinion.
GamesBeat: Going encourage to these pitches, after a few of the successes you’ve had, specifically with Streets of Rage, attain it’s probably you may maybe possibly be feeling like these pitches are higher obtained now than they have been a few years inside the previous?
Imbert: Oh, sure, indubitably. It helps, for positive. It’s arduous to earn the have faith of an IP proprietor. We’re constantly able to decide out the entire anxiousness on our aspect, in repeat to steer them that we’re assured in our potential to realize the mission successfully. We’ve got bought to protect what now now we have in suggestions and impact it our method.
GamesBeat: Are you by doing any sequels to your revivals? Or is it additional gripping to switch on to a special IP?
Imbert: It’s additional gripping to switch on to a special IP, from my private stage of search. Nevertheless it relies upon, above all, on the studio and what they’re trying to realize, what motivates them. It’s arduous to work on a sequel or a remake of an present license. When you’re an actual fan, you don’t are trying to mess that up. It’s fairly fairly a great deal of stress. It’s fairly fairly a great deal of questioning. It’s arduous. You could have motivate-and=forth with the IP proprietor, with us. You could have tons of points to handle, learn to obtain this or that allotment, will people be delighted about this? It’s brilliant work. Should you’re a fan you don’t are trying to mess that up, so it’s additional stress. When you’re doing all your maintain IP, there aren’t any expectations from people. You factual ought to carry one factor full. Within the case of a sequel or remake, it is good to carry one factor full that’s in step with people’s expectations, even though these aren’t fully in step with your expectations. It’s foremost to achieve that and carry one factor that’s shut to that. That’s why each so constantly they’re like, OK, that was full, that was considerable, nonetheless I don’t are trying to realize that one other time for a few years. That’s fully comprehensible. However when at some stage somebody acknowledged, hiya, let’s attain one other one, I ought to discuss with the IP homeowners ultimately, nonetheless if it’s that it’s probably you may maybe possibly possibly deem, we’ll attain it.
GamesBeat: It’s gripping how studios like yours are focused factual on retro gaming. Attain you deem that it is a sample that’s going to develop inside the stop? Attain you even watch yourselves as a retro gaming studio?
Imbert: Absolutely. Dotemu was based in 2007, and the DNA hasn’t modified since then. It’s been a really prolonged time now that Dotemu has been engaged on that roughly phenomenon, of bringing encourage these mature IP. It’s fully pure, with the diagram the market is evolving. It’s like each assorted artwork work originate. The tune business, they began to realize remasters, remakes, discovering mature tracks from accepted artists, bringing them encourage. Using mature lyrics. Similar ingredient goes for motion pictures, discovering the primary model of a film, the director’s decrease, remastering it, making it a 3D film, all that roughly ingredient. It factual is smart. That’s the diagram you revisit artwork work. There’s a necessity from the creators to battle via that strategy of engaged on one factor that’s a passion for them, and there’s a necessity from the avid players or the viewers or the listeners to revive that ingredient that had an have an effect on on their life. There’s an emotional reference to that. It is smart that it’s coming encourage. It’s moreover foremost. I’m glad that it is a pure course of. Notably in video video video games, which evolve so hasty, method sooner than any assorted type of artwork work. When you lose pay attention to what’s been made inside the previous, you lose your soul, roughly.
All these creators from the ’80s, ’90s that did video video games with virtually nothing, in a market the construct their folks thought it was disastrous to take a look at their childhood trying to have an effect on a career out of video video video games. They made the market. Due to them and their efforts and their craziness, on the current time now now we have these considerable video video games, even as much as principally probably the most up-to-date triple-As. It’s because of them. We must always always not overlook the construct video video video games come from. That’s allotment of our position as successfully. The creators of the next day, the folks that may turned designers which may maybe possibly be younger on the current time, which may maybe possibly be initiating their careers, they need to know what was up encourage inside the day. They need to know the way video video games have been made, how they’re made like this, and why these video video games are aloof factual on the current time, to rep inspiration for future video video games and never ignore this legacy, the diagram video video games have been made. It’s not handiest pure, ensuing from our artwork work originate is extraordinarily younger. It’s handiest been possibly 50 years. Likely lower than that. The historic previous is factual initiating. We didn’t have any historic previous 20 years inside the previous, virtually. It was the entire current. Now there’s a previous, and that previous should dwell on, to not be forgotten. That’s a necessity for creators and a necessity for avid players. That’s a factual ingredient, I deem.
GamesBeat: Who attain you deem is your most foremost viewers? Is it people of their 30s and 40s, who’re nostalgic for that size in gaming, or attain you’re going to have a considerable quantity of youthful avid players taking part in these initiatives, even though they didn’t develop up with the titles they’re impressed by?
Imbert: Pointless to recount our most foremost goal could be people like us. The affordable age at Dotemu is round 30 years mature. That’s why we like engaged on these initiatives. We’re the goal. We all know what we need. However our goal is previous that. I’d roar between 25 and 45 years mature, round that. However previous that our goal, one other time, is to stroll previous these traces and have an effect on youthful people search that, because of the success we will carry to those licenses. Shock Boy, Streets of Rage, Windjammers, they’re being talked about all through the gaming business, the gaming world on the entire. Those that not at all heard about these video video games are listening to about them, even though they not at all carried out it when it got here out, or they have been too younger. They’re discovering that, and we’re aiming for that. That’s the extent of modernizing the gameplay, to handle the folks that not at all heard about these video video games and have an effect on them search it. You could have a sport sequence and as effectively it is good to current it to your folks, even though they don’t know, and discuss these video video games. It’s a method of sharing that passion for each sport with assorted avid players that we all know will favor it. Should you search a sport and as effectively you indubitably favor it, and as effectively you’re going to have a pal who’s not at all heard of this sport nonetheless you understand they’ll favor it, it is good to current it to them and have an effect on them rep pleasure from it, then it’s the the identical spirit. We’re trying to piece that love for these video video games to as many folks as we will.
GamesBeat: Was Shock Boy a giant turning stage for the company? Was that the title that put you a bit of additional on the design?
Imbert: Absolutely. It was a anxiousness for us as successfully. It was doubtlessly principally the most expensive mission we ever labored on. It was our first remake. It was indubitably a turning stage. Lastly, we developed our information of learn to communicate about these video video games, learn to potential the fan unsuitable, learn to location up expectations, and moreover learn to attain what a factual studio is and what high quality is, ensuing from that’s what Lizard Cube delivered with Shock Boy, a extraordinarily excessive stage of high quality and a focus to issue — we grew up from which have. It was indubitably a turning stage. It was the affirmation of our technique. We had that in suggestions for a few years. We have been going for that, nonetheless we weren’t positive it would work. We had one other journey that was not full a success ahead of Shock Boy with Pang Adventures. However we acknowledged, let’s proceed and watch if we will rep principally probably the most gripping method of doing this. Shock Boy was the affirmation of that opinion. That’s as quickly as we acknowledged, we’re on principally probably the most gripping path. Let’s proceed and make a alternative a search at assorted points.
Above: Shock Boy: The Dragon’s Lure got here out in 2017 for consoles and PC.
Picture Credit score: Dotemu
GamesBeat: Attain you deem Shock Boy benefited from factual timing? It got here out a bit of after the Change launched, and it seems like people that have been hungry for Change video video games, it was one in all many first digital titles that fairly fairly a great deal of people flocked to.
Imbert: Yeah, we have been full-lucky with the timing. However for achievement you largely need a bit of of most gripping fortune. A type of most gripping fortune, I’d even roar, specifically inside the leisure commerce. Whether or not it’s motion pictures, TV, tune, video video video games, it is good to have the celebs align at some stage. That makes the difference between a sport that has factual success or full success. You factual ought to provoke that probability and that timing, doing the most convenient it’s probably you may maybe possibly possibly attain. Have a factual sport, factual dialog, after which if the timing is appropriate, if the celebs are aligned, each factor is there for achievement. Though the celebs are aligned and your sport is handiest okay, or your dialog won’t be indubitably factual, then it received’t work. It’s a sophisticated recipe.
GamesBeat: Is the Change aloof your strongest platform in your releases?
Imbert: It’s indubitably one in all many strongest platforms, nonetheless it will depend on the game. As an illustration, Streets of Rage 4 is even between all platforms, which was fairly stunning. We have been pondering it would attain higher on console than PC, nonetheless that’s not the case. It’s reasonably even in every single place. For Shock Boy, if I bear in mind as a result of it is a long way going to be, it’s evened out over time, nonetheless firstly the Change was indubitably stronger. Over time it evens out all through all platforms. You may possibly rep console avid players on PC and PC avid players on console now. The frontier is a bit of blurry in the intervening time when put subsequent to what it dilapidated to be. However for a great deal of video video games like Pharaoh, ultimately that can virtually undoubtedly be highly effective additional PC than console, if we ever attain a console model.
GamesBeat: Are there efficient franchises that followers quiz you guys handle masses?
Imbert: That’s the foolish ingredient. After we introduced and communicated and launched Streets of Rage, virtually at any time when people have been speaking about Turtles in Time. And we knew — we have been like, sure! We weren’t the most convenient ones with that opinion. It is smart. However yeah, now now we have tons of suggestions from people following our video video games. We each so constantly attain surveys on Twitter. What sport would you like to take a look at come encourage? A type of Sega video video games ultimately. Shinobi. Golden Axe. These are video video games that come up constantly. Since we introduced Pharaoh tons of people are asking about Caesar or Zeus. It will depend on what sport we’re speaking, nonetheless constantly we’re reasonably highly effective in line. When people question us, attain you deem about this one? We’re like, sure, now now we have!
GamesBeat: Has anyone else requested about Ecco the Dolphin, or is that factual me?
Imbert: No, I’ve personally requested about it myself! I requested the crew and we talked about it. We didn’t stroll too a long way, ensuing from it’s a sophisticated mission. It’s full emotional. We didn’t rep principally probably the most gripping opinion to this stage on the least.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that seems to be like at gaming’s previous, diving into classics, new retro titles, or having a search at how mature favorites — and their construct methods — encourage on the current time’s market and experiences. Whereas you’re going to have any retro-themed initiatives or scoops you’d prefer to ship my method, please contact me.
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