Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off: What I’m Playing (February 2018 Edition)

Playing through Ultimate Team (NBA Live 18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some quick thoughts on what I’m playing in NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, at least as of February 2018.

NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 have been out for about five months now, and so far, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time playing both titles. As discussed in the latest episode the NLSC Podcast, I’ve settled into a routine as far as what I’m playing in each game. Although I might branch out and change things up from time to time, the modes I’m currently playing are the ones I expect I’ll remain hooked on until the 2019 season releases. As I’m running a bit short on time today and am still working on a few of other features that I hope you’ll find entertaining, I’ve decided to run with a quick column this week, discussing my current basketball gaming habits and rotation.

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Monday Tip-Off: Has Traditional Basketball Gaming Come to an End?

Taking on Kyrie Irving in MyCAREER (NBA 2K18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the way basketball gaming has changed in recent years, and whether the traditional approach has become outmoded.

Basketball video games have obviously been around for a long time, bringing great enjoyment to people who love both the sport and gaming. Compared to other sports, basketball has proven to be a little harder to accurately represent in a video game, with so many variables affecting the level of realism. While arcade-oriented games often still hold up thanks to their casual approach, sim-oriented titles tend to show their age. Whether it’s the shot distribution, scores that are too high or too low, a lack of realistic strategy, or a shallow season mode experience, a lot of classic games do leave something to be desired, as much fun as we had with them when they were new.

Fortunately, basketball gaming has improved in leaps and bounds over the years. From deep and engaging modes to smarter AI and more realistic gameplay, we’ve been able to enjoy experiences on the virtual hardwood we could only dream of all those years ago. However, it feels as though basketball games have set a new course in recent years, shifting away from the experience that we’ve traditionally wanted. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s important that the games keep up with changing trends and demographics, but as we discussed in Episode #236 of the NLSC Podcast, it sometimes feels like traditional basketball gaming is coming to an end.

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Monday Tip-Off: An OT Victory for NLSC GrindTime

NLSC GrindTime Boxscore in 2K Pro-Am (NBA 2K18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a video of a recent overtime victory for our official 2K Pro-Am squad in NBA 2K18, NLSC GrindTime.

As Arcane and I discussed in Episode #235 of the NLSC Podcast, last Friday we made an unlikely return to 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K18. After some rough sessions and generally feeling disenfranchised with the game, everyone on the squad decided that it would be best to take a break. However, we felt like giving it another try last week, and subsequently, “just one game” became three. We were victorious in the latter two games, with the second win coming in overtime following a clutch three-pointer by The X. It was definitely one of the more satisfying games NLSC GrindTime has had.

Since I saved the footage of the final few seconds of regulation, as well as the entire overtime period, I thought I’d share it with everyone to tip off a new week of gaming here at the NLSC. Watch it below, or check it out here on our YouTube channel.

Moving forward, NLSC GrindTime might have a run every now and again. As I’ve previously discussed, it’s a wise idea to take a break from a game if it’s becoming more frustrating than fun. It may not be something we do every week, as was the case with NLSC THRILLHO in NBA 2K17, but as long as we can have some competitive games and wins like this one, we’ll hit up 2K Pro-Am from time to time. I’ll be sure to share any noteworthy highlights, as well as put together some other video content throughout 2018, so please subscribe to our channel, and stay tuned for more features.

Monday Tip-Off: Advice for the Modding Community

Basketball in the Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some advice for the modding community, in light of a few concerns that have been raised recently.

Whenever I discuss the modding community here at the NLSC, I always preface my remarks by acknowledging how talented it is, and how much great work it’s produced over the years. It’s something that I do believe, and I feel it’s important that we take time to acknowledge the effort that modders put into enhancing our basketball gaming experiences. Of course, it’s also a statement I feel I have to put out there as something of a disclaimer when I address problems in the modding community, to emphasise that it’s not meant as a slight. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to do that today, due to some excellent points that were raised in this topic.

I was originally going to reflect on my concerns in a lengthier piece, but the more I thought about it, the more that seemed like the wrong approach. I feel it would be more effective if I addressed the issues directly and succinctly, offering up my advice on how we can avoid these pitfalls as a community. By clearly identifying these issues and offering some solutions in point form, I hope that this article can be a straightforward guide to cultivating healthy attitudes and good habits in the modding community, as well as provide explanations as to why we’ve come to adopt certain customs, rules, and etiquette in regards to the hobby.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Stop Sign on the Road to 99

Road to 99: 99 Overall

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on losing interest in MyCAREER, and the long grind on the Road to 99 in NBA 2K18.

As I mentioned yesterday in my first attempt at hosting the NLSC Podcast solo – don’t worry, I’m not intending on making that a regular occurrence! – I’ve lost my interest in MyCAREER and its connected modes. This is in stark contrast to last year in NBA 2K17, where I reached the second season. I even played twelve minute quarters and abstained from simulating, except for a few minutes of garbage time in a handful of games towards the end of my rookie year. Although we briefly took a break from the mode, the NLSC’s official 2K Pro-Am squad was also active throughout the year. In short, I had a lot of fun with MyCAREER and the connected online experience.

That hasn’t been the case this year. I’ve spoken before about the lack of goodwill, and the ridiculous in-universe value of Virtual Currency. On the Podcast, we’ve discussed our frustration with the lack of balance and proper matchmaking in online gameplay, as well as some of the gameplay quirks that bother us the most. Admirably, Arcane is already through to his second season, and currently sits at 92 Overall. I did intend to grind my way to at least 90 Overall – I’m presently at 89 – but right now, I can’t see it happening. Forget about 2K Pro-Am; at this point, I’m not interested in playing the single player experience of MyCAREER. I’ve reached a stop sign on the Road to 99.

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Monday Tip-Off: Returning to Ultimate Team in NBA Live 18

LeBron James on the Bulls in Ultimate Team (NBA Live 18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts as I finally get stuck into Ultimate Team in NBA Live 18.

Since the reboot of the series with NBA Live 14, Ultimate Team has arguably been my favourite game mode. There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, the franchise modes in the last few NBA Live games haven’t been as deep as I’d like, which limits their appeal. Having dedicated a lot of time to MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am in recent NBA 2K games, I also haven’t felt inclined to double up with the career modes in NBA Live. Second, upon trying out Ultimate Team, I found the concept more appealing than I ever thought I would. As someone who collected basketball trading cards back in the 90s, it’s felt quite nostalgic, and has been fun to play.

So far, I’ve spent most of my time with NBA Live 18 playing through the early stages of The One, several LIVE Events, and some Play Now games here and there. I’ve wanted to get back into Ultimate Team though, and looking at some of the lineups that my fellow gamers have been sharing here in the Forum, my eagerness to put together my own super squad has been growing. Since everyone on the NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad has lost their enthusiasm for the mode, I instead chose to spend a few hours last Friday evening playing Ultimate Team. I’ve got a long way to go in terms of building my lineup, but I’m already reminded of what drew me to the mode.

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Monday Tip-Off: To Be, Or Not To Be, A Developer

NBA Elite 11: A tough game to be a developer on

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the appeal of being a developer working on basketball video games, and a story about an opportunity that I had some ten years ago.

For those of us who have grown up playing video games of any genre, the prospect of one day being able to work on them ourselves is very appealing. From what we’ve heard from people in the industry – including former community members who have been hired by EA Sports and Visual Concepts – it is indeed an amazing and exciting career, in many ways a dream job. It does come at a price, however: long hours, harsh deadlines, and intense scrutiny from a target audience that can often be extremely toxic. Much is demanded of a video game developer, and it’s clear that you need to be all in on the job, as well as willing and able to weather the tough aspects of the gig.

I don’t believe that I’ve ever told this story publicly, but around ten years ago, I had an opportunity to join the team at EA Canada as a developer on the NBA Live series. As my continued presence here and lack of in-game credits would indicate, I didn’t take the job. It was a difficult decision for reasons I’ll get into shortly, but beyond any personal issues or possible concerns about the direction of NBA Live, I had to ask myself one rather pertinent question: did I really want to do it? Would it truly be a dream job for me, one worth moving to the other wide of the world for? In short, and with apologies to William Shakespeare: to be, or not to be, a developer?

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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Questions for 2018

James Harden Drives in NBA Live 18

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some basketball gaming questions that are going to be answered over the course of 2018.

It’s the beginning of a new year, which means we’re heading towards the halfway point of the NBA season, and we’re also a few months into the lifecycle of the most recently released basketball games. By the end of 2018, we’ll have at least two new releases – NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 – but we’ve still got several months of basketball gaming before then. Needless to say, as we compile our Wishlists for the development teams at EA Sports and Visual Concepts, we’re naturally hoping to see our most desired improvements in the new games come September.

However, it’s also fair to wonder about the current basketball games, and hope that they’ll hold up until their successors are released. Personally, I do feel a sense of optimism about the future of basketball gaming, but at the same time, I also have a few concerns. I’m sure that I’m not alone in that regard, and with that in mind, it’s crucial that we speak up when we have the opportunity to provide constructive feedback. The questions I’m posing here, I feel, cover some of the most pressing issues regarding NBA Live, NBA 2K, and NBA Playgrounds. Whatever the future holds, we’re sure to get an answer to some of these questions by the end of 2018.

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Monday Tip-Off: MyCAREER vs Reality; Bulls vs Celtics

Bulls vs Celtics in MyCAREER (NBA 2K18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a comparison of the Chicago Bulls’ recent game against the Boston Celtics to its virtual equivalent in my NBA 2K18 MyCAREER.

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings, basketball gamers! I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season with friends and family, and are looking forward to a day packed with NBA action. For those of you who are playing MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, or The Playground in NBA 2K18, be sure to take advantage of the double experience points on offer! If you’ve made a decent amount of progress on the Road to 99 and currently find yourself inching very slowly towards the next cap breaker, it may be a good opportunity to make some further headway. That’s assuming, of course, that you can fit it in with the rest of your holiday plans.

I’ve been playing a bit of MyCAREER myself as of late. I’m not enjoying it as much as I did last year, but it’s had its moments, and it’s the best way to grind for the Badges that are essential to succeed in 2K Pro-Am. After hearing from 2K Support that there’s nothing that can be done about my dunking problem, I’m also toying with the idea of grinding up a second MyPLAYER. For now though, I’m sticking with my original MyPLAYER, especially as the real season has caught up to my game. That gave me a fun opportunity to play the Bulls’ latest game against the Celtics, the same day that I watched the real contest on TV. Here’s how they compare.

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Monday Tip-Off: MyPLAYER Dunk Envy in NBA 2K18

A Dunk in MyCOURT (NBA 2K18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on something that’s been bothering me in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER: an inability to dunk.

I know today’s NBA has become about three-pointers. Me, I’m still partial to dunks. It’s a love that carries over to basketball video games, especially when it comes to the career modes. By equipping my player with flashy dunks that I could never perform in real life, I’m able to live out some fantasies on the virtual hardwood. I realise that dunking on every play isn’t exactly sim, and that goes against my usual approach to basketball games. What can I say; it’s fun to dunk as often as possible! Unfortunately, it’s something that I’m missing out on in this year’s MyCAREER mode.

That’s not to say I haven’t been involved in some tremendous slams in some capacity. Consider this moment from a recent one-on-one game against Arcane on MyCOURT:

As a Two-Way Slasher, Arcane is naturally going to have an easier time dunking than my Sharpshooter Playmaker. However, I rarely seem to be able to trigger a dunk, no matter whether it’s MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, or The Playground. MyCOURT? No problem. Any of those other game modes? I’m laying it up nine times out of ten, even in situations where I have ample room and sprint. As noted here in the Forum, I don’t seem to have the same problem with a brand new MyPLAYER with the same hybrid Archetype, and I’ve also seen other Sharpshooting Playmakers dunking more often in 2K Pro-Am games. At this point, I’d settle for being able to perform rim grazers!

It seems to be an issue with tendencies for MyPLAYERs created during The Prelude, or at least, before a recent patch that addressed the issue. I’ve contacted 2K Support in the hopes that my original MyPLAYER can be fixed, as I don’t relish the thought of going through the grind again with a new player, nor losing the pre-order bonus clothing (simply due to principle). Assists and threes may be the strengths of my Archetype, but I should at least be able to dunk more often than I do now. With any luck, it’ll all be sorted out soon, and I’ll be making proper use of my flashy dunk packages. Until then, however, I have a serious case of MyPLAYER Dunk Envy.

Monday Tip-Off: The Worst Pass in Playground History

Andrew & Arcane at The Playground (NBA 2K18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a video of what might just be the worst pass in the history of The Playground and MyPARK, and a few thoughts on the circumstances surrounding it.

As discussed in Episode #230 of the NLSC Podcast, Arcane and I have been heading to The Playground for a few games after wrapping up our sessions of 2K Pro-Am with the NLSC squad. We’ve enjoyed a victory over a couple of Playground veterans, and after donning our Gatorade t-shirts, also managed to rack up five wins to earn some bonus VC. In some respects, our time on the online virtual blacktop in NBA 2K18 has been more enjoyable than our recent Pro-Am games, which have been rather rough. However, there was a moment of particular frustration after the ball was checked to Arcane, and his pass to me went completely awry.

I now present to you what may be the worst pass in the history of The Playground, and indeed, any mode of basketball gaming.

While miscues like that do make basketball games more realistic, I’m not sure that any NBA player would mess up a pass that badly, in that particular situation. It’s one of my main gripes with NBA 2K18’s gameplay, and something that often happens in our online games. In an effort to inject more realism into the experience, errors like that will happen at random, often feeling very artificial and predetermined as a result. Notice how my player doesn’t even try reaching out to catch the pass! We’ve had similar experiences in 2K Pro-Am with players being unable to catch or accurately throw what should be easy passes, time after time.

There is merit in having mistakes and sloppy moments in basketball video games, in order to make them feel more dynamic and realistic. However, in a situation like this, you just end up feeling cheated by the game. Moving forward, I’d like to see miscues and mess-ups handled in a way that feels less canned, and more in tune with both a player’s abilities and the action on the court. The Winner’s Outs rule in 2v2 on The Playground can make things tough enough when you’re facing a couple of cheesy players, without the game being against you as well. As it stands, we definitely found ourselves having a Shaqtin’ a Fool moment on this particular occasion.

Monday Tip-Off: How Modding Projects Fall Apart

Abandoned 1998 Season Modding Project (NBA Live 2003)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at how modding projects fall apart, while discussing a recent personal example.

Although I’m not as involved with modding as I once was, I won’t deny the lure of working on roster updates. I’ve previously discussed some of the mods that I’d like to make, should I be able to put aside the free time and get sufficiently motivated. That certainly still holds true, and as previously mentioned, I do have a list of modding ideas, similar to my lists of topics for the Monday Tip-Off, Wayback Wednesday, and Friday Five features. Every so often, I might do a little bit of preliminary work on one of those ideas, but aside from one or two beta releases, a majority of them haven’t progressed any further than that.

I’ve really enjoyed producing my Wayback Wednesday content since I introduced the feature a couple of years ago, as it’s been a way to reminisce about old favourites, and talk about some interesting modes, community history, and basketball gaming trivia. It’s also provided an opportunity to indulge in some retro gaming, which I enjoy doing across a variety of genres. Of course, I sometimes find myself becoming drawn towards an old release, especially if it’s one that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time modding. Such was the case with NBA Live 2003, where I recently toyed with the idea of a mod, only to be reminded of how easily projects can fall apart.

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Monday Tip-Off: Fans, Not Fanboys; Critics, Not Haters

Dwight Howard Dunks (NBA Live 18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how we can be better fans and critics, and avoid being haters and fanboys.

In one of the earliest Monday Tip-Off features that I posted, I discussed the issue of fanboys and haters in the basketball gaming community. Glancing back at a couple of the comments, I perhaps didn’t explain my point clearly enough. Needless to say, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to be completely impartial. We’re all going to have our own preferences, and a bias that’s tough to completely put aside. To a certain extent, a strong devotion or aversion to a brand is a justified reaction to continued enjoyment or disappointment. Taken to the extreme, however, we just end up getting on each other’s nerves, and ultimately doing ourselves a disservice.

The motto I’ve adopted in regards to the NLSC is “fans, not fanboys; critics, not haters”. In other words, we should look to enjoy basketball gaming and celebrate our hobby, but at the same time, we shouldn’t shut down criticism and pretend that there aren’t any problems. Similarly, we should point out the things that we dislike and make constructive criticisms, but we shouldn’t blindly bash the games, nor tell our fellow gamers that they shouldn’t enjoy themselves. It’s easy to forget that enjoyment and criticism aren’t mutually exclusive, and that we’re not all divided into fanboys and haters. At least, we certainly shouldn’t be aiming to be in one of those two groups.

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Monday Tip-Off: NLSC GrindTime vs. Elite Team in 2K Pro-Am

NLSC GrindTime in 2K Pro-Am (NBA 2K18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a video of NLSC GrindTime taking on an Elite tier team in NBA 2K18’s 2K Pro-Am.

As Arcane and I discussed in Episode #228 of the NLSC Podcast, our 2K Pro-Am squad for NBA 2K18, NLSC GrindTime, has been having some competitive games as of late. Although we had a rough start to this year’s campaign, our record has been improving, and we’ve had some enjoyable sessions in recent weeks.

We’re at the point where we’re starting to get matched up with some Elite teams, which naturally puts our stick skills to the test. One of our recent matchups with an Elite tier squad turned out to be quite a game right from the opening tip. I present to you that game in its entirety, accompanied by some classic NBA Live menu music.

You can also catch it here on our YouTube channel, if you can’t see the embedded video. With any luck, we’ll be able to reach the Elite rank at some point this year, and implement our full NLSC branding as we did with THRILLHO in NBA 2K17. No doubt we’ll be sharing more highlight reels from time to time, in addition to our other video content, so be sure to subscribe. Our 2K Pro-Am sessions are a staple of the “Our Week in Basketball Gaming” segment of the NLSC Podcast, so tune in every week for recaps and commentary on our latest sessions on the virtual hardwood.

Who else has been spending some time playing 2K Pro-Am or The Playground in NBA 2K18? What have your online experiences been like? Sound off in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum!

Monday Tip-Off: Battlefront II Events in NBA Live 18

Star Wars: Battlefront II Challenge in NBA Live 18

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the recent Star Wars: Battlefront II events that were available in NBA Live 18.

As you may know, EA Sports recently introduced some crossover content in its sports titles, promoting the upcoming release of Star Wars: Battlefront II. For NBA Live 18, this took the form of Live Events challenges, all of which take place on a fictional Star Wars-themed court (located in Orlando, of course), with various Battlefront II-inspired gear and accessories available in the reward crates. As it stands, there’s currently a last call for the Battlefront II Challenge, giving gamers one final chance to earn some Inferno Squad-themed gear for their players to wear in The Streets.

I must admit that with all the grinding I’ve been doing to improve my NBA 2K18 MyPLAYER for 2K Pro-Am, I haven’t taken part in as many Live Events in NBA Live 18 as I’d like. However, having caught the trailer for the Battlefront II events, I wanted to make sure that I at least played a game or two before the promotion was over. The fictional court certainly looked cool, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on some extra gear for my player to wear in The Streets. As such, I jumped online in NBA Live 18 last week, and managed to take part in a few games.

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