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Category: General

DevBlog: Seat of Power

“Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail,” wrote poet John Donne, an idea many a royal and tyrant appear to have refigured over the centuries, constructing extravagant and self-aggrandizing Palaces as an extension of the self— a demonstration of the power and freedom of divine privilege. The masses would look on in awe of what beauty and grandeur was possible, while they themselves grew ever more miniscule.

By constructing vast and lavishly-adorned palaces, rulers presumed they had the personal heft and prestige to fill the yawning emptiness within. Their gold oozed along every rim and chamfer, their Objet d’art cluttered the mantelpieces, and the oil paintings of their illustrious ancestors gussied up the walls. But mere appearance of power and status will never be enough.

Any such seat of power must also have some connection, no matter how moot, to the important business of state. Such an immoderate edifice as a palace must be more than the oppressor’s great white elephant— it must appear to the people to serve a purpose in their lives. It must be the constitutional heart of government, from which grave and meaningful decisions come to pass under the gavel, in chambers puffed full with the nation’s great political minds. An illusion of democracy. The Palace is the nexus of legislative limbs that reach out and touch every corner of the empire, where, as no leaping lord will admit, all of the real business is conducted…

The palace is as classic an Anno element as any, having been first introduced all the way back at the franchise’s birth in 1998 with Anno 1602. From then on, it would go on to serve in several other Anno games as something to aspire to in the late game, once you had mastered all other challenges. In this way, it would serve as the ultimate projection of your city-building prowess.  Now, the palace is ready to make its triumphant return in Anno 1800, kicking off Season 2 and living up to its predestined role as your “Seat of Power”.

A Seat of Power fit for any industrial ruler

Flexibility both majestic and modular

The first thing players will notice about Anno 1800’s palace is its visual opulence. The palace joins the ranks of the botanical garden, museum and zoo as 1800’s latest modular building, giving you a lot of freedom on how to arrange the 6 different modules (straight, gate, corner, junction, crossing and end pieces, plus some cosmetic variations on the straight pieces) to your liking. As with our other modular building projects, it all begins with the main building, which you will unlock once the first investor calls your empire their home (assuming of course you can afford the associated significant building cost). You will also be able to build an initial number of modules, based on your profile level. As you attract additional citizens and raise your profile level, you will unlock the ability to place even more modules. And guess what- there is no hard limit on the number of modules you can unlock, with one community member reaching more than 130 modules in a recent playtest! Now before your mind starts drifting off with visions of an all-palace empire, there are some limitations we have to talk about- namely that you can only build one palace in your empire, and it can only be placed on an Old World island (so either the original session, or Cape Trelawney from our “Sunken Treasures” DLC).

Beyond this limitation, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to building your palace, and we have already seen a variety of impressive setups in our tests- from extravagant gardens to museums and even a world fair constructed within a sprawling palace’s inner courtyard! And of course, both streets and railway tracks can be placed inside the gates to make sure that whatever you want to construct inside the place grounds is properly connected to the rest of your city!

Entering the halls of power…

Projecting your power, one buff at a time

But what about those players who don’t care pretty looks you, I hear some of you ask? Very well then- let us talk departments and policies! Once you construct your palace, you immediately gain access to one or more departments (based on your city attractiveness), with additional departments unlocking over time as your island increases its attractiveness. So, what do they do? For starters, each unlocked department immediately gives you access to a permanent buff, such as +200 tons islands storage per Harbormaster’s office on that island (each department is specialized on one aspect of your city, such as administration, culture or trade). In addition – and this is where things get really interesting – each unlocked department gives you a choice of several policies, of which only one can be active at a time (though you can switch them out). These give you a lot of flexibility to make sure that whatever the situation on your island currently is, you have full control of what boon you want to use.

The departments you can unlock over time

Of course, it would not be Anno if there was not also a logistical element to it all- these boons only work in a certain radius around the palace, and only along the street network (though only the palace main building has to be connected to the streets, rather than every module). And, to bring everything full circle and ensure that future palace builders will have to make some tough choices, the radius of these effects increases with each additional palace module constructed. Do you want a minimal palace to leave as much room as possible for the rest of your city? Or are you looking to construct enough modules to have the effects of your policies reach across all of Crown Falls? As always, the choice is yours!

There is one more piece of the palace puzzle, and that is the local department. These are essentially outposts of the palace that you can construct once per Old World or Cape Trelawney island to select a single policy (out of al your unlocked departments and policies) to enact locally. Beyond this limitation, local departments follow the same rules as the main palace- they give a passive buff (based on the active policy you selected), and buildings must be both within their radius and connected to the street network to benefit from them. And yes- more palace modules also increase the range of the local departments. Happy city-puzzling, everyone!

Start ruling from March 24

And there you have it! Seat of Power combines a lot of flexibility for building the modular palace of your dreams with some tough choices when it comes to which buff to select for which island and local department. On top of that, you can prove your mastery with five new achievements, and two new sets of ornaments you can unlock with the Ubisoft Club. You can start constructing the “Seat of Power” of your dreams when the first DLC of Season 2 becomes available on March 24th for all Season 2 Pass owners. Starting on that day, you can also buy the DLC individually for 9,99€/ $, or your local equivalent. However, please note that due to the current government advisory on the Covid-19 pandemic, we will have to skip our traditional release stream for “Seat of Power”. Please take care of yourself and the people around you, and as always, keep an eye on the Anno Union for the latest news.

An illuminated palace at midnight
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Adjustments to Attractiveness Items

Hey Anno Community (bet you missed hearing those words over and over, eh?), we hope you enjoyed your first glimpse at Season 2 as much as we did! It is safe to say that your enthusiasm for the reveal has fueled the team since, as we are busy putting the finishing touches on Seat of Power, our first Season 2 DLC which is already releasing on March 24.

As we announced during the Season 2 reveal stream, every DLC will once again be accompanied by a free Game Update to improve the game for all our players, regardless of whether they have bought the DLC. This will start with Game Update 7, coming on March 24. However, before we share the full release notes with you closer to release, we wanted to make you aware of a few important balancing changes that may affect your cities, so you have enough time to prepare before the update hits!

So, let us talk about balancing. Seeing how Anno is mostly played as a single-player game where players spend dozens (if not hundreds) of hours slowly building and optimizing a sprawling empire, we are very careful not to upset your game’s tightly interwoven industrial machinery with unnecessary balancing changes, unless we feel that they are absolutely necessary. In this specific case, there are unfortunately a few attractiveness-boosting items that can be exploited when stacking them on a town hall, and then building as many public buildings as possible in their radius.

While we appreciate the creativity of the Anno community when it comes to finding new ways to optimize their islands and are often willing to turn a blind eye to some of the more inventive strategies, this specific combination is a bit too exploitable for a healthy game balance. That is why the below items will have their attractiveness boost adjusted, to bring them more in line with other (still powerful) combinations.

Cabinet of Curiosities Pamphlet Attractiveness reduced from +10 to +7
Piano Concerto Billboard Attractiveness reduced from +10 to +7
Boys’ Choir Flyer Attractiveness reduced from +10 to +7
Art and Craft Festival Poster Attractiveness reduced from +10 to +7
La Condesa Del Amor’s Majestic Dance Billboard Attractiveness reduced from +15 to +10
The “Valley of Death” A Treatise on the Upper Kingdoms Attractiveness reduced from +15 to +10
Crimbles Choral Society Poster Attractiveness reduced from +15 to +10
Inma’s International Trade Fair Billboard Attractiveness reduced from +15 to +10
Sarah Bartok, The Golden Voice Attractiveness reduced from +14 to +7 and Range from +20 to +25  

Keep an eye on the Anno Union for the full Game Update 7 Release Notes next week!

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Announcing the Anno 1800 Season 2 Pass

Prior to the release of The Passage last December, we excitedly announced our plan to deliver even more Anno 1800 to our 1 million+ pioneers of industrial revolution throughout 2020. This presents a unique opportunity for the Anno team, as it means that Anno 1800 will be receiving more postlaunch support than any previous game in the series! In the past, development of content has ended a year or so after the release of an Anno game, with the team moving on to the next title. With Anno 1800, we are excited to have the chance to flesh out the world of the industrial revolution even further, with new systems, citizen tiers and yes, even a new continent. Enter stage right: The Anno 1800 Season 2 Pass, which will be adding three exciting new DLCs to the game this year!

Seat of Power (March 24)

It all begins later this month with our next DLC pack, Seat of Power, which allows you to construct a magnificent palace fit for the ruler of an industrial empire. And while we know that our modular buildings like the zoo or botanical garden are big hits with beauty builders, the palace has an altogether more profound impact on life in your capital. As the eponymous Seat of Power, the palace will house several departments, each giving you not only a passive bonus, but also the pick of several policies that you can use to influence different aspects of life in your city.

A majestically illuminated palace at night

Game Update 7 (March 24, free for all players)

Speaking of influence, we would be remiss if we did not mention our free Game Updates. As with Season 1, each of our three Season 2 DLCs will release alongside a free Game Update that will further improve and enhance the game for all Anno 1800 players. With Game Update 7, we will tackle one of the most discussed game systems by adding three separate difficulty tiers for the influence system. With this change, you can select whether you want to earn more, less or the same amount of influence as you currently do. And yes, this will also apply to existing save games, asking you to pick a difficulty the first time you load up your save game!

Bright Harvest (Summer 2020)

With our second DLC, we are taking the technological marvels of the second industrial revolution to the countryside, allowing you to boost your farms’ productivity to unknown heights! To do so, you will place new tractor modules on your farms, which will increase the overall productivity of the farm, while also lowering the required workforce. Depending on how many farms you have, this could mean a whole lot more space on your islands, and we can’t wait to see what you do with it! Of course, you will have to make sure that your tractors don’t run out of fuel along the way…

Early technical test of a tractor

To round out the theme of industrialization, Bright Harvest will also include a new selection of farming-and-industry-themed ornaments, to make your cities feel even livelier.

Land of Lions (2020)

We bet you didn’t see this one coming, eh? Jokes aside, we know that the community has been clamoring for an African-inspired session in Anno 1800 ever since we first announced that the game would be using the Session system, way back in 2017. Good things come to those who wait, and we are happy to say that Land of Lions will be the biggest DLC for Anno 1800, including a new session and continent, new citizen tiers, buildings, production chains and quests. In a new storyline, you will travel to the drylands to join up with Emperor Ketema, as he works to turn his lands green.

Discover the Land of Lions later this year

You will do so using the new irrigation system, making smart use of what little existing water there is on the map to construct a network of canals and fertile patches of soil. Anno veterans will notice similarities to Anno 1404’s Noria, though Land of Lions puts an all-new spin on the timeless fantasy of making the desert bloom. We also listened to your feedback regarding the Passage, and rest assured that Land of Lions will have a deeper impact on things in the old world! We will have much more information about all the new content later this year.

The Season 2 Pass is now available!

In addition to these three DLCs, buyers of the Season 2 Pass will also receive three exclusive new ornaments when Seat of Power launches on March 24th— so enjoy your first look at the appropriately-themed ‘Palatial Column’, ‘Ploughman’s Glory’ and ‘Elephountain’.

The Palatial Column and majestic Elephountain

The Season 2 Pass for Anno 1800 (including Seat of Power, Bright Harvest, Land of Lions and the three ornaments) is now available for purchase from Epic Games Store, Steam (Update: The Season 2 Pass sadly won’t become available on Steam until Seat of POwer and Uplay, for a price of 24,99 $/ €, which will represent a saving of 9,99 $/ € versus individual purchase of the three DLCs. We can’t wait to show you more about all three DLCs, and our free Game Updates over the coming months!

The Ploughman’s Glory is a monument to your farming prowess
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Celebrating more than 1 Million Anno 1800 players

Hey Anno Community,

happy Monday. And what a great Monday it is! Not only did we just reveal our plans for Season 2 of Anno 1800 (which begins in just two weeks with our next DLC, Seat of Power!), but we also want to share and celebrate a special milestone with all of you.

2019 was an incredible year for the Anno 1800 team. From seeing our game becoming a hit on Twitch during the Closed Beta in January and the game’s launch in April, to three DLCs and lots of improvements throughout the following months, it was quite the adventure. We even won a lot of awards (and were nominated for even more)! The last highlight of the year came in December, when – thanks to all of you! – Anno 1800 reached the milestone of more than 1 million players after less than nine months on the market, confirming its status as the fastest-selling game in our beloved 21-year-old series! 

1 million is obviously a huge number, but how does that translate into the world of Anno’s gameplay? To give you a better idea of all the shared achievements of the Anno community, we have put together this handy infographic, showing some of the mind-boggling numbers that can be reached when over 1 million Annoholics get down to business. 

Of course, we could not have reached this milestone without the passion and support of the Anno Union community, who have been with us every step of the way for the past two and a half years. As a special “thank you” for the love and support of the Anno community, we are releasing this free ornament with Game Update 6.3, which is out today.

Test Anno 1800 for free from March 12-15

Of course, it would not be a proper celebration if we did not invite everybody! So, if you have to yet take the plunge into the industrial revolution, you can test Anno 1800 for free from March 12-15*. The Anno 1800 Free Weekend will give you access to the first three tiers of Sandbox Mode, as well as multiplayer and co-op mode. The pre-load is now available via Epic Games Store and on Uplay, and you can see the exact times of the Free Weekend on Uplay below.

Here is to an exciting Season 2! 

The Anno 1800 Team 

*Play a free demo of Anno 1800 from 12th March, 2020 3pm UTC to 16th March, 2020 2pm UTC on EPIC PC and from 12th March, 2020 11am UTC to 16th March, 2020 2pm UTC on Uplay. The game is provided AS-IS, may not function as expected, and may crash. Please note that maintenance may also occur at any time during this period, rendering you unable to access parts or all of the game. Internet access and Ubisoft Account registration required.  

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Changing of the Guard

Hey Anno Community,

As we are getting ready to reveal our 2020 plans for Anno 1800 next month, we want to inform you about some changes in the Anno development team. At the end of last year, we said goodbye to two long-time veterans of the franchise, Burkhard Ratheiser and Dirk Riegert. While we are sad to see them leave Anno, we can appreciate that working on the same gaming series for over 15 years is a long time and that the huge success of Anno 1800 makes this the perfect time to hand the scepter over to our new leadership. Rest assured that both are staying with Ubisoft Mainz, exploring new ideas for future projects!

Burkhard is not only one of the co-founders of our studio here in Mainz but has been instrumental in Anno’s transition to full 3D as the Lead Programmer of our game engine during the development of 1701. Following that, he worked on Anno 1404 and 2070 as the Head of Graphics and R&D, before moving into game production with Anno 2205. Over the last years, he led Anno 1800’s development as Executive Producer. Of course, many of you know also know him from the eponymous “Burkhard’s Trail” easter egg from Sunken Treasures.

Burkhard on staging presenting Anno 1800

“I’m very thankful that I had the chance to contribute in several different roles to this great franchise. For the last 15 years Anno has always played a big part in my life and with Anno 1800 being the fastest selling Anno ever and for many also the best installment so far, the time has come for me to move to new ventures, handing over the baton to a new team. I would like to thank the Anno community for their great support and feedback over all these years, knowing that the fruitful collaboration will ensure that Anno has a bright future, continuing in providing countless hours of joy and excitement to our fans.” – Burkhard

Dirk probably needs no introduction to Anno devotees, given the number of interviews and live streams he has participated in over the years, earning him the loving nickname of Karrenschieber (“cart pusher”).  He is one of the driving forces behind the Anno games developed in Mainz, starting as Lead Game Designer on Anno 1701 and 1404, before taking over as the franchise’s Creative Director with the Venice add-on. He then took the franchise into the future and even space with Anno 2070 and 2205, before leading the Anno team and franchise into the age of the industrial revolution with Anno 1800 as Senior Creative Director.

When I started as Lead Designer on ANNO 1701, I wouldn’t have dared to dream that I would help shape five Anno games over the coming 15 years! It is said that one should quit while they are ahead, and after the great success of ANNO 1800 last year this moment has finally come for me. I am already working on new, exciting projects within Ubisoft. The baton with the golden nine engraved in its knob has been passed on to Manuel. I for sure know that he will take perfect care of it.” – Dirk

Dirk across the ages

Which brings us to our new Game Director, so please welcome Manuel Reinher!

Manuel is a true strategy gaming veteran, having first started his career as an artist at Phenomic on Spellforce in 2004, before filling a variety of art related roles on games such as Spellforce 2 and Battleforge (by then as EA Phenomic, as the studio had been acquired by Electronic Arts in 2006). He has now been with Ubisoft Mainz for over 6 years, starting as Lead Artist for the futuristic cityscapes of Anno 2205, before leading the art team responsible for the detail-obsessed 19th century world of Anno 1800. As Game Director, he will oversee the overall future of the Anno franchise, both for future Anno 1800 content and beyond.

“Hi Anno Union, I’m Manuel, and extremely honored to follow in the footsteps of Burkhard and Dirk. Working on Anno for the last years has been a fantastic journey: After our adventures in space we brought the game back to a historical setting and we are extremely proud to kick off 2020 with new ideas and full of energy.

But, before we head into a bright ANNO future, I want to take the opportunity to say thank you: The success of Anno is just possible because of our hard-working team and the fantastic support we have from our community. So, I grab the baton: we have more opportunities than ever and I’m very excited to take the next steps together with all of you.” – Manuel

Manuel hard at work

And that’s it for today! Please give a round of applause to Burkhard and Dirk for their many contributions to Anno, and a warm welcome to Manuel! And as always, keep an eye on the Anno Union, as we get ready to unveil our plans for Anno 1800 in 2020!


 

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Union Talk – Plans and Challenges

Episode 6 of our Union Talk show is here, with Community Developer Basti and Brand Manager Marcel talking about the differences and challenges of Anno 1800’s first year and what is to come. They also address the unusual quiet on the Anno Union in early 2020 and might even know a thing or two about when things will pick up again…

Watch Union Talk – Plans and Challenges.mp4 from ubisoftbluebyte on www.twitch.tv

Our Union Talks aim at providing you insights into the work of our developers and certain processes behind the scenes as well as news about the most recent developments for Anno 1800. Is there a topic you always wanted to know more about? Are you curious about a specific aspect of game development or an ingredient of the Anno series? Let us know in the comments below for future episodes of the Union Talk!

Anno Afternoon – Scuba Diving Cows

Since they were not able to save all cows from the flood last time, Ubi-Hanabi and Ubi-Thorlof return to the world of Anno 2070. With their priorities set and the heart-shaped city completed, it’s time to explore the ocean and build an underwater base. Tune in for a fun and relaxed Anno Afternoon on Friday, 28. February, at 4PM UTC over on twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

We also want to use this opportunity to thank you for sending us save games of your Anno 1800 playthrough! We will showcase them in the next Anno Afternoon (March 13th) – Ubi-Hanabi is already looking forward to getting her hands on them.

And of course, feel free to also send us YOUR save game for the stream! Just send them via mail at anno-community@ubisoft.com

Podcast – Environment Sounds in Anno 1800

There’s always something going on in the world of Anno 1800, but all the activity on the roads and sea is not just visual. Listen to the latest Game Makers podcast with members of Anno 1800’s audio team and learn about how sounds adapt based on camera zoom or jumping from one end of the map to the other. Audio Director Stefan Randelshofer and Lead Audio Designer Tino Schleinitz from Ubisoft Düsseldorf talk about how they developed a brand-new environmental sound system for Anno 1800. Give it a listen!

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Union Update: Anno 2070 Afternoon and Community Spotlight

The New Year is already over one month old – about time to share a Union Update with you, feature some great Anno 1800 creations from our community and let you know about our upcoming live streams.

Anno Afternoon Stream

This Friday our community team is traveling into the future for another Anno Afternoon. On this Anno 2070 adventure, Ubi-Thorlof invited his colleague Ubi-Hanabi – the goal: brew some tea, hug a few trees and save everyone from drowning.
Join them on their adventure over on twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

And if you want your Anno 1800 city to be featured, judged and most likely also devastated live on stream, send us your save games at anno-community@ubisoft.com! When we have gathered a few, we will show off your layouts, parks and fleets in a future Anno Afternoon. *

*We can only accept unmodded save games

Community Spotlight

As usual, we want to share some of the cool creations and stories from the community here on the Anno Union.

Let’s start with jasperwillem’s blog, a great source for tutorials and tips&tricks for Anno 1800. You can find detailed blogs and videos about all phases of the game, the different population levels and more. Worth checking out!

If you instead prefer some entertainment, Normul8or’s new video series could be for you. The goal: creating a city purely dependent on imports. To follow him on his journey, head on over to his YouTube channel.

Now, we all know you love creating beautiful cities with massive parks and impressive zoos and museums. And we never grow tired of looking at your creations and sharing them here.

Bootlegsoldier went all-in and hid something in his city – can you see it?

And since working in a team gets things done a lot quicker, Smeerwolf teamed up with some friends to beautify his city – the result you can see here:

We know you’re all waiting for what exciting things we have planned for Anno 1800 this year.
Right now we’re still very busy creating new content for you to enjoy and are looking forward to sharing more with you, soon.

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The Passage, Holiday Pack and GU 6 are here!

It’s a busy day, as we have a ton of new content and features for Anno 1800, so let’s dive right in to give you all the details you need! All of the below will go live today, December 10, at 6pm CET/ 5PM UTC/ 12pm EST/ 9AM PST.

The Passage DLC (part of the Anno 1800 Season Pass or 14.99€/$ stand-alone purchase)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuBey74bcF4&feature=youtu.be

Construct arctic outposts in an all-new arctic session and bring them to life with the new Explorer and Technician residential tiers.

Conquer the skies

Construct a fleet of airships to speed up the trade across all sessions of your empire.

New Arctic goods

Master new production chains and arctic trade goods such as Pemmican, parkas and husky sleds.

Crucial warmth

Use the new heating system to ensure your residents survive the brutal cold of the Passage.

More industrial adventure

Take your Anno 1800 experience to the next level with over 60 new quests and over 80 new items.

Holiday Pack DLC (3.99€/$ stand-alone purchase)

Short description:

Bring the spirit of the holidays to Anno 1800 with this new cosmetic DLC pack, which includes 23 new ornaments that allow you to decorate your cities in festive style.

  • A festive carousel, including fan favorite vehicles from the game.
  • Two Christmas trees, to fit the occasion.
  • Santa’s Grotto, giving your citizens a chance to share their wish lists with him.
  • Three different markets stalls for your very own Christmas market.
  • A jolly hoard of Christmas presents
  • Two festively ornamented street lanterns.
  • An appropriately wintery snowman ornament.
  • A decorated hedge system with six tiles.
  • A decorated fence system with six tiles.

Game Update 6 (4.8GB download)

This free Game Update includes several much requested features, including the co-op multiplayer mode, in-depth statistics and a multi-copy tool for buildings.

You can find the full release notes here.

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Anno 1800 Free Week

Play in the Anno 1800 Free Week from December 11 to 18
It has been 8 months and many Game Updates and improvements since Anno 1800 first set sail. To show any of you still on the fence how far the game has come since launch (and to give you the perfect excuse to invite some friends to try the new co-op mode together) we are running another Free Week for Anno 1800 later this month. From December 11 to 18, everyone can download and play the Free Week version of Anno 1800 from Uplay or the Epic Games Store. As with our first free week back in August, keep in mind that this is a stand-alone build of Anno 1800 that you must be separately downloaded. In addition, it is for technical reasons not possible to carry over any save games from the Free Week version to the regular game.

The free version of Anno 1800 will include the first three residential tiers in sandbox mode as well as all free Game Updates, which means multiplayer and co-op for everyone (alongside previously released content like the day & night mode). The content of the Anno 1800 Season Pass won’t be included in the Free Week version of Anno 1800.

And if you have some friends that you always wanted to play some co-op with who have yet to get the game, we have some good news for them: as part of the Free Week, all three editions of the game will be discounted by up to 55% on the Epic Games Store and Uplay!


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