Firewatch developer’s heartening response to Steam refund request

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firewatch

Steam’s newly implemented refund policy is a great tool for the consumer, allowing those who buy digital games to return them if they’re unsatisfied. It is, however, unfortunately open to abuse. If a game, although great, is too short for a player’s liking they’re able to get a refund. There’s potential to deprive developers of their payment, even though players have enjoyed the games they’ve played.

That was the dilemma of one Steam user, who considered getting a refund on the fantastic Firewatch from Campo Santo because it was, he said, too short. Says Steam user [RG] Undercover Fish.

“So this game was 18$. I purchased it because i enjoyed games like this. And I enjoyed this game. Alot. Like, way more than a healthy amount. But it was 2-3 hours. I feel like there could of been more, and im thinking of refunding.

But here is my problem: I loved this game. It was a unique game with awesome narration and storytelling. I like the developers. I mean seriously, have you seen how active they are on theese forums? What other dev is that connected to their community? I want to support the developers, but there was so much more i could of got with my 18$. Should i refund, or hold on to it?”

As far as I’m concerned, it’s not much of a dilemma at all. The game is great, and if you enjoyed it, you should keep it, let the developers have something to eat, y’know?

One of the developers from Campo Santo responded. You should read the whole thing, which you can do by clicking the button below:

[learn_more caption=”Read It!”]

hey there.

I thought about not responding, because normally ppl who want to refund are rude and unpleasant and I choose to not engage and dwell on it.

You seem nice and I figured what the heck, why not have a conversation about this, now that I have read it and it’s right here in front of me.

So here is what I think. As the developer. Sorry if it’s a bit stream of consciousness because I want this to come from the heart.

The 11 of us all took a lot of risk to make this, and sacrificed financially to give Firewatch a chance. We all could have had much better paying jobs elsewhere, but we all thought this game idea had potential to be something special. We seemed to like each other ok, so we all took a big leap of faith. Two years, we say. Let’s give this a go, worst outcome is we all hate each other and go back to various money jobs, but we all could say, WE TRIED.

Two years +. We are all crammed in a tiny office, sharing one bathroom. It is not a glamorous thing, making an independent game. It is just a small room full of computers and a used microwave and $10 office chairs we luckily got from craigslist. Life happened during those two years: there were big breakups, profound illnesses of loved ones, a baby, etc. The dev team got to be like family, because that’s how making an indie game is, you are all in it together, through thick and thin, supporting one another bc if you don’t, there is no way in hell this game would get made, let alone any chance of it to be worth more than a bucket of ????.

We were excited, but terrified. We felt free, but were constrained. I have been in this industry for 15 years almost, and this is the hardest I have ever worked. We all gave it our all, to make this weird thing, and we had no idea if it was any good to anybody else. All we could do, was try the damn hardest to make something we are honestly proud of. At the end, if this was a commercial failure, all we have got is what we have made. Nobody could take that away.

So yes, I am sad when people think this game is not worth the money we asked for (which we thought was a fair ask). It makes me feel like I failed them. It is ok if people don’t like the game, but it affects me personally a lot, when people feel like it was not -worth- the time they engaged with it.

But do I blame you for wanting to get the most out of your $18? No. I don’t know your financial circumstances. $18 might be a lot. Or even it isn’t a lot, why shouldnt’ you try to get the most out of it? That’s a fair desire. That’s why we asked for $18 too, because money is something we could all use more of.
So I supopse in conclusion, if you do refund, I am not upset. It’s on me to learn not to care too much. All I ask is that maybe sometime in the future, when the game goes on mega dirt cheap sale, you could gift tthe experience to someone else you think will enjoy it like you did.

Sincerely,
Jane[/learn_more]

That’s such a classy response, that I don’t feel I need to say much more. Firewatch is great, and its developers deserve every cent for their game. For what it’s worth, said Steam user has decided to keep the game.

Last Updated: February 17, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Captain JJ ‘saurus

    He doesn’t deserve a refund. He deserves an education.
    THERE IS NO COULD OF!
    FUCKIT. It’s could HAVE! What the hell does could OF even mean? Idiot.
    *returns to read the rest…..

    • Mossel

      lol I also saw that and twitched a little.

    • Commander Admiral Chief

      Is he a Saffa?

    • And ‘alot’ FFS! It’s ALLOT! Moron!

      • Captain JJ and his ensigns

        Yea. Damn it!
        Do you say alittle, abit or afew?
        NO. Then why Alot?

        • Mossel

          I must admit I used to make that mistake often. I have seen the light in recent times.

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            Yea, it happens.
            But could of, that one always gets me.

          • Deceased

            You guys could of taken it a little easier on the guy 🙁
            I mean, he doesn’t seem like a dick 😐

        • Commander Bob

          Stop, please stop. I bleed. I die.

    • Pariah

      You could of read the rest before commenting you know? Your impatient.

      • Mossel

        Is that grammar mistake deliberate? xD

        • Captain JJ and his ensigns

          I’m also trying to figure it out 😀

        • Pariah

          I’m basically the little brother to Admiral’s grammar nazi. Trust me it’s deliberate. It’s painful for me to type, but in the name of humour (or attempts at humour), I shall suffer.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Took a LOT from me to not reply there

    • Hammersteyn

      It’s like watching a movie and asking for a refund, because the option exists

  • miaau

    Reading the developer response makes me want to buy the game. A game I have almost no interest in actually playing.

    • Pieter Kruger

      Outclass the developer by just sending them $18 without buying the game even……????

      • miaau

        Awesome idea.

  • Francois Knoetze

    This game was awesome. It was a very unique experience and really love what the guys did. Kudos for the classy response

  • BakedBagel

    This is how you developer.

  • Commander Admiral Chief

    Well, I hope the person withdrew the refund request.

    That is a AAA quality response. heck, I’d even go out and buy it if I could at the moment

    • VampyreSquirrel

      Read the last sentence of the article. 😛

      • Commander Admiral Chief

        Ahhh, missed that.

        Good on him/her

    • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

      $18 ? that’s like 2.5 Nkandlas.

      • Commander Admiral Chief

        I can sell some blood.

        Top notch stock, $1 per ml

        • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

          Just because it’s blue right ?

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Damn straight son.

            Liara, I’m coming baby!

  • Captain JJ ‘saurus

    I see on Steam the forum is packed with over 130 comments on that thread.
    The guy responded, saying he’s made his decision to keep it.

  • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

    It’s a classy response from what seems to be a sincere guy. Still get the feeling he is getting emotional black mailed into not getting a refund.

    • Captain JJ ‘saurus

      Well, it’s not Trevor, so maybe it is truly sincere.

    • miaau

      I see the response as laying all the facts on the table and then saying “I will support you if you or if you do not”

      the author, Jane, did not lay on thick poverty, hardship or anything. It is a fact that it is hard, that income is hard to find and so forth.

      • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

        Very true what you have said and i respect your opinion and agree with you, it might just be my skeptical mind thinking emotional black mail.

        • miaau

          Well, written and spoken word is extremely complicated. My wife did a thesis on interpreting written word and your won background and experiences influence that heavily. I am in the technical field and can associate somewhat with what was said by Jane. So that would, perhaps, lead me to a conclusion of “laying out the facts” .

          You, on other hand, may have had experience with family or friends trying the emotional blackmail on you several times and reading this will lead to different feelings in you.

          People are so bloody complicated

  • Graeme Selvan

    WOW nice response, I am building a game at the moment and I can understand just how much work goes into making one. Building a game with a team of 4 people and we have been hard at work for over 7 months and still have day jobs. It’s not easy and its something you will never understand until you actually try make one yourself. They deserve the money, even if it is only 2-3 hours long.

    I supported them and am about an hour in, I am enjoying the experience and will most certainly not be asking for any form of refund.

    • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

      Good luck and blessings and hope you guys have great success!

      • Graeme Selvan

        Thank you!

    • miaau

      I cannot even imagine. Keeping a day job while working on another project in spare time is a hard, tough commitment. I applaud you and the rest of your team for making it. Hold the dream and all that cool stuff.

      I would find that almost impossible now, BUT I lack motivation to do something like that. My brain is tired when I come home most days.

      • Graeme Selvan

        I also have a baby coming in 3 weeks so it’s going to get incredibly interesting.

        • miaau

          First? Got my second coming in middle of year. It will be an interesting time, Graeme.

          Good luck! And remember, it is ok to catnap when baby naps during the day, cause you are up every 2 to 4 hours, feeding (even on Breast, Dad’s help) and changing nappies all the time first few weeks.

          • Graeme Selvan

            WOW kudos to you! I plan on napping as much as possible and coding into the late hours when he is sleeping (hopefully) It’s my first yes, very excited to meet him.

          • HvR

            LOL, “late hours when he is sleeping”

            You will quickly learn how write code with your right hand, while holding rubbing out winds with your left at 4 in the morning.

            Congrats

          • miaau

            ouch. I luckily did not go through that.

            I did, however, learn that it is much easier to work with a small baby in the house. From like 9 months on, it becomes more and more difficult to work with baby awake and stuff.

          • HvR

            Developed whole hardware accessory embedded code and interface on the main hardware while on paternity leave.

            Remember a all night wind rubbing/coding session; son finally was sleeping well at 7. Got call at 9, manager called me right into a conference call with the international client. My colleagues later told me for the first 5 minutes nobody understood the gibberish I was rambling.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Bwahahahaha

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            That’s harsh, they couldn’t end the call and phone later? Anyway, I know how you feel…

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            My daughter was the ultimate troll.

            In her room, ‘sleeping’ on my shoulder, doing the sleep-wiggle-dance like a baws, then, lie her in her crib, and as soon as I remove my arms….”NOPE NOPE NOPE SURPRISE EYES OPEN WHY U LEAVE DADDY PICK ME UP NOPE NOPE”

            The….horror

          • Commander Bob

            Just say “Honey, daddy loves you very much but sometimes daddy needs to go and save the world. This is one of those times”. Then run 🙂

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Try saying that to a few months old terrorist

          • Commander Bob

            Plan B, cry more and scream louder.

          • miaau

            Sigh. I wish that worked.

          • HvR

            “da wil ek saam kom”

          • HvR

            7 years later my son still pulls that trick

          • Skoobaz

            Ok so tonight then, after I leave the office I’ll go and collect my 8 month old from creche. Head on home. As soon as I get home It’s ON! Prep bottles for boy’s dinner. He’s also on solids so sort that out. Any dishes I missed last night? Clean that. Prep dinner, get that going. Missus playing with our boy. She also has been working the whole day. Ok. Cool, time for boy’s chow and then bath. Settle and off to sleep for him. Check! Now dinner for mom n dad, catch up chats and plans for the future. What’s going on stuff. Clean dishes, prep lunches for tomorrow. Clean bottles for tomorrow, Bags packed for creche and for work. Missus goes to bed. Check!!

            WOOOOHOOO Meeeee time! I can check out some video games or catch that movie I’ve been wanting to check! Oh feck. It’s 12pm and I need to be up at 5am, Hope mah boy sleeps all the way through.

            Rinse Repeat!

        • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

          Gratz, my boy is on his way in June! whooohoo exciting times!

          • Captain JJ ‘saurus

            Might need to change cars?

          • miaau

            why? two door sports car? as we discussed last week, I wish, one day.

          • Captain JJ ‘saurus

            I think Lardus has one. Though his does have back seats, and kind-of back doors.
            I’m still sticking with my coupé for now, no plans for children on the horizon..we’re not getting any younger though

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Yes, rather call it that, sure as hell better than it’s real name.

            Sies

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            You’re just jealous because you have half a car.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Says the one with fewer doors

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            It’s a full car for two people.

          • miaau

            I am approaching 40, my wife a bit younger than me. . My brother and his wife were both 39 when their first child was born. Although downs risk is increased as you get older, medical advances now are so awesome that waiting a bit is not as bad as it was 30 years ago.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Besides, if it was 30 years ago, you’d be a very young father

          • miaau

            well, yes. But obviously not the point I was making. I think. I was not “active” 30 years ago.

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            This is true. My parents were both older than my wife and I are now when they had me.
            But we’ll see. No plans for kids yet.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            You’d better plan for two births.

            Second one for your kid, and the first one for his/her brows

          • HvR
          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            XD

          • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

            i have a two door car and it’s not a sports car, but you can have sports in it! =)

          • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

            My SWB pajero will be replaced with a Fortuner.

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            So I have to start looking out for you sitting on my ass in traffic then? ;P

          • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

            hahahaha that sounded dirty. 😛

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            LOL

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Effin’ tunas

          • Loftus The Primal BeastMaster

            Nope it’s just those hoity toity mommies doing the big 5 in their 4×4 that are annoying on the roads. the big 5 being : Sandton mall , Menlyn Mall, Canal Walk, Miomsa Mall, Woodlands Boulevard.

        • DragonSpirit009

          Congrats!! And good luck!

        • Commander Admiral Chief

          So THAT explains why you got so fat

    • DragonSpirit009

      Awesome stuff for working as hard as you do. Good luck with your projects! Wish you all the best!

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      Good Luck man, I sincerely hope it goes well!

  • Ryanza

    it’s DRM refund that shit.

    There was a time when you could buy PC games to try them out and you had the option to sell it for whatever reason. You can’t do that now anymore. well with console games you still can.

    Now you have to know what you like, now you have to know what you will enjoy, now you have to predict you will like a game before buying a game. If you played a game who a few hours and found out you don’t like it, then there is nothing you can do about it. Nothing.

    Steam Refunds is a bad idea to solve their DRM problems. A much better system is needed. For now refund all that drm shit.

    Don’t Support DRM.

    • Ryanza

      ain’t this nice. No replies. No likes. Just sucks dislikes never show. I remember when i started out making comments on here, i would try to see how many dislikes i could get. And I would get dislikes and it was cool. But since they got rid of seeing the dislikes, I have to now deal with replies. Replies are the new dislikes.

      • The Sten

        I wish there was a “dont give a shit” button, because then you’ll win comment of the week every week.

        • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

          Or a don’t be a dwis button…

          • Ryanza

            i’ll be whatever i want to be. it’s just the internet. lol. and games. lol.

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            Games that Indies slaved for over the last few years, yeah, if being a “See you Next Tuesday” is a life goal, you might have to reconsider your priorities…

          • Ryanza

            don’t worry the indies will be fine if they have exposure.

            Steam capitalizing the PC market and controlling the PC scene, is not good. No matter what you say it’s not good and it will end badly. and you can believe that.

            Indie developers were better off before Steam. Indies are only doing ok now because Steam has gotten more users as people get internet.

            No matter how you look at it and try to convince yourself DRM is good but it’s not good. It never will be. DRM is bad.

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]
          • Francois Knoetze

            Ryanza is Ryanza. He has his views and we are use to him now. His comments actually don’t peeve off most just the new comers. I had this image of him being this sites tamagotchi. He was a new novelty in the beginning but after months you forget to feed him and a few years down the line you open up the drawer and HOLY CRAP IT HASNT DIED…He has become this sites staple and its odd when he doesn’t reply. YOU MAKE US DRM AWARE RAYNZA SEMPAI!!…”cough crawls back under office desk”

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            You pretty much summed it up, I had a massive fallout with him before, many many moons of Saturn ago, I just really hope he wouldn’t be more…know what, I’m going to leave it…

          • Francois Knoetze

            It is better for your health and your keyboard…

        • Ryanza

          don’t give a shit like i give a shit lol. I don’t make comments for you. so i don’t give a shit about you giving a shit. how much shits did you give to reply. lol.

          If you wrote a comment. free standing comment, not a reply, like you replied to me, i wouldn’t give a shit about your comment. I wouldn’t even read it so much of a shit i don’t give. I wouldn’t even reply because i don’t give a shit.

          but thanks for the reply and actually giving a shit. lol.

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      Are you serious? I’ve now read this comment five times and every time I read it, it feels as if I could morally justify insulting you for what you’ve just posted… It takes a really special kind of person to provoke, what is seen as even more hardship, on a hard working citizen busy with an independent development whose only way of distribution is through the Steam Greenlight process, this while they spent more than two years working hard on this project.

      • Ryanza

        it’s not easy to make comments that can provoke.

        but it’s fucking easy to just agree to the obvious shit that everyone agrees too.

  • Original Heretic

    Not only a good response, but good business. It’s the kind of honesty and integrity that makes one want to support this developer for any future projects as well.

  • DragonSpirit009

    Wow… Kudos on that response.
    To me refunding in gaming is a stupid thing. If you buy a game live with the consequences, no matter if it’s good, bad, short or long. That’s why I do research on games before I buy them. I mean we have the tools to do it anyway. I know these people put their hearts into making gaming entertainment for us… they deserve every cent we pay. No matter if you like it or not.

    • Captain JJ ‘saurus

      I agree completely.

    • I totally agree, I remember pre ordering ARK early access and playing on day 1. The developers were always active in the forum and updates were and still are rolling out constantly.

      Yea the game is seriously un-optimized, but after putting in so many hours into it and looking back at the effort I felt $30 what I payed for this experience was way to low.

    • Mossel

      Agreed. It’s like buying a rugby ball and after 2 hours of play you realize you’re a little a bitch and don’t like the game.

      • Captain JJ ‘saurus

        I knew I was a little bitch, so just never bought one from the start.
        Point proven! 😀

  • 2-3 Hours? thought it was 5?

    • Captain JJ ‘saurus

      You’ve thought many things that were wrong. 😛

      • Yeah, like you were a decent chap!

        • Captain JJ ‘saurus
          • KEEP WALKING MUGGLE!

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            He is not a muggle, he is an Ensign now

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            I still have no idea why you’re calling me that
            I refuse to google though.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            “the lowest ranking commissioned officer”

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            Ah.
            I see.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            At least you are not a redshirt

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Don’t listen to him, you’ll always be a Captain to me.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            I really don’t want to know the finer details of your intimate relationship

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            Woo!

          • HvR
          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Aye, the brows are accurate

          • DragonSpirit009

            Ah I just love that movie… This is where all my daydreaming started.!

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            But can you fly?

          • DragonSpirit009

            Pfft no… but my dragon can!

          • Not security?

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            Or British police

    • DragonSpirit009

      Some people just don’t know how to enjoy a game and just finish it cause they want to look “awesome” for playing a game quickly.

      • Captain JJ ‘saurus

        That still baffles me. These speed runs.
        Congratulations, you’ve finished the game by skipping everything the dev worked hard on creating.

        • I do this in MMO’s, I hold everyone back because I love reading the quests and listening to dialog xD

          • DragonSpirit009

            That’s why I never play with others in games. I’ll just wander off while they are under attack.

          • Dresden

            Same thing for me. I simply can’t seem to get any progress going in Neverwinter because of all the lore in the D&D universe and the awesome backstories some people make for their foundry missions. So I’m sadly putting MMO’s on the back burner while I get some other games of my backlog.

        • Pariah

          Speed runs are done after playing the game hundreds of times. It’s not a first playthrough kind of thing.

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            I get that. I still don’t find it impressive or interesting.

          • Pariah

            I think knowing how much skill some of these glitches take might change your perspective. It’s like taking a pistol, driving in a car, and shooting the pilot of a mig fighter jet in the head while its flying.

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            I’d rather just enjoy the game. 🙂
            Though that does sound very 80s, which of course, is where the best action movies come from.

          • Pariah

            Yeah that’s fair, and speedrunning takes patience and practice. But the guys who speedrun love the games they run, ask any of them. The problem is that you can only play a game so many times before it becomes samey. Speedrunning allows them to continue to play the games they love, while adding new challenge and experience to the mix. This is true so far for every single runner of every game I’ve seen. There are probably exceptions, but I’ve not seen any yet.

            To each his own though – I prefer having way too many games on my list and playing through a new one each week or whatever. That’s what makes me tick. You’re probably similar too.

            Still, I appreciate the dedication and skill speed runners have.

        • DragonSpirit009

          Me too… I bought a game two years ago and I still haven’t finished it. I like looking in every nook and cranny for anything.

  • Trevor James

    After playing it this weekend.

    • Commander Admiral Chief

      Hehehehe, nice one

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    He’s an entitled wanker thinking he can play the entire game, enjoy it, and then wonder about a refund because it lasted a few hours shorter than he’d like.

    I had some awesome Lindt choc brownies the other day, really enjoyed them, nice soft serve ice cream too, but they were kinda small and I finished them quite quickly. And they weren’t cheap, in fact they were exactly half the price of a really big burger. I should get a refund, right?

    At the same time I’m also not really in favour of devs telling me their problems & how hard making the game was for them, no matter how sincere or heart felt. We’re not friends, we’re not going to become friends, I’m buying your product and that’s as far as our relationship goes.

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      Fair pricing is also something that should be taken into reckoning here, $18 roughly equates to the whole SA Treasury at this point…

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        That’s a pretty standard price point for a good quality indie game. I’m not really into the whole “a game should be x hours long” for its price. It’s very rare that there’s a game where you can say you haven’t gotten your monies worth, and those are usually AAAs – The Order 1886 & its 2hrs for $60 springs to mind.

        • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

          Yep! The supposed leaders of the industry are usually the ones to get it completely wrong in the first place, The Order 1886 specifically showed that weakness, how I look at it is how much fun it was, if an indie game can supply me with enough entertainment to keep me stuck to the screen, I’ll definitely pay the $18, rather than being disappointed by something like The Order 1886, which was short, shallow, sh*t and sequel baiting…

    • miaau

      “At the same time I’m also not really in favour of devs telling me their problems & how hard making the game was for them, no matter how sincere or heart felt. ” – While I do, normally, agree with you on this topic, I enjoyed the insight into the process. It was not made overly dramatic, but laid out quite nicely.

      It is not, however, something I wish to see becoming a trend on Steam or any other platform, this site included. If it does become a trend, then @loftus comment below on emotional blackmail will become very relevant

  • Wait, so he really, really enjoyed it. But Found it too short? So he wants his money back? On an $18 game? Not $60. Not $50…. $18.
    A standard movie such as Deadpool which has a running time of 1h47min is between $6 – $10. With 0 interaction. You sit there. Watch, still have to buy popcorn etc to keep your hands busy and your face stuffed.

    So if we then set this out and think about it

    1h47min is fine at $10+ for a movie experience
    But 3hour $18 interactive game that was thoroughly enjoyed is considered not ok? And it’s something you can play over and over? Dafuq?

    Wait. You know what. Movie theater analogy is crap. Let’s rather BUY a freaking movie. Let’s see… Amazon… Check movie dvd and blu-ray prices… Oh? Between $20 – $45 for movies ranging from DVD to Blu-Ray?

    So let me get this straight. Dying a DVD that you only watch for an hour 40minutes with no interaction is FINE at $20+ but a game of 2 – 3 hours at $18 is thought for refund?????

    GITS!!!!

  • Dane

    Yo, Jane, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Psyonix had one of the best $18 games of all time! One of the best $18 games of all time!

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