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Mobile Devices

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Pixelkin.org. Make sure to check them out when you get a chance!

Square Enix took time on their Twitch channel to give a significant demo of the upcoming mobile game Deus Ex Go. This is the third game in the very successful Go series and one that is being released at a great time considering the upcoming AAA release Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

The goal of the demo was to demonstrate some of the key features of the game and to run through a handful of stages. This is important because the Go series is built around the idea of distilling complex games into their most pure form and then turning them into a sort of digital board game.

Deus Ex Go accomplishes this by being a game focused on stealth. You control Jenson as you take steps on a series of interconnected lines.  There are guards at certain other points on the grid that will become aware of you if you step into their line of site. At that point they will take one step towards you for every step you take in any direction. They will also continue to do so until you step around a corner or leave their line of site.

The goal? Its always to navigate Jenson from the starting point on the grid and survive all the way to some point on the other side of the screen without being caught.  Enemies can only be eliminated if you step onto their space when they aren’t aware of you.

Deus Ex isn’t just about stealth though. This isn’t Thief after all. It also is about augmentations and hacking. Deus Ex Go definitely includes both of those things. There are icons on various points on each level where players can activate a cloaking device that will make Jenson invisible for one turn. Likewise there are icons that will let Jenson hack into turrets and platforms.

The game itself looks pretty amazing and both of its predecessors were great. I’ve got high hopes for this one as well. We’ll check back once the game is released later this year.

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Nintendo held a Q & A for Pokemon Go at the start of their second Treehouse Live @ E3 event. The panel was loaded with people from Nintendo, Gamefreak, Niantic, and even a few of the more active beta testers. The panel lasted for about an hour, where they went over some of the interesting things that they have learned during the beta process.

The first thing they did was clarify and reiterate exactly how the game works. Pokemon Go is a so-called “real world game.” This means that the game uses GPS data gathered from your phone to locate Pokemon that have been spread throughout the world. When you encounter a Pokemon you will be able to use your phone’s touch screen to throw a Pokeball at it. The likelihood that you can capture the Pokemon is based one whether you can actually hit the model of the character in field of play and if you can hit them when a targeting reticle is at the perfect spot in its cycle.

Pokemon in your collection gain experience and ultimately evolve by eating special Pokemon candy. They specifically mentioned that the candy is earned by capturing Pokemon during your travels, but I am pretty certain that you will also be able to spend real world money on it too. This is a free to play mobile game after all.

One item that got a lot of discussion was the Pokemon Go Plus device. It is a red and white device that can be worn as either a pin or a watch. It connects via blue tooth with your Android or iOS device and lets you play the game without taking your phone out of your pocket. The device has an led light in the center that will flash different colors to tell you what is happening. You can actually use the buttons on the Pokemon Go Plus to capture Pokemon without even taking your phone out.

They also let the release window for both the app and the Pokemon Go Plus slip. They will release in July of this year and the device will retail for $34.99.

Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for more information as we get closer to release.



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Video games are ubiquitous today. Virtually everyone has a home console or, at least, a smartphone that can play games. This has created an entire generation of kids who dream of making their own games when they grow up. The problem is that making games has, so far, been arcane and difficult to understand. I write about video games every day and even I struggle to understand exactly how the process works. (I’m actually convinced that some of these companies use magic.) Fortunately, a number of companies are working on finding creative solutions to that problem.

bloxels picture

Bloxels, marketed as“The most kid-friendly video game creation platform ever,” was a sight to behold at New York Toy Fair this year. The system consists of an iPad app and a checkerboard-esque platform with a series of slots in which its user can place different colored cubes. The app is programed to read these cubes using the iPad’s camera and use them to generate pixel art that players can use to create their own platform games.

There are two layers to the design process. First,players can use the layout grid to design individual characters or single block sized segments of scenery. The second layer allows players to design individual levels. Each different color block represents different a different component of the level from a platform, to a hazard, to an enemy. The process is simple and it is easy for players to visualize what they are doing while creating each screen.

Bloxels with kids

Budding game designers have a great deal of artistic control over their games and can even go so far as to design the backdrops for their levels, add destructible objects, to place powerups, or even story elements.

Even better? Players have access to what is called the Infinity Wall. This is a place where players can share their creations with others OR they can take interesting components to and to their own games. The designers expect that there will be some players who really only want to do one part or the other and are happy to let those two communities build off of eachother.

There are clearly some shortfalls that Bloxels will need to overcome though. This is a product that produces platformer games to be played on the iPad, which can be tricky to use because it lacks real buttons. But, thankfully, no one is touting this as the next Unreal Engine. This is a creativity tool that helps establish some strong fundamentals in design and helps reinforce the idea that most game design is done in segments.

The Bloxels system retails for $49.99 and includes everything you need to jump right into the world of video game design.

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The coolest thing I got my hands on at New York Toy Fair was an app-connected smart duck. Let’s take a second to let that sink in.

Ok. You good?  Alright. I’ll continue then.


Edwin The Duck

I met with the team from pi lab, the inventors of a toy called Edwin the Duck, at Toy Fair and was instantly impressed. I was skeptical at first. In fact, my first question to them was why a rubber duck was lined up in the tech toys section surrounded by drones and 3D printers. Their answer was simple. Edwin was “No Ordinary Duck.” He was, in fact, a toy that worked in tandem with a series of iOS apps that help turn him from a tub toy into a night light, and an interactive controller.

Edwin the Duck is, without question, the ultimate Trojan Horse for educational material. Children will build fond memories as they play with him in the bathtub or as they see him watching over them as they fall asleep. He can then use those emotional connections to help funnel knowledge right into their heads. I know that all sounds dramatic, but it made total sense once I started playing with the toy.

The team behind Edwin truly believes that “the only way to teach a child is to emotionally connect with them.” In fact, the specifically chose to make their toy a duck as opposed to a bear or other animal because the rubber duck is iconic. The team found, during their product research, that just about everyone remembered owning one as a child even if they weren’t absolutely certain of it. That kind of a connection with a child’s toy is hard to ignore.


If that’s not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen then I just don’t know what to say…

Edwin is more than just a rubber ducky and a night light though. He is also the controller, for lack of a better term, for a series of interactive learning games available on iOS. He has a gyroscope and four sensors that register taps the same way a button does (one on his front, one on his back, and one on each of his wings). The learning apps, right now, teach things like shapes and letter recognition, but there is a lot of potential to add more complex concepts later on.

Edwin The Duck Learning App

The team indicated that it is being marketed as a toy for ages zero to nine right now, but a lot of the content right now is targeted towards younger kids. The intention is to have the content grow as their audience does. Those emotional connections between toy and child will only get stronger. Pi lab theorizes that the content they will be able to deliver will grow alongside it.

Unlike many products that I saw at Toy Fair, Edwin the duck is currently available for sale at the Apple Store and at Best Buy for $99. This is, admittedly, pricey and will likely place this toy outside of some people’s budget. But, this is a very impressive piece of technology that is definitely worth it for families that can swing the price. I definitely enjoyed my limited time with it and I’m not even a little kid!

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Pokemon Go is one of our most anticipated games of 2016. We have been downright hungry for this one since it was announced. There was some sort of Beta test this past Winter, but that never came to pass.

The good news is that we will have many of our lingering questions answered in a few months when details are shared at the Game Developers Conference 2016 (GDC 2016 for short).

The details will be revealed in a panel that will be held for developers attending the conference. The panel description is below:

“Over the last three years, Niantic, Inc. has been defining the genre of Real World gaming, using smartphones and tablets to connect the digital world to the physical world. Niantic’s newest game, Pokemon GO, ups the challenge of real world gaming design, taking a beloved franchise and setting its hundreds of brightly-colored monsters loose across the globe, adding a new Bluetooth wearable device created by Nintendo to the mix. Join Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke as he discusses how the company has developed a unique vision for delivering a mobile Pokemon experience that gets would-be trainers into the outdoors.


Attendees will get a first-hand, in-depth look at how players are interacting and exploring the world with one another through Pokemon GO, the collaborative approach to design and development for the game and the next evolution of augmented reality and real-world mobile gameplay experiences.”


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Nintendo is going to make mobile games. We know that much. But, they were tight lipped as to specifically which of their IP are going to be given the mobile treatment first. All they told us was that nothing was off limits. The internet at large has been speculating about what else Big N has up their sleeve aside from MiiTomo since the announcement hit the web. Why should Engaged Family Gaming miss out on the fun?

Below is a wishlist. I can’t guarantee that any of these will happen (some of them probably won’t).

But, I CAN guarantee that speculating about big announcements like this are some of the best parts of following the games industry and I encourage you and your family to speculate with us! Make sure to share your wishlist in the comments!

Without further ado here is our list!

A Super Mario Bros. Infinite Runner

Super Smash Brothers Characters - Mario

Listen. I know that this genre has been done to death. There are literally thousands of these games on the iOS app store and on the Google Play store and only a few of them could be considered “good.” But, Nintendo is a special company. They specialize in finding what makes a game special and taking it to the next level.

Infinite Runners are not typically built around the same level of platforming polish that Super Mario Bros. is. Nintendo could very well create a game that rewards skill and presents players will just the right level of challenge.

It also seems to me like this would be the IP that would require the least amount of extra work and I just want them to get started.

Wario Ware


The Wario Ware franchise was all but built for mobile devices. The game play consists of being presented bite sized challenges that of often a few seconds long. Players are challenged to score points by completing challenges without making mistakes. Its hard to describe so take a look at this video to get an idea what I’m talking about.

Modern mobile devices all have gyroscopes and touch screens which leaves a lot of design space for interesting challenges. The gameplay can get somewhat frantic as the pace picks up so I can imagine some phones being tossed around unintentionally… but thats why they make Otterboxes right?



Mother is a roleplaying game that was released in Japan and was localized for North America as Earthbound. Fans have been asking for Nintendo to bring the third game in the Mother series over to North America for decades at this point. This isn’t a franchise a lot of young fans will know a lot about (outside of a character in Super Smash Bros).

I know that Nintendo has stated that they will not be porting games to mobile devices, but this is clearly a franchise that could draw some interest. I would love to see them bring Mother back and give it a mobile spin.

Animal Crossing

This is the logo for Animal Crossing: New Leaf

The Animal Crossing franchise may as well be a mobile game. Players control cute little characters as they perform small tasks and help build ad manage a small town. It would be equally suited to be a city builder game on a mobile device taking advantage of all of the standard trappings of other free-to-play games.

This would come with its own challenges of course, but Nintendo is a company full of mster game designers. I am certain they could overcome the problems in city building games and release something special.

Wii Fit

WiiFit for iOS April Fools

It makes too much sense for this to be more than an April Fool’s joke. Nintendo has been working on “quality of life” products for years without having anything to show for it. DeNA would give them the web infrastructure to let WiiFit run wild using the fitness data that can be collected using mobile devices.

WiiFit was a phenomenon on the Wii and is a well remembered fitness program. That kind of recognition would give the app a lot of momentum in the face of a market dominated by FitBits and other devices.


What do you think? What mobile games do you want Nintendo to release?

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The Game Awards took place on Thursday December 3rd, 2015. The week before my son and I recorded a podcast where we both made our predictions regarding all of the game related awards that were given out. Below are the results of the awards as well as our scoring! Our competition was much more competitive than we expected it to be!

Game of the Year

  • WINNER: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Super Mario Maker

Stephen’s Prediction: Fallout 4

Evan’s Prediction: Super Mario Maker

Score: 0-0

Developer of the Year

  • WINNER: CD Projekt Red
  • From Software
  • Kojima Productions
  • Nintendo
  • Bethesda Game Studios

Stephen’s Prediction: Nintendo

Evan’s Prediction: Nintendo

Score: 0-0

Best Independent Game

  • Axiom Verge
  • Her Story
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • WINNER: Rocket League
  • Undertale

Stephen’s Prediction: Rocket League

Evan’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Score: 1-0

Best Mobile/Handheld Game

  • Downwell
  • Fallout Shelter
  • WINNER: Lara Croft Go
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
  • Pac-Man 256

Stephen’s Prediction: Fallout Shelter

Evan’s Prediction: nil (We missed this one on the podcast! Whoops!)

Score: 1-0

Best Narrative

  • WINNER: Her Story
  • Life Is Strange
  • Tales From The Borderlands
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Until Dawn

Stephen’s Prediction: The Witcher 3

Evan’s Prediction: Tales from the Borderlands

Score: 1-0

Best Art Direction

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Bloodborne
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • WINNER: Ori and the Blind Forest
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Stephen’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Evan’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Score: 2-1

Best Score/Soundtrack

  • Fallout 4
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • WINNER: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Stephen’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Evan’s Prediction:Ori and the Blind Forest

Score: 2-1

Best Performance

  • Ashly Burch as Chloe Price (Life is Strange)
  • Camilla Luddington as Lara Croft (Rise of the Tomb Raider)
  • Doug Cockle as Geralt (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
  • Mark Hamill as The Joker (Batman: Arkham Knight)
  • WINNER: Viva Seifert (Her Story)

Stephen’s Prediction: Mark Hamill

Evan’s Prediction: Camilla Luddington

Score: 2-1

Games for Impact Award

  • Cibele (Nina Freeman)
  • Her Story (Sam Barlow)
  • WINNER: Life Is Strange (DONTNOD Entertainment / Square Enix)
  • Sunset (Tale of Tales)
  • Undertale (tobyfox)

Stephen’s Prediction: Her Story

Evan’s Prediction: Undertale

Score: 2-1

Best Shooter

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • WINNER: Splatoon
  • Star Wars Battlefront

Stephen’s Prediction: Call of Duty Black Ops 3

Evan’s Prediction: Splatoon

Score: 2-2

Best Action/Adventure Game

  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • WINNER: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

Stephen’s Prediction: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Evan’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Score: 2-2

Best Role Playing Game

  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • WINNER:The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Undertale

Stephen’s Prediction: Fallout 4

Evan’s Prediction: The Witcher 3

Score: 2-3

Best Fighting Game

  • Guilty Gear Xrd
  • WINNER: Mortal Kombat X
  • Rise of Incarnates
  • Rising Thunder

Stephen’s Prediction: Mortal Kombat X

Evan’s Prediction: Rising Thunder

Score – 3-3

Best Family Game

  • Disney Infinity 3.0
  • Lego Dimensions
  • Skylanders: SuperChargers
  • Splatoon
  • WINNER: Super Mario Maker

Stephen’s Prediction: LEGO Dimensions

Evan’s Prediction: Skylanders Superchargers

Score: 3-3

Best Sports/Racing Game

  • FIFA 16
  • Forza Motorsport 6
  • NBA 2K16
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
  • WINNER: Rocket League

Stephen’s Prediction: NBA2K16

Evan’s Prediction: NBA2K16

Score: 3-3

Best Multiplayer

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Rocket League
  • WINNER: Splatoon

Stephen’s Prediction: Rocket League

Evan’s Prediction: Splatoon

Score: 3-4

Most Anticipated Game

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • WINNER: No Man’s Sky
  • Quantum Break
  • The Last Guardian
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Stephen’s Prediction: No Man’s Sky

Evan’s Prediction: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Score: 4-4


As you can see, the final score ended in a tie!  Neither of us are sure if that means he did very well or if I did super bad, but it is probably a little of both. What do you think? Did any of your favorites win an award? Sound off in the comments!

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Lets face it. The toys to life genre is EXPENSIVE. It can get out of control for parents who just can’t keep up with all of the different figures and games that seem to be coming out every day! Below are some strategies that will help you keep a handle on costs while still letting your kids enjoy the games.

Play the game with your children.

This is a recurring theme on our website in general, but it bears repeating here because it is especially relevant. Many of the toys to life games, especially Skylanders, present players with obstacles that can only be overcome by characters of specific elements. These are all bonus objectives like puzzle rooms to get things like loot and stat-boosting hats.

The best way to know what your child NEEDS vs what they would like is to play with them. You’ll be able to see and recognize where their collection is falling short so you can work together to complete it.

Do your homework.

There are tons of websites out there dedicated to explaining what toys are out there and how to get them. We even got in on the action and published buying guides for Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and LEGO Dimensions this year. This is the next best thing to playing with your kids in regards to know what they need. You can very easily find out what is available with a little web research.

Pay attention to the pre-owned section at GameStop and other retailers.

This wasn’t an option even a few years ago, but GameStop has seen the strength of the Toys to Life market and has pounced on it. Even better? Lots of kids are aging out of their Skylanders collections and trading them in to GameStop to help pay for new consoles. This leaves them with a lot of stock that is often heavily discounted. Our family was lucky enough to clean up at a buy 2 get 3 free sale a month or so back.

When in doubt don’t buy just one.

Many toy retailers like Toy ‘R Us, Target, and Walmart offer discounts from time to time where you can buy one and get one half off (or something similar). This adds up if you are planning to buy a lot of these toys for your kids.

Don’t buy the games and figures on release day.

This may not be possible for people who have older kids, but if you are just getting into the Toys to Life game market and your kids are younger, then I HIGHLY recommend starting with the previous year’s version of the game. You might not be able to use the shiny new figures, but you’ll be able to get the game much less.



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Available on the following platforms:

Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Wii, 3DS, iOS


Starter Pack (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3): $75 – Includes the portal, the game, The Spitfire figure, Hot Streak vehicle, and the Super Shot Stealth Elf figure.

Starter Pack – Wii U : $75 – Includes the portal, the game, the Turbo Charge Donkey Kong figure, the Barrel Blaster vehicle, and the Super Shot Stealth Elf figure.

Dark Edition Starter Pack (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3): $100 – Includes the portal, the game, the Dark Spitfire figure, Dark Super Shot Stealth Elf figure, the Dark Hot Streak vehicle,  the Dark Sea Shadow vehicle, and the Kaos trophy (This is the Superchargers version of traps. This one lets you race as Kaos.)

Dark Edition Starter Pack – Wii U $100 – Includes the portal, the game, the Dark Turbo Charge Donkey Kong figure, the Dark Super Shot Stealth Elf, the Dark Barrel Blaster vehicle, the Dark Sea Shadow vehicle, the Kaos trophy(This is the Superchargers version of traps. This one lets you race as Kaos.)

The Wii and the 3DS don’t have the power to run the main campaign so they will receive versions that are focused on the racing.

Wii and 3DS starter pack: $75 – Includes the portal, the game, the Hammer Slam Bowser figure, Clown Cruiser vehicle, and the Super Shot Stealth Elf figure.

Pricing structure:

Figure price: $13

Vehicle price: $15

Racing Packs: $35 (Each racing pack includes a character, a vehicle, and a race expansion.)

Additional characters available now:

 Dive Clops


High Volt

Shark Shooter Terrafin

Smash Hit


Additional Skylanders Vehicles available now:

Burn Cycle

Crypt Crusher

Dive Bomber

Jet Stream

Sea Shadow

Shark Tank

Sky Slicer

Stealth Stinger

Racing packs available now:

Racing Sea Pack – Includes Deep Dive Gill Grunt figure, Reef Ripper vehicle, and the Sea Trophy

Characters coming later:



Hurricane Jet-Vac


Lava Lance Eruptor

Double Dare Trigger Happy


Big Bubble Pop Fizz

Vehicles coming later:

Sun Runner

Tomb Buggy

Thump Truck

Buzz Wing

Shield Striker

Gold Rusher

Splatter Splasher

Soda Skimmer

The cost to “Catch ‘Em All!”:

Skylanders Superchargers is in a unique place this time around because it has Nintendo specific characters. If you were to pick up everything on its release day the total cost for a Wii U owner would be around $718. This is because the only way to get Bowser or his Clown Cruiser is to purchase the Wii or 3DS starter pack.

Non-Nintendo owners get a bit of a break here and only have to pony up $615.

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Exciting things happen in the world of video games every single day. Everything happens so quickly that it can be tough for a parent to keep track of. Between work, carting the kids to everywhere under the sun, cooking, cleaning, and maybe (just maybe) getting a chance to sleep for a few hours parents just don’t have the time to keep up with everything happening in their child’s hobby.

If the above paragraph describes you, then we have an answer for you. Every Friday morning EFG will be publishing a digest of some of the biggest video game news that your family needs to know. So kick back with your morning coffee and enjoy!

Sony held a press event at the beginning Paris Games Week that took place from … they made a handful of announcements there that are relevant to families.

They were:

Street Fighter V Roster Complete and Release Date Announced

Street Fighter V has been a big topic of conversation amongst the EFG staff. It is, easily, one of my most anticipated games for 2016.

They announced the final entry to the 16 fighter roster: Dhalsim. He hails from India and has been a regular part of the roster for the vast majority of the games in the series.

They also announced that it will release exclusively for the PlayStation 4 on February 16, 2016.

Sony Announces Boundless

There were almost no details given but they showed a gorgeous trailer for a game called Boundless.

Take a look below.

More Horizon: Zero Dawn Gameplay Revealed

We don’t KNOW that this game will be rates under M yet. So until then I’m going to keep showing the trailers because this game looks awesome.

No Man’s Sky is Coming June of 2016

We still don’t know the exact date yet, but Sony and Hello Games announced a release window for the much anticipated No Man’s Sky. They also released a gameplay trailer that started to give us a little bit more context as to why players will be exploring this vast universe.

Ratchet And Clank Gameplay Footage Shown on Paris Games Week Show Floor

Nintendo Announces first mobile game: Miitomo

Nintendo held an investor’s meeting this past week where they FINALLY announced their first mobile game. Fans who have been looking to play a Mario game on their iPhone will have to wait though.

The first game that they are releasing will come in early 2016 and will be called Miitomo. The announcement was light on details (sensing a theme this week?) but it appears that the game will be, essentially, a Nintendo themed social network with game like elements. It will give mobile games a chance to connect with the people around them to play games and to interact in interesting ways. Picture a super-charged version of the 3DS street pass functionality.

We’ll talk more about it as the release gets closer and we have more details.

Pokemon is coming to McDonalds after Thanksgiving!

The Pokemon Company and McDonalds are teaming up from November 27th to December 23rd. Kids will be able to get one of eight Pokémon figures including Pikachu, Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre, Lugia, Rayquaza, Mega Latios, Wobbuffet, and Hoopa.

We’re all going to buying a lot of happy meals this holiday season.

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