Sacred Fire - a psychological RPG with flavors of Banner Saga and Darkest Dungeon

Discussion in 'Feedback Requests' started by Andrej Vojtas, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    Sacred Fire - a psychological RPG with flavors of Banner Saga and Darkest Dungeon

    Sacred Fire is a turn-based, psychological RPG about survival, power, and the search for meaning, inspired by ancient Caledonia.

    Build your will to show courage in battle and cunning in the throne room. Rise through renown, blackmail, or loyalty. Inspire others to crush Rome or to build a nation.

    UPDATE 2016: Hello, everyone, it's been too long, but the good news is Sacred Fire is alive and well!

    This is our new teaser showing gameplay, visuals and storytelling, voiced by Doug Cockle, the voice of the Witcher:



    Steam Greenlight Concepts: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=800757379
    If you like what you see, up-vote us! Every vote counts! We are already #1 Most Popular This Week, your up-vote can help us to get the coveted 5-star rating. Thank you!

    Check out our new website: http://www.SacredFireGame.com
    Subscribe and be the first in line to get Early Bird discounts when we launch a Kickstarter campaign in March 2017!

    Thank you!


    ORIGINAL 2014:

    Hi everyone!

    I am a one man indie from Slovakia working on Sacred Fire, a turn-based narrative RPG for PC and tablets, rethinking choice and consequence in RPGs.

    The problem with C&C in games:
    The status quo with C&C in games is that a choice is good when:
    - it's morally gray (choose between two equally good/evil/valuable options)
    - high stakes: it impacts the game world in a significant way
    - uncertainty: the consequence is unclear

    The result is a playing experience when you feel manipulated into 'impossible' choices or are forced to make choices where you have no idea how they turn out. In my experience, this breaks the storytelling immersion, as people protect themselves from being manipulated and from being exposed to risk and uncertainty by distancing ourselves from the protagonist.

    Rethinking C&C in RPGs:
    A choice is good:
    - if it allows nuanced self-expression
    - if the nuance is tracked and changes who you are as a person
    - if you as the player have a way of finding out exactly what the consequence is

    This way you feel immersed into the storytelling and can be rewarded for playing smart.

    Sacred Fire design focus:
    The focus as you might have guessed is not to simulate the outer world and explore endless dungeons, but to simulate the inner world of a human psyche and explore opponent characters who are completely unknown to you.

    Integrating story and gameplay
    The benefit of using characters with complex personality and relations models is it integrates story and gameplay, dialogue and combat.

    The story choices shape your personality that dictates your emotional reactions and emotion control in combat and affects your performance.

    Next Step - Kickstarter
    I am currently preparing a Kickstarter campaign, please subscribe on http://sacredfirerpg.com to get notified when it launches or to get involved with the KS preparation. Thank you, every voice counts!

    Teaser


    Screenshots
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Dialogue Gameplay Example


    More info: http://sacredfirerpg.com

    EDIT: I added the choice & consequence design explanation
     
    #1 Andrej Vojtas, Apr 15, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  2. frosted

    frosted New Member

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    I watched some of the youtube video and really like your interface. I also agree with you that consequences being unclear is a major problem in most rpgs.

    I'm not sure where you're going to go with all of this, but what you have there looks like a promising start.

    One suggestion I would make in videos like that - mousing over the rollovers are not good enough - you should really record yourself talking about and discussing the mechanics and ramifications. I ended up sort of stopping watching after about a minute and a half, if you were there talking about the design decisions in a real and meaningful way (not just a "unlike other games...", more like "this mechanic allows us to explore..." I probably would have watched the whole 3 minutes.
     
  3. ZDeveloper

    ZDeveloper New Member

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    Looks nice, but perhaps you should rename the game, because "Sacred" is an IP of Kochmedia. Here is a quuote from the website
    Because both games are RPGs you should be carefull and perhaps rename the game or speak with lawyer.
     
  4. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    Hey, thanks for the feedback so far!

    It's been too long, but the good news is Sacred Fire is alive and well!

    This is our new teaser showing gameplay, visuals and storytelling, voiced by Doug Cockle, the voice of the Witcher:



    Steam Greenlight Concepts: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=800757379
    If you like what you see, up-vote us! Every vote counts! We are already #1 Most Popular This Week, your up-vote can help us to get the coveted 5-star rating. Thank you!

    Check out our new website: http://www.SacredFireGame.com
    Subscribe and be the first in line to get Early Bird discounts when we launch a Kickstarter campaign in March 2017!

    Thank you!
     
  5. strategy

    strategy New Member

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    Very interesting concept to take a "social combat" engine and make it a centerpiece of the narrative design. I've considered many ways to do something similar myself. At present, I lean more towards believing a simpler, traits-based approach is the way to go (as opposed to what seems to be a more skills/stats-heavy approach this seems to follow), but I really love the idea. Best of luck with this (upvoted it on Steam, of course).
     
  6. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    Hey strategy,

    thanks you for your kind words. Yes the stats vs traits, is one of the many design choices a role-playing developer has to make. This is what I like about the genre, there are so many ways how to go about it.

    We decided to create a numeric personality model that is applicable in every conflict solving process, be it an internal conflict (fear, anger, guilt) or interpersonal (prejudice, envy, attraction) or an external conflict (stealth, battle, escape).

    This is great for us as developers, as we can add new types of conflicts into the narrative and gameplay and basically any situation works with the same set of rules. This gives us almost the freedom of a DM in a Pen & Paper experience. And it's great also for the players as all gameplay is consistent, the same rules about your performance apply in dialogue, relationship building, renown building or combat.

    That said we have a few defining traits at the beginning when you create your character and also special traits you unlock as you level up. It ads a lot of flavor and character to your personality, but underneath it is a robust numeric personality model.
     
  7. strategy

    strategy New Member

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    I've done all my projects with mobile in mind for the past 4-5 years, so that feeds into my thoughts as well, since it limits the space that you have to play with, both in complexity and in practical UI (just the fact that you lose tooltips, for instance, has a huge impact). I like it, though, because it really demands that one try to cut away everything superfluous from a game design concept. I don't think I succeed at that, but I enjoy the challenge.

    I like your idea of exposing the emotions as numbers, and then forcing the player to manage those with their will/choices. I wouldn't have thought this would work well, but at least based on your demo videos, it seems to flow pretty well.

    Looking forward to trying this out "in action", whenever you release this - you might even tempt me to go for an early access if you go that way, which I otherwise never do. I'm an obsessive min-maxer, so I'm not sure it will make me "roleplay" more, but no way to know until I've tried it. I'm a fan of the idea of exposing "the numbers", though. I've heard many arguments that it takes away from the experience, etc., but I feel that you are on the right track here in arguing that up-front transparency helps makes consequences clearer for the player. There are few things more annoying in games than making a choice, and then having the outcome be something entirely different from what you had expected it to be.

    I may have been a bit hasty when claiming that I don't do stats though - my RPG system does contain social skills such as persuasion, resolve, intimidation, etc. It's just that - since the games I do usually have procedurally generated characters - the personality traits end up being the dominant mechanism I use for interactions. I.e., persuasive skill etc. may affect your chances of doing a successful persuasion action, but it is far more important for the flow of a scene how your player character traits (which can change, depending on the player's actions) match up against the non-player character's traits.

    Or that's the theory, at least. I'm still only in the early stages of rolling out the narrative system, though, so I'm still learning what works and what doesn't in practice (still lots of writing to be added to the game). Seeing SF has definitely made me rethink some of the ideas I have had about "semi-hidden" traits and stats; I think I may end up experimenting with adding even more transparency to this than I originally intended.
     
  8. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    Thank you for your feedback and insights. I am glad if I could be of some help in your though process. It's a really long path to arrive to a focused design. And yes, loosing the tooltips pop-up was a big step forward for me too, I had to make things much clearer from the get go. I still have tooltips, explaining the stats in the charcters screen and what not, but it helped me to make the UI and the rule set much tighter.
     
  9. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    I thought it would be good to explain why we do a lot of things differently than other RPGs, or any narrative games for that matter. We are basically rethinking the Choice & Consequence mechanic in the genre. The whole point of using numeric personality models and have a rule set governing your characters psychology is to blend narrative and action seamlessly and enable a new level of role-playing.
    [​IMG]
    We use the personality model to make the player's interaction with the story tactical. Choices, and their consequences, are the core elements of Sacred Fire:

    • You have to earn the right to make a tough call.
    • Ideas shape your character as much as actions.
    • You always know the consequences of a choice.
    • You have to earn the right to change the story.

    The combat in Sacred Fire blends powerful storytelling moments, personality tests, and turn-based tactical moves into one flow. Each turn the player chooses one of four goals of your attack or defense: survive, provoke, intimidate and gain renown. However, a wide variety of different actions result from these four goals based on by how much you overshoot the probability check. If the goal is to survive, you will defend and attack in the most efficient manner, affecting hit points only. To provoke, you can taunt the opponent, parry like you were sparring with a child, or play nasty and hit a sensitive place.

    To intimidate, you can split objects in half, shoot an warning arrow, or take a hit without nudging. To gain renown, you will intentionally dodge in the last possible moment, block arrows without dodging, or pull off a devastating attack.

    • You have to control your emotions to perform optimally in combat.
    • Equipment doesn’t win a fight. It only sets the stage.
    • Letting the opponent attack you from behind is a valid tactic.
    • You can win the game without killing.

    You can read more about the straegy/politics/relationship aspects of the game on our Steam Greenlight Concept page:
    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=800757379
     
    #9 Andrej Vojtas, Dec 10, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  10. strategy

    strategy New Member

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    Steam Link doesn't work, unfortunately - says the item does not exist.

    I noted and like that you are making "no killing" an option. Although your setting is a violent world/period in history where combat fits in, having violence/killing being the eternal solution to every RPG problem gets old pretty fast. And I like the way your "social" system folds into the combat system and vice versa. As I said, it's hard to really know how it really works before playing it, but the demo reel you've done definitely look promising.

    I'm guessing one challenge of the approach you've chosen is to avoid the existence of a dominant strategy. Do you do anything game-mechanics wise to prevent that, or do you simply leave that up to the narrative scripting (i.e., design the stories so that no one approach can dominate all story parts)?
     
  11. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    Sorry, I fixed the link and thank you for letting me know. Yes, we feel the non-lethal conflict resolution option in a setting that is violent is even more satisfactory than in a more civil one.

    Regarding the dominant strategy, we do both (game mechanics and writing). We like the approach used in the original Fallout games, where for each task, you have paths ready to use a different aspect of your personality. So there are many character builds that will feel like they can use their strong sides, and only one dominant build.

    I feel like the lists of design decision above need to be explained better.

    Choice Making

    You have to earn the right to make a tough call

    If a story choice you want to make is out-of-character or simply tough for the personality you’ve developed, you need to pass a probability check. To boost your chances you can use willpower points.
    As a reward, making a tough choice develops your personality and helps you level up.

    Ideas shape your character as much as actions

    Inner monologue give the player’s character the ability to interpret and comment on what’s happening in the story. What are your thoughts on failure, injustice, or brutality in a scene? What is the motive behind your choice to help someone?
    It’s your interpretation and motives that affect your character’s empathy, create guilt or strengthen your ideals.

    [​IMG]

    You always know the consequences of a choice

    We never mislead the player into a wrong choice. Our goal is to create an experience where the player always has a smart option out of a tough spot. Notice a trap, sense an ambush, spot a hidden blade, make a leap of faith. You just need to have the will to make the extra effort to actually use it.

    You have to earn the right to change the story

    You do not start out as a leader; you have to compete for influence within the group of potential rivals or allies. NPCs don’t just get angry if they don’t agree with your choices. They have their own agendas and will try to undermine your choices.

    Combat

    [​IMG]

    You have to control your emotions to perform optimally in combat

    Fear weakens your attacks. Anger makes you ignore your defense. Save your willpower points; you will need them to help you keep your cool. This way you can intimidate, provoke, and wear out your opponent.

    Equipment doesn’t win a fight. It only sets the stage

    Collecting and crafting beautiful items is important, but not only for the protection they provide. Items such as armor also affect how comfortable and confident you feel, and how memorable, attractive, and menacing you appear to NPCs.
    But what wins a fight is using your willpower to overcome fear. Use these willpower points to boost your chances of keeping your cool, to ignore pain, and to regain self-control when you go beyond your physical ability.

    Letting the opponent attack you from behind is a valid tactic

    We’ve all seen the scene. The hero stands still, the opponents circle him, and the hero dodges in the last moment. It’s good storytelling, but horrible tactics.
    What makes this a valid tactic in Sacred Fire is that IF you pull it off, a display of confidence and skill like that intimidates your opponents and affects their performance. Furthermore, showing control and courage like that will earn you the respect of NPCs.

    You can win the game without killing

    [​IMG]

    All fights have context within the story, and a winning condition other than defeating the opponent. In some, if you can gain enough respect through displays of skill, your opponent will give up, or you can intimidate them into fleeing. In others all you have to do is survive until help arrives. Combat in Sacred Fire is all about the tactical choices that you make.

    The game AI recognizes if you choose not to land a decisive hit, or if you do not use lethal-force in combat at all. All NPCs you fight have complex agendas and their own survival is high on their list. They will rarely fight till their last breath.
    The writing also gives options how to avoid, prevent or end a fight before it gets out of control.

    If you like what we are doing, up-vote us on Steam Greenlight Concepts: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=800757379
     
    #11 Andrej Vojtas, Dec 11, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
    strategy likes this.
  12. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    It's Screenshot Saturday, so here you go, a new screenshot from Sacred Fire. If you feel like smashing an axe to get some order into politics these days!

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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  14. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    With the new year here, let me wish you a delayed but sincere Happy New Year. We were busy at work and laid out our road-map and battle plans for development of Sacred Fire:

    • Steam Greenlight Concepts, VOTE NOW: let's get into the top 100 Best Rated of All Time. We are already close!
    • Steam Greenlight, January 2017: let's start making some waves together and get the attention of blogers, youtubers and maybe even the almighty Valve
    • Kickstarter, March 2017: get some cool backer rewards, immortalize your name, get alpha and beta access and more!
    • Preview release, Summer 2017: get your hands on the first playable version for Firestarters Guild members and ALL Kickstarter backers
    • Alpha/Beta release, Late 2017: be the first to enjoy the full storyline in our Beta
    • Gold release: Spring 2018: own the sweet polished version of Sacred Fire
    [​IMG]

    Our roadmap is a chain of events, one leading into the other and building its results. A strong Greenlight campaign will be noticed the attention can give us an extra push to build a bigger community before Kickstarter. We can then get into appealing rewards to make Kickstarter more attractive. So then Kickstarter has a better chance to hit the goal in the first days. What next? A swiftly funded project can get more coverage and raise even more funds. The game is able to get more content and polish. We can even bring in more star talent, as voice over legend Troy Baker, Joel from The Last of Us, has shown interest and is watching our development.

    So to get to the Gold experience, your help is essential and we invite you to take part in the Sacred Fire development. Go to our home page and scroll down to Sign-up to the Firestarters Guild to receive all the updates and benefits.

    We’ve are currently on Steam Greenlight Concepts, getting close to enter the top 100 of Best rated of All Time. We need one last push, vote for Sacred Fire now. If you use the Steam client, to find us in the Greenlight, you need to choose Browse 'Concepts' category.

    Thank you!

    Also, who would be a good fit for a female voice actress along Doug Cockle in your opinion?
     
  15. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    Looking for an advice - we have a great voice actor Doug Cockle from the Witcher, who did the voiceover in our trailer and who will narrate parts of the game. Since Sacred Fire is a psychological RPG and inner life in general is a crucial aspect of the game, we will focus on narrating inner monologues. And we're looking for a female counterpart to Mr. Witcher in case a player decides to play with a female character.

    What are your tips for well known female voices in RPGs or video games in general? Who would you like to see/hear in Sacred Fire?

    Here's our trailer with Doug Cockle, in case you want to hear what we're looking for:
     
  16. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    We have been hard at work and have some exciting news - right on track with our roadmap we just launched our regular Steam Greenlight campaign.

    [​IMG]

    Thank you for your feedback and encouragement during our Concept stage. Your reactions were overwhelmingly positive. You’ve become a vital part of this adventure.

    “I didn't realize it, til I saw this trailer, but I've been waiting for a game like this.”
    -Cypher-D

    “Looks (and sounds) awesome. Good luck!”
    -Aleonymous

    We’ve taken your comments and ideas and used them to further refine our official Greenlight page.

    • We’ve added a few juicy gameplay GIFs showing in-detail combat, politics and ambush gameplay

    • Added more details about Combat and Choice Making in Sacred Fire. These are important aspects of the game and deserve more information.

    • And we are particularly happy about a quote from Arnie Jorgensen, art director of Banner Saga.

    So now we’re turning to you again to help us to make Sacred Fire a reality.

    Head to Sacred Fire Greenlight page now and vote ‘Yes’.

    Every single ‘Yes’ vote is appreciated and important. We are always looking forward to when a new comment pops up and we had a blast answering them. Favorite us or follow, so you don’t miss important updates. And tell your gaming friends on Steam about Sacred Fire.

    Thank you!
     
  17. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    The voting on our Steam Greenlight campaign is going great, thank you all for your support.

    Our first update is about Character Creation, as Sacred Fire is all about building a strong personality. You need both inner strength and social influence to guide the story into the direction you want.

    Character creation is our favorite part in any RPG. However, more often than not, the choices we make in the character creation screen are often inconsequential in the game once we start playing. We want to get this right in Sacred Fire and have put a lot of thought into how choices in the character creation screen will have a profound impact on every story scene and conflict you encounter.

    Our character creation and writing supports multiple playstyles, and lets the player gain an edge with either force, smarts, skill, looks or empathy in every situation. These represent the five conflict resolution archetypes you can mix and match to create a unique character and take your own path trough the story.

    The inspiration behind this was Fallout 2, where you had many options how to approach a situation, how to solve a quest, how to acquire equipment or firepower. This is what we support in our writing and design: many ways how to gain an edge, get to wealth, fame, love, influence. You chose what winning means and how to get there.

    [​IMG]

    Besides extensive visual customization (10 outfits x 10 faces x 10 hairstyles x 10 paint styles) you can choose valuable appearance traits.

    Traits like a “Melodic Voice,” “Fragile Figure” or “Vivid Gestures” make everything you do more memorable. They also evoke specific reactions. For example, “Fragile Figure” evokes the instinct to protect and you are less likely to be perceived as a threat.

    Beauty helps you win people over but also evokes envy. Menace helps you intimidate opponents and can prevent them from attacking.

    [​IMG]

    The personality and beliefs model represents a mature and nuanced take on the “good” and “evil” meters seen in some games. The goal is to bring over the pen & paper role-playing experience where a Game Master rewards you for staying in-character.

    For example, processing failure is easier if you have a strong belief that there is happiness possible in life. But the same belief makes it harder for you to risk your life. Forgiving is easier if you believe there is goodness in people, but you may be prone to being played.

    Believing you have the favor of a divinity can make you both courageous and arrogant. Ideals may be impractical in times of war, but being selfless helps you gain allies.

    Mood plays an important role in how effectively your character controls emotions and uses skills and judgment under stress.

    Mood depends on stress and comfort. Danger, pain from injuries, relationship conflicts, and traumatic memories can all raise your stress. Comfort and safety comes from powerful allies, a trusted blade in hand, luxury items and strong convictions.

    Having a high mood helps you win both combat and story confrontations, as it makes you more resistant to Fear and Anger. On the other hand, stress and discomfort make you prone to Fear and Anger.

    [​IMG]

    Using fighting, healing, crafting, and relationship skills develops both them and the associated Attributes: Agility and Strength, Intellect and Empathy, Beauty and Menace. The more intelligence you have, the faster they progress.

    Living through both success and failure creates positive and negative memories. It’s up to you to save up enough willpower to process the negative memories and use them to make you stronger.

    Story choices strengthen or weaken your beliefs. The pros and cons of positive and negative beliefs are balanced. The goal is to give the player the possibility to freely express different beliefs and explore their consequences.

    Authority expresses the inner strength of your personality. It’s the sum of memories, beliefs, skills, and attributes. Gain enough authority to level-up and:

    - Strengthen your willpower
    - Choose traits like “6th Sense,” “Unstoppable,” or “Stoic” affecting gameplay
    - Unlock ideas that represent your fundamental beliefs like “You Are(Not) on Your Own,” “Things Happens for a(no) Reason,” or “There is(Not) Enough to go Around.”

    Please let us know what you think!
     
  18. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    We took the Steam Greenlight voting by storm - we currently have 1,050 YES votes and we are thankful for each and every one of them.

    [​IMG]

    We still need some more to get Greenlit, so if you like what you see, please consider helping us to get the word out, either by reaching out to friends, admins, bloggers and influencers, or let the people know on reddit or social media. We appreciate all the help we can get, thank you.
     
    #18 Andrej Vojtas, Jan 30, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
  19. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    We just made it into the top 100 games on Steam Greenlight. It took less than 3 days - you guys are awesome, thank you all! [​IMG]

    Let's see how far we can keep climbing.
     
  20. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    We woke up to a nice surprise today, we are already #75 in the Steam Greenlight. Thank you all for your continuous and unrelenting support.

    It's the first time we are making waves, well maybe ripples :), on Reddit as well.

    We basically need one last push to get to the top 50 where the Greenlighting happens.

    Who will be the hero to save the day today?

    [​IMG]

    This scene shows why relationships in Sacred Fire matter - they can be literary the difference between life and death.
    Of course not all relationships are friendly and how you manage the hostile ones is equally as important and affects also combat encounters difficulty.
     
    #20 Andrej Vojtas, Jan 31, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017

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