Virtual Fishing Games have evolved from crude early DOS (Disk Operating System) games along several paths resulting in fishing games for PC's, game consoles, hand held games, cell phones, video arcades and high end simulators. They have increased in complexity to include: more accurate portrayal of specific species, fish actions, different sizes and varieties of fish, underwater habitat, boats, vibrant color displays, realistic sounds, dedicated game controllers (virtual fishing rods), force feedback, nibbles, hook setting, fishing line tension, vibration and other cues resulting in more realistic experiences.
This site focuses on technical and marketing coverage of the history of virtual fishing games, leading to the development of fishing games incorporating force feedback joysticks, vibration (rumble pack), dedicated fishing game controllers and free standing fishing games. Force feedback technology is often called haptic from the Greek word, "haptesthai" meaning touch. Several early virtual fishing games "set the stage" for the force feedback games of today, not only virtual fishing games, but other games as well.
The future of virtual fishing games is also discussed. This page is provided for game designers, virtual fishing enthusiasts and others interested in the evolution of virtual fishing games as a service of Polson Enterprises, a new product development research firm.
Fishing Derby was released by ActiVision for the Atari 2600 operating system in 1980. This was perhaps the first virtual fishing game with any glimpse of reality, complete with a color display and large blocky pixels. Written by David Crane and controlled by an Atari joystick, it was one of the first four games released by ActiVision. Atari Times recently carried a review of this now classic game. Fishing Derby's operating manual is still available online. ActiVision may be best known by some as the developer of "Little Computer People". Atari Age provides additional coverage of Fishing Derby.
Bandai tested the waters with its Power Fishing hand held game. Several hand held games made it to America, including Tiger Electronic's Gone Fishin'. As the coverage provided by Retrology illustrates, it was more of a kids game than what we now know as virtual fishing games. These and other hand held games, provided the springboard for the hand held virtual pets (tamagotchi, etc) launched in Japan in 1996 that were very hot toys in the U.S. for Christmas 1997.
Gone Fishing, a DOS fishing game distributed on CDROMs from Amtex, was reviewed by HomePC.
A Little Too Much Like the Reel Thing HomePC March 1995 Vol.2 No.3 Pg. 84They found the action to be slow and rewards far and few between. However, they noted it provided "a surprising accurate simulation of the fresh water fishing experience." It is unknown who first used the "play on words" Reel for Real in a headline, but it has been ubiquitous in fishing game media since this article.
Simulated Fishing Game Catches On New York Times Wire Service 14 Feb. 1997 by Lonnie BrownThe article states they recently released Trophy Bass 2, which includes a virtual reality tour of Castaic Lake. In the game, several real champion bass tournament fishermen provide tips and allow players to play on a local network or modem to modem and a depth finder helps position your boat over your favorite fishing spot. The number of colors increased to 256, providing increased realism over version 1.
Alligator Software introduced Fishing Fever on the Windows platform in 1995.
Katch'N Release by Mark Scisco of Express Graphics was another early Windows fishing game. Katch'N Release was reviewed by the Dayton Daily News.
Computer Games: Cyber Fishing is Here Dayton Daily News Sept. 22, 1996 by Jim MorrisAt that time Mr. Scisco had an updated version that worked on both Windows and Windows '95. Mr. Sisco created the first game in 1989 and has been working on the new one since 1992. An avid fisherman, he carries his 35 mm camera on fishing outings, photos his catch against a white back ground and scans the images for use in his game. He also records sounds "like the boat's motor and splashing water. An article on the AugustaSports.Com
Learning How to Fish Can be Found in Computer Game AugustaSports.Com 25 April 1999reported Mark Sisco was then marketing his "third or fourth" version of Katch'N Release for PCs with Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT.
Getting the Bass to Byte Providence Journal-Bulletin (Rhode Island) Sports Section 21 October 1994 by Tom MeadeThe lengthy article reported a real-life, local fishing tournament the weekend before being won with a single fish under two pounds from a chilly lake and suggested these new games could offer bass anglers an opportunity to stay on top of their game in the fall and winter. TNN Tournament of Champions designers received assistance from Roland Martin, a professional fisherman, and a group of tackle manufacturers. "After a brief introduction to the game from by one of the professional fishermen, the player may select Free Fishing, Tournament Play or TNN Bass Pro Shop." The player receives $100 entering the Pro Shop and can but supplemental rods, reels and lures to those he already has in the game's tackle box. Now you know why the tackle manufacturer's were involved. The article's use of the "play on words" of "byte" for "bite" never quite caught on to the extent of "reel" for "real" in the media.
Game Consoles (Nintendo, Sega, Sony, etc) began to come on strong. Virtual Fishing written for Nintendo's Game Boy console released in Japan Oct. 6th, 1995. Developed by Pack-In Video, it was one of Nintendo's early fishing games. GameFAQs provides a nice review of Virtual Fishing.
On 15 June 1995, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and software publisher T*HQ (T-HQ originally called Toy Head Quarters) released Bass Masters Classic for the new Super Nintendo Entertainment Station. PR Newswire carried the press release.
Super Nintendo Video Game Players 'Compete' for 'Bass Masters Classic Berth' PR Newswire 15 June 1995The game included underwater views of fish and fishing lures and was the only video game licensed by B.A.S.S. If a player subscribes to Nintendo Power Magazine, they could win a trip to the 25th anniversary of the real B.A.S.S. Masters Classic in Greensboro N.C., along with passes to Press Day with the pros, exclusive seating and reserved seats at the weight-ins. Bassmaster magazine editor Dave Precht was a consultant to T*HQ during game development. A Sega Genesis version was expected later that summer. Anglers visit with an old fisherman in the bait shop while they buy lures, rods, reels, fishing line, engines, outboard motors and fish finders (another place for advertising revenue). Anglers could keep their equipment for future games or buy different items. The cost of equipment was subtracted from your winnings (I bet today's pro wantabees wish they could do that!). Multiple levels of play, and a help button make the game an easy start for beginners. Water temperature, fish strength as they play out, the location of competitors on the lake and a practice pond were among its features. The game listed at about $69.95.
As mentioned in the Arcade Section, Sega released Get Bass as an arcade game in 1998, They shortly later (by October 1998) announced they would port Get Bass for their Dreamcast console and sell it with a separate fishing controller (virtual fishing rod). Like many other console games, it was available in both Japanese and American versions. Japan titled the game, Get Bass, while it was sold as Sega Bass Fishing in the United States.
Sega Bass Fishing for the Dreamcast was released 6 Oct. 1999. The release of Sega Bass Fishing for the Dreamcast console was covered by the New York Times.
Video Fishing Game Means No Slimy Bait New York Times 4 Nov 1999 Pg. G12 by J.C. HerzIt promised "the sensation of sport fishing in an expansive 3-D virtual lake", sunlight reflections bounce off ripples of the lake and "realistically rendered wriggling fish". The writer was captivated by the ability to "feel" the tug on the other end of force feedback fishing reel.The manual warned him not to play more than 30 minutes due to rod vibrations. Mr Herz joked, he needed painkillers after an hour. He listed several additional features he would like to see in the game (sort of a wish list for future designers) including the ability to play with two players on the same console, online chat capability, networked tournaments allowing remote contestants to fish the same lake, being able to post your rankings on the net, being able to tell virtual fish stories online and the ability to download lures. He also came down hard on Sega's Virtual Memory Unit (V.M.U.) that was supposed to give the game a portable dimension (carry your materials to another console). It had no portable tackle box or pocket bass farm. Sega Bass Fishing listed for about $39.95 and required a separate $34.95 fishing controller (rod & reel).
Get Bass Fishing (Sega Bass Fishing in Asia and Oceana) was reviewed by The Australian.
Bass Hunt Delivers Real Challenge The Australian 25 Apr. 2000 editionThis reviewer pointed out the game was played with Sega's force feedback virtual fishing rod and in addition to hooking the bass, sometimes you have to guide your catch away from being snagged on underwater obstacles, plus the line can snap if you get it too tight.
Sega released a salt water version for the Dreamcast titled, Sega Marine Fishing, on 17 Oct. 2000.
An updated version of Sega Bass Fishing titled, Sega Bass Fishing 2, was released 21 Aug. 2001.
On 24 Sept. 2002, Sega released Sega Bass Fishing Duel for Play Station 2.
For additional information on console games, see:
Road and Track described Hard Driviní in their 1989 August issue Pgs. 88-89.
In Haptics and Entertainment, Margaret Minsky reports, the Hard Driviní game family was inspired by a 2-D force-feedback joystick created at Atari Cambridge Research Lab in the early 1980ís by researchers including Behensky. One of the early demonstrations developed was a haptic-only fishing game in which the several strategies made the fish seem alive. The fish played out line, struggled, forged, and gradually tired out (weaker motions) at a rate dependent on the level of energetic movement of the user.
In 1997, Nintendo added vibration to the player experience when they launched the "Rumble Pack" module for their N64 console in the U.S. with in conjunction with Star Fox (a space adventure game).
Third party manufactures rapidly created force feedback accessories for console games including racing steering wheels, flight simulator joy sticks, foot brakes, gear box shifters and others.
Some vendors produce gaming pads for PCs similar to game consoles. It was not long till they too began incorporating force feedback. In 2001, Gravis released the Xterminator Force Gamepad with force feedback. JoyStickReview.Com provides excellent reviews of several controllers with feedback and vibration.
Console and PC fishing games quickly picked up the feature. Vibration feedback is now built into many game console controllers and most Windows fishing games can be controlled by a virtual fishing rod controllers. Recently, Immersion has announced plans to add force feedback to existing non-force feedback games. Using a technology called Touchware, through a simple download, they interpret sound effects and create the appropriate force feedback for Windows 95 and later operating systems. A beta version was shown at the Game Developers Conference in March 2003 per Game Daily 6 March 2003.
A student at Stanford has a nice introduction to Force Feedback Devices with considerable coverage of gaming applications.
GC-TECH sponsored a haptic Fishing Game Simulator from June 1999 to May 2000, and the development of a Haptic device, controller, and mechanism which enables a user to feel like fishing in the real world. Researchers were:
Im, Dae-Chul Hwang,Jung-Hoon Kim, Sang-Younper Finished Projects at the Telerobotics and Control Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).
By the mid 1990's force feedback was the rage in arcade games and beginning to work its way into game consoles in the form of steering wheels and joysticks.
Larry Dornbusch's U.S. Patent 5,232,223, issued 3 Aug. 1993, set the stage for the completion of the puzzle. Mr. Dornbusch patented a realistic looking fishing rod controller for console games, complete with rod and reel, but without vibratory and force feedback.
All that remained was for someone to come along, grasp onto the Dornbusch concept, strap an LCD fishing game to it and add onboard vibratory and force feedback. It was a few years till someone put it all together. The jury is still out on exactly who that was, but by late 1996, Radica burst on the scene with a series of self contained hand held fishing games that caught the attention of not only gamers, but actual fishermen around the world.
In late 1996 and 1997, several self contained, hand held fishing rod games entered the scene. These added a new dimension of reality to virtual fishing games. In addition to allowing users to cast, set the hook and retrieve fish with more realistic movements, they began to include force feedback. Radica, a Bermuda company headquartered in Hong Kong produced Bass Fishin', the most widely distributed unit, however several other manufacturers were producing similar units in the same time frame.
Radica practically owned the Self Contained category from the beginning.
The Investor Relations segment of their web site states they introduced the game in 1996.
Games: Computer & Video Games Outdoor Life Dec. 1996 Page 17Outdoor Life pointed out the game could travel along with you no matter where you area.
The excitement surrounding Radica's Fishin' games grew in 1997 as their distribution system "ramped up". A flurry of coverage of Radica's Bass Fishin' games hit many magazines and newspapers in September and October 1997, just in time for the Christmas.
One of these reviews was in Newsbytes
Bass Fishing in Virtual Reality Newsbytes Newsbytes News Network 7 Oct. 1997It mentioned the natural feel of the game, the motion switch that senses when you cast and the reel action. The game "literally brings virtual reality to your hands because you can feel the fish caught on this game. You feel the shaking and then reel it in. The game has a leisure and a tournament mode. In the tournament mode, you try to catch the three largest fish you can in 15 minutes. When playing the game, It's the first of its kind to bring virtual reality to a hand-held game." The article reports "real" bass fishing became popular in Japan after American GI's stocked lakes with bass in the 1950's.
Another review occurred in The Times
Modern Gadgets - Shopping The Times 18 Oct 1997 by Tim WapshottMr. Wapshott reports his fascination with two toys at this year's toy-industry trade show. He found both to be "novel and infectious." Both were what he called "hand-held air-fishing games" from Radica. Lake Trout Fishin' was released this summer and the "bigger and better, sleeker sister", Deep Sea Fishin' is now out.
The Japanese press, Mangajin, also reviewed these new devices.
A Nation of Fishing Fools Mangajin (a magazine for those learning Japanese) Issue #68 (Sept. 1997) Pgs. 55-57The Mangajin article discusses the obsession many Japanese have with fishing. From the popular fishing movie series, Tsuri-baka Nisshi (Diary of a Fishing Fool) to video arcades with fishing games, to real fishing, Japanese love to fish. The article is accompanied by notice of some new fishing games, including the self contained hand held fishing game, Deep Sea Fishin', and Fishing Koshein "for your Sega playstation."
Manuals for many of Radica's fishing games including: Sport Bass Fishin', Deep Sea Fishin', Junior Bass Fishin', Lunker Bass Fishin', Mini Bass Fishin' and Ultimate Bass Fishin' are available from the Manuals Tab of their web site.
Radica has since moved / evolved their unit in to even more formats:
Tokyo Toy Maker to Release Handheld Virtual Fishing Game Nikkei / Dow Jones Report 23 Oct. 1997The report stated Dreams Come True would release a portable LCD game on Nov. 11, 1997 "that enables players to experience the sensation of fishing. When a fish bites, the main unit vibrates and the player reels in his catch." The game includes images of Tsuribaka Nisshi, a popular comic and movie fishing personality in Japan. It simulates eight types of fishing conditions, including location and bait type and offers two levels of difficulty. Dreams Come True was projecting sales of 300,000 games by year end. Keita Sata, president of Dreams Come True is the younger brother of Hirohisa Sata, president of Takara Co which introduced a similar product last spring (Spring 1996?).
In 1998, Tiger Electronics produced Virtual Fishing, another self contained hand held fishing game. Hasbro still has the operators manual online. Many, many more have followed since then.
Although not specifically a fishing game, the almost ever popular crane game which uses a crane or dropped basket to pickup a toy from a heap of toys shares many aspects with virtual fishing games. You see the prey (toy), there are many of them (toys), they seem so close (catchable), you try to catch it, can see and feel it, many of the best toys "get away", you put more money in and try again.
Reel Feel Sport Controllers
In 1999, Maicomet and Interactive announced their intent to launch a line of "increased realism" sport controllers for fishing and pool games. Pioneered by Chris Meredith and now called Act-Labs, this group once promoted a 30 plus inch virtual fishing reel and owns several virtual fishing patents, however they now appear more focused on game controllers for racing, guns and pool cues.
Miacomet and Interact Announce Agreement to Launch Line of Reel Feel (TM) Sport Controllers Press Release 13 May 1999.
Immersion has announced plans to bring haptic (force feedback) technology to mobile phones. The announcement was covered by Games Daily
Force Feedback Going Wireless GamesDaily 9 January 2003 Immersion accomplishes this by replacing normal on/off pagers with special hardware to deliver force feedback. Sounds like its only a matter of time till your phone doubles as your virtual fishing rod (it sure doesn't take a lot of imagination to see the antennae being the rod).
Game Developer 1 Feb. 2003 reported Buzzards Bay Brewing had released a free wireless fishing game developed by Yellow Pepper, a mobile marketing company. Users go to the Buzzard Bay Brewing web site, enter their phone number to receive the game, the winner gets a year's supply of beer. It only operates on two-way SMS-enabled phone of certain networks.
On 20 Oct. 2003, Sega announced a new fishing game on Vodafone Life.
Examples can be seen at FishingSim.Com and Virtual Fishing Simulator.
For more information the problems manufacturer's face in meeting demand for hot toys, see the references below.
Behind Hit Toy, A Race to Tap Seasonal Surge LeapFrog's Scramble to Meet Demand Shows New Flex in Global Supply Chain Wall Street Journal 18 Dec. 2003 Pgs. A1 and A12.
Dynamic Simulation of the Supply Chain for a Short Life Cycle Product - Lessons From the Tamagotchi Case. Toru Higuchi and Marvin D. Troutt of Kent State Univ. Computers and Operations Research 2003 (not sure of exact issue, I have a copy)This reference includes several simulated charts of manufacturing capacity, demand, factory inventory, retail inventory, etc to support the phenominal growth rate seen by this toy, and the ever present problems at the end (lots of capacity, lots of inventory and nobody wants them anymore.)
Virtual Fishing games have had tremendous "staying power" from year to year, season to season. Their long term "staying power" allows manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to sleep at night. They know they are guaranteed some sales, althought things will be rushed to meet holiday demand, manufacturing and distribution pipelines are well established. Their operations will need attention, but nothing like that associated with "The toy for Christmas." Their games may be released in updated versions and new formats ahead of the holidays, but that is much easier than trying to anticipate the thundering herd of a toy with a huge media induced pent up demand. Virtual Fishing games entered the market and have remained at a threshold below the boom/bust cycle. Part of their success probably lies in being able to "ride the wave" of increasingly powerful computers. Each year brings better resolution, better sound, bigger displays, and increased realism.
In terms of the future, we anticipate virtual fishing games to be around a long time due to the reasons mentioned above. In terms of future technologies, some think the future holds heads-up displays, force feedback gloves, chairs and full body emersion. Personally, I think Radica's recent success with Play TV Fishin' was a nice retro move and anticipate seeing more see more "retro" in the future. Many early fishing gamers are getting older and thinging about buying gifts for their children and grandchildren. They are more comfortable with and attracted to things they remember. Plus they like a more peaceful atmosphere that often surrounds the earlier games. A 1997 study,
A Model for Commodity Intensive Serious Leisure Journal of Leisure Research Vol.29. No.4 (1997) by Daniel Yoderdiscusses how "real" Bass Fishing tournaments have changed the very nature of fishing due to the involvement of sponsors. What was once a relaxing hobby, is now a rush here, rush there, fish fast, high tech, catch fast and hurry back workout. Money from sponsors, equipment manufacturers and multiple tiers of professionals has changed the face of the sport. If I may taking the liberty of extending his thoughts over to virtual fishing games, we can see several of the same things happening here. Some games have been strongly sponsored by those in the fishing industry, some require you to keep your attention on depth finders, water temperature, weather, the ever present tournament clock and a host of other variables. Early games were much more relaxed.
Platforms and controls (game consoles, televisions, LCD displays, dedicated fishing controllers and free standing fishing games) will continue to get faster, lighter, have higher resolution, more colors, better sound and offer more realistic experiences. Interactivity with other users via the net, individual consoles, local wireless connections, cell phones or other means will probably increase. Not only electronic communication, but also visual communication via web cams, avatars and other means.
PCs have moved from desktops, to laptops, to handheld units. Very small PCs may offer additional opportunities for PC fishing games.
Operating systems may come into the picture. Linux continues to not only hang on, but make serious gains against Windows in some markets. There open architecture may offer unique opportunities for virtual fishing games. Linux Game Development Center and many other sites cover the Linux Game industry.
"Picture in a Picture" televisons, split screen tvs and other special tv display methods on traditional, big screen, high definition and plasma displays will offer additional realism, as well as the ability to follow a tv show, movie or sports game along in the background. Interactivity may be extended real time to television shows. Gamers could connect via the net and game during an outdoor show to see who caught the largest or most fish. While watching an outdoor show, your controller might download a custom fishing lure from that show via the air waves, infrared, online or other means. This path has already been used by some interactive toys.
Size sometimes also goes down, many cell phones, PDA's and other small displays are already used as virtual fishing platforms. New small platforms may increase and new platforms may emerge (digital wrist watches?)
Wearable computers have been in the news the last several years. These may also have application to virtual fishing games. Especially if you "flip the game" and think about you being the fish. The game could have others fishing for you, while wearable computers provide force feedback to you depending on your and their actions.
Perhaps we will see greater participation from fishing tackle, boat and related suppliers. See A Model for Commodity Intensive Serious Leisure cited in the Miscellaneous Links and References. This reference talks about how equipment manufacturers and sponsors changed the face of "real" bass fishing by creating bass fishing tournaments. They turned a relaxing sport into an "indy pit crew" paced activity.
With knowledge becoming an increasing part of virtual fishing games (which lure should I use, where should I fish, how should I fish, when should I fish, how deep should I fish, how is the weather, season, water temperature, etc) the construct of Serious Leisure may be entering this game category. Robert A. Stebbin of the University of Calgary is a leading Serious Leisure researcher / author.
The ability to save and restart or replay the same game later with minor variations is coming of age.
Battery technologies from lithium to small fuel cells will probably bring longer life and larger displays to hand held games.
Bluetooth or other local wireless interfaces will make freestanding fishing easier.
The internet will probably one day support feedback gaming.
Sound systems are vastly improving. The ability to hear fish make that "plunk" after they jump from the water will be more realistic in the future.
As realism increases, will we ever actually get wet?
Mr Rosenberg's early efforts at I-Force, consumer force feedback joysticks, were promoted as a spinoff of NASA technology in NASA's 1997 annual publication, Spinoff.
Spinoff 1997 Commercial Benefits- Spinoffs Consumer/Home/Recreation SectionImmersion's I-Force chip is discussed in the press release announcing an agreement with Kawasaki LSI in 1998.
Immersion Corporation and Kawasaki LSI Team Up On Force Feedback Controller Kawasaki LSI Press Release San Jose CA May 5, 1998Immersion can be expected to try to be a player (licensee grantor) in future force feedback gaming applications. Recently, they won a $26 million lawsuit against Microsoft concerning the Xbox force feedback system. The Albuquerque Journal covered the award.
Shares of Small Tech Company Soar on Settlement from Microsoft Albuquerque Journal 19 July 2003A spokesman for Immersion said, "We gave Microsoft a permit to fish on Immersion's river, but we still know where the fish tend to hang out and where to catch them."
More details of the settlement can be found at MacCentral.
Microsoft Settles with Immersion, buys Stake MacCentral 29 July 2003
Immersion is pursuing a similar suit against Sony, maker of the Playstation 2.
The specific patents Immersion claimed Microsoft and Sony were in infringement of were U.S Patent 5,889,672 and U.S. Patent 6,275,213. However as the case progressed, they dropped withdrew U.S. Patent 5,889,672 from the list and replaced it with U.S. Patent 6,424,333.
Back in August of 1999, Microsoft and Immersion were working together per EDP Weekly's IT Monitor.
Microsoft, Immersion Corp. Collaborate to Advance Feel Simulation Technologies EDP Weekly's IT Monitor August 16, 1999Microsoft's own Press Pass carried details of the collaboration.
Microsoft and Immersion Continue Joint Efforts To Advance Future Development of Force Feedback Technology Microsoft Press Pass February of 1998But by February 2002, Immersion sued Microsoft and Sony per Game Market Watch.
Immersion Corp. sues Sony, Microsoft Game Watch 11 February 2002It sounds like Rosenberg has had a bit of an on again - off again relationship with Microsoft. Back in 1996 Microsoft was courting him and Immersion for an exclusive license to their force feedback technology. But he turned them down and went to their competitors per Business Week.
Trying to Stick it to Microsoft Business Week 21 Oct. 1996Sounds like they were at odds in 1995, collaborating in 1998 and suing them in 2002. Not uncommon in today's on-again, off-again relationships between small technical players and mega corporations.
Update on Immersion Patent Battle - "Judge Denies Sony Units' Move to Overturn Tech-Patent Ruling". Wall Street Journal. 13 March 2006 reports a federal judge blocked a move to overturn a $90.7 million verdict against Sony (previously ruled in a Oakland California Court in Sept 2004) that may also impact the next generation Play Stations. Sony based their appeal on testimony of Craig Thorner, a previous consultant to Immersion who now claims he withheld information in the previous trial about earlier developments of the technology that may have made the present Immersion patents invalid. Immersion claimed Sony was paying Mr. Thorner for his current testimony. Sony claimed current payments were for rights to Mr Thorner's patents from Electro Source (another firm sued by Immersion). The Judge ruled Mr. Thorner was an "unreliable witness". Immersion still faces a separate appeal by Sony to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Immersion's patents include:
Those interested in electronic game patents, might find a current white paper by the International Game Developers Association, titled IP Rights White Paper of interest.
U.S. Design Patents
Some Related U.S. Patents by Chris Meredith
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