By the fans - for the fans

English Version Issue 9 English Version

March 2003

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  • A short foreword...
  • X² - The Threat Project Update
  • Desktop Wallpaper
  • New X² Screenshots
  • Sector Design Competition - Winners
  • Betatest Reports
  • Next System, Next Station - Part 4
  • Questions and Answers
  • Imprint
  • A short foreword...


    Welcome to the longest issue of X News ever. We've been very busy lately at X-News, updates to the forums and website are still being implemented and we've begun answering those press requests (you may have noticed). Thanks again for your continued support!

    So what have we got in this issue?

    Project update with news on demos, lots of screens, new wallpaper, fan questions answered, the winners of the "design the sector" competition and another story from Melissa.

    So lets get to it!

    Have fun with X-News IX !


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    X² - The Threat Project Update

  • The plot of X²
  • X²-The Threat Demo News
  • Cruisers are now known as Corvettes
  • The plot of X²

    In the original game (X-Beyond The Frontier), the player took on the role of an Earth space pilot named Kyle Brennan, marooned in a distant area of space. We refer to this as the "X Universe". Inhabited by various alien races, the player forged a living by trading goods, bounty hunting and taking on various missions. All the while, seeking for a way back home. During this time and after frequenting the different races, it became apparent that a machine-based race (known as the "Xenon") was invading. The story climaxed with the player being instrumental in their defeat.

    In X², the player takes on the role of a pilot indigenous to the X-Universe. The story begins with our soon-to-be hero and his companion attempting to steal a ship and after a failed, action packed escape attempt in a dense nebulae, he soon finds himself aboard a security ship, destined to live out his days on the cold, prison-mining world of Artur.

    En-route the ship is stopped by an impressive battle cruiser under command of a man named Ban Danna, high-ranking member of the secret service of the Argon Federation. He gave Kyle (from X-BTF) lots of help in the past in his quest to defeat the Xenon and Kyle is now a key member of the corporation known as TerraCorp.

    Ban Danna is well known and respected throughout the Universe and the security ship Captain doesn't hesitate to hand over the player when Ban Danna requests him.

    Bewildered, the player is unsure what awaits him, but Ban Danna is calm and forceful as he explains that it is wrong to waste away a life on illegal pirate activities and this is his last and only chance of redemption.

    The player jumps at the chance of a life outside the mining world and promises to follow a life of potential prosperity instead of piracy. A job with TerraCorp hauling freight seems a good bargain and he forges ahead in his new career.

    But it isn't long before his past catches up with him as he learns the real reason that he was saved from oblivion. Lost ships and technologies have to be found, journeys from Kingdom End to the new frontiers and beyond beckon, as the mystery unfolds. The discovery of a new race named the "Khaak" and their destructive intentions brings adventure fraught with danger and intrigue. The revelations from his past begin to emerge and these must be faced as he discovers his true identity and also that of his father. The correct decisions to be taken cause a dilemma with a struggle between his conscious and his loyalties.

    But he must face them with strength if he is to unravel this web and meet the challenges that await him. Within a dynamic Universe and a plot expertly weaved together with a series of moving cut-scenes, planet locations and characters of interest, the story of "The Threat" is waiting to be told.

    X²-The Threat Demo News

    We can tell you that there will be two demos of X².
    The first will be a rolling demo which will include some benchmarks. This will enable people to not only see the game, but also get an idea of how it will run.

    The second will be the playable demo. This will be released closer to the actual game and again, we can't specify a date for this yet as we don't have one confirmed.

    Bugging the Big Boss a little more we could get some additional information on the rolling demo:

      We are currently preparing the rolling demo, yet we decided to postpone the release to include some more scenes from the plot showing characters, station insides and planets. This should make it clear that there is far more to experience in X² than just cold space ships - it's a living game with a thrilling story told through living characters!

      Giving an exact filesize is impossible at this stage but we will try not to exceed a limit of 40-50 MB. The demo should be hosted by several of the big gaming sites and will also be available on many cover cds.
      The length of the demo will be somewhere between 4 and 10 minutes.

      X² uses nearly every 3D technique available so the benchmark will provide a quite good overview on how well the actual performance (especially of graphcis adapter) is. As has been done in the older X-BtF demo the new benchmark will store the frames for each scene seperately so you can easily see the pros and cons of the techniques used in that specific scene.
      It is also important to say that the demo will turn AQC (Automatic Quality Control) OFF so the benchmark results can be compared.
    (AQC enables/disables some effects automatically to provide the gamer with the highest possible quality at the best performance)

    Cruisers are now known as Corvettes

    After some interesting discussions the Egosoft team decided to rename the Cruiser class (M6) to "Corvette" as this fits its purpose much better.

    This class of ship positions itself between the smaller and more agile M3 (Heavy Fighter) class ships and the M2 class destroyers. Corvettes will mainly have multiple cannon-mounts and can hold an M5 in their bay.

    (da & mb)

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    Desktop Wallpaper

    We have prepared another wallpaper to enhance your desktop. This screenshot was shown in the german games magazine PC Games dubbed Pixelpracht. (roughly translated: Pixel-Magnificence). The image is rather colourfull so it suits desktops with only few icons.

    In this image you can see some of the new ships that will be in X² - in front: the Split Dragon (Corvette class).

    Pixelpracht Wallpaper



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    New X² Screenshots

    Cockpit Screenshots

    Welcome aboard!

    The early cockpits were far from what you are about to see now! They have been completely redesigned and simply look stunning!

    Every display is fully animated! But I'm not going to bore you any longer, see below: the next step in cockpit design!

    The first screenshot shows the bridge of a carrier, note the "table" with a real, working sector map! The second shot shows what it looks like in the cockpit of a Boron Mako (M4).

    Carrier Bridge - 1024*768 - 487kb Mako Cockpit - 1024*768 - 429kb

    (click images to enlarge)

    Station Screenshots

    We have been asked why there were so many screnshots of ships but so few stations screenshots - well, we can't answer that question, but we can show you more stations ;).

    The first station is an "Argon Trading Station" - this one is located in Argon Prime. Note the shadows thrown by the big arm!

    The second one is a "Paranid Soyfarm" located in Paranid Prime.

    Argon Trading Station - 1024*768 - 132kb Paranid Soyfarm - 1024*768 - 159kb

    (click images to enlarge)

    Get more screenshots on the Egosoft Website.


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    Sector Design Competition

    And the winner is...

    In the last issue of X-News we set you all a challenge. We asked you to design for us a sector that we could then put into X². We got over 100 entries in total from x players all over the world; some ideas were great, and some … not so great.

    They were graded on how much of the required criteria was met. We wanted you to send us the name of the sector, a description, list of stations and ships and finally your name.

    Next we evaluated on imagination of the sector, and we had some great entries with plenty of imagination.

    We eventually managed to get your submissions down to two entries, one from the English side and one from the German side. Both of these entries showed impressive imagination, but like all of the entries received we needed to alter them slightly to be able to get them into the game. I then had the honour of putting them into their place.

    And now you are about to see the finished product.

    First of all I would like to present the English forum winner:

    Mark J Ballantyne

    otherwise known as Eagle

    With his sector:

    Akeela's Beacon

    Akeela's Beacon was chosen for the English forum because of its imagination and short story that accompanied it, it also was an entry that we didn't have to alter as much as some others.

    Akeela's Beacon - 1024*768 - 249kb Akeela's Beacon - 1024*768 - 333kb

    (click images to enlarge)

    Without going into too many details, here is what will be in Akeela's Beacon:

    LOCATION: 08,06

    • Free Argon Trading Dock
    • Teladi Trading Station
    • 1 x BoFu Chemical Lab Boron
    • 1 x Cattle Ranch Argon
    • 1 x Chelt Space Aquarium Split
    • 3 x Ore Mine Argon and Teladi
    • 1 x Quantum Tube Fab Teladi
    • 1 x Rimes Fact Argon
    • 1 x 25MW Shield Factory Split
    • 5 x Solar Power Plants Paranid, Argon and Teladi
    PATROL SHIPS: Complement of M6 Corvettes accompanied by a group of M3 fighters

    GATES: West Gate to Aladna Hill
    Description made from the story - subject to minor alterations or additions

    The ageing but brilliant nuclear scientist, Akeela Hartnell, had a dream; to create a string of artificial suns that would light the way, and provide solar power for the ever expanding colonisation of sectors and planets by all races.

    The vessel that would fulfil this dream set off on its journey, but as it cleared the Omicron Lyrae system the ship was hit by an asteroid, travelling so fast that it was virtually impossible to avoid, and so damaged the ship beyond repair.

    The crew, except for Akeela, disembarked and made their escape away from the ship. Akeela succeeded in steering the ship away from the inhabited sectors in what was to be her last gallant action before the ship exploded and she became a part of her own destiny.

    A request by Akeela’s last will and testament asked that the Argon govern the new system, but it should be a free place, and a safe haven for all traders. Four glowing stars are the result of Akeelas Dream, and so the sector is named after her. Every pilot entering this sector honours the tradition of raising a glass and giving a salute to the light, "Akeela, guided by your dream."

    Well done Mark, it seems your Design Fab now has a home!

    Now to present the German forum winner:

    Andreas Teege

    With his sector:

    Spring Of Belief

    Spring of Belief is an impressive sector, and was very well detailed as to what should go in, only minor alterations needed to be made to this sector which made it a firm favourite with the judging team. And don't tell egosoft I told you this, there's a small hidden feature for you to find.

    Spring of Belief - 1024*768 - 253kb Spring of Belief - 1024*768 - 253kb

    (click images to enlarge)

    LOCATION: 08,14

    • Paranid Trading Station
    • Paranid Equipment Dock
    • Pirate Base
    • Derelict Boron Trading Station
    • 1 x Alpha Heavy Plasma Thrower Forge Paranid
    • 1 x Hornet Missile Factory Paranid
    • 1 x Ore Mine Paranid
    • 1 x Silicon Mine Paranid
    • 3 x Solar Power Plants Paranid
    • 1 x Solar Power Plants Derelict Boron
    • 2 x Soyery Paranid
    PATROL SHIPS: An M1 Zeus with a M2 Odysseus with a complement of fighter craft ranging from M3 to M5.
    • North Gate
    • East Gate
    Description made from the story - subject to minor alterations or additions

    Spring of Belief was originally a Boron sector named "Queen's Paradise". An accident during a scientific experiment on the planets surface released radiation and soon after the local population started to die of a mysterious disease. When it was discovered that the radiation was the cause the Boron Government ordered an evacuation of the sector. Xenon fleets also tried to inhabit the sector, but the radiation affected electronic systems onboard spacecraft.

    As the radiation grew weaker the Paranid finally settled in this system and claimed it as theirs. As the radiation is now a minor problem the Boron Government has tried to reclaim the system, but the Paranid Government refuses to give up this system.

    Congratulations to Andreas!

    I would like to thank you all for your entries; we have all enjoyed reading through them, and I hope you enjoy the small snippets about these sectors you have just seen as this is only a small taster of what is to come in X².


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    Betatest Reports

    Impressions from the beta

    EGOSOFT Fiction-Co-Author Darren Astles started a series of interesting posts on the Egosoft forums. Every time he started up his beta he noted down his impressions for you all to read.
    So what we got here is first hand information on X²!

    Action Vault - IGN are now releasing the full series of reports over the coming weeks.
    See the first one here...Action Vault - X² - The Threat Beta Report #1

    Also, 5 reports have been released in draft form - get them here:

    Beta Test Part....1
    Beta Test Part....2
    Beta Test Part....3
    Beta Test Part....4
    Beta Test Part....5


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    Next System, Next Station - Part 4

    (Read parts 1-3 in the X-Universe News archive.)

    New Task

    I had just a stazura to prepare for the new mission. In a hastily convened briefing, I was handed some information and material which I had to study before my imminent departure. Besides the general information which had been broadcasted by two former satellites, along with the communication logs of two pilots that luckily had returned, I also reviewed three sealed tapes with details classified as secret. These had been collected by the Argon Secret Service, Boron patrols and Teladi observers, - an act of confidence, which probably was related on the one hand to my good reputation with the races' governments. Or on the other hand to the apparently desperate situation they were in at the moment.

    I was able to find some technical details about the machines' ship types in the Argon documents. So far the Xenon had similar class ship types at their command as to those that were known in the Community of Planets. There were three types of smaller fighters which were named N, M and L. Additionally the Xenon still possessed huge carriers and the big, fast and very dangerous destroyers, which were remembered painfully well by veterans of the Xenon War. The Xenon ships were thought to have the ability to use Hornet-class missiles, in addition to tremendously powerful energy plasma weapons. Uhh...I knew the specifications of that missile type - if any of them was to carry my name, then 'adios muchachos'... I really had to try to avoid a conflict with them. I would need quite a few sezuras really to be able to appreciate the situation I would be in after the jump.

    Then I also had to think of my other still to be completed mission. The cargo which I would get from the Split had to be delivered to my employers regardless of the circumstances I was in or how bad my future looked! For this reason and due to the hornet menace, they let me choose between two ships for this mission. A small, lively 'Bat' and a hot-blooded fighter ship of the 'Hawk' type. Both were fast enough to evade a missile attack, but if the enemy managed to engage me in a dogfight, a Bat's agility and speed would be of advantage, because I wouldn't get anywhere against the enemy's superiority with any of the ships combat weapons. Thus I decided in favour of the Bat, which was then prepared for the mission by a group of technicians.

    While I was still studying the Argon documents and being briefed for the flight by two advisors, a third Teladi entered the room. He seemed to be a high-ranking official, because a short glance by him was enough to make the other two advisors leave the room instantly without saying a word. The Teladi stood in front of me for a while and looked me over. "You know the official description of the job. But the reality is a little bit different." he started slowly. "It isn't just about where to place a satellite. By my estimate it won't be able to broadcast for longer than some stazuras anyway. We suggest that such installations are regarded as a border violation, which will lead to instant destruction. But we also want our information to be as precise as possible. Within the scope of this project from the Community of Planets, we want to gain further information concerning the strange machines we have observed. We need to learn anything about their attack strategies, firepower and possible communication methods. We need someone of your calibre for field surveillance who is able to evade an assault, while complete scanner, gravidar and other forms of data are continually streamed into our memory banks." He felt that I was just on the point of interrupting him and beat me to it: "After you had offered us your assistance, we immediately began to make inquiries about you. We of course now realise that the Argon as well as the Boron have absolute confidence in your abilities. If you should finish this job successfully, your reputation with the Teladi will be raised accordingly, and even the Ceo will be indebted to you." He then remained silent, giving me some time to reflect on what he had said. I didn't need much time, because this was a golden opportunity to solve a big task for the Teladi, with exciting rewards into the bargain. Exactly what I loved and needed! "How long will I be needed for reconnaissance there?" I asked, confirming that I was willing to accept the job. "As soon as you reach the Xenon sector, an armed fighter drone will be sent out from the sector 'Eighteen Billion', heading for your direction. This one will attract the Xenon's attention by some mock attacks so that we will be able to observe the reactions of the Xenon by means of the transmitter in your ship. In case the drone is destroyed we will need to know how this occured and what will happen immediately afterwards. Additionally we want to observe the reaction of the Xenon if we place a navigation satellite there. All things considered, the whole reconnaissance job shouldn't last longer than a wozura. Unless you've some reason to stay there longer..."

    I discussed some further mission details with the Teladi, fetched some personal possessions out of the Falcon and then said good-bye to the other attendees. I configured the autopilot of the Falcon so that it would start its voyage back to the central Argon systems automatically in eight tazuras.

    There wasn't as much space in the small fighter vessel as I was used to having. Still whilst I was settling in, I received clearance for take off. Shifting into thrusters, I passed the airlock at walking pace, and then geared up to full speed. Wooow!!! What an acceleration! Within a few sezuras I reached the Falcon's maximum speed, and the Bat's velocity display was still showing just one third of its maximum thrust output. I slowed down again and made a loop around the trading station, heading for the southern gate. On the correct path then, I tried some flight manoeuvres to get used to the Bat's controls and its flight behaviour. The cockpit design was well-known to me from the Falcon, just the outside view was a little bit more limited here. In other respects I came to terms with all the other control instruments without too many problems. I switched through the available camera views - impressed at how fast I had left the space stations behind me. At this speed I would reach the jumpgate within three stazuras.


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    Questions and Answers

    Once more we have collected questions from the community and will now try to answer them as good as possible.

    What sort of computers do you use for testing, programming, rendering, skinning, etc.? (Adamskini)

    Oh a wide variety, although I doubt we have such high spec. machines as some of our community. We have what we need to do the job, but that is not always a very high end PC. My work PC is a 1GHz Athlon (actually it's a 1.3 but it gets too hot to run it at its spec :). At least in regards to graphic cards most PCs are above average, they are just needed to look at the game the way its meant to be and also we get some of them for free from the manufacturers ;-). But we also have older machines, we have to test on those too!

    How does Bernd and Egosoft feel about fan art, literature and modified EXEs (basically the assorted fan work of the community in all its forms)? (Avis)

    We like it a lot. I try to follow these kind of things on the forum whenever possible and download everything that comes to my attention. There is so much good talent within our fans and some of these people are now helping with X². We listen to our fans and many of the ideas in our games come from their ideas. Our forums are very important to us, its usually the first place such people visit.

    Have you seen the fan videos? Amazing. Then the graphic novel and the fiction, pictures of ships and characters? Some of this is so good; we intend to put it on the X² game CD.

    From concept to finished rendering, about how long does it take to develop a ship for the X Universe? (Belgarath)

    Depends on the model and even more so on the textures it uses. Often you work much longer on the texturing and bumpmaps than you do on the actual model.

    For more information relating to graphics design please refer to the Interview with Markus Pohl in X-Universe News #7.

    How many ships will be available in X²? (Pointer88)

    About 70. I won't give an absolute figure because that would spoil the fun. But you can pilot them all. M1's (Carriers), M2's (Battleships), the new M6 Corvettes. As a general rule, if you can see it, you can have it (well you can try).

    It is obvious from the way that each of the X games has advanced in leaps and bounds that Egosoft listens to what we, the players of X, have placed in our wish-list on the forum for what we would like in the next generation of X. Is there anything that Bernd would have liked to include in X², but could not because of processing power/memory requirements etc.? (Lucrativus)

    Good question. Yes, many things. We would like to split up ships into component parts and have crew you can hire with traits they can develop in an RPG type scenario. There is an endless list of things we would like to add. Firstly though, you have to balance the playability and fun in the game. Take the flight model for example, we have discussed this so many times, but it's a balance.

    Also, we currently track well in excess of 10,000 objects in the X-Universe. If you introduce crew (for example), with a number of statistics each, this increases to well over 100,000 instantly. You can have over a million objects easily. Graphics and sound can place enormous strain on today's machines. We would prefer to have the machine use this power for the presentation of the game and delegate the tracking and calculating of millions of objects to large servers. That way, only the data you need for your current environment can be given to the client. That's a little of what Online-Universe is about.

    Has Egosoft managed to get a publisher for X² yet? (Oldman)

    With the problems we have had with distributing our previous games into markets such as America (for example), we want to ensure this doesn't happen again. The USA is an important market for us; we know this from the amount of people who have bought our games over the web (which they are still doing), so we want the broadest coverage possible.

    Are there any plans/thoughts for another space game that might be totally different from the 'X games' e.g. different type of universe, completely new 'plot' etc.? (Oldman)

    Thoughts? Always. Plans? No. We like the X-Universe and its inhabitants. But as for plot, OH YES! We think X² has a great story to tell.

    What sort of advancements in game play can we expect in X² compared to X-T? (Lorien)

    Compared to X-Tension? Firstly, as above, plot. As in previous games, you don't have to play out the plot, but this time we have built an intriguing adventure to participate in. Dip into the plot whenever you want to, take on sub-tasks and gain reputation and new technologies, build up your own personal Corporation and fleet before you take on the missions. The choice is yours. But we have spun an exciting web with plenty of surprises in store!

    To tell this story we will also be using high quality character animations for the first time!

    There are plenty of interesting characters, locations (like planets) and beautiful cut-scenes and voice narrations to really involve you. Then of course we have hollow asteroids and dense nebulae, new weapons and technologies to add extra spice to the missions.

    Mining can now be done more extensive, there are passenger transport ships and we have paid special attention to those who want to follow the Pirate life (Hi Grimm!), with some balancing work on missions and better profit on products.

    AI scripts. Create or download them, or use the ones that ship with the game. You can do many things with them to change the way your ships will operate and react, both in combat and trading.

    Of course, lots of new ships and weapons with those large capital ships now available and those pesky "Khaak" as well. You'll have to wait and see what they bring to the game :)

    Turrets you can sit in personally or just have that warm feeling of having your six covered, in the right ship that have them of course. Tutorial missions that have no effect on your real game and you can play them again and again, repairable hull damage, multiple windowed views so you can see the view from your other ships/turrets while keeping direct control of the ship you are in.

    There are many improvements that are too numerous to list, the kind of things that you only notice when you come across them and of course there are the new graphics!

    Are there any plans to make XT or even X² easier to mod? Iwar2 was very easily modded and so extended its life. (Faze)

    Well we are currently looking at what can be done to help people mod Xtension. There are some technical limitations to overcome. With X² this is not decided yet.

    What kind Of interface Will you have in X²? What I mean is, how many extra kinds of command can you use for your ships and stations? For example it would be neat to command you fighters to attack any ship or station. Or how about being able to command a ship to go to a waypoint that you can create from a 3D Map of a sector you are in or even from the galaxy map. (GusManB)

    Various new default commands are built in to the menu system, but with scripts, you can do many more things.

    Will we be able to own and operate shipyards and equipment docks in X²? (Grimm)

    No. Probably not.

    Now for the fun stuff...

    What do you use as your desktop wallpaper? (Apothos)

    Bernd: Well I have a picture of earth by night on my desktop. Check out:

    Darren (Steel): On which computer? :) I don't normally sit at a single machine, I move around a lot, so I don't have one.

    Michael (BurnIt!): On my second machine there is the "Pixelpracht" wallpaper (see above) and my main computer features a rendered wallpaper called "Tropical Moon of Thetis" - check out for more!

    What do you do to relax and what do you play on your PC? (The Devil)

    Bernd: Movies, music and if I get a chance to play, I mainly just try out games rather briefly. That's not really for entertainment but more to see what the competition is doing ;-) Recently I have played a little C&C Generals and some first person LAN shooting :)

    Darren (Steel): Relax? I'm not telling you that! :) I play all sorts of games, when I have the time. I like deep games, but don't have the time to appreciate them properly, so usually a quick "blast" on a shooter or something like it is what I do.

    Michael (BurnIt!): Usually I sit back and watch a movie. Unfortunately in most cases a movie is longer than the time I have to spare so a few rounds playing a first person shooter provide the distraction I need. Seeing the above answers I really think we should do a Dev-Match one day ;)

    What's your favourite sandwich filling? (Nobby Styles)

    Whatever tastes good at the time. I don't have a favourite and if I did, it would probably change the next day.

    If you won a free colonic irrigation , would you get it done? (Nobby Styles)

    I had to look that up! Ugh!

    If he could instantly travel anywhere anytime and live there (permanently) where would it be and when and of course why ? (future doesn't count past only) ? (Avis)

    Darren (Steel): A mining post on Titan…..oh, future doesn't count. Mmm….very difficult question. I love the present and the advances in technology that happen all the time. If I could be on Mars when it had an atmosphere long time ago, then that's where I'd be.

    Do you have a life outside of Egosoft? (Belgarath)

    Bernd: I've heard people say that these characters walking along that big screen in the front of our office (some call it a window even though it doesn't run a Microsoft OS), are REAL. They say you can interact with each and every one! Wow that scares the hell out of me. How lucky I can stay inside!

    That's it folks - more next time...

    (da & mb)

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    Additional Contacts


    EGOSOFT / Deutschland -

    Editorship english:
    Darren Astles / Great Britain (da)

    Editorship german:
    Michael B. / Germany (mb)

    Contact the editorship:

    Jonathan Handby - (jh)

    Translations and proofreading:
    Herbert Hohenburger - (hrh)
    Peter Biner W. - (pbw)
    Invader - (inv)

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