Extras,  Stories

Monte Vista Stories | Reflections on Generation 1

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This is a picture I took that never made it in the story – I just couldn’t make the accompanying chapter fit, for some reason.

That was it. What was A Monte Vista Story and is now generation one of Monte Vista Stories has come to an end. I’m not going to lie, it was a turbulent process, not nearly as easy or nice to write as other things I’ve done. But I still care a lot about what I’ve written here, and I’ve also learnt a lot in the process. There’s a lot of stuff I like and a lot of stuff I would like to change.

The first generation of Monte Vista Stories is essentially a first draft. And hot diggity damn, it is flawed. I’m not going to rag anymore on how bad I find some of the chapters, but instead reflect a bit on the process – it’s more fun to read (I hope) and more educational for myself. So, this is a lot like the post I did for CoM, reflecting on the process and sharing some pictures I left out. I hope it’ll be interesting. If not, at least I fulfill my own desire to talk about my writing so… *shrugs*

A word of warning: Massive spoilers ahead!

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Another picture from the same scene as above. I tried for so long to write this scene as well… All my tears that I had to cut the pretty autumn pictures.

To Legacy or Not to Legacy

It was always my plan for what was A Monte Vista Story and is now Monte Vista Stories to be a legacy type story. It was also always my plan for it to be at least partially based on gameplay, and not let the story take over. (Lol, that worked out super well). When I started, I just wanted to do a fun romance and I’ve always liked Carlo (he was the founder’s spouse in my first legacy story) and I thought I’d do some more with him. I promised myself a few things when I started:

  • No cute ingenue who stumbled onto this hardcore criminal and changed him with her goodness.
  • No twins unless it happened naturally in-game (has become a moot point since I stopped playing).
  • No accidental pregnancies.

The first two I stuck to pretty well, but for the third one, I had to admit that I couldn’t see a situation in which Carlo said: ‘Hey, let’s have babies’ and Vittoria was just like ‘Okay, cool’. It was an accident, but I decided to not make a big deal out of it. The way I see it, the two of them had too much wine and completely ignored taking any precautions… twice (well, probably several, but they got “lucky” twice). I don’t think this is out of character for them. Vittoria went with it because of her love for Carlo, and he was extremely excited about having kids with her. He’s adorable like that.

The gameplay stuff disappeared pretty quickly. I had pictures for several chapters where nothing much happened and I hated them – they were boring to write and took the story nowhere. It was basically just ‘Then they had babies’ which I know is the backbone of most legacies, but it doesn’t interest me much. I probably should have realised that it wouldn’t work out quite like that, knowing myself. But eh, live and learn!

Here are some pictures that I cut out:

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Carlo

Carlo’s personality grew from his traits, though with my own interpretation of the traits – the ‘evil’ comes in the form of how much he likes his job. And even then it’s more of an intellectual thing – he enjoys the challenge and the privilege and ordinary jobs would bore him. When I saw his other traits, I thought that spoke of a certain softness. Other than being evil, he loves the outdoors, has a green thumb, is charismatic, and artistic. I mean, yeah, there’s the whole crime and evil thing but… isn’t that kind of cute? So yeah, I probably went a little Draco in Leather Pants on him. He’s a wish fulfillment character and I don’t advocate dating criminals in real life, not even if they’re hot, beefy Italian studs. Leave it in fantasy land, girls.

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The evolution of Carlo. Upper left is the vanilla version, upper right my initial version, and the bottom picture is him after some new defaults, a little hunky-fying, and some ReShade magic. And yes, it looks like he’s de-aging. Cheats prosper I think is the lesson to be learnt here.

Before I started playing, I totally cheated. He’s four days from being an elder when you load up the game and in my experience dies once his kids reach their teens (if you have them right away). I de-aged him to the start of adulthood, and I changed his nose. It was tiny, and though I’m generally all about cool noses (like, look at Vittoria’s – it’s wonderful), I also know it can create some really funky-looking noses if his wife’s nose is small. So yes, I cheated, but can we just agree that I only did good things for him? Looks-wise, he changed little after that. He’s kept the same hair all the way through (except for the final chapter), and I mostly just dressed him in different variations of the same outfit. The biggest change happened from chapter 11 onward, and the change was pretty much incidental. I tidied up my CC and got new defaults, including for facial hair, skin, and eyes. It made him way nicer to look at with the non-EA beard and eyebrows – and he got a little stubble, too.

Vittoria

Now, Vittoria was created the way most of my Sims are – I found a premade and changed her until I made something I thought was nice. She changed much less than Carlo. I’ve tried to change her face a few times, but everytime I tried doing much about her it, she came out looking bland, so I reverted – I like her face, and especially her odd, slightly awkward profile. The one thing I did change was her eyes. They had that weird EA boxyness and were extremely hard to fit custom 3D-lashes to once I got them, so they became a little more almond shaped.

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Changes to Vittoria are mostly due to new defaults and ReShade magic.

I gave her glasses, round glasses based on someone I’d seen in my classes – I don’t see people with round glasses like that very often, so I think it looks really cool, really unique, and gives a vibe of ‘I don’t give a damn’. Later I came up with the one thing her and I have in common: we both have shitty eyesight. So when you see her without glasses, she’s wearing contacts (or not out of bed yet). Since the start I’ve almost always dressed her in greens. At first it didn’t have a point, but I think the dark green suits her. It makes me think of deep forests where only a little bit of light filters down from above – and that’s pretty apt for her character.

Lucia

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The only picture I have of elder Lucia is the one from Marta’s flashback, and it’s only from the back (upper left). Upper right is ‘trashy’ Lucia.

Lucia is one of the biggest problems with the story. I overall like the idea of her, but she starts out ridiculously powerful and then is killed off because she has a sudden case of The Dumbs and reveals herself to Carlo. It’s sort of implied that she’s mad because he brings up ‘the one who got away’ – his dad – but I wish I had established that better. I didn’t, mainly because I didn’t know this would be a thing until way later.

Looks-wise, she changed a lot. At first I had her as an elder, but I remembered that she had Vittoria at age 16. Vittoria is 26 at the start of the story, which would only make Lucia around 42, so I changed her to an adult. At first her looks were sort of white trash-y, a little worn out and past her prime. While talking with boyfriend though, I realised that Alessandro would need a really good reason to keep her around besides her manipulations – so, I made her very beautiful. For her look, I aged up Vittoria, softened out the hard lines in her features and made her eyes a little bigger. Once you see Vittoria aged up to adult, you may not that Lucia… kind of aged better than her daughter, and that’s deliberate. I’m not saying Vittoria isn’t pretty, but she does have some odd harsh lines in her face and for Lucia I eliminated all that – this lady is gorgeous, is what I’m saying. Maybe I’ll make it more clear in the edit. For her wardrobe I gave her outfits that are girly and hair that looks like she’s just rolled out of bed so she kind of looks cuckoo and not all there. At one point I had her first appearing with braids and a long, flowy pink dress – it was a bit much, and her ‘crazy’ hair is a better fit, I think.

Marta

I added Marta because I thought it would spice things up a bit. This was at a time when I still played the game, so I adopted her in-game and, needless to say, got a pudding face with weird greenish-brown hair. Thanks, EA. Annoyed at this, I cheated and edited her face to be more interesting and eventually I decided – screw it, I’m changing the stupid hair as well. Thus, you can assume that when her hair is greenish-brown in chapter 10, it’s because she’s been running and it’s super dirty. Yuck, I know, but just run with it. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of her old face, but have this picture from a cut scene where she met a dog:

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Marta and Vittoria’s relationship highlights my troubles with writing Vittoria properly. At first I had her be much more kind and gentle with the girl, but it was just wrong. However unreasonable, the reaction she actually had was more natural for her character. Vittoria is a passable mother to her kids, though hardly affectionate, and she has to be reminded by Carlo to show affection – hugs, kisses, and so on. It doesn’t come natural to her. Her relationship with Marta grows into something sweeter (I mean, sort of – as always my lack of attention to it is its greatest downfall), though in the years to come, they never really have a relationship like a mother and daughter would. Carlo becomes a dad to the girl, but Vittoria is more like an older sister. Fun gen 2 fact for ya there.

Story

The story evolved as I wrote. I created Vittoria thinking she would have some kind of secret, because of course she would. What that secret was… eh, yeah, it came to me gradually. I only knew it would be something with her family. Once I thought of her also being involved in the gang stuff, I really dug it, though. It makes her and Carlo more equal and it’s something they have in common. It also defies the ‘cute ingenue changes the bad boy’-trope. She doesn’t change him, she doesn’t want to (and even if she did, she couldn’t), and in the end they fall in love because they both love what they do.

One thing I still regret is the four-year-time skip. It came about because I didn’t want to do the whole ‘then they leveled their skills, then they had babies, then those babies had birthdays…’-shtick. And at that point I honestly didn’t even enjoy playing. I haven’t touched any of my gameplay saves in ages, and I’m okay with that. I’m still thinking of ways around the time-skip in my edit, because it made things really difficult and really dumb. I honestly thought nobody would buy Vittoria betraying her husband after FOUR years together, but I guess I pulled it off somehow. It’s still the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever added to any story because it was super out of nowhere.

Originally, instead of the time skip, I wanted to have a scene after chapter 8 where Vittoria freaked/got angry because Carlo said he was in love with her. I couldn’t make it work because, once again – say it with me now – I cannot write Vittoria properly. I honestly can’t see her freaking out. She may react with bewilderment or puzzlement or a kind of intellectual curiosity – maybe she wondered what he thought he gained by saying that. But other than that, no. So uh, yeah, at the time my best idea was to skip four years ahead in the most abrupt fashion possible. Oh, the comments if had to the tone of ‘Oh, I was afraid I missed a chapter’. I’m so sorry guys – you didn’t skip anything. I did.

Random Facts

Well, before this gets too long, I should probably list off some facts about everything and nothing:

  • Carlo and Vittoria’s little tiff about his shirt in the final chapter isn’t just me pulling something out of my butt (for once). She wears it in chapter 8 (after her and Carlo have sex for the first time), then later on it appears again in 14 and 16. Vittoria stole it before leaving home and wore it because she missed him. It was a subtle way of showing her true alliance to Carlo – though it was probably too subtle, since I don’t think anyone picked up on it.
  • Speaking of subtle hints to Vittoria’s true alliance – the hair colour she has while it’s dyed is a darker version of his hair colour.
  • After their wedding, Vittoria and Carlo wear these rings. They’re not your typical wedding band – Carlo chose them and he liked giving his wife a big, expensive, obvious ring. She doesn’t wear it while with her old gang, of course, though it’s back on in chapter 22.
  • My favourite scenes to write were:
    • Carlo and Vittoria’s argument in the last half of chapter 4. I love writing romantic tension and though I can see many ways of improving it now, I still think it’s fun.
    • Carlo and Vittoria’s talk in the last half of chapter 8. I liked the view into Vittoria’s mind.
    • Chapter 12. For some reason, writing about Carlo’s heartbreak was super fun. What can I say – us writers are some f’ed up folks.
    • Carlo and Vittoria’s conversation in chapter 19. It grew very organically as I wrote and I liked how a messed up situation actually became very tender and romantic.
    • The entire last chapter. It’s just a cute, relaxed chapter with lots of sweet moments but still with a hint that not everything is perfect – a little dose of realism, if you will. I like it that way.
  • Vittoria’s real name, Lisa Giocondo, is inspired by Lisa del Giocondo, a woman you might better know as Mona Lisa. Yup, that Mona Lisa. It’s not a reference that means anything – I just thought I was clever or something.
  • I’ve made a handy chart over the ages of the characters (the yellow cells mean the characters weren’t born at the time):
    gen1agechart.PNG
  • Initially, Vittoria was going to be younger, but at an age of 20-22 hers and Carlo’s relationship felt icky and imbalanced. Since I wanted him to be in his mid-thirties (and he is adult in-game while she’s a young adult), I aged her up to be at an age when the brain is developed and most people act fairly mature. At their new ages, it also passes the ‘half your age + 7’ rule for relationships. (Carlo is 36, so it’s ‘okay’ for him to date people who are 25 and up).
  • While shooting for a chapter (that I ended up junking) one of my extras was kidnapped by aliens. That day I learnt that being kidnapped by aliens snaps a sim out of their poses! It’s one of a very few times I’ve had an alien abduction happen naturally in-game – and I wasn’t even playing.
  • Camillo just sort of… disappeared from the story. When I started writing, I really did want to go into his and Carlo’s relationship more (something to add for the edit), but the story with Vittoria took over and poor Camillo was relegated to appearing when needed as a wedding guest and emotional support.
  • While still playing the game, at one point Vittoria (who has the evil trait) scared Carlo, and he rolled a wish to see her ghost. I was so upset by it that I didn’t play for a long time, and once I started again I installed a no-autonomous-scares mod.
  • Speaking of dumb autonomous actions: Marta rolled the diva trait and her favourite passtime in-game is to accuse Giuliano, Carlo and Vittoria’s son, of being a diva. Consequently, their relationship is rather low. This is not canon to the actual story.
  • The story was initially going to have a darker ending. In it, Vittoria still lived and faked her death after taking a bullet for Carlo. He didn’t know about her surviving and didn’t get a chance to hear her out. Franco helped her find a place to stay, and Carlo only found out about her being alive around seven years later; he found out because Franco died of a heart attack (yes, I was going to kill him off) and had arranged it so that Carlo would find out in case he died. In the final chapter, Carlo would have gone to see Vittoria and she would find out that he remarried in the intervening years – to a woman he didn’t love as much, but who was a great mother to the kids. It would result in him having an affair with Vittoria, which eventually broke up his new marriage and made Regina resent her parents (especially Vittoria). In the end, I felt it was too harsh and I couldn’t align Carlo with having an affair, no matter how much he loves Vittoria. I’m also glad I don’t have to write the angst fest that Regina’s gen would have been with her mummy issues. If you remember a recent photo shoot, those pictures would have been from this ending.
  • At one point I also thought of having Marta kill Lucia. I scrapped the idea because of the lack of poses/accessories needed for a kid to do that, and also because it was just a bit… much. Marta is already traumatised enough without being a murderer.
  • And let’s make the final fact about Marta as well: I for a while seriously considered to have Marta as an heir and just not bother with the bloodline thing, but I scrapped the idea as well, as I do want to see Carlo and Vittoria’s genes passed down.

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I’ll leave it off here with a few bonus pics I couldn’t fit into the last chapter. Though this is it for now, I could probably write twenty pages more, so if there’s anything in the story you wonder about, feel free to ask. I’ve (mostly) loved writing generation 1 and I think it turned out well, despite the flaws and the things I regret. I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading and binging and speculating in the comments. It’s been so much fun to have you along for the ride, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the next generation.

My thinking is that I’ll take a week’s break to get things ready for the generation, and that means that the first chapter will be out on the 9th of June, with a little teaser in between. I’ll see you then – have a great time!

Cheers!
~Louise

 

19 Comments

  • loladiamond01

    As always, I admire how much detail you put into your stories and it’s wonderful to see more of “behind the scenes” and how the story was developing in your head. I thought the community is just too nice to not want to continue your story in a legacy form or whatnot – we even managed to convince Sempreviva 😀
    I feel you about the “let’s have babies” legacy stuff. I despise it to the core – maybe that is partly why most of my heroines are horrible mothers. I hate Sim toddlers myself 😛 And I was sick of Maddie trying too hard so I messed up both Dellie’s and Gemma’s family lives, Sam never even married and now I hope I can somehow make it work again… Or maybe not. So I can’t blame you for that as it would have been hypocrisy. I also strongly agree on a sweet female character somehow changing the criminal and making him good. That could never happen to Sam, I wouldn’t allow it.
    I don’t have time to comment on more now as I’m going out in a while. Thank you for sharing your story with us ♥

    • NotJustaBook

      Oh, the community is definitely awesome, however there was a time when I considered just leaving this as a standalone story and starting something else. But then I like doing multi-generational things, so I’m happy to continue 🙂
      It’s really not my thing, for sure. I think the toddlers are pretty cute to play with, but I don’t care to write all the ‘then we potty-trained’… ugh. Dull! I’d rather focus on a plot and leave the family stuff on the sidelines as i did here.
      I imagine (but never added) that Carlo’s been in relationship with ‘ordinary’ women who thought he was this interesting, mysterious guy and they could change him, and it immediately turned him off. He loves his job too much – so much so that he doesn’t even leave the gang so he can be with Vittoria in the end. So I see what you mean – he would never change. Ever.
      It’s totally okay, Jowita. Have a great time and thank you for the comment and for reading all the ramblies! <3 🙂

  • sempreviva

    I loved this! <3 I always like to get an insight in other writers' process, scrapped ideas, references and whatnot and this was great!
    I never noticed "the shirt" in those later chapters, but I'm so glad you let us know! 😀
    And oh my, I guess I'm totally guilty of those clichés in my 1st generation, lol! (But I swore I'd make my female characters more interesting in future generations) Vittoria was nothing but boring and/or the classic Mary Sue though, and despite your difficulty in writing her, I think you did an amazing job! I think she's just mysterious like that 🙂 <3 As for Carlo, I totally agree with his traits – they always stroke me as a bit mismatched – but I just avoided him whenever I played in MV; you, on the other hand, found a great way to make them work – not to mention his hot makeover *swoons* 😍
    This was so nice to read! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! And, I'll just say it for the millionth time lol, I can't wait for gen 2 to begin! 😀 <3

    • NotJustaBook

      Thank you – I’m glad someone feels the same way as me, otherwise this post would be the actual worst, ha, ha! 😀 I think it’s so interesting to see other writers’ thought processes and I love ‘behind the scenes’ stuff.
      Heh, I was proud of my little running gag, and I like throwing in little references like that – I don’t expect anyone to notice 😛
      Aw, I hope it doesn’t come across like I mind others making those kinds of stories! I think your first gen is lovely and sweet and I honestly think the ‘change the bad boy’ trope is pretty cute. I mean, it’s almost what happens in Pride and Prejudice (kind of – not exactly… but kind of) which is one of the best novels ever in my mind. It’s not the kind of story I want to write, but it’s still a great kind of story 🙂
      He, he, I would have felt differently about Carlo if he had, say, the mean-spirited trait along with evil. In my mind the evil trait is kind of… it’s like the ‘evil’ sims are trying too hard with it 😛 So yeah – I kind of did my own thing with him 😛
      I’m so happy you read all of this and I’ve loved to have you reading. So excited for gen 2 myself <3 I hope it won't disappoint 🙂

      • sempreviva

        Oh no, not at all! I think I’m being more harsh towards my gen 1 than anybody else, hehe! 🙂
        That’s the same thing I thought about Jared! If he had the evil trait along with mean spirited (like Sinbad), then I would have treated him completely differently! (I probably wouldn’t have bothered with him at all, lol!)
        I’m sure your generation 2 will be equally emotional and exciting! 😀 I really look forward to it! 🙂 <3

  • Kymber

    This was incredibly detailed and good to read. I liked seeing how Lucia was created and the thoughts behind it. Very interesting stuff! And your Gen 2 comes out on my daughter’s birthday! 😀

    • NotJustaBook

      Thank you, Kym <3 I'm glad of the positive response because it's so long and really, maybe boring… Glad that's not (entirely) the case! And that's so cool about your daughter's birthday. Love those little coincidences 🙂

  • socallucyfan

    I loved this!! It is a peak inside the mind of an amazing writer. I am fascinated with your writing process, your character insights, and how/why some story ideas were scraped.
    I admire, and am a bit envious of, how much detail you put into your stories. Each character has such a rich backstory, emotions, details, and personality. Even the world you created is rich with detail.
    And I loved seeing the extra random facts. I too used Carlo for one of my legacies (I also changed his age to young adult to fit with my heir).
    PS- I am very happy you decided not to kill off Franko 🙂

    • NotJustaBook

      Aw, shucks, you’re too kind 🙂 thank you very much! <3
      <3 I love creating backstories and universes and putting myself in my characters' shoes 🙂 I'm just glad that you guys seem to appreciate all my funky ideas 🙂
      It's just sad when Carlo dies so early! I remember being pretty sad for my first legacy when he was just suddenly an elder. I couldn't even bring myself to make him an elder for gen 2 yet!
      Yes, long live Franco! In the end, I couldn't go with such a sad ending. It's just not my thing!

  • amyqueen

    Again, I love love love all the details and thoughts you put into your story~ Ugh, Carlo is such a babe. I think I’ve probably mentioned that too many times during the course of this story, but that’s on you for making him so endearing~ I missed Camillo towards the end since he was so present at the start and I liked his friendship and cute awkwardness around Vittoria. Granted, he got married so he couldn’t linger around but still :3 As for Vittoria, I was curious to seeing how she’d be as a mother because I really couldn’t see her being affectionate – protective, yes – but not loving, as you’ve mentioned, but since she’s not going to be living with the kids until they are much older anyways, I suppose that doesn’t matter. That other ending was quite dark… I’m happy you gave us this one, hehe. Especially killing off Franco because he was such a good and loyal dude, that would’ve been tragic!
    “This lady is gorgeous, is what I’m saying.” Haha, as much as I hated Lucia, that’s true XD
    I’m so into outfits, I can’t believe I didn’t notice the shirt thing *facepalm* but in my defense at that point in the story Lucia appeared and took up that portion of my mind, lol. The romantic tension in the beginning with Carlo and Vittoria was one of my favorite moments in the entire story as well. It was so well done 😀 You have such a way with words and make your characters so rich and easy to fall/root for, it’s amazing <3 This was such a wonderful story and I'm glad it shall not be ending~ Best of luck with working on gen 2, can't wait to read it once it's out!

    • NotJustaBook

      Thank you so muuuuuch <3 😀
      I have absolutely no regrets about the way I wrote Carlo 😛 It is my greatest joy that he's so popular, he, he!
      I regret how Camillo just kind of disappeared hahaha XD In that edit I keep blabbering about, I really want to fix that.
      And you're very right – Vittoria isn't a very affectionate mother. She's not too cold, either, but Carlo kind of has to remind her to show affection – he's good for her in that way.
      That other ending was such a downer! And generation 2 also would have been another beast entirely – very gloomy and depressing, but I'll talk about that more once gen 2 is done 😛 I couldn't bear to kill Franco either – the guy barely got to shine!
      He, he, I didn't really expect anyone to notice the shirt thing 😛 I add a lot of details like that, while I also realise that, yeah, it goes unnoticed a lot of the time.
      Thank you sooo much for all your kind words and again another thanks for reading and commenting and speculating. It was a lot of fun, and all your comments are a welcome distraction from my exams haha 😀 <3 Can't wait to share the next part!

  • Lila Remonn

    Oh boy, I can’t comment on all of this, but I really love reading these behind-the-scenes posts! It’s super interesting to see how another writer works 😀
    The first thing you promised for the legacy: I totally agree with. It was awesome reading about two badass, hardcore criminals. I dislike those novels which have the good girl turning the bad boy good for flimsy reasons.
    Carlo is genuinely one of my fave simlit characters ever. I just adore that contrast between him being a gang leader and that lovely personality, which doesn’t feel strange at all. Although it’s not great to date a criminal in real life, as you said, storywise I really like him. So mature and sweet! And again, the contrast with his warmth and Vittoria’s coldness is very good to read. It was nice how they didn’t hugely change each other but found a wonderful balance together.
    I had an epic time reading all the facts as well as this generation! Cheers to Gen 2! <3

    • NotJustaBook

      Ha, ha, ha, ha, I know – it’s soooo long! 😛
      I always like to give my couples some reason to be together, and for these two it was because they’re both criminals – I wouldn’t want it any other way 😛
      I’m so glad you (and others for that matter) seem to like Carlo so much. I have a huuuuge soft spot for him myself 🙂
      Thanks so much for reading all of the stuff and for your kind words <3 🙂

    • NotJustaBook

      Thank you Freja 🙂 I love behind-the-scenes stuff myself, so I loved sharing it!
      ReShade is the bomb. Makes the pictures look so fantastic in my opinion 😀

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