2017-03-17 23:55:30

Echo Quadrant is a single player, turn based strategy game, set in space. It was written for Windows, as a freeware audiogame, with a bespoke menu system. A pdf guide provides an overview of the game, and instructions and help can be found in 3 of the in-game menus.

The following link downloads a zipped folder from Google Drive. The zipped folder contains the game program, EchoQuadrant_1_0, a data file containing menu information, and a pdf guide. A copy of the text of the guide should be in the next comment.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5HHTx … sp=sharing

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2017-03-17 23:56:49

Echo Quadrant. An Overview of the Game


Echo Quadrant is a freeware, single player space based strategy game, designed for blind gamers, running on Microsoft Windows. The player controls up to 16 fleets of vessels, with the aim of building a sustainable empire.

The action takes place in a distant sector of the galaxy, where human colonists inhabit all of the systems within one of nine local quadrants. The player selects the quadrant size, before the start of any new game.

Economic trade is supported by fleets of cargo vessels, that fulfill shipping contracts. Shipping contracts are the primary source of income, but not the only source. Piracy is common, but the player will discover that piracy is only one obstacle to gaining wealth and power.

You begin the game with limited funds. Use these funds to purchase a ships, but be aware that vessels incur maintenance costs.

The game ends when your debts exceed your liquid assets, or when every fleet has been destroyed. Manage your funds and your fleets wisely.

Part 1. The Interface

Echo Quadrant opens a window on the desktop, that can be exited through the game's menu system. Pressing escape will exit immediately, but the current game may be lost.
The user interface is a bespoke menu system, with each menu sharing an identical layout. There are approximately 40 menus following the same pattern. Menu selections are made using the cursor keys and the enter key, or by using the mouse.

Note, that some menu items are information only, commands, links to sub-menus, or a combination of the above.

The menus are laid out as follows:

A vertical strip on the left hand side, acts as an exit option.
The remainder of the display is divided into seventeen rows.
The top row is the title bar, containing information about the current menu. The cursor will be placed within the title bar whenever a menu is opened.
The remaining rows provide access for up to 16 options.

Note, that some special lists may contain more than 16 entries, and cover multiple pages. In these instances, pressing space, will move an item to the bottom of the list. This can be useful when managing a large list.

The initial menu provides access to loading and saving games, starting a new game or continuing the current game. The current game is automatically saved on return to the initial menu.

Part 2. The Ships of Echo Quadrant.

Various types of ship are available for purchase from any colonized system. Each type of ship enhances the capabilities of a fleet. For instance, scout ships allow the player to instruct a fleet to explore a chosen quadrant. Cargo vessels allow the player to obtain and fulfill shipping contracts. Military ships can reduce the amount of damage that your fleet is exposed to during battle. The more cargo vessels in a fleet, the larger the contracts obtainable. The following is a list of generally available ship types:

Cargo vessels.
Mining vessels.

Access the ship encyclopedia for more details.

There is a very specialized type of vessel called a Mayflower ship. This craft can be planted on any viable world, to form the nucleus of a new colony. Under the right conditions, the colony will gradually grow in both material size and population. When a Mayflower ship is planted, all of the accompanying ships in the fleet are cannibalized for materials. Read the section on Colonies for further information.

When a fleet enters a star system that contains a friendly colony, then you may buy additional ships for that fleet. However, when you wish to create a new fleet then you must select the slot of an empty fleet first. The location of the new fleet will be at the centre of Echo Quadrant, or the nearest colony to the centre.

The composition of your fleets, and their standing orders, will determine the type of encounter that can occur.

Part 3. Colonies

Colonies grow from planted Mayflower ships. Chose the location of your colony carefully, because the conditions and size of a planet determine population growth, and the probability of catastrophic events. Only one colony may be founded in any star system. Colonies may not be planted in any system containing a hyper-space capable alien civilization.

When planted, the entire fleet is cannibalized to create the nucleus of the colony. The initial size of the colony is linked to the materials cannibalized.

Colonies incur maintenance costs when new, but when the colony has grown sufficiently, with a sizable population, then its productivity will yield a bonus in the form of income tax. The tax rate can be altered, but the attitude of a colony's population will affect productivity. Populations may decrease for various reasons.

Assigning a fleet of ships to a colony will reduce the maintenance costs of that fleet. This is achieved through the colony information menu.

Planets vary in size through the following scale: asteroidan, mercurian, sub-terran, terran, super-terran, neptunian, and jovian. Only mercurian through super-terran worlds can support colonies. Life bearing worlds maximise population growth, and are found between the hot and cold zones. Mercurian worlds are too small to sustain an atmosphere.

Part 4. Commands

The majority of commands are listed on the game menu, and the standing orders menu.  Some commands and orders can only be executed by specific types of ship, that need to be present in the fleet. Ship purchase is accessible through the line item that lists the composition of your fleet, and through a keyboard shortcut.

Each turn of the game consists of immediate actions and issuing standing orders. Switching between fleets, allows the player to command fleets individually. All standing orders are executed when the player selects the option: Process Turn.

Certain actions are immediate, such as buying ships. Other actions occur when the turn is processed, such as movement through space. All encounters occur during the processing of the turn.

Fleets will report any failure to fulfill a standing order. This will usually involve an alert notification menu that can be exited in the usual way, or by selecting OK.

Part 5. Shipping Contracts.

When a fleet obtains a shipping contract then it is legally bound to fulfill that contract, within the specified time limit. Failure to fulfill a contract, for any reason, results in increasing fines. A breach of contract can result from: a partial loss of cargo through piracy, destruction or loss of a cargo vessel, or a failure to meet the contract deadline. Typically, remaining cargoes are jettisoned.

Most contracts are requested and awarded automatically, but it is possible to manually select specific contracts. Non-standard contracts can affect your reputation and provide higher fees. Carriers open additional contract options, with double the fees and double the effect upon your reputation.

Part 6. Battles.

Your fleets will inevitably engage in combat. Your choices will determine the magnitude of the result. The stronger of the two sides will always prevail, but you must decide upon the best option available. Careful management of your fleets will minimise potential losses and costs. This includes management of your reputation.

Typically, you will be presented with a battle notification menu. Battle menus are the only type of menu that inhibit the exit function. This menu will list the strength of each side, and provide you with available options. Sometimes, meeting the demands of a pirate is the lesser of two evils.

The winner may be presented with the opportunity to attempt the boarding of an enemy vessel. This depends, partly, on the presence of android marine units.

Additional help and instruction is available in the game.

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2017-03-18 01:21:09

Hello sounds great.. can insert in game access for nvda?

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2017-03-18 03:38:43

Now i try game and game is so great! but does have chance in future to add in game options to raid any collony, d or when i defeat a hostile allien fleet to raid them resources money etc etc?

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2017-03-18 10:01:57

Hi Milos

The game send commands directly to microsoft speech. You will actually hear more information, than appears as text on the display.

If you can obtain ships supporting android marines, then boarding enemy vessels can become an option.

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2017-03-18 10:22:08

Today seems the day for good games, specially games that cater to my tastes lol

freeman69, I suppose from your last post the game only supports output to ms sapi5?
If no other access is possible otherwise I guess we will have to make do,but most users would prefer output to the screenreaders. most preferably NVDA
As it makes the gameplay much faster not to mention the lag that sapi voices seem to have in win8 and above.

Sounds like a really wonderful game, why does it sound like I have heard of it before?


Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.
Follow me on twitter

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2017-03-18 12:35:05

Hi Freeman69! Wow! Looks realy realy nice so far! But like others allready mentioned NVDA-support would make it a lot more easyer for us cause we could use our own prefered details of Speechoptions. I realy think it is not so hard to implement this. There is an API wich makes it possible to send textoutput directly to NVDA.
Are you still working on this game? Or is this a allready finished project?

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2017-03-18 13:55:40

Hi guys,

Sorry, no NVDA support. I'm brand new to audiogames and have only mastered SAPI controls. On the plus side, I have tried to optimise the use of speech within the game, making use of synchronous and asynchronous speaking.

The speed of control of the game also depends on the structure of the menus. And there are a couple of keyboard shortcuts for the most commonly selected options.

It took months to put together, partly because of interruptions and a major redesign. Initially, it was going to contain tens of thousands of star systems and hundreds of factions, but that was a little over the top.
I think I would prefer to start on something new, rather than update Echo Quadrant. I've learnt a few things, and I can take a look at NVDA too.
If the game seems familiar, I did borrow elements from my favourite games. The name came from the fact that Echo is the fifth of nine quadrants.

I'm already toying with the idea of commanding a star ship, and borrowing heavily from Star Trek, I expect.

I hope Echo Quadrant provides some entertainment. I try to make games that I want to play.

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2017-03-18 14:21:44

Wow, sounds great! Going to try it!

Sincerely yours... Lucy.

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2017-03-18 15:10:05

OK, i see. So we have to deal with this. But OK! I think i like it a lot!
I got some questions:
Where can i find the keyboardcommands you were talking about? They would be very useful!
I tryed small size and giant size. But on both where the same quadrants a till i. Are the quadrant bigger in giant mode?
There is something strange. Sometimes i am pressing down arrow and nothing is happening. It feels like an empty place in the menu. I tryed to press space like it is written in your manual but nothing happens.
An the last question about Echo Quadrant for now: Could you copy all the Helptexts to the PDF file? Would be very very nice for a little better understanding.

Hope to hear soon about your next Project! And yes! i absolutely love your idea about your new game! We need more space-exploration-trading-fighting-colony games!

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2017-03-18 15:10:08

Is it pocible to expand your fleets? I mean if you play it right could you play the game forever?

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2017-03-18 17:54:02

Answering your questions...

The keyboard shortcuts are mentioned in the main menu instructions:
Z - Select fleet
X - Purchase ship
C - Available Contracts
V - summary info

Yes, the quardrants vary in size, from 3 to 5, 7 and 9 units. So the largest playing area is 27 by 27 systems in total.

Most menus don't make use of all of the 16 possible lines, so you should hear a quiet, blip, blip, blip as the mouse or cursor moves into an empty slot. Having 16 lines in each menu, made the code to control it simpler, but it leaves some empty spaces. Be aware that some extra info appears in the players financial information menu, when the end-game is triggered.

The space bar can be used in two places. One is to quickly exit from one of the multi-page databases by pressing space when the cursor is over the, back, area. The other is to move an item in a database to the end of the list.

I will copy and paste the in-game help into the next comment.

To answer Ciao: There is a maximum limit to the number of each ship type allowed in a single fleet. I haven't tested the game to destruction, but it's possible that increasing battle damage tends to create its own limit on the maximum size of a sustainable fleet.
The game is open ended. You can decide whether or not to trigger the final scenario, if you have a sufficient total population in your colonies.

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2017-03-18 17:56:26

Instructions and Help for Echo Quadrant

Overview. Echo Quadrant is a single player space based strategy game, designed for blind gamers. The player controls up to 16 fleets of space ships, including colonies, with the aim of building a sustainable empire

The Galaxy. The action takes place in a distant sector of the galaxy, where human colonists inhabit all of the star systems within 1 of 9 quadrants. Economic trade is supported by fleets of cargo ships that fulfill shipping contracts. Shipping contracts are the primary source of income, but not the only source. The neighbouring quadrants need to be explored, and are rumoured to contain alien civilizations.

Assets. You begin the game with 3 scout ships and limited funds. Each ship is attached to a separate fleet. The game menu allows you to select different fleets. Whatever actions you take are applied to the currently selected fleet. Use your credits to buy ships, but be aware that ships incur maintenance costs every turn. Different types of ships add new capabilities to a fleet. The game ends when your debts exceed your liquid assets, or when every fleet has been destroyed. Return to the main menu to examine the Ship Encyclopedia.

Interface. The user interface was designed to be non-visual. Most of the menus contain up to 16 options, but a few contain lists that extend further. When available, additional pages can be accessed by clicking on the title bar, or pressing the down cursor when over the last item on a page. You can quickly exit from a multiple page list by pressing space while the cursor is over the cancel bar. When returning to a previous menu, the text of the option selected will be read again. Note that Some lists allow the user to move items to the end, by pressing space.

The following keyboard shortcuts are available in the game menu: Z for zebra to select fleet, x for x-ray to purchase ships, c for charlie to list available contracts. V for victor provides summary information

Gathering Information. As the game proceeds, you will gain access to additional information stored within lists. These lists include: Star systems containing life and star systems containing mineral resources. Databases can be managed by sending items to the end by pressing space.

Colonies. The player can create a colony by planting a Mayflower ship on a world in an empty star system. All of the ships in the fleet are converted to raw materials. Colonies grow in material size and population over time. Colonies tend to incur costs at the start, but as the population increases, the tax on productivity can provide a profit. Each colony increases in material size and running costs for a period of 50 turns. Choose your planets wisely because populations may suffer temporary losses due to local conditions. The tax rate can be adjusted, but remember to monitor the attitude of your citizens. A single fleet can be assigned to each colony, in order to reduce the fleet's maintenance costs.

An end game scenario can be triggered to win the game, and consists of a race to discover the secrets of transcendence. You must control a large population and have sufficient funds to pay for the research. You will also find yourself in competition with an opposing faction

Loading & Saving. The current game is automatically saved to the Autosave slot when exiting to the main menu. The player may also save the current game in one of the remaining fifteen slots available. When a game has loaded, select the option to continue current game

Help for Game Menu

Players Finances. This option provides a short summary of your total funds and recent changes. The end game scenario can be triggered by an option at the bottom of this menu

Change Fleet allows the player to select one of up to 16 fleets. Fleets may consist of ships, or a single colony. The current status of the fleet is also mentioned.

Fleet Information and Ship Purchasing provides a detailed list of your fleet's composition, with the option of selecting to purchase additional ships. This menu also lists the total maintenance cost of the fleet, as well as the total number of active marine units. Additional marines can be obtained by selecting this line item. The next entry indicates if the fleet is assigned to a colony, which reduces maintenance costs. Fleets can only be assigned by selecting the colony first. The final item, is the average skill level of your crew.

Colony Information replaces Fleet Information, when a colony is planted. The details provided include current population, material size, and tax rate. The tax rate can be changed by selecting this item. Current tax income is also listed. Tax income is affected by population size, and the population's attitude towards being taxed. The final item indicates if a fleet has been assigned to the colony. Select this item to assign a fleet.

Location Information contains a count of the total bodies in the system. Select this item for a list of planetary details. The highest form of native life is also described, from none to hyper-space capable. The apparent level of mineral resources does not indicate if a vein will end abruptly. The final item is an indication of any colonies present.

Active Shipping Contract lists the details of the currently binding contract, and includes delivery schedule information.

Available Shipping Contracts downloads information on new contracts, currently available. Examine the details carefully before committing to a contract. Once selected, you must deliver the cargo within the specified time, or pay increasing fines. Standard contracts pay a standard fee. Good will contracts improve your reputation. Be aware that your reputation affects the probability of pirate attacks. Alternatively, your fleet can fulfill standard contracts automatically, through the standing orders menu.

Standing Orders and Navigation provides access to a number of automated options. Fleets can be assigned standing orders to reduce the level of management required. Further help is available via this sub-menu

Plant Colony becomes an available option when a fleet contains a Mayflower ship. Upon planting, the fleet is converted into a colony upon the chosen body. Choose the location of your colonies wisely, because planetary conditions will affect population growth and determine the probability and scale of catastrophic events.

Events is a list of all relevant notifications, including those that occurred during the processing of the previous turn.

Process Turn should be selected when you have made all necessary changes and selections. On processing, your fleets will experience various encounters, which must be resolved before the turn is complete. Alert Notifications will open during this process

Life Database entries are added when new systems containing life are discovered. New entries are added to the top of the list. Entries can be sent to the end of the list by hitting space. Similar to location information, select the total body count for planetary details.

Mineral Resource Database#Mineral Resource Database entries list systems containing, apparently, medium to high levels of resources. Hit space to send an item to the bottom of the list. Select an item to access system details

Help for Standing Orders and Navigation.

Train crew and await further orders, increases the combat skill level of your current crew. Training may improve the probability of success against an enemy

Automatically fulfill standard shipping contracts is an option that removes the need to manage individual contracts. However, the available contracts option on the other menu provides more flexibility

Fulfill current contract and stand down should be used when you intend to repurpose a fleet without incurring a penalty

Fly to grid location requires the separate selection of quadrant and co-ordinates, in order to set a destination

Fly to nearest trading colony is useful when re-tasking a fleet or seeking to buy additional ships

Fly to selected trading colony provides a list of colonies in order of player, human, and alien

Explore selected quadrant requires a scout ship. Exploring populates the life and resource databases

Fly to selected life bearing system can be used when directing a Mayflower ship to a habitable world

Fly to selected resource rich system is useful when managing mining vessels

Mine resources in this system, is a command that remains in effect until the resources run out, or your fleet ceases to mine

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2017-03-18 18:32:13

Why does tradingcontracts so often get broken? Do i miss some special details?

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2017-03-18 21:29:22

this game looks good. shame the map isn't bigger though I like the idea of 10's of thousands of starsystems. maybe you should reconsider working on this game because it looks like a lot of potential.

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2017-03-18 22:38:57

@firefly82:  Make sure you have enough cargo ships to complete missions, and don't forget to command your fleet to complete the contract in question.

I'm having a bit of trouble starting out.  My strategy so far involves focusing on one fleet, purchasing as many cargo ships as possible and completing contracts, earning lots of money and purchasing war ships to protect the fleet, but I eventually encouter pirates that are just too powerful.  I'm assuming the power of the pirates scales with the contracts you're doing, so I'm going to try sticking with 3-4 cargo ships and then building an army from there. 
I tried starting by mining but I couldn't afford enough mining ships and if I purchased one, it would usually get destroyed by a mining accident before I made my original investment back.

Mammon slept. And the beast reborn spread over the earth and its numbers grew legion. And they proclaimed the times and sacrificed crops unto the fire, with the cunning of foxes. And they built a new world in their own image as promised by the sacred words, and spoke of the beast with their children. Mammon awoke, and lo! it was naught but a follower.
from The Book of Mozilla, 11:9

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2017-03-18 23:06:53

Hi, I found no way to switch Sapi voices or to switch to my screen reader for output. Also, the voice stops speaking while attempting to change voice speed. This is unfortunate as I will not play a game that doesn't use screen reader for output, because of the bad latency issues with sapi 5, especially in windows 10. I would consider it of we could change sapi voices, because I do have some that work better than the default. Anyway, if this gets fixed, I would be glad to play, thanks for your understanding.

One of the best gifts on this earth is the unconditional love of an animal

It is pure, free of judgement, and raises me to the utter height of glory.

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2017-03-18 23:19:39


This sounds great, (personally I never minded sapi in games but that is me). Unfortunately since I'm briefly staying with my parents I'm using my old xp laptop at the second so can't even download the game, but I'll definitely be looking forward to trying it when I get back to my flat and my windows 10 desktop (yes I know I need a new laptop, but time and funds and such).

Btw, one thing I will advise access wise, is that pdf and screen readers can be a little iffy, indeed most people convert pdfs to text (assuming they're the sort of pdfs that can! be converted, many can't and they're really annoying).
I would recommend for future reference either having instructions as an html or text file instead.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

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2017-03-18 23:42:56

I believe I have figured it out.  Spoilers ahead:

The strength of pirate appears to scale with your reputation; Lower reputation = more powerful pirates.  What I've been doing is purchasing a bunch of cargo ships, completing standard contracts till my reputation drops below neutral, then completing goodwill contracts to raise it again.  this way, you can continue to increase your fleet of cargo ships while stealing fighters or corvettes from the weak pirate forces.
Once I have loads of money, I plan on exploring every quadrant and starting colonies, but  for now< I'm having a good time just watching one fleet grow. 
Anyway, I'm really loving this game so far, and I'm glad the audiogames comunity finally has something like this.  thank you for your hard work!

Mammon slept. And the beast reborn spread over the earth and its numbers grew legion. And they proclaimed the times and sacrificed crops unto the fire, with the cunning of foxes. And they built a new world in their own image as promised by the sacred words, and spoke of the beast with their children. Mammon awoke, and lo! it was naught but a follower.
from The Book of Mozilla, 11:9

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2017-03-19 00:24:53

HMM, no, i realy think everything is correct. I got the required one cargoship and the fleetinformation shows up that i am on my way to the wright target.

Hey Freeman! It would be so nice of you if you could make a last update with some more keyboard shortcuts. For example selecting fleets buy pressing 1 2 3 and so on. And some other key for opening the available contracts, to end turn and to open the orders-menu.
This would make the controls a lot faster and nicer.

Oh, and a nother question. Is there any interaction with the alien races?

Lets me say again, it is a realy nice little game!

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2017-03-19 01:37:14

Does any can help me: i get a contract where i must come to anny location with one turn, but i need two jump how to in one turn make two or more jumps?

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2017-03-19 01:42:37

@freeman: have you heard of the tolk library? This is a library that will output to sapi and a bunch of screen readers.
If this could be added to the game, it will be nice ebcause then people can sue what they want. I myself would prefer to use a screen reader.

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2017-03-19 03:06:30

Hey people. This game is realy fantastic. However, the two jumps in one turn is an issue, i don't know how to do that as well.

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2017-03-19 03:10:38

Or does any can to create a colony? i have fleet with 7 cargo ship, one carrier, one destroyer, 4 corvete, 2 fighters, one allien ship and one meiflauer ship but for some reason i can not create collony, i will try in several systems...

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2017-03-19 11:51:34

Thank you all for trying the game! It's extremely helpful and uplifting to have such feedback.

On the matter of broken contracts, some manually chosen contracts may be impossible to fulfill. You do have to check the details of the contract before accepting. This is perhaps one of the more annoying aspects of the game, but it seemed a resonable addition at the time. Note that four new contracts are created every time you enter the available contracts option.

I kept the overall number of star systems low, to make the life and resource lists managable. Maps are randomly generated, so each game is different.
Interaction with aliens is limited, but finding them does have an affect.

The balance between complexity, and ease of play, is difficult to achieve. Also, I had to draw a line at some point otherwise I would have given up before the game was finished. I would like to create a bigger, more complex game. It's a pity about the reported latency issues in SAPI for Windows 8 and beyond. I wrote this on a Windows 7 machine, so wasn't aware.

Thank you Aaron, for the link to Tolk. I was just reading up on NVDA and e-speak, and Tolk looks to be a good solution if I can get to grips with it.

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