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 Post subject: Monolith
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:53 pm 


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http://store.steampowered.com/app/603960/Monolith/

I know there was a dev thread for this, but I didn't see one in the main forum (please delete if I'm wrong).

I found this to be really fun despite some initial skepticism about the "roguelike shmup" premise. It's not super hard for the shmup veteran, but not a total pushover either (especially at the higher difficulties). I thought a few of the weapon types were useless, but thankfully you can remove them from the seeding so it's not a big deal.

A special nod should be given to the music: in a world that is fast approaching (or has past?) peak-chiptune, it really stood out with rousing melodies befitting a shmup. Gave me that old-school Konami vibe, in spirit.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 2:40 pm 


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There's also an STGWeekly episode, if anyone is interested in an in depth look.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 2:46 pm 


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Also on itch, if you'd prefer to go the DRM-free route. Definitely recommended, a gem amidst the scads of "twin-stick roguelikes" floating around these days.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:24 pm 


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BulletMagnet wrote:
Definitely recommended, a gem amidst the scads of "twin-stick roguelikes" floating around these days.

That was a surprise to me, too, and part of why I wanted to explicitly recommend it to folks here. It also felt much more like a twin-stick shmup to me than, say, something from the robotron 2084 design lineage.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 2:19 pm 


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WHY DOES THIS THREAD ONLY HAVE 3 POSTS, AAAAAAAA

Seriously, this is a fantastic game. Playing it on an XbOne controller via the DRM free itch.io release. Quite possibly the best 360 degree shmup I've played. It's got a slick, arena shmup type feel, and honestly feels like it plays way better than Binding of Isaac (which has slippery movement, not to mention the visuals and music won't appeal to everyone). It's also adorably cute, I mean that pause screen haha.

It's also a pretty serious shmup that manages to combine RNG/roguelike elements well. The hard mode final boss fight is great~

Some of the defaults I've messed with, such as setting screen shaking to Minor or Off. Some weapons shake the screen with every shot normally, and a few boss attacks have ridiculous screen shake built in, so it's nice that the option to adjust it is there. I also like having the hitbox turned on for the default ship, though it
Spoiler: show
hides the red core on the hard mode ship.


You guys seriously need to get on playing this, it's amazing. It's not something you can play for score per se because of the randomization elements, but nevertheless it's amazingly fun and quite possibly the coolest new shmup I've played in years.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 3:04 pm 


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Stuff that's great:

• Blink upgrade is amazing and lets you dodge through enemies, so many attacks can be avoided with this that you couldn't avoid with the normal (but still useful) dash. I always get this as soon as it appears.

• Artifact weapons are pretty cool, but to hang onto it you need to keep your ammo up. You get Max Ammo pickups for killing minibosses with full HP, which can be tricky to do, but makes those shops that lower max HP surprisingly beneficial if you're hurt, since it doesn't lower your current HP.

• Autobomb upgrade is great - any time you're hit your money multiplier goes down by 1.0, but an autobomb only costs 0.5 from the multiplier (manual bombing is still best as it does not lower the multiplier).

• Laser weapons with Homing/Triple/Continuous look crazy and work amazing.

• Basically any weapon that has the phasing property is amazing, use cover to avoid attacks while firing away at enemies. Great for making levels easier and keeping HP up for bosses.

• Sword is ridiculously good. You can block so many attacks with it, it gets alarmingly defensive with the Giant property, and even on bosses where it's hard to get up close to use it, the sword waves you shoot deal great projectile damage considering you're deflecting most of what the boss is throwing at you while using it.

• Razor is a bit tricky to use depending on the properties, but it's generally amazing and I love the boomerang effect you get from tossing them.

• Time bombs are probably the best bomb item to buy first to add to the drop pool. They prevent enemies from firing for a huge amount of time, letting you do a ton of damage safely if you have to use one.

Stuff that's not so good:

• What is the point of the Stealth upgrade? It doesn't seem to delay enemies from noticing you when you enter a room except for maybe like a few extra frames... Doesn't matter whether you hold off on shooting or not either.

• The mapping upgrade (Scanner I think) sucks. Adding HP bars to normal enemies is a nice novelty, but not overly helpful, and you don't get a full map on each level (if you located all secret rooms with the upgrade you could save some bombs which would be nice).

• I am not fond of the Spear weapon... it's slow, and that's a huge problem when many rooms feature enemy groups that rush at you. The damage over time effect when a spear is stuck in an enemy is cool, but it's not super useful, and the projectile fires so fast that Homing property doesn't track well, and the damage output on bosses is iffy since it doesn't have any properties that really buff its damage to the extent that Fireball or Laser can with stuff like Shotgun, Overheat, Continuous, etc.

• The Align property feels weird to use on stuff like Vulcan. It's not... bad per se, but I generally avoid it.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 5:03 pm 



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I've played a lot of twin stick roguelites, and Monolith is by far the shmup-iest. Bullet patterns, hitboxes, weapons, movement, multiplier management, point blanking, lethality/difficulty options... it's excellent. Totally worth the $7.99 full price. I'm looking forward to more updates.

What I don't like: unlocking system (I never like these, I feel like they waste my time), bosses take too long to kill on default lethality, and I don't like the soundtrack and sound design at all. The sound effects are generally wimpy, and the chiptune noodling gets old fast. I switched to my own music pretty quickly.

BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
It's not something you can play for score per se because of the randomization elements

Wouldn't picking the same seed and ship give everyone the same run? I'd think that would be good enough for scoring challenges.


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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 6:27 pm 


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The unlocking element I think is a necessary evil as most players nowaday expect a form of progession in games and if everything is unlocked by default that's somehow bad. The unlocking system thankfully is pretty good, just keep playing basically! And yeah, as long as everyone played on the same seed, you could compete I guess for speed, score, etc.

The lethality tweaking is a nice touch. Bosses feel beefy enough to be fun on the default, and the harder modes make for a nice challenge.

Have been recording a few runs on Youtube. Working on a 1 HP Sudden Death run. It's a mode where the Stealth upgrade isn't totally useless... Had a few runs end cause an enemy was nearby and shot as soon as I entered the room. Stealth delays them just long enough in that situation to react. Otherwise it's not great.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 12:45 pm 


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It's a very, very good game, and definitely the best shmup/roguelite hybrid by far. Yeah.

There are a few minor things I'd still like to see in terms of how it handles the roguelite formula, but overall this game brings intense shmuppin action (which could stand on its own even without the roguelite elements) together with a great sense of fantasy adventure and atmosphere. Killer title.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 12:55 pm 


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The only outright bad thing I dislike is that, like Judgement Silversword, the player ship is on the top layer (as opposed to enemy bullets). For small hitbox games especially, this is somewhat detrimental since there's a gap where a bullet can pass under your ship without hitting you, but be hidden. It's not super problematic in Monolith since the player sprite is quite small, but still.

Drill with Homing + Drag may be my new fave weapon. It sucks at close range compared to Sword or Razor with Lance keyword, but Drill has innate phasing properties through terrain (hide in cover and fire away safely), and when homing is on it easily turns to hit multiple enemies. Not as good for bosses, but it still packs a decent punch.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 4:36 pm 


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Anyone try the Linux port? It crashes instantly with a segmentation fault for me. According to a developer, it's an issue exclusive to AMD GPUs and has yet to be resolved. Looks like people have been reporting this problem for about a year now.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:43 pm 



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MathU wrote:
Anyone try the Linux port? It crashes instantly with a segmentation fault for me. According to a developer, it's an issue exclusive to AMD GPUs and has yet to be resolved. Looks like people have been reporting this problem for about a year now.

Yeah, I have an AMD and had the same issue. The game runs fine in Wine.


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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 3:46 am 


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That's a shame about the Linux port. :/

I was getting annoyed carrying a weapon, getting an ammo refill I didn't need from a miniboss, and sometimes having to waste the weapon so I could collect it with the basic weapon for the max ammo increase.

Kleines (the cat thing) finally dropped this advice: you can bomb in the map screen to ditch your current weapon!
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 10:45 pm 


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Squire Grooktook wrote:
It's a very, very good game, and definitely the best shmup/roguelite hybrid by far. Yeah.

There are a few minor things I'd still like to see in terms of how it handles the roguelite formula, but overall this game brings intense shmuppin action (which could stand on its own even without the roguelite elements) together with a great sense of fantasy adventure and atmosphere. Killer title.

What do you like about it compared to other shmup/roguelite hybrids? I played some Enter the Gungeon before, and while I liked its sense of style, I felt like the game was being stingy with resources, which encouraged me to play very conservatively.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 12:26 am 


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Monolith does a fantastic job of making resource management interesting in three major ways:

• Basic bombs are recoverable (2 normally, 3 with an upgrade). You get a bomb recharged every couple rooms if you're below 2 or 3 bombs. Bombs are also relatively common drops, and in addition to shops, you can also locate shrines that can give you a max stock of power bombs (bomb types that do heavy damage in various ways or stun enemies for a long time).

• You're encouraged to switch special weapons often. If you pick up a new special weapon while you have ammo remaining of a special weapon, you are rewarded with "salvage", and get a small health bonus as well as extra money for remaining ammo in the old weapon.

• If you do get a weapon you really want to hold onto, you're rewarded for skill with max ammo items (you get a max ammo item from a miniboss if you kill it while at full health, otherwise you get a health item). You can also increase your ammo limit by collecting max ammo pickups while at full ammo, or while using your basic weapon. Clearing a floor or two before picking up a special weapon means you'll have higher max ammo bonuses or later floors, and when a room is cleared you can open the map and press the bomb button to salvage your current weapon for a bit of money, allowing you to also collect any max ammo items and get the permanent ammo capacity bonus, rather than a refill for the current weapon.

It's a really clever system that offers a lot of freedom in playstyle. Your basic weapon is also pretty effective, and can be upgraded with a special upgrade, so even if you run out of your current special weapon you can still put up a fight.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 3:19 pm 


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I'm glad for all these in-depth posts Roo, as they've been quite helpful. I recently made some more cash selling crap, so I picked up the game. I'm looking forward to playing it and sharing my thoughts.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 3:45 pm 


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Wow, this game looks intense. I dig the close quarters arena-shmup twin stick vibe, though, and the pixel art looks nice. The music also sounds good, at least from what I saw in the trailer. Going to have to add this one to the list!
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 4:20 pm 


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Shepardus wrote:
Squire Grooktook wrote:
It's a very, very good game, and definitely the best shmup/roguelite hybrid by far. Yeah.

There are a few minor things I'd still like to see in terms of how it handles the roguelite formula, but overall this game brings intense shmuppin action (which could stand on its own even without the roguelite elements) together with a great sense of fantasy adventure and atmosphere. Killer title.

What do you like about it compared to other shmup/roguelite hybrids? I played some Enter the Gungeon before, and while I liked its sense of style, I felt like the game was being stingy with resources, which encouraged me to play very conservatively.


I'll leave the nitty gritty of the system to Roo, since I'm busy, but let me put it this way:

It's the only roguelike/stg hybrid that genuinely feels like it was made by 100% unrepetant shmuppers who could have put together a completely outstanding "normal" shmup if they had chosen to. Structure, pattern design, mechanics...everything shows the level of craft and artistry you'd expect from a top notch shmup dev.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 5:03 pm 


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Squire Grooktook wrote:
It's the only roguelike/stg hybrid that genuinely feels like it was made by 100% unrepetant shmuppers who could have put together a completely outstanding "normal" shmup if they had chosen to. Structure, pattern design, mechanics...everything shows the level of craft and artistry you'd expect from a top notch shmup dev.


This is really the best way to describe it.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2018 3:37 pm 


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I had read somewhere that the developer added the ability to play in "TATE mode" late and painstakingly into the production (granted, this is through Windows screen rotation, and not through a Monolith menu setting).

This game has all of the right touches to make a great "Indie Home Arcade" title. Like in a cabinet? Put this together with Danmaku Unlimited 2/3, Blue Revolver, Jet Buster (and more of their titles), Space Moth? Downwell?... You could load a home arcade experience with some really unique games!

I have this fantasy that involves an Egret II, Monolith, and using both P1 and P2 sticks... It would never work.


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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 3:47 pm 


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Finally got a chance to play through a few floors (I'm not sure if I have to beat it all in one go or if there are saves). Very fun, tightly-crafted game. Controlling with twin sticks is a bit tricky because it is not as precise as aiming with a mouse. Otherwise the mix of enemies and gimmicks comes together in a pretty unique format. It's fun just to cruise around room to room clearing out enemies and looking for upgrades.

Said weapon upgrades often list two types of shots. Do you have to manually switch between them or are they activated immediately and I'm not noticing?
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 11:13 pm 



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EmperorIng wrote:
Finally got a chance to play through a few floors (I'm not sure if I have to beat it all in one go or if there are saves). Very fun, tightly-crafted game. Controlling with twin sticks is a bit tricky because it is not as precise as aiming with a mouse. Otherwise the mix of enemies and gimmicks comes together in a pretty unique format. It's fun just to cruise around room to room clearing out enemies and looking for upgrades.

Said weapon upgrades often list two types of shots. Do you have to manually switch between them or are they activated immediately and I'm not noticing?


No saves, but a complete run with everything unlocked takes around 20-30 mins.

Those "two types of shots" are called "keywords", they are like bonus stats for your weapon, and they are always active. Some of their effects are harder to notice, but other times you find combinations that wildly change the way that weapon plays. You can also find weapons with more than 2 keywords.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2018 9:46 pm 


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reckon luck wrote:
The game runs fine in Wine.

What did you need to install to make it work? Running Wine v3.0 here.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2018 9:58 pm 



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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2018 10:38 pm 


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Ah, that worked.

Wish I was allowed to rebind controls to keyboard inputs in twin-stick mode. The game fails to recognize my controller, additionally. I wouldn't call it a Wine issue because loads of other Windows games recognize my controller just fine when played in Wine.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2018 3:40 pm 


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I haven't been able to get past the third floor yet. I've been saving up cash to afford some of the shop items pre-game. I am really enjoying this! I was pleasantly surprised that the bosses are randomized, as it seems like the layouts and midbosses are too (but not procedurally generated, I think). The only downside is the rare time I got the same boss twice in a row. It keeps it a little fresh and keeps the game in line with its rogue-lite/dungeon-crawling inspiration.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 8:15 pm 


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EmperorIng wrote:
snip


The floor layout, each room layout, and boss layout are tied to the game "seed" (the number at the top right of the map), so they're essentially randomized each run but there's a good chance you'll eventually see similarities as each floor has 3 possible boss encounters usually (except for the last floors.

You are right that the rooms are NOT procedurally generated - each individual room type has been preprogrammed and laid out. Then when the randomizer generates the floor layout based on the game "seed", it picks what room type to use from a list of the room types available for that floor (with each floor having unique sets of rooms). Based on my experience, it also has specific room types for dead-ends, i.e. you can only see that room type if you enter a dead-end room from the left or right, as it is not programmed to appear with an opening at the top or bottom, etc.

Each room's been designed so while exactly which room types and where you'll encounter them are randomized, each room type was custom designed to be enjoyable so it doesn't have the problem that procedurally generated enemy encounters have where it can feel really silly, or unenjoyably chaotic.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 1:16 am 


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Yeah, only once or twice did I feel like the room design went overboard (e.g. the Archivist or Archaeologist or w/e the CD boss is, in a room surrounded by portals). Sometimes I find a locked room and no key on the floor, unless they are hidden in blocks. That kinda sucks.

I did find a secret room when I activated a bomb in panic mode near a wall. Neat! I wonder if there is one per stage, or if it's a special thing.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 1:49 am 


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Don't click on this unless you want to know how secret rooms and vault keys work:

Spoiler: show
There is exactly one secret room on every floor. This is always guaranteed, and is uncovered by using a bomb in the room (whether in or out of combat). 90% of the time, the room is somewhere in a location where there can be three other rooms connected to it and once you blow open one wall and enter the secret room, all three walls will be open. The secret room can be connected to almost any kind of room, including to a vault room, which means it's possible to blow open a secret room, loot the vault, and leave the floor without ever using the key. Very rarely, the secret room will be connected in such a way that there are only two entrances into it, and I have never seen a secret room with only a single entrance.

Finding the secret room on every floor is necessary to get an S rank at the end of the game.

If you leave the floor with a vault key, you get a huge amount of money. Vault keys can appear in secret rooms, in a shop, as one of the options in a weapon room (this is annoying, as you can't get a new weapon and the key, you only get one), or as part of a drop in a normal room via exploration. Where the key is located is randomly determined, but for any given seed it will always be at the same location.


That miniboss that fires CDs at you is definitely very annoying and is usually one of the harder ones to dodge.
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 Post subject: Re: Monolith
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 5:15 am 


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Another tip for finding secret rooms is to notice that they're always connected to other rooms by thin walls. So, if you have an empty square you suspect might contain a secret room, and you visit of the rooms next to it to find that it has a bunch of junk on its adjacent wall, you know there can't be a secret room in that empty square.

BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
...each floor has 3 possible boss encounters usually (except for the last floors).

Kind of disappointed to hear that the last couple bosses are always the same. I was hoping for more surprises but I think I may have already seen all the variety this game has. I think you guys may have oversold it a bit.
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