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Mage's Tale: Review (Spoilers)

ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 13,298 Valuable Player
edited May 2018 in Games and Apps

I'm a bit late to the game with Mage's Tale. I beat it this week and enjoyed the experience enough to warrant a Review.

First off, I love the fact that this game so casually transitions from cute things like fairies and dancing Trow's...




To straight up Lord Satan's house of pain...



In some areas you can hear beautiful operatic singing, in others you hear howls of torture. Fantastic!

Storyline, combat, and controls are all very well done. Even though the game was made with Teleportation in mind, it supports full locomotion. However, there are specific types of interactions that simply work better with Teleportation. Not many, but few enough to where I would have liked to have seen a better implementation.

For example, walking through traps is very easy using the Teleport joystick. So instead of memorizing a pattern of swinging Hammers, you can just teleport through them and take minimal damage. That needs some work (but there's less than 5 of these encounters the entire game).

I love the Spells, but I was sad that the number of crafting combinations were so limiting. There is a Rack that carries great spellcraft abilities, such as being able to suspend enemies in the air helplessly. However, if you use that craft... then that is the only modification you can make to a Spell. I often faced choices like:
  • Do I want my Lightening spell to do extra damage and have more Arcs, or
  • Do I want my Lightening to turn enemies in to sheep.

There's a lot of missed opportunities for what I feel would be some great spell combinations. I presume that the reason is because it would make battles a bit easier, but that could be remedied by increasing the health, damage, and speed of the enemies.

That being said, there were some really epic battles in the game. I personally enjoyed coming face-to-face with a giant Ogre:





Another memorable battle takes place in a secret area where you perform an incantation on a corpse (you even get to wear a demon mask), and end up fighting an army of 99 enemies. At least that's what they were called; I didn't actually count them - but I felt like a damn Spartan from 300 by the end of the fight.

The puzzles and secrets are very well done, and easily my favorite part of the game (although I am biased towards puzzlers). They did seem to get easier more towards the end-game, as did the battles. My favorite room - as in most games that offer this type of thing - is the Space Room:


(click on the image to get the full view)

There are quite a few areas that are a unique and splendid visual treat. In fact there's one room that is just so badass that I didn't even bother taking a screenshot. Because a flat image doesn't do it justice. It's a room beyond that Space Room, and the Player is trying to save an ally from a cage while you appear to be inside a burning Star... as a giant demonic mouth is flying towards you both. I don't think I was breathing throughout that entire sequence.

This Space Room reminded me a lot of the main Space area in the game, Obduction. In fact, so did the "coffin" room. It isn't that visually appealing, but there's a  large room in Mage's Tale full of corpses that are all laid out similar to a corpse room in Obduction.





Overall, I would give Mage's Tale a 4 out of 5 rating, and highly recommended as a great VR-RPG-Combat-Puzzler. There's just so many great elements and nothing is overly easy. Normally when a game tries to be too many things at once (RPG and Combat and Puzzle Solving), there ends up being a sacrifice somewhere. But with Mage's Tale, I often lost certain battles repeatedly, and some puzzlers had me pulling my hair out. Role Playing the type of magician you want to be is also pretty badass. At one point I went full on "crowd control" with all my spells:

  • Ice Lance with enhanced blast area to freeze groups of enemies.
  • Fireballs that turn people in to Sheep.
  • A Drunken (unpredictable direction) Air Blast spell that knocks enemies down.
  • Lightning that suspends enemies in the air (anti-gravity).

That was a mighty good time!
Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane

Comments

  • SkScotcheggSkScotchegg Posts: 859
    3Jane
    edited May 2018
    I've been meaning to give this game a shot for a while, I fancy a single player mage casting game.

    Thanks for review.
  • RattyUKRattyUK Posts: 562
    Neo
    @Zenbane ; - how long did it take to finish the game?  Any sort of dungeon crawler appeals to me, so being naturally curious.
    PC info: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero, 16GB Tforce Pro Dark DDR4 3200, Gigabyte GTX 1080, Samsung 870 Pro M.2, 2x 240GB SSD, 3TB WD Green HDD & 4 TB Seagate Barracuda HDD, Corsair Modular 750w PSU, custom watercooling loop. (Win 10 Pro & Opensuse Leap 15 Linux) 32" AOC 4K Monitor.

    Laptop: Aorus X5 V6-CF1 (I7-6820HK, GTX 1070, 2* 256GB M.2 NVME, 1TB 7200 HDD 3K screen)
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 13,298 Valuable Player
    edited May 2018
    RattyUK said:
    @Zenbane ; - how long did it take to finish the game?  Any sort of dungeon crawler appeals to me, so being naturally curious.

    There are 10 levels, and each level takes 1-2 hours on average to complete. So we're talking 10-20 hours. The difference is on how quickly you can solve puzzles, and also if you choose to spend time looking for secrets. I'm pretty sure I went over the 20 hour mark easily.

    I uncovered around 90% of all secrets, but I still missed a few. Obtaining some of the cooler Spellcraft abilities takes quite a bit of work. They are secrets that are off the beaten path (and there are some secrets within secrets). Sometimes you have to figure out a clever puzzle that is easy to miss; other times you have to look for a secret wall button, or a secret wall altogether.

    So if you play at a normal pace and try to uncover every secret of every level, then you're easily at 20 hours of gametime.

    Not to mention the amount of time spent experimenting with Spellcrafting, which you can test out in a Horde Mode arena (after you reach player level 3).

    Uncovering as many secrets as possible is the best way to get to the max level (Player level 15) in the game. Which  means that you'll be quite powerful (the highest Spell recharge rate, the best shield, and the highest Health points).

    Levels are gained after achieving key milestones, such as winning an entire battle or uncovering a secret. You can't just pharm enemies to hit max level. This makes it even more enticing to explore off the beaten path.

    I've uncovered most of the hardest secrets, with only 1 or 2 that I still need to revisit. So feel free to ask if you run in to any issues.
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • ApplecorpApplecorp Posts: 741 Poster of the Week
    Bought it at launch, got about 3 quarters of the way through, got distracted with other games, went back to Mage's Tale and for some unknown reason my game saves were completely gone (game bug?), which really annoyed me as I couldn't face playing it again.
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 13,298 Valuable Player
    edited May 2018
    Applecorp said:
    Bought it at launch, got about 3 quarters of the way through, got distracted with other games, went back to Mage's Tale and for some unknown reason my game saves were completely gone (game bug?), which really annoyed me as I couldn't face playing it again.

    Possibly the result of an update?

    Another playthrough would go much more quickly (about 30-45 minutes per level). Once you know all the secrets and have a strong understanding of which spells are better for which battles, the game becomes much easier.
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • ploogploog Posts: 39
    Brain Burst
    edited May 2018
    Applecorp said:
    ... went back to Mage's Tale and for some unknown reason my game saves were completely gone 

     Mage's Tale games are saved within your Windows user data folder, and should be recoverable via backups, assuming...

    Game save location info: https://forums.oculusvr.com/community/discussion/comment/555711/#Comment_555711

    Incremental game saves: https://forums.oculusvr.com/community/discussion/comment/555703/#Comment_555703
  • RattyUKRattyUK Posts: 562
    Neo
    Thanks Zenbane.  Looks like the old-age pension is taking another bashing... Just bought Elite Dangerous from Humble Bundle for the future...  Mage's Tale will have to join it :p
    PC info: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, Asus ROG Crosshair VII Hero, 16GB Tforce Pro Dark DDR4 3200, Gigabyte GTX 1080, Samsung 870 Pro M.2, 2x 240GB SSD, 3TB WD Green HDD & 4 TB Seagate Barracuda HDD, Corsair Modular 750w PSU, custom watercooling loop. (Win 10 Pro & Opensuse Leap 15 Linux) 32" AOC 4K Monitor.

    Laptop: Aorus X5 V6-CF1 (I7-6820HK, GTX 1070, 2* 256GB M.2 NVME, 1TB 7200 HDD 3K screen)
  • Shadowmask72Shadowmask72 Posts: 3,284 Valuable Player
    Nice round-up. I have a question though. This is from the makers of A Bard's Tale correct? How's the humor in this?


    System Specs: RTX 2080 ti , i9 9900K CPU, 16 GB DDR 4 RAM, Win 10 64 Bit OS.
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 13,298 Valuable Player
    Nice round-up. I have a question though. This is from the makers of A Bard's Tale correct? How's the humor in this?

    Yep, same folks from the Bard's Tale series:

    The Mage's Tale is a first person virtual reality dungeon crawler role-playing video game developed and published by inXile Entertainment in partnership with Oculus VR. It is a spin-off of The Bard's Tale, set before the events The Bard's Tale IV. It is inXile's first virtual reality title.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mage's_Tale


    I forgot that it was the same folks; glad you asked the question. I like their back-story.

    The humor is quite constant, the game never skips a beat. Your goblin companion follows you everywhere, and has some pretty comedic things to say. There's also the insults that come from the goblin enemies which tends to be pretty funny (e.g. they call you names like "piss bucket"). Rock walls tend to be entertaining as well - they have mouths and will either give a riddle, a song, or drop several insults.

    Plus that dancing Trow in a bottle was highly entertaining.

    There's humor all over the place, I could probably type an essay on it (e.g. the Frog that appears to eat your collectables; the talking skull at your spellcrafting table).
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • WildtWildt Posts: 1,714 Valuable Player
    I enjoyed it as well, but felt the combat awas a bit unrefined/crude. Poor AI and too little tactical depth. It's a 3/5 in my book.
    One of the less polished games that Oculus Studios has put their name on.

    If the combat was on par with The Unspoken it'd be an easy 4/5
    Asus Z370-A ||  Watercooled 8700K || 16 GB gSkill ram 3200 || Samsung SSD 840PRO 256GB + 850PRO 256GB + 850EVO 500GB || Watercooled FE Geforce 1080ti || Zalman Reserator XT watercooler || TPcast wireless adapter || MamutVR Gun stock V3 || Asus ROG PG279Q  G-sync monitor
  • SaffieyahSaffieyah Posts: 79
    Hiro Protagonist
    I looked at lord Satan's house of pain and I found it funny. However, the graphics are amazing if I may add.  I am absolutely stunned by how amazingly well the graphics have come together. 
    Be moral, be ethical and live life to the maximum. 
  • SaffieyahSaffieyah Posts: 79
    Hiro Protagonist
    Dearest Zenbane,

    You write a lot and I am glad you have your badges.  Your posts are are welcomed by me for sure.  I am glad someone likes to write in this forum. 
    Be moral, be ethical and live life to the maximum. 
  • Vincent3779Vincent3779 Posts: 1
    NerveGear
    Zenbane, do you know how to get the last cage in the chasm, in the trophy room its the 1st table, 3rd one on the bottom left, I believe its a talking wall in a cage
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 13,298 Valuable Player
    edited May 2018
    Zenbane, do you know how to get the last cage in the chasm, in the trophy room its the 1st table, 3rd one on the bottom left, I believe its a talking wall in a cage

    I had missed this one, actually! But I went and retrieved it.

    When you enter the final room, there is a bridge over water. Just stand at the edge (don't cross the bridge), and turn right. It's there on the floor.






    There are 50 cages total. I am missing 11 so far. I may go back to find them all; casually.
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • ploogploog Posts: 39
    Brain Burst
    edited May 2018
    Zenbane said:
    Zenbane, do you know how to get the last cage in the chasm, in the trophy room its the 1st table, 3rd one on the bottom left, I believe its a talking wall in a cage

    I had missed this one, actually! But I went and retrieved it.

    When you enter the final room, there is a bridge over water. Just stand at the edge (don't cross the bridge), and turn right. It's there on the floor.






    There are 50 cages total. I am missing 11 so far. I may go back to find them all; casually.

    Yep, that's where it is. Here's a screenshot from another perspective, with both the cage and another Fergus-able object highlighted:
    > When you enter the final room, there is a bridge over water. 
    Note that this is the bridge that floats up when you melt the ice covering the two pipe openings, the last puzzle in the dungeon.

    The pictured view was taken standing on the far side of the bridge, near the final chest.


  • cybernettrcybernettr Posts: 896
    3Jane
    I was liking the game until I got to the big room with the four pedestals and you’re supposed to shoot lightning bolts out to the pedestals, but for me it didn’t work because I do not have one of the gems or spells or whatever that is necessary, even though I proceeded through the dungeon in the prescribed fashion and I should have what I need. So, I wasn’t able to unlock the door. It seems like the game should ensure that you have what you need by the time you reach a certain point in order to progress. Obduction is the same way, and one of the portals will not open till you do something specific, and if you overlook it, you will not be able to progress in the game.  Also, the Mage’s Tale had horrific loading times although I think that has been fixed in a patch. 
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 13,298 Valuable Player
    edited May 2018
    @cybernettr Are you saying that you did not have the Lightening spell? I can load up a new game to try to see what you are talking about, but there are only 4 elements in the game (Fire, Lightening, Ice, Wind) and if memory serves, it is a bit impossible to miss acquiring these.

    I'm not sure what you think you missed, but the solution is probably in the same area and you just didn't see it. I say that because after completing the game and discovering nearly 90% of all secrets, I can say with certainty that all puzzle solving happens in a relatively small area. Most of it is in the same room. Probably the only exception is when you have to retrieve an Orb or a Torch, but the game leads you along those paths in a very linear fashion save for maybe 3 or 4 secrets. And those extra hard secrets have nothing to do with progressing in the game (they simply unlock stronger spell enhancers).
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • ploogploog Posts: 39
    Brain Burst
    edited May 2018
    I was liking the game until I got to the big room with the four pedestals and you’re supposed to shoot lightning bolts out to the pedestals, but for me it didn’t work because I do not have one of the gems or spells or whatever that is necessary, even though I proceeded through the dungeon in the prescribed fashion and I should have what I need. So, I wasn’t able to unlock the door. 

    The game pretty much does ensure that you have what you need to proceed. The side spurs just give you better stuff, at times, or collectibles plus mage stones (level-up points).

    I can't picture the puzzle to which you're referring, as I don't recall any situation where 4 pedestals required lightning to open/unlock a door. (I recall a couple spots where other effects were achieved; just not unlocking a door.)  Can you provide more details on the particular location, in which dungeon it exists, how far in, or after what other puzzle?

    One thing... you get the Lightning reagent pretty early on ... but you do need to return to the workshop to add the associated spell to your palette. Crux instructs you how to return to the workshop as soon as you feed the reagent decanter to Fergus, so that you can get about customizing your spells. You did that bit, right?  I'm fairly certain that you must have because the game pretty much requires you have the lightning spell equipped to advance beyond the room where it was found ...
    ... and that location doesn't involve pedestals, but energy orbs hanging from the ceiling:



    As for a big room with 4 pedestals...

    ... there's this room: 



    ... but:
    ... there's no door to unlock, and this room is a side quest ... so failing to solve it wouldn't impede continuing on


  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 13,298 Valuable Player
    I remember the area in the Chasm that requires you to light the orbs. But yes, you have to listen to your Goblin companion and return to the Workshop to use the Lightening Element to craft a spell!

    Backtracking in the game is really fun and easy as well. In fact, you will need to backtrack to the early stages once you get the Wind spell; since it is a requirement to get through those "cracked rock walls" that tend to hide valuable secrets.
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • ploogploog Posts: 39
    Brain Burst
    Zenbane said:

    Backtracking in the game is really fun and easy as well. In fact, you will need to backtrack to the early stages once you get the Wind spell; since it is a requirement to get through those "cracked rock walls" that tend to hide valuable secrets.

    That one's a truly optional backtrack, since that's the lone room with two different entry paths...
    The partially opened gate is impassable as-is, but I found an underhanded way to get in, and others have apparently used a spell enhancement available very early on to get around the impediment.

  • cybernettrcybernettr Posts: 896
    3Jane
    ploog said:

    As for a big room with 4 pedestals...
    ... there's this room: 



    ... but:
    ... there's no door to unlock, and this room is a side quest ... so failing to solve it wouldn't impede continuing on

     Yeah, that’s the room I’m talking about! I have Lightning bolt Red and fireball, but in the video I watched, YouTuber had a third one (Lightning bolt blue?) that he triggered that lighted all  four orbs at the top of the pedestals, which opened up the door so that he could proceed out of the room. (He didn’t know why he had one more lightning bolt color than I did.) The only other room was the one with the statues holding torches and the water pipe leaking on one, preventing you from lighting it, so that room was a dead end too. 
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 13,298 Valuable Player
    edited May 2018
    Yeah, that’s the room I’m talking about! I have Lightning bolt Red and fireball, but in the video I watched, YouTuber had a third one (Lightning bolt blue?) that he triggered that lighted all  four orbs at the top of the pedestals, which opened up the door so that he could proceed out of the room. (He didn’t know why he had one more lightning bolt color than I did.) The only other room was the one with the statues holding torches and the water pipe leaking on one, preventing you from lighting it, so that room was a dead end too. 

    You can trigger them with any color lightning. The color means nothing, purely aesthetics. I never tried having more than 1 of each element in my arsenal. There's only 4 Elements and you can only carry 4 spells.

    These rooms are not dead ends; the puzzles just gotcha!
    :)

    If I'm not mistaken, that room you're referring to is on a timer. You have to light them all quickly (with any version of a Lightning spell) and then do something before they run out of power.
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • ploogploog Posts: 39
    Brain Burst
    cybernettr said:

    Yeah, that’s the room I’m talking about! I have Lightning bolt Red and fireball, but in the video I watched, YouTuber had a third one (Lightning bolt blue?) that he triggered that lighted all  four orbs at the top of the pedestals, which opened up the door so that he could proceed out of the room. (He didn’t know why he had one more lightning bolt color than I did.) The only other room was the one with the statues holding torches and the water pipe leaking on one, preventing you from lighting it, so that room was a dead end too. 


    The coloring reagents have no effect on the associated spells other than providing a highlight color for the spells (and your gloves when the spell is active); that's why they have no cost (i.e. rest on Lazy Susan with no flames at the center). Note that the most powerful spell reagents are on the spindle with 2 flames at its center, indicating no other reagents can be combined with one of these; each spell has a 2 "flame" limit.

    I did notice that Man of the Antz, in his published play-through, had two different lightning spells available, and was only successful in energizing the orbs with the second spell -- but I don't believe it was because of any modifications he'd made to his spell. It was...
    ... likely just that his later attempt managed to energize all the orbs in a single spell cast -- though it *is* possible that a modified lightning spell could make the task easier.


    Also, Re: this room with the energy orbs atop the 4 large statues/pedestals...

    ... this room is just a spur, not critical to moving forward in the dungeon. Some reward may await at its end, but failing to light the orbs is not an impediment to continuing the adventure -- just 100% completing it and notching gold on the portal slots:



    cybernettr said:

    The only other room was the one with the statues holding torches and the water pipe leaking on one, preventing you from lighting it, so that room was a dead end too. 


    Ok, yeah, that one you definitely DO need to solve, if I recall correctly; I believe that *is* on the primary path; however, as with many instances in Mage's Tale, the tools to progress are available.  A hint...

    In this room, didn't you come across a chest? And what did you find in the chest?  And then consider your description of the room:

    "... statues holding torches and the water pipe leaking on one, preventing you from lighting it"

    I have to go back to my earlier question... Are you hitting the workshop to add to your spell palette as you acquire new reagents?


  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 13,298 Valuable Player
    ploog said:

    I did notice that Man of the Antz, in his published play-through, had two different lightning spells available, and was only successful in energizing the orbs with the second spell -- but I don't believe it was because of any modifications he'd made to his spell. It was...
    ... likely just that his later attempt managed to energize all the orbs in a single spell cast -- though it *is* possible that a modified lightning spell could make the task easier.


    Yes if you modify the Lightning spell to have ++Arcs then it is easier to hit multiple targets. Including enemies and puzzle orbs. But it is not necessary. You can have the base Lightning spell and hit all Orbs in one setting by moving your hard around.
    :)
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • ploogploog Posts: 39
    Brain Burst
    cybernettr said:

    The only other room was the one with the statues holding torches and the water pipe leaking on one, preventing you from lighting it, so that room was a dead end too. 

    p.s. If you made it to this room, nearing the end of The Sewers, then you obviously were able to continue on the main path, bypassing (leaving for later) the big room with the 4 energy orbs atop the statues/pedestals -- from just a bit earlier in the same dungeon.
  • ploogploog Posts: 39
    Brain Burst
    edited May 2018
    Zenbane said:

    Yes if you modify the Lightning spell to have ++Arcs then it is easier to hit multiple targets.  ...

    I was trying to leave it vague to give @cybernettr another chance to semi-solve it on their own. (Especially since it doesn't seem like they're upgrading their spells; figured they could use a good session of testing some mixes against the hapless goblin target in the workshop.)
  • MowTinMowTin Posts: 1,237
    Wintermute
    edited April 6
    I'm almost finished with this game. Took forever to get around to playing it.

    It's really a mixed bag of good and bad.

    My biggest complaints are:

    1. For a game created from the ground up for Oculus VR, the way you interact with objects like levers, knobs and handles or how you pick up objects is just awful. I mean really awful.

    For example, I solved a puzzle, it gave me a key and I tried to put the key in a keyhole. Nothing. I spent hours looking for where to use this key. I had to go on YouTube to see that it belonged in the keyhole I had tried repeatedly. 

    2. Like Zenbane mentioned, there's not much variety in terms of magic. It's one of the laziest in terms of magic diversity. You have a fireball, an ice spear, wind force and electricity. It makes you believe you can create your own spells but all you really do is make a stronger fireball. You can make some things seeking. You can add a special effect that turns your target into a sheep or blinds them momentarily. That's it. 

    Throwing the fireball like a ball is really exhausting. The electricity is crap, I hardly used it. In the end I didn't feel like a mage. I just felt like I'm just throwing fireballs and a wind force power. 

    3. The enemy variety is just terrible. It's just a handful of enemies repeated over and over again. They lock you into a room and the same bunch of enemies spawn and you use the same magic spells to deal with them.

    5. There is free locomotion but only snap turning. 

    6. The music is terrible. Same music every time you fight enemies. I'm so sick of hearing that same music whenever enemies show up. 

    The good:

    1. The combat can be really challenging. You have to block projectiles and deal with multiple enemies. You'll get frustrated until you learn to manage attacking and blocking better.

    2. Some of the visuals are just awesome. It feels magical. There is a frog that appears and you throw stuff in its mouth. There's this little fairy you follow, make you feel like Peter Pan following Tinkerbell.

    3. It's a nice long story-driven campaign. There is not enough of those in VR. It's not a good story. It's not a story worthy of an RPG or even today's modern shooters. It's like Mario save the princess. 

    4.  The puzzles are really really good. I really enjoyed many of the puzzles. You feel good when you solve them. And they're not so hard that you'll get frustrated. But there is one that may frustrate due to poor design. Make sure you touch everything. 

    5. A few of the bosses are really awesome. They're large and look great. Had some great battles. 

    6. Just lots of cool little things in VR. I love how you raise your hands over your head to teleport to your lab. I love how when you level up there is this little glowing star on your hand (hard to explain). 

    Overall, it's definitely worth getting but definitely a missed opportunity by the devs to make a much better game. 

    Anyway, back to Skyrim. 
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