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Update #54: Art Update - Work IS in Progress!

project eternity rob nesler kickin it forward

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#1
Darren Monahan

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pe-hud-wip.580.jpg
Above is a UI mockup that Kaz has put over the original Kickstarter image. What do you think?

I know what you are thinking. What the hell have the artists been doing?? The art in this game should be half done by now! Right?

That's what I want to know! Why isn't the game half-done already?

Well, as I've said before we're "professionals." We proceed in a highly-complex collaboration/iteration loop of blending design wants and dos, programming cans, think-they-cans and dos and artist wants, cans, can-but-don't-know-how-longs and dos. As you can see - and please don't get angry - this is all very technical. Know that: work is progressing.

Yeeeargh! Enough with your silly stupid words, Rob!! What the hell does that mean??

Uhh... not sure, but I'll tell you what I think it means:

You've read about Prototype 1 and then Prototype 2. Those were efforts to implement features that represent the functional and playable standard of our goal: an Infinity Engine style of game. Those efforts were focused collaborations of designing, programming and art-ing things, trying them out, addressing problems as they came up (visual, functional or otherwise failing to live up to our standard) and repeating. The art goals were held to an 80-90% complete (aka: unpolished). The remaining 10-20% of work will be left toward the end of the "next phase," as always there will be edits and modifications after initial implementation of art. The basic truth of this interactive artistic endeavor that we are involved in is that you can't know it's a worthwhile experience, until you make it, people play it, and then provide feedback. We adjust our work to that feedback - a feedback loop. Boom! Consider yourself educated.

The "next phase" is a Vertical Slice. This is a goal in which we focus on one part of the game within a shell of what is essentially the fully-featured game - relying on the things developed in the prototypes, as well as implementing a fully-functional UI, attempting to finalize all art and gameplay to a more polished standard, and accommodate design changes that are required to make the player experience more complete - as if this part were a finalized, short game in itself.

Environment Artists 
Hector - Wilderness Areas
Our Lead Environment Artist has been developing a couple of our larger external landscapes. He's doing this on the basis of a designer's block-out: a crude-but-playable space. This includes the sculpting of terrain geometry in ZBrush, application of grass and dirt via mesh painting and masking in Maya, placement of objects such as structures, trees, and rocks, etc., lighting and rendering the scene, which generates our super-cool depth info. He imports all those results into the game, and then Design says: "Hey, something has come up and we need a temple in the village." So, Hector moves and massages the scene around to accommodate the change and steps through the process again. In the prototype, iteration of the village, a temple wasn't required. For the Vertical Slice, having a place where one can get quests and learn some spiritual-magicky stuff, is an important feature to include. So, we find a way to happily put it in.

 

Sean - Dungeon/Crypt and village interiors
Our other Environment Artist has been working on interiors of village structures and dungeons! He uses ZBrush less for his environments as a whole, and more as a means of creating smaller natural-looking rocky things and dungeon walls. Beyond that the techniques for implementing his work are the same. The feedback and iteration with design usually yields similar tweaks and modifications. Changes like: "Uhh...we can't have a door here, anymore. Can we make it a pile of collapsed rocks, instead?" Of course the answer is "Yes!"

The answer has to be "yes," because the game is worthless if the gameplay isn't worthwhile. It could be that an important critical path encounter needs to occur, maybe because the story evolved or it’s just too good an experience to allow an alternate route to exist. Ultimately, we trust our designers to wrestle with these issues and come to us with changes that matter. So if they come to us with a change, and the adjustment is reasonable and the time exists to make it, we will do it.

Animators
Mark - Principle Animation of All Things with Arms and Legs
Our Lead Animator has been handling much of the animation requirements for the playable races. This process is also an iterative one. Design has ideas about how they want playable characters to interact with the world and enemies, and Mark then creates a set of individual animations that then blend into each other as needed, in Unity. In addition, he has created essential animations for the Skuldr and the Ogre. Essential animations are typically basic locomotion (including: walk, run and at least one idle) attacks (melee and ranged, if applicable) getting hit and dying. There are others. He blocks them in (a term for making things functional fast), puts them in the game, then he refines them. As team members playtest the game, they provide feedback. Mark continues refining until everybody is happy or the game ships - whichever comes first. No, no, no, just kidding! Mark will work tirelessly through endless nights to make certain everybody is happy with the animation.

 

Antonio - Technical Problem Solving of Physical Things and Process Improvement
I told you all you needed to know about Antonio in my last update. I showed you the rigs and rigs in rigs. These things take a while to refine, as he makes them and then people (Dimitri and Mark) have to use them. As they use the tools, they discover issues and then Antonio has to fix the issues and the process repeats itself until there are fewer and fewer issues to fix. Lately he has been working on a means of batch processing all the animations that Mark creates and efficiently exports them into the game. Mark says it's "awesome." (This is making Dimitri mad. I'll tell you why in a bit.) In addition, he has been developing some cool experiments with cloth and hair. Hopefully, in some near-future update we can show you how great it looks.

Character Artists
Dimitri - Skaen and Visual Differences Between Playable Characters (Races, Males and Females)
Dimitri has been modeling and texturing the dirty, bloody and villainous Skaen Cultists. In-between that he has been re-exporting our characters, as new attachments, bones, weapon attachments, etc. are added to the skeletons. This is a manual process hell that eats at his soul and to see Mark enjoying the fruits of batch process heaven that Antonio has provided him, makes him think of terrible things. One of two things will happen: Dimitri will get over it, or Antonio will help him out soon. He has also been working with our graphics programmer in developing the masking system for how we can increase variety in our characters via color changes on various elements of each. We intend this ability to be passed on to the player, so that they can customize their party's colors.
 
James - Creatures And Colors
James has been focusing on modeling and texturing a ton of critters, including wurms! - not: worms, nor wyrms, or wirms, but WURMs! That is what we call our baby dragons! He's also been tasked with making certain, that via the tinting and masking that Dimitri worked on, we can generate an infinite variety of People and Monsters, and nobody will know better. Shhhhhh...Wink Wink!
 
Concept Artists
pe-lizardlikecreature-wip.580.jpg
Polina's concept of lizard-creature-to-be-named-later.
 
Polina - Drawerings And More Drawerings
Polina has been all over the place since the presentation of the God-like Concept. She's done a bunch of interior concepts, some really cool malevolent spirit-like concepts, the lizard-like creature (below) and more! Polina takes concept development and collaboration very seriously. If I'm not paying attention, or give her a specific number, she will draw variants upon variants of thumbnails and roughs until...I think...forever. So we've restricted her to a certain number of thumbnails before a review. Otherwise we'll have to buy her a new tablet, and that is NOT in the budget!
 
Kaz - Drawerings And User Experience
As you've seen in recent updates Kaz has been tasked with coming up with cultural differences in in terms of skin color and style of clothing for the various cultural groups that we find in Project Eternity. With this and other concept-y things, he also has been tasked with developing and implementing the look of the UI and the presentation for "scripted events."

Note: Regarding the image with the menubar at the start of the update, as well as the image below. You will notice that they state: "Work In Progress." In fact, the images are screen caps of the source art file for the UI that is being developed for P.E. It represents stylistic choices meant to feel very Infinity Engine-ish. We're a little curious what you might think about it. Let us know.
 
pe-scriptedevent-wip.580.jpg
Scripted event image by Kaz.

Me??? - What have I been doing?
I don't know. I just run around and say some stuff, point to something and say "eww," or "nice," or grab a bunch of people to say stuff like "Yay!" or "boo" at something, draw some stuff, and try to direct stuff, repeat. I am hopeful that these efforts keep people motivated, aware and engaged.

That's it. Update Over. Now talk amongst yourselves...or use ALL CAPS, if you are feeling particularly passionate.

- Rob Nesler, Art Director, Obsidian Entertainment.

PS - Let’s Play Arcanum with Mr. Avellone is coming back soon to an update near you!
 
 
Kickin' It Forward: HEX MMO Trading Card Game
Article by Darren Monahan, operations guy 
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In this update's Kickin' it Forward segment, we're featuring the HEX MMO Trading Card Game from friends and neighbors over at Cryptozoic Entertainment. If you're a fan of trading card games and MMO's, HEX looks like a great game to bring these two types of games together in a unique and original fantasy world. They've got nine days left, and plenty of really cool rewards. Check it out!


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#2
Syraxis

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For a 2014 game I'm not a fan of the PST/IWD style UI.

I'd like the UI to be more minimalist in that its broken up into separate components that can be activated/deactivated at any given time.

Edit: yes, I do realize its a mock up.

Edited by Syraxis, 28 May 2013 - 06:20 PM.

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#3
Gorth

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I'm probably the opposite. I like the PS:T style layout, as long as it takes up as little space as possible :)

As long as the hotkey configuration is good (i.e. not wasting ui space on 'clickable' buttons) I'm fine with the bare minimums being shown (portraits and text feedback box).

Edit: Of course, configurable is better, that way I can put the parts on the right side, top side or a bit here and there. Some things just needs to be visible most of the time.
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#4
Elerond

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Excelent update, Iike tone what Rob uses in his updates.

 

UI concept look very IWD 2, which is good as it (and PST) in my opinion has probably best HUD in IE games, as it dont waste so as much space as other IE games. UI also looks like it fits very well in atmosphere what I execpt from this game. I can't even describe how pleased I am with event screen's look, because in my opinion it fits much better this kind game than cinematic events.

 

Unnamed lizard looks cool.


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#5
Nonek

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Are the death in life and life in death couple important enough to be used on the UI, rather than the rather nondescript statue in the alcove? Don't know whether the button layout will feel "right" until played unfortunately.

 

You forgot the add bacon and make breakfast option.



#6
Syraxis

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I'm probably the opposite. I like the PS:T style layout, as long as it takes up as little space as possible :)

Space is actually my main gripe with the old-school style ui designs.

Though as a counterpoint to my original post i'd like to point out that configurable multi-component UI designs can be done horribly as well, see Everquest.

Edit: I'm with you on the hotkey options.

Edited by Syraxis, 28 May 2013 - 06:29 PM.


#7
Lephys

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I chose to use SELECTIVE CAPS, for effect, u_u...

 

My feedback consists mainly of "WOOOOOOH!," with bits of "I genuinely admire all the work everyone's putting into this" and "Where exactly will we see these scripted events (world-map travel, like random encounters?)? Because I ADORE THEM!" thrown in.

 

Also, I like the way you deliver updates. Just... for what it's worth. So, keep that up, too.


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#8
curryinahurry

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I'm not a fan of portraits at the bottom of the screen(right side is much better).  Also, I liked how the NWN games had floating tool-bars for spells, etc.  I think being too slavish to the IE games runs the risk of being detrimental to the game; both aesthetically and in terms of practicality.

 

I do like the text screen concept.


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#9
Sensuki

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pe-hud-wip.580.jpg]http://media.obsidian.net/eternity/media/updates/0054/pe-hud-wip.580.jpg]


Ahh I was not expecting to see some UI art yet, that was a pleasant surprise.

Nice to hear that you will be re-using creatures and tinting them to make a different creature - the IE games made very good use of this, able to get a few creatures out of the same model (Ghoul, Ghast, Lacedon and NPCs of that type etc).

One thing I haven't heard brought back up again was the new method for generating interior areas, at first you were trying out Tiles, but then later stated that you were going to try a different approach to get more of an organic feel to the areas.

I really like the art style of the mockup UI - it is very reminiscent of Icewind Dale 2 and it also looks easily scalable. The coloring is a good choice, obviously the final version will be different but I definitely like the light bar across the top and the darker masonry work in the middle with buttons being lighter again.

The texturing of the combat/dialogue log is great, keep that window exactly as it is.

I'd like to know more about what the colors in the Combat log is supposed to represent - obviously the light blue one is a PC and the red is probably an enemy - what colors are the yellow and green being reserved for ? Are party members going to be assigned different colors in the combat log/UI or are they reserved for NPCs and Followers or Summons ?

I also like how the Ranger's animal companion is represented - that's a cool idea.

Scripted event screen looks great as well.

Issues/Potential Issues / Questions

Are you planning on doing a different fullscreen UI for dialogue sequences? like this.

I really like the menu buttoning and it's position in the middle of the UI. The buttons look great (obv the icons will be different). The statue work at the side also looks cool. These two elements combined seem to be sacrificing a bit of space that could be used by functional parts of the UI such as room for a couple more hotkey buttons to the left or some extra space for the combat log - something to think about anyway. I am fine with the current use of space as I really liked the IE games UI. Please move the select all button to the bottom right where the options button is for legacy purposes - cheers ;)

I assume the meter is the clock, but something could also be done with that to represent game speed or something.

My other concern is the display of the buff icons under the player portraits - great that you got them in there, that was something that was missing from IWD2, however is that enough room? I can easily see status effects overflowing in the limited space underneath a portrait of that size, so if that's the space you want to keep you might have to limit the types of buffs displayed there. Another option would be to thin the bar across the top of the UI to just a few pixels and then bring the UI up a bit so you can have another line of buffs underneath each portrait.

The UI design there (while obviously mockup) looks like it will rely on submenus for things like selecting spells from the Grimoire to cast/hotkey and whatnot - how are you looking at handling those in relation to that UI design ? Are you going to use the current UI space like the IE games or a popup menu or something?

The light blue border around selected party members is currently a bit hard to see. Maybe one pixel wider?

Keep up the good work guys :)

(ps - crossing fingers for optional legacy selection coloring :( ;))

Edited by Sensuki, 28 May 2013 - 07:07 PM.

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#10
Zed

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That UI isn't very good.

 

Here's why:

 

The portraits are very important: you click them to switch characters, right-click to open inventory or what have you. In-between the portraits and game-screen you put functions and abilities. Missclicks ahoy.

 

Portraits also need to be bigger. Why not use portrait dimensions (as used in BG2?) If you're gonna have good-looking portraits, show em off. Also, this gives room to show character statuses on the portrait.

 

The dialogue part doesn't look resizable like in the BG games. It really should be. Preferably it should also be on the left, with a scrollbar on right.

 

I'll draw a mock-up of what I think would be a better solution.


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#11
Sensuki

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You can avoid most UI misclicks by unticking "Enhanced Pointer Precision" in the Mouse settings if you're using Windows ... I think disabling Mouse accel is a bit more problematic on Mac though.

#12
Gumbercules

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Thanks for the update!

 

The UI looks pretty good. It'll probably look great aesthetically once you add original, unified assets rather than the cobbled-together assortment of assets from IE games and other sources currently in place. There are most likely still improvements to be made in terms of usability and space efficiency, but I'm not good at identifying that type of thing so I'll leave it to others to do.

 

That lizard-man illustration is really well done, but I'll admit I sighed when I saw that it was a lizard-man, and a tribal lizard-man at that. There's a stale fantasy cliche if ever there was one. That said, I don't mind their inclusion in the game, and I understand that it's probably a good idea to get a handle on all the fantasy mainstays early on before moving on to weirder, more original creatures. Still, all of the creatures shown so far have been pretty conventional: zombie-like creatures and a tentacle beast, bat-monster, ogre, banshee-like undead, lizard-man, and this update also mentioned dragons. If possible, in a future update please show some concept art of one of the weirdest creatures you've come up with so far. If spoilers are a problem, maybe leave out the name of the creature and any background info, and use a discarded design that still shows the general gist of the creature.



#13
Lephys

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I will say that the icons within the interface might benefit from a little extra contrast (be it hue, "depth," value, etc.). Especially the ones in the center. As far as intuitive readability goes, they're a little "Wait, what is that? Oh, oh okay. That's options."-y.

 

I do like the overall style, though. The detail and texturing feels very nostalgic, and doesn't distract from the rest of the game screen. I just fear that the icons and buttons might not be as clear as they could be when you've got your cursor rapidly scurrying about the UI during some real-time tense game moments. 8P

 

I realize it's not the finished product. Just trying to provide some constructive feedback.

 

Also, this is a bit more of an explorative suggestion than a constructive feedback, but I wonder if there isn't a more intuitive read for things like Health and Mana/Stamina for each character than small bars on the portraits. Maybe something that goes all the way around the portrait? There could still be individual bars beside them, for more precise reads, but it might be nice to be able to peripherally glance and see who's dying and who isn't.

 

Maybe (of the two bars shown for each in the mockup) one bar could frame the portrait on one side, and the other could frame it on the other side, so that they sort of meet up in the middle at the top and bottom? I think they'd be a lot more immediately readable if they weren't so thin, and so close together.  Also, perhaps the tops and bottoms could taper to a larger width, with the 50% point being the thinnest on the "bar." That way, it would be easier to see when people were at quite-safe levels of health/resource and when they were at quite-unsafe levels. OR, just have the bar be decently readable, and maybe have a frame around that change color and/or otherwise visually indicate overall status (full health, less than 2 thirds, less than 1 third, etc.).

 

I know that's pretty specific. But, just for whatever it's worth, 8P



#14
Zed

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alright here's my mock-up for a much more baldur's gate-ian UI

(never liked iwd's ui)

  • chat is on left - chat navigation is closer to "click-centric area" of party management etc.
  • bigger 4:3 (or whatever) portraits. not ugly square ones.
  • uses the horizontal space given by widescreen reso + incorporating BG ui elements everybody loves. doesn't look as "wide" and awkward.
  • still scalable.
  • allows for resizable chat for all those walls of text and combat txt overview

 

5r8ml23.jpg


Edited by Zed, 28 May 2013 - 08:30 PM.

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#15
nikolokolus

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It's difficult to critique a UI until you actually start using it, but as Zed points out above I can see a few "issues" cropping up with the way the portraits and hotbars are grouped together, but hey, it's a work in progress, so there's not much more to say until the game gets into beta and get my grubby fingers on it.

 

Otherwise, great update Rob and nice peek behind the curtain.



#16
Failedlegend

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My only real compaint about the UI is the Blue/Red Bars and the Blue Circle surrounding what I'm assuming is that character summon or animal companion (Sidenote: I'd love to see these companions grow in strength with the character as opposed to having having multiple versions ie. I, II, III, IV,etc.) it's really bright and doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the aesthetic. Maybe darken the colors a bit and give a bit of a border...a tiny vial or something? Altenatively having the portraits show visual damage indicators with the option of displaying #/# (ie. 10/22) would be cool to

 

Oh and their also seems to be a weird green white aura around a few of the characters looks kinda weird to but that might just be my eyes.

 

Other Than that I love it...I like that everything is contained in the southren quadrant allowing for maximum viewing area and quick access to all the menus.


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#17
Osvir

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* User Interface

Got surprised. First impression was "The game screen feels squeezed" added with "That's IE game icons", most likely because I was used to the full picture without a UI. Now that I've looked at it with a looking glass and I've gotten used to it, it looks great. Albeit I admit, I would love to see some unique icons for the Options, Inventory, Spells, Attack, Guard, etc.etc. you know what I'm talking about.

The main problem I have with it, or issue, is with the character portrait space. It looks great, but the shading seems to be a little bit off in tidbits of places. I tried using the "Burn Tool" (used to make things darker in photoshop) next to he Mana/Health bars on the portrait space.

Portraits
Spoiler


And personally I feel it makes the portrait feel like they are in place behind the pillars as it seems they should be. The issue I have with the original one is that it's weird on the eyes. It feels like the portrait space is jutting outwards yet it looks as if they are supposed to be behind the pillars on the sides (I focus my eyes on the pillars and it looks like the portraits are behind, but when I focus my eyes on the portraits it looks like they are in front of the pillars, ye, my eyes are weird). It might be so simply explained that Aloth and the Orlan on the right-hand side in the tabbed version of the UI weren't cut-pasted correctly as well, as they seem to overlap the borders between each portrait space.

http://media.obsidia...ud-wip.1280.jpg
Compare (Aloth & Orlan)

Health/Mana:
I really like the coloring and shading up close, there's depth up close, but when I zoom out it looks rather flat and non-dimensional (2D). I would like to see it more "glass"-like or "crystal"-like if possible. Mostly because I think it would look cool, then as health and mana taps perhaps some sort of "transparent" glass effect, Diablo 2 esque but without the animation.

Dialogue/Combat:
:) ggwp. Furthermore: When I'm in the Combat tab and someone is saying something, could the Dialogue tab "flash" or "highlight" somehow? (Note: Not blink. Blinking is annoying and alerting, unless done very slowly with maybe 3-4 second intervals).

Options Space:
I like it, but as I said above, it's the IE icons and I'd like to see something new that relates. Artistically, it looks like a form of wooden carvings could work very well. Option icons could look like they have been carved into the UI.

It also looks like a Left button and a Right button (the empty spaces in the middle of the Options section). In essence: The space in-between the Journal and the Options buttons looks like it could be a "Right Button". I am wondering if something could be used with that, could you cycle through another "hidden" section of the UI by clicking it?

Example:
First Section:
- Character
- Journal
- Skills
- Inventory
- etc.etc.

Right-Click (Causes a slide animation or something)

Slides into Installation/Second Section:
- Video
- Sound
- Gameplay

Third section?
Fourth section?

Edited by Osvir, 28 May 2013 - 09:24 PM.


#18
ryukenden

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Alright guys, Now that i'm done with all my classes. I got time to work on some art. Well I'm gonna do a better mockup of the ui. So stand by. Also I like the feel of the journal. 



#19
Majek

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I love the mockup UI.  

 

Zed, your idea is utter crap though.


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#20
shinohirai

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The UI does not look appealing. I understand the idea to make it feel infinity engine-ish, but that looks really outdated, Im not saying to make it like super modern or sth, but right now, it just looks like it was taken out of Baldurs, icewind etc ui and then without any design or work on it.

 

Im not sure if its the icon art, or the textures that is on them, but it makes it feel dated...


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