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Demo For NASA MMO Coming In January

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the hope-you're-good-at-regolith-farming dept.

NASA 84

News of the upcoming NASA MMO, Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond, has been scarce since its announcement in 2008, but NASA recently revealed that a "mini demo game" is coming in January that will show off some of what they've completed so far. "Moon Base Alpha utilizes actual NASA Constellation program design details developed by NASA for mankind’s return to the Moon in 2020. Timelines in the much anticipated Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond MMO will be set even farther in the exciting future (2035+), but the ability to explore our own near-future moon missions is also planned for in the forthcoming game facilitated by the NASA Learning Technologies and Innovative Partnerships Programs." They're provided a slideshow and a brief video, and one of the developers spoke about the game with Edge last month.

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84 comments

Hooray! Now we can CrowdSource Asteroid mitigation (2, Insightful)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537402)

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1485682&cid=30513270&art_pos=6 [slashdot.org]

I wish that someone would make a game of this... where you need to send up a vehicle, bump and asteroid and watch the change. Give us all a chance to crowd source the various "solutions". Learn just how friggin tricky this would be, how long it would take, how little effect we can have. All of this talk about "capturing this asteroid" on this thread alone is sad. The amount of energy in an asteroid's kinetics is astounding. This topic needs a dose of realism.

Make it so!

Re:Hooray! Now you can Karmawhore! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30537494)

The karma whore always cuts+pastes someone else's text with little or no contribution of his own. Sorta like what niggers do when they use the white man's technology (like TV) to talk about how much they hate the white man.

Re:Hooray! Now you can Karmawhore! (1)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537540)

I quoted myself. Saved a click and the risk of a Rickroll.

Re:Hooray! Now you can Karmawhore! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30537704)

I quoted myself. Saved a click and the risk of a Rickroll.

You still karma-whored while producing no new text. ... and what risk of a Rickroll? It's a slashdot.org link. Unlike idiot windows users, i can check the domain of a link before i go there. I suppose next you'll tell me that the 150k .exe file is not really a three-hour porn movie.

Re:Hooray! Now you can Karmawhore! (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537856)

Most of the discussions here produce no new ideas; they're about forming connections among existing knowledge. Your comments may have been original text, but they produce no value. I'll take cut-and-paste information over that any day.

Re:Hooray! Now you can Karmawhore! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30538574)

what risk of a Rickroll? It's a slashdot.org link

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Re:Hooray! Now you can Karmawhore! (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541222)

What kind of a shithead moderates this tripe as Insightful? Troll ACs I can handle. But do we need to put up with troll moderators?

The first sentence is both factually incorrect and irrelevant. I won't even go near the second.

non-windows slideshow (2, Informative)

TheLinuxSRC (683475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537440)

For those attempting to view the slideshow on a non-windows machine, you can download [nasa.gov] the wmv file and play in mplayer (if you have the win32codecs installed).

Re:non-windows slideshow (1, Offtopic)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537678)

It always saddens me when I read about something that is the epitome of high-tech, then they can't do something basic like like put a slide show into a web page. They need to hire a 13-year-old kid to do their web site because clearly NASA engineers aren't capable.

SRSLY: It's a WMV in an embed tag. Who came up with that?

Re:non-windows slideshow (0, Offtopic)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537756)

Forget the embed, it's a WMV file... what about using a more standard format like MPEG-4?

Re:non-windows slideshow (2, Insightful)

psydeshow (154300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537932)

Or just a series of JPEGs for crying out loud.

It's a SLIDESHOW.

Re:non-windows slideshow (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538034)

A slideshow? Then yeah it should be a series of JPEGs or PNGs depending on the image.

Who decided to make that into a WMV file? It's not rocket science!

Re:non-windows slideshow (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538396)

I thought exactly the same thing...

then realised my “better” solution would basically be the 10-page layout we always claim to despise.

I guess I can’t win. I really would have preferred 10 jpegs on separate pages.

Re:non-windows slideshow (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539268)

They need to hire a 13-year-old kid to do their web site because clearly NASA engineers aren't capable.

Well Randall Munroe left NASA because his webcomic was more profitable. I work for a big aerospace company and they have some stupid game you can download and run through the intranet but none of our aerospace engineers had a hand in it because its a marketing thing and I can guarantee those people have never heard of operating systems.

Does it have a level where... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539674)

you can don a Space Diaper and drive across the country to beat up your estranged lover's new girlfriend?

Moon Base Alpha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30537448)

Moon Base Alpha? ten years too late, I'm afraid. Always remember... September 13th 1999 when Earth lost the moon.

Re:Moon Base Alpha? (2, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537796)

It bugs me that Hollywood didn't jump on the occasion in 1999 to make a Space: 1999 movie and set the release date on september 13th. They've been into remakes of old things for the last two decades or so, would've fitted the bill perfectly ten years ago.

Re:Moon Base Alpha? (1)

KudyardRipling (1063612) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537940)

Moonbase Alpha? ITV plc., the current rightsholder to ITC film library and thus Space:1999 should has an interest in this. Since NASA is a part of the US government, and with most works of the US government become part of the public domain would that not constitute some sort of infringement?

Now for the camp questions. Which soundtrack does it use, Barry Gray, Derek Wadsworth, or something from the Warner-Chappell music library? Do some of the Easter eggs include blowing people out from airlocks? Astronauts going berserk and smashing the windows with their space helmets? Doctor Russell screaming "Jooooooooohn!"?

Lord Grade **still** rules!

Yeah...but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30537454)

Where is the Gorgatron? Also, do you get a free key chain? You can't face the Gorgatron with your keys all willy-nilly.

I thought the funding for this was cut? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537468)

That seemed to be the consensus of the Slashdot discussion after their sudden announcement [slashdot.org] that they weren't going to pay people to make it after all, but wanted proposals for someone willing to do it for free. Did they actually find someone willing to do it for free? Or was funding restored?

Re:I thought the funding for this was cut? (2, Interesting)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537742)

From one of the articles "one of the developers spoke about the game [edge-online.com] seems to cover this. Virtual Heroes, the producer of American's Army, is providing this game. It seems like they have already produced a couple space sims ("Race to Mars" and "Virtual Astronaut"), but I might be wrong.

Re:I thought the funding for this was cut? (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538476)

If the producers of Americas Army are involved then we can pretty much count on it sucking. The original Americas Army was a great FPS, especially considering that it didn't cost anything for the player. AA3 was a complete mess and unplayable.

Ha (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537530)

If thirty years of bullshit promises about moonbases and men on Mars are any indication, this game will never actually materialize.

Not so great (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537566)

I hear the PvP action in this game sucks...

Re:Not so great (1)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537814)

You haven't really PvPed until you launch 0.8c rocks at your enemy's home planet from a neighboring star.

Re:Not so great (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537952)

Sure, but what do you do during that five year wait for the rocks to get to their target? Also, unless the rocks are traveling faster than the speed of light, is is likely they will see them coming with plenty of time to respond, resulting in mutual assured destruction, as well as a chance they might send Bruce Willis up to deflect the rock.

Re:Not so great (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538846)

is is likely they will see them coming with plenty of time to respond, resulting in mutual assured destruction.

No, that would be mutually assured indestruction. It essentially obsoletes the entire idea of sending the rocks in the first place, if you they will have enough time to notice and stop them.

The Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30537586)

I'm going to be so pissed if bots end up farming all of the good helium 3 spots.

Change (3, Insightful)

gearmonger (672422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537654)

Now this is the America I've come to expect: NASA is starting to make games about going into space instead of actually going into space. I'm sure some self-proclaimed 'Gen-Y expert" marketer somewhere is nodding and chuckling to himself while stroking a white cat nestled in his lap.

Re:Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30538224)

You mean like how the military made a first-person shooter game instead of actually going to war?
If only.

Re:Change (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30538626)

Or it could enthrall millions of young minds and create a Golden Age of space exploration in the next few decades. I'd gamble a few million of my budget on that if I were NASA.

Subquests (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537662)

Are they going to have subquests, like where you have to escort foreign interns to the bathroom, or have to spot missing metric/Imperial conversions?

Will it be like Spore? (4, Insightful)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537664)

After doing SimEarth, Maxis kicked around the idea of a SimMars. NASA was really excited about helping them (and helping build up PR on the space program), but Maxis killed the idea because they couldn't find a way to make a game about Mars fun without making it 100% fantasy. It's like trying to make a math game fun.

I don't see how the game can fly without B.E.Ms... (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537698)

...space pirates, and green skinned slave women.

Nobody is going to wan to hop around amongst a bunch of giant beer cans with a wrench in their hand.

Re:I don't see how the game can fly without B.E.Ms (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537734)

Nobody is going to wan to hop around amongst a bunch of giant beer cans with a wrench in their hand.

At least, not unless the giant beer cans actually contain beer.

Re:I don't see how the game can fly without B.E.Ms (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538144)

At least, not unless the giant beer cans actually contain beer.

Ah, but if that were the case, what you'd want in your hand would be a giant can opener, not a wrench.

Re:I don't see how the game can fly without B.E.Ms (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537774)

BEMs are out. But you never know about the other two. Space pirates (and associated activities) may well be practical. I'll just say if no one tries to be a space pirate, it's because no one is playing the game.

Re:I don't see how the game can fly without B.E.Ms (2, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537778)

Nobody is going to wan to hop around amongst a bunch of giant beer cans with a wrench in their hand.

Beer and wenches always go together... Oh, you said "wrench"

Re:Will it be like Spore? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537764)

Making a math game fun is hard? Have you seen the kind of calculations people do about World of Warcraft?

Re:Will it be like Spore? (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538682)

Making a math game fun is hard? Have you seen the kind of calculations people do about World of Warcraft?

To say nothing of the three hundred thousand players who log in to Excel Online [eveonline.com] every day.

Re:Will it be like Spore? (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538056)

Depends on your definition of fun. Based on watching today's MMO player, I think I could make an accurate moonbase simulation where you spend 4 hours at a time sitting in front of a panel and watching the CO2 filter stats and occasionally pushing a button to equalize it. Add in the necessity to walk back and forth to the bunk and you've got a game.

But seriously, give them some 'real' tasks like monitoring experiments and such and I think there's plenty of people who would play it, at least for a while.

Re:Will it be like Spore? (2, Funny)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538130)

Heh. Toss in plenty of delicate problems where a simple mistake could cause everyone to die (followed up by hours of corpse recovery to get your equipment back), and the old EQ fans would be right at home playing it. ;-)

Re:Will it be like Spore? (1)

Nathanbp (599369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538282)

It's like trying to make a math game fun.

Obviously you never played Number Munchers [wikipedia.org] as a kid.

Re:Will it be like Spore? (1)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539294)

I was too old when that one came out, but either way "fun" is a relative term when it comes to games like that.

I made a math game for my son once that seemed cool to me. You're captain of the moon, which has several bases on it (the moon is a small sphere in the center of the screen in this game). Asteroid storms threaten your bases. The only way to stop them is to use a cannon to shoot rocks at them and deflect them away. The rocks are all the same size, but the asteroids aren't, so the amount of force you need to use when shooting is different for each asteroid (and each requires a multiplication to determine how much power). If you use too little, it slows the asteroid down (which gives you a bit more time to get the right answer). If you use too much, the asteroid breaks into two smaller asteroids, and you have two smaller problems to solve.

My son figured out how to cheat the game pretty quickly though. Each wave had a multiplication factor, so on wave 7, you're always solving for 7 * x. He would set the cannon to max power and blast all the big asteroids until they had shrunk down to 1, then he'd set the power to 7 and blast all the 1's. ;-)

Re:Will it be like Spore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30538518)

... but math is fun! Come on people dont drink and derive

Re:Will it be like Spore? (1)

Phyvo (876321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538802)

I had an old bundle of mac educationware when I was young. It was loads of fun. Super Muncher, Math Blaster, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego, even Klick & Play was educational.

I mean, it was no replacement for a classroom but it was fun and more educational than the alternative.

Cut NASA's PR budget (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537684)

NASA has far too large a PR operation if they're doing this. If they're doing a full-scale game for PR, their PR budget is too big.

The promotional end of NASA may now be the most effective part of the organization.

Not paid for by NASA (1)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537784)

If you read the article, you notice it says that they aren't paying the game developers. Rather than making a free game like America's Army, they opted to work with game developers to make a realistic MMOG that costs money. While you could argue that time is money, this isn't paying millions

Re:Not paid for by NASA (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537978)

Should this be making NASA money. MMO games if they are popular make big money, persummable NASA should be getting some cut of any profit the game makes.

---

Space Craft [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller feeddistiller.com [feeddistiller.com]

Re:Cut NASA's PR budget (1)

internic (453511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539972)

NASA has far too large a PR operation if they're doing this. If they're doing a full-scale game for PR, their PR budget is too big.

NASA is not paying for the development (read this or previous articles on the subject). The deal is more like the NFL working with EA to make a football video game (except probably with more control over the content), NASA contributes their name/marks/PR and the developer foots the bill for development in return for the profits they will reap later.

Obviously what PR budget NASA should have is arguable, but remember that a) they're prohibited from "advertising" by the space act, and b) a lot of what they do is both PR *and* designed to do the useful job of educating the public. That seems to be the aim of this game too, although again you could debate whether it can succeed.

The promotional end of NASA may now be the most effective part of the organization.

You realize that NASA astrophysicist John Mather won the Nobel prize in Physics [nature.com] in 2006, right? NASA's science divisions do a lot of good, useful (effective) work. They just don't get a lot of attention. Manned space flight is the expensive side show.

In an age of semi-autonomous and remote-controlled robots, manned space flight is an anachronism of questionable utility. But it is dramatic and catches the public's imagination (which is demonstrated on /. regularly), which makes it popular among politicians. The problem is that it's also expensive to do anything vaguely worthwhile with manned space flight (one of the reasons that its utility is questionable), so it usually doesn't have funding to match the set goals (at least since the Apollo program). So, NASA ends up looking ineffective because they're asked to do something which may not be a good idea in the first place and then given a level of funding with which the goal can't be accomplished.

Of course, I'm not saying that NASA as an organization isn't probably messed up in any number of ways, but the point is just that you shouldn't judge it by manned space flight.

Bush's Space Exploration Vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30537728)

Hey, more cool stuff made with tax money!

Now we can pretend we are following Bush's Space Exploration Vision with only a fraction of the funny money allocated ;)

Re:Bush's Space Exploration Vision (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30537876)

Now we can pretend we are following Bush's Space Exploration Vision with only a fraction of the funny money allocated ;)

 
It's cute how you think there was any money allocated for it in the first place. But don't let that stop you from making fun at those gosh-darned dumb wasteful NASA bureaucrats for being unable to fulfill dozens of contradictory unfunded mandates.
 
The reason NASA is developing public relations stuff like this is because it's essentially the only thing they are allowed to do--almost all of their real science is hamstrung by the whims of congresscritters, whose only interest is in ensuring that NASA is required to funnel their scarce funding into the private contractors in their individual states and districts.

can't wait (3, Funny)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 4 years ago | (#30537804)

i'm looking forward to the part in the game where you put on adult diapers and drive 900 miles to shoot at your romantic rival with a BB gun.

Will units be in SI or English? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30537904)

And will they be consistent?

OH YEAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30537998)

I'm going to be a wookie! This is gonna be awesome!

MMO? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538062)

What is an MMO? A massively multiplayer online?

Re:MMO? (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538636)

Aren't you being a little bit anal? If I was adding your laptop to my wireless filter, would you freak out if I asked for your IP? Would you ask me what an IP is? An internet protocol? It's a commonly used term now, get used to it.

Re:MMO? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30552968)

No, I would think that IP is "intellectual property". Well, I guess it would matter based on context and other issues as well.

If I was a hardware designer, asking for your "IP" certainly would not be a numeric address, but a source code file.

NASA MMO ulterior motives? (1)

DJCouchyCouch (622482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538212)

Is that the one where if you do well unlocking their puzzles they hire you for the Stargate Program?

Revenge of the Mooninites! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30538222)

Ignignoc: “You and your third dimension.”

        Frylock: “What about it?”

        Ignignoc: “Oh, nothing, it’s cute. We have five.”

        Err: “Th, Thousand.”

        Ignignoc: “Yes, five thousand.”

        Err: “Don’t question it!”

        Frylock: “Oh, yeah? Well, I only see two.”

        Ignignoc: “Well, that sounds like a personal problem.”

How to find life on Mars (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538398)

Launch a new MMO, titled "World of Mascraft", and make all XP gained off finding organic material - then wire the game into the Mars Rovers, and let the goldfarmers in.

There's no malfunction possible, no task too tedious that will stop the goldfarmers in their mission, even if that rover can only move a half-inch per day on one working wheel.

2069 - Man returns to the MOON (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30538486)

At the rate at which the massive political bureaucracy turns combined with NASA bureaucracy I suspect we will might just reach the Moon with a human by 2069. Until then I doubt it is possible.

11 years??? (1)

chucklebutte (921447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30538632)

It's gonna take another 11 years to do something we did over 40 years ago??? Thanks Bush! Cutting NASA's budget to the point where it needed to apply for welfare is pitiful! But we needed to fight 2 wars! Orz, I want to say just Americans here but truely its the combined joint efforts of the human species as a whole, lazy short sighted always living in the past and the now and never in the future!

If we put all our efforts and resources into alternative power sources and space exploration then we would be far more advance than we are now! Keep crying about oil and terror while whats important fades away to the point that this generation will never get what we had 40 years ago....

They should use the game (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539214)

This sounds like it will be a great opportunity lost. If they make the parameters real enough, they can get people to solve problems for them. Have a ship-building part, with real materials, real costs, and real constraints. Then let people use them to make ships. They will get interesting ships, and if someone does an optimal design that's unrealistic, they patch that out and get another round of ones more realistic. Use it to solve problems that people would run into. Just using it for PR is silly when they could have millions of minds wanting to solve problems and they have problems to solve.

Grate Possibilities. (1)

Zigbigadoorlue (774066) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540114)

I think the true marvel of this game is if they can build simulation into the game play. If the missions are similar to other MMOs where one is railroaded into building X module Y times to accomplish the mission the game will be little different than any other MMO that requires you to grind.

But if they simulate the actual dangers and pressures of entering space the possibilities of this game truly excite me. For example if a player needs to build a space ship to travel from the moon to mars they have to take into account: solar wind, high speed particles and meteorites, deadly radiation, life support, power generation and many other variables. One may build a large enough functional life support system but it's size may be to grate to be protected by the radiation shielding but adding more shielding would make it too massive to get to mars in time given the alloted fuel. She would then have to build a more streamlined life support or maybe make it a robotic mission. After construction of the ship simple (don't want to tax the servers too much) simulations would be run on how the normal forces of space affect the craft along with random encounters such as meteor showers or solar storms (Probabilities of encounter could be determined by weather or not they are traveling through the asteroyed belt, the Kuiper belt, near the Sun, etc.).

These obstacles are fun just to think about, trying to figure it out in a game setting would make it everything that I wanted spore to be: free the imagination and just provide simple constraints for people to discover and overcome with there own ingenuity.

The other great appeal of this game would be the possibilities of exploration. Its one thing to see photos, artistic renditions or even videos of alien landscapes, but to actually explore them in a 3-D environment would be truly amazing.

Sieve Possibilities. (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 4 years ago | (#30573018)

I per Sieves to Grates.

My questions are:

1- What is their PvP model? Will it only be PvE? If only PvE how are they gonna get all the Guildwars guys?
2- Is it skill or level (or hybrid) based character advancements?
3- Are the classes limited to 'Ex-military Pilot' [wikipedia.org], 'Ex-school teacher' [wikipedia.org] and 'Scientist'? Will there be an expansion for Retired Game Developer' [wikipedia.org]?

I heard it's going to be a Grind fest and a full of PKs/Gankers, and once they open up player housing, the moon will be covered by moon houses and moon towers.

Open-source "Race Into Space" game (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30542074)

For the curious, a few years ago the 1990s game Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space [wikipedia.org] was open-sourced to the "Race Into Space" project:

http://www.raceintospace.org/ [raceintospace.org]
http://sourceforge.net/projects/raceintospace/ [sourceforge.net]
http://www.mobygames.com/game/buzz-aldrins-race-into-space [mobygames.com]

It's pretty cool and now runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX. Here's the description from MobyGames:

Buzz Aldrin's Race into Space re-creates the thrilling endeavor of trying to lead your country's space program to the moon before a competing superpower does the same. As head of your country's space program you will need to develop all the hardware you need for your spacecraft and make it safe, choose the right persons to send into space and make sure they come back alive. Loaded with lots of historic video clips, and other historic correct items make this game reflect the "Cold War" situation as it should.

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