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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThis House Is Not A Home - ALPHA DEMO OUT NOW! (Updated: Nov 30th, 2023)
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s.b.Newsom
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« on: March 28, 2021, 08:09:09 PM »




I  T O L D  Y O U,  Y O U  L O V E  M̷̧̛̱̫̙̳̥͕̙̭̭̘̺̈́͐͒̇̂̔̀̓̌͘ E̷̲̯̘̬͍̖͕̼͖̱̱͉̦͐ͅ

The week was rough, work was exhausting, and your husband did his best to set something nice up for you to come home to. Relax, embrace and enjoy the rest of your life weekend.

Warning: This House Is Not A Home is a psychological horror game that explores some uncomfortable themes with shocking imagery. Game contains strobing lights and flickering imagery, though not used as a way to get cheap scares.



Latest Post
Early Alpha Demo Out Now - November 30th, 2023



Latest Screenshots:


Notable Posts:
First Devlog Post - March 28th, 2021
Where I'm At Now - April 6th, 2021
I Found The Happy Medium - April 14th, 2021
Scaling Justice - April 29th, 2021
Phoenix Rising - April 3rd, 2022
Lets Try Again - September 16th, 2023
baby steps - September 25th, 2023
Control and Config - September 29th, 2023
Road to November 15th - November 10th, 2023

Early Alpha Demo Out Now - November 30th, 2023


Posted - March 28th, 2021
FIRST DEVLOG POST!!!

I need to get more involved with the dev community, and so, its been 20 years since I even came on here. Finally, I'm starting up a devlog for this project.

"This Is Not A Home", formerly FEDUCIA, started as a GameJam project for Brackeys Game Jam 2021.1 Submission.
https://sbnewsom.itch.io/"This Is Not A Home"

Demo was done in one week, so a lot of my ambitious goals would not be met (mainly aesthetic/design). The theme was "Stronger Together" and my immediate thought on it was to do the opposite. Build upon the concept of people telling you that we are stronger together, but in the end you put yourself on the chopping block when you give your all to others, sacrificing your own well being. This was the concept I wanted to give, where the player can choose how they deal with said concept, all while affecting the outcome in the full game (TBA).

Here are the original screenshots from that game jam. Instead of going for a 1 bit look, I settled for grayscale half-tone to cut down on work. This gave it a "dithered" look but not my intended art style, though people still liked the look.



After the gamejam voting concluding, I began working on the full game. A lot of things I wanted to change, including readability of the scene. This required starting from scratch with the post-process, how to handle low-resolution rendering and so on so forth.

This ended up with this. Able to capture a proper faux-1bit look, with the ability to change color schemes that restrict the palette. Since the original color scheme will have colors, I left the 1bit look to the optional palettes.

Here is where I was at two weeks ago. (Click for full resolution)


Yes, Obra Dinn is a major inspiration for the technical side of things. The first game I felt that could capture the Macventure look in a real-time interactive environment. Pixel perfect love that I've always wanted to tackle ever since I played the original demo. (Hence the "theDoom" color scheme on the bottom right of the above image.)

A lot has changed since then, with new modified user interface, better dithering (especially proper blue noise) to capture the look and feel of those 1bit mac adventure games that used photographs instead of cad drawings. Those updates will come later though. I hope you all get a chance to give the old gamejam project a try and leave some feedback.

Looking forward to hearing from the community!
« Last Edit: November 30, 2023, 04:54:48 AM by s.b.Newsom » Logged

Ramos
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2021, 01:05:39 AM »

I love the art direction of your project!

Looking forward to your updates
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vdapps
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2021, 07:17:43 AM »

That's super nice! Reminds me of 'Return of the Obra Dinn'. Hand Metal Left Hand Metal Right Looking forward for more updates.
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s.b.Newsom
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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2021, 12:14:09 PM »

I love the art direction of your project!

Looking forward to your updates


Thanks! I really appreciate it. Smiley

That's super nice! Reminds me of 'Return of the Obra Dinn'. Hand Metal Left Hand Metal Right Looking forward for more updates.

Absolutely. Fell in love with the Apple ][ style since I played the demo way back when. Although I'm not tackling the same level of technological feats Lucas Pope did (because Obra Dinn is a full camera movement sort of game), I am met with different obstacles that thankfully can be helped by his TIG posts.



Where I am at now...

Since I haven't posted any of the latest content since most of what is in the original post is almost a month old now. I'm going to drop some new screenshots of where I currently am at.

Some notable changes. Some static cameras can rotate, by clicking on either sides of the viewport. This allows me to offer more gameplay mechanics and have more tense moments during the later parts of the game, while adding more detail and exploration.

I've also redone the dithering system to be higher resolution. Still working on a better Sobel Edge system more on par with Return of the Obra Dinn.

New HUD, with that fun ol' Retro "HUD convolution". While some pertains to immediate gameplay mechanics, others just there to fill out the lore/atmosphere, including a dynamic heart rate monitor that'll display your heartrate at any given moment. (Already connects with the Heartrate system and audio.)

Context Interaction of various actions. Every time you interact with something, to drive home the retro feel, every interaction (except light switches, because you use them a lot) will display a context menu on the right asking what you want to do. This will offering some interesting actions and analysis events to create an interactive novel like horror adventure.

CRT Strength Button. Not everyone wants Chromatic effects, so you can one click the CRT strength button to cycle through 0-6 options.

Click to Skip Movement Animation. Not everyone wants that Resident Evil "opening door" drag. It works in some games, but I feel like that's something that should be up to the player. So you can skip these moments while exploring the house.










I would love to hear your thoughts on the direction it's going. What's working and what's not. Smiley

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Ramos
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2021, 03:53:10 PM »

I think you already got a clear vision of what you try to create and that is more than enough.

I love the retro aspect of it, just remember to be balanced and adjust, for example having no mouse in the main menu(use keys) was used by many retro games in the past and many try to emulate that now but most people find that annoying, so keep it old school but know when to adjust, that is all I can say + again: beautiful visuals. Got any gifs/animations?
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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2021, 04:17:37 PM »

I think you already got a clear vision of what you try to create and that is more than enough.

I love the retro aspect of it, just remember to be balanced and adjust, for example having no mouse in the main menu(use keys) was used by many retro games in the past and many try to emulate that now but most people find that annoying, so keep it old school but know when to adjust, that is all I can say + again: beautiful visuals. Got any gifs/animations?

So many retro games get hamfisted when they go that route and forget that, as you put it, a balance to what the style presents. All the pros and pretty much every con (primarily controls/input). I'm making it mouse only to eliminate input convolution and rely on what you do, instead of what you're press from the input. It's something I'm always conscious about in my work. UX and Style.

Last week, when I implemented context choice to interactive objects, it got real annoying to have to confirm a choice on Light Switches, especially how later in the game, the lights will be turned off randomly. It proved to be more frustrating than scary because of that extra step on specific objects. But I'm quite fallible so when I get to alpha testing stage, i'll definitely take into account the high use areas and see what works to cut down on Context Choice fatigue.

Something that I've been thinking about is "transition actors" (Doors, Change Between Rooms, etc). Like the above screenshots, it has context choices. Maybe instead of Context Choices, I could had a custom cursor, that when you click, it'll change to a "Confirm" cursor, so you can double click to move while preventing people from accidentally clicking on the door and moving when they didn't want to.

I'm hoping to get animated gifs up when I finish implemented the final pieces from the Game Jam demo into the current version. Various things needed to be changed for optimization and to integrate the save system.

Thanks for the critique and comments. I greatly appreciate it Ramos. Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2021, 08:35:58 AM »

Certainly great direction! I love this combination of horror and 1-bit rendering. Apart of Obra Dinn, reminds me of Elvira/Waxworks but this one looks even more stylish. It also recalls me of one horror game from very old times (I had PC XT back then), but I can't recall the name. It was also some house, static screens viewed from first person and quite spooky at the time.
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2021, 08:52:34 AM »

Certainly great direction! I love this combination of horror and 1-bit rendering. Apart of Obra Dinn, reminds me of Elvira/Waxworks but this one looks even more stylish. It also recalls me of one horror game from very old times (I had PC XT back then), but I can't recall the name. It was also some house, static screens viewed from first person and quite spooky at the time.

Elvira/Waxworks was one of my all-time favorites! I'm unsure if it was on the PC XT, but were you thinking of The Uninvited?
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vdapps
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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2021, 09:50:42 AM »

It was my first PC heh with 20MB hard drive and 360kB floppy disk. Kiss

I checked Uninvited and it's not that. After checking MobyGames (IMO best DB for old games), I think it's "Last Half Of Darkness"





Anyway, your game is in very good company. And even in that company it's standing out by art style.
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2021, 09:53:16 AM »

It was my first PC heh with 20MB hard drive and 360kB floppy disk. Kiss

I checked Uninvited and it's not that. After checking MobyGames (IMO best DB for old games), I think it's "Last Half Of Darkness"





Anyway, your game is in very good company. And even in that company it's standing out by art style.

haha, LHoD. Haven't heard that name in a while. There were some new games of it, but didn't enjoy it as much as the original. Thanks for the kind words Vdapps. Smiley Definitely stay in touch. Always need a different perspective on things. Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2021, 05:44:51 PM »

I Found The Happy Medium



So, it's been a long journey finding a way to get a solid representation of classic CAD like wireframes much like how Lucas Pope did it in "Return of the Obra Dinn". So I developed my own system to get that wireframe look...and I am quite happy with the result.

I'm using the built-in material editor to handle these calculations. I tried using custom shader code, but in the end couldn't get it working the way I wanted. Then I went back into working with basic Sobel Edge kernel matrices. Lucas assigned a color to each individual object that needed to be separated blended with the World Normals. Excellent...how do I do that? Then it dawned on me, lets changed the SceneTexture for the Sobel Edge to...DiffuseColor....then something happened. It was taking into account the Value of each pixel. So I jumped into my test scene and started creating materials for each value. A 0.1 incrementation, up to 1. I added a different material to each object in the scene.

This was the result...a perfect 1pixel wireframe for the whole scene.



That was the first test. Right now, it's only creating edges for each individual color which was manually set and only taking into account the value of each pixel. It doesn't create edges on the objects themselves. The problem is, I had to set each value manually and choosing SPECIFICALLY which object receives a specific value. I need more, I need color, I need it to be automated.

Lucas Pope...Thank You

So we came to this. I took the shader in which Lucas Pope posted in his Obra Dinn DevLog found here and translated it to UE4...through the material editor.

With much trial and error working with the finicky control and some limitations in UE4...I came to this point.


What you see here, is a master material that generates color based on object position with camera vector. In the center is a custom model I used to test vertex coloring in Maya, preventing curved meshes from generating a ton of edges. It works wonderfully as you can see here.


There are two problems here. One, there is weird random pixel doubling (Probably because of how its not using depth to generate the Sobel Edge so anything changes on the image will generate a pixel outline outside its origin). Second, is that normals aren't taken into account, so we only get edges around the solid colors. Also the fact that the green vertex channel is used on the center mesh (Cloth and Cylinder) it will blend together (Will be fixed by separating the objects). The pixel doubling will have to wait, as it seems like something that can be fixed later. Nonetheless the normals needed to be fixed.

And so I did just that.


Pixel doubling is still an issue, but i'll save that for another day. For those interested in the material I created to get this effect, you can check it out here.


Combining Layers

Since I don't want these colors interfering with the actual diffuse, I'll be storing them in other render layers that are unused by this game. Subsurface Color. Yes, I could use one of the Custom Data outputs and code it in, but I'm not working on a custom engine build, so it's tougher to do that, on top of learning everything there is to program it...I am not much of a programmer on the shader/rendering side. It stores color and allows me to grab it from the post process for use.

Back to the Viewport Post Process, I combined the edge detection with the updated dithering system and this is what I got.

Cleaner lines with the ability to say what needs to have an edge and what doesn't.


And for those curious, this is what it looks like in Editor.


Whats next?
Well the Original "color scheme" will include colors not generally 1 bit. This is my intended palette. The other color palettes are 1bit and 2bit variations. So the next task to perfect the look is a custom 4x4 or 8x8 color palette that could be swapped in an out depending on the scene/camera.

Another thing i'm going to be working on is custom screen distortion functions for various backdrop visuals to heighten specific scenes. More on that later.


« Last Edit: April 14, 2021, 07:00:06 PM by s.b.Newsom » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2021, 12:13:17 AM »

The style is intriguing!
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2021, 03:00:17 AM »

I like to see this kind of passionate devs, very good progress, and thank you for the preview behind the game courtain, may I add that even the editor view is visually looking good but a different style altogether  Gentleman
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2021, 10:06:29 AM »

Short venting session. I wish the game wasn't point and click....it would be so much easier to get integer scaling for pixel perfect rendering. Why do I wish it wasn't point and click? Well all of the following make it hard to handle clicking with the world and UI. Its one or the other and it just becomes a jumble messed that can potentially cause optimization problems.

Right now, I'm struggling to find a way to scale the resolution 700x400 to any resolution through multiples....but nothing seems to work. Messed with render targets, UI scaling even PostProcess down scaling the rendered image (which doesn't work since you're decreasing the scale of an image already scaled fullscreen, meaning it keeps all the double pixels and such).

I ended up downloading IntegerScaler and damn it works perfectly...and now more than ever I think I need a way to add in the ability to render the game fullscreen or scale in integers....and this is where I end up in a tough spot. I would need to grab the Engine Source and figure out how to work with the Render Buffer....ugh. I have no experience outside of having basic/advanced knowledge in majority of programming languages. Backend rendering...no experience.

Anyone out there know how to get integer scaling working in UE4? I'm at a loss right now in this aspect.

Getting the Engine Source up and running and so far....i'm pretty nervous to dive into the code I know mostly nothing about. haha


This is what it looks like with integer scaling from 700x400 (Ignore the text. Since the game is developed directly as is with UE4 without low resolution, it's currently impossible to gauge font scaling until I can implement integer scaling) The pixels on the images are pixel perfect and pleasing to the eye. Notice how all the UI elements are pixel perfect. No stray pixels. Same goes for the Viewport/Game. The dithering and outlines are crisp and single pixel (aside from a few mistakes from vertex coloring which can easily be fixed)


Here is what it looks like with fullscreen as is from UE4. There is a lot of pixel doubling, stray pixels, etc. Its ugly and not what I want. The text/fonts look fine because its rendering the text as if its 1920x1080 and not at 700x400, which causes problems with pixel consistency across the screen.


The style is intriguing!

Thanks, hopefully the end result will be appealing to many gamers. haha

I like to see this kind of passionate devs, very good progress, and thank you for the preview behind the game courtain, may I add that even the editor view is visually looking good but a different style altogether  Gentleman

Really appreciate it. Although most of this is driving me crazy with all the constraints I need to put in place where UE4 makes it hard to do.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2021, 10:39:22 AM by s.b.Newsom » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2021, 09:49:27 PM »


Really appreciate it. Although most of this is driving me crazy with all the constraints I need to put in place where UE4 makes it hard to do.

No one said it would be easy but you are not alone Newsom.

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« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2021, 01:43:34 PM »


Really appreciate it. Although most of this is driving me crazy with all the constraints I need to put in place where UE4 makes it hard to do.

No one said it would be easy but you are not alone Newsom.



I might be on the right path. If I manage, I think a lot of developers in UE4 could benefit on it by making the game render only at a base resolution and upscale correctly to the Desktop Resolution. May not work well with other creative games, but could bridge a gap UE4 has with Unity.
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« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2021, 01:58:18 PM »

Scaling Justice!

Well, it had been done. I dove into UE4 Source Code, pulled hair, and came out...reasonably unscathed. This shouldn't have taken two weeks to do, but I'm happy with the end result.

Some preface
Unreal Engine 4 doesn't really do Integer Scaling unless your game is purely First Person. The major issue with current practices is to use a render target and display it to the HUD. You then have to calculate the Desired Resolution with the Viewport Resolution and floor the end result, multiplying the pixel perfect widget scale to that of the calculation. (This means the base widget will scale up in multiples from the Desired Resolution.

This works ONLY if your game is First Person where your mouse directly controls the character and interacts with the world solely through the Pawn and Camera. This method falls apart when you are solely Point & Click. The reason being, the HUD has a disconnect from whats rendering behind the widget. Nothing will line up unless you offset the camera's FOV to align up with the Render Target...which I was only able to do by manually setting the FOV, which is bad because it doesn't adapt to each screen resolution perfectly because you have to do guess work.

You can also try using a Function to calculate it automatically. Mathematically, it is sound based on my original function, but the math results in incorrect values making it slightly offset causing the hotspots to be out of place.

Splitscreens
I like working with blueprints early one so I can rapidly prototype and not have to leave the editor when developing my projects. Sadly, I had to do this for this VERY specific need. Thankfully, this method can be applied to future projects that require pixel precision.

Since I knew NOTHING about the source code aside from using my own scripts for various functions...it was a daunting task. Two weeks of trial and error seeing how the code works, what happens when something changes or is commented out entirely. A few dead ends, but I found what I needed. It was already built into UE4.

I continued to look into and dissect how it functioned. Today, I cleaned out the code and started fresh based on what I learned.

Instead of being destructive and changing the core functions, I just added my own IF statement to the  UGameViewportClient::LayoutPlayers() function. Believe it or not, the engine still runs its Splitscreen functions even if you're a solo player. It'll just cut out the other statements when it doesn't detect multiple players.

Discovering that, and adding the IF statement checking if the game set to NONE in the splitscreen type...I added this simple, and probably not optimal, piece of code.

Code:
if (SplitType == ESplitScreenType::None) {
GEngine->AddOnScreenDebugMessage(-1, 0.0f, FColor::Yellow, TEXT("Screen is Singleplayer"));

//Calculate Relative Screen Size from Desired Resolution
FVector2D DesiredScreenSize = FVector2D(700, 400);

//Scale Up In Multiples to Screen Res
float CalcScale = FMath::FloorToFloat(Viewport->GetSizeXY().Y / DesiredScreenSize.Y);

FVector2D FinalScreenSize = DesiredScreenSize * (float)CalcScale;

FVector2D ResultScreenSize = FVector2D(FinalScreenSize.X / Viewport->GetSizeXY().X, FinalScreenSize.Y / Viewport->GetSizeXY().Y);

//Calculate Relative Centering of New Resolution
FVector2D ScreenSizeHalf = Viewport->GetSizeXY() /2;
FVector2D DesiredSizeHalf = FinalScreenSize / 2;
FVector2D SubtractSizes = FVector2D(ScreenSizeHalf.X - DesiredSizeHalf.X, ScreenSizeHalf.Y - DesiredSizeHalf.Y);
FVector2D DivideSizes = FVector2D(SubtractSizes.X / Viewport->GetSizeXY().X, SubtractSizes.Y / Viewport->GetSizeXY().Y);

//Output Desired Screen Size
PlayerList[0]->Size.X = ResultScreenSize.X;
PlayerList[0]->Size.Y = ResultScreenSize.Y;

//Output Desired Screen Position
PlayerList[0]->Origin.X = DivideSizes.X;
PlayerList[0]->Origin.Y = DivideSizes.Y;
}
else { ...Original Source Code...

And the end result is exactly what I needed. Here is a cropped image of the test project, utilizing a pixel guide to lookout for doubling/missing or stray pixels. The left screen is as is, cropped on a 1920x1080 screen. The right is a scaled up (scaled by integer) of small section of the original image. PIXEL PERFECTION. This image shouldn't be scaled if you're viewing on Desktop.

The 700x400 was scaled 2X to display optimally on a 1080 screen.



MY journey had FINALLY come to an end. The answer was there all along, in a function I never that I'd use. Splitscreen.

And thus, I can finally continue working on the game...because this issue REALLY bugged me for so long.
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« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2022, 08:49:27 PM »

Phoenix Rising

Hey all, it has been a LONG time since I've been here. It has been almost a year since my last post. Since then, my life fell apart.

A big part of the game was me being able to cope with various elements in my life. Since May of 2021, I've had to cope with more. From pandemic blues, depression, and relationship. For almost a year, I've almost given up on all the things I've enjoyed in life. I've lost family and friends to COVID and an unfair departure from being with my partner.

Some of you may know about what I went through personally, but that's as much as I'm willing to share publicly.

For the past month, I've picked myself up to better myself and encourage myself to grow as an individual, hopefully back to who I was before the Lockdown and before I met my partner. Feducia was a piece of me, and that hasn't changed, but more than ever it's a big part of me. Don't worry, I'm not selling a message or sharing some moral story.

It's still very much a retro horror adventure. And yes, the game got a lot bigger since I last posted.

What I really came here for is to share what I've been working on. A lot has changed, from UI to better utilization of shaders and most of all, better UX.









And She-Hulk is also in the game too!



Okay okay, I know April Fools came and went. I work a full time night shift job. I only have so much time.  Cheesy




Let me know what you all think! Also you can follow me on twitter and communicate that way. https://twitter.com/sbnewsom
« Last Edit: April 03, 2022, 08:59:38 PM by s.b.Newsom » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2022, 08:56:45 PM »


Really appreciate it. Although most of this is driving me crazy with all the constraints I need to put in place where UE4 makes it hard to do.

No one said it would be easy but you are not alone Newsom.



Just wanted to say, congrats on your release on Steam!
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« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2023, 03:41:46 PM »

It has been a LONG time since I've updated, posted, touched my dear FEDUCIA. A lot has happened in my life, highs and lows, gains and losses. Hell, I moved across the US and work Project Management/Game Design for a small upcoming game studio.

After touching grass and thinking about what i've done, I brought back Feducia, rewritten in a non-destructive form and improved many systems of the game in Unreal Engine 5 (Overkill much?)

I'll update everything in the future, but for now, a short update...and a new name. Feducia is now "THIS HOUSE IS NOT A HOME". The next step in my mental health journey.



Animated preview at https://twitter.com/sbnewsom/status/1703187762231263274
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